NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2019

Updates on Tyler Toffoli, Marc Staal, and Taylor Hall in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston notes Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli is among several notable veterans (including Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook) who were recent healthy scratches. He considers them available in the trade market, though Toffoli is younger (27), slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and doesn’t carry contract baggage like the others. Johnston suggests Toffoli is a player worth watching near the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli has come up in recent trade speculation (Photo via NHL Images).

Johnston’s colleague Luke Fox reports Toffoli’s contract lacks no-trade protection and would be easier to move than an older veteran like Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, or Jonathan Quick. The winger acknowledged the struggles that led to his recent scratching fueled the trade speculation. “It comes with not playing well and not winning games, so whatever happens, happens,” he said.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wonders if the Bruins will revisit their previous interest in Toffoli or Carter to bolster their second line. He considersToffoli a more affordable option than Carter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon Toffoli’s performance, the cost of re-signing him, and whether Kings management believes he has a role in their rebuilding plans. General manager Rob Blake could be open to enticing offers. If he decides to shop Toffoli it could happen close to the trade deadline to get the best return possible.


THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello believes the New York Rangers will eventually part ways with Marc Staal. The 32-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch from their last three games. The Rangers are bringing in younger blueliners. That won’t leave room for Staal, who’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $5.7 million.

Carpiniello believes Staal could still play in a lesser role with a better team. The Rangers could try to trade him but Staal must agree to waive his no-movement clause. They would also have to pick up part of his salary-cap hit.

That move, however, might not come until next summer and could mean taking back a bad contract at another position. A contract buyout next summer would cost the Rangers $3.5667 million next season and $1.067 million the following season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal will have to get into some games if the Blueshirts hope to drum up some interest in his services. He could agree to waive his NMC if a playoff contender comes calling this season. The Rangers would likely agree to pick up part of his cap hit rather than back a toxic contract or buying him out next summer.


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites NHL.com’s Michael Morreale reporting Taylor Hall’s agent will meet with New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero at some point during the club’s upcoming Western Canada road trip. The two have spoken regularly but this will be their first face-to-face meeting since training camp.

Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Wegman speculates Shero could trade Hall if he’s unable to re-sign him before the trade deadline.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2019

Latest on Taylor Hall and Jeff Carter plus updates on the Vancouver Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale reports left wing Taylor Hall wants to see the New Jersey Devils improve their roster for next season. Hall, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “There is only so much patience you can have at this age,” he said. “The League is getting younger and Father Time is undefeated. You only have so many years left, so for me to be done halfway with my career and to only have played five playoffs games is disappointing.”

This summer’s moves by the New Jersey Devils could have an effect upon Taylor Hall’s future with the club (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall said he likes the culture and character in the Devils room but feels they’re still lacking talent at some positions. He added he’s enjoyed playing with the Devils and believes discussions regarding his future will happen at some point. Hall also said his rehab for a season-ending knee injury is going well and he expects to be ready for training camp in September. 

Devils general manager Ray Shero said adding more talent to his roster will be a priority this summer. He pointed out the 10 picks his club holds in this year’s NHL Draft leaves them well-positioned to address that need via trades if necessary. Shero also said he appreciated Hall’s honesty on the subject. 

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan speculates Shero could draw upon his depth in draft picks this year, including three in the second round and two in the third, as possible trade bait to bring in an NHL-ready player. Ryan also speculates the possibility of moving Hall could come into play if he’s not signed to an extension before training camp this fall. He also wonders if this is the summer when Shero makes a significant signing via the UFA market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s made it quite clear that bolstering the roster is necessary if Shero hopes to re-sign him to an extension. The Devils GM must make a big move or two via the trade and/or free-agent market to show his franchise player that the club is serious about becoming a perennial playoff contender.

I expect Shero will be among this summer’s busiest general managers. The Devils have over $47 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20 with Pavel Zacha, Will Butcher, Stefan Noesen and Connor Carrick among their notable restricted free agents. They should all be affordable re-signings, giving Shero plenty of room to swing a big trade or sign a noteworthy free-agent player. 


THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper reports Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter denied any talk he’s considering retirement, adding he intends to complete the three years remaining on his contract with the Kings. He also noted his lack of no-trade protection but said: “whatever happens, happens”.

