NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus updates on Braden Holtby, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Lias Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Andrew Berkshire was asked if the Montreal Canadiens should attempt to sign Dustin Byfuglien. The 35-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was mutually terminated earlier this year.

Assuming Byfuglien is interested in continuing his NHL career, Berkshire doesn’t see a fit in Montreal. His age, injury history, and questions about his commitment to play are big warning flags.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens must bolster their blueline depth next season, but Byfuglien isn’t the answer here. We don’t know if he’s even interested in playing again. Assuming he is, those factors Berkshire raised will be significant issues.


Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (Photo via NHL Images).

Berkshire was also asked where he thinks Braden Holtby will end up after this season. The Washington Capitals goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Berkshire said he’d be shocked if Holtby wants more than a one-year deal or if a club is willing to give him one. He points to the 30-year-old netminder’s recent struggles and feels he needs to prove himself again as a starter.

He believes the best option for Holtby is joining a team that is somewhat established but lacking a top-end goalie and with a highly touted prospect who could claim the net by 2021-22. He suggested the Calgary Flames, as Holtby could provide support for David Rittich with the Flames having to rush promising Dustin Wolf. However, that might not be necessary if Cam Talbot wants to return on a short-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap constraints could prevent the Flames from signing Holtby. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $64.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. RFAs include Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, and Oliver Kylington, while the UFAs include T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, and Michael Stone.


PHILLY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for a trade partner for Shayne Gostisbehere. While the 26-year-old defenseman struggled this season, the Flyers aren’t looking to just give him away. If they do try to move Gostisbehere, Carchidi thinks the asking price could be a young forward with 20-goal potential or a second-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill. Following the trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher denied Gostisbehere was on the trade block. Considering the growing depth on the Flyers’ blueline and their need for secondary scoring, Ghost Bear will probably remain the subject of trade speculation.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lias Andersson told Rangers president John Davidson he wants to remain a Ranger, but he declined an invitation to attend next month’s training camp leading to the 2020 Stanley Cup tournament. Brooks wonders if Andersson will ever don a Rangers jersey again.

Last December, Andersson returned home to Sweden and demanded a trade, prompting the Rangers to suspend him. Both sides agreed he would be allowed to play for his hometown club for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson has popped up from time to time in trade rumors, usually linking him to Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade. Most of the trade chatter suggests little or no interest in the once-promising young center.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

A look at several players facing uncertain futures in this summer’s free-agent market in the Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined several of this summer’s 30-or-older UFA  goaltenders, as well as several veteran UFA defensemen and forwards facing uncertain futures.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is among several pending UFAs facing uncertain futures (Photo via NHL Images).

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford isn’t far removed from recent career-threatening injuries and there appears to be some front-office turmoil in the organization. He’s also 35, which will hamper efforts for a multi-year term. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could re-sign him.

Jimmy Howard’s days with the Detroit Red Wings are likely over. Despite a brutal season, he could become a backup option for another club. Meanwhile, 38-year-old Mike Smith’s NHL career could be winding down after two sub-par seasons, though his size and puck-handling skills could still make him enticing.

O’Brien expects Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss will attract considerable interest. Ryan Miller’s future depends on his choices and his wish to remain in California. Brian Elliott must keep his expectations modest to stay in the NHL. Maybe 39-year-old Craig Anderson regains some of his form on a more hopeful team. Aaron Dell’s struggles over the past two seasons could hurt his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Blackhawks land an established starter via trade or free agency, they’ll probably re-sign Crawford to a 35-plus, bonus-laden deal. Howard’s experience could help him land a backup role. Some Edmonton pundits suggest Smith could return for one more season with the Oilers.

I expect Khudobin and Greiss will be quickly signed if they hit the open market. Elliott could return for another season with the Flyers. It’s probably the end of the road for Miller and Anderson, while Dell could have difficulty finding a new NHL club. 

O’Brien wondered if former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will resume his NHL career and at what cost. Questions about his injured ankle will also be a factor.

Age and declining performance could hurt the stock of blueliners Mike Green and Roman Polak. Andy Greene, however, could have some value as a defense-first rearguard, while puck-moving Kevin Shattenkirk could be worth a low-risk contract.  O’Brien wondered if a desperate club might take a chance on Dmitry Kulikov or Zach Bogosian.

