NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2023

The annual holiday roster freeze runs from Dec. 20 – 27 but that hasn’t stopped the trade speculation. Check out the latest on Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau plus updates on the Predators, Devils, Hurricanes and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD GAUDREAU BE AVAILABLE IN THE TRADE MARKET?

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited a recent report by the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch in which a league executive told him the Columbus Blue Jackets “are willing to discuss just about anybody.” That prompted Bailey to speculate whether Johnny Gaudreau could be “up for grabs.”

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Bailey pondered the possibility of the Flyers acquiring Gaudreau. He acknowledged the Blue Jackets won’t give the 30-year-old winger away plus he carries a no-movement clause through 2026-27 and a $9.75 million average annual value. The asking price would likely be a first-round pick and either two really good roster players or two top prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey believes Gaudreau would approve a trade to Philadelphia as he cheered for the Flyers while growing up in South Jersey. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that deal to happen.

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere recently stated he’s sticking to his rebuilding plan and wasn’t going to sacrifice assets for a return that could improve his team’s chances of clinching a playoff berth this season. I daresay that also extends to struggling 30-something players carrying expensive contracts through 2028-29.

ARE THE PREDATORS SHOPPING MORE THAN TYSON BARRIE?

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently noted that Predators general manager Barry Trotz is still actively shopping Tyson Barrie after granting the 32-year-old defenseman permission to speak with other clubs about a trade.

Gallagher also wondered if Trotz might be peddling more than one blueliner. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently pondering the futures of Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier in Nashville. Friedman noted that they’ve both been healthy scratches several times during this season.

Fabbro seems the more likely of those two to be moved. Citing a team source, Gallagher stated they’d prefer to retain Carrier as he’s better suited to head coach Andrew Brunette’s system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also worth noting that Carrier is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July while Fabbro becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

I think Trotz’s priority for now is finding a trade for Barrie. As long as the Predators remain a playoff team, he could hang onto Fabbro and Carrier for the playoffs. However, if the Preds fall out of contention by the March 8 trade deadline, both blueliners could become available.

LATEST SPECULATION FROM TSN’S INSIDERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils don’t have a firm deadline for when defenseman Dougie Hamilton will return from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. LeBrun’s understanding is he’s probably out until the playoffs. That means they’ll have his $9 million cap hit to play with leading up to the March 8 trade deadline, which they could put toward adding a defenseman and a goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils haven’t placed Hamilton on long-term injury reserve yet because they’re sitting just under the $83.5 million salary cap. However, they could do so at any time if they need to add players to their roster. Keep an eye on them in the coming weeks.

Chris Johnston believes the Carolina Hurricanes will be looking for help in the goalie market. He pointed out they raised a lot of eyebrows recently by demoting Antti Raanta to the minors while his replacement (Yaniv Perets) came from the ECHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes got some good news recently as starter Frederik Andersen has resumed skating after a blood-clot issue sidelined him for six weeks. They also signed Aaron Dell to a professional tryout offer. Perhaps they’re hoping to buy some time here with Perets and/or Dell backing up Pyotr Kochetkov until Andersen is ready to return to action.

Darren Dreger believes a trade remains likely for Philip Broberg. The 23-year-old Edmonton Oilers defenseman was recently demoted to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield but still wants to play in the NHL. Dreger suggested the possibility that he becomes a sweetener if they want to try and move Jack Campbell’s contract and free up some salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely take more than Broberg in the deal to tempt any club from taking on Campbell’s contract right now. Even then, the Oilers will probably have to retain some salary in the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2023

Check out the latest on Alexis Lafreniere, the Oilers’ goaltending, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, a couple of Leafs’ trade candidates and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Stan Fischler and Stefen Rosner with a roundup of trade and free agent rumors this week. Among the notables:

Alexis Lafreniere’s struggles with the New York Rangers don’t seem to be letting up and it might be best for both sides to part ways soon. The 21-year-old former first-overall pick should still fetch plenty in a trade and he could be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have tried playing Lafreniere on right wing during this preseason (and in previous seasons) but the results have been underwhelming. It’s still too early to hit the panic button as general manager Chris Drury could prefer seeing how he performs in the upcoming regular season.

