NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

What would be a fair return for Mitch Marner if the Leafs shopped him in the trade market? Should the Jets shop Kyle Connor for a defenseman? What moves should the Oilers make this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest Toronto Maple Leafs mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if the club could win a Mitch Marner trade. While acknowledging the front office’s belief in the 24-year-old playmaker, Fox believes general manager Kyle Dubas would want a return that fits with his bet-on-young skill vision that helps the club now. He also doesn’t foresee Marner requesting a trade.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

He doubted Dubas would accept someone like Columbus’ Patrik Laine or Seth Jones or Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in return. However, he could listen if the Buffalo Sabres offered up center Jack Eichel.

John Tavares’ injury highlights the Leafs lack of center depth. Fox suggests shifting Tavares to the wing as he ages and his foot speed slows.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also said Eichel’s neck injury would be a huge caveat, adding they shouldn’t make that move unless certain he’s fully recovered.

Eichel for Marner straight up would work in terms of player value and cap dollars. Nevertheless, I doubt it’s a move we’ll see take place between these two long-standing rivals.

Fox was also asked which players the Leafs should add to address the lack of killer instinct team president Brendan Shanahan felt his club still needs. He wondered if Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf or Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would accept a Joe Thornton deal, or if Colorado’s Brandon Saad would come more cheaply than Zach Hyman.

His other suggested options include Minnesota’s Nick Bonino, Vegas’ Mattias Janmark and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. He also proposed it would be great to see what a healthy Nick Foligno could do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas will have to engage in more salary-cap gymnastics given his club’s limited cap space to address that need. I think Getzlaf re-signs with Anaheim or retires. Stastny might be a possibility. Saad could cost more than Hyman.

The Wild could re-sign Bonino if he’s willing to accept a pay cut from his current $4.1 million cap hit. If not, he could be a good option for the Leafs. Janmark and Oleksiak could also be worthwhile cost-effective additions.

Foligno could also help if he’s fully healthy but that depends on whether he sees a future in Toronto or if they feel they should look toward younger alternatives.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma wondered if the Vancouver Canucks would be interested in Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs aren’t expected to protect the 26-year-old center in next month’s expansion draft. They need to clear cap space if they hope to re-sign Zach Hyman. The Leafs can’t afford to take back salary but perhaps they’d accept a draft pick or prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma noted the Canucks pursue Kerfoot four years ago as a college free agent before he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He could be an affordable option to bolster the Canucks’ depth at center.

SHOULD THE JETS SHOP CONNOR FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to pay the price to acquire some high-end defensive talent if they wish to be more than playoff also-rans. Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot all departed since the Jets marched to the 2018 Western Conference Final.

McIntyre doubts we’ll see any significant off-season activity out of Winnipeg based on their history. However, he wonders at what point general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be forced to consider moving a core player to balance a lineup that isn’t good enough.

Other than goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and perhaps winger Nikolaj Ehlers, McIntyre doesn’t believe there should be an untouchable on the Jets roster. He proposed shopping winger Kyle Connor, who struggled in the Montreal series after center Mark Scheifele was suspended. The Jets’ crop of promising young skaters like Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Cole Perfetti could give them the freedom to use Connor as trade bait to address their blueline issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff has occasionally made a big move during his tenure as Jets GM, the latest being his swap of Patrick Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. For the most part, however, he tends to be patient, sometimes to a fault.

The Jets GM could surprise us with a major offseason move. Like McIntyre, however, I don’t expect him to shop a core player like Connor this summer. He could instead look for affordable options via trade or free agency while preparing to promote promising youngsters like Ville Heinola or Dylan Samberg into the lineup.

THE LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Kevin Allen’s three main offseason proposals for the Oilers. They include pursuing a younger goalie like Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo or the New York Islanders Semyon Varlamov via trade, or Frederik Andersen or Linus Ullmark via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old Mike Smith for another season but could shop Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders aren’t in a hurry in shop Varlamov but inquiring with the Jackets about Merzlikins or Korpisalo makes sense. It wouldn’t hurt to kick tires on Andersen or Ullmark.

