NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2020

Check out the latest speculation on the Oilers and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently reported the Oilers will be squeezed by the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21. With over $71 million already invested in next season’s payroll, general manager Ken Holland will have around $10.5 million available.

The Oilers restricted free agents include Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, and Matt Benning. Their unrestricted free agents include Mike Smith, Mike Green, and Tyler Ennis.

Staples feels $10.5 million should be enough to retain those free agents or bring in potential replacements. However, it rules out the possibility of pursuing a big-ticket free agent. He knows some Oilers followers would love to see the club bring back winger Taylor Hall, but that doesn’t seem possible, especially with younger players like Bear, Kailer Yamamoto, and Evan Bouchard in need of contracts down the road.

Could the Edmonton Oilers consider an off-season buyout of James Neal’s contract? (Photo via NHL Images)

It could also be difficult to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson if the cap stays flat for 2021-22. Both are due to become UFAs next summer.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell also examined the difficulties facing the Oilers under a flat cap.

He speculates useful UFAs like Smith and center Riley Sheahan could find cost-conscious offers unacceptable. The Oilers could also trade or walk away from RFAs like Athanasiou or Benning, who have arbitration rights.

For those without arbitration rights like Bear, Mitchell speculates they could get an affordable one-year bridge deal. They could also consider trading Kris Russell or Alex Chiasson or buying out winger James Neal’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fates of some of those free agents could depend upon their play in the upcoming playoff tournament. The same goes for Russell, Chiasson, or Neal. I agree that those players lacking arbitration will probably have to accept bridge deals for a year or two.

As Staples observed, Russell could be enticing to a cost-conscious club looking to reach the cap floor. He carries a $4 million cap hit but will earn just $1.5 million in actual salary after being paid his $1 million signing bonus for 2020-21. That’s assuming one of those clubs will be on his 15-team trade list for next season.

Cap Friendly indicates buying out Neal would free up over $3.8 million, leaving just over $1.9 million against the Oilers cap. However, it would also be that much dead cap space annually for the next six seasons.

Holland could be reluctant to move Chiasson. He carries an affordable $2.15 million cap hit for next season.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl recently examined several potential free-agent forwards who could help the Sabres improve their road record. He suggested Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikail Granlund, Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, or Florida’s Erik Haula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli, a skilled two-way player with Stanley Cup experience, would be the best bet. Granlund struggled following his trade from Minnesota last season but improved when John Hynes took over as Predators coach at midseason.

Both could provide a welcome boost to the Sabres’ secondary scoring. Signing them, however, could be difficult given the Sabres’ recent reputation as a dysfunctional franchise.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

The NHL schedule may be paused, but that hasn’t stopped speculation over off-season trades and free agency. Check out the latest on the Blackhawks and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the Blackhawks decision to retain president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and coach Jeremy Colliton indicates the club remains committed to retooling, not rebuilding. That means retaining their aging (though still productive) core and attempting short-term tinkering instead of a roster teardown.

Nevertheless, Pope believes salary-cap limitations mean jettisoning some salary. He thinks new contracts for Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik will flesh out the Blackhawks’ growing youth corps, which includes Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz is critical of the Blackhawks’ decision, pointing out questionable roster management decisions in recent years have made things worse over the short- and long-term. The Hawks have struggled where similar clubs with high-priced veteran talent (Washington, Pittsburgh) have succeeded.

Gretz cites trading away Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen as part of cap-related moves hurt the Hawks. Lesser deals, such as swapping Dominik Kahun and Henri Jokiharju for Olli Maatta and Alex Nylander, failed to pan out. They also got underwhelming returns on Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson at the trade deadline.

Could Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once again become a salary-cap casualty? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only saving grace for Bowman of late is the recent influx of young talent, such as DeBrincat, Kubalik, Strome, Murphy, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach. Otherwise, the Blackhawks’ future would be quite bleak.