New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere (NHL Images).

Nevertheless, Drury’s patience could run out if Lafreniere doesn’t improve as the coming campaign progresses. The Canadiens could be among the interested clubs though they’re going to give 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky as well as Rafael Harvey-Pinard plenty of looks as their middle-six left wingers. Still, Habs president of hockey ops Jeff Gorton could contact Drury if Lafreniere became available. Gorton drafted Lafreniere while serving as Rangers GM in 2020.

There will be clubs willing to bet on Lafreniere benefitting from a change of scenery and an opportunity to earn full-time second-line minutes in his natural position at left wing. However, his trade value for the Rangers will suffer if his play shows no sign of real improvement.

The onus is going to be on Stuart Skinner to backstop the Edmonton Oilers into the Stanley Cup Final. If he struggles this season, however, Oilers GM Ken Holland could be forced into the trade market. Jack Campbell cannot do the job full-time despite his $20 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner played well enough last season to become a finalist for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year but he wilted under the heat of playoff pressure. Meanwhile, Campbell struggled through his first season with the Oilers but played well spelling off Skinner in the postseason.

Campbell has solid stats in previous playoff competitions with a career 2.28 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. If he can wrest back the starter’s job this season, maybe he can carry them to the Final.

For now, the Oilers’ goalie situation remains a question mark. If Campbell and Skinner both struggle this season, Holland could have a difficult time finding a suitable short-term starter by the March trade deadline.

It’s possible Patrick Kane could end up with the Rangers this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out but their limited cap space will make it difficult to outbid other clubs.

Maybe Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois is thinking about Marc-Andre Fleury now that Andrei Vasilevskiy is sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury isn’t going anywhere. Even if he agreed to waive his no-movement clause, his $3.5 million cap hit is too expensive for the cap-strapped Lightning to absorb. The Wild have no reason to peddle Fleury. He’ll serve as Filip Gustavsson’s backup and mentor for the coming season.

The Athletic reportedly has Calle Jarnkrok or T.J. Brodie getting traded this season by the Toronto Maple Leafs to relieve their cap issues. The Anaheim Ducks are one reported destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodie currently skates alongside Morgan Rielly on their top defense pairing so I doubt he gets shopped. Jarnkrok is their utility forward on their checking lines. He’d be the more likely trade option but the Leafs could consider other cost-cutting choices.

The Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks are supposedly talking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if Shane Pinto or Mathieu Joseph are the subjects of their conversations. The Senators are believed to be peddling Joseph to free up cap room to sign Pinto.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

Check out the latest Oilers and Leafs speculation plus an update on Ethan Bear in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked which goaltender Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland might target in this summer’s free-agent market. He believes he’ll choose a cheaper, less proven goalie than an expensive free-agent question mark.

Spector said sources tell him Marc-Andre Fleury chooses not to play in Edmonton. He anticipates the Oilers’ free-agent targets will be St. Louis’ Ville Husso and Toronto’s Jack Campbell. He envisions a tandem of Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (NHL Images).

Asked which players could be cost-cutting trade candidates, Skinner listed Zack Kassian ($3.2 million), Warren Foegele ($2.75 million) and Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million). He also included restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi depending on his pay raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers face considerable uncertainty between the pipes for next season. Mikko Koskinen is off to Switzerland while aging Mike Smith could be considering retirement. Even if Smith returns to complete the final season of his contract, they still need a more reliable starter.

Campbell and Husso have shown promise as starters but question marks hover over both. Campbell struggled over the second half of last season with the Maple Leafs, which was his first full campaign as a starter. Husso had a solid regular season with the Blues when Jordan Binnington struggled but gave way to Binnington in the playoffs.