Trading the 34-year-old, however, won’t get the Kings a real return. A contract buyout also won’t bring them any significant salary-cap relief over the next three years. Cooper speculates Dion Phaneuf could be a more likely buyout candidate

Lisa Dillman, meanwhile, noted the Kings’ interest in former Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan but the Buffalo Sabres have emerged as a serious suitor for McLellan’s services. Dillman listed former NHL head coach Alain Vigneault, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards, and Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson as possible options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Carter is determined to keep playing and if Kings GM Rob Blake simply wants to shed his salary he could try to move him for a draft pick and a prospect. However, the return Blake got for Jake Muzzin (a first-round pick, a prospect and a promising player in Carl Grundstrom) suggests he’ll want at least a decent, affordable player as part of the return.

Given Carter’s age, the remaining tenure on his contract,  and the decline in his production this season, it’s unlikely Blake will find that type of deal.


THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes the Vancouver Canucks will have to spend in free agency this summer to bring in a right winger for center Bo Horvat’s line. However, there’s not much to choose from because UFAs either make too much money or are aging. He also believes the Canucks need another top-four defenseman and secondary scoring depth. 

Ed Willes noted GM Jim Benning’s recent comments about being careful with their spending and how salary-cap space can fill up fast. He believes the Canucks won’t be pursuing expensive free agent talent like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin this summer.

Willes also noted Benning’s desire to add a defenseman and thinks he’ll go the trade route, wondering what Jake Virtanen or Ben Hutton might fetch via trade. It appears their big move on the blueline will be re-signing Alexander Edler.

If Benning is inclined to seek a forward via free agency, Willes suggested Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, Columbus’ Matt Duchene, and the New York Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible options. Down-scale targets could include Carolina’s Micheal Ferland and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $52 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. New contracts for Edler and RFA Brock Boeser could total $12 million, but would still leave sufficient room to re-sign other RFAs and bring in a quality player or two. 

After overpaying for Loui Eriksson in 2016, Benning likely remains reluctant to go down that road again. Forget about Skinner, Duchene, or Lee, as they’ll be too expensive for his liking. Ferland or Dzingel might be more affordable but might not be suitable wingers on Horvat’s right side. The notable UFA right wing options include Gustav Nyquist, Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Eberle, and Wayne Simmonds. 

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2019

Could the Kings move Jonathan Quick, Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter or Ilya Kovalchuk this summer? Why didn’t the Coyotes make a big move at the deadline? Why didn’t the Capitals trade Andre Burakovsky? The answers in today’s NHL rumor mill.  


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked where Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick might end up and the Kings’ potential asking price. She suggests the Florida Panthers could come calling if they fail to land Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky via this summer’s free-agent market. The Kings could set a high asking price but the 33-year-old Quick is coming off a sub-par season and has a long injury history. 

Could the Los Angeles Kings trade goaltender Jonathan Quick this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

While the Kings don’t have many trade chips remaining on their roster, Dillman considers Quick and defenseman Alec Martinez at the top of her list. She also believes the Kings are intent on retaining winger Tyler Toffoli in hopes he’ll have a bounce-back performance next season. She notes Jeff Carter has no interest in moving and he has some control over his future as his contract winds down. With a different coach and system, Dillman feels Ilya Kovalchuk could also improve. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick, Toffoli, Carter, and Kovalchuk frequently surfaced in this season’s trade-rumor mill. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pop up again this summer.

Of the four, it seems Quick could be the most likely to move, though that’s not a certainty given the issues (age, performance, injuries) mentioned by Dillman. Still, if the Florida Panthers don’t land Bobrovsky, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov or the New York Islanders’ Robin Lehner this summer, they could make inquiries into Quick’s availability. Other clubs could also look into Quick’s availability. 

