NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2021

The latest on Brady Tkachuk, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Morgan Rielly in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Brady Tkachuk has yet to join his Senators teammates in Ottawa in preparation for the start of training camp on Sep. 22. He’s still back home in St. Louis as his agent and Senators management continues to work on a new contract for the 22-year-old left wing.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Garrioch cited TSN’s Gord Miller recently saying he felt a deal between the two sides could come quickly. It’s believed the Senators offered up an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. The two sides could fall back to a three-year deal if a long-term agreement cannot be hammered out in time.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma took note of the apparent lack of progress in contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. He feels the negotiation pressure point of missing the start of training camp next Thursday could adversely affect their regular-season performance.

Kuzma also speculates the Canucks could be forced to shed some salary if Pettersson and Hughes each pocked $8 million annually on their new deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the start of training camp fast approaching, most of the focus in the rumor mill will be on the contract talks of notable restricted free agents such as Tkachuk, Pettersson, Hughes and the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov.

Plenty of time remains for those players to be signed before their respective training camps open but the clock is ticking. It may be more pressing for the Wild and Kaprizov, as the latter reportedly requires a work visa and would have to spend a week self-isolating from his teammates once he arrives in Minnesota.

Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with a projected $10.6 million in cap space. Signing Pettersson and Hughes would push them over the cap. If necessary, they can get an additional $3.5 million in cap relief by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve. As Kuzma points out, however, they would have to free up more room depending on what their combined cap hit turns out to be.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the Maple Leafs shouldn’t trade Morgan Rielly this season. He acknowledged the 27-year-old defenseman is due for a big raise next summer. However, he feels they shouldn’t move their annual leader in ice time unless they’re certain of getting equal or greater value in return. “And that’s not going to happen,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koshan was responding to recent reports speculating over Rielly’s future with the Leafs because of his unrestricted free agent status next summer and the club’s limited cap space.

I daresay management has no intention of moving him this season unless they’re well out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline. That’s assuming, of course, they have no desire to re-sign him or he plans to test the market in July.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2021

Updates on the notable remaining restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with the NHL’s notable restricted free agents.

Term could be a sticking point between the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Quinn Hughes. His camp sought a deal beyond five years, perhaps comparable to contracts signed this summer by Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen and Colorado’s Cale Makar. Pat Brisson, one of Hughes’ agents, said there was no animosity as discussions continue.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Teammate Elias Pettersson shares the same representatives as Hughes. They were considering a shorter team for the 22-year-old center. Pettersson wants assurances the Canucks are as committed to winning as he is. It could cost a combined $14 million to get both youngsters under contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were said to be nervous about Pettersson getting an offer sheet after the Carolina Hurricanes successfully signed away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens. That’s a remote possibility given the high cost of compensation to the Canucks and salary for Pettersson.

Talks between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kirill Kaprizov continue. Speculation the 24-year-old winger could sign a one-year deal with KHL club CSKA Moscow came to nothing. The Wild hoped to sign Kaprizov to a seven or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp wanted a three-year contract to bring him up to his eligibility age for unrestricted free agent status. Wild general manager Bill Guerin is reportedly willing to consider a five-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent conjecture suggests the two sides could agree to a five-year contract worth around $9 million per season. Yes, that annual average value is high for a player with just one NHL season under his belt, but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy during that campaign, becoming the first Wild player to receive that honor.

Kaprizov’s also the most exciting offensive player the Wild have had since Marian Gaborik’s heyday from 2000 to 2008. They hope to build around this kid for at least the next five years. That’s why it could cost $9 million per season.

Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion described contract discussions with winger Brady Tkachuk’s representatives as positive and productive. The two sides are trying to work out a long-term deal. Tkachuk reportedly won’t travel to Ottawa for training camp until the paperwork is sorted out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk’s contract talks have garnered increased attention over the last couple of weeks. There have also been conflicting stories with Dorion saying things are going smoothly while other reports claim Tkachuk is growing frustrated it’s taking so long to get a deal done.

The Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin began contract talks on July 21. A three-year bridge deal is possible but Fox wonders if they’ll work toward a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jack Eichel saga continues to overshadow Dahlin’s contract situation. There’s been no drama thus far but interest in his negotiations could increase as training camp approaches.

Fox also believes Nolan Patrick could get a bridge deal with the Vegas Golden Knights following his unhappy tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was traded to the Golden Knights from the Nashville Predators as part of a three-way deal. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers and representatives for winger Kailer Yamamoto are said to be grinding away toward a bridge deal.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas seeks more than the $2.8 million AAV signed by teammate Jordan Kyrou. He could miss the start of training camp if he’s not offered a suitable deal. The Blues have limited cap space and haven’t been able to unload Vladimir Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz recently suggested Yamamoto as an offer sheet possibility. He considers the 22-year-old winger a good young forward on a team whose cap situation would make it difficult to match a modest $4.1 million offer sheet. Thomas could also be another target, though his struggles last season hurt his chances of getting one.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

Sidney Crosby undergoes wrist surgery, Patrice Bergeron discusses his contract situation, the latest on Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent surgery on his left wrist on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks and could miss the Penguins’ opening four games of this season. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby has been dealing with an unspecified ailment in his wrist for several years.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Crosby aggravated the ailment as he was ramping up his training in preparation for the coming season. The Penguins will now be without their top two centers to open the season. Evgeni Malkin is recovering from offseason knee surgery that will sideline him much longer than Crosby.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said his focus is on the upcoming season and not on his contract status. The 36-year-old center is entering the final season of his deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He indicated he’ll play out this season and discuss his contract with the Bruins after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make some Bruins fans nervous after seeing long-time stars Zdeno Chara and David Krejci depart over the last two years. Bergeron is no longer in his playing prime but he remains among the league’s best two-way forwards.

