NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2021

The latest on Brady Tkachuk, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, Vitali Kravtsov and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NOTABLE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports no change in the contract impasse between the Ottawa Senators and left winger Brady Tkachuk. They still want a seven- or eight-year contract while Tkachuk wants a bridge deal.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer this goes on the more concern will be raised about Tkachuk’s long-term future in Ottawa. He’s already played three seasons and a three-year bridge deal brings him to within one year of his UFA eligibility. I can understand the Senators’ rationale to avoid that scenario. However, a long standoff could cause irreparable harm to his relationship with management and send him out the door much sooner than the Senators prefer.

Friedman believes the New York Rangers’ re-signing Mika Zibanejad takes them out of the Jack Eichel trade market unless the Buffalo Sabres or a third party is willing to retain salary. “New York can’t do it at $10M”, referring to Eichel’s annual average value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or the Rangers shed $10 million to make room for Eichel’s full cap hit, which also seems unlikely.

The Philadelphia Flyers informed Travis Konecny at the end of last season they could’ve easily traded him as there was lots of interest in the winger. However, they didn’t want to do it because they felt he’s too important and too good to give up on. Konecny rewarded that faith by showing up fit and ready to go for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher fired a shot across Konecny’s bow. He’s a terrific player but was inconsistent and seemed distracted at times during last season. If he’s put those issues behind him the Flyers will be thankful they stayed patient with him.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Seattle Kraken sign captain Mark Giordano to a contract extension

BLACKHAWKS COULD MOVE DYLAN STROME

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks have a surplus of centers and there’s a good chance Dylan Strome could be traded within the next week or two. He said there are some teams “kicking tires” on the 24-year-old center.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also believes Strome could be a trade candidate. “Head coach Jeremy Colliton is talking about him as a fourth-liner, and that’s not a place he will thrive.”

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks aren’t facing pressure to move Strome. However, they’re actively listening to offers and considering their options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Seattle Kraken could be among the suitors. Strome’s in the final season of a two-year contract with a $3 million annual average value but that could prove expensive for cap-strapped teams.

RANGERS WILLING TO TRADE VITALI KRAVTSOV

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers have given Vitali Kravtsov’s agent permission to talk to other clubs about a trade. He claims there’s “definitely interest” in the 21-year-old winger, who was selected ninth overall by the Rangers in 2018.

TSN: Chris Johnston suggested there is precedent for the acquisition cost, pointing out the Rangers shipped former first-rounder Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings last fall for the 60th overall pick (second round) in the 2020 NHL Draft.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2021

Update on the contract impasse between the Senators and Brady Tkachuk plus the latest on Tomas Hertl, Phil Kessel and Aleksander Barkov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TKACHUK CONTRACT IMPASSE WITH SENATORS CONTINUES

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators head coach D.J. Smith is making plans to start the upcoming season without Brady Tkachuk. The 21-year-old left winger’s contract talks with management remain at a stalemate.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Garrioch cites St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland reporting Tkachuk wants a three-year contract but the Senators prefer a longer-term. It’s believed they tabled an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million.

Strickland said Tkachuk loves Ottawa but wants to be cautious and see how the next three seasons unfold. Garrioch said the club has nothing but respect for Tkachuk and doesn’t want these negotiations to get vindicative or personal. However, a bridge deal could adversely affect his chances of being named team captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strickland took to Twitter yesterday reporting a lack of communication from the Senators is a big reason why a deal hasn’t been reached yet, sometimes going several days without reaching out to the winger’s camp. This runs counter to reports out of Ottawa claiming Sens general manager Pierre Dorion is in constant contact with Tkachuk’s representatives. Strickland also points out the Senators have a history of doing this to their best players under owner Eugene Melnyk.

Meanwhile, TSN’s Chris Johnston reports Senators sources said they can reach the salary-cap minimum for this season without Tkachuk under contract. They aren’t feeling pressure to become cap compliant by the league’s 5 pm ET deadline on Monday.

LATEST ON HERTL, KESSEL AND BARKOV

TSN: Pierre LeBrun considers Tomas Hertl an early name to watch for on this season’s trade-bait board. The 27-year-old San Jose Sharks center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. LeBrun believes the Sharks would’ve loved to extend Hertl’s contract this summer but he wasn’t ready to enter that type of conversation. He could be in play by the trade deadline if the Sharks are out of playoff contention by then and he remains unsigned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl also recently hinted at a willingness to accept a hometown discount but winning also remains a priority. The Sharks’ performance this season could determine his future in San Jose.

