NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

The Islanders stave off elimination, the Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, the Wild re-sign Jonas Brodin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders live to play another day after edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Jordan Eberle tallied the game-winner, forcing a sixth game on Thursday. The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for the win. Ryan Pulock opened the scoring in the first period but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied it with his eighth goal of the postseason. Lightning center Brayden Point missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled the play for most of this game but the Isles hung in there for the win. They blew a couple of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal during regulation, including Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s lame attempt to pass on a two-on-one that was broken up by Zach Bogosian and a long opportunity on a delayed penalty where they failed to find the back of the net with six attackers. Nevertheless, they prevailed and have another chance to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Thursday.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday named Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian McLellan sought an experienced no-nonsense bench boss and he’s got one in Laviolette. He has 18 seasons of NHL experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and guided the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Final.

There was a sense the Capitals were lackadaisical this season, especially during the playoffs. They won’t get away with that under Laviolette.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin was mentioned as a possible trade candidate this season. This signing indicates GM Bill Guerin sees him as a key part of the Wild’s roster. Brodin also has a full no-movement clause in the first four years of his new contract, which extends the one he has for 2020-21.

This signing sparked speculation over Matt Dumba’s future with the Wild. You can read more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.

RDS.CA: The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly close to re-signing recently-acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson. The deal could be between three-to-five years, with a cap hit of $3.5 million or $4 million, depending on the duration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Edmundson has generated rumors suggesting the Canadiens could move a left-side defenseman for a scoring forward. Check out the details in today’s Rumor Mill.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed goaltender Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes insider Craig Morgan speculates Hill will become the leading candidate as the club’s backup next season if they trade Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

Speaking of the Coyotes, the leading candidate for their vacant general manager position is St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said interim head coach Rick Bowness has earned the right to return as head coach. Nill and Bowness have an agreement to discuss the matter following the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the job is Bowness’ if he wants it.

TSN: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen for allegedly kicking a player on the bench during a game this season.

CALGARY SUN: Noted NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is taking Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald to court after he withdrew his approval of a biography at the last minute. She’s seeking a court order to have the book published.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2020

Does the Jonas Brodin signing mean Matt Dumba’s on the trade block? Will Marc-Andre Fleury submit his no-trade list? What the latest on the Canadiens? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD DUMBA BE TRADED?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild re-signing defenseman Jonas Brodin yesterday to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension could set the stage for other moves.

According to sources, Wild general manager Bill Guerin has not only received a lot of calls about Matt Dumba, he’s actively shopping the blueliner. Russo speculates Guerin could move Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center. He indicates the rearguard is the only one lacking no-trade protection before 2021-22 season.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes the Vancouver Canucks will be among the suitors for Dumba. However, he believes it’ll take giving up a forward like Brock Boeser to get him. Johnston feels Boeser’s name could surface in trade rumors if the Canucks re-sign pending free agent winger Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Brodin, Ryan Suter, and Jared Spurgeon have full no-movement clauses. As a result, those three must be protected in next summer’s expansion draft, leaving Dumba exposed if Guerin decides to protect three defensemen.

Dumba lacks no-trade protection for 2020-21. On his own, however, he might not be enough to land a scoring center. A sweetener of a draft pick or promising prospect might have to be included. His annual salary-cap hit ($6 million AAV through 2022-23) could also be a snag.

Guerin doesn’t have to move Dumba right away. He can be patient and see how next season unfolds if he doesn’t find any suitable offers during this offseason. If he opts to wait, I think he’ll try to move Dumba before next season’s trade deadline (whenever that might be) to avoid any complications of finding a suitable trade partner before the expansion draft.

DID FLEURY SUBMIT HIS NO-TRADE LIST?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger reported Sept. 15 was the deadline Marc-Andre Fleury and his agent to submit their revised no-trade list to Vegas Golden Knights management. That’s in accordance with the NHL CBA and the memorandum of understanding.

It’s uncertain if the Fleury camp did this. Granger speculates they may have as a precautionary measure following reports the Golden Knights intend to re-sign Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granger also points out moving an aging goaltender with two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million would be difficult under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, he did play well in his three postseason appearances and there could be a club with sufficient cap space willing to take a chance on him.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Charlie Lajoie believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could be preparing for a blockbuster trade following his recent acquisition of defenseman Joel Edmundson. He speculated a blueliner like Ben Chiarot could be part of a package deal to land a scoring winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Canadiens’ recent acquisition of defenseman Joel Edmundson opens up some trade possibility for Bergevin. He also believes Bergevin can afford to move a blueliner to address that issue. He feels Brett Kulak could have more value on the trade market than Victor Mete.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs have a surplus of left-side defensemen. Kulak or Mete could be part of a package for a scoring forward but they obviously won’t be the centerpiece. Maybe center Max Domi would also be part of such a deal.

Bergevin can also draw upon his depth in draft picks. He has 11 picks in this year’s draft, including three in the second round and three in the fourth. He also has two third-rounders and three picks in each of the fourth and fifth rounds of next year’s draft.

We know he won’t be moving promising youngsters like Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov. He included them among his untouchables.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, the Stars are within a game of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, Lou Lamoriello is GM of the Year, an update on Brayden Point, and the Canadiens acquire Joel Edmundson from the Hurricanes.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars are one game away from the Stanley Cup Final after edging the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Final. Anton Khudobin made 32 saves for the win while teammates Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn were the goal scorers. Alec Martinez tallied for the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin flat out stole this game for the Stars, who were outshot 33-20 in this contest and outplayed for long stretches by the Golden Knights. He’s been Dallas’ most valuable player throughout this postseason and has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is this season’s winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The off-season signings of Semyon Varlamov and Derrick Brassard, re-signings of Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson, and acquisitions of Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau were cited as factors in Lamoriello receiving the award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello has his critics but there’s no question his moves ensured the Islanders remained a playoff club this season. His wheeling and dealing also got the Isles to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be without first-line center Brayden Point for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Islander. Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and missed Game 3. He participated in practice yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t be surprised if Point is a game-day decision.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020. Edmundson, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Habs will re-sign Edmundson, who earned $3.1 million on a one-year contract this season. They like his size and physical play on the left side of their blueline. This move leaves the Canadiens with 11 picks in this year’s draft.

