NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

A look at the latest speculation involving some of the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of several notable remaining restricted free agents following the Tampa Bay Lightning signing Mikhail Sergachev and the Boston Bruins signing Jake DeBrusk last week.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal remains atop the list. Fox reminds us New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello promised to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old center.

Lamoriello has limited cap space but will garner some extra wiggle room with defenseman Johnny Boychuk headed for LTIR following a career-ending eye injury. It’s believed the Isles GM prefers locking up Barzal for around $7.5 million annually. Barzal reportedly is considering a team-friendly deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most general managers with key RFAs still to sign, Lamoriello could be waiting for official confirmation of a start date for this season before getting Barzal under contract. It’s not unusual for negotiations with a top RFA to stretch out until the start of training camp and sometimes into the opening days of camp.

Following the Sergachev signing, Anthony Cirelli’s agent said there was nothing new to report on contract talks with the Lightning. The cap-strapped club must shed salary to re-sign Cirelli and fellow RFA Erik Cernak and become cap compliant whenever the season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are trying to move winger Tyler Johnson and his $5.5 million annual average value. There’s also speculation winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million) could be a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Contract talks between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Columbus Blue Jackets have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t concerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski’s contract was signed right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Jackets have plenty of room to accommodate a new deal for Dubois. That’s without placing injured winger Gustav Nyquist ($5.5 million) on LTIR.

Fox speculates New Jersey Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood may wish to use Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins’ two-year, $8 million bridge contract as a starting point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have plenty of cap space to re-sign Blackwood and fellow RFA Jesper Bratt. They’ll get it sorted by training camp.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he and the Vince Dunn camp intend to wait until close to training camp to sign an extension. Placing sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen on LTIR will free up cap room to sign the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After watching Alex Pietrangelo depart via free agency last month, some Blues fans are concerned over why it’s taking so long to get Dunn signed. Now we know why. They’ll get a deal done.

The Winnipeg Jets have reportedly shopped forward Jack Roslovic during this off-season in search of a top-four, left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might scoff at the notion of Roslovic fetching that type of return. However, the Jets could target a club in need of shedding cap space. The Jets are above the cap by $697K but are expected to place sidelined center Bryan Little ($5.29 million) on LTIR, giving them sufficient space to swap Roslovic for a decent rearguard.

Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2020

The latest on the Jets and Lightning in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports a recent poll of Jets fans reveals they don’t want their club to move Patrik Laine, they would prefer if Jack Roslovic was traded, and management should have another season to get things right.

The majority of Winnipeg Jets fans don’t want Patrik Laine to be traded (NHL Images).

Laine, 22, is rumored to be on the trade block as he enters the final season of his contract. It could prove difficult re-signing him, but almost 80 percent of Jets fans surveyed believe he shouldn’t be traded. 75 percent want the Jets to re-sign him though most wouldn’t want to overspend to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will have to overspend if they want to keep Laine. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights who’ll demand a big raise, especially if he regains his 40-goal form. The current economic uncertainty facing the NHL might work in the Jets’ favor. Nevertheless, there could be a club willing to pay Laine whatever he wants that could be willing to meet the Jets’ asking price in the trade market.

Almost 60 percent of Jets fans believe the club should trade Roslovic. He’s reportedly been shopped in recent weeks in an attempt to land a top-four defenseman. Just over 50 percent would like to see Sami Niku traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic is believed to be unhappy with his current role and prefers regular top-six minutes. The 23-year-old is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or on right wing.

He’s currently a restricted free agent without arbitration rights who’s likely to get an affordable short-term bridge contract. The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move him. That could change if they get a suitable offer from a team with depth in defenseman seeking an affordable young forward with upside.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading a bad contract, like Tyler Johnson’s $5 million annual average value, for a bad contract with a lower AAV. He doubts that happens as the Lightning must clear around $10 million in cap space.

Smith can’t confirm if it would cost the Bolts a first-round pick to move Johnson but he feels they’ll have to add a sweetener. He also doesn’t get the sense Johnson has expanded his list of trade destinations beyond 8 – 9 clubs.

Smith said Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is working the phones seeking cost-cutting deals. However, the market is quiet right now because of the flattened cap and uncertainty over the start of the season.

