NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

Check out the latest on the Penguins and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi report rival team executives believe Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could explore trading Kris Letang, despite Rutherford saying he wanted to keep the blueliner among his core players. One executive claimed Letang still has value in the trade market.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins explore trade possibilities for Kris Letang (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s age (33), annual average salary ($7.25 million through 2021-22), and injury history are significant sticking points. While he has an 18-team trade list, his no-movement clause means he cannot be demoted to the minors. With two-thirds of the teams facing a cap crunch for 2020-21, moving Letang seems a remote possibility.

They also reported the Penguins’ decision to release assistant coach Sergei Gonchar isn’t a sign of renewed strain between head coach Mike Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin, who is close to Gonchar. Despite occasional disputes, management believes Malkin respects Sullivan. They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby let it be known last year that he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved. Malkin has indicated he wants to finish his career with the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s name is always brought up by somebody in the rumor mill as a trade option whenever the Penguins fall short of expectations. Yohe and Rossi remind us he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him full control over his NHL future for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022. Malkin’s not going anywhere unless he wants out, and he isn’t interested in that option.

Yohe also believes Matt Murray could be on his way out, suggesting he needs a change of scenery. He anticipates Rutherford will find a way to move center Nick Bjugstad, who has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.1 million. He also doesn’t rule out Jared McCann and Zach Aston-Reese becoming trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Rutherford sheds salary, the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign Murray and fellow RFA goaltender Tristan Jarry. I think Murray hits the trade block following the postseason.

Yohe doesn’t expect pending unrestricted free agents like Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau, and Conor Sheary will be back.

WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently raised several questions about possible offseason moves by the Minnesota Wild.

One was whether Wild GM Bill Guerin would bundle some assets, including either Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, to acquire a first-line center, or attempt to sign one via free agency. Russo also wondered if Guerin might shop one of his goalies, acquire one via trade or free agency, and/or promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would have better trade value, and might even fetch a first-line center in a one-for-one swap. That move, however, would address one problem but create another, as Dumba is (in my opinion) their best defenseman. Guerin will have to look to the trade market as this year’s UFA market is thin on quality centers. 

As for their goalies, Russo pointed out adding one could mean buying out Devan Dubnyk, a move that could suggest Kahkonen’s not the goalie of the future. Dubnyk’s only got one year left on his contract. It might be worthwhile standing pat between the pipes and see how next season unfolds. They’ll have a better idea of Kahkonen’s readiness and can let Dubnyk walk via free agency.

Russo wondered if Guerin might revisit his failed trade-deadline attempt to ship Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. He also mused about buying out Dubnyk or Victor Rask if they can’t trade them, and if they’ll find a way to move expensive winger Mats Zuccarello, who also carries a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The attempted Parise deal was done before COVID-19 derailed the schedule and flattened the salary cap. I don’t see that trade happening, especially with the Isles’ limited cap space. Buying out Dubnyk and Rask creates around $4 million in dead cap space next season, over $2.1 million in 2021-22, and $1.33 million for each of the following two seasons.

The Wild are likely stuck with Zuccarello for a while unless he’s willing to waive his NMC and they’re willing to either pick up part of his $6 million AAV or bundle him with a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 13, 2020

Teams eliminated from the postseason can now make trades, plus the latest on the Canadiens, Leafs, Oilers, Jets, Wild, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the trade market is now open for the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round. That also includes the seven teams that didn’t qualify to participate in the Return-to-Play plan.

LeBrun believes some of those teams could wait until all 31 clubs are able to take part in the trade market following the playoffs. Nevertheless, he wonders if some might make some calls in the limited market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those clubs could start calling each other, and perhaps there might be a fit for a deal or two. Most will likely wait until the end of the playoffs. That’s when I expect we’ll see the biggest moves as teams pressed for cap space next season look to shed salary.

DOMI’S DAYS NUMBERED IN MONTREAL?

TVA SPORTS: Michel Bergeron recently observed Max Domi playing on the Montreal Canadiens’ fourth line. He believes the center’s days with the Habs are numbered.

Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens coach Claude Julien indicated he had Domi on the fourth line to spread out the skill in his roster as he rolls four lines. However, their popgun offense could see the 25-year-old forward make a full-time return among the top-six forwards soon.

Domi’s future in Montreal has been a hot topic among Montreal pundits throughout this season. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Much will depend upon how contract talks go with Habs management.

TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S RECENT 31 THOUGHTS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wondered if there might be a fit between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers regarding the Leafs’ wingers. He pointed out Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl need help. The two clubs were close on some things in the past, like Connor Brown before he went to Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Making the cap dollars work will be an issue for the Oilers. With over $71.3 million invested in 17 players, they can’t afford to take on a salary like William Nylander’s $6.9 million AAV without clearing out some cap room. Kasperi Kapanen’s $3.2 million AAV would probably be more to their liking. Whether there’s a fit remains to be seen. The Leafs need blueline depth but the Oilers don’t have much to spare in that department.