Allen also suggested the Oilers try to come up with enough assets to bundle with James Neal to get a rebuilding club with cap space (Detroit Red Wings) to take the winger off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Holland will consider that option. The assets in that package, however, could be more than he’s willing to part with. A contract buyout remains possible for Neal if he isn’t moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Allen also recommended re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson and then calling the New York Rangers about Tony DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are working on the first two. DeAngelo’s character issues are a red flag but there could be clubs interested in the puck-moving defenseman. If the Oilers were interested, they could wait until he’s bought out of his current contract and then sign him as a free agent.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

The Jets down the Leafs in their final regular-season game, Conference championship trophies won’t be awarded this season, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Kase and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets ended their regular season on a high note by doubling up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Kyle Connor scored twice to finish the season with a team-leading 26 goals. The Leafs’ Auston Matthews was held pointless, finishing the season with a league-leading 41 goals.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs will have several days off before they begin their respective first-round series. The Jets face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday while the Leafs meet the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL won’t be handing out the Prince of Wales Trophy or the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the conference champions this season. The Prince of Wales Trophy is usually awarded to the Eastern Conference champion while the Campbell Bowl is awarded to the Western Conference champion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bright side is we won’t have to listen to any of the superstitious nonsense over whether the winning teams will touch those respective trophies. Because, of course, everyone knows touching those awards could determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (end sarcasm mode).

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The lack of a new contract for Alex Ovechkin isn’t bothering Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. He said he and Ovechkin are focused on the upcoming playoffs.

Alex knows that if he plays five more years, 10 more years, whatever it is, we’ve got his back,” Leonsis said, adding the team’s commitment to his captain is to continue to have great teams. “We’ll spend to the cap, we’ll try to win championships. And that’s what he’s focused on because that’ll be his legacy.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is completing a 13-year, $124 million contract. He and Leonsis agreed at the start of this season to put aside contract discussions until after the playoffs are over. Based on Leonsis’ comments, it sounds like Ovechkin won’t be going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase won’t be playing in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Washington Capitals tonight. Kase suffered an upper-body injury unrelated to the suspected concussion that sidelined him for all but three games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the issue, it sounds like Kase could miss more than just Game 1.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith left Friday’s practice early to receive medical treatment after making a routine save. It’s suspected to be a lower-body injury. The Penguins open their first-round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

TSN: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed defenseman Artem Zub to a two-year, $5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zub, 25, joined the Senators as a free agent from the KHL and played well in his first NHL season. He finished with 14 points in 47 games and a plus-minus of plus-4 while logging over 18 minutes of ice time per game.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk declined to comment about lawsuits filed against five defendants by his traveling companions related to his Caribbean vacation last Christmas.

THE SCORE: cites a report by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicating Alain Vigneault will return as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers next season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of returning coaches, Stars general manager Jim Nill confirmed Rick Bowness will be back behind the bench with his club next season. Nill also said forward Roope Hintz will undergo surgery next week in New York to repair a groin injury.










Matthews the Odds-On Favourite to Capture NHL’s Maurice Richard Award

Matthews the Odds-On Favourite to Capture NHL’s Maurice Richard Award

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2020

Sidney Crosby reaches an assist milestone, Kyle Connor and Kevin Fiala extend their goal streaks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM:The Boston Bruins widened their lead atop the overall standings by edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk scored for the Bruins (96 points), who sit nine points over the Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Third-period goals by Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz lifted the St. Louis Blues to their eighth straight win by downing the New York Rangers 3-1. The Blues (90 points) hold a three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference. With 74 points, the Rangers remain four points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected his 800th career assist in a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Bryan Rust’s hat trick powered the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Ottawa Senators 7-3 to snap a six-game losing skid. Evgeni Malkin collected four assists while Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) picked up his 800th career assist. The Penguins (82 points) sit one behind the Philadelphia Flyers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby became just the sixth player in NHL history to reach 800 assists in less than 1,000 games.

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner made 27 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils. Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) have won nine of their last 10 contests and sit atop the Pacific Division.

Alex Chiasson’s overtime goal gave the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen kicked out 42 shots as Edmonton (80 points) remains two back of the Golden Knights, while the Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division. Oilers winger James Neal returned to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a foot injury on Jan. 29.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor scored twice and set up another to lead his club over the fading Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Connor’s goal streak has reached four games as the Jets (74 points) moved into the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Sabres have dropped four straight.

Kevin Fiala extended his goal streak to five games as the Minnesota Wild dumped the Nashville Predators 3-1. Wild goalie Alex Stalock made 37 saves as the Wild (73 points) moved one point ahead of the Predators to sit one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Preds have dropped three straight games.

A three-goal third period carried the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. With 78 points, the Leafs sit in third place in the Atlantic Division. Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his 46th goal to move into second place among this season’s goal-scoring leaders.

The Montreal Canadiens rolled to a 6-2 victory over the slumping New York Islanders, who’ve won just two of their last 10 games. Isles defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the third period after being inadvertently struck in the face by the skate blade of Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen. Boychuk suffered a facial cut but his eyesight was unaffected. Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar left the game early in the first with an upper-body injury. The Isles (78 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens (71 points) sit seven points behind them.

