NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2020

Could the Ducks trade Ryan Getzlaf? How will the Islanders free up cap space for Mathew Barzal? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray has been working the phones trying to get cap compliant for 2020-21 and leave some wiggle room during the season. The Ducks are above the $81.5 million salary cap by nearly $930K.

Could the Anaheim Ducks consider trading captain Ryan Getzlaf? (NHL Images)

Wingers Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg have come up in the rumor mill, but Murphy wonders if the Ducks would consider moving Ryan Getzlaf. A source told Murphy that three teams looked into the availability of the long-time Ducks captain. The 35-year-old center is entering the final season of his contract with an $8.25 million cap hit and a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible and Murray could be considering all his options. However, the Ducks GM might not have to go the trade route to become cap compliant.

Center Ryan Kesler could remain on long-term injury reserve if he’s still sidelined by a nagging hip injury. That would enable the Ducks to exceed the cap limited by the equivalent of his $6.875 million annual average value for 2020-21.

Trading a veteran like Getzlaf (if he agrees), Rakell or Silfverberg is an option. However, that could be based more on their performance in the coming season and where the Ducks are in the standings leading up to the 2021 trade deadline.

Murphy also reported the New York Islanders only have around $3 million in salary-cap space and must find more in order to sign first-line center Mathew Barzal. Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello was reportedly attempting to trade defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy but couldn’t find any takers in part because of their salaries.

Murphy wondered if Lamoriello might try moving a forward instead. A source suggested Josh Bailey as an option. He’s owed $5 million annually for the next three seasons but could be a fit on a young club with salary cap room like Detroit or Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello would probably find more takers for Bailey than for Boychuk or Leddy. The 31-year-old winger is a versatile two-way forward who can skate on either wing and netted 40-plus points in five of the last six seasons. He played a key role in their run to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final with 20 points in 22 games.

Those traits, however, also make Bailey a valuable member of the Islanders. I think the Isles GM will instead consider other trade options.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

How will the Islanders find cap space to sign Mathew Barzal? How will the Blue Jackets replace sidelined Gustav Nyquist? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.

ISLES MUST SHED SALARY TO SIGN BARZAL

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the Islanders have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space with center Mathew Barzal still to sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello will also find it challenging to bring back unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene and to add goaltender Cory Schneider.

Don’t expect the New York Islanders to buy out Jordan Eberle to alleviate their cap crunch (NHL Images).

Pulock filing for arbitration provides the Isles with a second buyout window that opens for 24 hours on Friday. However, they can only buy out a player earning an annual average value of over $4 million, ruling out Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey as options.

Lamoriello could attempt another cost-cutting trade. It’ll be difficult to find takers for Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) or Andrew Ladd ($5 million AAV) in this economic climate.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin indicates buying out Boychuk or Ladd won’t provide much immediate relief. The way their salaries are structured, a Boychuk buyout would give the Isles $833K in savings for 2020-21 while Ladd’s would be over $666K.

Larkin wondered if Lamoriello could place a player like Ladd on long-term injury reserve. Failing that, he’ll have to dump another salary via trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple also weighed in on the Islanders’ options. He indicates Martin, Greene and Schneider already have agreed-upon deals with the club but they’re being kept off the books for now in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.

Lamoriello could take a drastic step like buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy but Staple doubts he’ll go that far. He also doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually from the Isles unless Lamoriello can find a taker for Boychuk and at least one other contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple believes Lamoriello will have to get creative given how the trade market has dried up and the complications of going the LTIR route. He has a well-earned reputation for creativity when it comes to finding wiggle room under the cap, but this situation will still be a significant challenge.

Leddy has surfaced as a trade candidate. He’s under 30, doesn’t have a long injury history like Boychuk and Ladd, lacks no-trade protection and carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. With Devon Toews shipped to Colorado last month in a cost-cutting deal, it’s unlikely Lamoriello parts with Leddy now.

He could try to move Komarov ($3 million AAV through 2021-22, seven-team no-trade list) and Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, lacks no-trade protection. Both could be easier to move than Boychuk and Ladd, though it will still be challenging drumming up interest for either guy.

HOW WILL THE JACKETS REPLACE NYQUIST?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might pursue Mike Hoffman now that winger Gustav Nyquist is sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Losing Nyquist is a big blow for the low-scoring Jackets, who still haven’t suitably replaced the offense lost when Artemi Panarin departed via free agency to the New York Rangers last year.

Larkin acknowledged adding Hoffman won’t make the Jackets a Stanley Cup contender, but it would provide a much-needed injection of offense. He’s the type of player who can score given the opportunity at five-on-five or on the power play, which he’ll certainly get with the Jackets.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t a big fan of free agency. Instead, he’s expected to continue to play the waiting game with the handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs in the hope one of them will be willing to trade away a quality player on the cheap.

Portzline also examined internal options for the Jackets. They could slide Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner into left wing on the second line. Nyquist’s absence could also create an opportunity for rookie Liam Foudy to skate on the third line with Mikko Koivu and either Foligno or Jenner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets still have to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. With over $12 million in cap space, however, they’ve got sufficient room to do that and to find a suitable short-term replacement for Nyquist.