Sounds like Toffoli’s not going anywhere and Carter has no desire to leave Los Angeles. The Kings might be willing to entertain trade offers for Kovalchuk, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause and they absorb a healthy chunk of his $6.25-million annual cap hit through 2020-21. Having traded away Jake Muzzin, I think the Kings could retain Martinez. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Morgan recently listed acquisition cost, budget, injuries, and the growth of role players for why the Arizona Coyotes didn’t make a significant addition at the recent NHL trade deadline. The Coyotes also got back sidelined forwards Christian Dvorak and Brad Richardson while defenseman Jason Demers and winger Michael Grabner will soon rejoin the lineup. 

Morgan praised Coyotes general manager John Chayka for not pursuing a big-ticket rental like Mark Stone when there was no certainty of re-signing him. He believes Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet would’ve loved to add someone like Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau or Mike Hoffman but their tight budget and the Panthers’ asking price may have factored into why they didn’t do it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau and Hoffman were linked to the Coyotes prior to the trade deadline. I don’t believe the Panthers intend to move Huberdeau, but if they do they’ll set a high price for him. Hoffman could be a more affordable option, provided his 10-team no-trade list doesn’t include the Coyotes. With over $68 million invested in 15 players and all their core players except Nick Schmaltz under contract for 2019-20, any deal the Coyotes make this summer could be dollar-for-dollar. 


WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan recently reported Andre Burakovsky’s improved offense over the past month explains why the Capitals didn’t move the winger at the trade deadline. However, his future in Washington remains uncertain.

He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and it’ll cost the Capitals $3.25 million to qualify his rights. If not, he would become an unrestricted free agent. She speculates the two sides could agree to a new contract in the week between the non-tender deadline and the start of free agency on July 1. Burakovsky insists he wants to remain with the Capitals. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky’s future with the Capitals could depend upon his performance down the stretch and into the 2019 playoffs. 

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2019

Updates on the Flyers and Kings plus the latest on Artemi Panarin and Chris Kunitz in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports a new contract for Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds doesn’t appear likely. General manager Chuck Fletcher won’t get into details other than saying he’s spoken with Simmonds and his representatives. Boruk believes Simmonds seeks a long-term deal while the Flyers appear reluctant to make that investment. Factor in reports Simmonds could be highly-prized on the trade market and Boruk believes Simmonds will be traded. 

Fletcher also suggested no one other than team captain Claude Giroux is untouchable. “We have a lot of good players here, but I would never say never to almost anybody besides Giroux,” Fletcher said, adding he could be a buyer and a seller leading up to the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline. The Flyers GM also added he’ll attempt to move veteran forward Dale Weise in a package deal. Boruk speculates the Flyers could absorb part of Weise’s salary. 

PHILLY.COM: Sam Donnellon reports Flyers chairman Dave Scott indicated Fletcher also intends to be active in this summer’s NHL free-agent market. Scott said the Flyers will be “cap spenders” this summer to build the best team possible.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited insider Bob McKenzie discussing the Flyers on Montreal’s TSN 690 yesterday. Asked if the Flyers might move a defenseman like Shayne Gostisbehere, McKenzie said he doesn’t feel there’s an agenda to move the blueliner out of Philadelphia. He believes they’re willing to listen to offers on almost everyone.

As for possible Flyers trade targets, McKenzie said they’d like to add a veteran goalie to mentor promising Carter Hart, a veteran top-four defenseman to insulate some of their younger rearguards, and a veteran forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher might be willing to listen to offers on everyone but Giroux but I think it’s safe to say Hart is close to untouchable. Sure sounds like Simmonds will be a goner unless he’s willing to accept a short-term extension. 

I doubt Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million annually through 2023-24) will be going anywhere, in part because of his hefty contract. Ditto James van Riemsdyk ($7 million annually through 2022-23). Sean Couturier ($4.33 million annually through 2021-22) could also be safe, as well as youngsters Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, and Ivan Provorov.

Of course, Fletcher will listen to offers for those guys and could pull the trigger if he gets one too good to pass up. Nevertheless, I’ll be very surprised if any of the aforementioned (other than Simmonds) are skating elsewhere by the start of next season. 

Weise is signed through 2019-20 with an annual average value of $2.35 million. They might have to pick up part of that to move him even in a package deal.

The Flyers have over $47.9 million invested in 12 players for 2019-20 and could have more if they shed another salary or two before the summer. Even by re-signing restricted free agents like Provorov and Konecny, they’ll still have plenty of cap room to make a big splash in next summer’s UFA market. 

