In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some potential offseason trade candidates for the Flyers plus the latest on Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to offload James van Riemsdyk in order to shed some salary this summer. He noted the club needs to free up cap space to make additions in the offseason, pointing out the 32-year-old winger is a $7 million player whose production has regressed.
Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).
Finding takers for van Riemsdyk won’t be easy. The Flyers could be forced to add a sweetener to make him more enticing in the trade market. It might be easier if they retain half of his salary though it means only saving $3.5 million. A contract buyout won’t clear the full $7 million from their books next season.
Cam Atkinson could be a sell-high trade option given his bounce-back performance this season. However, O’Connor senses the Flyers could prefer retaining him. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim could also be cost-cutting options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk has one year left on his contract. So does the 26-year-old Sanheim at $4.675 million. Konecny, 25, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.5 million while the 25-year-old Provorov carries a $6.75 million AAV for three more seasons.
As O’Connor observed, those younger players would have more trade value than van Riemsdyk. Depending on this summer’s trade market, those guys probably won’t have to be packaged with someone else or have salary retained to move them.
That’s not to suggest van Riemsdyk can’t be moved this summer. He lacks no-trade protection and will carry an actual salary of $4 million next season after the Flyers pay his $1 million signing bonus. A club seeking to reach the cap floor next season could have an interest in him, provided the Flyers include a draft pick or a prospect in the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Predators will revisit their interest in Kessel this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? The 34-year-old winger should prove to be an affordable signing at this stage in his career.
Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres would like to bring back 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson for 2022-23. The club is willing to wait on his timetable and see how he feels after this season.
What next for the Ducks and Avalanche following the Josh Manson trade? Could the Islanders shop Semyon Varlamov? What’s the latest on the Golden Knights and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ARE MORE TRADES COMING FOR THE DUCKS AND AVALANCHE?
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford suggests the Anaheim Ducks might not be done dealing after shipping Josh Manson to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday. He reminds us that Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek recently indicated he would trade pending unrestricted free agents like Manson if he couldn’t get them re-signed before the March 21 trade deadline.
Ducks defenseman (and pending UFA) Hampus Lindholm has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks. He reportedly seeks a longer-term deal than the five-year contract he’s been offered. He could fetch a good return for the Ducks if he’s moved before the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the focus will be on Lindholm but he’s not the only UFA the Ducks could peddle by the deadline. Winger Rickard Rakell could also draw interest from clubs seeking a scoring right wing. He’s been linked to the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in recent trade rumors.
THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh observes salary-cap space is tight for the Avalanche. However, they could garner some flexibility by placing captain Gabriel Landeskog and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve following his knee surgery yesterday.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater rules out the possibility of the Avalanche acquiring goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s been told there’s not much interest on the Avs part in a big offer for Fleury. He also believes they’ll pursue a forward leading up to the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have been linked to Giroux for weeks but there have been recent rumblings they could be looking at more affordable options such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp. If the focus is to boost their bottom-six, Copp would make the most sense.
A pair of sources told Kurz the Toronto Maple Leafs could be a fit, but any deal involving the cap-strapped Maple Leafs might involve taking on Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million cap hit through 2023-24. The Vegas Golden Knights could be another option given starter Robin Lehner’s battle with injuries this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov carries a $5 million annual average value through 2022-23 with a 16-team no-trade clause. Those factors will make him difficult to move if the Islanders wish to shop him as a cost-cutting move. It might have to involve a “hockey trade” with the Isles taking back a player in return.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall believes Flyers backup Martin Jones has solid rental potential for any team with instability between the pipes. He’s a pending UFA on a one-year, $2 million contract. Hall noted a report in late January indicating the Edmonton Oilers were willing to give up a late-round draft pick for Jones but the Flyers likely wanted to let the market play out for leverage purposes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha, 24, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights completing a three-year deal with a $2.5 million annual cap hit and $3 million this season in actual salary. The Vancouver Canucks were also reportedly interested in him.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith suggested Vancouver Canucks bottom-six forward Tyler Motte could be an intriguing trade option for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s a UFA this summer with a $1.25 million salary-cap hit this season. A second-round pick or an equivalent prospect could be the asking price but it remains to be seen if the Canucks will trade him while they’re jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
UPDATES ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND OILERS
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen believes the slumping Golden Knights needs to bolster their goaltending with starter Robin Lehner still battling injuries. Possible trade options could include the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Joonas Korpisalo and the Dallas Stars’ Braden Holtby.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just over $1.2 million in projected deadline cap space, the Golden Knights don’t have much wiggle room here to add a goalie. Varlamov’s $5 million cap hit through next season is too expensive and the Stars aren’t moving Holtby with Anton Khudobin undergoing hip surgery. That leaves Georgiev and Korpisalo and there’s no certainty either guy will give Vegas the boost they need between the pipes.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Oilers GM Ken Holland has to be in “add mode” as the trade deadline approaches with his club scrambling to nail down a playoff berth. He believes Holland should add an older, bigger defenseman such as the Philadelphia Flyers’ Justin Braun, the Detroit Red Wings’ Marc Staal or the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy. Braun and Staal are pending UFAs while Soucy has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $2.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap-strapped Oilers will need some help acquiring one of those defensemen. Matheson speculates Holland could be prepared to offer up checking-line forward Josh Archibald (and pending UFA) as a trade chip. However, he might have to include a pick or prospect in the deal.
