NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel plus updates on the Senators and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Jack Eichel’s camp is meeting with the Buffalo Sabres in a final attempt to convince management to allow their client to undergo disc replacement surgery. Team doctors recommend a neck fusion procedure.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel has a herniated disc in his neck and there’s an urgency to have it addressed as soon as possible. Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams have the final say on injury treatment. The 24-year-old center has been meeting with various doctors, collecting medical opinions to support his preferred procedure.

Kaplan said sources claimed as many as five teams were interested in trading for Eichel. The Sabres’ standing firm on their huge asking price amid the medical uncertainty has cooled most of the trade talk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have my doubts the Eichel camp can convince Sabres management to change its mind. Kaplan said filing a grievance could be Eichel’s last resort but it’s unlikely to succeed because the Sabres have the CBA on its side.

Eichel could be forced into a procedure he doesn’t want to continue his playing career. That could backfire on the Sabres.

There are teams right now willing to acquire Eichel (with conditions attached) and allow him to undergo his preferred procedure. The Sabres risk blowing a chance at a decent return for a player who, to be blunt, is currently damaged goods. Their hard-line could prove costly if he undergoes neck fusion and his performance suffers upon his return to action.

Whatever the outcome of this situation, you can bet the NHLPA will be pushing the league to amend the CBA to allow more flexibility for the treatment of injuries.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Ottawa Senators want to add a center or winger to their top-nine forwards to further boost their offense. He pointed out they have 11 picks in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch took note of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom could become a trade chip. While he’s currently playing for their AHL affiliate in Belleville, Garrioch doesn’t believe his days with the Senators are numbered. They hope his defensive play will improve and could also use him in case injuries strike their blueline later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will have to use a draft pick or two as trade bait if they’re unwilling to move Brannstrom. Cap Friendly shows them with two picks in the second round of next year’s draft plus three in the third and seventh rounds.

Pierre LeBrun poured cold water on the notion the Montreal Canadiens might be interested in Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome. He said the struggling Habs aren’t shopping around for help. General manager Marc Bergevin believes the answer to the club’s woes lies from within and that message has been passed along to everyone in the organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change if the losing continues in Montreal. Then again, why waste assets for a quick fix if there’s no one in the trade market who can reverse their fortunes.

Strome has had his difficulties with the Blackhawks. I don’t see him thriving under the immense pressure he’d face in Montreal.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Travis Hamonic, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports the San Jose Sharks cannot terminate Evander Kane’s contract due to his 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He cites two sources as saying the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) doesn’t allow them to do so.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he doesn’t believe the league sought to terminate the contract and the NHL Players Association would have fought it.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston and Friedman wondered what happens with Kane once his suspension ends in late November. They agree that a trade is pretty much unlikely right now.

Will he be welcomed back by his teammates or has his behavior since last season irreparable damaged their relationship? If so, will management bury him in the minors or tell him to just stay home? That’s something they’ll have to sort out with Kane once he serves his suspension.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun noted the void Travis Hamonic’s absence leaves on the Vancouver Canucks blueline. The 31-year-old defenseman is currently on what the club is calling a temporary leave of absence for personal reasons. They currently intend to stick with the rearguards they have while remaining hopeful Hamonic will return at some point this season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Canucks placed Hamonic on a leave of absence because a suspension is a road no one is willing to travel. He cites sources saying there’s more to this situation than meets the eye, which is why the club is remaining patient

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change, however, if there’s no change in Hamonic’s status and his absence becomes an ongoing issue on the ice.


Elliotte Friedman cites Al Morganti stirring things up last week by suggesting Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux would be happy to play for the Ottawa Senators. There were rumors about the two clubs talking this summer but Friedman looked into it and got multiple denials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of Giroux moving this season, Morganti said the only place he could see him willingly go to was Ottawa, where he resides in the offseason. He was only referring to a hypothetical situation where the Flyers shop Giroux if they’re unable to re-sign him before the March 21 trade deadline. As I noted yesterday, that will depend on whether the Flyers are sellers by that point, if Giroux is willing to waive his full no-movement clause to facilitate a trade, and if the Senators are in a position to acquire a big-name player as a playoff rental.

Keep an eye on the Anaheim Ducks over the course of this season. Ryan Getzlaf, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell are all unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Friedman doesn’t get the sense contract extensions are close in any case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf has a full no-movement clause in his one-year contract. However, he said last season he’d accept a trade if the return would help the Ducks. The others lack his full no-trade protection.

