NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2023

Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim talks about being mentioned in summer trade chatter, the Bruins hope to re-sign Jake DeBrusk and the latest on Avalanche blueliner Devon Toews in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SANHEIM WASN’T PLEASED TO BE THE SUBJECT OF TRADE CHATTER

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim was mentioned in a late-June trade rumor that involved discussions between the Flyers and St. Louis Blues regarding Blues rearguard Torey Krug.

The deal never got off the ground as Krug used his no-trade clause to block it. Four days later, Sanheim’s eight-year contract with a full no-trade clause went into effect.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).

Sanheim revealed it was a stressful time. “It sucks,” he said. “It’s not a position you want to be in, but it’s a business and I understand it, I understand where the team’s at.” He added that he’s happy to be staying in Philadelphia, saying it was the reason he signed an extension for eight years in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sanheim’s full no-trade clause ensures he controls his future with the Flyers over the next four seasons. After that, the clause becomes a 12-team no-trade list.

Sanheim could be encouraged by Flyers management to waive the clause if he was willing to go to a club of his choosing. That’s assuming things go sour with the Flyers over the next four seasons and he’s no longer happy playing for them. As long as he wants to stay in Philadelphia, however, I’d say he’s not at risk of getting traded anytime soon.

BRUINS HOPE TO RE-SIGN DEBRUSK

98.5 THE SPORTS HUB: Ty Anderson reports Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is hopeful of re-signing Jake DeBrusk. The 26-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

We’re going to have communication with Jake and his representative (and) we’d like to know if Jake indeed does want to be here,” said Sweeney. While he’s not going to say anything publicly about the status of contract talks, the Bruins GM made it clear that his club would like to retain DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was frequently the subject of trade rumors prior to signing his current contract in March 2022. He silenced that conjecture last season with a career-best 50-point performance in 64 games and would’ve scored more had he not been sidelined for four weeks by injuries suffered during the 2023 Winter Classic.

DeBrusk recently told reporters that he hopes to re-sign with the Bruins but added that it takes two to tango in contract talks. It certainly sounds like Sweeney is willing to dance.

DEVON TOEWS WANTS TO FINISH HIS CAREER WITH THE AVALANCHE

THE SCORE: cited Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews telling Mile High Sports’ Aarif Deen that he wants to remain with the club for the remainder of his career. Toews, 29, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Toews told Deen that he’d rather not have contract extension talks drag on into the coming season. He’s earning an average annual value of $4.1 million on his current contract but his solid play could make the case for him to double his money on his next deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche only have $10 million in projected cap space with 13 players under contract for next season. If Gabriel Landeskog’s ongoing knee injury ends his career they will keep him on long-term injury reserve. That will give them the cap flexibility to re-sign Toews. Otherwise, they’ll have to shed salary to keep him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

The Bruins name their new captain, Steve Stamkos hasn’t had any contract extension talks yet with the Lightning, plus updates on William Nylander, Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named Brad Marchand as the new captain, replacing Patrice Bergeron who retired in July. Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs praised Marchand’s development over his 15 seasons with the club, noting that he had the opportunity to learn from former Bruins captains such as Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s pesky style of play and his lengthy list of fines and suspensions from earlier in this career had some fans questioning this decision by the Bruins. However, the evolution of his game into an elite scoring winger combined with his lead-by-example performances made him an obvious choice as Bergeron’s successor.

For those who believed defenseman Charlie McAvoy would’ve been a better choice as Bruins captain, his day will come within the next several years. The 35-year-old Marchand will likely retire within the next five years. Marchand is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if he and Bruins management fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension before then.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters yesterday that he was disappointed in the lack of contract extension talks with management. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started,” said Stamkos. “There haven’t been any discussions.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said having Stamkos finish his playing career with the Lightning was in everyone’s best interest. However, his captain will have to wait until the end of this season before negotiations begin. “Steven and I share the common goal of bringing the (Stanley) Cup back to Tampa,” said BriseBois. “That’s our objective. In order for us to do that in future years, we’re going to need to spend our cap dollars as wisely as possible.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Stamkos won’t be easy for the Lightning. They’ve been pressed for cap space in recent years due to the high cost of retaining their best players, resulting in a steady erosion of their overall roster depth.

With the cap projected to rise by $4 million next season, the Lightning have just over $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract. I’ll have more on Stamkos in today’s Rumors update.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs intend to try William Nylander at center for the coming season. The club also announced that goaltender Matt Murray will soon undergo a “significant surgery” while defenseman Jake Muzzin will remain on long-term injury reserve with a cervical spine injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs experimenting with moving Nylander from the wing is to see if they can add more scoring to their third line while moving David Kampf down to the fourth-line center role. The move also comes with Nylander in a contract year as he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.