Hoffman is the best choice in the UFA market. He’d prefer a long-term contract but recent reports indicated he’d accept a one-year deal worth $6 million. That’s probably too rich for Kekalainen’s blood. He could be keeping an eye on the Lightning to see if he can land Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.

As with his efforts to sign Dubois, Kekalainen can afford to remain patient. He might not move on finding Nyquist’s replacement until training camp, which could be at least two months away.










No Movement But Plenty of Buzz in NHL Trade Market

No Movement But Plenty of Buzz in NHL Trade Market

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

Another look at the top remaining UFAs, including suggested destinations for Mike Hoffman, plus the latest on the Islanders and Jets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TOP REMAINING UFAs

THE SCORE: listed a roundup of the best available players by position. The top wingers include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund, and Andreas Athanasiou. Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene top the listing of defensemen, while Erik Haula and Carl Soderberg are among the best remaining centers. Goaltenders include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

Unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some decent depth remains among the wingers and defensemen, but not so much among the centers. All the goaltenders are past their best-before dates.

SPORTSNET: listed the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as potential destinations for Mike Hoffman. Those clubs are in need of scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Hoffman the best player remaining in the market and activity in the free-agent market slowed to a crawl by the flattened salary cap, the latest guessing game among fans and pundits is figuring out where the 30-year-old winger could go. He reportedly seeks a one-year deal worth $6 million.

Hoffman’s agent recently said up to 13 teams have expressed an interest in his client, with five or six of those serious. The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings have also been suggested, plus there’s been the odd speculation about Hoffman rejoining the Florida Panthers or Ottawa Senators.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND JETS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple listed Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey and perhaps Leo Komarov as potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the New York Islanders. A sticking point is teams could be asking for the Isles 2021 first-round pick. Staple wondered if general manager Lou Lamoriello could be comfortable including that pick. He has an extra second-round pick in 2022, or he could use his second-round picks to trade for a first-round pick.

Trade partners would be clubs with plenty of salary-cap space such as the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, or New Jersey Devils. What complicates things is there are a half-dozen clubs over the cap that must shed salary, plus four others (including the Islanders) that are close to the ceiling.

Staple isn’t concerned about Isles center Mathew Barzal becoming an offer-sheet target as there aren’t many clubs with sufficient cap space to blow him away with a big offer. He considers it unlikely Barzal would sign with Detroit or New Jersey. Nashville would be squeezed for cap space in 2021-22 with two goalies to sign while joining the New York Rangers would “ignite a true war”. Staple also points out it’s difficult to see teams making big offer sheets when they’re furloughing or laying off employees.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello’s biggest concern is freeing up cap space to re-sign Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Barzal could sign an offer sheet but I have my doubts. Lamoriello has indicated he’d match any offer. With Cap Friendly indicating the Isles have $8.9 million in cap space plus they can exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, it’s unlikely Barzal will be signed away.

A rival club could do it just to complicate matters for the Isles by matching but that doesn’t seem likely, especially given the tight economic situation everyone is facing right now.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe speculates it’s still possible Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could package restricted free agents like Sami Niku and Jack Roslovic that brings in someone like the Florida Panthers’ MacKenzie Weegar or one of the left-shot defensemen the Carolina Hurricanes have in abundance. They could also circle back on a UFA like Ben Hutton to see if their asking price is more reasonable.

With 21 players already under contract for next season, the Jets will have limited salary cap space even after they place Bryan Little on LTIR. Wiebe doesn’t expect a big-name move by the Jets to address their defense unless they make a blockbuster trade involving winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll have to be one helluva defenseman coming to the Jets to make Cheveldayoff part with Laine. The Jets GM could be comfortable starting the season with his current blueline and see how things develop leading up to the trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Flyers, Islanders and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is still actively talking to teams, but the flattened salary cap is making it difficult to add players to his roster.

This is the most difficult offseason that I’ve ever seen,” said Fletcher. He feels the NHL is entering the Flat Cap Era. “As crazy as it is right now out there, I think next summer could be even worse in terms of having some paralysis in the market, and having just too many teams having to move money.”

Fletcher is also focused on the long term. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim will be restricted free agents next summer while Scott Laughton is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Sean Couturier is two years away from UFA eligibility.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (NHL Images).

Carchidi observers forwards such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou remain available in the UFA market. However, he doesn’t know if Fletcher will pursue one of them.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wondered what the Flyers’ recent signing of Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract means for Shayne Gostisbehere. Both defensemen play a similar offensive-minded style. While Gustafsson’s addition doesn’t guarantee Gostisbehere will be traded, Hall suggests it increases the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could make it more difficult for the Flyers to move Gostisbehere. As per Cap Friendly, the 27-year-old blueliner has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports unrestricted free agents Andy Greene and Matt Martin are expected to return with the New York Islanders. The Isles could also be in the market for a bargain third-line winger. He listed Derick Brassard, Carl Soderberg, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Sheahan among forwards who might be available for the right price.

