NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2021

An update on Vladimir Tarasenko, the Bruins could be close to re-signing Charlie McAvoy, Blackhawks GM addresses the Dylan Strome trade speculation, and more on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli advises keeping an eye on Vladimir Tarasenko’s start with the St. Louis Blues. While both sides are playing nice and saying the right things, the 29-year-old winger “still strongly desires a trade”, said Seravalli.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Tarasenko has let it be known he’s fully recovered from the surgeries on his right shoulder. Whether he can regain his 30-goal form is another matter. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million. If he gets off to a hot start, Seravalli believes a trade could materialize.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of the Anaheim Ducks acquiring Tarasenko, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens cited the winger’s health and contract as significant sticking points. He also pointed out the Blues won’t be moving him for pennies on the dollar. Those issues are likely shared by general managers with a potential interest in the winger’s services but leery about making the investment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins president Cam Neely suggested a new contract for Charlie McAvoy could be in the works. He said management has been working closely with the 23-year-old defenseman’s representatives in recent days. He’s hopeful of a new deal “in short order”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty believes it’ll be a long-term deal comparable to those in the $9 million per season range signed this summer by several top young defensemen. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be an eight-year contract with a hefty salary though not one in double-digits. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun cautions nothing is imminent as there’s still some work to be done by both sides.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman attempted to downplay trade rumors swirling about Dylan Strome. He struggled to find a regular spot among their forward lines and was a healthy scratch for their season-opening loss last night to the Colorado Avalanche. Roumeliotis believes it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks try to give the 24-year-old center a fresh start with another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistency and injuries hampered Strome over the past two seasons. He’s proved he can play well when skating alongside talented wingers. Perhaps a club seeking depth at center will take a chance on him. He signed through this season with an annual average value of $3 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reported a source informed him Vitali Kravtsov’s demotion by the New York Rangers to their AHL affiliate in Hartford had nothing to do with him being waiver-exempt. Instead, it was based on his mediocre performance during training camp, the lower-body injury that cost him part of camp and preseason play, and the belief of GM Chris Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant that the winger needed more developmental time.

Kravtsov has been suspended by the Rangers for his unwillingness to report to the minors and his agent has been given permission to speak to other clubs about a trade. Carpiniello also indicated the young winger at times butted heads with Drury during 2019-20 in Hartford.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2021

Check out the latest Bruins speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment Fluto Shinzawa was asked about the odds of the Boston Bruins trading for a second-line center and the cost of acquiring someone like the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl. He believes the Bruins will turn to outside help if they can’t suitably address that issue internally. Someone like Hertl could cost at least a first-round pick and a prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s also going to be the cost for every team interested in Hertl if the Sharks decide to move him before the March 21 trade deadline. The Bruins could get outbid by teams carrying a deeper prospect pool.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images)

Shinzawa expects the Bruins will keep the door open for Tuukka Rask. The veteran goaltender’s recovery from offseason hip surgery, how much he’ll seek on a new contract, the club’s position in the standings and the playoff of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman are among the variables to be considered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ullmark’s shaky preseason has some Bruins followers concerned and looking forward to Rask’s return. His regular-season play, however, could be key to Rask’s future with the Bruins.

One reader asked if the Bruins might attempt to trade Ullmark for a second-line center if Swayman plays well and Rask is healthy. “No chance,” replied Shinzawa, pointing out the 28-year-old old Ullmark has a full no-movement clause for the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins decide to bring back Rask for another season, Ullmark becomes his backup and Swayman gets demoted regardless of performance because he’s waiver-exempt this season.

It’s doubtful the Bruins pursue Jack Eichel. There are too many questions about the health of the Buffalo Sabres captain. “It would be irresponsible to give up assets if he is at significant risk of a bad outcome,” writes Shinzawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That applies to every other team that expressed some interest in acquiring Eichel. They could all be waiting until he finally undergoes disc replacement or neck fusion surgery and makes a full recovery before making serious bids for him.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2021

Looking ahead at how much the Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy will get on his next contract and the latest on the Blue Jackets’ Joonas Korpisalo in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported Charlie McAvoy is putting his focus on this season but the 23-year-old Bruins defenseman knows he’s got a big payday coming. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, he’s in the final season of a three-year deal with an annual average value of $4.9 million.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (NHL Images).

McAvoy took note of the comparable defensemen who signed lucrative long-term contracts this summer. He said they were well-deserved and he was happy for them.

