NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

Check out the latest on Tomas Hertl and Jake DeBrusk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported Tomas Hertl hinted he might be willing to accept a hometown discount to stay with the San Jose Sharks. He pointed out how former teammate Joe Thornton took less money to play with good teams. “I like that idea,” he said. “You can go somewhere else, sign the maximum, even maybe too much, but you’re losing for the next eight years”.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Hertl also said he loves San Jose but one of his biggest priorities is being able to win on a consistent basis. Pashelka believes the Sharks’ performance this season could determine how things shake out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will also be an issue. Even if Hertl agrees to a hometown discount a new contract will be expensive. He’s earning an annual average value of $5.625 million on his current deal. A hometown discount in his case is probably close to $7 million as he could get over $8 million annually on the open market.

With the Sharks carrying a projected $66.5 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23, a $7 million per season deal for Hertl will push them to $73.5 million. That leaves little room to improve the roster under a salary cap expected to be $82.5 million next season. General manager Doug Wilson will probably have to make a cost-cutting move if he hopes to keep Hertl in the fold.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Jake DeBrusk is on Nick Goss’ list of five Bruins to watch during the preseason. The 24-year-old winger was the subject of considerable trade speculation during the offseason. However, the Bruins didn’t move him and chose to protect him in the Seattle expansion draft.

Offensive consistency was an issue for DeBrusk. When he’s not scoring, Goss points out he doesn’t give the Bruins much in other areas of the game. He’s in the final season of his contract so this is a perfect opportunity to get his career back on track.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July. A 20-plus goal season would help him make the case for a raise on a long-term deal. Another inconsistent effort, however, could see his name surface again in trade speculation.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2021

What asking price could the Sharks set for Tomas Hertl? Could the Predators consider shopping Filip Forsberg? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked what potential return the San Jose Sharks could get if they traded Tomas Hertl. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and recently expressed uncertainty over his future in San Jose.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Kurz speculates the Sharks would want a first-round pick as part of the return. He also believes they’ll have to get a high-end prospect, “preferably someone who could play NHL games ahead of or along the same timeline” as Sharks prospects like William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau. That player could be a center but the declining stock of Ryan Merkley and Brent Burns’ advancing age could make a defenseman just as welcome.

Hertl has a three-team trade list. If he gets traded it could be in part because he believes the Sharks are several years away from Stanley Cup contention. Kurz also feels the Sharks will allow his agent to facilitate a trade somewhere he wants to go if he wants out.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty suggested Hertl as a trade option for the Bruins if Charlie Coyle struggles to replace David Krejci as their second-line center. He proposed offering up a first-rounder and Jack Studnicka if the Sharks center becomes available.

Signing Hertl to a contract extension could be difficult as he’ll seek a big raise over his current annual average value of $5.625 million. The Bruins could try moving Coyle ($5.25 million) or Jake DeBrusk and/or John Moore to make the dollars work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl is well-respected around the league as a versatile and skillful two-way forward despite a history of knee injuries. He’ll attract plenty of interest if he and the Sharks decide to part company before the March trade deadline. The Bruins could be among the suitors if Coyle can’t get the job done centering their second line.

Giving up a first and a promising young player is a lot to pay for someone who could turn out to be a rental player unless there’s a certainty he’ll re-sign with his new club. A team would have to be a Cup contender or close to it to sacrifice pieces of their future in that way.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter suggests Nashville Predators general manager David Poile should give consideration to trading Filip Forsberg this season. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become a UFA next summer.

