NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

Check out the latest Maple Leafs and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MAPLE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked how much it could cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly when the defenseman’s contract expires in 2022. A good comparable is the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. Fox also suggested paying attention to whatever Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug gets in the coming off-season.

How much could it cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox acknowledged the fallout from the pandemic could affect the salary cap by 2022, which could impact what Rielly’s next contract looks like. Then again, perhaps league revenue rebounds by that point. Given Rielly’s value to the Leafs, don’t be surprised if his agent seeks top dollar. It’s worth noting the Leafs have over $55 million invested in just seven players for 2022-23.

Asked about a suggestion in The Athletic in which the Leafs trade goaltender Frederik Andersen and sign Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Fox isn’t sold on either guy as an upgrade over Andersen. He doesn’t expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to break up his current goalie tandem in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I expect the Leafs will return with their Andersen-Jack Campbell tandem next season. Their performances will determine their long-term futures in Toronto. Murray, by the way, is a restricted free agent. The Leafs will have to trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet.

Fox doesn’t see the Leafs acquiring another LTIR contract to free up cap space to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. However, he thinks Dubas could attempt to acquire a defenseman via trade. “Paying Ryan Kesler or Marian Hossa to not play hockey won’t help Toronto land Petro. Paying Kesler might, in theory, help Dubas acquire a Josh Manson plus a draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas and his staff surprised observers with their wheeling and dealing last summer to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Mitch Marner. We can’t rule out a scenario like that mentioned by Fox to bring in a defenseman, although that might not be necessary with yesterday’s signing of Mikko Lehtonen. Speaking of which…

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the addition of Lehtonen could bring some intrigue to the Leafs defense corps. On paper, his addition creates a log-jam of left-handed defensemen. O’Brien wonders if the Leafs could trade someone like Travis Dermott to balance things out on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen said he’s comfortable playing either side. If he adjusts well on the right side with the Leafs, they won’t have to trade someone like Dermott for a right-handed defender.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined potential free-agent options to bolster the Red Wings’ defense corps. The best of the bunch is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, but he’d probably prefer going somewhere more competitive if he doesn’t re-sign with the Blues. It might not be possible to lure Michigan native Torey Krug away from the Boston Bruins.

Other options include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. A good chunk of that cap room will be invested in re-signing key players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

Provided ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, they should have enough to make a competitive offer to one of those UFAs in the offseason. Nevertheless, the rebuilding Wings might have to overpay to entice one of those blueliners to join them.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2020

Recent speculation on the Oilers, Flames, and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if the Edmonton Oilers might bring back Taylor Hall if they can shed some salary. He felt there’s zero chance of the 28-year-old winger returning to Edmonton, pointing out the Oilers already carry several players with expensive contracts. “I think it’s a dream Oilers fans should wake up from. Hall’s not coming back,” wrote Spector.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with “Cousin Mark”. Hall returning to the Oilers is a pipe dream. Stop pining about what could’ve been and look forward.

Jesse Puljujarvi’s future remains an off-season question for the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Asked out the most likely scenario for Jesse Puljujarvi, Spector said the Oilers prefer he returns and plays for them. If he doesn’t, they could let him spend another season in Finland (where he’ll make less money), or trade him at the draft for perhaps two second-round picks, or a second and a prospect (the Oilers lack a second-rounder in this year’s draft). Spector thinks Puljujarvi should return to the Oilers on a one-year deal and prove he can still play.

(STILL NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Oilers handle this situation. Puljujarvi’s done well in Finland (53 points in 56 games), but that’s not much of an indicator whether he can be an effective NHL player.

Asked if Sam Gagner might sign with the Oilers as an unrestricted free agent, Spector believes he will. He’d be an affordable signing, his home is in Edmonton, and Oilers general manager Ken Holland could see Gagner as a future member of the front office.

(THE OTHER ) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagner is completing a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $3.15 million. He’s not getting that much ever again, but he could be a decent fourth-line pickup for the Oilers (or somebody else) on a one-year, $900K contract.

FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently opened up the mailbag to address questions from Calgary Flames fans. Asked if the Flames might shake up their core, Francis doesn’t believe they will. Acknowledging the production of stars like Johnny Gaudreau is down this season, he feels the early end to this season ensures Gaudreau will return next season. He thinks players like Gaudreau and Monahan shouldn’t be shopped until they’ve had a shot at redemption.

(THE BETTER-LOOKING) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I didn’t put any stock into the trade rumors involving Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this season. Yes, their production was down this season, but they’re only a year removed from their respective career-high point totals. They’re still in the mid-twenties and very much in their playing prime. Unless they asked to be moved, they’re not going anywhere.

Francis thinks the Flames will kick tires on Taylor Hall if he tests the UFA market but believes they’ll use their cap space to plug holes in their defense corps than overspending on Hall. He also doesn’t see both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic returning next season but Brodie could stay.

Francis also sees the Flames attempting to re-sign UFA goalie Cam Talbot or taking a stab at Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Vegas’ Robin Lehner. He doesn’t think they’ll try to buy out Milan Lucic’s contract, pointing out he fills an effective physical role, as well as his popularity with his teammates and among Calgary fans.

Asked if interim coach Geoff Ward will remain as their bench boss after this season, Francis believes he will, citing GM Brad Treliving saying he’s seen enough to make his decision. Following a shaky start, the Flames turned things around under Ward, who has a year remaining on his contract.

RED WINGS

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently weighed in with his thoughts on what Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will do with his 12 restricted free agents.

Tyler Bertuzzi will likely get a long-term deal. Anthony Mantha’s situation could be more complicated. He could sign a one-year deal to post up big numbers before his UFA eligibility in two years, or the Wings could ink him to a four- or five-year deal believing he’ll keep progressing.

Kulfan believes Robby Fabbri has shown enough this season to be part of the Wings’ short-term future. He expects Adam Erne to be re-signed but feels he must take a bigger step forward.

He wouldn’t be surprised if the Wings cut ties with Madison Bowey and Brendan Perlini.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2020

Offseason questions for several Pacific Division teams in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently posed one offseason question for each NHL Pacific Division team. Among the noteworthy were the following:

What’s the direction for the Anaheim Ducks? O’Leary feels a full rebuild is necessary, but management hasn’t yet shown any desire to go that route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If general manager Bob Murray opts for a roster teardown and rebuild, he could consider shopping veterans such as Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson. All of them surfaced at one point or another in this season’s rumor mill.

Henrique, Fowler, and Manson, however, all have modified no-trade clauses. Rakell lacks no-trade protection, but moving him would only deplete the Ducks’ anemic offense.

Given the Calgary Flames’ salary-cap constraints, O’Leary wondered which of their unrestricted free agent defensemen will be back next season. He pointed out that Flames GM Brad Treliving attempted to ship T.J. Brodie to the Toronto Maple Leafs last year for Nazem Kadri before the latter was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche.

Travis Hamonic shouldn’t be too expensive to retain. O’Leary also wondered if recently-acquired Erik Gustafsson might be offered a team-friendly deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $64.5 million invested in 13 players, the choice could come down to Brodie or Hamonic. I also read suggestions they could let Gustafsson walk in favor of retaining the more-affordable Michael Stone.

Will the Edmonton Oilers re-sign goaltender Mike Smith? (Photo via NHL Images)

O’Leary asked how the Edmonton Oilers can build upon this season’s success. GM Ken Holland made some savvy moves to bolster their roster depth this season, but what else could be done?

He felt they’ll have to rely on finding cheap reinforcements while allowing youngsters like Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear, and Evan Bouchard to develop into NHL players. He also wondered if they’ll re-sign goaltender Mike Smith for another year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million committed to 15 players, so the options are limited unless they make a salary-dumping move or two. Buying out James Neal has been floated by The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell. Some in the Edmonton media feel Smith’s done enough to earn another one-year deal.

Addressing the goaltending is a question for the San Jose Sharks. Starter Martin Jones has four years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5.75 million, and he’s hurt his trade value with successive poor performances over the last two seasons. O’Leary feels GM Doug Wilson will have to get creative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Leary mentioned the options of shopping the first-round pick in the 2020 draft they picked up from the Tampa Bay Lightning, but I don’t see Wilson moving that unless he gets an offer too good to refuse.

