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 Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

Golden Knights reportedly talking contract with Robin Lehner, plus the latest on the Bruins and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

REPORT: GOLDEN KNIGHTS HOLD CONTRACT TALKS WITH LEHNER

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights intend to sign goaltender Robin Lehner to a long-term contract extension. He cites sources suggesting discussions between management and the Lehner camp might have already begun. Lehner, 29, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season, the Golden Knights only have $6.375 million in cap space. $3-$4 million of that could be taken up re-signing restricted free agents Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins. Granger estimates it could take a five-year deal at $5 million annually, possibly more, to keep Lehner in the fold.

Re-signing Lehner could mean parting ways with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract. Granger feels Fleury’s relationship with management has soured since Lehner’s acquisition at the February trade deadline. They could retain part of his cap hit to trade him, though he carries a 10-team no-trade list. They could also buy out the remainder of Fleury’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Lehner is re-signed and Fleury traded or bought out. That’s been percolating in the rumor mill for some time, especially when Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs. It went to a full boil last month after Fleury’s agent tweeted an image of his client with a sword through his back and coach Peter DeBoer’s name on the blade.

Lehner or Fleury could draw the attention of the Colorado Avalanche. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers suggested the Avs could pursue either goalie if they become available.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intends to explore ways to improve his club between now and the start of the free-agent market on Oct. 9.

The toughest decision could be deciding whether to re-sign Torey Krug. Haggerty believes the Bruins would love to keep the 29-year-old pending UFA defenseman, but he doesn’t feel they’re in a good enough salary-cap place to do so.

Haggerty speculates Sweeney could look to within to bolster his lineup by promoting Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka into full-time roles next season. Making room for those two could mean moving out a winger like Jake DeBrusk. He’s a restricted free agent due for a significant raise but also an inconsistent scorer who managed just two points in 10 playoff games last month.

Haggerty wondered if Sweeney might consider shopping David Krejci. The 34-year-old center has one year left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.25 million who can be dealt to half the teams in the league based on the no-trade language in his contract.

Sweeney also said the Bruins have no reservations about goaltender Tuukka Rask after he opted out of the playoffs for family reasons. Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak both have a year left on their contracts and it appears the Bruins plan on continuing next season with their current goalie tandem. Sweeney pointed out Rask is up for the Vezina Trophy this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krug seeks over $7 million annually, he’s probably played his final game with the Bruins. He’s indicated he’s not taking a hometown discount or a one-year deal. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney said the two sides “haven’t found a landing spot yet.”

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa (subscription required) also suggested DeBrusk could be a trade chip. However, he felt defenseman Brandon Carlo was more likely to move because he didn’t play up to his capabilities in the playoffs. However, if Krug departs I doubt they’ll trade away Carlo.

As for Krejci, his age, cap hit and modified no-trade make him difficult to move under the current economic conditions. He could be traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still suiting up with the Bruins next season.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports sources around the league have spoken with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford regarding defenseman Kris Letang. However, this isn’t uncommon and there’s no indication Letang is being actively shopped.

Yohe also reports all indications suggest the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade goaltender Matt Murray. Rutherford had little interest in moving goalie Tristan Jarry. The Penguins GM is willing to move center Jared McCann and perhaps Nick Bjugstad, though Rutherford isn’t opposed to keeping him. He also doesn’t sound interested in moving defenseman Jack Johnson.

TSN: Darren Dreger isn’t sure the speculation about Letang is legit, pointing out his agent said his client doesn’t expect to be moved. Dreger acknowledged the 33-year-old defenseman might still be traded, but it’s not his expectation. Other Penguins who could hit the trade block include Johnson, Patric Hornqvist, and Zach Aston-Reese.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation yesterday claiming Letang was expecting a trade, but now his agent says otherwise. Damage control, perhaps? Or merely some confusion emerging from multiple sources on Letang’s status. Whatever it is, it seems likely Rutherford was talking to other clubs about the veteran blueliner but doesn’t appear close to considering a trade.

No one’s surprised Murray is the most likely of their two goalies to move. He’ll be more expensive for the Penguins to re-sign plus he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past two years.

Hornqvist has a $5.3-million AAV through 2022-23 but his full no-trade clause becomes an eight-team no-trade list at the end of this season. He’s 33 and his style of play frequently leaves him banged-up but his experience and gritty style around the net could be enticing to other clubs.

McCann could also draw some interest. Bjugstad’s been hampered by injuries the past two years, appearing in 64 games last season and just 13 this season. That will put a damper on his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

Which players could the Devils pursue in the off-season? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if he saw the New Jersey Devils signing any big-name free agents or try to pull off any offer sheets in the off-season. He doesn’t see them going the offer-sheet route because they don’t have their second-round pick in 2021.

