NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

The NHL schedule may be paused, but that hasn’t stopped speculation over off-season trades and free agency. Check out the latest on the Blackhawks and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT BOWMAN’S RETURN MEANS FOR THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the Blackhawks decision to retain president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and coach Jeremy Colliton indicates the club remains committed to retooling, not rebuilding. That means retaining their aging (though still productive) core and attempting short-term tinkering instead of a roster teardown.

Nevertheless, Pope believes salary-cap limitations mean jettisoning some salary. He thinks new contracts for Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik will flesh out the Blackhawks’ growing youth corps, which includes Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz is critical of the Blackhawks’ decision, pointing out questionable roster management decisions in recent years have made things worse over the short- and long-term. The Hawks have struggled where similar clubs with high-priced veteran talent (Washington, Pittsburgh) have succeeded.

Gretz cites trading away Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen as part of cap-related moves hurt the Hawks. Lesser deals, such as swapping Dominik Kahun and Henri Jokiharju for Olli Maatta and Alex Nylander, failed to pan out. They also got underwhelming returns on Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson at the trade deadline.

Could Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once again become a salary-cap casualty? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only saving grace for Bowman of late is the recent influx of young talent, such as DeBrincat, Kubalik, Strome, Murphy, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach. Otherwise, the Blackhawks’ future would be quite bleak.

Nevertheless, Bowman is once again saddled with a cap-strapped roster. With over $73 million invested in 17 players and free agents like Strome, Kubalik, and Corey Crawford to re-sign, he must once again cut costs.

Winger Brandon Saad surfaced in the rumor mill in the weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He was a cap casualty in the past. With a year left on his contract and an annual average value of $6 milion, I believe he’s their most likely off-season trade candidate.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes Mike Smith has played well enough this season to earn a one-year contract with the Oilers. Since December, the 37-year-old netminder went 12-3-4 and tied for the second-most points accrued by a goalie since Jan. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, they won’t have much cap room unless they can shed some salary to re-sign or replace key players. Smith must accept a significant pay cut to stay in Edmonton.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes Oilers veterans Kris Russell, James Neal, and Alex Chiasson could be among the Oilers squeezed out to make room for younger talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell is signed through 2020-21 with a $4 million AAV, Neal through 2022-23 at $5.75 million AAV, and Chiasson through 2020-21 at $2.15 million. Chiasson would be the easiest to move via trade. Russell and Neal could be more difficult and might involve taking back a salaried player.

If the league and the NHLPA agreed to a one-time amnesty buyout because of the loss of revenue wrought by the coronavirus, Russell and Neal would be prime candidates.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently cited Jesse Puljujarvi’s Finnish head coach saying the young winger would be best off playing another season in Finland. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent embroiled in the contract dispute with the Oilers. The 23-year-old Finn opted to play for his hometown club Karpat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some media chatter after Puljujarvi became ineligible to play in the NHL this season suggesting he could have some value if the Oilers attempted to trade him this summer. It’ll be interesting to see what that assessment by his Finnish coach might have upon his trade value if Edmonton GM Ken Holland decides to shop him.










What Are Stan Bowman’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Chicago Blackhawks

What Are Stan Bowman’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Chicago Blackhawks

 










NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches

NHL General Managers On The Hot Seat as Trade Deadline Approaches

 










Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future

Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future

 










NHL Coaching Legend Scotty Bowman Finally Relents and Writes a Book

NHL Coaching Legend Scotty Bowman Finally Relents and Writes a Book

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

A look at the general managers and coaches potentially on the hot seat in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

GENERAL MANAGERS POTENTIALLY FEELING THE HEAT

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently listed Detroit’s Ken Holland, Toronto’s Lou Lamoriello, Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli, Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, the New York Islanders’ Garth Snow, Arizona’s John Chayka, Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher, Colorado’s Joe Sakic, Columbus’ Jarmo Kekalainen and Chicago’s Stan Bowman as the 10 NHL general managers potentially on the hot seat as this NHL season winds down.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is among several NHL GMs who could be on the hot seat. (Photo via NHL.com).

Holland was linked to Vancouver (before Jim Benning was re-signed) and Seattle’s expansion franchise. Mirtle also speculated Holland could be moved upstairs to a president’s role with the Wings or they could maintain the status quo. It’s expected Lamoriello will be moved out of the role as Maple Leafs’ GM at the end of this season, though he has a strong connection with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

There’s been rumors Chiarelli “is a man on an island in the front office as Wayne Gretzky exerts some influence,” while Oilers fans are “fed up”. Bergevin’s been given a vote of confidence by Canadiens ownership but Mirtle feels he’ll be on a short leash.

Snow has long had ownership support and contract talks with John Tavares could complicate any change before July 1. Still, Mirtle thinks the tide is shifting against the long-time Islanders GM. After two seasons with little improvement by the Coyotes under Chayka, a management change wouldn’t be surprising. Another early playoff exit by the Wild could prove costly to Fletcher.

Mirtle thinks this season’s improvement by the Avalanche means it’s safe to assume Sakic will be staying put. Kekalainen, meanwhile, could feel the pressure for Columbus to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Bowman likely isn’t going anywhere in the offseason but Mirtle wonders about his future if the Blackhawks get off to a poor start next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve summarize the main points from Mirtle’s piece. Holland’s contract is up at the end of this season and I think the Wings are ready for a management change. Lamoriello is expected to move aside to make way for assistant GM Kyle Dubas. I can see him taking another role in the organization.

I don’t think Chiarelli will be fired but, like Bergevin in Montreal, he’ll be under pressure to turn things around this summer. Maybe Snow will be replaced, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. I certainly don’t see it happening while he’s negotiating with Tavares. If Snow can’t get his captain under contract, that could spell the end of his long tenure as Isles GM.

The Coyotes have had a rough season, but they’ve played better in the second half of this season. That could justify keeping Chayka around for another season. I agree with Mirtle that another disappointing playoff for the Wild could lead to major changes, which could include firing Fletcher. I don’t see Sakic, Kekalainen or Bowman going anywhere. 

COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, Detroit’s Jeff Blashill, Edmonton’s Todd McLellan, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Washington’s Barry Trotz and Carolina’s Bill Peters as six coaches on the hot seat. 

The Rangers are committed to a rebuild but Vigneault has a reputation for being tough on young players. The justification for replacing Blashill could be the need for the younger players to hear a different voice. After Edmonton’s disappointing season, McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli could be vulnerable. 

Quenneville could be replaced if the Blackhawks’ front office believes the roster needs a fresh approach behind the bench. Allen feels the fact the Capitals haven’t extended Trotz’ contract speaks to tension between the coach and the organization. A new GM in Carolina could want to bring in his own coach, while could spell the end of Peters behind the Hurricanes’ bench. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an unusual season as no NHL head coach has lost a job…yet. Vigneault is under contract through 2019-20 so perhaps the Rangers will keep him around for next season. The fates of Blashill and McLellan could be tied to those of their respective general managers.

The Blackhawks’ struggles this season are of management’s making but it’s usually the coach who pays the price. If the Capitals make another early playoff exit, Trotz is a goner. With Francis out as the Hurricanes’ GM, his replacement will likely want to bring in his own staff.