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.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Will the Bruins re-sign Taylor Hall? Could the Oilers target Jake DeBrusk? Can the Hurricanes afford to re-sign Dougie Hamilton? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: On Friday, Nick Goss reported Taylor Hall is hoping to return with the Bruins. “I see a fit, and hopefully they feel the same way,” he said during his season-ending press conference.

Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

The 29-year-old left-winger played well after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Hall indicated he’s not looking to maximize his value at this point in his career. That suggests he’s looking more for term than dollars this time around. Goss believes the Bruins must re-sign Hall, pointing to their lack of secondary scoring depth without him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hall is looking at no more than $6 million annually, the Bruins could re-sign him to perhaps a four or five-year deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to acquire winger Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins. The 24-year-old winger seems to have lost his way in Boston, spending time on his off-wing shuffling between the second and third lines.

The Bruins need to free up some cap space if they hope to re-sign Hall, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. DeBrusk and his $3.65 million cap hit for next season could be manageable on the Oilers’ second line.

Matheson also wondered if the Oilers could have their eye on older, most-costly pending UFA left-wingers like Brandon Saad or Zach Hyman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were said to be concerned about giving up on DeBrusk too soon and watch him blossom elsewhere. That could change, however, if they need to clear cap room to retain older veterans. It could also depend upon what type of offers they get for DeBrusk. His status could be worth monitoring this summer.

UPDATE ON THE HURRICANES

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The respective contract statuses of defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour top Chip Alexander’s list of pressing questions facing the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.

Hamilton, 27, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Coming off a deal with an annual average value of $5.75 million, he could look around and see Washington’s John Carlson earning $8 million annually, Nashville’s Roman Josi making $9 million per, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman checking in at $7.875 million and Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon at $7.57 million.

Brind’Amour is adamant about keeping his coaching staff together before re-signing with the Hurricanes. Alexander wondered if that’s become a snag in the contract talks.

Alexander also wondered if this season was the last for pending UFAs Petr Mrazek, Brock McGinn and Jordan Martinook.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes Hamilton could be the game-changing defenseman the Blackhawks need if he hits the open market next season. While recent rumors tied the Hawks to Columbus’ Seth Jones, Pope noted Jones’ offensive stats have declined in recent years. It would also cost the Blackhawks some young assets to acquire Jones in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton wants to stay in Carolina and the Hurricanes want to keep him. Unless he’s willing to accept a little less than market value, the Hurricanes will have to pay big bucks to keep him. That could affect efforts to re-sign some of their other UFAs.

Hamilton would draw plenty of suitors on the open market. Whether the Blackhawks would be among them remains to be seen. They could prefer more affordable short-term options while waiting for young defensemen such as Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell to reach their potential.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

A look at what could be ahead for the Avalanche in the offseason, more Bruins speculation and the latest on Jack Eichel in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski observes the Colorado Avalanche face some big free-agent decisions in the offseason. Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer, and winger Brandon Saad are among those slated to become unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Cale Makar, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent in line for a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Avs also risk losing a good defenseman to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft. Even if sidelined Erik Johnson agrees to waive his no-movement clause, someone like Ryan Graves or Jacob MacDonald could be left exposed if they opt to protect three defensemen.

Head coach Jared Bednar could be under the microscope after failing to get the Avs past the second round. He has a year remaining on his contract and could return to finish that season.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic needs to build a tougher roster and replace Bednar as head coach, citing the latter’s inability to make strategic roster adjustments against the Vegas Golden Knights during their second-round series. “The Avs are pretty, not gritty,” opined Kiszla among his colorful descriptions of their lack of postseason toughness.