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant personally called winger Vitali Kravtsov hoping to convince him to return. The young winger is back in Russia but several teams say they’ve been told he wants to play somewhere in the NHL where he’ll get a fresh start. He indicated the Rangers seek a high price for the 2018 first-rounder but there’s definite interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate as to what that high price might be. TSN’s Chris Johnston last week speculated it could be a return comparable to what the Rangers got from the Los Angeles Kings (second-round pick) in the Lias Andersson trade. Andersson was another first-round pick who didn’t pan out for the Blueshirts.

The Ottawa Senators will ask real value for Erik Brannstrom from teams calling about him. The 21-year-old defenseman still hasn’t landed a full-time roster spot but the Senators recognize his talent.

Friedman also touched on the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain salary in a Jack Eichel trade and how much Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg is seeking on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman spoke about those during Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast and were duly noted in last Sunday’s NHL Rumor Roundup.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

The Senators are linked to several notable centers, the Hurricanes could be looking for another top-six forward, and the Jets are eyeing a former Red Wing. Details in this edition of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are still trying to add a center or winger via trade or free agency. Defenseman Erik Brannstrom could be used as a trade chip to add a winger or another center in order to move someone to the wing.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

The Senators kicked tires on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel but the asking price and contract are expensive. Internet rumors claim they’ve had talks with the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome could be a good fit if they acquire Eichel. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Dylan Strome and the Senators are mildly interested. The Sens would like to move center Logan Brown as it hasn’t worked out for the two sides. They’d prefer to get a player in return rather than a future asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks could shop Hertl if he intends to test the market next summer. A rebuilding club like the Senators could seek assurances he’ll re-sign with them. Unless you’re a playoff contender interested in Hertl as a rental player it makes little sense for the Senators to waste assets on a player who could depart as a free agent soon afterward.

A deal for Dylan Strome seems possible. Earlier this month, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times speculated Strome could be a cost-cutting candidate to free up cap space for new contracts for Brandon Hagel and Alex Nylander. They’re already over the cap by $2.1 million. With Brent Seabrook off their books, they can only draw upon the $3.9 million of Andrew Shaw as long-term injury reserve cap relief.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was asked if the Carolina Hurricanes still need another top-six forward. She believes they do, adding they seem to be looking for one.

They’ve been linked to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Even if they can’t land him, she still thinks they’ll make a trade of some sort, pointing out they’ll still have some cap space left after signing Andrei Svechnikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $12 million remaining. Assuming they spend up to $7 million on Svechnikov, there’s enough wiggle room to add another top-six forward. That depends, of course, on ownership’s willingness to spend toward the ceiling and which forward they target.

Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value is a lot to take on. They’ll have to ship out a salary in that deal, swing a separate cost-cutting move or convince the Blues to pick up part of his cap hit.


What Are Pierre Dorion’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Ottawa Senators?

What Are Pierre Dorion’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Ottawa Senators?


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2019

Nathan MacKinnon willing to accept less on his next contract to stay with the Avalanche, the Stars scratch Alex Radulov, Joe Thornton punches a goaltender, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche took a 3-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens and held on for a 3-2 victory. Avs winger Gabriel Landeskog scored in his return to the lineup after being sidelined 16 games with a leg injury. Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau made 32 saves in his NHL debut. Habs center Jesperi Kotkaniemi left the game after falling awkwardly on his head following a questionable hit by Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

Nathan MacKinnon said he’s willing to accept less money to re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon said he had no regrets over his current contract. He also said he’ll accept less money on his next deal because he wants to win with the Avs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon inked his current seven-year, $44.1-million contract following the 2015-16 season, when he was coming off three inconsistent, injury-hampered performances. At the time, it was a significant raise for the young center coming out of his entry-level contract. It was also a gamble that turned into a long-term bargain for the Avs as MacKinnon blossomed into a dominant 90-plus point player.

I don’t doubt MacKinnon’s sincerity about accepting less than market value. He’s taking a page out of his buddy Sidney Crosby’s book. However, he’s still going to get a hefty pay raise on his next deal.

