NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

The Blue Jackets signed Pierre-Luc Dubois but trade rumors persist, plus the latest on the Senators in the first NHL rumor mill of 2021.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites colleague Pierre LeBrun yesterday reporting a few NHL clubs were made aware that Pierre-Luc Dubois is looking at a change of scenery after just three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubois and the Jackets yesterday reached an agreement on a two-year, $10 million contract.

Despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, there’s speculation Pierre-Luc Dubois wants to be traded (NHL Images).

Neither general manager Jarmo Kekalainen or Dubois’ agent would comment on the young center’s rumored request for a trade. Portzline cites a source claiming the relationship between Dubois and the organization changed during contract negotiations in the fall.

The Jackets apparently wanted a long-term contract but Dubois sought a short-term deal that would allow management sufficient time to trade him for a return commensurate with his value. It also keeps Dubois from being locked-in long term with the Jackets.

Dubois didn’t sign an offer sheet but Portzline indicates he did speak with other clubs. It was in those discussions that his desire to leave Columbus became clear.

Portzline suggests Kekalainen’s tendency to take a hard line in contract talks with young players has the consequence of damaging the relationship between the two sides. He cites former Jackets Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson as notable examples.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll probably learn more in the coming days from various league insiders over Dubois’ situation, especially regarding the teams he spoke with during his contract negotiations. It’s also been suggested Dubois might not have the best relationship with head coach John Tortorella, who has a reputation as a tough-minded bench boss.

Whatever the reason, Dubois could become a subject of interest in the rumor mill over the course of this season. If there is friction between the center and Kekalainen and/or Tortorella, it could result in his departure via trade this year or next for a player of equal or potentially better value.

Kekalainen could make a one-for-one deal involving Dubois. He shipped Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones in a move that proved to be a winner for the Jackets. Anderson was dealt in October to Montreal for Max Domi. Time will tell which club got the better of that move.

OTTAWA SUN: Earlier this week, Ken Warren examined how the recent moves by the Senators have created a logjam at center and on defense. The additions of Derek Stepan and Cedric Paquette gives them five centers. Because there’s limited room to move a center to the wing, Warren suggested moving on from Artem Anisimov. He also believes they’ll have to make a decision on Logan Brown, who’s heading into his third pro season trying to win a permanent spot on the roster.

Warren also pointed out it’s a packed house on the blueline, “with Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev, Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly, Josh Brown, Christian Wolanin, Erik Brannstrom, Artem Zub, Lassi Thomson and Christian Jaros all searching for playing time.” He speculates some of the veterans could be moved by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren believes it could be difficult moving Anisimov because he’s slowed and there might not be many takers for the $1.5 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. Perhaps not now, but he could draw some interest from a playoff contender leading up to the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I expect pending UFA blueliners like Gudbranson, Coburn or Reilly could also hit the trade block later in the season.










Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2020

Mike Hoffman joining the Blues and two significant trades by the Senators highlights this roundup of the notable Christmas holiday weekend news in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues signed free agent Mike Hoffman to a professional tryout offer. Hoffman can negotiate with other clubs while training with the Blues. However, Rutherford believes the two sides have in place a one-year deal worth between $3.5 million and $4.5 million, and they’re waiting to officially announce it because of salary-cap implications.

Mike Hoffman joins the St. Louis Blues on a professional tryout offer (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubted the Blues would sign Hoffman unless he was willing to reduce his rumored asking price of between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. He’s apparently done so to join a Stanley Cup contender.

Hoffman will provide some much-needed short-term offense with sniper Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery. A solid performance could improve Hoffman’s chances of a more lucrative deal in next year’s UFA market.

Cap Friendly shows the Blues with $1.175 million in cap space with Vince Dunn to be signed. They will get cap relief by placing Alexander Steen and his $5.75 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season.

Rutherford points out having Hoffman on a PTO gives Blues general manager Doug Armstrong time to determine how much it’ll cost to re-sign Dunn. It could also allow time to make a cost-cutting trade, though they could also get some wiggle room if necessary by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million AAV) on LTIR.

ARIZONA SPORTS/OTTAWA SUN: The Senators were busy in the trade market on Sunday. Their first move saw them ship a 2021 second-round draft pick (originally owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for center Derek Stepan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good move by both clubs. The Coyotes wanted to shed some salary and the rebuilding Senators sought some short-term experience and leadership at center.

PuckPedia pointed out this deal gives the Coyotes a projected $3.7 million in salary-cap space without having to place Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). They can accrue cap space to put toward this season’s trade deadline and their performance bonuses earned won’t automatically carry over into next season. That extra second-rounder will offset their lack of a third-round pick in the ’21 draft.