Speaking of the Oilers, Friedman said it sounded like they thought a signing was close with Jesse Puljujarvi but the winger didn’t seem to think so. A trade is still possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just spitballing but maybe Puljujarvi in a package deal to Toronto for Kapanen? On his own, his value is pretty low. However, he wouldn’t address the Leafs’ blueline needs.

Friedman believes the Winnipeg Jets will seek some beef on their blueline. The absence of Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers caught up with them in their qualifying-round series with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. That lack of big-bodied depth on the defense hurt the Jets all season.

There were times earlier this season when Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin indicated a willingness to listen to offers on Jonas Brodin and/or Matt Dumba, but other clubs said he wasn’t in a hurry to move either guy. Friedman believes Guerin now has an idea of their market value if he decides to go that route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba’s not going anywhere. His play improved as the season went on. Remember, he was still recovering early in the campaign from last season’s pectoral surgery. Brodin could be moved but it’ll take a significant offer to tempt Guerin.

Friedman wondered if the Nashville Predators will hang onto Kyle Turris for one more season and see what happens around next summer’s expansion draft, or buy him out and have $2 million of dead cap space each year for the next eight seasons.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2020

Check out the latest on the Devils and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Corey Masisak recently examined how next season’s flat salary cap of $81.5 million could benefit the New Jersey Devils. He observed they’ll have over $27 million in cap space and lots of roster holes to fill.

Part of that will be taken up re-signing restricted free agents such as goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, defenseman Mirco Mueller, and forward Jesper Bratt. They could also promote two or three players like Nick Merkley, Janne Kuokkanen, and Ty Smith.

Assuming around $14 million of remaining cap space following re-signings of key players and promotions, general manager Tom Fitzgerald will have sufficient flexibility to bring in some skilled veterans via trades and free agency.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn in the off-season? (NHL Images)

Masisak looked at several cap-strapped clubs in the Eastern and Western Conferences that could be possible trade partners or have players that become available via free agency.

Among his suggested Eastern targets were Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, and Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Western options could include St. Louis Blues defensemen Vince Dunn, Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In an ordinary year, I’d make the case that a rebuilding club like the Devils might not be a desirable destination for free agents or players with no-trade clauses. However, it could be a different story under the new economic landscape.

Players that otherwise wouldn’t be available via trade could become expendable for teams trying to shed salary, while free agents seeking lucrative contracts could find the Devils more appealing. Perhaps one or two of those on Masisak’s list will be sporting Devils jerseys next season.

That depends, of course, on how much Devils ownership is willing to invest next season. Just because they’ll have lots of cap room doesn’t mean they’re going to spend to the cap.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked about the odds of the Los Angeles Kings signing a restricted free agent such as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to an offer sheet. She considers those odds virtually nil, as that rarely-used tactic seldom pans out. The Kings have other plans and ideas for rebuilding their roster.

Asked if the Kings might take on a bad contract for assets from a cap-strapped club, Dillman pointed out they’ve never been aggressive in complex deals like those. She also noted that’s not something GM Rob Blake has pursued in the past. She also doesn’t seek the Kings making a big splash in this year’s UFA market, though they could look at some bargain signings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake and the rest of the Kings’ front office have put their focus on rebuilding with youth, primarily from within their system. Their prospect depth is considered among the best in the league right now. Blake could keep his powder dry for next summer’s UFA market when there could be better options available.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Rangers, Devils, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE RANGERS PURSUE BRODIN?

NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked if the Rangers should trade prospect K’Andre Miller and maybe a draft pick to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Jonas Brodin. The reader believes the Rangers’ biggest need is finding a suitable defense partner for Jacob Trouba.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (Photo via NHL Images).

Brooks believes Brodin would fill that spot nicely but it would be folly to acquire a player who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency, speculating it could cost the Rangers around $7.5 million annually to re-sign him. He also doesn’t believe it justifies moving Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks suggested the Rangers could resolve that issue from within. He pointed out Brendan Smith played well alongside Trouba after the Blueshirts traded Brady Skjei to Carolina. Libor Hajek could get a shot or they could move Ryan Lindgren alongside Trouba.

LATEST ON THE DEVILS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked about what it might cost for the New Jersey Devils to acquire Jack Eichel. Masisak doesn’t believe the Buffalo Sabres intend to move their captain, but if they did, they’d want an offer that includes Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier as part of the package.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. The asking price for Eichel would be significant, perhaps far too expensive for the rebuilding Devils. 

Asked about the best way for the Devils to weaponize their cap space for 2020-21, Masisak suggested pursuing a young player a cap-strapped club can’t afford to keep, a veteran player a team is willing to move to re-sign others, or taking on a bad contract if it’s packaged with a prospect or draft pick.

He also thinks it’s unlikely the Devils will make trades with the six other clubs that missed the playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before doing any of that, the Devils must decide if they’ll retain interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald as their full-time GM or replace him with a more experienced hand.

