NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2020

The latest on Jack Eichel, Torey Krug, Taylor and Shayne Gostisbehere in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TEAMS CALLING ABOUT EICHEL

WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting yesterday hearing what he called “unverified chatter” claiming Jack Eichel requested a trade from the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers were among the interested teams. Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, told McKenzie his client doesn’t want out of Buffalo.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

McKenzie also said several clubs have contacted Kevyn Adams since he took over as Sabres GM to inquire about Eichel’s availability. The Rangers were believed to be among those teams.

None of those talks discussions generated any trade traction involving the 23-year-old center. The Sabres aren’t shopping Eichel and there’s no real desire to trade their captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t fault general managers from calling to see if Eichel might be available. He has expressed frustration over the years of constant losing but his agent insists his client wants to make things work in Buffalo. The Sabres remain committed to building around their captain. Their recent acquisition of Eric Staal as their new second-line center is an obvious example.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Darren Hartwell reports of speculation the Bruins could trade the rights of Torey Krug. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings are said to be potential suitors for Krug’s contract rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems unlikely the Bruins will re-sign Krug unless he’s willing to accept less than market value. TSN’s Frank Seravalli said hearing they offered a six-year deal worth $6.5 million annually but Krug apparently feels he get better offers on the open market. They could shop his rights before Oct. 9 if they can get a decent draft pick in return.

The Avalanche and Wings have the cap space to sign Krug. The Golden Knights have just $4.9 million available with goaltender Robin Lehner to re-sign or replace. The Panthers have $59.7 million invested in 12 players and there’s talk they could set an internal cap of $70 million. Neither club has the cap room at the moment to take on an expensive free agent like Krug.

Nick Goss, meanwhile, cited TSN’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Taylor Hall might be a good fit with the Bruins. The 28-year-old Arizona Coyotes left winger is also a pending UFA. Seravalli wondered what the Bruins will do with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk, adding they won’t need to re-sign him if they pursue Hall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Goss believes Hall would be a great fit alongside center David Krejci on the Bruins second line, his injury history and the cost of signing him (Goss suggests six years at $7 million per) makes him an expensive gamble. He also pointed the Bruins would still have to address the absence of Krug on their blueline.

GOSTISBEHERE AVAILABLE

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting sources claiming Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is available in the offseason trade market. He has three seasons remaining on his contract worth an annual value of $4.25 million. An injury limited the 27-year-old blueliner to 42 games last season and he was also a frequent healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams seeking a skilled puck-moving defenseman could take a chance on “Ghost Bear”. He’s got an affordable contract that could be appealing to cap-strapped clubs.










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Boston Bruins

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Boston Bruins

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

Golden Knights reportedly talking contract with Robin Lehner, plus the latest on the Bruins and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

REPORT: GOLDEN KNIGHTS HOLD CONTRACT TALKS WITH LEHNER

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights intend to sign goaltender Robin Lehner to a long-term contract extension. He cites sources suggesting discussions between management and the Lehner camp might have already begun. Lehner, 29, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season, the Golden Knights only have $6.375 million in cap space. $3-$4 million of that could be taken up re-signing restricted free agents Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins. Granger estimates it could take a five-year deal at $5 million annually, possibly more, to keep Lehner in the fold.

Re-signing Lehner could mean parting ways with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract. Granger feels Fleury’s relationship with management has soured since Lehner’s acquisition at the February trade deadline. They could retain part of his cap hit to trade him, though he carries a 10-team no-trade list. They could also buy out the remainder of Fleury’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Lehner is re-signed and Fleury traded or bought out. That’s been percolating in the rumor mill for some time, especially when Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs. It went to a full boil last month after Fleury’s agent tweeted an image of his client with a sword through his back and coach Peter DeBoer’s name on the blade.

Lehner or Fleury could draw the attention of the Colorado Avalanche. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers suggested the Avs could pursue either goalie if they become available.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intends to explore ways to improve his club between now and the start of the free-agent market on Oct. 9.

The toughest decision could be deciding whether to re-sign Torey Krug. Haggerty believes the Bruins would love to keep the 29-year-old pending UFA defenseman, but he doesn’t feel they’re in a good enough salary-cap place to do so.

Haggerty speculates Sweeney could look to within to bolster his lineup by promoting Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka into full-time roles next season. Making room for those two could mean moving out a winger like Jake DeBrusk. He’s a restricted free agent due for a significant raise but also an inconsistent scorer who managed just two points in 10 playoff games last month.

Haggerty wondered if Sweeney might consider shopping David Krejci. The 34-year-old center has one year left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.25 million who can be dealt to half the teams in the league based on the no-trade language in his contract.

Sweeney also said the Bruins have no reservations about goaltender Tuukka Rask after he opted out of the playoffs for family reasons. Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak both have a year left on their contracts and it appears the Bruins plan on continuing next season with their current goalie tandem. Sweeney pointed out Rask is up for the Vezina Trophy this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krug seeks over $7 million annually, he’s probably played his final game with the Bruins. He’s indicated he’s not taking a hometown discount or a one-year deal. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney said the two sides “haven’t found a landing spot yet.”