The Sharks GM has shown the ability to wheel and deal to get his club back on track following a lousy 2014-15 campaign. He could pull it off again.

What does Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom sign for?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is four years at $6 million annually. Discuss!

O’Leary wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights will re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner. The pending UFA goalie was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless they plan on a giant swerve by trading Marc-Andre Fleury, I don’t see how they can afford Lehner. After two solid seasons, he’ll be seeking a lucrative long-term deal. With over $72 million tied up in 14 players, the Golden Knights lack the cap space.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Calgary Flames

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Calgary Flames

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2020

Check out the latest Flames and Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently examined four of the biggest off-season questions facing the Calgary Flames.

Could Johnny Gaudreau face an uncertain future with the Calgary Flames? (Photo via NHL Images)

Francis believes it may have been clear to management to consider trading Johnny Gaudreau and/or Sean Monahan had they failed to get the Flames into the playoffs this season or beyond the opening round. Assuming the schedule doesn’t resume, Gaudreau and Monahan will get another shot at it next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Flames will move Gaudreau and/or Monahan following this season. If the schedule resumes this summer and the Flames struggle again, it will be a justifiable reason not to peddle one or both of their young stars. Nevertheless, those two will feel the pressure to step it up next season. Another disappointing finish in 2020-21 will raise questions over their respective futures in Calgary.

Five of their nine defensemen – Travis Hamonic, TJ Brodie, Michael Stone, Erik Gustafsson, and Derek Forbort – are unrestricted free agents. Keeping Hamonic or Brodie could be the priority, while Calgary-resident Stone could be re-signed at the league minimum as a short-term insurance policy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are fortunate to have some promising youngsters that can replace those UFA blueliners they don’t re-sign. I can see them keeping Hamonic or Brodie to maintain some experienced stability on the right side of their blueline. I agree with Francis’ take on Stone. Gustafsson and Forbort, meanwhile, were short-term pickups to buoy the Flames’ defense down the stretch and into this postseason

Re-signing Cam Talbot and what form of compensation they’ll get from last summer’s James Neal-for-Milan Lucic are other questions facing the Flames. Talbot resurrected his career in Calgary, but Francis wondered if he might prefer playing where he can get more playing time.

The Flames were supposed to receive a third-round pick in 2020 if Neal scored 21 goals and Lucic ten fewer than Neal. Neal has 19 goals and Lucic eight. If the season isn’t resumed, the Flames could appeal for a ruling from the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames are comfortable with David Rittich was their starter, they can afford to part ways with Talbot unless he’s willing to accept the backup role. They can find some suitable replacements for him via the UFA market.

CAPITALS FREE-AGENTS UPDATE

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir recently examined the decisions faced by Washington Capitals managment regarding their unrestricted free agents.

Despite the second-half improvement in goaltender Braden Holtby‘s performance, his days are likely numbered in Washington. The Caps’ limited cap room makes him too expensive to re-sign. Meanwhile, recently-acquired winger Ilya Kovalchuk‘s performance over the rest of the schedule and the Capitals cap space will determine whether they can afford him.

A strong finish to the season could earn recently-acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon a contract extension if his asking price is reasonable. Blueliner Radko Gudas appeared the odd-man-out in recent games, which doesn’t bode well for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with those assessments. With over $71 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, they’ll only have around $10 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million.

Despite his struggles, Holtby will seek a raise over his current $6 million AAV. With Ilya Samsonov their future starter, they have little choice but to part ways with Holtby following this season. Kovalchuk, meanwhile, is reportedly all-but-assured of returning to the Montreal Canadiens on a one-year, bonus-laden deal next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2020

The latest on the Rangers, the Leafs might not be done dealing, plus updates on the Flames, Kings, Canucks, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts Henrik Lundqvist will be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but he can’t imagine the long-time Rangers goaltender will return with the Blueshirts next season. Buying out the final season of Lundqvist’s contract in June will allow the netminder and the club to “move independently into the future.” It would free up $3 million from their salary-cap payroll next season.

