NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

Check out the latest Max Pacioretty speculation and how the Capitals could find a short-term replacement for Henrik Lundqvist in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked about the recent trade rumors about Max Pacioretty. He doubts the Golden Knights will trade the winger, citing how much the Golden Knights gave up to the Montreal Canadiens two years ago to acquire him as one reason.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Granger cited sources indicating Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon called around the league to gauge interest in Pacioretty, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Jonathan Marchessault. However, those talks didn’t progress as McCrimmon was merely testing the waters to see what might be out there. Granger also dismissed the notion that Pacioretty requested a trade.

If the Golden Knights were to trade Pacioretty or Marchessault, Granger speculates they could attempt to bring back Erik Haula, who could welcome a return to the city where he had his best NHL season.

Granger also doesn’t believe the Boston Bruins would entertain parting with winger Jake DeBrusk in a package deal for Pacioretty. The 24-year-old DeBrusk is younger than the 32-year-old Pacioretty, carries a more affordable contract and is a restricted free agent when it expires in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pacioretty trade chatter provided welcome grist to the NHL rumor mill. While anything’s possible, it seems unlikely he’ll be moved. In addition to the reasons listed by Granger, the Golden Knights are built to win right now. They have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Pacioretty in the lineup this season.

I also agree with Granger’s take regarding Pacioretty to the Bruins. I don’t think they want to acquire a winger approaching his mid-thirties carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons. While they want to keep their championship window open for this season, they’re at the stage where they must also keep an eye on the future.

THE WASHINGTON POST: In her latest mailbag segment, Samantha Pell was asked if she expects the Capitals to make a trade before the season begins. She believes they could, citing a crowded blue line (“especially on the right side”) and the need to replace Henrik Lundqvist, who’s out for the season receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Pell suggested Nick Jensen as a possible trade candidate but could be retained in case another defenseman is injured.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron listed several options for the Capitals to replace Lundqvist. One could be signing an unrestricted free agent such as Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson or Jimmy Howard. Another could be trading for a goalie, though he doesn’t see them taking on an expensive netminder such as Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals could surprise us by going the trade route. However, I concur with Maron that they’ll either sign a UFA or promote from within their system.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2020

Reaction to reports of the Golden Knights shopping Max Pacioretty in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz took note of TSN’s reporting the Vegas Golden Knights could consider trading Max Pacioretty. He points out only seven teams – “Florida, Columbus, Detroit, Ottawa, Nashville, Los Angeles, and New Jersey” – have sufficient salary-cap space to absorb the winger’s $7 million annual cap hit.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Gretz scratched the Blue Jackets from that list because re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois will take up most of their $9.2 million cap space. Ottawa, Detroit and Los Angeles are rebuilding and probably unwilling to take on an expensive 32-year-old forward.

The Predators could be the best fit because they need a finisher. The Devils need a scoring winger alongside centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. The Panthers need someone to replace departed winger Mike Hoffman.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty suggests the Bruins should take a run at Pacioretty. It could cost them winger Jake DeBrusk and perhaps defense prospect Urho Vaakanainen but Haggerty feels it would be a fair price for a big, skilled second-line scorer.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports multiple sources are claiming the Penguins are among the clubs expressing interest in Pacioretty, with one saying general manager Jim Rutherford circled back on Wednesday and is awaiting a response. Kingerski considered the talks exploratory.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger reports his sources said Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon is simply testing the trade market regarding the value of Pacioretty, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Jonathan Marchessault following a period without much player movement around the league.

Granger acknowledged the Golden Knights must become cap compliant before the season begins but believes they would be making a mistake trading Pacioretty. The club is built to win now and trading their leading goal scorer wouldn’t put them closer to the Stanley Cup. He also indicates the trade market isn’t strong right now, making it difficult to move high-salaried players like Pacioretty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski tweeted a report out of Las Vegas in which Golden Knights owner claimed his club is “not shopping Patches.” He admits they have cap issues that must be addressed before the season begins but moving Pacioretty isn’t among the options.