Of those cost-cutting trade candidates, Barrie could attract the most attention. He’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman who could draw interest in the trade market. VancouverHockeyNow’s Rob Simpson believes he’d be a good addition to the Canucks.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LEAFS AFTER RE-SIGNING LILJEGREN?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas still has to deal with restricted free agents Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase after re-signing Timothy Liljegren on Monday.

Koshan wonders how the Liljegren signing affects Justin Holl’s future with the Leafs. While he carries an affordable $2 million cap hit for next season, re-signing Sandin is a priority. He also anticipates trade-deadline pickup Ilya Lyubushkin will hit the open market on July 13.

With less than $7 million in cap space, Dubas must figure out his goaltending. He also needs to bolster his defense and forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen what Dubas has in store to find the cap space to address those needs. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Holl gets traded (despite his 10-team no-trade list) in a cost-cutting deal to free up space for Sandin’s new contract.

UPDATE ON ETHAN BEAR

CANUCKS ARMY: Lachlan Irvine cites CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Vancouver Canucks have had early discussions with Ethan Bear. The restricted free agent defenseman was given permission by the Carolina Hurricanes to speak with other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal said it’s too early to tell how far those talks go between the Canucks and Bear. He could fit their need for younger, affordable talent, especially on their blueline.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2022

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Penguins and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON CAMPBELL, NYLANDER AND GIORDANO.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said his assistant GM will be meeting soon with Jack Campbell’s representatives for contract negotiations. The 30-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Campbell professed his love of playing for the Leafs and the city of Toronto but is leaving contract details up to his agent and Leafs management.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t believe there have been many negotiations between those two sides. Nevertheless, I believe the Leafs will re-sign him given how thin this summer’s market will be for goaltenders. They know what they have in Campbell.

Koshan also reports William Nylander acknowledged his name frequently surfaces in Leafs trade rumors. However, he doesn’t want to be moved. Koshan pointed out that general manager Kyle Dubas has indicated he has little appetite for making big changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s not going anywhere. He carries the more affordable contract among their foursome of top forwards plus he elevates his play in the postseason.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there have been talks with defenseman Mark Giordano about bringing back the 39-year-old defenseman at a lower salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giordano’s current AAV is $6.75 million. How much lower is he willing to go to finish his career in Toronto and for how long? Time will tell if they can get something done before the free-agent market opens on July 13.

MALKIN AND LETANG HOPE TO REMAIN WITH THE PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reports the Pittsburgh Penguins’ long-time core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang hope to remain together for a few more years. Crosby has three years remaining on his contract while Malkin and Letang are due to become UFAs in July.

Malkin said he’s leaving his contract business to his agent. He also dismissed a report out of Russia claiming he would return to his hometown of Magnitogorsk next season, stating he wants to stay in the NHL.

Letang declined to discuss his contract citing an agreement with GM Ron Hextall not to talk publicly about the matter.

Meanwhile, fellow UFA Bryan Rust said he felt he’s taken his play to a higher level than the salary he’s been earning the past few years. He indicated he’s seeking a fair and reasonable new deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman cited The Athletic’s Rob Rossi recently tweeting that the Penguins’ best offers to Malkin and Letang were three years and $15 million. Friedman said he’s heard the Penguins and the Malkin camp have discussed a three-year term to line up with Crosby’s contract but they’re far apart on salary. Letang, meanwhile, is apparently seeking a four-year deal for slightly less than his current $7.25 million annual average value.

As for Rust, it doesn’t look like he’s interested in a hometown discount. He earned $3.5 million annually on a four-year contract. He could seek around $5 million per season.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC: Making a decision on Filip Forsberg’s future topped Adam Vingan’s recent list of offseason issues the Nashville Predators must address. The 28-year-old left winger is due to become a UFA in July. They must also decide if they’ll pick up the option year in head coach John Hynes’ contract and find a competent backup for starting goaltender Juuse Saros.

