NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2020

The Blue Jackets eliminate the Leafs from the qualifying round, Blues and Bruins fall to No. 4 seeds in their conferences, the second phase of draft lottery goes tonight, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets advanced to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs by blanking the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 in the fifth and deciding game of their qualifying-round series. Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo turned in a 33-save shutout while Zach Werenski, Liam Foudy, and Nick Foligno were the goal scorers. The Jackets face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of their 2019 opening-round series. Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second period.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski scored the winning goal in a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their qualifying-round series (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid effort by the Jackets in withstanding the Leafs’ offense and avoiding a repeat of their Game 4 collapse. Foudy’s goal was the dagger as the Leafs visibly sagged after that.

Another disappointing end to another season sparked plenty of fan and pundit criticism of the Leafs management over how the roster was constructed. I’ll have more later this morning in the Rumor Mill. As for Barrie, that game was likely his last as a Leaf. He’s an unrestricted free agent and not expected to return.

Braden Holtby kicked out 30 shots as the Washington Capitals held off the Boston Bruins 2-1 in round-robin play. T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson scored for the Caps while Jake DeBrusk replied for the Bruins. The Capitals earn the third seed in the Eastern Conference while the Bruins slipped to fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were winless in their three round-robin games. One reason is the “Perfection Line” (Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand) was anything but, collecting just one assist between them. The Bruins need more from their top line as they face off against the hungry young Carolina Hurricanes in the opening round.

The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues dropped into the fourth seed in the Western Conference following a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars in round-robin play. The Stars picked up the third seed following Denis Gurianov’s game-winning goal after Joe Pavelski tied it late in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting that last year’s Cup finalists didn’t play that well during round-robin play, looking nothing like their dominant selves during the regular season. Maybe beging guaranteed playoff berths had something to do with it. Perhaps they couldn’t get motivated for the round-robin after going through a four-round slog last spring. Maybe they need a little more time getting up to speed following a long layoff. Whatever the reason, they’d better rediscover their winning ways soon or their hopes for another shot at the Cup will be quickly dashed. 

HEADLINES

The opening-round match-ups and schedules were released last night. The first games begin Tuesday, Aug. 11. Each series is now a best-of-seven format:

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders

Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes

Western Conference

Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks

Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes

Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames

St. Louis Blues vs Vancouver Canucks

Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 6 pm ET to determine which of the eight clubs eliminated from the qualifying round will win the first-overall pick. Each team as a 12.5 percent chance of winning the pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect howls of outrage from some observers if the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, or Toronto Maple Leafs win that pick. I, on the other hand, will delight in the chaos and the possibilities that could arise if one of those teams wins the pick. Will they shop it to address their roster weaknesses, or keep it and instead trade away a current star? That will stir the rumor mill for weeks leading up to the draft in October.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Winger Max Pacioretty has joined his teammates in Edmonton for Game 1 of their opening-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Pacioretty had remained in Las Vegas during the round-robin to treat a minor injury suffered during training camp.

THE WASHINGTON POST’s Samantha Pell reports Capitals coach Todd Reirden hopes defenseman John Carlson will be ready for Game 1 against the New York Islanders. Carlson hasn’t played since being sidelined during exhibition play nearly two weeks ago.

CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz was a full participant in practice yesterday. He’d been sidelined with an undisclosed injury suffered during exhibition play.

New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk (undisclosed) returned to practice yesterday and could be ready for Game 1 against the Capitals. He’d been sidelined since suffering an apparent head injury in Game 1 of the qualifier series against the Florida Panthers.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu, 37, is uncertain if this season was his last with the Wild and in the NHL. He’s an unrestricted free agent but intends to weigh his options, including talking with Wild management to see if they’re interested in bringing him back next season. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed winger Evgeny Svechnikov to a one-year contract extension. Salary details weren’t disclosed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2020

Recaps of the opening games of the qualifying round and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice and collected three assists in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kubalik set a record for most points by a rookie in his first playoff game. Jonathan Toews also scored twice for the Hawks. Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists. Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will have a hearing on Sunday with the league’s department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Oilers winger Tyler Ennis.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks feasted on the shaky play of Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and his teammates’ sloppy defensive play. Smith was replaced in the second period by Mikko Koskinen after giving up five goals on 23 shots. He could get the call for Game 2 on Monday.

The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Petry. Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price made 39 saves while rookies Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki picked up their first NHL playoff goals. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust replied for the Penguins. Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary and Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin failed to score on penalty-shot attempts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins also missed several good scoring opportunities. Nevertheless, Price did a fine job rising to the occasion for his overmatched teammates. If he wasn’t in the heads of the Penguins before this game, he is now.

