NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2016

Could Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason became an LA Kings trade target?

Could Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason became an LA Kings trade target?

Potential trade targets for the Los Angeles Kings plus the latest Anaheim Ducks speculation in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox lists seven goalies the Los Angeles Kings could target in a trade to bolster their injury-ravaged goaltending. They are Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets, Jonathan Bernier of the Anaheim Ducks, Reto Berra of the Florida Panthers, Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth of the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Condon of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Thomas Greiss of the New York Islanders.

Fox notes Pavelec’s $3.9 million cap hit and the possible reluctance of Jets management to part with him are potential stumbling blocks. Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford is fond of Bernier and the Ducks do need to shed salary, but trades between bitter rivals rarely take place. Berra carries a cap-friendly $1.45 million cap hit. Like Pavelec, he is currently buried in the minors. 

Mason’s name appears more in trade chatter than Neuvirth’s because of his $4.1 million cap hit, but neither have better stats than the Kings call-up Peter Budaj. Condon carries a very affordable $575K cap hit and is eight years younger than Budaj. Fox doesn’t believe the Kings will target Pens veteran starter Marc-Andre Fleury, in part because of their long-term commitment to sidelined starter Jonathan Quick. Greiss and J-F Berube are on expiring contracts and Fox guesses the Isles prefer to keep the younger Berube.

PHILLY.COM’S Sam Carchidi, replying to a reader’s question on if the Flyers might trade a goalie to the Kings, named Neuvirth if the price was right. However, he also points out Flyers GM Ron Hextall likes having two strong goaltenders. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets apparently aren’t fully sold on their young goalie tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, preferring to retain Pavelec as insurance. Bernier’s cap hit is $4.15 million and Mason’s $4.1 million. The Kings lack the cap space to take on either salary unless the Ducks or Flyers are willing to pick up a significant chunk. Neuvirth is more affordable, but the Flyers probably wish to retain him. With both clubs also squeezed for cap space, I don’t see that happening. Greiss, Berra and Condon are much more affordable, but are they really worthwhile options? If the Kings struggle with their current netminders, they might not have much choice. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports trades rumors continue to swirl around the Anaheim Ducks as they attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm.  While observing the Ducks freed up some valuable cap space to re-sign Lindholm by placing concussed defenseman Simon Despres on LTIR ($3.75 million AAV), Fox notes that’s only temporary as they’ll have to free up cap room when Despres is ready to return to action.

Fox also cites speculation suggesting the Ducks could instead trade Lindholm for a good young defenseman if there’s no end in sight for this contract stalemate. Ducks GM Bob Murray reportedly dismissed that rumors. Lindholm’s agent, Claude Lemieux, said both sides remain motivated toward getting a new deal in place. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was only a matter of time until speculation about trading Lindholm, rather than Cam Fowler, bubbled to the surface. While I don’t dismiss that possibility, my guess is the Ducks management intend to re-sign him and deal with the possible cap problems of Despres’ return later in the season. At some point, they’ll have to shed a significant salary if they intend to retain Lindholm. Fowler ($4 million annual cap hit) remains the likely trade candidate. 

NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2016

Some NHL clubs are kicking the tires on demoted Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

Some NHL clubs are kicking the tires on demoted Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

Possible goaltending trade candidates plus updates on Jacob Trouba, Cam Fowler and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis speculates the Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders could make moves to address their goaltending. Kings starter Jonathan Quick is sidelined up to three months, leaving backup Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj to carry the load. The Isles are carrying three goalies and Cyrgalis wonders if Kings GM Dean Lombardi will make a pitch to acquire J-F Berube, who was claimed off waivers from the Kings by the Islanders last year. 

Cyrgalis also notes the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to decide between recently re-signed netminder Matt Murray and long-time starter Marc-Andre Fleury before next June’s NHL expansion draft. They can only protect one of them. 

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance wonders if teams with injured starting goalies, such as the Kings and Arizona Coyotes, might turn to former Winnipeg Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec, who’s currently toiling in the minors. Custance cites sources claiming the Jets are getting tire-kicking inquiries about Pavelec, though those clubs might prefer if the Jets pick up half of his $3.9 million cap hit. Custance reports a source said the Coyotes aren’t in the goalie market as they’re hopeful Mike Smith’s recent leg injury isn’t serious. 

TSN.CA:  Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Kings could be interested in Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Mike Condon, who could be placed on waivers once Matt Murray returns to active duty.

He also breaks down the options for the Penguins over what to do with Fleury before next June’s expansion draft. They could trade Fleury with his consent to a desired team before the March 1 trade deadline or prior to the expansion draft, ask him to waive his no-movement clause to become available in the expansion draft, buy out his contract and make him a free agent, thus allowing them to protect Murray, or swing a side deal with Las Vegas to ensure Murray isn’t selected if left unprotected. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings and Coyotes appear willing for now to see how things pan out with their respective goaltending situations. However, if Zatkoff and Budaj struggle for the Kings and if Smith is out longer than expected for the Coyotes, those clubs could be forced to dive into the goalie market. Condon would be an affordable option for either club, especially if he hits the waiver wire. As for the Penguins, I expect they’ll wait until June to decide what to do with Fleury. 

