NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

The latest Bruins speculation plus some free-agent options available to the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean examined what’s left for the Bruins to do during this offseason. They must sign winger Jake DeBrusk, determine if defenseman Zdeno Chara will return and fill a need for depth among their middle-six forwards.

Will Zdeno Chara return to the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space ($7.35 million per PuckPedia) and DeBrusk’s streaky scoring, Bean believes the 22-year-old restricted free agent should receive a short-term deal worth somewhere in the range of $4 million annually.

Nothing much has happened with Chara, but if the unrestricted free agent wanted to leave, Bean thinks he would’ve done so by now. He feels the Bruins could use him as a third-pairing, left-side defenseman.

Bean believes the Bruins need additional left-wing depth. Possible options could include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula or Andreas Athanasiou. He doubts they have sufficient cap space for Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins intend to sign DeBrusk on that short-term deal suggested by Bean. It’ll likely happen by the time training camp opens, which could be around mid-December if the NHL begins its 2020-21 schedule on Jan. 1.

Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the schedule forward for ’20-’21 looks like before deciding if he’ll return for another season. I concur with Bean that if the 43-year-old rearguard was signing with another club he would’ve done so by now, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’d get a better offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe his preference is playing for the Bruins.

The Bruins could go the free-agent route to address their need for another left winger. Unless they make a cost-cutting trade, however, they can’t afford Hoffman. They might have to go into the bargain bin.

They could also go the trade route to address that need. Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports prospect defenseman Urho Vaakanainen could be a trade candidate.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the free-agent options available to Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen if he wants to bring in additional depth.

The Jackets could use a short-term replacement for Gustav Nyquist, who’s sidelined for five months recovering from shoulder surgery. Options include Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and former Blue Jackets Derick Brassard and Anthony Duclair. However, Hedger believes Kekalainen could instead look at promoting a promising young player.

Hedger feels the Jackets’ blueline depth took a bit of a hit when Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara were traded in cost-cutting deals. He suggests Sami Vatanen would be a good fit on the right side of the third pairing.

Kekalainen might need an experienced goalie if he decides to trade Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for additional cap space. Options could include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets popgun offense was a concern before Nyquist was sidelined. Kekalainen could go the UFA route or promote from within, but I’ve also read reports suggesting he could instead target a cap-strapped rival in the trade market.

Kekalainen could look to within his system to address his need on the third pairing but I wouldn’t rule out making an affordable short-term free-agent signing. Vatanen might be the best option but might not be cost-effective.

If Kekalainen trades Merzlikins or Korpisalo I believe he’ll promote Matiss Kivlenieks rather than add an aging UFA netminder.










NHL Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

NHL Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

 










The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019

The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2019

The Wild hire Bill Guerin as their new general manager, the Senators re-sign Colin White, the Islanders sign Derick Brassard and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday named Bill Guerin as their new general manager. Guerin spent 18 seasons as an NHL player and the past decade as an executive with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the past five years as assistant GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild hope Guerin, a proven winner as a player and in management, can right the ship and change the culture after they missed the playoffs last season. He didn’t waste any time getting started, re-signing forward Joel Eriksson Ek to a two-year, $2.975-million contract.

Guerin must also re-sign restricted free agent winger Kevin Fiala. He must decide if defenseman Jared Spurgeon still has a future with the Wild as he enters the final season of his contract.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday re-signed center Colin White to a six-year, $28.75-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $4.75 million and lacks no-trade protection.

Ottawa Senators re-sign center Colin White to a six-year contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: White is considered a core player for the rebuilding Senators. The 22-year-old played 23 games between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Last season was his first full NHL campaign and he didn’t disappointed, tallying 41 points in 71 games to finish fifth among NHL rookies.

A swift, versatile two-way forward, White should prove worthy of his new contract over the next six years. Given his upside, this deal could turn into a bargain for the Sens.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders yesterday signed center Derick Brassard to a one-year, $1.2-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for recent speculation claiming Brassard was on the verge of joining the Edmonton Oilers. The Isles hope the 31-year-old will provide some much-needed depth at center on their bottom-six.