Much will depend upon his performance and how much he’ll seek on his next contract. They could be more accommodating to Bergeron given how thin the Bruins are at center.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The NHL’s investigation into allegations San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on his own games has hit a snag. Kane’s estranged wife Anna made the accusations on social media but the league has thus far been unable to interview her. The NHL hoped to have its investigation completed before training camp opened later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also reported an examination of betting trends that showed no abnormalities for Sharks games last season. Kane was also the Sharks’ leading scorer in 2020-21.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed center Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free agent forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $800K contract and restricted free agent defenseman Connor Mackey to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $912,500.

Former NHL player J.T. Brown pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston. “We need more information about brain injuries and concussions, the kind of information you can get from studying brains after someone has died,” said Brown, adding he loves hockey and hopes to make it safer for future generations.

CBC NEWS: Brandon University scolded former NHLer Theo Fleury for “reprehensible remarks” he made against vaccine passports. The university granted Fleury an honorary doctorate in 2015 but says his espousing of conspiracy theories is a “stain on his legacy”. He recently took to Twitter claiming vaccine passports would make it easier for pedophiles to track children and touted an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was one of my favorite players during his NHL career. His work in exposing sexual predators in hockey and as a mental health advocate remains worthy of praise. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see him disappear down this rabbit hole of misinformation.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks scout Patrik Jonsson recently passed away at age 51 of prostate cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Jonsson’s family, friends and the Canucks’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2021

More legal trouble for Evander Kane, Kevin Hayes pays tribute to his late brother Jimmy, more Canadian teams require proof of vaccination to attend games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane faces more legal troubles. Daniel Kaplan reports a federal bankruptcy judge has approved for discovery in a lawsuit filed against Kane alleging he reneged on a promise to pay at least $2 million for an abortion.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaplan also pointed out Kane filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, endured a very public, messy, ongoing divorce from his wife and learned several of his teammates want him traded. He’s also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the league regarding allegations made by his estranged wife that he bet on NHL games.

SPORTSNET: Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes made a heartfelt tribute on Instagram to his brother Jimmy, who died suddenly on Monday. He said he lost his best friend, crediting his older brother with paving the way for his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Hayes family. Tributes poured in following Jimmy’s passing from around the hockey world.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames are the latest teams to require fans to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend their games this season. The Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs announced similar rules earlier this month. The Edmonton Oilers are expected to follow suit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Senators are also expected to implement similar rules and I daresay the Montreal Canadiens will do the same.

THE PROVINCE: Daniel Sedin is enjoying the active role he and brother Henrik have taken in management decisions this offseason with the Vancouver Canucks. The twins were hired as senior advisors to general manager Jim Benning earlier this year. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens announced France Margaret Belanger has been named president (sports and entertainment) of Groupe CH. She becomes the first woman to serve on the Canadiens executive committee in its 104-year history. She also serves, alongside team owner Geoff Molson, as an alternate governor for the team.

MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is returning to Europe after 16 NHL seasons. He signed a one-year contract with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss Hockey League.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers announced Gord Murphy and Mike Kelly will serve as assistant coaches under head coach Gerard Gallant. Murphy is being promoted from the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. Steve Smith joins the Wolfpack as an assistant.

WINDSOR SPITFIRES: Announced former NHL player Marc Savard as their new head coach.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

A look at the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at how some of the most prominent restricted free agent situations could play out.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Regarding Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes, O’Brien noted the club’s salary-cap crunch could result in bridge contracts for those two. Both are represented by agent JP Barry, who floated the possibility of Hughes getting more term and Pettersson less, perhaps something comparable to Mathew Barzal’s three-year, $21 million contract with the New York Islanders.

Citing stats via Evolving Hockey, O’Brien speculated both could come in at $12 million. In that scenario, Pettersson could get two years at just under $5 million and Hughes getting six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien noted it’s a messy situation that could go down to the wire. Pat Brisson, who represents both players with Barry, remains confident deals will get down but these things take time. He and Barry have said they’re open to short- or long-term contracts for their clients.

O’Brien doesn’t see a team attempting to sign Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov to an offer sheet. However, he wonders if the one signed by teammate Sebastian Aho two years ago (five years, $8.45 million annually) could be a barometer for what Svechnikov gets.