Those blueliners include the Dallas Stars’ Miro Heiskanen (eight years, $8.45 million AAV), the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar (six years, $9 million). the Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell (eight years, $9.25 million) and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski (six years, $9.58 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McAvoy is going to get a big raise on a long-term contract coming off his bridge deal. Murphy believes he’ll come into negotiations with a minimum $9 million as his starting point.

McAvoy’s new deal will take a big bite out of the Bruins’ cap space for 2022-23. Cap Friendly shows them with a projected $60.9 million committed to 18 players with Patrice Bergeron slated to become an unrestricted free agent and Jake DeBrusk also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

With the cap rising by $1 million for next season to $82 million, McAvoy’s new contract could affect other negotiations. It could also impact whatever plans the Bruins could have to address roster weaknesses via trades or free agency.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo claims he’s not bothered by the club signing teammate and fellow netminder Elvis Merzlikins to a long-term extension.

It was super because I had no idea about that,” said Korpisalo. “It’s business. But frankly, I don’t give a (expletive) what happened. I’m still going to do me. It’s still the same team, still the same guys. It’s good to be here and I’m going to push with everything I can.”

The two goaltenders maintain a good relationship but Hedger feels Korpisalo’s days with the Jackets are numbered. Both want to be starters but the Blue Jackets have committed long-term to Merzlikins, though management and the coaching staff insist the caliber of their play will determine playing time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korpisalo is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Even if he outplays Merzlikins this season I don’t see the Jackets retaining him if they’re out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline. If anything, a strong performance by Korpisalo will make him more enticing to rival clubs seeking an upgrade between the pipes.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

Check out the latest on Tomas Hertl and Jake DeBrusk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported Tomas Hertl hinted he might be willing to accept a hometown discount to stay with the San Jose Sharks. He pointed out how former teammate Joe Thornton took less money to play with good teams. “I like that idea,” he said. “You can go somewhere else, sign the maximum, even maybe too much, but you’re losing for the next eight years”.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Hertl also said he loves San Jose but one of his biggest priorities is being able to win on a consistent basis. Pashelka believes the Sharks’ performance this season could determine how things shake out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will also be an issue. Even if Hertl agrees to a hometown discount a new contract will be expensive. He’s earning an annual average value of $5.625 million on his current deal. A hometown discount in his case is probably close to $7 million as he could get over $8 million annually on the open market.

With the Sharks carrying a projected $66.5 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23, a $7 million per season deal for Hertl will push them to $73.5 million. That leaves little room to improve the roster under a salary cap expected to be $82.5 million next season. General manager Doug Wilson will probably have to make a cost-cutting move if he hopes to keep Hertl in the fold.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Jake DeBrusk is on Nick Goss’ list of five Bruins to watch during the preseason. The 24-year-old winger was the subject of considerable trade speculation during the offseason. However, the Bruins didn’t move him and chose to protect him in the Seattle expansion draft.

Offensive consistency was an issue for DeBrusk. When he’s not scoring, Goss points out he doesn’t give the Bruins much in other areas of the game. He’s in the final season of his contract so this is a perfect opportunity to get his career back on track.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July. A 20-plus goal season would help him make the case for a raise on a long-term deal. Another inconsistent effort, however, could see his name surface again in trade speculation.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Ilya Mikheyev, Logan Brown and Sami Niku in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Vladimir Tarasenko said little about his tumultuous offseason in which he requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues during an interview yesterday. Asked if he was disappointed he hadn’t been moved, the 29-year-old right winger said it’s behind him now.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

I don’t see any reason to discuss it now,” said Tarasenko. “Camp starts. I don’t want to be a distraction in the room. I’m here to work. I’m healthy, I’m happy to play hockey again.” He also added he and his family love living in St. Louis and are grateful to the fans for their support.

Tarasenko had been taking part in informal skates with his Blues teammates in St. Louis prior to training camp opening this week.

Ben Frederickson believes Tarasenko’s actions will speak louder than his few words. He pointed out sources speaking on the winger’s behalf during the summer critiqued the Blues’ handling of his shoulder injuries, to management’s handling of his trade request, to the club picking Ryan O’Reilly as team captain over him.

Frederickson said team owner Tom Stillman and general manager Doug Armstrong weren’t going to be strong-armed into making a trade. He also indicated Tarasenko’s market wasn’t what the winger thought it was due to his shoulder injuries, declining production and hefty contract.

Nevertheless, Frederickson believes the Blues have a potential problem on their hands bringing back a player who has made it clear he wants to go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s presence shouldn’t be an issue as long as he’s getting along with his teammates and the coaching staff. If he stays healthy and his production improves it’ll help his trade value. However, it’s unlikely the Blues will move him if they’re in playoff contention this season.