The Sabres defeat the Golden Knights on Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo, the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the lead in the scoring race and much more from a busy night of action in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres spoiled Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. Eichel was held scoreless while Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch (the two players he was traded for) each tallied a goal for the Sabres. It was a milestone game for Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson as he made 30 saves for his 300th career NHL victory. The loss leaves the Golden Knights in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel fired a shot at Sabres fans following the game as he received a mixed reaction from the Buffalo crowd. “That’s about the loudest I’ve heard this place, ever,” he said. “It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game.”
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).
Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad each collected four assists and Sam Reinhart netted a hat trick as the Florida Panthers dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. Huberdeau broke his own franchise single-season record by picking up his 64th assist and vaulted over the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid into first place in the scoring race with 82 points. With 85 points, the Panthers move into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes but the latter holds first overall in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they got a 36-save shutout by Antti Raanta to blank the Colorado Avalanche 2-0. Ethan Bear and Sebastian Aho were the goal scorers as the Hurricanes sit two points behind the first-place Avalanche in the overall standings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog could face supplemental discipline from the league for criticizing the officiating during and following the game after receiving a misconduct penalty in the final minute.
Johnny Gaudreau tallied a hat trick to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rasmus Andersson collected two assists while Jacob Markstrom got the win by stopping 30 shots. The Flames sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 77 points, five up on the second-place Los Angeles Kings. The Lightning (80 points) sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau banked two of his goals in off the back of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s enjoying a fine performance in a contract year and is a big reason behind the Flames’ improvement this season.
The Leafs, meanwhile, dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Arizona Coyotes. The Leafs overcame 3-0 and 4-1 deficits to force the extra frame. Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored the winner but it was controversial as he got away with a blatant hold on the stick of Leafs center Auston Matthews moments before. Chychrun finished the night with two goals, Matthews tallied his league-leading 44th goal of the season while Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot had three points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek was terrible, getting the hook after giving up four goals on 12 shots, with three of those while he was out of position. Erik Kallgren made 10 saves but gave up the overtime goal. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced starter Jack Campbell will miss two weeks with a rib injury.
A late goal by David Pastrnak lifted the Boston Bruins over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Pastrnak had two goals on the night while Brandon Hagel tallied twice for Chicago. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane collected an assist to tie Bobby Hull for second place among the franchise’s all-time scoring leaders with 1,153 points. With 75 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice as his club downed the New York Rangers 6-2, chasing Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin after he gave up four goals on 17 shots. Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou each collected two points for the Blues (73 points) as they hold a two-point lead over the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division. The Rangers remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points.
The Wild, meanwhile, got shootout goals by Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Fiala in a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Matt Boldy scored twice for the Wild as did Red Wings rookie Lucas Raymond. The two clubs also engaged in a big brawl at the end of the second period.
Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene had two goals and an assist and Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Juuse Saros made 27 saves for the win as the Predators (70 points) opened a three-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the first Western Conference wild-card berth. With 63 points, the Ducks remain four behind the Stars.
Tomas Hertl’s overtime goal gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings to snap a three-game losing skid. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson picked up two assists in his return to the lineup after missing 15 games recovering from a forearm tendon surgery. Trevor Moore had three points for the Kings (72 points), who hold a four-point lead over Vegas for second place in the Pacific Division.
Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor’s 35th goal of the season was also the winner as his club squeaked past the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Eric Comrie made 33 saves as the Jets (62 points) are five points back of the Stars. The Devils honored Travis Zajac in a pregame ceremony for playing 1,000 games with the franchise, a feat he accomplished last February when there were no fans allowed at Prudential Center due to COVID restrictions. Zajac retired at the end of last season.
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves to shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-0. Anders Lee picked up the hat trick while Ryan Pulock collected three assists.
An overtime goal by Josh Norris gave the Ottawa Senators a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. It was Norris’ second goal of the game. Senators goalie Anton Forsberg picked up the win with a 30-save effort.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price continues to train at the club’s training facility and is reportedly aiming at returning to action in April. He’s encountered a couple of setbacks in his recovery from offseason knee surgery that has sidelined him all season thus far.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
THE ATHLETIC: The Anaheim Ducks placed forward Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg on injured reserve.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is sidelined by a lower-body injury and has returned to Denver for further evaluation.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year, $25.5 million contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers value Ristolainen’s size and physical play. His new contract isn’t unreasonable in term or dollars as he’s completing a six-year deal worth $5.4 million annually.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Marco Scandella returned to action on Thursday after missing over a month with a lower-body injury. Forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Oskar Sundqvist missed Thursday’s game against the Rangers nursing injuries.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Columbus Blue Jackets granted forward Alexandre Texier a leave of absence for personal reasons stemming from the personal losses of people close to him.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman Markus Niemelainen to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $762K.