Could Artemi Panarin’s unwillingness to talk contract during the season force the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade him? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports the agent for Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin released a statement yesterday indicating they’ve informed the club of their unwillingness to discuss a contract during the season. Panarin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is expected to comment on the situation today.

Hedger believes the Jackets now have two options: trading Panarin by the Feb. 25 trade deadline or trying to re-sign him before July 1. The latter is risky as they could lose him to free agency for nothing. Last week, team president John Davidson said his club will have some things to take care of “one way or another” before the trade deadline. 

THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required): Aaron Portzline believes the Blue Jackets will likely move Panarin before the trade deadline. He noted the Jackets fielded offers last summer but didn’t receive anything that could replace the winger’s offensive production. Panarin lacks no-trade protection and can be moved anywhere without his permission. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still have my doubt that they’ll trade Panarin before the deadline. They could make that move if they can land a suitable replacement but that return could be difficult to find. Moving him without getting some immediate offensive help could hurt their hopes for a lengthy playoff run this spring. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Los Angeles Kings trading defenseman Jake Muzzin last night to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lisa Dillman wondered who they could trade next. She noted forwards Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli frequently surfaced in the trade market. Carter could be reluctant to leave but the younger Toffoli has a more attractive $4.6 million annual salary. Winger Carl Hagelin is on an expiring contract and could be a rental player. Defenseman Alec Martinez could also draw some interest. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams with interest in Carter will have to ensure he’d be willing to join them. Toffoli is probably their most attractive trade chip. With Muzzin gone, the Kings might prefer hanging onto Martinez. Hagelin could become a cheap rental, perhaps for a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick. 


NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2019

A look at teams with salary-cap space that could be busy this summer, plus the latest on the Oilers and Sabres, in the first NHL rumor mill of 2019.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites NHL insider Pierre LeBrun’s appearance on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 yesterday discussing clubs with salary-cap space that could be busy in this summer’s free-agent market. He believes the New York Rangers could be on Columbus Blue Jackets’ winger Artemi Panarin’s list of preferred destinations. The Rangers could also be an option for defenseman Erik Karlsson if he doesn’t re-sign with the San Jose Sharks. 

Speculation persists linking the New York Rangers to Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin. (Photo via NHL Images)

LeBrun also noted the Montreal Canadiens will have plenty of salary-cap room for 2019-20. While Montreal hasn’t been a preferred destination for top free agents in the past, their bounce-back performance this season and their cap dollars might make them more attractive.

The San Jose Sharks play in a market that many players prefer to play. If Karlsson doesn’t re-sign with them, they’ll have plenty of cap space to pursue a big-ticket player. 

LeBrun also points out the Vegas Golden Knights still have plenty of cap room, suggesting they could pursue Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone if he decides to test the market in July. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers, Sharks, and Golden Knights will be among the preferred spots for free-agent players this summer. The Canadiens may have cap space but they’ll be a fall-back measure for those who fail to land in one of the other markets. Frankly, I don’t expect any of this summer’s top UFAs will land in Montreal. 


TSN: In the wake of the Edmonton Oilers acquiring depth defensemen Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning on Sunday, Pierre LeBrun reports they’d love to get a top-four defenseman before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Unfortunately, that type of deal isn’t available to them at the present time, though maybe that might change when teams start falling out of playoff contention. LeBrun believes they’d like to land that top-four blueliner for futures, rather than giving up a top-six forward. 

THE SCORE: Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli met with the Edmonton media yesterday to justify the acquisitions of Petrovic and Manning, claiming it was imperative to shore up his blueline. He also noted better rearguards currently aren’t available. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli’s been raked over the coals by Oilers followers over those two moves, though he didn’t give up a lot to bring in two third-pairing defensemen. If he could’ve landed a top-four blueliner without giving up much in return, he would’ve done it by now. Rather than shrugging his shoulders and doing nothing, Chiarelli is at least trying to find solutions to keep his club in playoff contention while waiting for better deals to materialize. Whether they help the Oilers defense remains to be seen. 