Nevertheless, Bowman is once again saddled with a cap-strapped roster. With over $73 million invested in 17 players and free agents like Strome, Kubalik, and Corey Crawford to re-sign, he must once again cut costs.

Winger Brandon Saad surfaced in the rumor mill in the weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He was a cap casualty in the past. With a year left on his contract and an annual average value of $6 milion, I believe he’s their most likely off-season trade candidate.


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes Mike Smith has played well enough this season to earn a one-year contract with the Oilers. Since December, the 37-year-old netminder went 12-3-4 and tied for the second-most points accrued by a goalie since Jan. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, they won’t have much cap room unless they can shed some salary to re-sign or replace key players. Smith must accept a significant pay cut to stay in Edmonton.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes Oilers veterans Kris Russell, James Neal, and Alex Chiasson could be among the Oilers squeezed out to make room for younger talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell is signed through 2020-21 with a $4 million AAV, Neal through 2022-23 at $5.75 million AAV, and Chiasson through 2020-21 at $2.15 million. Chiasson would be the easiest to move via trade. Russell and Neal could be more difficult and might involve taking back a salaried player.

If the league and the NHLPA agreed to a one-time amnesty buyout because of the loss of revenue wrought by the coronavirus, Russell and Neal would be prime candidates.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently cited Jesse Puljujarvi’s Finnish head coach saying the young winger would be best off playing another season in Finland. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent embroiled in the contract dispute with the Oilers. The 23-year-old Finn opted to play for his hometown club Karpat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some media chatter after Puljujarvi became ineligible to play in the NHL this season suggesting he could have some value if the Oilers attempted to trade him this summer. It’ll be interesting to see what that assessment by his Finnish coach might have upon his trade value if Edmonton GM Ken Holland decides to shop him.

NHL Injury Outlook Week 2

NHL Injury Outlook Week 2


NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2019

The Senators and Rangers trade watches continue plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Ilya Kovalchuk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 



OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators forwards Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel were scratched from last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets as they await their fates. He believes Dzingel has one foot out the door after spurning a five-year contract offer worth in excess of $20 million, but there’s a chance (albeit slim) that Stone could re-sign before Monday’s trade deadline.

Garrioch thinks 17 or 18 clubs, including the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, may have expressed interest in Stone. The asking price is said to be higher than what the Senators received for Matt Duchene (two prospects, a first-round pick and a conditional first) from the Blue Jackets. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins could be sniffing around on Dzingel, with the Sens seeking a first-round pick or a high-end prospect in return. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes the Jets, Predators, Flames, and New York Islanders could be among the suitors for Stone. He also brought up the Colorado Avalanche but isn’t sure where they are regarding a rental player. McKenzie also suggests what could be complicating things is teams could prefer acquiring Stone if they feel they can sign him rather than getting him as a rental for the playoffs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Duchene trade was the first major domino to drop in the market. I think interest in Stone will only increase and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Dzingel are traded before Monday’s 3 pm ET deadline. Could be a bidding war going on that stretches this out for a bit. We’ll find out soon enough. The Jets and Predators are thought to be the front-runners. 

TSN: In the wake of yesterday’s Duchene trade, Darren Dreger reported teams will starting dialing in on New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He adds a few teams are interested in acquiring Hayes and teammate Mats Zuccarello. If Zuccarello is moved separately, the asking price could be high draft picks or a high pick and a prospect. 

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports some of the teams believed interested in Mark Stone are also thought to have interest in Hayes. If Stone moves soon, Hayes might not be far behind. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Where Hayes and/or Zuccarello end up before the trade deadline remains tied to what the Senators do with Stone and Dzingel. The Duchene trade, however, may have already ramped up more interest in Hayes among clubs in need of skilled depth at center. 