Evolving Hockey projects a four-year deal worth $6.175 million per season for Svechnikov. O’Brien wonders if it might make sense for the winger to take less, or if the Hurricanes might bump up that annual average value to sign him to a longer-term that takes up more of his UFA years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A longer-term with a cap hit of $7 million annually could be a bit of a gamble if the 21-year-old Svechnikov doesn’t blossom into a superstar. On the other hand, it would be worth it to lock him into that kind of deal if they’re confident he’ll reach that next level.

Observing Kirill Kaprizov’s contract standoff with the Minnesota Wild, O’Brien wonders if some of the other notable RFAs might wait and see what he eventually signs for. The Wild reportedly made offers of seven and eight years worth $9 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov reportedly has a one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. His camp prefers a three-year deal with the Wild to bring him up to his UFA eligibility to cash in on a more lucrative deal. Wild GM Bill Guerin claims to be unconcerned about that KHL deal but indicated he’s willing to entertain mid-range deals of four to six years.

O’Brien noted there was plenty of speculation over how much Brady Tkachuk might get on his next contract with the Ottawa Senators. Mikko Rantanen’s six-year, $9.25 million AAV with the Colorado Avalanche was one suggested comparable. More conservative estimates suggest six years at over $6.46 million annually or three years at $7.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk is arguably the most important core player on the rebuilding Senators. I can see him getting over $7 million annually for four-to-six years.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s up-and-down performance and the mess that is the Sabres franchise could affect what his next deal looks like. Projections suggest a three-year, $6.5 million AAV deal, six years at $6 million per or eight years at between $8 million and $8.25 million annually. O’Brien suggests a bridge deal might be best here for a blueliner who hasn’t shown his best work yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the bridge deal here, but it’s the Sabres, so who knows what they’ve got planned for Dahlin.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

The Coyotes could need a new home after this season, Auston Matthews to grace the cover of EA Sports NHL 22, an update on Zdeno Chara and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported yesterday the city of Glendale informed the Arizona Coyotes it is opting out of its joint lease agreement for Gila River Arena, making the 2021-22 season the club’s last at the facility.

Gila River Arena (NHL.com).

Strang indicates this notice comes following months of stalled negotiations between the two sides regarding terms for a lease extension, arena renovations, and multiple notices of outstanding and delinquent balances owed by the club as part of the current lease agreement.

We’ve reached the point of no return,” said city manager Kevin Phelps, who oversees day-to-day operations and is also responsible for the arena management contract. “There’s no wavering”.

Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez released a statement expressing the club’s disappointment with the decision. He is hoping the city will reconsider its position and restart negotiations for an extension.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports skeptics such as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman view the city’s position as merely a negotiating ploy. Phelps was adamant that’s not the case.

I’ve made my recommendation and told the (city) council what I was going to do, and I’ve got the full support of our city council,” he said. Phelps maintained the decision is in the best interest of the entertainment district and of the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long, tempestuous history between the Coyotes and the city of Glendale could be in its final chapter. The club has signaled its intent to build a new arena in or near downtown Phoenix. Morgan wondered how long Glendale would remain patient with the Coyotes’ year-to-year approach. Barring a last-minute change of heart, their tolerance is at an end.

This news sparked conjecture over whether the NHL will finally relocate the troubled franchise to a market such as Quebec City or Houston. Rest assured Bettman and the league will explore every option to keep the club in Arizona. Those efforts, however, will depend on where and when a new arena will be constructed. They certainly won’t have one built in time for the 2022-23 season.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will grace the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 22. He was also on the cover of NHL 20. Matthews was the winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as last season’s leading goal scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news sparked some criticism on social media from non-Leafs fans. It’s a sign we’ve truly reached the dog days of summer. I doubt his visage on the cover will prevent gamers from buying it.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: A source claims it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a reunion between the Boston Bruins and former captain Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old free-agent defenseman prefers playing in the Eastern Conference as his family still lives in Boston. Two other sources didn’t rule out Chara returning to the Bruins in a coaching or player management position if he decides to retire.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings bought out the contract of veteran forward Frans Nielsen. It will cost them $4.25 million against their cap this season but drops to $500K next season. The Wings also named Pat Verbeek as the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings can afford to absorb Nielsen’s still-hefty buyout cap hit for this season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $19 million in cap space for 2021-22 following the buyout.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ryan Reaves has put his home in Summerlin on the market for $1.2 million. He was traded to the New York Rangers in July.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres 2021 first-round pick Owen Power is returning to the University of Michigan for another season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sparked speculation by some fans on social media suggesting Power didn’t want to play for the troubled Sabres. In reality, the young defenseman indicated he was considering returning to college this season well before the NHL draft.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski takes a deep dive into the NHL’s decision to allow ads on player jerseys. Among the many interesting tidbits:

Ads for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products won’t be allowed. Ditto anything sexualized.

There will be limitations for sportsbook gaming ads. Fans will be able to buy team jerseys without the ads.

The league is also limiting sales to one sponsor on the jersey. It is also adamant the jerseys won’t look like those in European leagues that feature multiple ads.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks were among the first NHL teams to briefly have sponsors on their practice jerseys in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Those didn’t last long as the league brain at the time frowned upon it.