Murray will be joining Muzzin on long-term injury reserve with a combined $10.3 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm will miss the start of training camp with his hip flexor injury. There’s no timeline for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subsequent reports suggest Ekholm won’t be sidelined for long. He regularly skated with Evan Bouchard last season on the Oilers’ second defense pairing.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion claimed he and Shane Pinto’s camp are inching toward a new contract for the 22-year-old center. The two sides have reportedly closed the gap in their negotiations but work remains to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, center Josh Norris will be skating with a non-contact yellow jersey as the Senators hit the ice for training camp. Norris tweaked his shoulder during a recent captain’s skate in Ottawa but it isn’t considered a serious injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators aren’t taking any chances with Norris. An injured shoulder requiring season-ending surgery limited him to just eight games in 2022-23.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak will miss the opening month of the regular season as he continues to rehab from his March 15 knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains in part why the Canadiens brought back Sean Monahan for another series.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, Paul Byron announced his retirement as a player and has joined the franchise as a player development consultant. In 521 games over 12 seasons, the 34-year-old two-way winger had 98 goals and 110 assists for 208 points with the Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. He also had 11 points in 36 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hip injuries force Byron’s retirement after missing the entirety of last season. His energetic play and leadership made him popular with his teammates and a fan favorite in Montreal, especially during the Canadiens run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: And speaking of players moving on to front-office roles, Patric Hornqvist joined the Panthers’ hockey operations department as a development coach and scout. Hornqvist, 36, announced his retirement in July due to season-ending concussions suffered in December.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: A DUI criminal charge against Predators head coach Andrew Brunette has been dropped. Brunette was accused of driving his golf cart under the influence in Florida earlier this year.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks confirmed defenseman Tucker Poolman will not play this season due to ongoing migraine symptoms plaguing him since 2021-22.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Saku Maenalanen has been released by the Avalanche from his professional tryout offer after failing his training camp medical.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Jan Jenik to a one-year, two-way contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2023

What’s the latest on Ducks goalie John Gibson? Do Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk have long-term futures with the Bruins? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

UPDATE ON JOHN GIBSON

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Levine recently noted that John Gibson’s future with the Anaheim Ducks was a hot topic during the offseason. There were conflicting reports about his desire to remain with the rebuilding club.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Levine noted that Gibson doesn’t really fit the timeline for the Ducks so it would make sense to cut ties at some point. So far, however, there’s no indication that’s going to happen anytime soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s contract remains a significant obstacle in the path to a trade. He carries an average annual cap hit of $6.4 million through 2026-27 plus a 10-team no-trade clause.

In a season where a flattened salary cap means most teams lack the room to take on his contract, a Gibson trade might have to wait until next summer. The salary cap is expected to rise by at least $4 million for 2024-25, making it potentially easier to swing a deal with a contender.

DO DEBRUSK AND GRZELCYK HAVE LONG-TERM FUTURES IN BOSTON?

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa noted that Jake DeBrusk is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He believes the 26-year-old winger’s performance this season as a top-six forward will determine if his future remains with the Boston Bruins.

Like DeBrusk, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is also eligible next summer for UFA status. Shinzawa noted he’s a good defender who uses his feet, stick and hockey sense. He’s also a sheltered five-on-five blueliner who doesn’t kill penalties and is unlikely to see much power-play time. He wondered if Grzelcyk would be re-signed or traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think DeBrusk is more likely to be re-signed than Grzelcyk. Both have frequently been mentioned as trade candidates in recent years. However, the chatter around DeBrusk died down during his solid performance last season.

What say you, Bruins fans? Do you prefer one or the other? Should both be re-signed or traded? Let us know in the comments below.

THE LATEST ON PINTO’S CONTRACT TALKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the clock is ticking for the Senators and restricted free agent Shane Pinto to reach an agreement on a new contract. Training camp opens with team medicals on Wednesday but there’s no sign the two sides have bridged the gap in negotiations.

Garrioch noted that there’s been talk the Senators might trade Pinto. However, he claims that’s not at the forefront of any discussions right now as the two sides continue to try and reach common ground. It’s believed the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have inquired about the 22-year-old center’s availability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As previously noted, Pinto cannot receive an offer sheet from a rival club because he didn’t accrue a sufficient number of games to become a Group 2 RFA. He already lacks arbitration rights so he has little leverage except to withhold his services until he gets a new contract. Garrioch believes his camp is seeking a two-year deal worth over $2.1 million per season.

HALAK TO THE BLUE JACKETS?

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently reported that there’s been buzz around the league that the Columbus Blue Jackets could sign Jaroslav Halak to a professional tryout offer. The 38-year-old goaltender needs just five wins to reach the 300-win milestone for his NHL career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2023

The fallout from Mike Babcock’s resignation as Blue Jackets coach, the Blues will name their new captain today, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets ownership released a statement yesterday confirming that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and president of hockey operations John Davidson will remain in their jobs for the coming season.

