NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2019

The Golden Knights trade Colin Miller to the Sabres, the Capitals ship Andre Burakovsky to the Avalanche. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

LAS VEGAS SUN/WGR550.COM: The Vegas Golden Knight yesterday traded defenseman Colin Miller to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for “a 2021 second-round pick originally owned by the St. Louis Blues and the Sabres’ own 2022 fifth-round pick.”

Vegas Golden Knight trade defenseman Colin Miller to the Buffalo Sabres (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another straightforward salary dump by the Golden Knights. This move clears MIller’s $3.875 million annual average value from their books. As per Cap Friendly, Vegas now sits roughly $900K over the $81.5-million salary cap for 2019-20. They could make another cost-cutting trade. However, it’s assumed they’ll place permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson ($5.225 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.

Miller brings puck-moving depth to the Sabres’ blueline. He tallied 29 points in 65 games last season. They’re now overloaded on the right side of their defense. This could add fodder to the Rasmus Ristolainen trade speculation. However, it’s worth remembering Miller can also play on the left side. Zach Bogosian could also miss the start of the season recovering from recent hip surgery so the Sabres don’t have to rush into moving a right-side rearguard. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON/DENVER POST: The Washington Capitals traded winger Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for “minor-league forward Scott Kosmachuk and second- and third-round picks in the 2020 draft.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky frequently surfaced in this season’s trade-rumor mill. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan seemed reluctant to move him. However, the 23-year-winger recently requested a trade. Burakovsky, a former first-round draft pick, has offensive potential but struggled with consistency and confidence during his tenure in Washington.

By not having to re-sign Burakovsky, a pending restricted free agent, the Capitals can invest their $9.2 million of cap space re-signing Jakub Vrana and perhaps retaining pending UFA Brett Connolly. 

Burakovsky will get a fresh start with the Avalanche, who seem him as a potential top-six winger. This move could quiet speculation linking the Avs to pending UFA winger Artemi Panarin.

With over $38 million in salary-cap space, some observers believed the Avalanche could be major players in this summer’s free-agent market. However,  a big chunk of their cap space will be taken up re-signing several key players.

The Avs have 11 restricted free agents (including Burakovsky, Mikko Rantanen, Alex Kerfoot, Nikita Zadorov, and J.T. Compher) to re-sign. They also need a reliable backup goaltender for Philipp Grubauer.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs officially announced the re-signing of winger Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson yesterday. Kapanen will receive a three-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3.2 million, while Johnsson’s is a four-year deal at $3.4 million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is getting well-deserved plaudits for getting those two under reasonable short-term contracts. His focus remains on re-signing Mitch Marner, who is seeking considerably more than what Kapanen and Johnsson received. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to a two-year contract extension. He’ll receive “$725,000 at the NHL level or $70,000 at the AHL level with a $125,000 guarantee in 2019-20. In 2020-21, the contract is a one-way deal paying $750,000.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Curtis McElhinney departs via free agency and Petr Mrazek re-signs, the Hurricanes could use Nedeljkovic as Mrazek’s backup. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks re-signed forwards Dylan Sikura and John Quenneville to two-year contracts.










NHL Rumor Mill (Part Two) – June 21, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill (Part Two) – June 21, 2019

Updates on Matt Duchene, Chris Kreider, and Jesse Puljujarvi plus the latest on the Canadiens, Capitals, Senators and more in Part 2 of today’s NHL rumor mill. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TSN’S “INSIDER TRADING” SEGMENT.

Note: All the Leafs speculation in that segment has been covered in Part One of today’s NHL rumor mill. 

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s believed Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin inquired about Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. The Flyers are happy to retain Gostisbehere but are willing to listen to offers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin needs a top-four left-side blueliner, preferably one who can line up with Shea Weber on the Habs’ first pairing. No surprise he looked into Gostisbehere’s availability.

I’m expecting Bergevin to swing a deal this weekend to address that need. Maybe he’ll make a call to the Calgary Flames. T.J. Brodie is said to be available and can play either side. The Habs have also been linked to Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders. 