Darren Dreger believes the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel will also be on this season’s trade-bait list. He’s a UFA next summer and doesn’t appear to fit into the rebuilding Coyotes’ plans. The 34-year-old winger wants a fresh start with a competitive team, if not a contending club. He’s got a big cap hit and some no-trade protection. However, the actual salary is only $1 million. He could be a fit elsewhere later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel earns $6 million in actual salary but $5 million of it was as a signing bonus which the Coyotes already paid. He could draw interest by the trade deadline from playoff contenders looking for scoring depth.

LeBrun believes Aleksander Barkov will be staying with the Florida Panthers for the rest of his career. There’s been a lot of talks between the 26-year-old center and the Panthers about a long-term contract extension. He doubts Barkov will hit next summer’s free-agent market, suggesting a deal could be struck within the next several weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are a rising force in the Eastern Conference. Barkov plays a critical role as their captain, first-line center and top two-way forward. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t get a long-term extension done.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2021

The latest on Brady Tkachuk’s contract talks with the Senators and some speculation about Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly’s next contract in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports all eyes are on Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk after Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks over the weekend. Tkachuk is the sole notable restricted free agent.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion remains in constant contact with Tkachuk’s agents and both sides hope to get this resolved as soon as possible. It’s believed the Senators have pitched an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Friday the Tkachuk camp seeks north of $8.4 million.

No one knows what effect Pettersson’s three-year bridge contract with the Canucks will have on Tkachuk’s negotiations. St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland said the Senators prefer a seven- or eight-year deal while Tkachuk seeks a bridge deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tkachuk signs for three seasons, he’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and can seek a much higher annual average value. It’ll also bring him within one year of eligibility for unrestricted free agency.

The Senators obviously want to avoid that scenario. For now, there’s no indication the two sides are getting closer to an agreement though that could change quickly with the start of the season fast approaching.

TSN: Darren Dreger talked about Morgan Rielly’s contract situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Asked what a hometown discount would be for Rielly, Dreger speculates it would be north of $8 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With several notable defensemen inking big-money contracts this summer, Rielly is going to seek a comparable deal. A hometown discount would be at least $8 million annually.

The Leafs have over $67 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Even if Rielly accepted $7 million annually, it would still take a big chunk out of their cap payroll with goalie Jack Campbell also slated to become a UFA and defenseman Rasmus Sandin a restricted free agent. In other words, unless the Leafs shed salary they’re going to have a difficult time keeping Rielly beyond this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2021

An update on Brady Tkachuk’s contract talks with the Senators, the latest on Jack Eichel, and trade speculation about the Canucks’ Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reported last night on the contract talks of the Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and the Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk. The trio is training together in Michigan as they await the finalization of their new deals.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

While the Canucks are making progress with Pettersson and Hughes, discussions are grinding on between the Senators and Tkachuk’s representatives. While the relationship remains amicable, Dreger indicates the structure of the deal remains the sticking point.

If Tkachuk accepts a long-term deal, Dreger believes he’ll want bonus money and some no-trade protection. If it’s a bridge deal, he speculates the annual average value could be too much for the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators have tabled an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. The length and AAV could be fine with the Tkachuk camp, but they want a portion of his actual salary to come in the form of signing bonuses.

Players with signing bonuses in their contracts get that money upfront in one lump sum at the start of each season. More star players are insisting on that because of the flattened salary cap for the next several years. The Senators, however, don’t include signing bonuses in their contracts.

As per Cap Friendly, Tkachuk isn’t eligible for no-trade protection until he’s played seven NHL seasons because he made his NHL debut at age 19. That means it wouldn’t kick in under his new contract until after the fourth season.

The no-trade protection should be the easiest of those issues to hash out but that depends on whether the Senators will allow for a full no-trade or a partial one. Their position on signing bonuses could be the biggest stumbling block if they’re unwilling to relent.

Turning to the standoff between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel, Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA have been speaking to all parties involved and have been for some time. An interesting twist is that teams with trade interest in Eichel are being given medical information as it comes in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s heft contract, the Sabres’ expensive asking price and the ongoing uncertainty over his medical status remain significant impediments toward getting a trade done. Nevertheless, the fact interested clubs are being allowed access to Eichel’s medical records suggests they could allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he’s been pushing for. Whether that means we’ll see a deal made soon remains to be seen.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson the Canucks have been shopping defenseman Travis Hamonic ahead of today’s opt-out deadline. It hasn’t been confirmed by Hamonic’s agent if his client would show up to play for an American team if traded or opt-out of this season regardless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic hasn’t reported to Canucks training camp amid concerns over the league’s COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season. Players have until today to opt-out of participating.