A four-goal second period lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, Dylan Strome tallied two goals and collected an assist.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks following surgery to repair an ankle sprain and a hairline fracture.

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes goalies Petr Mrazek (concussion) and James Reimer (lower-body injury) are expected to miss at least another week. The Hurricanes are winless since Mrazek and Reimer were sidelined.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers and Quinn Hughes are questionable for tonight’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said head coach Claude Julien will return behind the bench next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans are calling for Bergevin and Julien to be fired as the club is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight year. Neither guy is going anywhere, but this off-season and the Canadiens’ performance in 2021-22 will determine if they still have their jobs a year from now.

The Nashville Predators have opened the doors of their arena to people affected by the tornado that ripped through the city early Tuesday morning. At least 19 people were killed and 40 buildings were destroyed.










Five Players Who Won’t Be Moved At The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

Five Players Who Won’t Be Moved At The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

 










NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2020

Updates on Kyle Connor and Rasmus Ristolainen, plus the latest on the Devils, Panthers, Oilers, Ducks, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON THE AVS’ RUMORED INTEREST IN CONNOR

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman followed up on the recent rumor suggesting the Colorado Avalanche were interest in Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor. The speculation had the Avs offering up defense prospect Bowen Byram as part of the return. Friedman claimed he’d heard it was Connor for Byram and Vladislav Kamenev, but he received multiple denials when he looked into it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater reported the Avs scouted the recent Rangers-Jets game. He thinks they need to find a suitable replacement for sidelined center Nazem Kadri. Connor, however, isn’t a center. Neither is Chris Kreider, who could be shopped if the Blueshirts fail to re-sign him before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

As I said before, Byram has the potential to become a top-pairing NHL defenseman, but he’s yet to play a single game in the big league. The Jets need immediate blueline help. If they’re thinking about moving Connor (and I don’t believe they are), it would have to be for an established No.1 d-man.

SHOULD THE SABRES SHOP RISTOLAINEN?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Travis Yost believes the Sabres should trade Rasmus Ristolainen before it’s too late. The 25-year-old defenseman has attractive individual skills, but Yost indicates the Sabres have been out-scored and out-chanced whenever he’s on the ice.

Should the Buffalo Sabres move Rasmus Ristolainen at the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Nevertheless, he considers Ristolainen’s contract friendly enough to teams around the league that believed the blueliner’s circumstances are largely out of his control. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.4 million. “It’s not working in Buffalo, and getting assets for a player who is having no impact on your team’s performance is always worth consideration,” writes Yost.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen was a frequent topic of conjecture last summer after it was revealed he requested a trade at the end of last season. He reportedly changed his mind, but one wonders how much more losing he can tolerate. His lack of no-trade protection gives Sabres management plenty of potential trade partners.

A Ristolainen deal, however, might have to wait until the summer. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, however, suggests the Sabres are more likely to deal players like Michael Frolik, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, and Conor Sheary. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Florida Panthers have explored the trade market for Mike Matheson and he believes there are teams interested in the 25-year-old defenseman. However, his contract complicates things.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson have an affordable $4.875-million AAV, but it runs through 2025-26. As Friedman points out, his actual salary steadily rises to $6.5 million per season in the final years of the deal. Any attempt to move him would probably have to take place in the off-season.

The Edmonton Oilers have been uninterested in moving their first-round pick, RFA winger Jesse Puljujarvi, or any of the top defense prospects for a rental player. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with captain Connor McDavid sidelined.

Friedman doubts the Anaheim Ducks are keen to move key pieces like Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell. Instead, he sees Ondrej Kase and Derek Grant as possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see why Ducks GM Bob Murray doesn’t want to part with those core players. Depending on what moves he makes between now and the start of next season, as well as the performance of young players like Max Jones, Troy Terry, and Sam Steel, the Ducks could be more competitive in 2020-21.

The Nashville Predators are going to have to decide if they’ll retain or trade pending UFA winger Mikael Granlund.

WHICH DEVILS ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE MOVED?

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan believes Sami Vatanen is most likely to be moved by the trade deadline. The pending UFA is among the top trade options in the market, which could drive up his value as the deadline approaches. They could also move pending UFAs Andy Greene or Wayne Simmonds, but Ryan suggests they could also retain them.

It would take substantial offers to pry away Kyle Palmieri, Blake Coleman or Nikita Gusev. The biggest obstacle to moving defenseman P.K. Subban is his $9-million AAV. Ryan believes Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, Jack Hughes, and Mackenzie Blackwood aren’t going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Devils seek “hockey trades” that will fetch young players to grow with Hischier and Hughes.