Darren Dreger reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning seeks an experienced blueliner via the trade market. He noted Colorado’s Tyson Barrie has surfaced in the rumor mill. If Benning decides to go the free-agent route, Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers could be an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning has the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft. Maybe he’ll dangle that as trade bait for a quality rearguard today.

LeBrun said the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t yet made an offer for pending UFA center Matt Duchene but remain interested in keeping him. Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, will start fielding calls from interested clubs on Sunday and Monday and from there they’ll decide what their plans are. 

Chris Kreider’s days with the New York Rangers could be numbered (Photo via NHL Images).

KREIDER’S DAYS NUMBER WITH THE RANGERS?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks feels Chris Kreider’s days with the Rangers could be coming to an end. The 28-year-old winger is a year away from UFA eligibility and there have been no contract extension talks between the two sides. Brooks speculates the Kreider camp could seek a six- or seven-year deal worth $6.75 million per season.

Given Kreider’s inconsistent play this season and the Rangers’ rebuilding efforts, he could hit the trade block this weekend. Brooks suggests shopping him for a first-round pick in this year’s draft, listing Detroit, Buffalo, Florida, Arizona or Colorado as possible trade partners. However, he expects those clubs would have to know they can re-sign Kreider to an extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are expected to be among the bidders for scorers like Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene if they hit the UFA market on July 1. It’s believed they’ll want to free up sufficient cap space to pursue those players. If Kreider no longer fits into the Blueshirts’ future, moving his $4.625-million cap hit for next season makes sense. I doubt they’ll get a first-round pick for him but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

OILERS FINE LETTING PULJUJARVI GO TO EUROPE

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Robert Tychkowski reports Oilers GM Ken Holland is prepared to let Jesse Puljujarvi play in Europe next season. The agent for the 21-year-old winger said his client would play in Finland next season unless traded to a new NHL club. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent on July 1. Tychkowski observes the young forward’s trade value is very low right now. He feels it’s unlikely Puljujarvi is traded unless it’s as part of a larger package. 

Oilers winger Milan Lucic has been the subject of frequent trade speculation this spring. However, Holland said he hasn’t asked the Lucic camp to waive his no-movement clause. He won’t do that unless there’s a deal in the works. So far, all’s quiet on that front. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Holland gets an impressive trade offer I don’t see him moving Puljujarvi. And since the Oilers retain his rights if the winger heads to Finland next season, he can afford to be patient with the youngster. Maybe Puljujarvi’s agent is trying to test Holland. If so, Holland is calling his bluff. 

COULD THE CAPITALS MOVE BURAKOVSKY?

THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports on winger Andre Burakovsky’s uncertain future with the Capitals. He’s a restricted free agent and qualifying his rights ($3.25 million) could prove too expensive for the cap-strapped club. GM Brian MacLellan admitted Burakovsky’s inconsistency this season was frustrating but still considers him a good player. He said he won’t move the winger unless he gets a return he’s comfortable with. Khurshudyan speculates that could be “a draft pick or a comparable forward around Burakovsky’s age (24) and ability.”

SPORTING NEWS: Sammi Silber reports MacLellan acknowledged he’s “still talking to some teams” regarding Burakovsky. Silber said one possible suggestion could be shipping the winger to Edmonton for Jesse Puljujarvi. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan could decide not to qualify Burakovsky’s rights in hopes of re-signing him as a UFA to a more affordable deal. It would be a risky move as Burakovsky could decide to pursue a more lucrative offer elsewhere. If that tactic isn’t workable, MacLellan could trade the winger rather than qualify him. 

LATEST SENATORS SPECULATION

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is willing to consider taking on the contract of a veteran player from a cap-strapped club. However, he’ll want a “sweetener” involved, such as a first-round draft pick or a top prospect included in the deal.

The Senators have plenty of salary cap space to make this work.  It’s believed five or six clubs have discussed moving contracts to the Senators. Those discussions could continue throughout next week. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the salary cap come in at between $81.5 to $82 million as rumored, the Senators will still have lots of cap space to take on a veteran contract. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $48.4 million invested in 16 players, with Cody Ceci and Colin White their noteworthy RFAs. Dorion should be able to work this to his advantage. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2019

The latest Penguins, Bruins, Senators, Capitals, and Flyers speculation, plus an update on Nikita Zaitsev, in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

PENGUINS NOT DONE DEALING?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In the wake of the Penguins trading Olli Maatta to Chicago for Dominik Kahan and a draft pick, Ron Cook believes there’s more work to do. Trading Maatta won’t return them to Stanley Cup contender status or resolve their team chemistry. General manager Jim Rutherford last week said he’d welcome back Phi Kessel. Cook, however, believes Rutherford is still trying to trade the winger.