UFA blueliners who could retire due to age or health issues include Jonathan Ericsson, Jay Bouwmeester, Deryk Engelland, or perhaps Andrej Sekera.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien will attract lots of attention if he decides to return. He won’t get an expensive long-term deal, but probably a 35-plus contract full of bonus clauses. Shattenkirk revived his career with the Lightning and shouldn’t have much difficulty finding another NHL team. Greene will also probably get a one-year deal.

Green and Polak, on the other hand, are likely done as NHL defensemen. The same goes for Kulikov, Bogosian, Ericsson, Bouwmeester, Engelland, and Sekera.

Aging former star forwards like Corey Perry and Jason Spezza also face uncertain futures following this season. Spezza’s defensively responsible play could earn him another contract.

Ryan Reaves’ gritty style could also ensure he remains in the NHL for another season. Carl Soderberg’s underlying stats were underwhelming this season. O’Brien noted 35-year-old checking-line forward Nate Thompson still remains in demand. Questions about Patrick Maroon’s health could leave him twisting in the wind for another off-season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s no longer as effective as he once was. The Stars took a chance on him this season and it didn’t pan out. He might not get another opportunity elsewhere. Spezza, on the other hand, earned praise for his leadership and defensive skills with the Leafs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to bring him back for another season.

Soderberg is 35 and his best seasons are behind him, but he still managed decent offensive stats with the Coyotes. He’ll probably get a one-year deal elsewhere. Reaves’ style of play will help him land another contract with another club. Despite his age, Thompson’s style of play should ensure he gets another NHL deal. I also wouldn’t rule out Maroon landing with another team. 

NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2020

More speculation over destinations for Dustin Byfuglien and the latest on Alex Pietrangelo in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes teams will line up to bid for Dustin Byfuglien if he decides to resume his NHL playing career. The 35-year-old’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was recently terminated, making him an unrestricted free agent. Despite Byfuglien’s age and recent health issues, Simmons considers him a team-changer and a game-changer with his versatility and physical presence.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston thinks at least 20 teams would be in on the conversation if Byfuglien decides to play next season. Mark Spector also feels there’s a big marketplace for Byfuglien, but doesn’t believe he’ll return to action. He also raises questions about the blueliner’s conditioning after not playing in a year.

Rory Boylen suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, and Florida Panthers as possible destinations. Considering Byfuglien walked away from $14 million over the final two years of his contract, money might not be an issue in signing him.

Speculation persists over Dustin Byfuglien’s future (Photo via NHL Images).

Boylen believes Byfuglien would be a solid fit among the Leafs’ top-four defensemen on a value contract. However, they’d still have to move out a player like Alex Kerfoot to free up sufficient cap space.

Playing in his home state of Minnesota could be enticing to Byfuglien. The Wild were rumored to be shopping Matt Dumba before the trade deadline. Boylen suggests they could sign Byfuglien and acquired some tasty assets for Dumba.

The Panthers need help on defense and could shake things up again this summer. Byfuglien also has a history with Panthers general manager Dale Tallen and head coach Joel Quenneville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the rumblings right now suggest Byfuglien’s playing career is over. Until he makes it official, he’ll continue to surface in the rumor mill. Maybe some general managers have already attempted to contact his agent to make inquiries about his future.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo intends to explore all his options regarding his future after this season. The 30-year-old defenseman is considered the top player in this year’s unrestricted free agent market. He indicated his preference is to find a long-term deal. Pietrangelo didn’t rule out re-signing with the Blues, indicating the goal is to work out something with general manager Doug Armstrong.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examined how the Blues can afford to re-sign Pietrangelo and restricted free agent rearguard Vince Dunn. With over $79.4 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21, the Blues must shed salary to retain both defensemen.

If the league works out a compliance buyout this summer for cap-strapped clubs, O’Brien suggests Alexander Steen ($5.75 million annual average value) as a candidate. They could also attempt to trade Steen or Tyler Bozak ($5 million AAV) to a budget team, or shop goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million) to a club seeking help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the salary cap remain at $81.5 million, the Blues will either have to free up cap room to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn or risk at least losing Pietrangelo to free agency. Dunn is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, so Armstrong would use that leverage to ink the blueliner to an affordable short-term budget deal.