While they could start the season with one of their restricted free agents (Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak) still unsigned, Smith feels they’ll get them signed before then. He also hasn’t heard anything suggesting a rival club could attempt to sign one of them to an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s efforts to clear cap space by moving someone like Johnson to re-sign those RFAs will likely increase once the start of the season has been confirmed. For now, there’s no reason to rush into anything. If the season begins sometime in January, expect business to pick up in December.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020

A look at possible offer-sheet targets and three teams that should try signing one of them in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva listed New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and blueliner Erik Cernak among his eight restricted free agents who could become offer-sheet targets during this NHL offseason.

Could New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal become an offer-sheet target? (NHL Images)

Sachdeva’s list also includes Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear and Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman believes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers should attempt to sign Barzal or one of those Lightning RFAs to an offer sheet. He believes it makes sense for the Predators to pony up a five-year deal worth $10.9 million annually for Barzal despite having to give up two first-round picks, a second and a third to the Islanders as compensation.

Wegman suggested the Blue Jackets attempt to sign Sergachev to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.5 million, costing them a first-round pick and a third-rounder in compensation. He also proposed the Panthers target Cirelli for a five-year deal with an AAV of $8 million even though the compensation to the Lightning is a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a third-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sachdeva and Wegman acknowledged the rarity of offer sheets and the difficulties in successfully signing away another team’s restricted free agent.

There’s no question most on Sachdeva’s list make tempting targets for offer sheets. However, I wouldn’t have included Dubois, Hintz, Bear or Mantha. Not because they’re not deserving but because I don’t believe any club would overpay to land one of those players.

Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $15 million in cap space, more than enough to match any offer for Mantha. The Blue Jackets have over $12 million available so matching for Dubois isn’t an issue. The Stars have over $4.1 million and could free up space if necessary without too much difficulty. The Oilers have only 732K in cap space but are expected to place Oscar Klefbom ($4.1 million) on LTIR.

Yes, those clubs could be reluctant to match if the offer is very expensive. A rival club could roll the dice and sign one of those players. With so many teams carrying limited cap space, this offseason would be the perfect time to try that tactic. However, I don’t see those with cap space willing to overspend under the current economic climate. That includes the Predators, Blue Jackets and Panthers.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 10, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 10, 2020

More speculation over Alex Pietrangelo’s future plus some suggested blueline trade targets for the Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


THE SCORE: John Matisz recently examined the questions swirling around St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. The 30-year-old defenseman could be the best player potentially available in this year’s unrestricted free agent market.

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (Photo via NHL Images).

The Blues’ limited salary-cap space means they must shed a salary or two if they intend to re-sign Pietrangelo. That could involve buying out the final year of Alex Steen’s contract ($5.75-million annual average value) and trading goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million). Re-signing him could be expensive, as Nashville Predators’ captain Roman Josi’s eight-year, $72.5-million contract could be used as a benchmark. Given Petrangelo’s age, a seven-or-eight year deal would be an overpayment.

If Pietrangelo goes to market, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, and Winnipeg Jets could be among his possible destinations. The Leafs need a right-side defenseman, but they’ve already got half their payroll tied up in a small group of players. The Golden Knights and Jets require a true No.1 defenseman.

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat, Jim Thomas suggested the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Boston Bruins are among the Stanley Cup contenders with sufficient salary-cap space to take a run at signing Pietrangelo. He dismissed a suggestion from one reader proposing the Blues trade away Jaden Schwartz and Ivan Barbeshev because it wouldn’t free up sufficient dollars to re-sign the captain.

Even with a flat or lower salary-cap, Thomas doubts the market for Pietrangelo will be that depressed. “Boston, Colorado, Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal all have sufficient cap room to make a run at Pietrangelo.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot of clubs will have sufficient salary-cap space to make serious offers for Pietrangelo on the open market. Toronto and Vegas aren’t among them. The Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, while the Golden Knights have over $73 million tied up in 15 players. Unless they dump some salary, they can’t afford Pietrangelo, who could see a long-term deal worth around $9 million annually. Even if a flat cap forced him to accept $7.5 to $8 million per season, that’s still too expensive for cap-strapped clubs like Toronto and Vegas.