The problem with giving futures for that top-four defenseman is it could hurt their long-term development by bringing in a quick fix. Of course, it depends on which blueliner becomes available. If it’s a draft pick or two outside the first round, maybe that deal can be made for a playoff rental. 


THE BUFFALO NEWS:  Mike Harrington recently observed the Sabres are running on fumes offensively of late and wondered if GM Jason Botterill will attempt to address that need soon. He believes Botterill is trying to find help but rival GMs are reluctant to make significant deals right now. The Sabres could use an experienced second-line center. Options could include Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings, Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues and Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild but they won’t come cheap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter could be unwilling to accept a trade to Buffalo and retire, leaving the Kings with an annual salary-cap recapture penalty for the next three seasons. The asking price for Schenn or Coyle could be a promising young Sabre such as Casey Mittelstadt. 


NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2018

Updates on Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin, Tyler Toffoli, and Jimmy Howard in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell recently suggested trading Jeff Carter would be a good place to start for the Los Angeles Kings to commence their rebuild. He’s got three years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.3 million but will be paid $7 million in combined actual salary. Campbell suggests Carter could be a good fit with a budget team like the Arizona Coyotes. He’s also been linked to playoff contenders like the Boston Bruins.

Campbell acknowledged the Kings will have to work with Carter, who lacks no-trade protection but doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. However, his agent Rick Curran said he’s had discussions with general manager Rob Blake about the possibility of a trade. Campbell doubts the Kings would get much of a return other than freeing up salary-cap space. While the Kings aren’t necessarily shopping Carter, they could move him if they find the right fit and if Carter is comfortable with the move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern for the Kings is Carter decides to retire rather than be traded, resulting in them getting hit with a $2.75-million annual salary-cap recapture penalty over the remaining term of his contract. While it would give them some cap relief it would also leave them with $2.75 million of dead cap space being paid out to a player no longer on their roster. That’s money that could be better invested in an active player, preferably a young, affordable one with upside.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper considers Jake Muzzin the Kings’ best defenseman this season but speculates he might not fit into the club’s long-term plans. His performance and affordable $4-million cap hit through 2019-20 enhances his trade value. He also lacks a no-trade clause. Citing Muzzin’s age (29), his requirement for a raise on his next contract, and the need for top-four defensemen in the trade market, Cooper thinks he could become one of Blake’s few bargaining chips that could fetch a good return.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin could become a valuable trade chip for the Los Angeles Kings (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Carter, Muzzin hopes to remain with the Kings. Still, if Blake decides to rebuild he can shop Muzzin to the highest bidder without fear that he’ll bail on the deal by retiring. It’s best for the Kings to move him this season while his trade value is at its highest. 

Cooper and Lisa Dillman also examined the pros and cons of trading Tyler Toffoli. The pros are he’s under-30 (26) carrying a moveable contract ($4.6-million cap hit through 2019-20) with a 30-goal season on his resume who might benefit from a change of scenery. The cons are moving one of their few good young players who could be a useful part of a rebuild. His production is down this season, which could affect his trade value.

They suggest the Edmonton Oilers as a possible trade destination for Toffoli, reuniting him with former Kings teammate Milan Lucic. It’s possible the Oilers could cut their losses with young winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who could also perhaps benefit playing elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli is another of the Kings’ few marketable trade assets. While his struggles this season could hurt his value, Blake could find a club desperate for talent up front willing to overpay heading toward this season’s trade deadline. The question is, how far is Blake willing to go with a rebuild? We’ll probably get a clearer sense of that by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. 


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Burnside recently suggested the resurgence of goaltender Jimmy Howard could make him a valuable trade option for the Detroit Red Wings. He pointed out Howard’s stats (2.69 goals-against average and .922 save percentage as of Dec. 19) were astounding considering the deficiencies of the rebuilding Red Wings roster. With a lot of teams seeking goaltending help, Burnside wonders if GM Ken Holland will extend Howard’s contract or shop him for the best return at the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumor has it Holland would seek a first-round pick for Howard. As previously noted, some readers scoffed at that notion but it’s worth remembering Holland got a first-round pick in 2018, a second rounder in 2019 and a third in 2021 from the Vegas Golden Knights at last year’s trade deadline for Tomas Tatar.