Vingan cited Evolving Hockey’s contract project model indicating Forsberg could get $8.5 million annually on an eight-year extension with the Predators or $9.5 million on a seven-year deal on the open market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg has stated his goal is to remain with the Predators. As I’ve noted before, the concern for GM David Poile is he already has two forwards earning $8 million annually in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. He might not be keen to have another in his lineup. We’ll find out by July 13 which direction Poile wants to go.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 15, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 15, 2022

What next for the Leafs, Bruins and Kings following their first-round playoff exits? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

ARE CHANGES COMING FOR THE LEAFS?

SPORTSNET: Despite another first-round playoff exit by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Elliotte Friedman didn’t think there needs to be a shakeup in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster. He cited their fourth-overall Eastern Conference finish in the regular season and losing to the defending Stanley Cup champions by one goal in Game 7. He felt there needs to be some tweaks but no one should be fired.

Kelly Hrudey agreed that no one deserves to be fired but there must be changes on the ice. He felt the Tampa Bay Lightning were beatable but the Leafs failed to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 and couldn’t finish off the Lightning with a 3-2 series lead. Hrudey isn’t buying excuses such as bad calls.

Jennifer Botterill felt the Leafs did well this season. However, she believes they couldn’t adjust in certain games to find a way to win in the playoffs.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton suggested a lack of killer instinct remains a problem for the Leafs. She thinks there must be changes, likely starting in the front office as team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas have to answer for yet another first-round failure.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Turning to the roster, Shilton points out goaltender Jack Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s in line for a big payday but the cap-strapped Leafs could have difficulty accommodating him. She also wondered about veteran defenseman Jake Muzzin’s status as the Leafs continue to get younger on the blueline.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski also pointed out the Leafs have over $77 million invested in their 2022-23 roster with over $40 million going to core forwards such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander. That will complicate efforts to re-sign Campbell, who could seek maybe $12 million over three years. Other UFAs include Mark Giordano, Jason Spezza and Ilya Mikheyev.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel is among those who believe the Leafs only need to tweak their roster for next season. He doesn’t see their core forwards being moved, though it may be time to question Tavares’ role with the club given his line’s defensive struggles. Defensemen Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie aren’t going anywhere.

They’ll have to find a suitable backup goalie if they bring back Campbell as expected. That would mean trying to move oft-injured Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million cap hit over the next two years. Siegel is also curious about the 33-year-old Muzzin’s future and wondered if the Leafs will try to bring back Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shanahan, Dubas or head coach Sheldon Keefe could lose their jobs over this but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re back next season. Leafs ownership has been very patient with them and their improvement this season could give that trio one more opportunity to turn this club into a Cup contender.

I’ll be shocked if the Leafs peddle any of their core players. Their hefty contracts would make them difficult to move anyway with the salary cap only rising by $1 million for next season. Nylander is the more affordable at $6.9 million but he’s also been their most reliable playoff performer going back to last year.

The Leafs will try to bring back Campbell but I expect he’ll be seeking more than $4 million per season. Try between $5 million and $6 million annually on a five-year deal.

Even if the Leafs convince Campbell to accept $4 million per season, they must shed salary to sign restricted free agents such as Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Pierre Engvall. Moving Mrazek will help but they’ll need to find a suitable backup. They’ll also have to free up more space if they hope to keep Giordano.

WHAT NEXT FOR BERGERON AND THE BRUINS?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reports Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t ready to discuss his future during his post-game press conference following his club’s first-round elimination by the Carolina Hurricanes. The 36-year-old center is slated to become a UFA in July but said it was too early to talk about it following a heartbreaking end to the season.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he didn’t know which way Bergeron was leaning regarding his future. He said everyone on the team wants him back.