When MacKinnon’s current contract expires in 2023, the salary cap could reach $90 million, meaning the highest-paid players could command between $14-$15 million annually. MacKinnon could get between $12-$13 million per season if he’s still racking up 90-point seasons by that point.

The Dallas Stars snapped a four-game winless skid with a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets, who overcame a 2-0 deficit to force the extra period. Joe Pavelski tallied the game-winner for the Stars, who raised eyebrows earlier in the day by announcing winger Alexander Radulov would be a healthy scratch from this contest. Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen each collected two points for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Radulov has 15 points in 29 games this season. He has five points in his last 10 games, with three of those coming against the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 25. He was held scoreless in his last four contests.

Andrei Svechnikov scored the only goal in a shootout as the Carolina Hurricanes nipped the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Svechnikov also had a goal and an assist in regulation play. During the second period, Sharks center Joe Thornton laid out Hurricanes’ goaltender Petr Mrazek with a punch to the mask when the latter objected to Thornton jabbing at the puck after the netminder covered it in the crease. Mrazek recovered and finished the game.

Milan Lucic scored his first goal of the season as the Calgary Flames held on for a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who’ve won three straight games. Earlier in the day, the city of Calgary reached an agreement with the Flames and the Calgary Stampede on a deal to construct a new arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can finally put to rest those silly rumors suggesting the Flames would relocate if they didn’t get a new arena. Despite public posturing by Calgary’s mayor, I had no doubt the city would eventually agree to construct a new arena.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by upsetting the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4. Mats Zuccarello scored the game-winner and collected two assists for the surging Wild, who’ve climbed from dead-last in the league over a month ago into a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel scored twice as his club downed the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. The Coyotes have won eight of their last 10 games, moving into first place in the Pacific Division.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin scored against his former club in a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alexandar Georgiev made 45 saves for the win, handing the Jackets their third straight defeat.

Ryan Pulock’s overtime goal lifted the New York Islanders to a 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov kicked out 31 shots for the win. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights roster following a leave of absence to spend time with his dying father. He was the backup for this contest.

Jonathan Toews scored in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Boston Bruins 4-3, snapping the latter’s eight-game winning streak. The Bruins rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force the extra frame. Dylan Strome scored and added an assist for the Blackhawks.


SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Brent Sopel released a statement yesterday clarifying comments he made a year ago describing encountered with Marc Crawford that could be considered abusive behavior by the former NHL coach. “It was not my intent to make any allegations against anyone or any organization,” Sopel said as part of his statement “I was only speaking to how Coach Crawford affected me. I cannot speak for how others were affected by him.”

TSN: A former NHL Players Association executive has filed a lawsuit against the PA claiming it covered up theft of over $100K in association funds by one of its executives. The PA is denying the accusation.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have sent struggling defenseman Erik Brannstrom to their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2019

Game recaps, the Blues and Golden Knights clinch playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Sean Monahan scored twice and set up two others as the Calgary Flames roasted the Anaheim Ducks 6-1. The Flames (103 points) sit eight points over the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference standings. 

Sean Monahan’s four-point performance gave the Calgary Flames a 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images)

The St. Louis Blues gave up four unanswered goals to the New York Rangers in a 4-2 loss but still clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist for the Rangers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On New Year’s Day, the Blues were last in the Western Conference and had the league’s second-worst record while stars such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo were regular fixtures in the trade-rumor mill. Credit for their impressive second-half rally belongs to interim coach Craig Berube and rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. 

Despite falling 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild, the Vegas Golden Knights also clinched a postseason spot. Paul Stastny scored both goals for Vegas while Eric Staal had a goal and an assist for the Wild (81 points), who sit four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Blues and Golden Knights secured their playoff spots because the Arizona Coyotes dropped a 3-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon tallied the only goal in the shootout. With 85 points, the Avalanche sit three up on the Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Nashville Predators (94 points) moved into a tie with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. P.K. Subban and Craig Smith each had a goal and an assist. Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta returned to action after missing 21 games with a shoulder injury. 

Jonathan Bernier and Jimmy Howard combined for a 28-save shutout as the Detroit Red Wings beat the New Jersey Devils 4-0. Bernier made 21 saves before leaving the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is expected to return to action tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 14 by an ankle injury. 

TSN: Ottawa Senators defenseman Max Lajoie is expected to be sidelined eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing season-ending sports hernia surgery. Rookie blueliner Erik Brannstrom is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.