Some folks wondered why the Senators took on Stepan when (in their minds) they could’ve pursued better options. One reason is Stepan will get more playing time with the Sens than he was getting with the Coyotes. Another is he lacked no-trade protection. His actual salary is another factor. While his annual average is $6.5 million annual average value for this season (the last of his contract), his actual salary is just $2 million.

Critics feel the Senators gave up too much for Stepan by parting with a second-round pick. This, however, was a move they could afford to make. They still have two second-round picks in the ‘21 draft and could land another second-round pick if they decide to peddle Stepan at the trade deadline. Failing that, they could get a third-rounder. Some will scoff at that notion but one must never underestimate the willingness of general managers to overpay at the deadline.

OTTAWA SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Senators’ second deal saw them send the contracts of winger Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Braydon Coburn, forward Cedric Paquette, and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaborik hasn’t played since 2017-18 while Nilsson is expected to miss this season with concussion symptoms. The Lightning will place their combined salaries ($7.5 million) on LTIR, allowing the club to become cap compliant when this season begins.

Like Stepan, Coburn and Paquette will provide the Senators with short-term experience and leadership. Both will be unrestricted free agents next summer, though there’s a chance the Sens could sign the 27-year-old Paquette to an extension if he plays well this season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators also signed top prospect Tim Stuetzle yesterday to a three-year entry-level contract. He was given his release by Adler Mannheim in the German league Sunday in order to sign with the Sens.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: This signing isn’t surprising considering how well Stuetzle’s performed for the COVID-ravaged German squad thus far in the 2021 World Junior Championship. The 18-year-old winger is expected to finish the tournament with Germany and join the Senators’ training camp following a seven-day quarantine in Ottawa.

TSN: Ilya Kovalchuk has officially signed a two-year contract with KHL club Avangard Omsk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should bring Kovalchuk’s second tenure in the NHL to a permanent close. He’s no longer the scoring threat he once was, bouncing last season from the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed free-agent center Carl Soderberg to a one-year contract worth $1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes after Blackhawks promising young center Kirby Dach suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada at the World Juniors.

THE SCORE: The Capitals signed free-agent goaltender Craig Anderson to a professional tryout contract. This signing comes less than two weeks after Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined for the season by a heart condition.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed free-agent defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year contract worth $850K.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a professional tryout contract. He’ll compete for either a roster spot or a place with the Jackets’ taxi squad.

TSN: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson has opted out of playing the 2020-21 NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for player opt-outs was Dec. 27.

THE SCORE: Forward Mark Letestu announced his retirement yesterday after 11 NHL seasons. He tallied 93 goals and 210 points in 567 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Letestu in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Roundup: UFA Pool Growing Shallow

NHL Rumor Roundup: UFA Pool Growing Shallow

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 11, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 11, 2020

The latest on Alex Pietrangelo and Taylor Hall plus updates on the Lightning, Leafs, Blackhawks, Avalanche and Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON PIETRANGELO AND HALL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports defenseman Alex Pietrangelo flew with his wife yesterday to Las Vegas to meet with the Golden Knights and tour their facilities. LeBrun considers the Golden Knights as the front-runner.

Taylor Hall is still considering his options in the free-agent market (NHL Images).

Darren Dreger reports winger Taylor Hall and his agent spent yesterday paring down their list of potential destinations. Hall is considering roster fit, team quality and the variety of offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Hall has more suitors than Pietrangelo. That’s likely due to the winger’s reported willingness to accept a one- or two-year deal.

It certainly seems like Pietrangelo could be Vegas-bound. They’ll have to clear considerable cap space to sign him to what could be between $8 million and $9 million annually on a long-term deal. Both players are taking their time and it could be another couple of days before they make their decisions.

UPDATE ON THE LIGHTNING

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois will have to attach an asset to Tyler Johnson if he hopes to move the winger’s contract. The constraints in moving money under a flattened cap make it difficult to swing a deal.

Lebrun feels they must cut $10 million from their payroll to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. Johnson has a full no-trade clause but has submitted a list of 7-8 preferred trade destinations.

Frank Seravalli also reports the Lightning are trying to move defenseman Braydon Coburn. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $1.7 million but also has a no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois could have little choice but to include a decent asset in a package with Johnson if he hopes to move him. Otherwise, Cirelli or Sergachev could become offer-sheet targets. Coburn carries an affordable cap hit for next season but the 35-year-old blueliner is also coming to the end of his career. A sweetener might also have to be included to move him.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LEAFS?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports the Maple Leafs have no money to spend on free agents unless they shed contracts. They still need a third-line center as Simmons doesn’t believe Alex Kerfoot can fill that role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $1.3 million in cap space with Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev to re-sign. Unless they trade Kerfoot for a third-line center or find another way to free up cap room, they’ll have to stick with him in that role next season.

MORE MOVES TO COME FOR BLACKHAWKS?