Granger believes McCrimmon could be looking at available options if he goes the trade route to shed salary. While they could easily get under the cap by demoting a player, McCrimmon could also be looking at freeing up enough salary to target a UFA forward like Mike Hoffman or former Golden Knights center Erik Haula.

I said yesterday that Pacioretty’s age, $7 million AAV and 10-team no-trade clause makes it difficult to move him given the current economic situation. Fleury ($7 million AAV, 10-team no-trade) and Marchessault ($5 million AAV, eight-team NTC) would also be tough to trade. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the sticking points are significant.

The Bruins can’t afford Pacioretty’s salary. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $2.9 million in cap space. Moving DeBrusk’s $3.675 million won’t free up enough for the veteran winger. Yes, they could get some short-term cap relief by placing Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak on LTIR, but both could return to the lineup by February, forcing the Bruins to shed salary. Besides, I think their focus is on shoring up the left side of their blueline.

With just $1.3 million in cap space, the Penguins have less money to work with than the Bruins. Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford has a well-earned reputation for wheeling-and-dealing but I don’t see how he can pull off acquiring Pacioretty.

If McCrimmon doesn’t shop one of his expensive players, The Score’s Josh Wegman suggested perhaps moving a couple of depth players such as “Tomas Nosek ($1.25 million AAV), William Carrier ($1.4 million), Nick Holden ($1.7 million) and Ryan Reaves ($1.75 million). It could come to that if demoting a lower-salaried player doesn’t free up sufficient wiggle room under the cap.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

Some recent speculation on the Bruins, Wild and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently pondered moves by the Boston Bruins if they should struggle during the 2020-21 season. He points to their weakness on the left side of their blueline as well as the possibility of star forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak missing the start of the schedule recovering from offseason surgeries.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images)

O’Brien feels management won’t need to blow things up but they could consider moving a handful of veterans at the trade deadline. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak and center David Krejci are unrestricted free agents next summer. Perhaps the Bruins could get something of value for one of them. He also wondered if they might try to move a supporting cast member like Charlie Coyle or Jake DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins perform in a shortened season without Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on the blueline and their two leading scorers possibly sidelined for the opening weeks. General manager Don Sweeney could consider selling a couple of veterans at the trade deadline if his club is struggling to stay in playoff contention by then. For now, of course, it’s all hypothetical.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if defenseman Zdeno Chara would return for another season. He predicted Chara wouldn’t return, speculating the big blueliner would reject relegation to a third-pairing role. Haggerty has the feeling the Bruins are ready to move on to a younger, more mobile defense corps.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL.com’s Amelie Benjamin, who covered her fair share of Bruins games with the Boston Globe, believes Chara will return for another season, though she acknowledged it’s not a certainty. Chara’s agent said his client was waiting to see what the format for the 2020-21 season would look like before deciding where he’ll play.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Minnesota Wild would trade defenseman Matt Dumba before the season is over. He notes the club intends to start the season with Dumba as part of their top-four blueliners.

Gulitti suggested the Wild might not be able to protect the 26-year-old Dumba in next summer’s expansion draft with Jonas Brodin recently signing a seven-year contract extension while Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon each have five years remaining on their deals. The Wild could try to move him before the trade deadline or wait until the offseason and do so before the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba, who has three years left on his contract, is the only one of those four lacking no-movement protection in the 2021 expansion draft. The Wild could protect all four but they’d have to expose an extra forward. General manager Bill Guerin could swing a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Dumba isn’t selected in that draft.

Guerin could see Dumba as a trade chip to bring in a first-line center. He could try to move the blueliner for the right offer before the expansion draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins recently reported hearing something needs to give on the Oilers’ roster before the club returns to play. However, he doesn’t expect it to happen until the middle of January when training camp might be underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rather cryptic take by Leavins. Is he referring to their goaltending? Perhaps a short-term replacement for Oscar Klefbom if (when) he’s placed on long-term injury reserve as he recovers from treatment for his injured shoulder? An additional scoring winger? What say you, Oilers fans?










The Myth of the NHL Offer Sheet Continues…

The Myth of the NHL Offer Sheet Continues…

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

The latest on the return-to-play discussions, four Golden Knights test positive for COVID-19, the Bruins sign Jake DeBrusk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cited NHL insider Nick Kypreos saying there were no discussions over the weekend between the league and the NHL Players Association for the first time in weeks regarding the 2020-21 season.

