NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

The latest on the Bruins and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In his latest mailbag, Joe Haggerty was asked if the Bruins will sign a free agent. Right now, he doesn’t think so but that could change once the dates for next season are sorted out.

Will the Boston Bruins re-sign or trade Jake DeBrusk? (NHL Images)

It also hinges on their remaining moves, such as whether they’ll re-sign winger Jake DeBrusk or trade him. If they do the latter in exchange for a young defenseman, it could free up space to pursue a scorer like Mike Hoffman on a one-year deal. Either way, they could also be in a position to sign winger Anthony Duclair on a short-term contract.

Haggerty also mentioned the possibility of swapping DeBrusk for a defenseman when asked if the Bruins would trade for a rearguard to fill the gap left by Torey Krug’s departure. He also noted they were willing to part with Urho Vaakanainen and other assets (including a high draft pick) for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. However, he thinks the Bruins would have to convince the other club to absorb part of a defenseman’s salary or take back someone like John Moore in return.

Ultimately, Haggerty thinks the Bruins could go into next season with their current blueline corps. He has his doubts Zdeno Chara will be back, though Chara’s agent said his client is waiting on a season format before re-upping with the Bruins.

Speaking of Chara, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports there’s speculation linking the big blueliner to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins re-sign DeBrusk, which I expect they will, they’ll have to go into the bargain bin for a free-agent left-side defenseman or stick with their current blueline and see how things unfold during the season.

The Bruins have over $6.6 million in cap space, which should be enough to get DeBrusk signed to an affordable two-year bridge deal and leave some wiggle room for other additions. Depending on when the season begins, they could get some early cap relief by placing sidelined wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve and use it to add a player or two. However, they would have to shed salary to become cap compliant when those two return.

As for Chara, I don’t see how the Lightning, Leafs or Islanders could fit him in even if he accepted a bargain basement deal.

The Lightning must shed salary to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. The Isles must re-sign RFA center Mathew Barzal. Once that’s done, they are expected to officially announce the signings of Cory Schneider, Matt Martin and Andy Greene, which will use up whatever cap space they’ve got left. The Leafs, meanwhile, are over the cap by $1 million but are expected to bury salary in the minors.

Unless those clubs make a cost-cutting trade or acquire a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to exceed the cap, they don’t have room for Chara or anyone else.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello looked ahead at possible moves by the New York Rangers at next year’s trade deadline. He expects they’ll be sellers again, suggesting center Ryan Strome as a prime trade chip, especially if he has another big year skating alongside Artemi Panarin.

Carpiniello speculates the Rangers could attempt to package defenseman Tony DeAngelo for either a second-line center or a first-pair right-side blueliner. Rearguards Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson could also be shopped. Winger Pavel Buchnevich could also hit the trade block if youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko earn top-six minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s far too early to determine which Rangers will be trade candidates by the deadline. Much will depend upon where they are in the standings by then. I doubt they’ll shake things up too much if they’re holding onto a playoff spot. The play of Strome, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, Smith and Johnson will determine how much value they might have in the trade market by the deadline.

If we’re going to play the guessing game, Buchnevich could be the most likely to move. The Rangers have a surplus of wingers and he could slip down the depth chart, especially if Lafreniere is moved to right wing and plays well at that position. However, that’s not a certainty as we don’t know how well the youngster will adjust to the NHL level, let alone getting used to skating on his wrong wing.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

An update on Jake DeBrusk plus the latest on the Rangers and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WILL DEBRUSK’S NEW CONTRACT LOOK LIKE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty speculates Jake DeBrusk’s next contract with the Bruins could be between what Ryan Strome signed with the New York Rangers and what Jake Virtanen and Denis Gurianov signed with their respective clubs.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Strome, 27, signed a two-year, $9 million contract this week, with an annual average value of $4.5 million. Virtanen agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal ($2.55 million AAV) with the Vancouver Canucks. Gurianov inked a deal similar to Virtanen’s with the Dallas Stars.

Haggerty suggested DeBrusk could get a two-year bridge deal worth between $3.5 million and $4 million annually. That will put him in line to seek a more lucrative deal in two years’ time when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was the subject of some trade speculation in recent weeks. However, I doubt the Bruins part ways with him. While his production can be streaky, he still provides meaningful secondary scoring to the Bruins. They also hold the hammer in contract negotiations and will ink him to an affordable bridge deal.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers completed their offseason business after signing Brendan Lemieux on Friday to a two-year contract. While they made no significant acquisitions via trades or free agency, they shed some salary by trading Marc Staal to Detroit and buying out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. The Blueshirts also avoided arbitration with Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev.

Brooks believes any roster restructuring will have to wait. He noted there was a limited trade market, if any, for DeAngelo, Strome, and Pavel Buchnevich. They have sufficient cap space to promote from within.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the trade market for DeAngelo, Strome or Buchnevich improves over the course of 2020-21. That depends on how they perform and the Rangers’ roster needs. I feel Strome is more valuable to the Rangers right now given his terrific chemistry with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. That could leave DeAngelo or Buchnevich as the more likely trade candidates.