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa (subscription required) also suggested DeBrusk could be a trade chip. However, he felt defenseman Brandon Carlo was more likely to move because he didn’t play up to his capabilities in the playoffs. However, if Krug departs I doubt they’ll trade away Carlo.

As for Krejci, his age, cap hit and modified no-trade make him difficult to move under the current economic conditions. He could be traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still suiting up with the Bruins next season.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports sources around the league have spoken with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford regarding defenseman Kris Letang. However, this isn’t uncommon and there’s no indication Letang is being actively shopped.

Yohe also reports all indications suggest the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade goaltender Matt Murray. Rutherford had little interest in moving goalie Tristan Jarry. The Penguins GM is willing to move center Jared McCann and perhaps Nick Bjugstad, though Rutherford isn’t opposed to keeping him. He also doesn’t sound interested in moving defenseman Jack Johnson.

TSN: Darren Dreger isn’t sure the speculation about Letang is legit, pointing out his agent said his client doesn’t expect to be moved. Dreger acknowledged the 33-year-old defenseman might still be traded, but it’s not his expectation. Other Penguins who could hit the trade block include Johnson, Patric Hornqvist, and Zach Aston-Reese.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation yesterday claiming Letang was expecting a trade, but now his agent says otherwise. Damage control, perhaps? Or merely some confusion emerging from multiple sources on Letang’s status. Whatever it is, it seems likely Rutherford was talking to other clubs about the veteran blueliner but doesn’t appear close to considering a trade.

No one’s surprised Murray is the most likely of their two goalies to move. He’ll be more expensive for the Penguins to re-sign plus he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past two years.

Hornqvist has a $5.3-million AAV through 2022-23 but his full no-trade clause becomes an eight-team no-trade list at the end of this season. He’s 33 and his style of play frequently leaves him banged-up but his experience and gritty style around the net could be enticing to other clubs.

McCann could also draw some interest. Bjugstad’s been hampered by injuries the past two years, appearing in 64 games last season and just 13 this season. That will put a damper on his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2020

Looking ahead at the offseason for the Avalanche and Canucks plus updates on the Bruins, Blues and Leafs and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND CANUCKS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan noted the Colorado Avalanche are in a good position where they’re ready to become a championship contender but also have a decent amount of salary-cap space. She wondered if Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic will revisit his interest in Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall or make a pitch for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo via free agency. Sakic must ensure he maintains sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog to new contracts next summer.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla disagrees with Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon’s belief his club doesn’t need to make changes. Kiszla feels they need a goaltending upgrade over Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. He suggests Vegas’ Robin Lehner or Chicago’s Corey Crawford could be available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now recently reported hearing the Avs linked to Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Goaltending is considered the Avs’ Achilles heel. That’s likely the issue Sakic addresses if he takes the plunge into the offseason free-agent or trade markets.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wonders what the Vancouver Canucks will do with starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. He’s an unrestricted free agent coming off the best season of his career. However, Wyshynski asks if it’s worthwhile keeping him when his best work came in a contract year and points to promising Thatcher Demko’s strong performance in the playoffs.

Management must also bear in mind young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be due for new contracts after next season. Wyshynski advocates augmenting the young core by getting players with championship experience, but doing so within their salary-cap constraints won’t be easy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko’s performance against the Golden Knights could give GM Jim Benning something to think about in his negotiations with Markstrom’s representatives. Does he invest in a lucrative long-term deal for Markstrom or bet the future on Demko? Once that’s sorted out, Benning will have to find sufficient cap space to re-sign or replace pending UFAs Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev.

WILL KRUG AND THE BRUINS PART WAYS?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports it sounds like Torey Krug won’t be re-signing with the Boston Bruins. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Krug said contract talks with the Bruins have been few and far between. He also rejected the notion of signing a one-year contract, seeking instead to maximize his value with a big-money, long-term deal.

Krug didn’t rule out re-signing with the Bruins, but Haggerty observes they have limited cap space with $15 million and several other players (including Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk) to re-sign. He feels Krug will find his lucrative new deal with a club seeking an elite offensive blueliner to quarterback their power play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t blame Krug for wanting to take advantage of his best shot at a big, long-term deal. He might not get as many offers as he would’ve in a normal year, but he should find some worthwhile options. The Bruins must decide if he’s worth keeping or consider cheaper alternatives.

LATEST BLUES SPECULATION

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann was asked about recent rumors linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. He feels the Blues intend to keep Parayko (even if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo), considering him one of the NHL’s best young defensemen.

Timmermann also feels the Blues will do all they can to re-sign Vince Dunn, a restricted free agent who recently appeared on TSN’s trade-bait list. Moving him and not re-signing Pietrangelo would mean an almost total overhaul of the Blues’ defense corps.