Staple added there’s nothing new regarding a recent rumor suggesting the Isles were close to trading defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV for next season. He speculates perhaps the Isles could interest the New Jersey Devils in winger Leo Komarov, who has a $3 million cap hit for the next two years. Staple also thinks Andrew Ladd is a likely LTIR candidate given his recent injury history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have $8.9 million in cap space, but a new contract for RFA center Mathew Barzal will likely eat up most of that, while defenseman Ryan Pulock is also due for a significant raise. Pulock has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.

GM Lou Lamoriello must shed salary to re-sign Barzal and Pulock and bring back Greene and Martin. Moving Boychuk could alleviate much of that cap concern, but Lamoriello could be forced to include a draft pick, prospect or young NHL player in the deal.

WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson believes the Buffalo Sabres should revisit the idea of trading defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to provide themselves sufficient salary-cap flexibility for next season. The Sabres have a projected $13.645 million available but most of that will be taken up re-signing RFAs such as Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Linus Ullmark and perhaps bring back Dominik Kahun after he wasn’t extended a qualifying offer.

Ristolainen, 25, has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.4 million. Wilson feels it may be worthwhile under the current economic conditions to move the blueliner for less than market value, pointing to the Vegas Golden Knights accepting a third-round pick in 2022 from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ristolainen trade rumors had the Sabres attempting to move him in exchange for a scoring forward. That need has been addressed with the additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.

It might be easier to move Ristolainen for a draft pick in a cost-cutting deal, but that’s assuming GM Kevyn Adams is willing to move him. Head coach Ralph Krueger apparently thinks highly of the Finnish blueliner and his opinion seems to carry considerable weight within the Sabres’ organization. Ristolainen probably won’t be shopped if Krueger wants him in the fold for next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2020

The latest on Brendan Gallagher, Mike Hoffman, Tyler Johnson and Johnny Boychuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GALLAGHER’S FUTURE IN MONTREAL IN DOUBT?

TSN: Darren Dreger wonders about Brendan Gallagher’s future with the Montreal Canadiens after contract talks broke off. Discussions between the right-winger and the Canadiens were going well until they acquired Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli and now general manager Marc Bergevin is playing hardball with the Gallagher camp.

Gallagher is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent, giving the two sides plenty of time to negotiate a deal. However, this situation has some observers wondering if Bergevin might consider trading the 28-year-old winger. Frank Seravalli believes the Vancouver Canucks would be among the suitors, pointing to their need for a scoring winger and Gallagher’s ties to Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s situation could be a preview of what most of next year’s UFA class could experience. The cap is expected to remain flat again for 2021-22 and that will force general managers to be less accommodating with their pending UFA talent than they were in the past. The acquisitions of Anderson and Toffoli also provide Bergevin with leverage that he didn’t have before the offseason began.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $1.998 million in cap space. Seravalli believes they have some ability to move out some contracts, suggesting Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter, as well as noting uncertainty over winger Jake Virtanen’s future. He feels GM Jim Benning would like to make one more splash in this offseason.

The Canucks might be interested in Gallagher if he hits the trade block, but I doubt they can put together a deal to land him. The winger carries a cap hit of $3.75 million. Benning will have to move over $4 million to take him on, assuming he can put together an enticing package for Bergevin. Other clubs with more roster and salary-cap flexibility could outbid the Canucks.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson (NHL Images).

UPDATE ON JOHNSON

TSN: Seravalli reports Tyler Johnson has expanded his list of trade destinations from five to eight clubs. His camp is also willing to accept some suggestions from Tampa Bay Lightning management to best facilitate a trade that will get the club out of salary-cap hell.

The Lightning could be forced to include a draft pick with Johnson or any other player (Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde) they would consider moving in a cost-cutting trade. Those players, however, hold all the cards with their no-trade clauses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning will probably have to pay far more than they would prefer to move one of those players. Every GM in the league knows their cap situation and won’t make it easy for them.

LATEST ON HOFFMAN

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Mike Hoffman is holding firm on his value and belief he’s a $5.5 million to $6 million player. He believes the 30-year-old winger can be had on a one-year contract. The Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators are the most interested, though the Canucks and Canadiens could get into the mix if they can move some pieces.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss indicates the problem for Bruins GM Don Sweeney is signing a player such as Hoffman would take up a big chunk of his $12 million in salary-cap space. The other clubs said to be interested in the winger will face the same issue. Hoffman and the remaining players in this year’s UFA market could be waiting a while to get what they want or be forced to significantly lower their asking prices.

ISLANDERS TRYING TO MOVE BOYCHUK

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple cites a report by The Fourth Period claiming the New York Islanders were close to trading Johnny Boychuk on Monday evening. The 36-year-old defenseman carries an annual average value of $6 million over the next two seasons, though in actual salary he’ll be owed just $5.25 million for the duration of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if efforts to trade Boychuk are ongoing following their trade of Devon Toews on Monday to the Colorado Avalanche. The veteran blueliner also carries an eight-team list of trade destinations, though perhaps he can be persuaded into broadening that list.