If Edmundson is re-signed, it could set the stage for another move or two by the Habs. I have more on that in the rumors sections.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Could the Rangers trade Tony DeAngelo? Does the acquisition of Joel Edmundson signal more moves ahead for the Canadiens? What’s the latest on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEANGELO ON THE BLOCK?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers could attempt to trade Tony DeAngelo rather than re-sign the restricted free agent defenseman. That’s because a contract of longer than one year for the 24-year-old DeAngelo would all but ensure losing promising Nils Lundkvist to unrestricted free agency on June 2, 2022 without the 20-year-old rearguard having played a game for the Blueshirts.

Lundkvist signed to play in Sweden next season. The Rangers hold Lundkvist’s rights until June 1, 2022. However, Brooks doesn’t like the odds of the young Swede signing with the Blueshirts when they’ve already got DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox filling the right-side blueline spots. He feels the Rangers will need a steady flow of impact players on entry-level contracts over the next several years to support and counterbalance the expensive contracts at the top of the depth chart.

Brooks believes it’ll cost the Rangers between $5.5 – $6 million annually to re-sign DeAngelo, who’d be filling the third-pairing spot on the right side. He said there’s no inclination to move him to the left side. Instead, he feels they’ll use DeAngelo as trade bait to bring in a long-term solution for their second-line center position. They could find more affordable options to replace DeAngelo on the third pairing via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $67.1 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, with DeAngelo, center Ryan Strome, goalie Alexandar Georgiev and winger Brendan Lemieux as their notable restricted free agents. Jesper Fast is an unrestricted free agent who’s reportedly headed to the market.

Brooks has frequently suggested DeAngelo as a trade candidate this year because of the Rangers’ depth on the right side of their blueline and their need to address their second-line center role. General manager Jeff Gorton could re-sign Strome, who has arbitration rights and is a year away from UFA eligibility, but there’s a question over whether he’s worth a potentially expensive long-term investment, especially given the current economic climate.

The Rangers could get some cap relief if aging goalie Henrik Lundqvist is traded, bought out or retires. Trading him would require picking up a healthy chunk of his $8.5-million cap hit. Retirement would be the best option as it would clear the entire cap hit from their books.

The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello believes the most likely scenario is a buyout. However, that will only clear $3 million of his cap hit, as well as leaving $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22. Nevertheless, that could be their only solution.

If Gorton goes the buyout route it could affect what he does with DeAngelo and Strome. It will also depend upon what’s available in the trade market to suitably address the Rangers’ second-line center needs. DeAngelo would be an intriguing trade target but finding a club willing to part with a good second-line center for him will be challenging for Gorton.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens acquisition yesterday of left-side defenseman (and pending UFA) Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes raises questions over what general manager Marc Bergevin has in store for his club in the coming weeks. The addition and possible re-signing of the 27-year-old Edmundson could create congestion at that position, especially if promising Alexander Romanov makes the roster next season.

Analyst Mike Bossy wondered if more moves are coming, suggesting perhaps Victor Mete’s days with the Habs might be numbered. Mete is a restricted free agent in October and due for a raise.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently observed the trade speculation brewing about Canadiens center Phillip Danault. He feels it would be a bad idea to move the two-way center and suggests the Habs should learn from what happened to the Buffalo Sabres when they traded away Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.

The Sabres made that move in part because they felt promising Casey Mittelstadt was ready to move into the No. 2 center role. Instead, Mittelstadt struggled and spent time last season in the minors while O’Reilly went on to greater things with the Blues. Larkin doesn’t want the Habs to risk repeating that mistake with promising Nick Suzuki. He believes Danault would be difficult to replace.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson’s addition indicates the Canadiens want more size, experience, and toughness on the left side of their blueline. Maybe that means Mete gets traded, maybe not. It’ll depend, of course, on whether Edmundson re-signs before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9.

I agree with Larkin’s take on Danault. Some of that trade chatter is stoked by the 27-year-old playing a third-line role during the playoffs and some because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason on the top-two lines, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can expect that level of play throughout next season. Maybe they’re ready for prime time, maybe not.

Better to hang onto Danault for next season and observe how things shake out. If Suzuki and Kotkaniemi keep Danault permanently on the third line, then they can look at moving him before the trade deadline. If they’re in the playoff chase, better to hang onto him when depth at center will be invaluable, even at the risk of losing him to free agency next year.

UPDATE ON ANDERSON

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports the Blue Jackets would like to re-sign Josh Anderson. The 26-year-old right winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported Anderson would like to stay with the Blue Jackets, but it would take a long-term deal to do that. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might not be keen to do that, as he’s looking to fit him within their roster structure and their salary cap. The flattened salary cap for next season will also affect negotiations.

Arace points out Anderson doesn’t have much leverage. Despite his arbitration rights, he missed most of this season with a shoulder injury. He also noted Anderson’s agent, Darren Ferris, threatened to have his client play in Switzerland during their previous contract talks before an agreement was reached.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently wondered if a new Blue Jackets negotiator might help the situation. Before accepting the Florida Panthers’ GM role, Bill Zito’s biggest role as Blue Jackets assistant GM was handling contract negotiations. Maybe his replacement can smooth things out. If not, Kekalainen could start listening to trade offers next month.