Patric Hornqvist’s age, concussion history, and his lengthy contract make him difficult to move. Blueliner Kris Letang has as 12-team no-trade list, and Evgeni Malkin has a full no-movement clause. Cook considers Malkin the least likely to be traded but doesn’t rule it out if the right deal can be found. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel recently spiked a deal that would’ve sent him to Minnesota for winger Jason Zucker. If Rutherford wants to move the winger he must convince him to broaden his eight-team trade list.  I don’t see Hornqvist, Letang or Malkin going anywhere. 

MORE KRUG AND KREJCI TRADE SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty recently suggested defenseman Torey Krug and center David Krejci could become Boston Bruins’ trade bait. Krug, 28, is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and coming off a strong performance this season. Haggerty thinks he’d be the bait the Bruins need to land a top-six power forward but they’ll have to carefully consider that option.

Haggerty also feels Krejci is now at his peak value and could attract interest in the trade market. Moving his $7.25-million annual average value would clear up some potential salary-cap complications.

Could Boston Bruins center David Krejci become a cost-cutting trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have a projected $14.3 million in salary-cap space. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are coming off entry-level contracts. Their new deals could eat up most of that cap room. They could buy out David Backes but would see only $333K in cap savings for 2019-20.

Krejci’s no-movement clause reverts to a modified no-trade on July 1. That could make him easier to shop. But after coming so close to winning the Stanley Cup this season, GM Don Sweeney could be reluctant to move Krug or Krejci. 

“ZAITSEV-TO-EDMONTON” MEDIA CHATTER CONTINUES

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples observes conflicting speculation out of Toronto linking Maple Leafs blueliner Nikita Zaitsev to the Oilers. He notes TSN’s Darren Dreger last week suggesting the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could have interest in Zaitsev, a third-pairing rearguard earning second-pairing dollars ($4.5 million annually). Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman countered he’s heard the Oilers aren’t going down that route.

However, The Athletic’s James Mirtle considers Edmonton the top destination. He wondered if packaging Zaitsev with Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would bring Adam Larsson to Toronto.

Staples doesn’t believe the Oilers would agree to that deal. “However you slice it, Edmonton can’t afford to have another big contract from a player who isn’t a top performer, not with Milan Lucic already on the books and Andrej Sekera, Kris Russell and Mikko Koskinen all iffy propositions.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Staples on this one. There’s a better chance of Lucic getting traded to Vancouver for Loui Eriksson than a package of Zaitsev and Kapanen or Johnsson going to Edmonton for Larsson. And I think Lucic-for-Eriksson is a long shot. 

CAPITALS CAP CONUNDRUM

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien points out the Washington Capitals’ limited salary-cap space following their re-signing of Carl Hagelin yesterday. They now have around $10.7 million in projected salary-cap room. Their restricted free agents include Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky while Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brooks Orpik are unrestricted. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith-Pelly isn’t expected to be re-signed. NBC Sports Washington’s J.J.Regan believes their acquisition last week of Radko Gudas spells the end of Orpik’s tenure with the Capitals.

Vrana’s going to be re-signed and I think they want to keep Connolly if he’ll agree to accept less than market value. Burakovsky’s frequently come up in trade rumors this season and could be moved if things get tight cap-wise. 

FLYERS SEEK A BACKUP GOALTENDER

COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has spoken with some teams regarding a potential trade for a backup goalie. Fletcher suggests that search could go into the upcoming free-agency period. It doesn’t sound like pending UFAs Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot will be back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade options could including James Reimer of the Florida Panthers and Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both are reportedly being shopped by their respective clubs. 