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin appears to be off the trade market (Photo via NHL Images)


TSN’S Pierre LeBrun reports that, unless another team steps up, the Columbus Blue Jackets are content to retain pending free agent left wing Artemi Panarin for the remainder of the season in hopes of staging a Stanley Cup run this spring. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen intends to keep an eye on the trade market but indicates he’s not moving Panarin just for draft picks. It would take an offer he can’t refuse, one that helps the Jackets now and in the future, to convince him to part with the talented winger. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bang goes my theory of the Jackets shipping Panarin to another club (like the Florida Panthers) and flipping part of the return to the Senators for Duchene. Looks like Kekalainen has decided to bolster his roster for one last run with Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky before the two depart via free agency in July. 


LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott reports Kings management spoke with winger Ilya Kovalchuk about his future, with one option being a trade before the Monday deadline. It’s unclear if Kovalchuk will agree to waive his no-movement clause if another team expresses interest in acquiring him. Elliott speculates the Kings might have to absorb part of the winger’s $6.25-million annual salary-cap hit to make it work. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the right team, Kovalchuk might be tempted to waive his clause. Lots of recent speculation suggesting perhaps a reunion with New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello but we don’t know if the always-secretive Lamoriello is receptive to that notion. 


NBC SPORTS: While Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has hinted he might be done dealing before the deadline, Joe Haggerty believes they still need a top-six winger. He doubts Sweeney would pursue an expensive option like Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin, suggesting Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, Carolina’s Micheal Ferland, Detroit’s Thomas Vanek, or the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes as affordable options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds and Hayes and perhaps Mats Zuccarello would be the best choices here. With the Hurricanes jockeying for a wild-card spot, I don’t think they’ll move Ferland now.

Vanek’s inconsistency in the playoffs makes him the least palatable of Haggerty’s suggestions. Indeed, The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan reports there’s no interest in Vanek. Maybe the Wings’ Gustav Nyquist could be in play.

The market for Simmonds, Hayes, and Zuccarello could grow more expensive depending on when the Senators move Stone. Panarin, of course, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere now. 


EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers don’t want to trade winger Alex Chiasson because they lack secondary scoring depth and he’s cheap ($650K). His agent has had discussions with management but no contract talks. The Oilers are shopping winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Alex Petrovic but Matheson believes their current play ensures they won’t get much in return. If the Oilers are in the market for a rental player, he feels Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel would be ideal. 


NJ.COM:  Chris Ryan reports New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson and defenseman Ben Lovejoy are expected to be scratched from tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Both are pending UFAs who are expected to be moved before the trade deadline.

**UPDATE: The Devils this morning traded Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.  


NHL Rumor Mill (Part Two) – February 22, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill (Part Two) – February 22, 2019

Latest on Matt Duchene, Chris Kreider, and Nick Jensen plus updates on the Oilers in Part Two of today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators’ interest in Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene may have cooled, citing a well-connected source claiming the Predators were starting to look elsewhere. However, he doesn’t rule out the possibility that their interest in the Sens center could be resuscitated. Friedman also believes the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders could be among the suitors and speculates the Montreal Canadiens could have interest if they can re-sign the pending free agent.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie said he’s getting mixed signals on the Canadiens’ rumored interest in Duchene. Some sources tell him the Habs are 100 percent in on Duchene while others are dismissing the notion. 

Are the Montreal Canadiens interested in acquiring Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators general manager David Poile doesn’t have to pursue a big ticket like Duchene if he doesn’t want to. Sure, he’d like to bolster his roster and improve his club’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup this season, but he’s not desperate. If Duchene is too expensive, he could look at more affordable options like the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes or Mats Zuccarello or Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds.

As for the Canadiens’ supposed interest in Duchene, perhaps GM Marc Bergevin kicked the tires. However, the Senators’ asking price is said to be a first-round pick, a high-end prospect, and a good young player. That might mean parting with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and either Nick Suzuki or Ryan Poehling.

Bergevin’s said he’s not parting with his first-round pick or young players for rentals. Unless he can re-sign Duchene, I don’t think he makes this move. Even if he can sign Duchene, that asking price is probably still too high.