MILE HIGH HOCKEY: (stick tap to Shawn Lamba) cites a report out of Finland indicating Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen “is set to travel to Hamar, Norway next week to begin training with Storhamar of the GET league.” Rantanen reportedly intends to keep his options open if a new contract with the Avalanche isn’t in place when training camp opens next month. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston believes a new contract with the Avs isn’t far off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The site reports Rantanen is believed seeking an annual average value in the range of $10 million. There’s also speculation he could get a four-year deal worth around $9 million per season. We’ll find out soon enough when Rantanen is signed and for how much for how long.

TSN: cites The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger reporting Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski seeks a three-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit around $5 million.

Hedger also said he’s heard Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Ivan Provorov’s camp has asked for $10 million per season, likely on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Werenski probably thinks he’s not going to get more than Seth Jones’ $5.4 million AAV as Jones is a better all-around rearguard. As for Provorov, I’ll be stunned if the Flyers pay him $10 million annually. He’s a talented defenseman yet to reach his full potential but he’s not worth that much.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes are still awaiting word from winger Justin Williams if he’ll return for another season. GM Don Waddell said he doesn’t want to set a deadline for Williams to reach a decision but noted time is getting short. Williams, meanwhile, is visiting family in Northern Ontario and has “nothing to report.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wouldn’t surprise me if Williams makes his decision following the Labor Day weekend.

TSN: Former Washington Capitals winger Dmitrij Jaskin is expected to sign with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPORTING NEWS: Mark Pavelich, a member of the 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” team and a former NHL player, was arrested Monday for reportedly attacking a neighbor with a metal pole following a fishing trip.

The charges include “second- and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun and possessing a gun with a scratched off serial number.” Pavelich was ordered by a Minnesota judge to undergo a mental evaluation before standing trial.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2019

Updates on Mitch Marner, Torey Krug, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Derick Brassard in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MARNER CAMP TALKS TO SWISS CLUB

TSN: Darren Dreger yesterday reported via Twitter that the representatives for Mitch Marner have spoken with Swiss League club ZSC Lions about training with them next month. There’s been little progress in contract talks between the Marner camp and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Could Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner practice in Switzerland if unsigned before training camp opens? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dreger also said Marner could pay the insurance premium and attend Leafs training camp next month without a contract. “What a circus that would be,” he said. Dreger also suggested trade interest in the 22-year-old winger “will grow as well as days go by.”

The Lions released a statement yesterday confirming Marner’s European agent sought permission to participate in their practices. “Whether and when the player will train with Zurich is not decided yet.”

It’s believed the Leafs have discussed three, six, and seven-year deals with the Marner camp worth between $9 to $11 million annually.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby believes all this posturing could come to nothing by the end of Leafs camp. By then, the club will have made another trade to get close to Marner’s $11 million or activate $10.55 million in cap space by placing Nathan Horton and David Clarkson on long-term injury reserve.

SPORT-EXPRESS’ Igor Eronko tweeted Marner wasn’t drafted in the KHL so he could sign with any KHL club he wishes. “Some of them could offer much more than Zurich or any other Swiss team. Avangard did a lot to land William Nylander but he was set to sign with the Leafs. Is Mitch set?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This looks like an insurance move by Marner’s reps. If there’s no deal in place when camp opens next month, I doubt he’ll attend without a contract. Should it take until the start of the season to get a new contract in place with the Leafs, he’ll need a team to practice with. It ensures he can stay sharp and close to NHL-ready when the season begins.

Some teams could call the Leafs to inquire about Marner’s availability. However, they’ll have to make a significant offer to tempt general manager Kyle Dubas. Any club interested in Marner must also ensure they have sufficient cap space to pay him what he seeks.

I doubt Marner signs with a KHL team. He wants to play in the NHL, preferably with the Leafs, but he also wants to get what he believes is a fair price for his services.

