NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is tonight at 8 pm ET plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Phillip Danault, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken will finally have a full roster of players as they reveal their selections this evening in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. The names will be announced at Seattle’s Gas Works Park starting at 8 pm ET. Among the notable names available is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft is July 21. (NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Price, Tarasenko and Giordano could be selected by the Kraken. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill update. Ovechkin, however, is expected to re-sign with the Capitals following the expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Tarasenko, Jeremy Rutherford reports the surgeon who conducted the winger’s third shoulder surgery claims his patient’s left shoulder is “rock solid.”

Dr. Peter Millett said Tarasenko’s shoulder is “very stable and strong”, adding the winger told him it feels better now than it has for months. Millett is confident that Tarasenko is “100 percent ready for the upcoming season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues spent several weeks attempting to trade Tarasenko before exposing him in the expansion draft. This news could make him more enticing to the Kraken or to clubs that expressed interest in the 29-year-old winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels cited sources claiming it’s highly unlikely Phillip Danault returns with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Engels also indicated there’s no truth to a reported deal between Danault and the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault has put his Montreal-area home up for sale. His solid defensive play during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs should help him land a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere on July 28.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they named Jean-Francois Houle as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Laval. The son of former Canadien Rejean Houle, he has several years of coaching experience at the university, Junior-A and minor-league levels. In 2011-12, he won the Ron Lapointe Trophy as the QMJHL’s top coach.

TSN: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis denied suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery this season. He said it was an injured knuckle that sidelined him for 20 games with the Nashville Predators. Ellis was traded to the Flyers on Saturday before the expansion draft roster freeze. He said he’s good to go for next season.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Patrik Laine is mulling the $7.5 million qualifying offer he received from the Blue Jackets. If he signs the one-year deal he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. The move could allow time for the Jackets to negotiate a long-term extension with the 23-year-old winger.

TSN: Prospect Logan Mailloux has renounced himself from this weekend’s NHL Draft. He’s asking teams not to select him following a criminal charge while playing in Sweden last year. He was investigated after distributing a photo of himself and a woman engaged in a sexual act. The photo was taken without her consent.

Mailloux received a summary punishment by fine. The NHL responded that he remains draft-eligible.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Yannick Weber has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons. He intends to continue his playing career in Switzerland. Weber amassed 94 points in 499 games with the Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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










NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2021

An update on Seth Jones, the latest on the Canadiens, possible destinations for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and recent Canucks speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

NOTE: A freeze on trades, waivers and contract signings goes into effect at 3 pm ET today and runs through 1 pm ET on Thursday, July 22. Teams are required to submit their expansion draft protections lists by 5 pm ET today.

COULD THE BLUE JACKETS RETAIN JONES?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are letting it be known they don’t have to trade Seth Jones this summer. They’ve set a high asking price, seeking a combination of young NHL players, prospects and draft picks. However, it doesn’t appear they’re getting any offers to their liking for the 26-year-old defenseman.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Portzline, however, still believes Jones will be moved this summer, in part to avoid the risk of a season-ending injury before next season’s trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are said to be interested in the blueliner, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Jackets have not yet granted any team permission to speak with Jones about a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring something significant today, the earliest Jones could get traded is heading into next weekend’s NHL draft following the expansion draft on Wednesday.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: listed six candidates for the Montreal Canadiens to pursue as a potential replacement for Shea Weber. The 35-year-old defenseman could miss all of next season recovering from various injuries.

Seth Jones topped the list, following by Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie and Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton. Edmonton’s Adam Larsson, Calgary’s Mark Giordano and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen rounded out the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones, Giordano and Ristolainen would be available in the trade market. Barrie, Hamilton and Larsson are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

Jones would be the best option but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could balk at their asking price. Jones’ apparent unwillingness to ink a contract extension takes him out of the equation.

Giordano would be a worthwhile short-term addition but his status remains uncertain. The Flames could leave him exposed in the expansion draft, where the Seattle Kraken could claim him. That’s assuming he isn’t moved before today’s trade freeze.

Barrie and Hamilton would provide plenty of offense from the blueline but their respective defensive games are average at best. Each will cost a lot to sign. Larsson would be a good fit defensively but the Oilers are said to be working on a new contract for him. Ristolainen could be available but it’s uncertain if he could handle the pressure of playing in Montreal. Like Jones, he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.