RED WINGS NOT DONE MAKING MOVES?

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has sufficient cap space ($9.5 million) to add talent if he chooses. Yzerman acknowledged this during a recent interview, pointing out a number of players remain available in the free-agent market. He said he would consider adding talent as the start of the regular season draws nearer.

Yzerman also indicated he’d be open to adding via trade. However, he said the market is quiet right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Defensive depth was a big weakness last season for the Wings. Yzerman’s already made moves to address that problem by acquiring Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought in one more experienced blueliner on a one-year deal. He could also look at adding an experienced checking-line winger.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

The Senators sign Evgenii Dadonov, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev, Joe Thornton will play in Switzerland during the NHL offseason and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year, $15 million contract. The annual average value is $5 million. The 31-year-old winger is coming off his third straight 20-goal season.

Ottawa Senators sign winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant signing by the rebuilding Senators. Dadonov should bolster their anemic offense.

While it was surprising that the Sens landed one of the notable remaining unrestricted free agents, the signing also raised eyebrows over Dadonov getting less than market value. The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin observed it’s an indication of how much the flat salary cap is affecting mid-tier free-agent talent.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Tony DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. DeAngelo signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $4.8 million while Georgiev inked a two-year deal worth $2.425 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $70.6 million committed to 21 players with Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux to re-sign. Both have arbitration hearings coming up but the Blueshirts have enough cap space to avoid that route.

TSN: Free-agent center Joe Thornton will play for Switzerland’s HC Davos during the NHL offseason. He previously played for Davos during the 2004-05 and 2012-13 NHL lockouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last time Thornton played an NHL game was on March 11 before the regular season was derailed by COVID-19. It’s a good way for him to get into game shape for whenever the NHL returns to action in the new year.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reported Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella hopes the recent additions of centers Max Domi and Mikko Koivu will allow him to open up his offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lack of depth at center last season forced the Jackets to play a more defensive-oriented system. Koivu will likely see fourth-line duty while Domi is expected to fill the second-line center role.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports the effects of COVID-19 upon NHL revenue could be generating concern among the team owners. He points to Vegas Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley’s recent remarks contradicting the league’s official position of returning next season on Jan. 1 with a full 82-games schedule. Foley noted his peers are getting nervous. “We all thought we’d be out of COVID by now”, he told an interviewer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley believes the NHL will return on Feb. 1 at the earliest and play a reduced schedule to be completed by the end of June because NBC (which holds the league’s US broadcasting rights) will be televising the Summer Olympics in July. No reaction yet from Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding Foley’s remarks, but the Golden Knights’ owner seems to be saying out loud what’s been discussed quietly behind the scenes.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Could the Rangers trade Tony DeAngelo? Does the acquisition of Joel Edmundson signal more moves ahead for the Canadiens? What’s the latest on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEANGELO ON THE BLOCK?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers could attempt to trade Tony DeAngelo rather than re-sign the restricted free agent defenseman. That’s because a contract of longer than one year for the 24-year-old DeAngelo would all but ensure losing promising Nils Lundkvist to unrestricted free agency on June 2, 2022 without the 20-year-old rearguard having played a game for the Blueshirts.

Lundkvist signed to play in Sweden next season. The Rangers hold Lundkvist’s rights until June 1, 2022. However, Brooks doesn’t like the odds of the young Swede signing with the Blueshirts when they’ve already got DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox filling the right-side blueline spots. He feels the Rangers will need a steady flow of impact players on entry-level contracts over the next several years to support and counterbalance the expensive contracts at the top of the depth chart.

Brooks believes it’ll cost the Rangers between $5.5 – $6 million annually to re-sign DeAngelo, who’d be filling the third-pairing spot on the right side. He said there’s no inclination to move him to the left side. Instead, he feels they’ll use DeAngelo as trade bait to bring in a long-term solution for their second-line center position. They could find more affordable options to replace DeAngelo on the third pairing via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $67.1 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, with DeAngelo, center Ryan Strome, goalie Alexandar Georgiev and winger Brendan Lemieux as their notable restricted free agents. Jesper Fast is an unrestricted free agent who’s reportedly headed to the market.

Brooks has frequently suggested DeAngelo as a trade candidate this year because of the Rangers’ depth on the right side of their blueline and their need to address their second-line center role. General manager Jeff Gorton could re-sign Strome, who has arbitration rights and is a year away from UFA eligibility, but there’s a question over whether he’s worth a potentially expensive long-term investment, especially given the current economic climate.

The Rangers could get some cap relief if aging goalie Henrik Lundqvist is traded, bought out or retires. Trading him would require picking up a healthy chunk of his $8.5-million cap hit. Retirement would be the best option as it would clear the entire cap hit from their books.

The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello believes the most likely scenario is a buyout. However, that will only clear $3 million of his cap hit, as well as leaving $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22. Nevertheless, that could be their only solution.