Porter points out Forsberg carries a “reasonably price” $6 million AAV and lacks no-trade protection. With the Predators “lacking oomph on the roster” and shipping out veterans like Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson, they might think about peddling him for “exciting prospects and younger NHLers who have yet to peak.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg could become a trade candidate later this season if the Predators are out of contention by the trade deadline. It could cost over $8 million annually to get him under contract but they’re already carrying two $8 million forwards in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Forsberg also might not wish to be part of a rebuild if that’s where Poile is going with the roster. If the Predators are playoff contenders this season, however, Poile could be reluctant to move him.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2021

What clubs could have an interest in Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk? What are the ongoing needs of the Canadiens and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Fluto Shinzawa was asked about the odds of Jake DeBrusk getting traded. He’s heard the Edmonton Oilers remain interested in the 24-year-old winger and the Calgary Flames to a lesser degree.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Asked if DeBrusk could fetch a second-line center if bundled with draft picks, Shinzawa said it would be an ideal return. However, the Bruins aren’t in a great spot to trade picks. He believes the return would likely be an underachieving player similar to DeBrusk who might improve with a new club.

Examining the Bruins’ opening-night roster without Tuukka Rask and David Krejci, Shinzawa noted coach Bruce Cassidy declared DeBrusk his third-line left wing. If he’s traded, removing all or part of his $3.675 million cap hit could clear space for Krejci and/or Rask if they return to the Bruins later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk has been a frequent topic of trade speculation since last offseason. That he’s still with the Bruins suggests his value is low in the trade market.

Shinzawa acknowledged the Bruins would be selling low. They could shop him in earnest later this season if his performance doesn’t improve, but they won’t get much of a return. A better effort by him this season would improve his trade value but it could make management reluctant to move him.

Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sit over $3.2 million above this season’s $81.5 million salary cap but will get $4.167 million in cap relief by placing Oscar Klefbom on long-term injury reserve. It would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap or the Bruins would have to retain some salary. However, the Oilers’ recent additions of Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele probably takes them out of the market for a top-nine left winger.

With over $11.4 million in cap space, the Flames can afford DeBrusk’s salary even after re-signing restricted free agents like Dillon Dube, Nikita Zadorov and Juuso Valimaki. Their addition of Blake Coleman should address their left wing depth so DeBrusk probably won’t be heading to Calgary.

NHL.COM: With Shea Weber’s career potentially over, Mike Zeisberger believes the Montreal Canadiens must find a top-four defenseman for the long term. David Savard, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson are their likely top four while Alexander Romanov will be expected to step up in his sophomore season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber’s absence takes away a big physical presence, leadership and a powerful shot from the point. It will take time to find a suitable replacement for their sidelined captain.

Tim Campbell believes the Edmonton Oilers still need a long-term plan between the pipes. They’ll be riding 39-year-old Mike Smith as their starter with Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock in relief. Campbell points out a succession plan for the future remains elusive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers don’t have any immediate help coming through their farm system. They’ll have to follow the trade market or go shopping next summer for any decent free-agent netminders.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Could the Boston Bruins go shopping for a center? Which defenseman could the Islanders pursue in a trade? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported NHL sources confirmed Bruins general manager Don Sweeney remains open to acquiring a center but the trade market has gone stale in recent days. For now, the club intends to use Charlie Coyle as their second-line center after David Krejci announced he’s returning to the Czech Republic to finish his playing career.

Are the Boston Bruins targeting Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak in the trade market? (NHL Images)

Recent speculation suggests Sweeney could use winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Jakub Zboril as trade bait to land a center. The Bruins had serious trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding Christian Dvorak over two weeks ago but those talks hit a stalemate. There’s no indication if DeBrusk and/or Zboril were mentioned in those talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy also noted Sweeney hinted David Krejci could return to the Bruins later this season. However, he’d have to sign before Dec. 15 to avoid passing through waivers. After that, he’d had to sign before the trade deadline but there’s no guarantee he won’t get snapped up by a rival club on the waive wire.

The Bruins are among several clubs linked to Dvorak but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to part with the 25-year-old two-way center. He might accept DeBrusk or Zboril but could want a first-round pick as part of the return. Other clubs could also out-bid the Bruins.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could turn to the trade market to fill the gap on the left side of their defense corps after trading Nick Leddy to Detroit.