Ryan O’Halloran agreed with Kiszla in less hyperbolic terms. He feels the Avs aren’t in the same depths as the early-era Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals. Nevertheless, he believes “they need to get bigger on defense and deeper at center” to beat the Golden Knights next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh believes the Avalanche must address how long and for much they’re willing to sign Landeskog for. He also thinks paying Makar $10 million annually is worthwhile and considers it too risky to let Grubauer walk via free agency. He also recommends they explore creating cap space through trades and add some low-cost veterans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic did a fine job building the current roster. He must now figure out how to get this team to the next level without the salary-cap flexibility he enjoyed in recent years.

Yes, the Avalanche needs more depth at center and size on defense. Yes, they need to get tougher. However, Sakic and his staff must avoid overreacting as the 2010 version of the Capitals did following their first-round upset by the Montreal Canadiens. Those missteps set the Caps back several seasons before they finally won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Landeskog, 28, will seek a substantial pay raise over his current $5.57 million cap hit. Some might scoff at Makar earning $10 million annually but his rise to Norris Trophy finalist in just three seasons provides his camp with sufficient grounds to seek that much. Sakic could try to go the bridge deal route but that seems unlikely given Makar’s talent. Grubauer’s Vezina nod this season also works in his favor as he pursues a big bump over his $3.33 million AAV.

Sakic has shown in the past a willingness to make bold moves to improve his roster. We should expect he’ll do the same this summer as he attempts to retain his core free agents and address his roster needs.

He could use one of the defensemen he risks losing in the expansion draft as a trade chip. Perhaps he’ll move a skilled blueliner like Samuel Girard for a bigger physical rearguard. Maybe he shops center Nazem Kadri to free up cap space to add a tough, cool-headed two-way replacement.

MORE BRUINS SPECULATION

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter wonders where the Bruins go from here after falling short against the New York Islanders in the second round.

His optimistic forecast regarding Tuukka Rask has the goaltender signing a short-term deal between $5 million and $6 million, undergoing whatever offseason surgery he requires and gradually returning to the lineup next season. He also suggests signing Taylor Hall to a five-year deal worth $6 million annually and David Krejci for a year at around $5 million. The latter would give the Bruins time to determine if Jack Studnicka or Charlie Coyle can play at second-line center or if they need to bring in someone for that role.

Porter also speculates Jake DeBrusk could be shopped for a helpful secondary player. The lack of quality left-side defense options via free agency could see them bring back Mike Reilly if another club doesn’t offer to double his $1.5 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggests the Bruins should transition Jeremy Swayman to the starter’s job but bring back Rask on a one-year deal worth between $3 million and $5 million. It’s a sensible suggestion but that depends on whether Rask is prepared to accept the backup/mentor role with the Bruins or look elsewhere for a starter’s job.

Hall was a good fit with the Bruins and he really wants to stay but that depends on how much he wants on his next deal and for how long. I think Krejci’s open to returning for another year or two for a lesser cap hit, perhaps around $5 million.

The Bruins were reportedly reluctant to trade DeBrusk this season over fear he’d regain his scoring touch elsewhere. However, I think they should explore the trade market while he still has some decent trade value. It’ll be interesting to see if Reilly is willing to stick in Boston for perhaps a little less than market value.

LATEST ON JACK EICHEL

WGR550: Franklin Heinzmann cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s recent appearance on “The Instigators” discussing possible trade interest in Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.

Friedman believes the Sabres want to move on from their captain. He said the teams around the league with interest in Eichel are trying to convince GM Kevyn Adams to move the unhappy center sooner rather than later. Friedman feels Adams should set the marketplace himself rather than be influenced by those clubs.

The Sabres GM could try to play the interested clubs against each other to drive up Eichel’s trade value. Some teams, however, are pointing to the center’s neck injury to suggest Adams isn’t dealing from a position of strength.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t indicate which teams could be calling the Sabres. I’ve posted up a list of potential teams in my latest column for The Hockey News, including several suggested by Friedman last month.