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Given the Senators’ blueline depth, Bruce Garrioch wouldn’t be surprised if they put defenseman Ben Harpur on the trade block. His size and affordable $725K one-way contract could make him an attractive option. The Senators also wouldn’t mind moving veteran winger Mikkel Boedker. He has a year left on his contract with a $4-million cap hit. They’re also expected to qualify the rights of restricted free agents Cody Ceci, Colin White, and Anthony Duclair. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2019

Does a swap of Subban-for-Voracek make sense? Should the Canadiens pursue Justin Williams this summer? Which Capitals could be on the move this summer? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

VORACEK FOR SUBBAN? 

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers should swap winger Jakub Voracek for Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban. Noting recent speculation suggests the 29-year-old Subban could be available, Carchidi feels he’d be a perfect fit on the Flyers blueline. He points out Subban is a right-handed shot, a former Norris Trophy winner who plays with an edge. He would become a leader in the Flyers’ dressing room and complement Ivan Provorov on their top defense pairing. 

Should the Philadelphia Flyers swap winger Jakub Voracek for Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban? (Photo via NHL Images)

Carchidi notes Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has a close relationship with Predators GM David Poile. He also points out Predators coach Peter Laviolette is a former Flyers bench boss who knows some of their current players well. Carchidi believes Voracek’s offensive skills would make him a good fit with the Predators. If Poile wants a defenseman included in the deal, Carchidi recommends Robert Hagg. 

Trading Voracek for Subban would leave the Flyers in need of a scoring winger. Carchidi proposed using their salary-cap space to pursue a winger like Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner, Anders Lee or Gustav Nyquist via free agency. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carchidi is just making a trade suggestion. He’s not saying the Flyers and Predators are discussing a Subban-for-Voracek swap. Still, it’s an interesting scenario with its share of positives and negatives.

Carchidi touched on the positives for both clubs but there are downsides to this. Subban was plagued by a back injury this season which hampered his production. It could be a sign that his style of play is catching up with him. We also don’t know if Subban’s outsized personality would be a good fit with the Flyers. Voracek’s stats tend to fluctuate from season to season, raising concerns about his consistency. The Preds would get some cap relief, moving out Subban’s $9.5 million for Voracek’s $8.25 million, but they’d be taking on a longer-term contract.

So what say you, Flyers and Predators fans? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean reported Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams considered signing with the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent in 2015. He ultimately joined the Washington Capitals.

With Williams due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Jean-Charles Lajoie wondered if the Habs should take a run at signing him. Yvon Pedneault believes they’ll have to overpay because of Quebec’s high taxes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That ship has sailed. If Williams decides to continue playing, he’ll re-sign with the Hurricanes. 

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Canadiens must explore adding an experienced backup to reduce the workload on starting goalie Carey Price. Potential options could include Philadelphia’s Cam Talbot, Carolina’s Curtis McElhinney, and Ottawa’s Anders Nilsson.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Other backup options for the Canadiens could include Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo, Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark, and Chicago Cam Ward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot is expected to be re-signed by the Flyers. I can see the Hurricanes keeping the tandem of Mrazek and McElhinney intact. With Sergei Bobrovsky expected to depart via free agency in July, the Jackets could hang onto Korpisalo. The Sabres consider Ullmark a future starter. That leaves Nilsson and Ward, who won’t be re-signed by their current clubs. 

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS

THE ATHLETIC: Chris Kuc speculated Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen could be shopped this summer as a cost-cutting measure. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.75-million. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan must decide if he’ll re-sign restricted free agent winger Andre Burakovsky and UFA wingers Brett Connolly and Carl Hagelin. Kuc doesn’t expect free agents Brooks Orpik, Devante Smith-Pelly and Dmitrij Jaskin will be back. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan thinks the Capitals would prefer retaining Burakovsky because they don’t have much offense in their pipeline right now. Given their salary-cap constraints, trading Burakovsky is a possibility. If they don’t shed salary, they can’t afford to re-sign Burakovsky, Connolly or Hagelin. Trading Niskanen could address that issue. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Capitals have over $72.6 million invested in 17 players. In addition to Burakovsky, Connolly, and Hagelin, they must also re-sign winger Jakub Vrana, who’s coming off an entry-level contract and had a 24-goal, 47-point campaign. They could attempt to sign him to an affordable short-term bridge contract with the promise of a bigger raise after that. However, they’ll still need to free up some room if they wish to re-sign the other three.