He listed Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, Chicago’s Calvin de Haan, Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, Carolina’s Jake Gardiner, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Winnipeg’s Nathan Beaulieu and New Jersey’s Damon Severson as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn avoided salary arbitration with the Kraken by signing a two-year, $8 million contract soon after Staple’s piece was published. It doesn’t appear they intend to part with him. Lindholm could be available but the rebuilding Ducks could seek a couple of quality futures in return.

I don’t see the Blue Jackets parting with Gavrikov as he’s expected to fill the left-side position on their second pairing. Staple indicated Gardiner’s awaiting surgery that could sideline him for several weeks past the start of this season.

Predators GM David Poile is said to be intent on re-signing Ekholm so he’s probably not available. As Staple observed, Fowler would be expensive in both contract and assets. He also has a four-team trade list and the Islanders might not be on it. Staple also acknowledged Severson’s a right-side defenseman, which doesn’t really make him a viable solution.

Beaulieu and de Haan could be available. However, I don’t think either guy can suitably fill that second-pairing role. The Isles might have to be patient and see what develops in the trade market over the course of the season.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

How will the Bruins cope without David Krejci? What’s going on with the Islanders and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of David Krejci’s decision to finish his playing days in the Czech Republic, Fluto Shinzawa pondered how they could replace the 35-year-old second-line center.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

One option could be the trade market but Shinzawa rules out pursuing Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, citing their lack of cap space and Eichel’s health issues and hefty contract. Jake DeBrusk remains a trade asset but the dropoff in his performance last season makes him unlikely to fetch a second-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shinzawa reports the Bruins are about $1 million under the $81.5 million salary cap. While a trade is possible for a second-line center I wouldn’t be surprised if they start the season with Charlie Coyle replacing Krejci. And no, they’re not trading for Eichel.

Perhaps they’ll have an opportunity to add a short-term replacement before next year’s trade deadline. The pickings in the free-agent market are slim and none will suitably replace Krejci unless someone can find a fountain of youth for Joe Thornton or Eric Staal.


THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple weighs in on the seeming inactivity of the New York Islanders since the start of free agency on Wednesday. He believes general manager Lou Lamoriello is keeping silent about his signings because he doesn’t want anyone in the league to know where the Isles are with their salary-cap space. He believes Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri have been signed, perhaps Casey Cizikas and maybe Travis Zajac but doesn’t know when we’ll know for sure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello employed the same tactic last fall with Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Cory Schneider. No surprise he’s doing it again.

Staple took note of a report by colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating the Islanders are believed in the mix for St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He doubts Anthony Beauvillier would be part of that deal, suggesting Josh Bailey as the likely trade candidate given the Isles left him exposed in the expansion draft. Perhaps Bailey packaged with a high draft pick and/or another asset might be enough to clear cap space to acquire Tarasenko (if the Blues pick up part of his $7.5 million cap hit) and leave enough to acquire a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple also mused about the Isles pursuing Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler or Hampus Lindholm as a replacement for the departed Nick Leddy on their blueline.

Dunn, a restricted free agent, hasn’t been signed yet by the Kraken but I think that’s only a matter of time. The Predators are committed to re-signing Ekholm. Lindholm might be available but the Isles would have to part with a suitable package that fits the Ducks’ rebuilding scheme. Fowler, meanwhile, has a four-team trade list and the Isles might not be on it.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports of rumors that have the Oilers offering up goaltender Mikko Koskinen (along with a first-round pick and/or prospect Dmitri Samorukov) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for netminder Joonas Korpisalo.

It’s hard to imagine how such a deal makes sense, as Korpisalo isn’t obviously a better goalie than Koskinen,” writes Staples. He believes the Oilers are better off with Mike Smith, Koskinen and Alex Stalock as their goalies to start the season and shop for a goalie if Koskinen and Stalock fail to cut it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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.


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.


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.