Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

A look at five players on non-postseason contenders with something to play for down the stretch in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DAILY FACEOFF: Phil Kessel and Travis Konecny are two of the five players on non-playoff clubs that Matt Larkin believes still have something to play for over the remaining weeks of this regular season.

Kessel sits second on the all-time consecutive games-played list with 971. He won’t catch Keith Yandle’s record of 989 but he could reach 982 by season’s end if he stays in the lineup.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s pursuit of the NHL Ironman record isn’t a rumor, but it could play a part in his efforts to find a new club after this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and the Coyotes aren’t expected to bring him back.

Kessel’s best seasons are behind him but the 34-year-old right winger sits third on the low-scoring Coyotes with 44 points and is their leader with 37 assists. Those are respectable numbers and could make him enticing as an affordable short-term free-agent signing by a playoff contender this summer.

Konecny, meanwhile, has struggled over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s difficult to judge the 25-year-old winger’s performance when the entire club has underachieved. Larkin’s colleague Frank Seravalli reported Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had spoken with other clubs about Konecny. While no deals materialized before the trade deadline, the groundwork may be laid for an offseason move. His performance over the remainder of this season could determine his fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s contract could also become a factor in whether he’s traded this summer. He carries an annual average value of $5.5 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor recently suggested he could become a trade candidate if Fletcher decides to shake up the roster core this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic’s inconsistent play this season saw him become the subject of trade rumors. A restricted free agent this summer, the final weeks of this season could give him an opportunity to show the Jackets that he’s worth retaining. Larkin speculates he could accept the Jackets’ qualifying offer in the hope of improving his value next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic had six points in 10 games leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. He had a four-point performance Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings (including a hat trick) but that’s accounted for most of the six points he’s had in the 10 games since deadline day.

Dylan Strome’s erratic production frequently surfaced in trade chatter this season. However, the 25-year-old center has 22 points in his last 17 games since being moved to the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat at the start of March. If he continues playing well with those two it could earn him a multi-year extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Blackhawks could also try to trade Strome this summer while his value is up.

Larkin also wondered what the future could hold for Erik Brannstrom as the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman attempts to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. A solid effort down the stretch could earn him a bridge deal with the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin observed Thomas Chabot’s season-ending hand injury has opened the door for Brannstrom. He’s been paired with Artem Zub and is seeing regular top-four minutes. However, the addition of top prospect Jake Sanderson could make Brannstrom’s future in Ottawa an uncertain one.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

Analysis of Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek’s list of potential trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek recently listed 25 potential trade candidates of interest to watch this season.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano (NHL Images).

He starts by wondering if Mark Giordano might be thinking of a shot at the Stanley Cup and if the Seattle Kraken might consider shopping him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule it out. That move could happen near the March 21 trade deadline. On the other hand, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of the Kraken re-signing him.

The Montreal Canadiens could get a first-round pick for defenseman Ben Chiarot from a team seeking a deep playoff run.

That seems to be the growing consensus among the pundits. We’ll find out at some point this season if that’s the case.

Marek also wondered if Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli would want to be part of a potential rebuilding in Montreal.

If the Canadiens decide to move Gallagher and/or Toffoli it’ll likely happen in the offseason. It’s difficult to move older players with several years on their contracts during the season, especially with 22 teams carrying less than $3.6 million in cap space. Some will have more cap room by the trade deadline but they must also keep an eye on next season’s payrolls with the cap only rising by $1 million.

The direction of the Nashville Predators depends on what they do with pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Predators GM David Poile said in July he was engaging in a “competitive rebuild”. That could continue with Forsberg’s departure. If they’re still in playoff contention by the deadline they’ll keep him as an “own rental” and let him walk this summer if they can’t reach an agreement on an extension.

The Dallas Stars are shopping Anton Khudobin. Marek suspects they’re after a forward. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes have called about John Klingberg but the Stars could keep him for the playoffs if unable to re-sign the pending UFA defenseman.

Concur on both counts.

The Boston Bruins will remain patient in their efforts to move winger Jake DeBrusk until they get the best possible player or players in return.

Interested clubs could also be unwilling to meet the Bruins’ asking price. Marek’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported GM Don Sweeney was seeking a defenseman or forward of equal value.

The Vegas Golden Knights could move Reilly Smith to free up cap space when Jack Eichel is ready to return to action.