Niskanen has a 10-team no-trade list but that still give the Capitals 20 potential trade destinations. He could also agree to expand his list. Given the market for skilled right-shot defensemen, the 32-year-old Niskanen could attract interest in this summer’s trade market. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2019

Will James Neal return with the Flames next season? Could the Capitals shop Matt Niskanen and Andre Burakovsky this summer? Should the Canucks pursue Jason Zucker or try to trade Brandon Sutter this summer?  Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE FLAMES MOVE NEAL AND TRADE BRODIE? 

CALGARY SUN: Despite the calls from Flames followers for the club to rid themselves of veteran winger James Neal, Wes Gilbertson recently reported there’s “little doubt” he’ll return with the club next season. He doesn’t believe Flames ownership will approve a contract buyout stretching through 2026-17 burning up nearly $2 million in annual salary-cap space. He also doesn’t see a market for a winger carrying an AAV of $5.75-million through 2022-23. Neal, meanwhile, wants to be a top-six forward and intends to train this summer toward returning to his 20-goal-per-season form. 

Don’t expect the Calgary Flames to trade or buy out James Neal’s contract this summer (Photo via NHL Images)

During a roundtable with Sun writers Danny Austin and Kristen Anderson on the Flames season and offseason plans, Gilbertson agreed with Anderson that GM Brad Treliving is unlikely to make sweeping roster changes. He believes Treliving must find a second-line right winger, suggesting perhaps revisiting the trade for Jason Zucker with the Minnesota Wild that fell through at the trade deadline. He also agreed with Austin that defenseman T.J. Brodie could be traded this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have over $69 million invested in 20 players, with RFAs Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett to re-sign and goaltenders Mike Smith and David Rittich to re-sign or replace. Tkachuk’s next contract alone could absorb around $9 million of their salary-cap space. If they’re looking to shed salary, Brodie rather than Neal is a more likely trade candidate.

Neal lacks no-trade protection but the sharp decline in his production this season combined with the remaining years and the cap hit of his contract makes him a tough sell. He’ll likely return with the Flames next season. 

If Treliving intends to acquire Zucker ($5.5 million AAV) or another right winger, that move will have to be as close to a dollar-for-dollar swap as possible or doing a separate deal to shed the cap space necessary to take on that incoming winger’s contract. Those moves could involve Brodie or Michael Frolik, who was reportedly offered up to the Wild (along with a draft pick) for Zucker. 

WILL THE CAPITALS TRADE NISKANEN AND BURAKOVSKY THIS SUMMER?

THE WASHINGTON POST: In the wake of the Washington Capitals first-round playoff elimination, Isabelle Khurshudyan recently examined potential offseason moves in store for the roster. She points out the bonuses owed to Brooks Orpik, Jakub Vrana, and Jonas Siegenthaler ($1.15 million total) will count against next season’s salary-cap payroll. 

Khurshudyan speculates the addition of defenseman Nick Jensen in February could make veteran blueliner Matt Niskanen a salary-cap casualty. Trading Niskanen, who’s signed through 2020-21 with a $5.75-million annual salary-cap hit, would create flexibility this summer and next. 

The Capitals must also decide what to do with winger Andre Burakovsky, a restricted free agent who was also the subject of frequent trade speculation. Fellow RFAs Dmitrij Jaskin and Chandler Stephenson also face uncertain futures. Of their unrestricted free agents, Orpik and Devante Smith-Pelly are least likely to return. The Capitals probably want to re-sign forwards Brett Connolly and Carl Hagelin but probably can’t afford to keep both. With 22 goals and 46 points, Connolly has more upside. 

Khurshudyan considers re-signing Vrana the priority, using Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch ($4.75-million annual average value) as a “conservative comparable,” speculating his representatives could push for a bridge deal as a hedge that his production will continue to climb, ensuring a bigger future payday. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $72.6 million already invested in 17 players for 2019-20. Deduct that $1.15 million bonus overage from the projected $83 million salary cap for next season and they’ll have around $9 million to work with. Even if Vrana’s camp wants a bridge deal, he’s going to get a significant raise coming off his entry-level contract, perhaps around $4 million. Connolly made $1.5 million annually on his current contract and will likely seek around $4 million. That won’t leave much to fill in the rest of the lineup.