If the Sabres trade Eichel during the offseason it’ll likely happen just before or during the opening day of this year’s NHL draft on July 23. Adams will use the next several weeks to evaluate the clubs with the most interest while also gauging Eichel’s ongoing treatment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, the 2021 Draft Lottery goes tonight, an update on Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A third-period goal by Anthony Cirelli was the game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Alex Killorn opened the scoring in the second period for the Lightning. Andrei Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board late in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the win as the Bolts were outshot 32-15. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left the game with an injured right leg following a second-period collision with teammate Warren Foegele. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said it didn’t know the extent of Trocheck’s injury but indicated it didn’t look good. An update could come later today.

Losing their second-line center would be another blow to the Hurricanes’ forward lines. Winger Nino Niederreiter is out for the series with an undisclosed injury suffering in practice before Game 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he joins Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche as this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the fourth straight season Vasilevskiy has been named a finalist, winning the award in 2018-19. It’s the first time Fleury and Grubauer have been honored.

The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 7 pm ET at league headquarters. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds of winning after finishing with the worst overall record, followed by the Anaheim Ducks. The expansion Seattle Kraken has the third-best odds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL Draft will be held virtually on July 23-24. Follow the link above for full details on the lottery rules and this year’s top prospects.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has reached the end of the rehab period for the herniated disk in his neck. If he still wants the neck surgery that team doctors haven’t been comfortable with, he has the right to take the team to arbitration. If he doesn’t agree with the arbiter’s decision, he can ask for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The surgical procedure Eichel prefers has never been done before on an NHL player. The team doctors’ preference is for continued rehab. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds if Eichel feels he hasn’t made much progress with his current treatment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted goaltender Tuukka Rask has been battling nagging injuries. However, he doesn’t feel there’s any reason to believe Rask won’t be ready to play against the New York Islanders tonight in Game 3 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask appeared to struggle during the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 2. If that continues in Game 3 we could see backup Jeremy Swayman for Game 4.

TSN: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 2.

WINNIPEG SUN: The province of Manitoba will allow 500 fully-vaccinated healthcare workers into the MTS Centre tonight for the Winnipeg Jets’ opening game of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said he suffered a sprained shoulder during his club’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek played through a knee injury suffered in Game 6. The duo won’t require offseason surgery.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Connauton will earn $825K at the NHL level. He spent most of this season on the Panthers’ taxi squad, seeing action in seven games.

TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams around the league permission to speak with former general manager Jim Rutherford before his contract with them expires at the end of June. Rutherford stepped down as GM in January for personal reasons.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2021

Does Jake DeBrusk still have a future with the Bruins? Could the Penguins attempt to sign Ryan Getzlaf this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Boston Bruins depends on whether they re-sign winger Taylor Hall. Acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, the 29-year-old Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Bruins winger Nick Ritchie, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent while DeBrusk is signed through next season at $3.675 million annually.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Hall has played well thus far with the Bruins and indicated a willingness to stay in Boston after this season. Meanwhile, DeBrusk is showing little sign of snapping out of his season-long slump. If Hall and Ritchie return, the Bruins could keep DeBrusk on right-wing or attempt to trade him in the offseason.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy cited an NHL source suggesting DeBrusk could be odd-man-out, citing David Krejci’s improved stats with a real top-six winger like Hall skating alongside him. The source also speculated they could try moving Charlie Coyle’s contract but isn’t sure they can.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:

Cap Friendly shows the Bruins with $50.4 million invested in 15 players next season with Hall, Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Jaroslav Halak as their key UFAs. Ritchie, Brandon Carlo and Ondrej Kase are their notable RFAs.

If Hall and Krejci continue playing well together, especially in the playoffs, the Bruins could try to re-sign them if they feel their championship window remains open. They could also re-sign Rask to a short-term deal with promising Jeremy Swayman as his backup.

The Bruins were reportedly reluctant to part with DeBrusk over concerns he’ll blossom into a scorer elsewhere. However, they could be forced to shop him if they re-sign Hall because, as Shinzawa pointed out, there may not be room for both.