Hamonic passed on the 2020 playoff bubble because his then-infant daughter was hospitalized with a respiratory ailment. We’ll find out by the end of today whether he’ll be playing this season and if it’ll be with the Canucks.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

An update on the Senators’ contract talks with Brady Tkachuk plus the latest on the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain in contract talks with Brady Tkachuk’s representatives as training camp continues without the 22-year-old restricted free agent winger.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

General manager Pierre Dorion has been in daily contact with Tkachuk’s agents Craig Oster and Don Meehan. It’s believed the Senators tabled an eight-year, $64 million contract. While the two sides aren’t far apart regarding the dollars, the structure of the deal remains a sticking point.

The issue is Tkachuk’s agents seek bonus money for their client and the Senators don’t want to go that route. TSN’s Darren Dreger wonders if a short-term deal could be the middle ground. While the Senators have plenty of salary-cap space, Garrioch believes they don’t want to sink 60 percent of their cap payroll into four or five players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Missing training camp will affect Tkachuk’s performance when he finally returns to the lineup. That could become a potential setback for the Senators’ hopes of playoff contention this season. There’s no indication how much longer this impasse could drag on though one phone call from either camp could quickly bring this to a resolution.

I’ve seen some fans musing over the internet over whether the Senators could trade Tkachuk if this standoff carries over into the regular season. I doubt they’ll go to that extreme. He remains a valuable member of their core. Garrioch also noted the deadline for clubs to get their RFAs under contract is Dec. 1. I’ll be surprised they reach that point without a resolution.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning addressed the ongoing absence of defenseman Travis Hamonic from training camp. He expressed confidence last week that the 31-year-old would report after missing medicals and the start of training camp.

It’s believed Hamonic’s absence is related to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players for the upcoming season. The deadline to opt-out of this season is Oct. 1. Hamonic took that option in the 2020 playoff after his infant daughter was hospitalized with a serious respiratory infection.

Benning said Hamonic is dealing with a personal issue and wants everyone to give the blueliner the space he needs to deal with it. He added he’s in constant contact with Hamonic’s agent. Kuzma said the Canucks GM didn’t want to dwell on the cause of the blueliner’s absence, the opt-out deadline, or what maneuvering he might have to do to reallocate Hamonic’s $3 million salary this season to add a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are also dealing with the ongoing absences of restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. If Hamonic opts out of this season, perhaps some of that $3 million he was supposed to earn will go toward new contracts for Pettersson and Hughes.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Morgan Rielly, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brady Tkachuk and Eric Staal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports it’s difficult to pinpoint a timeline when the Buffalo Sabres could trade Jack Eichel. His new agent, Pat Brisson is on good terms with Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and there are ongoing discussions between the two.

Eichel and the Sabres remain at an impasse over which medical procedure he’ll undergo to repair the herniated disc in his neck. It’s possible Eichel gets traded to a club willing to allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he favors but there’s no guarantee and no sign a trade is close.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As they say in the Army: “SITREP: no change.” This will probably drag on for months and perhaps cost Eichel the entire season until a suitable trade partner is found. Even then, his $10 million annual cap hit over the next five seasons plus the Sabres’ expensive asking price could make any interested club leery of taking that gamble.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images)

Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly’s camp quietly engaged in preliminary contract discussions over the summer. LeBrun doubts anything will be settled quickly. A lot of it has to do with what next summer’s market will be for unrestricted free-agent defensemen after Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Darnell Nurse all got deals this summer worth $9 million-plus per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculates Rielly negotiations could drag on into next June. They could eventually reach a point where they decide to shelf those talks until the offseason. I think Rielly and his representatives saw those hefty offseason signings and believe they can get the same.

Some Leafs fans are still calling for Rielly to get traded if he doesn’t re-sign this season. I don’t see that happening unless the Leafs are out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline.

Dreger believes it’s all about the term and less about money in the Vancouver Canucks’ negotiations with restricted free agent defenseman Quinn Hughes. With training camp underway and Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin and Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov under contract, Hughes and teammate Elias Pettersson are hoping to find common ground soon with Canucks management.

Negotiations are also ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk. Dreger feels the main hurdles here are structure and protection. He wonders if a shorter-term deal might become an option if talks drag closer to the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No real change here from reports earlier in the week. Nevertheless, they could be signed at any time. We began this week with six notable RFAs and are now down to those three.

LeBrun reports unrestricted free agent center Eric Staal is committed to playing another NHL season but has yet to find a new club. His preference is to find a good fit with an American club.