The Bruins appear keen to re-sign Torey Krug, who’d be more affordable than Pietrangelo. The Flames have $64.5 million committed to 13 players, but most reports out of Calgary suggest they won’t pursue a big-ticket free agent. While the Wild ($65.2 million in 17 players) have the room, GM Bill Guerin could be reluctant to saddle himself with another big-money contract when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise already take up so much of his club’s cap space.

The Canadiens and Panthers could afford Pietrangelo, but he might not be keen to go to those markets. The Habs usually have difficulty attracting top free-agent talent, while the Panthers could shed salary if they miss the playoffs again. The Jets have room (nearly $66 million invested in 13 players), but Pietrangelo is likely too rich for their blood.

The Avalanche and Stars have the cap space, but they’re also stocked with good young blueliners. The Avs already have Cale Makar as their first-pairing right-side defenseman, while John Klingberg fills that role for the Stars.

Pietrangelo will attract plenty of interest if he becomes available, probably from several of the aforementioned clubs, and he’s going to get a lucrative deal. Finding the right fit on the roster and payroll, however, could be challenging.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Harman Dayal recently proposed several trade targets to rebuild the Vancouver Canuck’s blueliner. With Chris Tanev likely to depart via free agency and Troy Stecher facing an uncertain future as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, they must address the right side of their defense corps.

Dayal proposes realistic options such as Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar, Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak, Washington’s Nick Jensen, and Buffalo’s Henri Jokiharju. He also suggested left-side rearguards like Edmonton’s Caleb Jones or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn if suitable right-side blueliners can’t be found.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With nearly $64 million invested in 14 players next season, and with Tanev, Stecher, Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Virtanen, and Tyler Motte to be re-signed or replaced, the Canucks don’t have the cap room to suitably address their blueline needs via free agency. Going the trade route for young, affordable options is the best bet.

I don’t know If those targets suggested by Dayal would be available, but they provide a template for the type of rearguard the Canucks could pursue following this season.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2019

The Bruins crush the Canadiens, the Flames continue an investigation into allegations of racism and abuse leveled at coach Bill Peters, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to an 8-1 thumping of the Montreal Canadiens. He now has a league-leading 23 goals on the season. Teammates Brad Marchand, Charlie Coyle, and Sean Kuraly each collected three points. Canadiens goalie Carey Price was pulled early in the second period after giving up five goals on 11 shots. The Habs are winless in their last five games.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak lit up the Montreal Canadiens during an 8-1 rout on Tuesday (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ defensive weaknesses have been on full display over the last five games. Price can usually offset those issues, but when he’s not on his game – which he hasn’t been lately – the Habs suffer. Some pundits believe the Canadiens could pursue a big-ticket scorer like Taylor Hall. They’d be better served to shore up their blueline.

Corey Crawford turned in a 32-save shutout backstopping the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, and Connor Murphy were the goal scorers.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 32 saves in his NHL debut in a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Ryan Suter’s broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Wild extended their points streak to seven games.


CALGARY SUN: Bill Peters will not be behind the Flames’ bench when they face off tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Management is investigating allegations of racism and abuse leveled at Peters by two former NHL players.

Akim Aliu said Peters hurled racist remarks at him when the two were with the AHL’s Rockford Icehogs in 2009-10. On Tuesday, Michal Jordan claimed Peters kicked and punched him from behind on the bench during a game in 2015-16 when they were with the Carolina Hurricanes. Both incidents have been confirmed by multiple sources.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At one point yesterday there was a report claiming the Flames had fired Peters, but the club quickly denied it. Nevertheless, there’s a growing sense among the punditry that management could have little choice but to relieve him of his duties.

Jordan’s allegation is also raising questions over the handling of his situation by the Hurricanes management and coaching staff at the time. That includes current head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant under Peters when the incident allegedly took place. Brind’Amour declined to comment.

The Peters situation comes on the heels of allegations of abusive behavior leveled at former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock following his firing last week. Some observers believe this could be the start of a culture shift as players speak out against the abuse by so-called old-school coaches.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury left the team yesterday for Quebec because of a family illness.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Alex Martinez is expected to make a full recovery following surgery for a wrist laceration suffered during Monday’s 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha will be sidelined at least two weeks with a lower-body injury.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is sidelined seven-to-ten days with an upper-body injury.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak received a two-game suspension for elbowing Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Dahlin, who’s sidelined with a concussion.