This comes in the wake of Mike Babcock stepping down as head coach following an investigation by the NHL Players’ Association over allegations he violated the privacy of Blue Jackets players.

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen (NHL.com)

Ownership indicated it was “deeply frustrated and disappointed” over the events of the past week. Nevertheless, it does not anticipate making further changes to its hockey leadership “at this time.”

Davidson and Kekalainen met with the media yesterday with both men admitting their hiring of Babcock was a “major misstep.” Davidson said that they “got it wrong, and that’s on us.” He vowed they would learn from this going forward, adding that they understood the criticism they were receiving. “It is deserved,” he said.

Kekalainen said he met with the Blue Jackets players on Monday to apologize for any inconvenience or awkward situation that the hiring of Babcock may have placed on them. He insisted that the club did its thorough due diligence before hiring Babcock. Kekalainen felt that he deserved another chance to coach. “Obviously, that was a mistake, and that responsibility is mine.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers are wondering why Kekalainen isn’t losing his job over the Babcock situation. While ownership is standing by their general manager, I think this incident puts his future with the club in jeopardy. He could lose his job by the end of this season if the Jackets fail to make a significant improvement on the ice.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will announce a new team captain this afternoon, filling the role left vacant after Ryan O’Reilly was traded to Toronto in February. Brayden Schenn is considered the favorite to land the job as he’s been an alternate captain for the past three seasons. Robert Thomas could also be a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford also named Schenn and Thomas as possible candidates. Others that he mentioned included Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko and Pavel Buchnevich. The Hockey News’ Lou Korac reports Thomas is believed to have emerged as the front-runner.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Pastrnak is prepared to take on more of a leadership role following the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand are considered the favorites to be named the next Bruins captain but Pastrnak will still play a large role among the club’s leaders.

TORONTO SUN: Ryan Reaves believes he’ll bring the grit to the Maple Leafs lineup that’s been missing in recent years. He indicated that he won’t stand for rival players gloating at his teammates the way Radko Gudas did to Leafs goalie Joseph Woll in last spring’s playoffs. “I hope he tries that,” said Reaves. “That would be interesting, that would be fun. I doubt there would be any of that here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs received some criticism for signing the 36-year-old Reaves to a three-year contract this summer. We’ll soon find out if that was a worthwhile investment by the cap-strapped club.

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Promising forward Matthew Savoie suffered an upper-body injury during the Sabres prospect game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be reevaluated and could miss the opening days of training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2022 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Savoie is expected to challenge for a full-time roster spot. This injury could hamper those efforts.

DAILY FACEOFF: The San Jose Sharks signed Justin Bailey to a professional tryout offer. Bailey last played in the NHL in 2021-22 with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Dallas Stars signed goalie Christopher Gibson to a PTO. He last played in the NHL in 2020-21 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named John McLean as a new assistant coach. McLean spent last season as their skills and skating consultant.

TWINCITIES.COM: Former NHL forward Henry Boucha passed away on Monday at age 72.

Boucha won a Minnesota state championship in 1969 and a silver medal with Team USA in the 1972 Winter Olympics.

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1971, Boucha spent six seasons in the NHL with the Wings, Minnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies from 1971-72 to 1976-77 until his career was prematurely ended by an eye injury. In 247 NHL games, Boucha tallied 53 goals and 102 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Boucha’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2023

Are the Flames facing a no-win scenario with Elias Lindholm? What’s the latest on Shane Pinto’s contract talks with the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie believes the Calgary Flames could be facing a no-win situation with Elias Lindholm. While the 28-year-old center has said he’s open to a contract extension, he could have the Flames over a barrel.

If the Flames try to trade Lindholm now, only five clubs (Detroit, Nashville, Buffalo, Chicago and Anaheim) have the cap space to take on his $4.85 million cap hit for this season. Clubs like Colorado, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have already added centers this summer, further shrinking the number of possible trade partners.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Clubs in need of a center like Lindholm, such as the Boston Bruins, could be content to wait until next summer. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, they’ll have the cap room to sign him.

McKenzie believes the summer window to trade Lindholm has closed. The next best opportunity could be the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of contention by then. However, general manager Craig Conroy could face a dilemma if his club is in the playoff chase by that point.

Re-signing Lindholm will also be expensive. Despite turning 29 in December, he’ll be able to command a contract similar to Bo Horvat’s eight-year deal ($8.5 million average annual value) with the New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports over the summer suggest Conroy is keen is re-sign Lindholm. He might be hesitant about investing between $8.5 million and $9 million annually for eight seasons on a player who’ll turn 30 in the first season of that new contract. However, with the salary cap projected to leap to over $92 million by 2025-26, it’s a gamble that Conroy could take to keep Lindholm in the fold.

