NHL Rumor Roundup: UFA Pool Growing Shallow
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bill Peters resigns as Flames head coach, game recaps, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CALGARY SUN: Bill Peters resigned yesterday as head coach of the Flames. The club had been investigating allegations of racism and abuse against Peters by former players earlier in his coaching career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think anyone’s surprised over Peters’ departure in the wake of the allegations against him. If he hadn’t resigned, he likely would’ve been fired by the Flames. Perhaps his downfall will eradicate such behavior, leading to an overdue change in hockey culture that aligns with today’s changing society. Time will tell. Hockey, and especially the NHL, tends to be conservative and resistant to change.
NHL.COM: David Krejci’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. The Bruins have won six straight games, extended their points streak to 10 games, and are unbeaten in regulation at home (10-0-4). Bruins winger Brad Marchand wasn’t pleased about a concussion spotter pulling from the first half of the third period after running into a raised elbow by Rangers blueliner Jacob Trouba late in the second period. “Maybe next time he’ll pull his head out of his butt and watch the game. I skated into his elbow, but [I was] fine,” said Marchand, who later tweeted an apology for his remarks.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored and set up three others in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Teammate J.T. Compher had a three-point night. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored to extend his points streak to 10 games, but teammate Duncan Keith was sidelined with a groin injury.
A four-goal third period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 7-2 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators. Luke Kunin, Ryan Hartman, Eric Staal, and Jason Zucker were the scorers in the final frame. The Wild have overcome their poor start to this season, moving to .500 on the season (26 points in 26 games) and within three points of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice and set up another to lead up club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4. John Tavares tallied twice for the Leafs, who dropped their first game under new coach Sheldon Keefe after winning three straight.
Dmity Orlov’s overtime goal gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps overcame a 3-1 deficit on goals by Jakub Vrana and Alex Ovechkin to force the extra period. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov collected three assists. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos returned to the lineup from a lower-body injury, but defenseman Braydon Coburn left the game with a lower-body injury.
The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on a shootout goal by Alex Tuch, who also scored in regulation. Goaltender Malcolm Subban made 35 saves for the win. The Golden Knights were playing without starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, whose father passed away Wednesday in Quebec.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Fleury and his family.
Gustav Nyquist’s hat trick carried the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Nick Foligno also scored twice for the Jackets, who’ve won five of their last seven contests.
Ryan O’Reilly scored the game-winner as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Dallas Stars 3-1. O’Reilly and David Perron each collected two points on the night. Earlier in the day, the Stars placed Joel Hanley on waivers.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 24 shots to shut out the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine each collected two assists. Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov left the game with an upper-body injury.
Erik Karlsson picked up two assists and Martin Jones made 33 saves as the San Jose Sharks downed the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Sharks forward Noah Gregor tallied his first career NHL goal.
The Philadelphia Flyers picked up their third straight win by crushing the Detroit Red Wings 6-1. Jakub Voracek had three assists for the Flyers. The Wings have dropped eight straight contests. Wing blueliner Mike Green returned to the lineup from an upper-body injury while goaltender Jimmy Howard was placed on injured reserve.
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne turned aside 31 shots to blank the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin revealed he suffered a torn tendon in his left wrist during a Nov. 15 game against the Washington Capitals. He underwent surgery on Nov. 18 and is currently sidelined for eight weeks.
The Flyers re-sign Kevin Hayes and acquire Justin Braun, the Lightning re-sign Braydon Coburn, plus updates on Joe Thornton, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN/SPORTSNET: Bob McKenzie and John Shannon report the Philadelphia Flyers re-signed forward Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50-million contract. The annual average value is $7.14 million. Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets earlier this month, Hayes was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay more than a few NHL general managers are cursing Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher for this one. Fletcher gave up very little (a fifth-round pick) to acquire Hayes but gave up way too much re-signing him. The 27-year-old is a versatile forward who’s tallied over 40 points in four of the past five seasons, but he’s not worth over $7 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher continues to bolster his blueline, having shipped Radko Gudas to Washington last Friday for Matt Niskanen. Braun, 32, is an experienced shutdown defenseman. He and Niskanen bring experience and leadership to a young Flyers defense corps. With the Braun addition and Hayes signing, Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $60 million invested in 16 players.
The Sharks, meanwhile, free up over $3 million in salary-cap space. Those savings could be put toward re-signing captain Joe Pavelski.
Speaking of the Sharks, Joe Thornton expressed his desire to return with the club next season. Like Pavelski, Thornton is slated to become a UFA. “I’m a Shark,” he said. “There’s one team, and it’s here.”
ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a two-year, $3.4-million contract extension. He was slated to become a UFA on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Lightning. Coburn was a reliable presence on the Bolts blueline this season. The 34-year-old is taking a significant pay cut from his previous $3.7-million per season. As his career winds down, the Lightning is his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
TSN: David Clarkson submitted his 16-team no-trade list to the Vegas Golden Knights, who hope to shop his contract this week. All but retired due to injury, Clarkson has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $5.25 million. The cap-strapped Golden Knight must free up salary-cap room to re-sign free agents such as William Karlsson.
NEW YORK POST: Goaltender Robin Lehner remains hopeful of re-signing with the New York Islanders. An unrestricted free agent on July 1, Lehner is up for the Vezina and Masterton trophies at tonight’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the mutual willingness on both sides to get a deal done, I expect Lehner to be re-signed before his UFA eligibility date.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko suffered a shoulder injury during his club’s Stanley Cup run. It’s unclear if it’s the same shoulder that required surgery last year.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Forward Charles Hudon rejected the Canadiens’ qualifying offer. The club still retains his NHL rights.
TSN: Trent Yawney joins the Los Angeles Kings’ coaching staff.
SPORTSNET: The NHL salary cap for next season could be lower than projected. Elliotte Friedman believes the league and the PA will agree to tighten the cap for the next two seasons as they work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. A new US television agreement in 2021 could also factor into this decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap was projected to reach $83 million. There’s now talk it could be around $82 million. That will affect the efforts of cap-strapped clubs to retain key players this summer.
What next for the Penguins and Lightning after getting swept from the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters speculate the Pittsburgh Penguins could shop a defenseman or two, suggesting this could be Olli Maatta’s last season in Pittsburgh. They could try to move aging agitator Patric Hornqvist but the 32-year-old has a $5.3-million annual average value through 2022-23 (with a full no-trade clause through 2021). They also suggest the trade rumors that swirled around winger Phil Kessel over the last two years could ramp up again. With the Penguins core aging, they recommend the club restock for the future.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey expects the Penguins could attempt a rebuild on the fly by moving some high-salaried players to free up salary cap space while attempting to get younger. He believes general manager Jim Rutherford will listen to offers for Kessel. It’s conceivable they could move on from Maatta and they’ll have to figure out what to do with Hornqvist.
Mackey reported Kessel expects there will be roster changes this summer but doesn’t know if he’ll be part of them. Rutherford entertained offers for the veteran winger last summer but felt no urgency to move him then. Trading Kessel would be strictly a business move, as he’s beloved by his teammates and Penguins fans.
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe also expects Kessel’s name to resurface in the rumor mill. He doesn’t know if the Penguins will trade him but believes he’s the most likely to go if they decide to trade a prominent forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel still has an eight-team trade list. He carries an $8 million annual cap hit through 2021-22, although the Toronto Maple Leafs are picking up $1.2 million of it. The 31-year-old’s goal-scoring declined over the second half of the season but he still finished with 82 points and had a good playoff series against the Islanders. If the Penguins shop Kessel this summer there will be a market for his services.
The same can’t be said for Hornqvist. His contract is difficult to move, especially with that full no-trade clause, plus he’s got a concussion history and his production was down this season. Maatta looks like he could use a fresh start somewhere else. He’s only 24 and have good puck-moving abilities and carries a reasonable salary-cap hit of $4.083 million through 2021-22.
THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s stunning first-round exit from the 2019 playoffs, Joe Smith expects GM Julien BriseBois will closely examine his club this summer. Smith doesn’t anticipate a major shakeup but believes there will be a change in the blueline with Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, and Anton Stralman due to become unrestricted free agents.
Winger Ryan Callahan has a year remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $5.8 million, making him a trade or buyout candidate. He expects restricted free agent Brayden Point will be re-signed to a big raise and rules out moving Tyler Johnson by pointing to his full no-trade clause. Still, they could look at moving a forward to bring in a younger one.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters don’t see BriseBois making any panic moves this summer. They point out core players such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn are all under 30 and signed through 2022, with Point soon to join them. They also expect there will be changes coming to the Lightning defense corps.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect the Bolts to trade away one of their core players. Head coach Jon Cooper recently signed a contract extension. He won’t be going anywhere but will be under pressure to address his club’s opening-round collapse and his apparent inability to counter the Blue Jackets aggressive forechecking.
The Lightning has over $73 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20. Point will command a big raise that could reach $7 million per season, though the Bolts have had success in convincing their core players to accept less than market value to stay in Tampa Bay. Even if they can convince him to accept, say, $5 million per season, they still won’t have sufficient cap room to suitably fill those blueline spots if Girardi, Coburn, and Stralman depart via free agency.
Moving Callahan via trade or buyout will free up some cap space. They could try to trade Yanni Gourde before his new contract (with a no-trade clause) kicks in on July 1. Having signed Gourde to that deal last November, however, they obviously want him to be part of their long-term future. They’ll be hard-pressed to sufficiently replace those departing blueliners, forcing them to find younger, cheaper options within their system, via trade or free agency.