They could wait until next summer to move Tarasenko when he’ll only have one year remaining on his contract. His cap hit ($7.5 million) is expensive enough but he’s also earning $9.5 million in actual salary this season. He’ll earn a more palatable $5.5 million next season. He also has a full no-trade clause which will limit where the Blues can ship him.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas shot down trade speculation about Ilya Mikheyev on Wednesday. Asked about Mikheyev’s trade request, Dubas said the 26-year-old winger was going to be on the team “and is going to be a big part of the team.” He referred questions about the trade request to Mikheyev’s agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikheyev seemed to back away from the question about his trade request when asked about it yesterday. His agent, Daniel Milstein, declined to comment. It’s believed that request was based on his limited playing time last season. By the sound of things, he’ll be getting a bigger role with the Leafs.

TSN’s Shawn Simpson recently speculated Logan Brown could be plucked off waivers by the Arizona Coyotes if things don’t work out for him with the Ottawa Senators. He spent the summer in Arizona and is close with Coyotes stars Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun.

NESN: The Boston Bruins could be interested in Sami Niku following the recent termination of the 24-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2021

Jonathan Drouin reveals the reasons behind last season’s leave of absence, Artemi Panarin doesn’t want to be Rangers captain, Travis Zajac retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: In a one-on-one interview that aired on RDS on Monday, Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin revealed anxiety and sleep disorder were behind his season-ending leave of absence in 2020-21. “I’ve had anxiety problems for many years,” said Drouin. “Insomnia problems that relate to my anxiety.”

Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin (NHL Images).

Drouin revealed he’d been dealing with anxiety for several years without knowing what it was. He said his problems had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol and he’s never been to a rehab program.

The Canadiens forward said he’d been handling his anxiety issues better in recent years but the restrictions placed on him and his teammates by COVID-19 took a toll on his physical and mental strength. While he never lost his love of the game, he said there were times last season when he went three straight nights without sleep.

Drouin praised the support he received from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, head coach Dominique Ducharme and his teammates throughout his ordeal. He’s happy with the decision he made last season, wants to remain in Montreal and his mental health is better than ever.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anyone’s who’s ever dealt with anxiety or knows someone who is dealing with it knows how debilitating it can be. Add the pressure of playing for one of hockey’s most iconic teams and it’s no wonder Drouin needed to step away. It’s good to see he’s had the support of his team through all of this. It should help smooth his return to action this season.

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin said he doesn’t want to be captain of the New York Rangers. “I think we have more deserving candidates for that role now,” he said.

Panarin pointed out the job is more than just playing good hockey. “You also have to give your energy between the periods, motivate guys, giving interviews, being the face of the franchise. Overall, it’s a lot of work off the ice.” He felt he wouldn’t be an effective captain, adding his limited English would also be a problem.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Travis Zajac signed a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils in order to retire with the club that drafted him 17 years ago. The 36-year-old center spent almost the entirety of his 15 NHL seasons with the Devils until traded late last season to the New York Islanders. In 1,037 career games, Zajac tallied 203 goals and 552 points. He will remain with the Devils in an on/off-ice player development and consulting role.

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

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Edmonton Oilers will retire Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 jersey in the rafters at Rogers Place during a Nov. 5 game against the New York Rangers. He played for both clubs during his 19-season NHL career, 15 of those with the Oilers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes revealed their proposed arena entertainment district in Tempe, Arizona yesterday. The project would cost an estimated $1.7 billion and calls for private funding along with an additional $200 million portion coming from city tax revenues. The city will review the proposal in a process that could take months before a public meeting and a vote to accept or reject the proposal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season is expected to be the Coyotes’ last in Gila River Arena after the city of Glendale announced it would not renew its operating agreement with the club. They are currently in search of a temporary home.

The Coyotes also revealed their new white Kachina coyote road jerseys for the first time since 2003. The popular Kachina logo will also be the club’s primary logo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I always liked the Coyotes’ original logo. Glad to see they’re bringing it back.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The severity of Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin’s recent knee injury remains uncertain. An initial report claimed the injury was “significant” but Morin’s former teammate Riley Cote tweeted a text message exchange with the blueliner who said one of his knees was banged up but it was “nothing major”. Morin’s career has been hampered by two ACL tears in his right knee since 2018.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Zach Senyshyn to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets placed defenseman Sami Niku on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens signed blueliner Cody Goloubef to a professional tryout offer.