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his season postmortem of the Ottawa Senators, Matt Larkin believes they’ll be closer to a salary-floor team next season. Nevertheless, he anticipates they’ll likely pursue a couple of UFA veterans on one-year contracts with an eye on flipping them at next season’s trade deadline for draft picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Senators also have 13 picks in this year’s draft. Apart from their three first-rounders, I can see them using two or three of those extra picks as trade bait to perhaps acquire a good young player from a team in need of shedding cap space.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

 










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

Alec Martinez is reportedly on the verge of becoming a Golden Knight, more talk of Jeff Carter returning to the Flyers, the latest on Chris Kreider, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KINGS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS WORKING ON MARTINEZ TRADE

LOS ANGELES TIMES/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie yesterday reporting the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are close to finalizing a deal sending defenseman Alec Martinez to the Golden Knights for two second-round draft picks. The move is expected to be completed today. Martinez was held out of last night’s game against Winnipeg for precautionary reasons.

THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger suspects the delay could be salary-cap related on the Golden Knights side.

**UPDATE** The trade has been completed, with Martinez heading to the Golden Knights for a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have been in the market for a top-four, right-side defenseman for some time. There was talk they were eyeing New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, but that no longer appears the case.

Martinez, 32, would bring a welcome presence on the Vegas blueline. He’s got plenty of postseason experience, winning two Stanley Cups with the Kings. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $4-million annual average value. The Golden Knights could shift Shea Theodore to the left side and pair him with Martinez.

MORE “CARTER-TO-FLYERS” CHATTER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman thinks the Philadelphia Flyers could consider bringing back Jeff Carter, depending on the health of young center Nolan Patrick.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall points out how difficult it would be for the Flyers to pull that off. They have just over $2 million in salary-cap space, meaning there’s not enough to acquire Carter even if the Kings absorbed half of his $5.2-million AAV. They would have to do some cap juggling for the remaining two years of his contract. There’s also the question of what the Kings would want in return, and what assets the Flyers can spare.

More talk of the Philadelphia Flyers bringing back Jeff Carter (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, and it would make a nice story for Carter to return to the city where his NHL career began. Given the cap difficulties, however, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be forced to seek more affordable alternatives.

UPDATE ON KREIDER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues could be interested in New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider. The Washington Capitals could be a stealth candidate, but their recent acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon probably takes them out of the bidding.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Avalanche and Bruins are the front-runners for Kreider. He also lists the Blues, Capitals, and Florida Panthers among others who could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella could be the only move they make at the deadline. Sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko is recovering well from early-season shoulder surgery and could return before the end of the season. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater believes the Avs could target Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar if they fail to land Kreider.

THE LATEST ON TROCHECK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is garnering attention. The 26-year-old has two year left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million. Friedman feels most teams can afford that, though he won’t be inexpensive.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe the Panthers are shopping Trocheck but acknowledged teams are calling about him. The Panthers desperately need a top-four defenseman, so they have little choice but to listen to offers. He wonders if they might have an interest in Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, but gets the sense Wild GM Bill Guerin wants to retain Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon will want a defenseman for Trocheck. Failing that, he might have to get creative. LeBrun suggested dealing the center for picks and prospects that could be flogged to another club for a top-four blueliner.

IS LEHNER AVAILABLE?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if a lack of progress in contract talks is affecting Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, who was unusually quiet during a recent game. The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly interested in Lehner and have an extra first-round pick to dangle as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes fading, GM Stan Bowman could listen to offers for Lehner if he remains unsigned by the deadline. We’ll see what happens.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds remains a player of interest for the Vancouver Canucks. Their recent acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was related to filling the gap left by the sidelined Brock Boeser. They still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Micheal Ferland, who’s out for the season due to concussion symptoms. Simmonds has an eight-team no-trade list, but the Canucks aren’t believed to be on it.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Canucks could consider adding Simmonds, but that could be difficult to do without a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Canucks will still add toughness if they can’t land Simmonds. They could be faced with considering more affordable options. Vancouver GM Jim Benning surprised us with his acquisition of Toffoli, so he could have another trick up his sleeve before the deadline.

ATHANASIOU’S VALUE COULD RISE

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports injuries to contending teams could bolster the trade value of Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks could be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings GM) Ken Holland might be interested in Athanasiou. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Oilers’ injuries and winger Zack Kassian’s seven-game suspension is creating problems for how Holland will approach the deadline. While he’d love a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a right-winger for Connor McDavid’s line, he’s not prepared to part with a first-round pick and a top prospect for a rental player. Many of those injured Oilers aren’t on long-term injury reserve, giving Holland limited cap space.

The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli likely rules them out for Athanasiou. He could be a fall-back choice if the Avs lose out in the bidding for Kreider.

WILL KOVALCHUK STAY OR GO?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Montreal Canadiens could likely trade winger Ilya Kovalchuk if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be reached before the trade deadline. He suggests the Avalanche and Bruins as possible destinations.