If Gorton goes the buyout route it could affect what he does with DeAngelo and Strome. It will also depend upon what’s available in the trade market to suitably address the Rangers’ second-line center needs. DeAngelo would be an intriguing trade target but finding a club willing to part with a good second-line center for him will be challenging for Gorton.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens acquisition yesterday of left-side defenseman (and pending UFA) Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes raises questions over what general manager Marc Bergevin has in store for his club in the coming weeks. The addition and possible re-signing of the 27-year-old Edmundson could create congestion at that position, especially if promising Alexander Romanov makes the roster next season.

Analyst Mike Bossy wondered if more moves are coming, suggesting perhaps Victor Mete’s days with the Habs might be numbered. Mete is a restricted free agent in October and due for a raise.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently observed the trade speculation brewing about Canadiens center Phillip Danault. He feels it would be a bad idea to move the two-way center and suggests the Habs should learn from what happened to the Buffalo Sabres when they traded away Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.

The Sabres made that move in part because they felt promising Casey Mittelstadt was ready to move into the No. 2 center role. Instead, Mittelstadt struggled and spent time last season in the minors while O’Reilly went on to greater things with the Blues. Larkin doesn’t want the Habs to risk repeating that mistake with promising Nick Suzuki. He believes Danault would be difficult to replace.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson’s addition indicates the Canadiens want more size, experience, and toughness on the left side of their blueline. Maybe that means Mete gets traded, maybe not. It’ll depend, of course, on whether Edmundson re-signs before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9.

I agree with Larkin’s take on Danault. Some of that trade chatter is stoked by the 27-year-old playing a third-line role during the playoffs and some because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason on the top-two lines, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can expect that level of play throughout next season. Maybe they’re ready for prime time, maybe not.

Better to hang onto Danault for next season and observe how things shake out. If Suzuki and Kotkaniemi keep Danault permanently on the third line, then they can look at moving him before the trade deadline. If they’re in the playoff chase, better to hang onto him when depth at center will be invaluable, even at the risk of losing him to free agency next year.

UPDATE ON ANDERSON

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports the Blue Jackets would like to re-sign Josh Anderson. The 26-year-old right winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported Anderson would like to stay with the Blue Jackets, but it would take a long-term deal to do that. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might not be keen to do that, as he’s looking to fit him within their roster structure and their salary cap. The flattened salary cap for next season will also affect negotiations.

Arace points out Anderson doesn’t have much leverage. Despite his arbitration rights, he missed most of this season with a shoulder injury. He also noted Anderson’s agent, Darren Ferris, threatened to have his client play in Switzerland during their previous contract talks before an agreement was reached.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently wondered if a new Blue Jackets negotiator might help the situation. Before accepting the Florida Panthers’ GM role, Bill Zito’s biggest role as Blue Jackets assistant GM was handling contract negotiations. Maybe his replacement can smooth things out. If not, Kekalainen could start listening to trade offers next month.










NHL Playoffs: Ten Players Who Were Stanley Cup Disappointments

NHL Playoffs: Ten Players Who Were Stanley Cup Disappointments

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

More Rangers speculation and what the Penguins will do with their free-agent goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers are in need of a first-pair defenseman. He feels Brendan Smith is not up to logging those minutes alongside Jacob Trouba. Brooks points out Trouba was still trying to adjust to his new club when paired with rookie Libor Hajek earlier this season. Perhaps they might be a better fit next season. Promising K’Andre Miller might be able to fill that role one day, but it would be expecting too much for him to step into that position next season.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players next season, with Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev becoming restricted free agents with arbitration rights in the off-season. They would get some cap relief by trading or buying out Henrik Lundqvist, but that won’t be enough to re-sign those four and acquire a top-pairing blueliner via trade or free agency.

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano examined the Rangers’ possible off-season moves. He noted they’ll have about $13.5 million to spend on re-signing their free agents and can’t afford to keep them all.

Strome and DeAngelo earned the right to seek multi-year contracts, but their play against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying-round series didn’t help their cause. To address their defensive issues. Mercogliano believes general manager Jeff Gorton will explore trade possibilities, with Strome, DeAngelo, and Georgiev as bait.

Regarding Henrik Lundqvist, if he’s unwilling to return as Igor Shesterkin’s backup next season or if the Blueshirt stick with Georgiev, Mercogliano speculates they could buy him out. Retirement is also possible but perhaps a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton has some big off-season decisions to make. Landing a top-pairing defenseman could involve shopping DeAngelo in a package deal. Still, acquiring that type of rearguard would eat up a lot of their cap room. Perhaps he’ll consider more affordable moves while waiting to see how things shake out next season with their younger players.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Starkey was asked about the long-term implication if the Penguins chose to re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry over Matt Murray regardless of the outcome of this postseason.

Starkey believes the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign both for even more than one season. They’re each slated to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It could come down to what each goalie seeks on his next contract. Murray’s performance in this year’s playoffs could also be a determining factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray appeared in the Penguins’ first three games of their qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s been out-played by the Canadiens’ Carey Price. If the Penguins are eliminated with Murray in net, that could have implications for his hopes of re-signing even a one-year deal.