That’s assuming, of course, that Lindholm wants to stay. While he recently said what Conroy and Flames fans undoubtedly wanted to hear about a contract extension, he could be taking a wait-and-see approach for this season.

If the Flames rebound well from last season’s disappointing performance, Lindholm could be swayed into re-signing. But if they struggle again, he could feel that his chances of playing for a Stanley Cup contender and earning big money are better elsewhere. On the other hand, that scenario would make it easier for Conroy to justify moving Lindholm at the trade deadline.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators still have to get Shane Pinto under contract before training camp opens on Thursday. Last Thursday, general manager Pierre Dorion said the club is working hard at signing the 22-year-old restricted free-agent center.

Pinto doesn’t have much leverage plus he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Garrioch indicates that a couple of teams have reached out to the young center’s agent to find out what type of term and salary he’s seeking.

It’s believed those clubs were told to contact Dorion if they’re interested in making a deal. Garrioch claimed the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have been “kicking tires” but it’s highly unlikely the Senators trade Pinto, who’s expected to fill a key role on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ limited salary-cap space is why there’s talk of the Senators potentially trading Pinto. They have just $900K available but a raise for Pinto coming off his entry-level contract will cost more than that. Garrioch believes he’s seeking more than the two-year, $4.2 million contract signed this summer by Morgan Frost with the Flyers.

Dorion could free up some cap space by trading a lower-salaried player. He could also go the waiver/demotion route.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2023

The Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard and the Blue Jackets’Adam Fantilli shine in their rookie tournament performances, Panthers goalie Spencer Knight talks about enrolling in the player assistance program last season, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard and Columbus Blue Jackets center Adam Fantilli made impressive debuts with their clubs during the NHL rookie tournaments.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Connor Bedard (NHL.com).

The first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard scored a hat trick in a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Tom Kurvers Prospects Showcase on Saturday. Fantilli, chosen third overall in the draft, also netted a hat trick and collected two assists as the Blue Jackets rookies overcame a 4-1 deficit to down the Detroit Red Wings 10-7.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A splendid effort by Bedard and Fantilli suiting up for the first time with their respective NHL clubs. However, they’ll soon face stiffer competition in preseason play later this month.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight talked to Ken Campbell about why he enrolled in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in February. An ongoing case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) made it impossible for him to continue playing.

Knight revealed that his condition began during his freshman year at Boston College in 2019 with excessive hand washing. However, it worsened after giving up three goals in a December game against the Winnipeg Jets. He was plagued by thoughts of contracting diseases, reaching the point where he had trouble sleeping and couldn’t function.

The 22-year-old goaltender has been working directly with an OCD expert and talking to others who are dealing with the condition on a daily basis. As Knight rejoins his teammates for training camp, he’s focused on regaining his form and getting his NHL career back on track.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors were rampant that Knight was dealing with a drug or alcohol problem when he went into the player assistance program. This goes to show that we shouldn’t make assumptions about the reasons behind a player seeking help from the league and the PA.

It’s good to see that this program helps those with mental health issues get the treatment and support that they need. Best wishes to Knight as he goes forward with his life and his playing career.

THE ATHLETIC: Tony DeAngelo shouldered the blame for his disappointing one-season tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 27-year-old defenseman acknowledged the club started last season behind the eight-ball losing Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson sidelined by injuries. However, he said that his inconsistent performance was his own fault.

So that was on me, that wasn’t on them,” said DeAngelo. “But it was something I’ll never trade in.” He felt that playing for the Flyers was a childhood dream come true. “It’s something I can’t say I regret.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers acquired DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. After efforts to trade him back to Carolina fell through, they bought out the final season of his contract. The Hurricanes subsequently signed him to a one-year, $1.675 million contract.

MAYOR’S MANOR: Promising defenseman Brandt Clarke will not be traveling with the Los Angeles Kings to Australia as the club begins training camp and plays a series of preseason games with the Arizona Coyotes.

Clarke, 20, suffered an injury that isn’t considered serious. However, he requires seven-to-10 days without on-ice contact. It was determined it would be best if he remained in Los Angeles and received treatment.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Minnesota Wild could be working on something for free-agent center Jujhar Khaira. Russo speculates it could be a professional tryout offer or a contract.

ROTO BALLER: Josh Leivo has signed with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa. The 30-year-old winger played 51 games last season with the St. Louis Blues. He’s totaled 265 games over 10 NHL seasons since 2013-14 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and the Blues, scoring a total of 42 goals and 93 points.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins confirmed and revealed their Centennial jerseys for this season.