There was some suggestion of pending UFAs like Pietrangelo accepting one- or two-year deals this summer in hope of the market improving down the road in the wake of the pandemic. His comments, however, suggest he’s not interested in short-term options.

It’s also been suggested Pietrangelo could seek over $9 million annually. The downturn in the league’s revenue and the potential effect upon next season’s cap could force him into perhaps accepting less than that ($8 million AAV?) on a long-term deal.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2020

The Jets and Dustin Byfuglien agree to mutual contract termination, the Blue Jackets re-sign Joonas Korpisalo, neutral-site speculation and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets and Dustin Byfuglien agreed to a mutual termination of his contract. The move brings an end to the dispute between Jets management and the veteran defenseman over his injury status. It resulted in his suspension without pay for missing training camp and his subsequent season-ending ankle surgery that took place without informing management. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff maintains the situation remains largely a private matter between the two sides but acknowledged it was emotional.

Dustin Byfuglien’s days with the Winnipeg Jets are over (Photo via NHL Images).

Byfuglien has forfeited the $14 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He was slated to earn $8 million this season and $6 million in 2020-21. He’s not spoken publicly about the situation or his future plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read the entire timeline of this saga here. With Byfuglien’s contract off the books for next season, Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players for next season, with all of their core players signed. That should provide Cheveldayoff with some wiggle room to bolster his blueline.

As for Byfuglien, there’s already speculation over potential destinations if he continues his NHL career. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets re-signed Joonas Korpisalo to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.8 million. The 25-year-old goaltender will earn $2.2 million in actual salary next season and $3.4 million in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a reasonable contract for Korpisalo, who’s coming off a one-year, $1.125-million deal. Given the uncertainty over next season’s salary cap, it’s probably a wise decision on his part to take that deal now, rather than risk a lower payday. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Fellow Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins is also a restricted free agent at season’s end, but The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline believes he’ll get a similar deal. Portzline noted there was speculation suggesting the Jackets made Merzlikins a three-year offer, but the netminder denied that report last month.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed MacKenzie MacEachern to a two-year, one-way contract worth $900K per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t wasting time getting some business done during the pandemic shutdown. The MacEachern contract is the third deal he’s signed in as many days, inking Sammy Blais on Wednesday and Marco Scandella on Thursday. The Blues now have over $79.4 million tied up in 20 players, with defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign.

SPORTSNET: New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu admitted he’s had discussions with the NHL about staging neutral-site games in Manchester if the league returns to action in a reduced capacity this summer. “There is truth to that,” he said. “I have had discussions about that. Don’t know whether it’s going to happen, but we are talking about it.”

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell and his wife bought approximately 500 lunches for local sanitation workers in recognition of their efforts during this pandemic.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2020

Some Central Division speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently posed one offseason question for each NHL Central Division team.

He wondered how far the Chicago Blackhawks can go with their current roster. Given his limited salary-cap space, general manager Stan Bowman doesn’t have many options to bolster the roster. He also doesn’t have a goalie under contract for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having recently received a vote of confidence from team owner Rocky Wirtz, I expect Bowman will continue retooling his roster by adding younger, affordable players. As for the goaltending, I suspect he’ll re-sign Corey Crawford to a cost-effective, short-term deal. He could also shop winger Brandon Saad if the return fetches a young, NHL-ready player.

Alex Pietrangelo’s future with the St. Louis Blues remains uncertain (Photo via NHL Images).

Noting the Colorado Avalanche’s plentiful salary-cap space, O’Leary wondered if GM Joe Sakic might pursue Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall via free agency. He acknowledged it’s probably a “pie-in-the-sky fantasy,” but felt it was feasible enough.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was linked to the Avs in this season’s trade-rumor mill. Nevertheless, I don’t think they need to blow a lot of money on a big-ticket UFA winger when Gabriel Landeskog does a fine job filling the first-line left-wing role. It wouldn’t make sense to overpay for Hall to play a second-line role. Yes, they could move Landeskog down to the second line, but it’s not a good idea to break up his chemistry with Nathan MacKinnon and Miko Rantanen.

O’Leary wondered if Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill will get creative to find a goal scorer. Veterans Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov have had down performances this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could address that issue by peddling a defenseman like Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, or Miro Heiskanen. However, I doubt he’ll make such a bold move. He could be forced to find more affordable options through free agency or within his system.