Masisak doesn’t rule out anything regarding free agent signings because we don’t know what the market will look like. If prices remain the same for a typical year, he doesn’t expect the Devils to be a factor with stars like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Torey Krug, Washington’s Braden Holtby, or Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom. He also doesn’t see them bringing back winger Taylor Hall.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov via free agency? (Photo via NHL Images)

Regarding their potential UFAs in 2021, Masisak expects they’ll try to re-sign Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev, and Travis Zajac.

NJ.COM: Randy Miller cites Devils TV analyst Steve Cangialosi suggesting Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov could be a fit. He’s averaged 27 goals and 61 points over the past three seasons and would be reunited with former KHL teammate Nikita Gusev. Dadonov won’t be cheap, as Miller speculates Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes (seven years, $50 million) could be comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over all of this is the uncertainty over who will be the Devils general manager when the off-season finally begins. They could remove the interim label from Tom Fitzgerald, or hire a more experienced replacement.

Whoever is sitting in the GM’s chair probably won’t pursue any big-ticket talent regardless of the market. Those players cited by Masisak could prefer signing with playoff contenders. The Devils would have to overpay for their services.

That doesn’t mean the Devils won’t be active in the UFA market. With $55.2 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), they have room to re-sign RFAs like Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt and sign a UFA or two, but I expect they’ll seek affordable second-tier talent.

Masisak also recently examined the risky trade options to improve the Devils’ defense. They included Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Boston’s Brandon Carlo, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, and Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak has also looked at solid blueline targets for the Devils, including Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie, Columbus’ David Savard, Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev, and St. Louis’ Vince Dunn.

Considering the difficulty the Devils could face landing one of those rearguards, they could be forced to consider riskier options. I doubt Fowler or Carlo will be available, and Ristolainen no longer seems a trade candidate for the Sabres. Zadorov is a possibility, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Avs decide to keep him.

That’s not to say the Devils can’t acquire any one of those players. However, the asking prices could be more than they’re willing to spend.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

Check out the latest Buffalo Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ “dumpster fire” might be a good opportunity for the Bruins to look into acquiring Jack Eichel. The Sabres captain was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, providing the Bruins with a local boy possessing superstar potential. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci aging, Eichel would give the Bruins a dominant young center. 

Should the Boston Bruins look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images).

Haggerty noted Eichel’s recent exasperation with the Sabres’ ongoing mediocrity, suggesting perhaps he’s tacitly pining for a change of scenery. Acquiring him would be expensive. Haggerty felt it could cost the Bruins promising young center John Beecher, winger Jake DeBrusk, and a robust high draft pick package. They might also have to include a defenseman like Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo, which would be a difficult decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks may be looking at Eichel’s comments and seeing more than is really there. There’s no question he’s frustrated over the constant losing, and Sabres’ ownership should be concerned if their franchise player isn’t happy. Nevertheless, there’s no indication Eichel wants out of Buffalo…yet.

Another season or two of mediocrity could test Eichel’s patience. If that happens, the Bruins could be among the clubs queuing up to inquire into his availability and the Sabres’ asking price.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently observed Sabres defensemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller didn’t seem to fit into coach Ralph Krueger’s system. He wouldn’t be shocked if new general manager Kevyn Adams moved them in the off-season for some help on the forward lines. Harrington also noted Krueger really likes Rasmus Ristolainen, suggesting the recent change in management could be a good sign for the 26-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, Montour, and Miller frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors. Ristolainen suggested he might be among the first to be moved if then-GM Jason Botterill wanted to make changes, but he also sang Kruger’s praises.

With Botterill gone, Ristolainen might not be a trade candidate after all. Montour and/or Miller, however, seem more likely to be moved by new management, especially if Krueger has any say in the matter.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his Sabres postmortem, Matt Larkin noted the Sabres will have over $34 million in salary-cap space to work with during the off-season. He feels that’s enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Montour, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Dominik Kahun, and Linus Ullmark while leaving enough to go shopping in the free-agent market. Given the current status of the club, however, they could be forced to overpay to attract UFA talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than chase overpriced UFAs, Adams should target clubs looking to shed salary before next season. With 13 teams carrying payrolls of over $70 million for next season, Adams could pluck away a couple of good young players from cap-strapped rivals.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

More on the league’s plans to possibly resume this season, plus the latest on Drew Doughty, Brandon Carlo, Dale Hawerchuk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told CNN the league continues to explore all options to resume the 2019-20 season while awaiting word for clearance from authorities. “When we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over, because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,” said Bettman. “And until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just to fill our arenas but even our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

Bettman also said the league and the NHL Players Association discussed the length of time it would take for the players to prepare for the resumption of the season. While the players are training at home, Bettman said it would take between two-to-three weeks to get back into playing shape.