TSN 690 reported it could prove expensive for the Canadiens to swing a side deal to ensure the Seattle Kraken don’t select Jake Allen. The asking price is said to be a quality prospect and a second or a third-round pick. The Kraken would also accept a first-round pick and a selection later in the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Bergevin paid either price to keep Allen in the fold. He could also attempt to trade the backup to another club before today’s trade freeze if he’s that concerned about losing him to the Kraken.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday he thinks the Canadiens will let Phillip Danault test the free-agent market. They’re willing to keep the door open to him to come back after he’s heard from other clubs. They made an offer last offseason but it was rejected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That offer was reportedly a six-year, $30 million contract extension. He might get more than that on the open market after his strong defensive play in the postseason.

POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS FOR SUTER AND PARISE

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo suggested the New York Islanders could be a destination for former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise. He has a soft spot for the Islanders as his late father, J.P. Parise, played for them in the 1970s. The Vegas Golden Knights may have also reached out to him.

Russo believes former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will have more options via free agency than Parise. He’s still a capable top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Suter’s a proud American so it would be surprising if he signed with a Canadian team.

Possible destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche. Others could include the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

Arthur Staple thinks Suter would be a good fit with the Islanders following their Friday trade of Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings. He played for Isles coach Barry Trotz during their days with the Nashville Predators. However, he could prove more expensive to sign him compared to Parise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also speculated over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins reuniting Parise and Suter with Brian Burke in their front office. However, I don’t think that’s something GM Ron Hextall will pursue.

The Islanders attempted to acquire Parise at the 2020 trade deadline but the deal fell through because they couldn’t get the dollars to work with the Wild. I can see him inking an affordable one-year deal with the Isles provided there’s enough cap space after re-signing Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, Ilya Sorokin and perhaps Casey Cizikas.

Suter won’t lack suitors. He’ll want to sign with a Stanley Cup contender and could be a fit for those with limited cap space. I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t signed with someone by the end of the opening day of free agency on July 28.

UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby is drawing interest from the Seattle Kraken and other teams around the league. At least one team from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference are believed among the suitors.

Holtby’s salary for next season could be a stumbling block. He carries an annual average value of $4.3 million but he’ll earn $5.7 million in actual salary in 2021-22. The Kraken are said to have inquired if the Canucks will retain some salary in a side deal.

The Canucks are said to have a real interest in Zach Hyman. The Toronto Maple Leafs left winger is slated to become a UFA on July 28 and has been granted permission to speak with other clubs. Contract term, however, is said to be an issue.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s looking to make a trade to “move some money.” It’s understood the Canucks are trying to find a new home for defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was acquired last fall from the Vegas Golden Knights. Holtby and perhaps Loui Eriksson could be trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s performance has declined in recent years but some clubs could see him as an experienced backup option. The Canucks might have to absorb some salary or take back a bad contract to move him. Maybe they can swing a three-team deal where they bundle a draft pick with Holtby to another team to pick up part of his cap hit.

Hyman, 29, could seek a maximum seven-year contract. That’s a risky signing for any team given his age. Schmidt should have some value among clubs seeking blueline depth but his contract ($5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and 10-team no-trade list) could be a tough sell.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Duncan Keith, Jakub Voracek, Seth Jones, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported several sources denied a story suggesting Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel had backed away from disk replacement surgery and would undergo a fusion instead.

He speculates an Eichel trade could happen after the July 21 expansion draft. Possible destinations could include the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights, with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and perhaps the Los Angeles Kings on the periphery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Rangers and Kings have plenty of promising assets and the cap space to swing a deal for Eichel. Whether they’re willing to pay the hefty price in terms of his expensive contract and the return to the Sabres (an equivalent of four first-rounders) is another story. The ongoing uncertainty over his neck injury remains a serious sticking point for every potential suitor.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported last month the Wild had preliminary talks with the Sabres. He indicated general manager Bill Guerin could be reluctant to mortgage his club’s future. Guerin also has to get Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala under contract.