Asked which member of the Blues becomes a cost-cutting trade candidate, Timmermann suggested winger Jaden Schwartz. He feels Alex Steen, Tyler Bozak, and Carl Gunnarsson would have limited value to other clubs. Schwartz is a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko is also signed through 2021-22, which is another good reason to hang onto him. We don’t know if the Blues would move Schwartz but if push comes to shove they might not have much choice in order to free up more cap space for Pietrangelo.

The Blues could still make one or two smaller cost-cutting moves like trading Gunnarson and buying out Steen. They could then re-sign Pietrangelo, sit at 10 percent over the cap and perhaps start the season with Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. They would have to be cap compliant when Tarasenko returned but it would buy them more time if necessary.

LEAFS UFA OPTIONS

SPORTSNET: Alex Pietrangelo, Vancouver’s Chris Tanev and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie are the top-three options on Luke Fox’s list of unrestricted free agent defense options for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay’s Zach Bogosian, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene, and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen round out his list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo is the best of this bunch but the Leafs would have to clear considerable cap space to sign him. The rest would be much more affordable but won’t have the same impact.

Brodie and Vatanen might be the best of the bunch. Bogosian has been terrific in the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he’s got a long history of injuries and could struggle on another club to replicate his success with the Bolts.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2020

We’ve been dealing with a publishing problem since September 2. We’re working on the issue and hope to have it resolved soon. Here’s a brief look at the latest notable NHL trade rumors.

MURRAY AND ANDERSEN: TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has had a lingering interest in Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray going back to their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Dreger believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has an offer on the table that he would consider for Murray, but he doesn’t believe it’s from the Leafs. They would have to find a landing spot for current starter Frederik Andersen.

The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun cited sources saying the Leafs have had some inquiries about Andersen, who has a 10-team no-trade list. However, he thinks some teams could consider the free-agent market before going the trade route.

TAYLOR HALL: Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes are expected to make another offer to pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. It sounds like there was good discussion between Coyotes brass and Hall’s agent but the lure of free agency is tempting. The Coyotes search for a new GM could complicate things.

PATRIK LAINE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Winnipeg Jets aren’t shopping Patrik Laine and he doesn’t think there’s a strong possibility the winger will be traded. Nevertheless, LeBrun suggested the Carolina Hurricanes as a possible trade partner because of their blueline depth. Just for fun, he proposed a package of Brett Pesce and Vincent Trocheck for Laine.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck is the latest Winnipeg pundit against the idea of the Jets trading Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to address their blueline and second-line center needs.

ALEX PIETRANGELO: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues trading Jake Allen to Montreal yesterday could foreshadow the club’s effort to re-sign pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues need to shed cap space to make it happen, but Rutherford cites league sources saying the two sides aren’t close to an extension and nothing is imminent.

BRUINS: ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski believes the Boston Bruins must decide if they’ll re-sign pending UFA defenseman Torey Krug. Both sides have said they’d like to work out an extension. Several of the Bruins’ stars are on cap-friendly deals, but Krug could get some big offers on the open market. He also feels the Bruins should take one last run at the Cup with their current core, but advocates more roster tinkering. They should also determine if goalie Tuukka Rask still intends to return for the final year of his contract.

NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins could have a different look next season. He feels they must begin transitioning from their aging core toward a young one build around David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, and they must get bigger up front.

HENRIK LUNDQVIST: New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has returned with his family to start the school year in New York. He has a year left on his contract. However, he faces an uncertain future with the Blueshirts as the club transitions toward young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s unknown if he might retire or seek to continue his career with another NHL team.

MAX DOMI: The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin suggested the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks as possible destinations for Max Domi if the Montreal Canadiens decide to trade him. Those clubs all need depth at center.

BLUES TRADE ALLEN TO MONTREAL: The St. Louis Blues traded goaltender Jake Allen and a seventh-round pick in 2022 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for two picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The picks are the Washington Capitals third-rounder and the Chicago Blackhawks seventh-rounder.

Moving Allen wasn’t a surprise. The Blues must free up salary-cap space if they hope to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Vince Dunn.

This deal sheds Allen’s $4.35-million cap hit for next season, giving the Blues $75.1 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21. That won’t be enough to re-sign both blueliners, assuming that’s the intent of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. More moves could be coming.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, land a reliable backup for starter Carey Price. Allen, 30, had his struggles as a full-time starter in St. Louis but put up solid numbers backing up Jordan Binnington this season.

Allen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2020-21, so it’ll be interesting to see how well he fits in with Price. In the meantime, his presence should buy promising Cayden Primeau some time to develop his game with their AHL affiliate in Laval.

Acquiring Allen leaves the Canadiens with $67.4 million invested in 17 players. Depending on how things shake out with restricted free agent Max DomI, there’s enough room to make another significant addition or two.