THE SCORE: cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the NHL is willing to delay the start of 2020-21 to November to conclude this season. It would cancel the All-Star Game and the accompanying bye weeks, and extend the post-season into late June. The league also prefers playing some regular-season contests before the playoffs and would condense the postseason if necessary.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is skeptical about finishing this season. “We have no idea when this virus is going to be over,” he said. “We’re just sitting here waiting, working out, getting ready to hopefully return at any point. I would think the NHL or whoever has to make a decision will make some type of decision on that soon. It seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to return, to resume the season or the playoffs.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo is among those hopeful the league can resume in some fashion and complete this season. “It’s been great to hear that we’re going to work as hard we can to establish as many games as we can for this season and still try to make the ultimate goal of awarding a Stanley Cup happen,” said Carlo, the Bruins NHLPA player rep. “I’m trying to do everything I can to stay in shape because I am optimistic about the season returning.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most of you, I doubt this NHL season is salvageable. Nevertheless, I don’t fault the league and the PA exploring every option to return to action. While the pandemic will likely stretch through the summer and into the fall, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared in case the coronavirus runs its course faster than projected or a vaccine is discovered and distributed quicker than anticipated. 

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Pierre McGuire predicts the salary cap could decline by 25 percent to 40 percent. A 25 percent drop would put next season’s cap at $61 million, while 40 percent would lower it to $49 million. McGuire believes the NHL and NHLPA will have to come up with some creative ideas to address this potential problem. On a positive note, he said he’s never seen better cooperation between the two sides in his 31-year hockey career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s already been reported several times by different sources that the league and PA won’t let the cap drop for next season. There’s talk of setting an artificial number at $81.5 million. It’ll be interesting to see how they address this situation.

SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk completed his final round of chemotherapy for stomach cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes for a full recovery.

CTV NEWS SASKATOON: A highway memorial involving hundreds of cars lined the highway to Battleford, Saskatchewan to show support for the family of the late Colby Cave, who passed away last week. Cave was originally from North Battleford.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks players and families pledged 200 meals a day for the staff at UCI Medical Center.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2020

Blackhawks center Dylan Strome reportedly available, plus recent speculation on the Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

WGR 550 (via SECOND CITY HOCKEY): Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told “The Instigators” show he believes Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome is available in the trade market. He doesn’t think the asking price is prohibitive, though he didn’t elaborate as to what that might be. Strome, 23, is slated to become a restricted free agent at season’s end and lacks arbitration rights.

Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome is reportedly available in the trade market (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome has struggled with his offensive consistency. He netted 51 points in 58 games with the Blackhawks in 2018-19 following a trade from the Arizona Coyotes but managed only 38 points in the same number of games this season. Injuries have hampered his performance in this campaign.

With over $74 million invested in 18 players for next season and two goalie spots to fill, the Blackhawks will be pressed for cap room next season. If they won’t dump a salaried player, perhaps they’ll move an RFA like Strome.

WILL THE DEVILS PURSUE A DEFENSEMAN IN THE OFF-SEASON?

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco recently wondered if this is the year the New Jersey Devils throw a ton of money at a free-agent defenseman. “Maybe a new GM will see it necessary to bring in some more established NHL players instead of waiting on talent to develop,” she writes.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak explored how the Devils could use the trade market to address their need for experienced blueline depth. He suggested targeting clubs squeezed for salary cap space. He felt Mikhail Sergachev is an obvious choice, but the Tampa Bay Lightning could attempt to move other players to make room for him.

Maybe the St. Louis Blues shop Vince Dunn or Colton Parayko if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. Perhaps the Boston Bruins peddle Brandon Carlo if they re-sign Torey Krug. The Buffalo Sabres have extra defenseman, though Masisak doesn’t advocate acquiring Rasmus Ristolainen. The Anaheim Ducks also carry lots of good young blueliners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have over $55 million invested in 13 players. They’ll still have plenty of cap space once they re-sign RFAs like Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt, and Mirco Mueller to make a big move via trade or free agency.

I agree that Sergachev likely won’t be available. The Blues could face a difficult choice between Dunn or Paraysko if they re-sign Pietrangelo, but they could also move someone like goalie Jake Allen to free up the cap room. If Krug accepts a hometown discount of around $6 million annually, the Bruins won’t need to move Carlo.

The Sabres ($47 million tied up in 10 players) won’t be squeezed for cap room, but they could part with a defenseman like Brandon Montour for a top-six forward in return. The same goes for the Ducks.