A 4-1 victory by the Calgary Flames over the Winnipeg Jets was overshadowed by the departure of Jets center Mark Scheifele early in the game with an injured left leg following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames got power-play goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund and a shorthanded tally by Tobias Rieder. The Jets also lost winger Patrik Laine to an apparent hand injury in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice believes Tkachuk deliberately attempted to injure Schiefele, which the winger denied. There’s no question the loss of Scheifele affected his teammates, who seemed off-balance for most of the game. Maurice also indicated Scheifele and Laine will be examined by specialists, which suggests both could be sidelined for lengthy periods.

Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the New York Rangers 3-2. Petr Mrazek picked up the win with a 24-save effort. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 34 shots while Mika Zibanejad also had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Rangers, who were dominated by the Hurricanes for most of this game. It would’ve been a more lopsided loss if not for Lundqvist, who got the call after Igor Shesterkin was a last-minute scratch. He’s listed as day-to-day. Rangers winger Jesper Fast left the game in the first period following a big hit by former teammate Brady Skjei.

Semyon Varlamov kicked out 27 shots while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored as the New York Islanders held on for a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots for the Panthers. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period following an illegal hit to the head from Panthers blueliner Mike Matheson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky kept his teammates in this game but they couldn’t get the equalizer. No word on Boychuk’s status while Matheson only received a two-minute penalty.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Prior to Saturday’s Oilers-Blackhawks game, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba made a moving speech on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and took a knee during the American National Anthem, flanked by Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. Dumba is among the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is questionable for today’s round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask wasn’t feeling well and was unfit to participate in yesterday’s practice.

Bruins winger Ondrej Kase finally rejoined his teammates after missing all of the Phase 3 training camp. He isn’t expected to be in today’s lineup and it could be a few games before he returns to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s remarks about Rask doesn’t sound as though his status is COVID-related.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson returned to practice Saturday for the first time since leaving Wednesday’s exhibition game with an undisclosed ailment. It’s yet to be decided if he’ll play in tomorrow’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2020

The latest Islanders and Coyotes speculation plus an update on Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Before the New York Islanders facing the New York Rangers in yesterday’s exhibition game, Arthur Staple took questions from Isles fans in a live chat.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

Asked about possible cost-cutting measures for the cap-strapped club, Staple doubts anyone will trade for Semyon Varlamov. The goaltender has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple indicted former Isles goalie Robin Lehner would be available via free agency for perhaps the same price. Unless general manager Lou Lamoriello is willing to include a sweetener, I don’t see Varlamov being moved. They plan to let Thomas Greiss depart via free agency and have Varlamov tutor promising Ilya Sorokin.

Staple suggests Nick Leddy could be the Islanders’ best trade chip. The defenseman has two years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $5.5 million. Others could include blueliner Johnny Boychuk and perhaps Josh Bailey. He felt they would have to include a first-round pick if they hope to move winger Andrew Ladd.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladd was almost moved to Minnesota for Zach Parise at the trade deadline but that deal fell through. Given the new economic landscape, I doubt they’ll revisit that plan.

Leddy lacks no-trade protection and has a reasonable cap hit but his actual salary could be a sticking point. It rises to $6.5 million next season and $7 million in 2021-22. Injuries are taking a toll on Boychuk, who has a modified no-trade clause and a $6 million AAV through 2021-22. Bailey’s AAV is $5 million through 2023-24.

Staples doesn’t expect a rival club attempting to sign Mathew Barzal to an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but it’ll have to be a monstrous offer to make Lamoriello walk away. It’s possible but unlikely, and Lamoriello will do everything he can to match it.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy wondered what’s in store for the Arizona Coyotes under interim GM Steve Sullivan. His most pressing matter is re-signing Taylor Hall before the winger becomes eligible for unrestricted free-agent status at the season’s end.

Kennedy speculates Hall could test the market before deciding what to do. Sullivan and the Coyotes’ ownership must decide if re-signing the 28-year-old winger to an expensive, long-term deal is in their best interests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take a heckuva sell job on Sullivan’s part to convince Hall to stay, especially if they get eliminated from their upcoming qualifying-round series by the Nashville Predators.

Cap Friendly indicates they have over $79.9 million invested in 17 players next season. They’ll get $5.275 million in cap relief by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve, but that’s not enough to re-sign Hall and fill out the rest of the roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples observed a report out of Finland suggesting winger Jesse Puljujarvi indicated he recently had a “good and constructive” conference call with Oilers GM Ken Holland and coach Dave Tippett. The young winger isn’t ruling out returning to the club next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A restricted free agent, Puljujarvi spent this season playing in Finland hoping the Oilers would honor a trade request. Holland didn’t budge, leaving the young forward to re-examine his position.

Puljujarvi wants to return to the NHL and it appears he’s accepted his share of the responsibility for his poor play. However, we still have to wait and see if this means he’ll be returning to the Oilers next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Josh Anderson. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, Anderson missed all but 26 games to injury this season. A big winger with scoring ability, he frequently appeared in trade chatter this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I overlooked Anderson in my original post. My apologies. Anyway, his future with the Jackets could depend upon his contract negotiations in the off-season, and how much interest he garners in the trade market. 

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Islanders

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Islanders