Jacob Trouba‘s no-move clause kicks in on July 1. Brooks thinks Rangers management would be foolish not to listen to offers for the 25-year-old defenseman before then. He feels promising Adam Fox will soon become their No.1 right-side defenseman. Fox is on an entry-level contract through 2021-22 and would be more affordable than Trouba’s $8 million annual average value. Brooks feels the Rangers need more from Trouba, who’s struggled to adjust in his first season in New York.

TSN: Pierre Lebrun reports contract talks have finally begun between the New York Rangers and the agent for winger Chris Kreider. He feels it’ll be difficult for the Rangers to re-sign Kreider, but there will be an effort made.

Should the New York Rangers entertain trade offers for Jacob Trouba? (Photo via NHL images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lundqvist during the off-season. He’s coming to the end of his illustrious career, but might not be keen being relegated to a backup role with a rebuilding club next season. A trade is possible, but only if he waives his no-movement clause and if the Rangers absorb part of his $8.5 million AAV.

Seems a bit premature to give up on Trouba after only a year. I’ll be surprised if they consider moving him this summer. If there are clubs interested in him, the Rangers could be forced to pick up part of that expensive cap hit or take back another expensive contract in return.

LEAFS IN THE MARKET FOR A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN

TSN: Darren Dreger believes injuries to Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci puts the Toronto Maple Leafs in the market for a top-four defenseman. With the Los Angeles Kings retaining half of the recently-acquired winger Kyle Clifford’s salary, Dreger believes the Leafs are in a good position with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot if the right deal can be found.

NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Rielly’s status will determine what they’ll do leading up to the trade deadline. Rielly is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of this week. “We would want someone to move the needle for us in the long run, not in the short run unless it was the perfect deal,” said Dubas.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan suggests Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba could fit the bill if the Leafs go shopping for a blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space means Dubas must get creative to add a top-four defenseman under contract beyond this season. If he does acquire one, he must ensure he can free up sufficient room for when Rielly comes off long-term injured reserve.

If Manson’s available (and I don’t think he is), the Ducks won’t just give him away. The same goes for Dumba. Manson also carries a $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 12-team no-trade list. Dumba’s AAV is $6 million through 2022-23.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the recent injury to Mark Giordano could affect the Calgary Flames’ trade plans. There was talk blueliner T.J. Brodie could be available and they could pursue a top-six, right-shot winger. With Giordano sidelined, a source tells LeBrun they might instead pursue a depth defenseman. He’s not saying Brodie won’t be traded, but Giordano’s absence makes that more difficult.

Darren Dreger reports some wonder if Flames forward Sam Bennett is ready for a change. The Flames don’t want to move Bennett and they’re not actively shopping the versatile forward. Nevertheless, his name has been in the rumor mill for some time. Dreger believes Bennett would like to prove he’s a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After trading Michael Frolik to Buffalo last month, it was assumed the Flames would pursue a top-six forward. Giordano’s hamstring injury complicates things. Their recent slump will only ratchet up the pressure on GM Brad Treliving.

UPDATE ON MARTINEZ

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez remains available. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have shown various degrees of interest, but the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t among them. The asking price is believed to be a second-round pick and either another pick or a prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that the Leafs weren’t interested in Martinez. He’d fit their wish to bring in a defenseman with term on his contract. It could be because they’re awaiting word on Morgan Reilly’s condition.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports uncertainty over the health of sidelined winger Micheal Ferland could push them into the trade market. He said New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds has come up in their internal discussions. They had an interest in Simmonds last summer before he signed with the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds is on a one-year contract worth $5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, he reportedly prefers staying with the Devils. The Canucks only have just over $1 million in deadline cap space.

MORE SABRES SPECULATION

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres will continue their search for a forward. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s name has been in the rumor mill for a while. Dreger also suggested blueliner Brandon Montour, though he’s not saying he’s being shopped. The only way he sees either rearguard getting traded is for a top-six forward.