Somebody must be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Niskanen had a modified no-trade clause listing 10 teams he cannot be traded to, leaving a 20-team marketplace. Given his experience, puck-moving skills, ability to log big minutes and the market for right-shooting defensemen, the Capitals should be able to find a suitable destination for him and probably won’t have to absorb any of his salary-cap hit. However, they can’t afford to take any salary back so they’ll likely look at draft picks and prospects in return. 

Burakovsky’s days with the Capitals appear in doubt. GM Brian MacLellan resisted the temptation to move the 24-year-old winger this season in hopes he’d improve. While he did play better down the stretch, I don’t think he did enough to ensure a long-term future there. They could decide not to qualify Burakovsky’s rights in hopes of signing him at a lower salary but I think they’ll see what he might fetch in the trade market.

Orpik hasn’t made a decision about his future yet but there’s already speculation he might retire. Hagelin said he’d like to return but they might not have enough cap space to keep him. 

RECENT CANUCKS TRADE SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: During a mailbag segment earlier this month, JD Burke was asked about possible trade targets for the Canucks. He suggested making a pitch for Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker. Pointing to the near-deal that would’ve sent Zucker to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline for Michael Frolik and a draft pick, he proposes the Canucks offer up Jake Virtanen. He also believes they should target the Edmonton Oilers, assuming they’ll once again screw up their GM search.

Asked which team the Canucks could trade center Brandon Sutter to this summer, he doubts there’s much of a market for the 30-year-old center, who’s signed through 2020-21 with a $4.35-million AAV and also carries a no-trade clause. He speculates the Edmonton Oilers might be interested, depending on who becomes their next GM. He also wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets would be willing to swap Alexander Wennberg’s contract (signed through 2022-23, $4.9 million AAV) for Sutter’s, or if the New York Islanders might be interested.  

VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston recently listed Sutter, Virtanen, Nikolay Goldobin, Loui Eriksson, and Ben Hutton as potential Canucks trade candidates. Goldobin’s a restricted free agent who said he wants to stay in Vancouver but Johnston wondered if he’ll get the chance. Eriksson carries a $6 million AAV and was employed on the fourth line this season. He also carries a 15-team no-trade list but could be appealing to budget clubs looking to become cap compliant. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pundits and fans can make suggestions over what moves the Canucks should attempt to make but GM Jim Benning probably has other ideas. If Zucker’s available, the Wild could attempt to drive up his value by getting teams into a bidding war for his services. If so, forget about prying him out of Minnesota with Virtanen.

There could be a market for Sutter or Eriksson among cost-conscious clubs looking to reach the cap minimum. However, those teams will also want a sweetener included in the deal, like a decent draft pick or a good prospect.

The Canucks might not have to worry about re-signing Goldobin. He’s reportedly considering signing with a KHL team this summer.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2019

Latest on the Toronto Maple Leafs plus a look ahead for the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

MORE LEAFS SPECULATION 

TORONTO STAR: David Feschuk examined potential offseason moves by Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. Re-signing Mitch Marner, who’s due for a significant raise following his 94-point season, will be a priority. Defenseman Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are unrestricted free agents and won’t be easy to re-sign, with Gardiner likely to be too expensive.

Will the Montreal Canadiens try to pry Kasperi Kapanen away from the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Photo via NHL Images).

Dubas faces a difficult decision with center Nazem Kadri. His undisciplined play resulted in playoff suspensions in consecutive years but he also carries an affordable $4.5-million cap hit and brings a physical edge to the Leafs lineup.

Feschuk also notes wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson are restricted free agents and potential offer-sheet targets. He speculates one of them could be shopped for a defenseman, provided Dubas keeps his word about not trading William Nylander. 

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan notes the difficulty Dubas faces with his free agents while carrying limited salary-cap space. The Leafs currently have over $75 million committed to next season’s roster, which won’t leave move wiggle room with the cap projected to rise to $83 million. Marner’s next contract alone will push them over the cap. 