Smith seems the most likely trade candidate. He carries a $5 million cap hit, lacks no-trade protection and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

The Vancouver Canucks are looking to change direction and could surprise us by moving J.T. Miller.

Not if they manage to climb back into playoff contention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t rule out the Canucks testing the trade market for Miller.

Marek doesn’t envision any scenario where Evander Kane returns to the San Jose Sharks lineup. He believes they’ll have to absorb some of his salary to move him.

He’s not the only pundit who believes that.  Kane’s off-ice woes, his reputation as a divisive player in the dressing room and his $7 million annual salary cap hit make him difficult to move.

Perhaps a team in Alberta would have an interest in Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Marek is referring to the Edmonton Oilers. However, that depends on the health of Oiler goalie Mike Smith, whether Fleury would accept a trade to Edmonton and if the Blackhawks are willing to pick up part of his cap hit.

Marek suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Nick Leddy could become trade candidates.

Only if the Wings drop out of playoff contention again. Otherwise, they’ll keep both in hope of securing their first postseason berth since 2016.

Ditto Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney and blueliners Erik Brannstrom and Nick Holden.

I agree regarding Tierney and Holden but I can see them giving Brannstrom another season to crack their roster.

The Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Joonas Korpisalo by the trade deadline. Elvis Merzlikins is their starter and Daniil Tarasov shows promise.

Concur.

Marek wonders if the St. Louis Blues might try to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It’s clear things are frosty between Taraseno and Blues coach Craig Berube.

Tarasenko hasn’t rescinded his trade request and is fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries. However, his $7.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 remains a sticking point as it was this past summer. The fact he’s owed $9.5 million in actual salary this season and I believe the earliest he gets moved is next summer.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury won’t budge on honoring Vitali Kravtsov’s trade request unless he gets something of quality in return. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s name has also been in the rumor mill.

Kravtsov is on loan to KHL club Chelyabinsk and can’t return to the NHL until the KHL season is over. Georgiev’s solid effort filling in for sidelined starter Igor Shesterkin could improve his trade value but the Blueshirts could be reluctant to move him unless they’ve got a reliable backup to replace him.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is available and so is pretty much anyone not named Jakub Chychrun.

I anticipate Kessel gets moved by deadline day. It’ll be interesting to see how many other Coyotes veterans hit the trade block by then.

Marek also wonders what the Pittsburgh Penguins will do with pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. What happens with Malkin will depend on his health.

I doubt the Penguins shop any of those three if they’re holding a playoff berth by deadline day. Rust is the only one lacking any kind of no-trade protection and carries the most affordable cap hit ($3.5 million).

Marek wondered if Oilers GM Ken Holland will use his first-round pick as trade bait to bring in immediate help for his roster. He also mused over whether the Buffalo Sabres would use one of their three 2022 first-round picks to address an organizational need.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2021

Alex Ovechkin moves up again on the all-time goal-scoring list, Jack Eichel undergoes surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tallied his 742nd career NHL goal while Conor Sheary scored the game-winner late in the third period as the Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Ovechkin overtook Brett Hull to move into fourth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Garnet Hathaway netted two goals for the Capitals while Sean Kuraly replied for the Jackets with two goals.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now sits 24 goals behind Jaromir Jagr for third place. At his current rate of production (12 goals in 14 games), the Capitals captain could surpass Jagr by mid-January.

The Buffalo Sabres upset the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 thanks to two goals by Dylan Cozens and a 33-save performance by Dustin Tokarski. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied twice to lead the league with 14 goals and 28 points while teammate Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his season-opening points streak to 13 games. The Sabres improve their record to 6-5-2.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. William Nylander set up both goals by the Leafs, who’ve won seven of their last eight contests. The Flames are winless (0-2-1) in their last three games.

Carter Hart turned aside 39 shots to backstop the Philadelphia Flyers over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Joel Farabee and Zack MacEwen netted third-period goals to give the Flyers the win.

The Chicago Blackhawks have three straight wins under interim head coach Derek King as they nipped the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Dylan Strome’s game-winner in the third period. Patrick Kane collected two assists as the Blackhawks improve their record to 4-9-2. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have just one victory (1-12-1) thus far.

HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel underwent successful artificial disk replacement surgery in Denver on Friday. He’s expected to spend three weeks in Denver recovering before returning to Las Vegas for the remainder of his expected three-month rehab.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators will play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Kanata and the Calgary Flames on Sunday despite their COVID-depleted roster. Nine Senators are currently on the COVID protocol list.

The league instructed the club to cancel practice for the third time this week on Friday to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Senators had hoped to convince the NHL to postpone several games until some of the players are well enough to return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to the report, the league sympathizes with the Senators’ plight but hopes to avoid rescheduling games until the club has almost no more players left to recall from their AHL affiliate.

While I understand the league’s reluctance to face rescheduling games as they did last season, they’re not doing the Senators any favors here by forcing them to ice a significantly depleted lineup. There’s also the risk of spreading the virus among themselves or their opponents. The good news (so far) is no other players have tested positive since Thursday.

Speaking of the Senators, defenseman Erik Brannstrom will be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a broken hand suffered during Thursday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

SPORTSNET: Seven San Jose Sharks players (Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Lebanc, Jake Middleton, Matt Nieto and Radim Simek) and head coach Bob Boughner have returned to the active roster since being placed in COVID protocol on Oct. 30.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Karlsson, Middleton and Boughner described how their contracting COVID-19 affected their families. They were among the first of five others on the club to recently test positive for the coronavirus.

Karlsson said his wife and two-year-old daughter also tested positive. While his daughter is doing well, his wife is still dealing with symptoms. Middleton, meanwhile, had to put his girlfriend and their dog into a hotel during the 10 days he was in COVID protocol. Boughner’s parents were visiting when he got his positive test. He immediately quarantined himself into a hotel while his parents returned to Canada safe and sound.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated the Sharks organization is fully vaccinated. Neither Karlsson, Middleton or Boughner know where or when they were exposed to COVID.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman for two games for high-sticking Colorado Avalanche forward Kiefer Sherwood on Thursday.

TSN: Braydon Coburn announced his retirement yesterday after 16 NHL seasons. The 37-year-old defenseman tallied 234 points in 983 games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Coburn and his family in their future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2021

Could the Avalanche shop a defenseman for a scorer? What the latest on the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers believes the strong performance by rookie defenseman Bowen Byram might explain why the Colorado Avalanche were among the suitors for Jack Eichel before the Buffalo Sabres traded the 25-year-old center to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (NHL Images).

Chambers took note of Eichel telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman following his trade that at one point he thought he might be going to the Avalanche. He also speculated the Avs likely would’ve offered up defenseman Samuel Girard plus a top prospect or two and draft picks for Eichel but the Sabres likely would’ve wanted more.

Girard, 23, carries a $5 million annual salary-cap hit through 2026-27. Byram’s early-season play plus Devon Toews’ return from offseason shoulder surgery could’ve made it possible to dangle Girard in a package deal for Eichel. Chambers believes he’s still expendable if the Avs seek an elite forward or goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girard also surfaced in the rumor mill earlier this year, Chambers and a couple of his Denver Post sportswriting colleagues suggested he could become an offseason trade candidate following the Avalanche’s disappointing second-round exit from the 2021 playoffs.

Despite trading away Ryan Graves last summer, the Avalanche still possesses a deep defense corps. If Byram continues to blossom, general manager Joe Sakic could consider using Girard as a trade chip to add a second-line scorer before the March 21 trade deadline. He lacks no-trade protection and could interest teams in need of a skillful young puck-moving blueliner.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Ian Mendes was asked why the Ottawa Senators sent promising defenseman Erik Brannstrom to their AHL affiliate to start the season. He felt it was done because he was waiver-exempt and they needed to move a body.

Mendes believes Brannstrom is frustrated and that could be why he changed agents. His sense of the situation is the young blueliner hasn’t requested a trade and he doesn’t think the Senators are shopping him. His guess is Brannstrom will either be playing with the Senators following the trade deadline or he’ll be dealt away. This is his last season with waiver-exempt status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mendes felt the Senators need to know what they’ve got in Brannstrom or risk losing him to waivers next fall. He believes they want to give him a legitimate shot on their roster. Still, it could be worth monitoring Brannstrom’s situation.










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.

LATEST ON EICHEL

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.

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS AND CANADIENS

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.

NO CONTRACT TERMINATION FOR EVANDER KANE

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.

UPDATE ON TRAVIS HAMONIC

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.

RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

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.