With the Minnesota Wild having replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason on an interim basis, O’Leary wondered if they’ll splurge on a new bench boss. Mike Babcock, Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette are all available, but GM Bill Guerin said he won’t interview candidates during the league’s hiatus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin didn’t rule out sticking with Evason as the full-time replacement. Nevertheless, we can’t rule the possibility he’ll speak with some of those more experienced coaches.

Could this season be Pekka Rinne’s last in goal for the Nashville Predators? He’s been outplayed by Juuse Saros this season. He also has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on Rinne and GM David Poile. I suspect Rinne will be back. He’s carrying a plus-35 contract, meaning a buyout wouldn’t provide any cap relief. He also has a no-movement clause preventing his demotion to the minors and a 10-team trade list.

Rinne could be a compliance buyout candidate if the league and the PA implement that option for this offseason, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Poile kept him around for one more year.

O’Leary wonders if St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo will hit the open market. He’s the heart-and-soul of the club, but he’s also in a position to command between $8 million and $10 million annually. With limited salary-cap space, GM Doug Armstrong might have to shed salary to re-sign Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Veteran forward Alexander Steen ($5.75 million annual average value) has come up in the rumor mill as a trade candidate, but he’s 36 and also carries a full no-trade clause through Feb. 1, 2021. They could have better luck shopping goaltender Jake Allen, who’s signed through next season with an AAV of $4.35 million.

Will the Dustin Byfuglien saga be resolved?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, a resolution could come soon. “Now the Players Association, the league, the player and the Winnipeg Jets are all aligned on the termination agreement but it hasn’t been executed yet and because of that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t in a position to announce but the detail work between the league and the Winnipeg Jets is expected to be ironed out in the near future.”

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2020

NHL players could forego their final paychecks, the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports one of the options for the players to deal with the impact of the coronavirus upon the NHL is foregoing their final paychecks of the season. The gross amount is around $140 million, which is due on April 15. Player reps are canvassing their individual teams to determine what they want to do. They could also take only part of their paychecks, or take the entire payment and put it toward the escrow fund. A decision is required by April 7.

A decision on Dustin Byfuglien’s future with the Winnipeg Jets could be coming soon (Photo via NHL Images).

Darren Dreger reports the NHL has scheduled discussions with the Winnipeg Jets soon regarding their plans for Dustin Byfuglien. The NHLPA, the league, the team, and Byfuglien are all aligned toward a contract termination. It hasn’t been executed yet because of the current situation and the Jets aren’t in a position to announce it. Dreger expects details to be ironed out soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien has probably played his final game with the Jets. He missed this season with an ankle injury that resulted in a disagreement with Jets management over the severity and treatment of the injury.

Whether Byfuglien continues his NHL career as an unrestricted free agent or retires remains to be seen. He has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.6 million. A mutual agreement to terminate his contract will free up that cap space for the Jets.

Bob McKenzie reports several clubs have not yet taken their annual team photograph. They include the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators. The season could end without a commemorative photo for those clubs, though some could use Photoshop to include pictures of players who depart in the off-season.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston, with an assist from Cap Friendly, listed 10 critical unanswered questions raised by the current NHL hiatus. Sorting out the salary cap, performance bonuses, trades with conditions or clauses, the draft lottery, and expiring contracts are among the issues facing the teams and players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting list that provides considerable food for thought. Much will depend on whether the league resumes the remainder of the regular-season schedule, jumps directly to the playoffs, or cancels the entire season. Once they know for certain how this will end, they’ll begin to address those issues.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson praised the work of interim head coach Bob Boughner and his staff. Wilson admits Boughner has the upper hand to remains the Sharks’ bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Wilson truly feels that way, why not just say Boughner will return next season as head coach? Maybe he’s keeping his options open if a better coach becomes available this summer.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators announced temporary layoffs and several staff members were placed on furlough because of the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, the club is hopeful no more members of their team test positive for the illness. Five unnamed players, a staff member, and broadcaster Gord Wilson tested positive for COVID-19.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli will continue to pay 2,100 part-time employees through June 30.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders players pooled funds to donate 3,500 N95 masks to Northwell Health.

University of North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi, University of Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich, and University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman are the three finalists for the 2020 Hobey Baker Award.