Koshan believes Dubas has no choice but to seek out trade partners, pointing out he can’t afford to re-sign Marner, Kapanen, and Johnsson. One of the latter two or perhaps William Nylander could become a trade candidate. Given the Leafs’ cap constraints, the return will likely be draft picks and prospects. 

Dubas must also try to find a way to shed the contract of Patrick Marleau (one year remaining, $6.25 million) or Nikita Zaitsev ($4.5 million annually through 2023-24). Koshan also believes the Leafs GM faces a decision over Kadri’s future in Toronto. 

RDS.CA: On the show On Jase, Alex Tanguay suggested Kapanen could be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens. “If I’m Marc Bergevin, would not I want to have a Kasperi Kapanen who, for $ 6 million a year, will cost me a draft pick?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs can exceed the $83-million cap if necessary by placing all-but-retired Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) on long-term injury reserve at the start of next season. Still, Dubas will have to swing a trade or two to give himself sufficient cap space for Marner’s big raise (which I expect will be at least $10 million per season, probably more) and other necessary moves, such as finding replacements for Gardiner and Hainsey on the blueline and re-signing his other RFAs.

Trading Nylander would free up nearly $7 million in annual cap space but Dubas said Nylander wasn’t going anywhere as long as he was the Leafs GM. If he holds to his word, Kapanen or Johnsson could be traded, and probably Kadri too.

I agree with Tanguay that Kapanen would be a good addition to the Canadiens but he appears to be calling for Habs GM Marc Bergevin to sign the Leafs winger to an offer sheet.  Bergevin isn’t a fan of offer sheets so I don’t see that happening. He could try to acquire Kapanen via trade, though Dubas could be reluctant to send the winger to a division rival.

Kadri has a history of undisciplined postseason play. Nevertheless, his contract and physical two-way style will make him an attractive trade targets for clubs in need of depth at center. 

Moving Marleau, who has a full no-movement clause, will be very difficult. He’s pushing 40, his play is in obvious decline, and Dubas will likely have to absorb part of his cap hit or bundle him with a top draft pick or a top prospect to make him palatable to potential suitors. That’s assuming Marleau’s willing to waive his NMC. And don’t forget, he’s on a plus-35 contract, meaning his full cap hit still counts against the Leafs cap if he retires or is bought out. I don’t see much of a market for Zaitsev unless the Leafs eat part of his cap hit or include a sweetener in the deal. 

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CAPITALS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Washington Capitals first-round playoff elimination, Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters believe they must make a decision with winger Andre Burakovsky, who was the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and the Capitals could find a suitable return if they attempt to peddle him in June. 

They also suggest retaining pending UFAs Carl Hagelin and Brett Connolly on affordable contracts. The Capitals could part ways with Devante Smith-Pelly. Veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik might consider retirement but they might welcome him back for one more season on an affordable contract to mentor their young blueliners. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72 million invested in 17 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly) and all their core players under contract, the Capitals aren’t facing any major offseason changes. Young forward Jakub Vrana’s coming off his entry-level deal and will be in line for a raise following his 24-goal, 47-point campaign, but the Caps could go with an affordable short-term deal. Burakovsky is likely to be moved. He’s got arbitration rights this summer and doesn’t seem to have a future with the Capitals.   

Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe the recently-eliminated Vegas Golden Knights are in need of a foundational defenseman, noting GM George McPhee’s interest in Erik Karlsson last season. They have a solid defense corps but need a skilled top-pairing blueliner.

They must also re-sign center William Karlsson, whose offensive numbers were down compared to last season but he still has solid two-way abilities. Karlsson also has arbitration rights this summer.  They also feel the Golden Knights need more speed on their bottom-six forward lines. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are maxed out for next season, with over $82 million invested in 17 players. Placing all-but-retired David Clarkson ($5.25 million) at the start of next season will provide some relief, but certainly not enough to re-sign Karlsson, pursue a foundational defenseman, and re-sign or replace their other free agents.

Somebody’s gotta go and there could be a cost-cutting deal or two this summer. Trade candidates could include Cody Eakin ($3.875 million), Ryan Reaves ($2.775 million) and Nick Holden ($2.2 million).