TSN.CA: Pierre LeBrun reports the standoff continues between the Winnipeg Jets and restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba, who is withholding his services and currently back home in Michigan awaiting a trade. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s asking price is a young, top-four, left-handed defenseman. He also has the full support of Jets’ ownership. 

Regarding Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler, teams continue to inquire into his availability. While it’s assumed the Ducks could trade Fowler and his $4 million cap hit to clear cap space to re-sign restricted free agent Hampus Lindholm, that’s still not a certainty. Among their options to free up cap room in the short term could be placing someone like Simon Despres ($3.75 million cap hit) on LTIR if he remains sidelined. 

ESPN.COM: Replying to a reader’s question, Craig Custance doubts the Detroit Red Wings can land Trouba, suggesting Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler as a better option. The challenge for the Ducks and Wings in such a deal is money, as both clubs are squeezed for cap space. Fowler’s annual cap hit is $4 million. 

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty doesn’t see the Boston Bruins as a fit for Trouba. He also doubts the Bruins can land Fowler, as it doesn’t seem like the Ducks will move him in-season to a team with playoff hopes of their own. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s safe to assume the Lindholm/Fowler situation is sorted out before the Trouba-Jets standoff. If Despres goes on LTIR, I expect the Lindholm re-signing will quickly follow. That could be only a short-term solution for the Ducks, as they’ll have to clear cap space when Despres and sidelined forward Nate Thompson ($1.6 million) are ready to return to action. 

STLTODAY.COM:  Responding to questions from his readers, Jeremy Rutherford speculates the St. Louis Blues could attempt to re-sign forward Patrik Berglund rather than lose him to free agency for nothing. He also said the Blues prefer to retain defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, but not if it costs $6 million annually, especially with Colton Parayko in the lineup and Jordan Schmaltz on the horizon. 

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2016

Don't expect the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade Nikita Kucherov.

Don’t expect the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade Nikita Kucherov.

Updates on Nikita Kucherov, the Ducks stalemate with Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell and a rumor Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon could be on the trade block.

TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Appearing on TSN 690 yesterday, Bob McKenzie said he doesn’t believe Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman will trade unsigned restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov. He said Yzerman still wants to re-sign Kucherov. McKenzie believes Yzerman could move another forward like center Valtteri Filppula, though his value in the trade market obviously isn’t as strong as Kucherov’s. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith cites McKenzie’s colleague Craig Button dismissing the notion of Kucherov receiving an offer sheet. Button cites the rarity of offer sheets, noting the last player to be successfully signed away was Dustin Penner, who left the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 to join the Edmonton Oilers. He also notes how few teams have sufficient salary-cap space to pitch Kucherov an offer sheet, plus the likelihood the Lightning would match any offer for the winger. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov must also be willing to accept an offer from a rival club. If he’s put the word out via his agent that he’s not interested in receiving one, it’s pointless for a rival GM to go that route.  As for a trade, unless Kucherov follows the lead of Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba and asks to be moved, it’s not going to happen. He’s a valuable member of the Lightning’s future. They want to keep him and he wants to stay.

The problem is Yzerman has to free up sufficient salary-cap space for Kucherov’s new contract, which could come in around $6 million per season on a long-term deal. He’ll get some temporary cap relief by placing sidelined winger Ryan Callahan ($5.7 million) on long-term injury reserve. However, Yzerman will have to free up cap room in late-November when Callahan, who’s recovering from offseason hip surgery, returns to the lineup. 

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens reports the contract stalemates continue between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agents Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rackell. He claims long-term deals are desired by both sides, but it’s the money that’s the sticking point.Term lengths as long as eight years for Lindholm and six for Rakell have been discussed.

The Ducks have $7.5 million in salary-cap space, which doesn’t appear enough to re-sign both players. They could get some cap relief by placing Nate Thompson ($1.6 million), who’s sidelined until March, on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm could be seeking $6 million annually, while the Ducks could prefer something around $5.5 million. Regardless, that won’t leave much for Rakell, who could seek around $3 million annually. The Ducks must also ensure they’ve got sufficient wiggle room for additional moves if required over the course of the season. That’s why defenseman Cam Fowler and his $4 million annual cap hit remains a fixture in the trade rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET’S Eric Engels reported the following yesterday on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon: “From what I’ve heard, there are a couple of Western teams kicking the tires on Condon. Trade is a possibility”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Condon did a decent job last season filling in for the sidelined Carey Price. With Al Montoya signed as Price’s backup this season, it appears Condon could be on his way out. The San Jose Sharks lack an experienced backup, so perhaps they’re one of those two Western Conference clubs with interest in Condon. He’d have to pass through waivers if demoted, where he could be plucked away by a rival club.