Cap space isn’t an issue for the Bruins but their focus is on adding a top-four, left-side defenseman. They’re in talks with pending UFA winger Taylor Hall and could bring back Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals for one more run at the Stanley Cup. They also don’t have enough tradeable assets to meet the Sabres’ high asking price.

Absorbing Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit would be a problem for the Flames and Golden Knights. Like the Bruins, they lack sufficient depth in promising assets to outbid the others on Friedman’s list.

I’m not saying Eichel won’t be traded or won’t end up on one of those teams. I’m merely pointing out that it’s going to take considerable work to pull it off, especially if the Sabres are reluctant to lower their asking price or absorb a portion of his salary.

KEITH TRADE BETWEEN BLACKHAWKS AND OILERS FALLING APART?

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers are reaching a point of “Does it happen or not” regarding a Duncan Keith trade. The Oilers have rejected most of what the Blackhawks sought in return, which may have include Ethan Bear and/or Ryan McLeod.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks don’t want to retain any portion of Keith’s $5.53 million annual cap hit. The Oilers’ interest has waned and they’ve pulled back on the assets they were willing to send to Chicago in return. Seravalli believes Caleb Jones was part of it. He also said the Oilers have tabled a “take it or leave it” offer and there’s only a certain price they’ll pay if the Blackhawks won’t retain salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Oilers general manager Ken Holland is taking a firm approach here. He’s under no pressure to acquire Keith. The Oilers could use a second-pairing left-side defenseman but they can find more affordable options if the Hawks won’t retain salary. There’s also no indication the Hawks will take on someone like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen for the purpose of buying them out. If the Blackhawks won’t bend, this deal falls apart.

MORE NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

The Philadelphia Flyers and Jakub Voracek have discussed that it might be time for a change. The 31-year-old winger was told he’ll be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.

If the Seattle Kraken doesn’t select him, the Flyers will look elsewhere. Voracek has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million. There’s also a chance they can’t move him via trade and he stays put.

Friedman also reported the Seth Jones-to-Philadelphia trade discussions are off for now. They can’t get the commitment they want from the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek’s still an effective top-six winger. He lacks no-trade protection but his cap hit will dampen his trade value unless the Flyers pick up part of it or take back an equivalent salary. Perhaps a three-team deal can be made involving draft picks to spread that cap hit around.

If Jones is unwilling to sign an extension with an acquiring team it could kill his value in the trade market. Teams are definitely interested but they don’t want to part with assets on a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will qualify the rights of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic over concerns of what he might get via arbitration. Same thing with winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hurricanes don’t qualify their rights they become unrestricted free agents on July 28. They would lose both players to other teams for nothing, though they’d probably try to trade them before then. Nedeljkovic was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and would draw considerable attention in the UFA market.

Friedman took note of Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acknowledging how tough the past year was for him mentally and his intention to honor the final year of his contract. He wondered if Bergevin might move into a President of Hockey Operations role with the Canadiens after next season while Scott Mellanby or Martin Lapointe takes over as GM.

Canadiens center Phillip Danault confirmed turning down a long-term extension prior to this season. Friedman believes the two sides were $500K to $750K per season apart. Bergevin indicated he hopes Danault remains with the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The statuses of Bergevin and Danault will be the hot topics for the Montreal media in the coming weeks. Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens increase their previous six-year, $30 million offer or if Danault will test the market.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had an interest in Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi until the 26-year-old left winger suffered a season-ending injury. Pending UFA winger Zach Hyman probably won’t be back with the Leafs. The Red Wings could be among Hyman’s suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs will revisit that interest in Bertuzzi if he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. He is a restricted free agent who exceeded 45 points in consecutive seasons prior to this year. He’ll be costly to the Leafs in terms of salary and return to the Wings if the latter intends to part with him.

Teams are showing interest in Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. He’s under contract for four more years with an AAV of $4.45 million.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Los Angeles Kings attempted to land a winger such as Colorado’s Brandon Saad or St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings were in the market for two top-six wingers in the trade market, preferably in their late-20s with some term left on their contracts. Saad and Schwartz are in the right age group but they’re due to become UFAs by July 28. The Kings might be interested but perhaps on deals for no more than four years.

The Blues could go after Gabriel Landeskog if he hits the open market and they trade Vladimir Tarasenko. Friedman thinks Landeskog will stay with the Colorado Avalanche.