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: In the wake of the Blackhawks trading Brandon Saad last night to the Colorado Avalanche for Nikita Zadorov, Ben Pope believes more moves are coming. He speculates Calvin de Haan, Connor Murphy or others could be traded to clear up their logjam on the blueline.

COULD THE AVALANCHE PURSUE A DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Following the Avalanche’s acquisition of Saad yesterday, Ryan S. Clark speculates their next move could be adding a top-four defenseman. That blueliner would have to agree to a one-year deal with a starting price of $4 million. Otherwise, they could turn to a prospect like Bowen Byram or Connor Timmins to replace the departed Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not many UFA options available who could be had for that price. Maybe Sami Vatanen or Travis Hamonic.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal believes the Vancouver Canucks could turn to the trade market to replace departed defensemen Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher. Right-handed trade options could include Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar, New Jersey’s Damon Severson and Columbus’ David Savard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Panthers are shopping Weegar. Savard might not be available now that the Jackets added two centers in Max Domi and Mikko Koivu and have over $13 million in cap space to re-sign center Pierre-Luc Dubois. I don’t see the Devils trading Severson unless they’re planning to acquire an upgrade for the right side of their second defense pairing.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 1, 2019

Mikko Rantanen makes a splashy return with the Avalanche, Alex Ovechkin tallies a hat trick, fallout from the Peters firing and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen made a splashy return to action by picking up four points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury on Oct. 21. Joonas Donskoi also enjoyed a four-point performance, Nathan MacKinnon picked up three points, and Nazem Kadri scored two goals. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored to extend his points streak to 15 games.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen collected four points in a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images)

Alex Ovechkin tallied a hat trick to lead the Washington Capitals over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov collected three assists. Ovechkin now has 20 goals on the season, sitting second to Boston’s David Pastrnak (24) in the goal-scoring race. The Wings’ winless skid has stretched to nine games. Earlier in the day, they acquired goaltender Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.

The Vancouver Canucks got a four-point performance from Tanner Pearson to down the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Canucks captain Bo Horvat picked up three assists. Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast each tallied shorthanded goals. Devils rookie Jack Hughes missed the game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils near the bottom of the conference, there are reports they’re entertaining offers for Taylor Hall. Check out the Rumors section for details.

The Philadelphia Flyers extended the Montreal Canadiens’ winless skid to seven games (0-4-3) with a 4-3 overtime victory. Ivan Provorov tallied the game-winner while Flyers goalie Brian Elliott kicked out 39 shots. Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Habs, who lost defenseman Victor Mete to a lower-body injury. The Flyers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points.

Calgary Flames winger Elias Lindholm scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted his team-leading 14th goal for the Senators.

John Tavares tallied in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Tavares also had an assist on William Nylander’s game-opening goal. Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton made 41 saves in a losing cause.

Carolina Hurricanes netminder James Reimer made 36 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Brayden Coburn is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury, while winger Alex Killorn (lower-body injury) is listed as day-to-day.

Florida Panthers rookie goaltender Chris Driedger’s first NHL start was a memorable one, turning aside 27 shots to blank the Nashville Predators 3-0. Anton Stralman scored twice for the Panthers.

Semyon Varlamov replaced an ailing Thomas Greiss in the first period and backstopped the New York Islanders to a 2-0 shutout over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Isles center Mathew Barzal scored one goal and collected an assist on the other. Isles defenseman Nick Leddy returned to action after missing one game with a lower-body injury. Blue Jackets rearguard Zach Werenski left the game with an upper-body injury.

Logan Couture scored twice and Tomas Hertl picked up two assists as the San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. It’s the Sharks’ 11th win in their last 13 contests.

St. Louis Blues forwards Jaden Schwartz and Ryan O’Reilly each had two points in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game with an undisclosed injury. The Penguins also played without winger Bryan Rust, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

A 33-save effort by Jack Campbell enabled the Los Angeles Kings to hang on for a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

HEADLINES

TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis issued a statement yesterday claiming he informed then-team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. of alleged physical incidents between former coach Bill Peters and two players. Earlier in the week, Karmanos claimed he was not aware of the incidents and would’ve immediately fired Peters had he known. Francis said he took immediate action to address the issue and no further incidents occurred.

Peters resigned Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames after former NHL player Akim Aliu claimed he hurled racial slurs at him during their tenure with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs a decade ago.

SPORTSNET: Speak of Aliu, he’ll be meeting with the NHL this week to to discuss the cultural problems in hockey.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Sean Avery claimed he was kicked by coach Marc Crawford during a game in 2006-07 when they were with the Los Angeles Kings. Avery said the incident occurred when he took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

“He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it. You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.” Avery found the incident more bemusing than upsetting.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens with a lower-body injury. Winger Brad Marchand is questionable for the game as he’s battling flu symptoms. Winger David Backes (concussion symptoms) could be close to returning to the lineup.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will appear in his 1,000th NHL game today when his club takes on the Dallas Stars.