NO CONTRACT TALKS YET BETWEEN BRUINS AND KRUG

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source claiming there have been no new contract extension talks between the Bruins and Torey Krug. The 28-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $21-million contract.

Murphy speculates the lack of communication could be tied to the Bruins’ ongoing efforts to re-sign blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. He thinks Krug could command up to $9 million annually on the open market and wonders if the Bruins can afford to retain him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug’s UFA status will make him the subject of some trade speculation throughout this season. If the Bruins are out of playoff contention by the February trade deadline, maybe they’ll consider shopping the rearguard. Otherwise, they could retain Krug for another run at the Stanley Cup next spring and deal with his contract situation afterward.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

TSN: reports Jesse Puljujarvi still seeks a fresh start away from the Edmonton Oilers. He told Finnish TV station Laari he’s hoping for a top-six forward role with a new NHL team. “I want a team where I get a place in one of the first two lines and where I get to play for 15 minutes per game. Then I could show what I’m going for. That is my main goal.”

Puljujarvi also admitted he’s struggled to learn English since coming to North America in 2016. Meanwhile, his agent insists his client isn’t bluffing about wanting a trade out of Edmonton. “Puljujärvi is and has been convinced that he needs a change. He is an NHL player,” said agent Markus Lehto on Monday. “This is about getting an opportunity for a new start. The salary can be almost anything.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Puljujarvi camp is sincere about their trade request. However, he’s coming off a disappointing performance throughout his entry-level contract and holds no leverage here. He’s not a core Oilers player and his trade value is low right now. Until Oilers GM Ken Holland finds what he considers a decent return, I doubt he’ll move Puljujarvi.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 10, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – August 10, 2019

Update on the best available unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: recently updated their list of the top available NHL unrestricted free agents by position.

Jake Gardiner remains the best player available in this summer’s NHL UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

Thomas Vanek, Patrick Marleau, and Pat Maroon top their list of left-wingers. Joe Thornton, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, and Riley Sheahan are their notable centers. The noteworthy right-wingers include Justin Williams and Jason Pominville.

Jake Gardiner, Niklas Kronwall, Ben Hutton, and Dion Phaneuf remain among the available defensemen while Cam Ward is the noteworthy goaltender.

NHL.COM: lists Williams, Marleau, and Thornton as the best available forwards, Gardiner, Hutton, Kronwall, and Phaneuf as the top defensemen, and Ward the best available goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing’s changed with this listing since late July. Kevin Shattenkirk was briefly on this list following his buyout by the New York Rangers but was quickly signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gardiner is still the best player on the open market. There’s some speculation suggesting he could return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some think he’s got a “handshake agreement” with a team that’s waiting to clear sufficient salary-cap to fit him in. Considering how slow things are right now, we probably won’t find out where Gardiner lands until training camps open next month.

The Hurricanes are still awaiting word whether Williams intends to return for another season or retire. He’s not expected to consider playing with another NHL club this season.

It’s assumed Thornton and Marleau will sign with the San Jose Sharks. With over $4.6 million in salary-cap space and all their other roster players under contract, the Sharks can afford to sign the duo to affordable one-year, bonus-laden contracts.

There’s talk the Edmonton Oilers could have interest in Brassard as a checking-line center. It’s rumored his representatives seek $4-million per season. At this stage, he’ll be lucky to get half that salary on a one-year deal.

Maroon recently said he hasn’t ruled out a return with the St. Louis Blues. Earlier this summer, it was reported he sought a two-year deal but the Blues are only interested in offering a one-year contract.

The Detroit Red Wings are reportedly willing to bring back Kronwall for one more season. That’ll depend upon whether the oft-injured blueliner feels he’s healthy enough for one last NHL campaign.

Some of the players on this list could end up accepting professional tryout offers when training camps open. We’ve already seen a trickle of those signings coming in. The most notable include the Toronto Maple Leafs signing former Philadelphia Flyers Michal Neuvirth and Matt Read to PTOs.