There will be plenty of interest in Tampa Bay Lightning UFA forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens, Charlie Coyle undergoes surgery, key offseason dates, latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reported Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin admitted the past year was difficult for him mentally as he thanked his players for pulling through a tough season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL Images).

Bergevin has one year remaining on his contract. He indicated his intention to honor that but declined to say if he would sign an extension if presented to him. That’s generated speculation over whether he wanted to continue in the job after nine seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin may simply be exhausted after a trying year in which he made several notable roster additions, replaced most of his coaching staff midway through the season, saw his club sidelined for 10 days by a COVID-19 outbreak, watched them struggle to clinch a playoff berth and overcome long odds to reach the Cup Final.

Perhaps his comment was a subtle way of angling for better terms on an extension. Or maybe he’s truly burned out after nearly a decade in one of hockey’s highest-pressure markets and intends to move on after next season.

Whatever the reason, his future with the Canadiens will become a hot topic for conjecture in Montreal throughout this offseason.

Speaking of uncertain futures, pending unrestricted free agent Phillip Danault expressed his wish to remain with the Canadiens. He also admitted he rejected a six-year, $30-million contract offer last fall, adding it affected his game during the regular season when the story was leaked to the press. He also said he was worried about losing ice time to younger centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault should be commended for his honesty. Most players in his situation would just mumble cliches to dodge the question. His strong defensive play throughout the postseason earned him the most ice time among Habs forwards. He garnered praise for shutting down his opponents’ top offensive players. He’s in line for a big raise, either with the Habs or another club via free agency.

Defenseman Jeff Petry revealed the reason behind his bloodshot eyes during Game 2 of the semifinal series against the Vegsa Golden Knights. It was tied to the broken pinky finger suffered during Game 3 of the previous series with the Winnipeg Jets. Petry said he passed out when his finger was being set in place before putting it in a cast, causing the blood vessels in his eyes to burst.

Petry jammed the finger into a photographer’s hole in the glass in a freak accident, which turned his finger sideways. He played the remainder of the playoffs with two fingers taped together. He hopes to avoid offseason surgery but will learn more when he revisits the doctor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry faced surgery that would’ve sidelined him six to eight weeks. He instead opted to immobilize the finger and rest for one-to-two weeks and return to action.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber could require surgery on his left thumb to repair damaged ligaments. If he goes under the knife it’s expected he’ll be ready for the start of next season.

Corey Perry hopes to return to the Canadiens next season. He joined them on a one-year, $750K contract and was placed on waivers earlier in the season to be placed on the taxi squad. There were three teams hoping to put in a claim for Perry but his agent advised them against it because he wanted to stay in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the superstar he was a decade ago but he was an invaluable and respected part of the Canadiens’ lineup this season. He had 21 points in 49 regular-season games and finished fourth among their postseason scorers with 10 points in 22 contests. He should be an affordable re-signing for the Habs. If they don’t bring him back he’ll draw plenty of interest from other playoff contenders.

NBC SPORTS: It’s still unclear if the Canadiens will lift the interim tag off Dominique Ducharme and make him the full-time head coach next season. Bergevin indicated it’s one of the first things he intends to sort out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme was criticized by many observers (including me) for the Canadiens’ struggles over the second half after he replaced Claude Julien. That tune changed with the Habs’ march to the Final.

I expect Ducharme will return as the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. Still, there are legitimate questions about whether he belongs in that role. Much of their playoff success was due to Carey Price returning to his dominant form. Ducharme also seemed reluctant to give more ice time to his younger players, especially promising defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Habs also played well under assistant coach Luke Richardson when Ducharme was sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks hired Joel Bouchard as the new coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Canadiens AHL club in Laval.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens received some criticism for not retaining Bouchard, who did a fine job developing their promising players. They offered him the opportunity to remain in Laval or become one of their assistant coaches. But he opted to go to San Diego.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Charlie Coyle recently underwent two surgeries on his left knee. His agent said the 29-year-old Bruins center is recovering well and expects to be ready in time for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Coyle struggled throughout this season.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL offseason are as follows:

July 8: NHL buyout window opens (24 hours after Stanley Cup is awarded). Window closes July 27.
July 17: Deadline for teams to submit protected lists for Seattle Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET).
July 18-20: Seattle’s exclusive window to interview teams’ unprotected pending free agents.
July 21: Seattle Expansion Draft (8 p.m. ET).
July 23: 2021 NHL Draft, Round 1.
July 24: 2021 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7.
July 28: NHL free agency opens. RFA & UFA signing period begins (noon ET).

NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to a two-year, $2.25 million contract.

The Rangers signed restricted free agent forward Brett Howden to a one-year contract worth $885K.

SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken will play six preseason games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The three home games will be played in Spokane, Everett, and Kent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good way for the expansion club to make itself known throughout the state of Washington. It will also be the first games they’ll play against their regional NHL rivals.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away on Thursday at age 78. He played 1,009 NHL games from 1963 to 1978 with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Watson’s family, friends and former teammates and associates.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

Vladimir Tarasenko requests a trade, looking ahead to the offseason for the Lightning and Canadiens, plus updates on Duncan Keith and Taylor Hall in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TARASENKO WANTS OUT OF ST. LOUIS

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues and the club is working on moving him. The 29-year-old winger made the request earlier in the offseason.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Sources said Tarasenko was unhappy over how the Blues’ medical staff handled two of his three shoulder surgeries and he no longer trusts the club. His third surgery was performed by doctors outside the organization, who discovered the ligament damage wasn’t sufficiently addressed during the previous two operations. He also felt the club waiting too long to conduct further testing when he complained about discomfort in his shoulder prior to joining the club for last summer’s playoffs in Edmonton.

Rutherford cites several unnamed NHL general managers saying Blues GM Doug Armstrong has been quietly shopping Tarasenko. The winger has a no-trade clause but sources say he provided Blues management with a list of 10 trade destinations.

Tarasenko has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but an actual salary for 2021-22 of $9.5 million. It drops to $5.5 million for 2022-23.

It’s believed Tarasenko wants to be traded to a contender. Rutherford said the New York Islanders and New York Rangers have been mentioned as possible fits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were rumors in recent weeks suggesting Tarasenko was unhappy with the Blues. One linked him to the Calgary Flames for St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk but that was firmly denied by the Flames.

Tarasenko’s contract and his shoulder surgeries could make it tough for Armstrong to find suitable trade partners. As per Cap Friendly, the Islanders have just $5.76 million in cap space with restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin to re-sign, as well as unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas and Travis Zajac to replace or re-sign.

The Rangers have over $23 million with Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil as their notable free agents. They can afford Tarasenko but must leave sufficient cap room available to re-sign or replace Mika Zibanejad before his UFA eligibility next summer. They could also have their sights elsewhere as rumors link them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING AND CANADIENS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap constraints will force management into cost-cutting offseason trades. They’re currently sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $5 million.

The expansion draft could provide an opportunity if general manager Julien BriseBois is willing to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken. He could try again to trade Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual average value through 2023-24) but might have to buy out the winger if he can’t find any takers.

BriseBois will have to move some players under contract if he hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. Trade candidates could include Johnson, winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV through 2022-23), Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million through next season) or Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million through 2024-25).

Greg Wyshynski pointed out the Montreal Canadiens have over $10 million in cap space with Joel Armia, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal, Michael Frolik, Corey Perry, Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill slated to become unrestricted free agents. He wonders how many could be brought back.

Wyshynski also noted the Canadiens could lose a good player via the expansion draft. Jake Evans, Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen and perhaps Jonathan Drouin could be left unprotected. He wondered if they’ll cut a side deal with the Kraken to ensure they don’t take someone the Habs want to retain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are at greater risk of losing a couple of good players than the Canadiens. They must shed at least $10 million to have enough to fill out the rest of their roster and still be cap compliant when next season begins.

BriseBois has a well-earned reputation for cap management. He caught a break this season when Nikita Kucherov underwent hip surgery sidelining him throughout the regular season. That allowed the Bolts GM to place the high-priced ($9.5 million AAV) winger on long-term injury reserve, providing some welcome cap relief enabling him to keep his roster almost intact.

Unless another expensive player ends up on LTIR before next season, BriseBois will have to get creative to address his cap issues. Johnson, Killorn, Palat and Gourde have no-trade protection clauses in their contracts.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, could attempt to re-sign Danault, Armia and perhaps Perry. The rest will be cut loose. Danault reportedly turned down a six-year, $30 million offer earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see if that offer remains on the table.

LATEST ON KEITH AND HALL

TSN: Darren Dreger reports trade discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks regarding Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. He said there’s mutual interest in getting a deal done.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wants to do right by Keith but he’s seeking a quality return. Dreger wonders which young defenseman from the Oilers needs to be included to make this happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caleb Jones has frequently come up in trade speculation. There’s also talk the Blackhawks could absorb part of Keith’s $5.538 million cap hit for the next two seasons.

Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins are engaged in contract extension talks with Taylor Hall’s camp. There’s outside interest in the 29-year-old left winger from other clubs, including the Toronto Maple Leafs if they’re unable to re-sign Zach Hyman. However, Hall’s preference is to stay in Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers feel Hyman could get up to $6 million annually on the open market. If the Leafs can’t afford Hyman they probably can’t afford Hall. Then again, the latter is a more naturally talented winger than the hardworking Hyman. Perhaps they’d feel the Bruins winger would be worth it. We’ll see.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

A look at possible destinations for Dougie Hamilton plus the latest Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD HAMILTON LAND?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examined some potential destinations for Dougie Hamilton if the 27-year-old defenseman departs the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency.

The Carolina Hurricanes will allow Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams (NHL Images).

Larkin cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting yesterday the Hurricanes will allow Hamilton to speak with other teams before the free-agent market opens on July 28. Friedman suggested that could set the stage for a sign-and-trade but didn’t rule out the blueliner returning to the Hurricanes if he doesn’t receive better offers elsewhere.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets could be aggressive suitors given their need for a top-four right-side defenseman. Other possibilities include the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The latter would have to be willing to swap left-side defender Morgan Rielly for a righty like Hamilton.

Larkin included the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings under the category of too soon in their rebuild for the soon-to-be 28-year-old Hamilton. He also proposed the possibility of a hockey trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones or the New Jersey Devils for P.K. Subban if half of his salary was retained.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Larkin’s take on the Blackhawks, Flyers and Jets among the aggressive suitors. If it’s a sign-and-trade scenario, there would be some salary heading to the Hurricanes in the deal. The Flyers might have to shed more with Cap Friendly showing them carrying $69.2 million invested in 17 players. They could get that if the Seattle Kraken select James van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples is skeptical of the Oilers’ pursuing Hamilton because they have bigger needs than an offensive right-side blueliner, especially if Evan Bouchard is ready for full-time promotion. The Leafs could shake things up and a Rielly-for-Hamilton trade would certainly do that. However, Hamilton’s new contract for next season will be more expensive than Rielly’s $5 million. The Leafs can’t pull this off if they’re unwilling to move one of their high-salaried forwards.

I’ll be surprised if Hamilton ends up with the Wings or Kings. As Larkin points out, he might not be keen to join a rebuilding club at this stage in his career. The same applies to the Blue Jackets and Devils.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reported contract talks between the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins agent, Rick Valette. He speculates general manager Ken Holland could be open to more term in exchange for a more affordable annual average value. Leavins suggests something beyond six years would be risky for the Oilers as that would take him up to age 35 or 36 when his skills would be in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggested the Oilers let Nugent-Hopkins walk and pursue a more affordable center like Montreal’s Phillip Danault. Holland might have to go that route if he can’t get Nugent-Hopkins signed to a contract that fits within his budget. Nevertheless, the fact talks are resumed suggests the Oilers GM would prefer keeping him in the fold.

Leavins also speculates the Oilers could be interested in Toronto’s Zach Hyman if he goes to market but they’ll face competition from many suitors. Other options could include Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn if the Lightning needs to shed salary, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk or perhaps Taylor Hall if he doesn’t re-sign with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The most realistic of that bunch for the Oilers would be DeBrusk given his affordable $3.675 million contract. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list and the Oilers could be on it.

I may be wrong but I can see Hyman accepting less than market value to stay in his hometown of Toronto. He’s got a good gig with the Leafs so why screw that up? Sure, Hall could return to Edmonton but that doesn’t mean a reunion with the Oilers will happen. I see him staying with the Bruins.