Goss points out a potential departure by Bergeron would create a huge hole at center for the Bruins, leaving Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula as their top-two centers. There aren’t a plethora of potential replacements via free agency or within the organization while the club lacks sufficient assets to use as trade bait to address that issue.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa considers getting an answer on Bergeron’s future as the club’s top priority. He also believes they must make a decision on Jake DeBrusk’s trade request, which he didn’t withdraw despite signing a two-year contract extension in March. They could also shop a left-shot defenseman like Matt Grzelcyk, who became the odd man out during the playoffs.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton also believes the Bruins need a decision on Bergeron’s fate and DeBrusk’s trade request. She also felt they need to improve their scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s status and DeBrusk’s trade request will be the dominant issues for the Bruins. His return will buy some time to start building up their depth at center. Perhaps trading DeBrusk, who’s signed through 2023-24 at $4 million per season, could address that issue.

WHAT IN STORE FOR THE KINGS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered if Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake will be aggressive in adding to his roster this summer as he was when he brought in Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson last summer. He mused over whether Blake will revisit his interest in Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

The Kings will have over $20 million in salary-cap space with Dustin Brown’s contract coming off their books. However, they only have 14 players under contract for next season with Adrian Kempe, Gabe Vilardi, Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi among their restricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake must give priority to his key RFAs as well as re-sign or replace UFAs like Andreas Athanasiou and Alex Edler. Depending on how those negotiations go, he might have enough room to make another significant veteran acquisition.

Chychrun and his $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 would be an affordable pickup cap-wise. However, the Coyotes seek a significant return including high draft picks and top prospects.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2021

The Leafs are shopping a defenseman but have yet to open contract talks with Jack Campbell, while trade chatter grows about Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox cited Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs have let the rest of the league know Travis Dermott or Justin Holl are available for the right price. Fox speculates that price is either “an upper-mid-round draft pick” or “perhaps a rugged d-man with less term on his contract.”

The cap-strapped Leafs have no space to add a salaried player, they hold just three draft picks in the 2022 draft, and management must clear cap space for the short and long term. Holl is signed through next season with a $2 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list while Dermott is earning $1.5 million annually through 2022-23.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see which one gets moved. Holl, 29, is more expensive and his no-trade complicates efforts to move him. He’s struggled this season but played well over the previous two campaigns. The 24-year-old Dermott is younger, more affordable and he lacks no-trade protection but he’s had consistency issues and been relegated to mostly third-pairing duty.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos reports agent Kurt Overhardt, who represents Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, denied reports contract extension talks are underway with his client. “Whoever said we’re talking is full of crap,” said Overhardt.

Traikos believes the Leafs have already waited too long to ink Campbell to an extension, believing it should’ve taken place during the summer. As the 29-year-old goaltender’s value rises, Traikos believes he could be playing elsewhere next season the longer it takes the two sides to start contract talks.

Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. His current annual cap hit is $1.65 million but Traikos believes the Leafs will be lucky to get him for twice that amount if his strong play continues throughout this season. He pointed to Philipp Grubauer getting a long-term deal worth $5.9 million annually from the Seattle Kraken and Cal Petersen earning $5 million annually on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have little choice but to sign Campbell for probably between $5.5 million and $6 million annually. They’ve got no one in their system capable of challenging him for the starter’s job, there aren’t better options in the trade market and Cap Friendly shows few suitable long-term alternatives via next summer’s free-agent market.

That explains in part why they’re looking to move one of their defensemen. They must free up cap space before next season to absorb Campbell’s new contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported trade chatter was increasing about Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo. He said there were whispers around the league claiming Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was fielding calls for the 27-year-old netminder.

Portzline spoke with three NHL front-office sources about potential destinations for Korpisalo. They suggested the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens as likely possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korpisalo is a UFA relegated to backup duty behind Elvis Merzlikins. He could be on the move at some point before the March 21 trade deadline.

The Coyotes seem like a prime landing spot given their struggles this season but they could be reluctant to acquire someone who could bolt via free agency next summer. . The Sabres are getting surprisingly good goaltending from 40-year-old Craig Anderson and backup Dustin Tokarski but that could change as the season goes along.

Sloppy defensive play and inconsistent offense are the Canadiens’ biggest problems this season. I doubt they’ll pursue Korpisalo with Carey Price set to return to the lineup in the coming weeks and Jake Allen doing a decent job between the pipes in his absence.