 

The league remains focused on a Jan. 1 start but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested several times that date is flexible and could be pushed back a week or two.

Garrioch believes it’s been quiet of late because the two sides have likely retreated to their offices to come up with a plausible agreement acceptable to the owners. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last week indicated not all the 31 owners are on board with the plan put forward because of the losses they’ll face for 2020-21. The players last week rejected two requests from the league for increased escrow and salary deferral rates.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported “a prominent agent” said talks are currently at a standstill. Three other player agents wondered when is enough with the constant concessions the players have made since the 2004-05 lockout. One accused league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of using the pandemic to squeeze more out of the players. Another agent claims he knows of five or six owners seriously questioning if it makes sense to stage a season.

Murphy feels the longer negotiations drag on, the more NHL and AHL players could head overseas to play in Europe, particularly those on two-way contracts who finished last season in the AHL. He also cites a league source suggesting a Feb. 5 start date for the season remains an option.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Bettman is dealing with a handful of disgruntled owners, with some believing they got a bad deal in the new collective bargaining agreement and a few telling the commissioner they’d prefer not to play if there are no fans because of operating losses.

According to a source, Bettman is “managing” those owners, telling them sitting out the season isn’t an option because of the damage to the league’s long-term health. However, he is trying to address their concerns, which include an infusion of cash to start the season, hence the league’s requests to the players last week.

Kaplan reports sources indicated the players remain willing to work with the league because it’s in everyone’s best interest to stage a season. If the league is trying to borrow money from the players, the PA could seek concessions such as increased health insurance for players in retirement. Kaplan also notes the NHL owners will be getting $650 million in expansion fees in 2021-22 plus a new U.S. Television deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This stalemate between the league and the PA could stretch on for weeks and put the 2020-21 season into jeopardy. But as long as Bettman and the players remain determined to return to play, the less likely the season will be canceled. There appears a genuine desire on both sides to get this done, though there’s no denying the league’s recent requests have stalled negotiations.

Barring a significant breakthrough by the end of this week, I think we can forget about the Jan. 1 start date. As Garrioch pointed out, Daly has previously suggested that start date was flexible. It could be anywhere between mid-January and mid-February, though the earlier the better if they hope to stage a meaningful schedule.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Four Vegas Golden Knights players have tested positive for COVID-19. The club confirmed their status but declined to identify them. The four are in self-isolation and “recovering well.” The club is taking precautionary measures by closing their off-ice training facilities and player areas to players and staff through Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This serves as a reminder that the pandemic will still affect the players if the 2020-21 season takes place. Without playing in a quarantine bubble as they did during the 2020 playoffs, they risk exposure to the coronavirus even with increased testing and strict health and safety protocols.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.675 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk had the bad luck to complete an entry-level contract in the midst of a pandemic that adversely affected the NHL salary cap. While his agent had suggested his client was worth $6 million per season, there was no way he was going to get that much from the Bruins or from another club via an offer sheet under the current economic conditions.

It’s a good deal for the Bruins because they get DeBrusk under contract at a reasonable short-term deal that also leaves enough cap space for other moves. The young winger still gets a decent raise and a chance for a much better deal in two years times when he’ll have arbitration rights in a potentially better economic climate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is leaving Finnish club Pori Assat and returning to Montreal in what’s considered a sign the club is preparing to stage its training camp soon. Kotkaniemi will begin a 14-day quarantine upon his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s not the only player skating in Europe coming back to North America. If more players follow suit it’ll signal the league and the PA are close to a return-to-play agreement.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist. She’s the organization’s first-ever female development coach. They also hired former NHL player Erik Condra as a player development coach.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach. The father of Jets center Adam Lowry said he doesn’t expect any issues with the two working for the same team.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers hired Shane Churla as their director of amateur scouting. The former NHL player spent the past seven seasons with the Canadiens scouting staff. He also spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the Dallas Stars and another five in the same role with the Arizona Coyotes.










Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup