NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2020

A look at some bold predictions for 2021 in the NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Over the weekend, Luke Fox made some bold NHL predictions for 2021. Some of them involved possible trades and free-agent moves.

Will Alex Ovechkin re-sign with the Washington Capitals? (NHL Images)

Fox believes Alex Ovechkin will reach a four-year contract extension with the Washington Capitals, perhaps accepting a slight pay cut to stay with the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals fail to reach an agreement on a new contract before his current deal expires next summer.

Taylor Hall “explodes offensively” skating alongside Jack Eichel this season with the Buffalo Sabres. However, Fox predicts Hall will chase his Stanley Cup dreams elsewhere as the Sabres’ poor goaltending turns them once again into an also-ran.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I disagree with that prediction. However, that could change if the Sabres actually reach the playoffs.

Fox expects the Winnipeg Jets will trade Patrik Laine at some point in 2021. He’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights and the Jets don’t have enough dollars to keep Laine in the fold.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been plenty of Laine trade speculation since early September, with his agent at one point suggesting it would be mutually beneficial for both sides if the young sniper was moved. If that comes to pass, the issue for Jets management is finding a suitable return. They could use a proven right-side, top-pairing defenseman.

Fox suggests the Ottawa Senators should expose recently-acquired goalie Matt Murray in next summer’s expansion draft and protect emerging netminder Filip Gustavsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is they’ll expose Marcus Hogberg in the draft unless Murray plays poorly this season.

Dougie Hamilton could be leaving the Carolina Hurricanes via trade or in next summer’s UFA market. He’s due for a significant raise but there’s no indication the two sides are close to agreement on an extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon Hamilton’s asking price and where the Hurricanes are in the standings by the April 12 trade deadline.

Tyson Barrie could be reinvigorated with the Edmonton Oilers and earn a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Adam Larsson comes off the Oilers’ books next summer, freeing up sufficient cap space for Barrie. A solid performance could keep him in Edmonton beyond this season.

Fox also predicts Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault could get squeezed out by young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, forcing him to seek work elsewhere via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out that possibility. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi played very well during last summer’s playoffs. If those performances carry over into this season, Danault could see third-line duty with the Habs. He doesn’t see himself in that role and I doubt he’d be willing to accept it on a permanent basis to stay in Montreal.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson could expand his list of preferred trade destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston and Vancouver were the only clubs on Ekman-Larsson’s preferred trade destination list. The Coyotes couldn’t swing a deal before his deadline of Oct.9. The Coyotes captain maintains he loves living and playing in Arizona. We’ll see if management tries again to shop him following this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

The proposed Jan. 1 start of the 2020-21 season in jeopardy, four Blue Jackets test positive for COVID-19, plus updates on Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the lack of progress over the last five days to draft protocols could jeopardize the NHL’s proposed Jan. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season. Well-placed sources tell Brooks of continuing adamant, widespread resistance among the NHLPA membership to the league’s recent requests to renegotiate the terms of the recent CBA extension to increase the escrow and salary deferral rates.

The league made those requests citing liquidity issues. While the players’ share of hockey-related revenue cannot exceed 50 percent, Brooks said the adoption of annual escrow caps combined with uncoupling the salary cap from actual HRR has ended the assurance of a yearly 50-50 split.

Brooks notes the 10 percent salary deferral for this season was to be repaid without interest in three equal annual installments over the final three years of the extension. He wonders if the players would be amenable to adjusting the agreement if the league agrees to repay all deferred money with interest.

The stalled negotiations suggest a 48-game schedule beginning the third week in January appears more likely. The NHL returned from the 1994-95 lockout on Jan 20 and from the 2012-13 lockout on Jan. 19. Brooks reports the league remains focused on playing in home arenas with or without fans in attendance despite recent positive COVID-19 tests among two NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL was facing a tight schedule to meet a suitable timetable for a Jan. 1 start well before the recent lull in negotiations with the PA.

They need a 14-day training camp period in the run-up to the start of the season while last season’s seven non-playoff clubs were promised an extra seven-to-10 days of camp. Many players remain scattered across North American and Europe with those returning to Canadian clubs needing to self-isolate for 14 days. The players could also be reluctant to take part in training camp during the Christmas holidays.

The league and the PA were hoping for a Jan. 1 start in order to stage a 60-game schedule. If they cannot hammer out an agreement by the end of this week, they’ll have to push that start date to late January or early February and consider adopting a shorter schedule.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran believes the prospect of a new US television agreement next season brings the promise of the NHL playing this season. The current contract with NBC Sports expires at the end of 2020-21.

Playing this season means the league could enter into lucrative new deals with a diverse group of broadcasters and/or streamers starting in ’21-’22. That includes traditional TV networks like NBC, cable networks like ESPN and Fox, and streamers such as DAZN and Amazon Prime.

The effect of COVID-19 upon league revenues could result in a less fruitful bidding war than anticipated. However, McGran points out Major League Baseball just signed a seven-year extension with Turner Sports worth a 65 percent increase annually over its previous deal with the broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the saying goes, it’s all about the Benjamins. That’s one of the main reasons why the NHL and the NHLPA are keen to return to play as soon as possible. That’s why commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly believes canceling the season would damage the league’s long-term health.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets announced “several players” tested positive for COVID-19. Those players immediately began to quarantine and the club closed its off-ice facilities at Nationwide Arena beginning Nov. 16. This news comes a day after the Vegas Golden Knights announced four players tested positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be an ongoing concern for the NHL’s efforts to stage a 2020-21 season. Teams are following health and safety protocols similar to those in use prior to the 2020 playoffs but it doesn’t make the players immune from the coronavirus.

Edmonton Oiler captain Connor McDavid is training with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona (NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid joined Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona earlier this month. The two superstars have skated together four days a week. They’ve been joined in recent weeks by several NHL players, including Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players have been taking part in informal voluntary workouts and on-ice training throughout North America and Europe in preparation for whatever format the ’20-’21 schedule will be.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said his players are waiting to see when training camp begins. He said it doesn’t make sense to bring everyone to Vancouver right now to go through a two-week quarantine, only to have them return home for Christmas and then go through another quarantine when they return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything’s in a holding pattern right now for all NHL teams. Because of the health and safety protocols, they can’t bring their players back in anticipation of a December training camp when they don’t know if that’s even going to happen.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel believes the club did an “awesome job” with its offseason moves. Those include adding left wing Taylor Hall and centers Eric Staal and Cody Eakin.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault said he’s had no contract talks with the club and expects to enter the final season of his current deal without an extension. He said he’ll see what happens, leaving it up to general manager Marc Bergevin.

Danault clarified that he never said he wanted to be the club’s full-time first-line center but the two-way center doesn’t want to be placed into just one role. Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens’ offseason additions of Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson means Danault will likely remain with linemates Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s future with the Canadiens will depend on the development of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. If they outperform Danault, this season could be his last with the Habs.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo recently told HBO’s Real Sports that psychedelic drugs helped him cope with the aftereffects of brain trauma suffered during his playing career.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets prospect Dylan Samberg was involved in a multi-vehicle accident in Minnesota that left him unhurt but sent four other people to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

TSN: The NHL is embroiled in a legal fight with several insurance companies refusing to pay most of the costs related to the league’s concussion lawsuit and the settlement reached with retirement players.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Former Blackhawks forward Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Indigenous players in the NHL, passed away yesterday at age 86 from COVID-19. Sasakamoose played 11 games with the Blackhawks in 1953-54 and was a pioneer and role model for Indigenous and Native American players. Sasakamoose was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Order of Canada in 2017.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes mourning the passing of nine-year-old fan Leighton Accardo, who passed away yesterday following a long battle with cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sasakamoose’s family, friends and former teammates, and to the Accardo family and the Coyotes’ organization.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2022

The latest on Matt Dumba and Phillip Danault plus an update on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag, Michael Russo was asked when he thought Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba might be traded. He believes that will happen whenever Wild general manager Bill Guerin gets the return he wants. However, money is tight around the league and he doesn’t see a Dumba trade happening anytime soon.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images).

Russo felt the Vancouver Canucks weren’t really interested and he doesn’t feel the Wild were interested in Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan. He doesn’t see Dumba getting shipped to the Winnipeg Jets because they don’t have the centers.

The Ottawa Senators also weren’t interested while the Toronto Maple Leafs moved on once they knew they weren’t getting Alex Pietrangelo. Noting the Florida Panthers were interested in Pietrangelo, Russo speculated perhaps a trade could be made there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Dumba trade rumors have cooled in recent weeks I don’t rule out the possibility he’ll be moved before the 2021 NHL trade deadline. He’s the only member of their top-four defensemen lacking a no-movement clause, meaning the Wild risk losing him to Seattle in next summer’s expansion draft unless Guerin protects four defensemen or cuts a side deal with the Kraken.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes there will be plenty of interest in Phillip Danault if Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin fails to sign him before the center’s UFA eligibility next summer. Cowan speculates the 29-year-old Danault could see a six-year extension worth at least $5 million annually.

Bergevin will be up against the cap ceiling after 2020-21 with Danault, Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia slated to become UFAs while Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen will be restricted free agents. Losing Danault would put pressure on youngsters Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki to face off against the other team’s top line as well as take faceoffs in key situations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have $65.2 million invested in 14 players for 2021-22. I can see them letting the inconsistent Tatar depart via the UFA market. It could go either way with Armia depending on the type of season he has. Lehkonen is currently making $2.4 million and shouldn’t be an expensive re-signing, though he does have arbitration rights. Kotkaniemi is coming off his entry-level deal and could get an affordable bridge deal with the promise of a bigger payday in two or three years’ time.

Those moves could leave enough to re-sign Danault, but Bergevin could attempt to use the flat cap to justify a short-term contract or a longer-term for less than $5 million per season. A lot will also depend on how well Kotkaniemi and Suzuki perform in 2020-21. If they outperform Danault, the coming season could his last with the Habs.

ARIZONA COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan believes Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has opted to stand pat for now. “What you see right now will pretty much be how we open up on opening night,” said Armstrong last Friday.

That means he’s staying patient with goalie Darcy Kuemper, forwards Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller, and veterans Jason Demers, Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski and Derek Stepan. The latter four are slated to become UFAs next summer. Morgan notes the Coyotes GM had multiple trade talks but wasn’t able to secure fair market value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s probably the best course of action for now. Maybe the trade market improves during the regular season leading up to the trade deadline for some of those UFAs. Armstrong can remain patient with those under contract beyond next season or those who are restricted free agents.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

Updates on Phillip Danault and Kasperi Kapanen plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

TVA SPORTS: Louis-Andre Lariviere reported Phillip Danault’s agent indicated his client wants to engage in contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens before training camp. “It would be Phillip’s preference to negotiate a contract at this point with the Canadiens,” said Don Meehan. “We are making efforts in this regard.” Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The strong postseason performances of young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi raised questions about Danault’s place in the Canadiens lineup next season and his long-term future in Montreal. The longer he goes without a contract, the more we’ll hear his name come up in trade rumors next season.

THE SCORE: cited Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford telling SiriusXM NHL Radio Network he believes Kasperi Kapanen could fit in well on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Kapanen was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Rutherford is hopeful Kapanen’s speed and ability to track down pucks will make him a good fit on Crosby’s right wing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have a lethal complete first line if Kapanen plays as well as Rutherford hopes alongside Crosby and Guentzel.

NESN.COM: The Boston Bruins avoided salary arbitration with Matt Grzelcyk, signing the defenseman to a four-year, $14.75 million contract. The annual average value is $3.687 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk gets a big pay raise over the $1.4 million annually of his previous contract. He’ll be taking on more responsibilities on Boston’s blue line following Torey Krug’s departure via free agency. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $6.6 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to re-sign.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they signed defenseman Cody Ceci to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ceci’s stock has tumbled as he’s now on his third team after being traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Maple Leafs in 2019. He earned $4.5 million on a one-year contract last season. A right-handed shot, he’ll likely skate on Pittsburgh’s third pairing. The Pens have $80.18 million invested in 23 players for 2020-21.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jake Neighbours to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old winger was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in this year’s NHL draft.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor.

TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade-bait board. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Vegas Golden Knights’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury now sit in the top five.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reports Ekman-Larsson is willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks and Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is talking with both clubs hoping to work out a deal. Dreger believes the Coyotes will either have to retain some of Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value or they’ll have to take back some contracts in return.

The Coyotes lack a first-round pick for this year and next year, but the Bruins and Canucks don’t have first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggested Canucks GM Jim Benning offer up Loui Eriksson, who has two years left on his contract at $6 million AAV, as part of the return. Eriksson’s only being paid $5 million in actual salary over those two years. However, the Coyotes could be on his 15-team no-trade list.

Acquiring Ekman-Larsson would allow the Bruins to replace Torey Krug, who’s expected to depart via free agency next Friday. If the Coyotes aren’t willing to pick up part of his cap hit, the Bruins will have to give up something worthwhile while freeing up some additional cap space to absorb Ekman-Larsson’s contract.

Turning to Murray, Seravalli noted the Edmonton Oilers were linked to him. With free agency looming, he said many observers are wondering if they might set their sights on Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, the Ottawa Senators’ second-round picks, Canucks winger Jake Virtanen and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said there were rumors the Oilers had an interest in DeBrusk but their cap constraints likely make him too expensive. He’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Maybe he becomes part of the Bruins’ package offer for Ekman-Larsson?

As for Rask, Seravalli cites multiple sources claiming Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been gauging the goalie’s value in the trade market. He’s got a year left on his contract ($7 million AAV) with a 15-team trade list. If he trades Rask, however, he’ll have to find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. While both markets are flooded with goaltenders, that doesn’t mean Sweeney is guaranteed to land an upgrade over Rask.

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn and Wild forward Ryan Donato come in at 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Gourde and Johnson have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, and Blue Jackets goalies Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo fill spots 16 to 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade Pietrangelo’s rights if the two sides fail to hammer out a new contract before the UFA market opens next Friday. The Jackets could be open to moving one of their goalies, either to free up cap room or perhaps in a package deal for a scoring forward.

Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad fill spots 21 to 24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kuemper trade chatter has cooled in recent days as the Coyotes shift their focus on trade Ekman-Larsson. It’s now believed they prefer to retain him. Hanifin recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned his name came up during the Flames discussions with the New Jersey Devils last fall about Taylor Hall. Hanifin might not be available if the Flames let TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic depart next week as free agents.

Nashville Predators forwards Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Nick Bonino, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere complete spots 25 to 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said the lack of quality centers in this year’s free-agent market has the Predators believed to be seeking opportunities to move one of theirs. I’m guessing GM David Poile would like to bring in a scoring winger in return or to free up the cap room to pursue one via free agency. Poile would love to move Kyle Turris but the four years remaining on his contract at $6 million per season makes that almost impossible.

I’m not convinced the Hurricanes are keen to move Skjei after acquiring him at the February trade deadline. Domi and Gostisbehere have been fixtures in the rumor mill for some time. Speaking of the Canadiens, Pierre LeBrun said they’re willing to move their first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for the right return. He indicated they’re in the market for a top-six forward.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Blues winger Jaden Schwartz are in spots 31 to 35.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re reaching the spot in the list where there are players who could be traded, but various factors likely work against it. For example, I don’t believe the Canadiens intend to trade Danault. While centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi could become the Habs top-two centers next season, they’ll need Danault’s skill and experience in case one or both of those youngsters struggle or become sidelined. Maybe that move takes place at next season’s trade deadline. Not now.

Blues center Tyler Bozak, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, Alec Martinez and Paul Stastny, and Coyotes winger Phil Kessel fill spots 36 to 40.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchessault, Martinez or Stastny could become a cap casualty if the Golden Knights need to shed salary to re-sign Lehner or pursue a big-ticket free agent like Pietrangelo. That’s assuming they can’t find any takers for Fleury.

Edmonton’s Kris Russell, Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour, the Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, Edmonton Evan Bouchard, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, San Jose’s Martin Jones, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky round out the bottom ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli wonders if Bobrovsky’s contract is the NHL’s most unmovable. Bill Zito, the Panthers new GM, should become the front-runner for GM of the Year if he can trade that contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.