Jimmy Murphy cited colleague Dan Kingerski reporting the Pittsburgh Penguins were among several clubs to inquire into the availability of Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf before the recent trade deadline.

An NHL management source told Murphy he can see Brian Burke, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations, circling back to see what Getzlaf wants to do. The source thinks the Ducks captain wants to win another Stanley Cup but that’s not happening in Anaheim next season. It would require some salary-cap juggling by the Penguins to make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf and his family are well settled where they are and he could be unwilling to leave them behind for a season to chase another Cup. Recent reports out of Anaheim indicate Ducks GM Bob Murray wants him to stick around after this season.

I think Getzlaf will either sign a one-year deal with the Ducks or retire. Nevertheless, I don’t dismiss the possibility he’ll a contender for one last shot at the Cup.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2021

Could the Blues pursue Taylor Hall and trade Mike Hoffman? Could the Kings shop Alex Iafallo? Are teams calling about the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk? Get the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATES ON HALL, HOFFMAN AND IAFALLO

TSN: Frank Seravalli wonders if St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong might be a buyer and a seller leading up to Monday’s trade deadline. Armstrong has a history of trading pending unrestricted free agents with his club on the playoff bubble.

Could the St. Louis Blues trade Mike Hoffman to make room for Buffalo’s Taylor Hall? (NHL Images)

Winger Mike Hoffman sits at No. 3 on the trade-bait list. Armstrong has also spoken to teams about center Tyler Bozak. There’s no indication if winger Jaden Schwartz is available.

The Blues are also believed among the teams with an interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall. Swapping out Hoffman for Hall might work if the Sabres retain half of Hall’s $8 million salary-cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong could be reluctant to part with Schwartz as he could still help the Blues clinch a playoff berth. As for Hall, Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes the Panthers could also be interested in the Sabres winger.

With over $16 million in trade deadline cap space, the Panthers are in a better position than the Blues to acquire Hall. He has a no-movement clause but might be more receptive about joining one of the top clubs in the league in the Panthers (yes, you read that right, check the standings) or a struggling one like the Blues (again, check the standings).

Speaking of Hoffman, Richards shot down the notion of a possible return to Florida. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Panthers GM Bill Zito pursues a defenseman like David Savard of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who remains atop Seravalli’s trade-bait list.

Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo moved to No. 5 on the list. Seravalli reports Kings GM Rob Blake has taken calls about the pending UFA though the two sides continue to discuss a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake’s ensuring he’s got some trade options in case an agreement on a new contract with Iafallo isn’t reached by Monday. As Seravalli said, this could go either way.

TEAMS CALLING ABOUT DEBRUSK

THE ATHLETIC: listed Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk at No. 21 on the final update to their NHL Trade Deadline Big Board. Teams continue to call the Bruins to find out what it might take to acquire the 24-year-old winger. What makes him intriguing is his playoff production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read and heard in the Boston media suggests the Bruins are fearful of trading DeBrusk and watching him blossom as a scorer elsewhere. I don’t dismiss the notion of a DeBrusk trade but the Bruins would probably prefer a young winger of equal or greater value and potential in return.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Ken Holland doesn’t intend to part with first-round picks for rental players. He didn’t rule out making that move if it was for a player with term remaining on his contract. Matheson believes that could also cost a top-prospect, which would probably be a non-starter. Given the Oilers limited salary-cap space, Holland would have to have a trade partner willing to absorb 50 percent of an acquired player’s salary.

OTHER NOTABLE UPDATES TO TSN’S TRADE-BAIT LIST

With their playoff math looking hazy, the Dallas Stars are starting to get calls about some of their pending UFAs. Big-bodied defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is drawing the most interest, moving up to No. 9 on the trade-bait list.

Seravalli also removed Tanner Pearson from the board following the winger signing a three-year contract extension this week with the Vancouver Canucks. Injuries to Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan and Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell takes both players off the list.