In his column for The Athletic, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun speculates Bergevin could be more interested in “a Joel Armia-esque opportunity to add a player in exchange for renting out his cap space.” That seems more likely than acquiring Duchene. 

**UPDATE** The Senators trade Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Follow this link for details and analysis 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have been in contact with the New York Rangers. He thinks Chris Kreider would be a great fit with the Leafs.  Friedman said he knows teams have been asking about winger Chris Kreider but the Blueshirts have set a high asking price. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Kreider would be a great fit on any team. The Rangers, however, won’t move him unless someone is willing to overpay. My guess is the Rangers would want Kasperi Kapanen as part of the return. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the Edmonton Oilers could get a second-round draft pick, a pretty decent prospect or maybe both if they decide to shop pending UFA winger Alex Chiasson. However, he doesn’t believe the Oilers have written off the idea of re-signing Chiasson. Dreger also thinks there’s a market for Zack Kassian, citing his speed and grit. He feels Kassian could be a highly motivated playoff performer. 

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen is garnering attention in the trade market. The Wings want to re-sign him but could move him for a second- or third-round pick if he’s not under contract before Monday’s trade deadline. 

**UPDATE** The Red Wings trade Jensen to the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey and a second-round pick in 2020. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2018

The 2018-19 NHL regular season opens tonight. Check out the latest contract signings, waiver news and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals will raise their 2018 Stanley Cup banner before their season-opener against the Boston Bruins as the curtain rises tonight on the NHL’s 2018-19 regular season.

TSN.CA: The city of Seattle is one vote away from getting an NHL expansion franchise after the league’s executive committee unanimously recommended to proceed with the city’s bid. It will be put toward a full Board of Governors vote on Dec. 3.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton’s lengthy beard is history (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The BoG vote is merely a formality. For all intent and purpose, Seattle will become the NHL’s 32nd franchise. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton had his lengthy beard shaved off by teammate Brent Burns during a season-opening party. Thornton had been growing the beard since 2015-16. 

THE SCORE: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green could be sidelined at least a month as he continues to recover from a liver virus.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks forward Ondrej Kase is out indefinitely due to a concussion suffered during a preseason game last Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another blow for the injury-ravaged Ducks. Kase joins Corey Perry (knee surgery) and Ryan Kesler (offseason hip surgery) among their regulars currently on injured reserve. 

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights placed winger Alex Tuch (ankle) on injured reserve. He’s not expected to be sidelined for long.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Jacob de la Rose suffered a cardiac incident during a recent preseason game and hasn’t been cleared by team doctors to travel with the club to Toronto for tonight’s game against the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coach Claude Julien said the move was a precautionary one as de la Rose’s condition isn’t considered to be serious. 

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns is coping with post-concussion symptoms. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed defenseman Jason Garrison and forward Alex Chiasson to one-year contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:Cap Friendly indicates both players are each worth $650K.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs lost two goaltenders via waivers yesterday. The Philadelphia Flyers claimed Calvin Pickard while the Carolina Hurricanes picked up Curtis McElhinney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs have goalies currently on the sidelines. The Flyers have Michal Neuvirth (undisclosed) and Alex Lyon (lower body) are on injured reserve while Hurricanes starter Scott Darling is out two weeks with a lower-body injury. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Anticipating a lengthy suspension for right wing Tom Wilson, the Capitals claimed forward Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers from the St. Louis Blues.

THE PROVINCE:  The Vancouver Canucks have loaned forward Sam Gagner to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The move was made to put Gagner closer to his family. The Canucks retain the right to recall him at any time.

COURIER-POST: The Flyers placed Dale Weise and Taylor Leier on waivers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild put defenseman Gustav Olofsson on waivers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins will keep forward Lee Stempniak on tryout basis for the time being. He’ll continue practicing with the club as he hopes a roster spot will open up for him soon.