NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

Some suggested free-agent targets for the Sharks plus a rumor linking Peter Chiarelli to the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently listed several potential free agents that he could see the San Jose Sharks pursuing in the off-season.

Goaltending targets could include the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, or the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot. Of the three, Talbot could be more affordable.

Could the San Jose Sharks pursue Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli in the free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Forward options include Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, and Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund. The Washington Capitals’ Radko Gudas and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo were among his defense targets.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million, the Sharks have over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2020-21. Nevertheless, Kurz doesn’t expect them to sit idly by in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending depth could be the priority given starter Martin Jones’ struggles and backup Aaron Dell’s expected departure via free agency. Talbot might be the cheapest option on Kurz’s list but he could also be looking for a starter’s job. If he can’t find that role, he could be amenable to another short-term backup role.

While the changing economic landscape could affect this year’s free-agent market, I doubt the Sharks could afford Toffoli or Dadonov. Granlund is a possibility as his stock declined following his trade to the Predators last year, though his play improved when John Hynes took over as head coach in January. Gudas or DeMelo could be more affordable options to shore up the blueline depth.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a well-earned reputation for making bold moves. He could surprise us this summer, though it’ll mean shedding some salary if he intends to make a splash in the UFA market.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites colleague Jim Matheson and The Athletic’s Scott Burnside reporting speculation linking former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to the Arizona Coyotes as a possible replacement for now-former GM John Chayka.

Staples points out such a move would reunite Chiarelli with winger Taylor Hall, who was traded by Chiarelli to the New Jersey Devils in 2016. The only way he sees the Coyotes bringing in Chiarelli is if they have no chance of keeping Hall off the free-agent market in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup in 2011 as GM of the Bruins. On the other hand, his tenure with the Oilers was considered disastrous.

The Coyotes must choose Chayka’s replacement very carefully. This is a team dogged for years by ownership instability and mismanagement. They’ve been building in recent years toward playoff contention with promising young talent. Putting the wrong person in the GM’s chair could send them spiraling again, raising questions about their long-term future in Arizona at risk.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

The latest Lightning and Jets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked several questions about how the Tampa Bay Lightning could address their salary-cap crunch for next season.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (Photo via NHL Images).

Smith feels many teams, including the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild, would be interested in center Anthony Cirelli. He also believes there will be plenty of interest in young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Both are restricted free agents at season’s end.

Smith suggests the asking price for either player could be at least a strong prospect and one or more high picks. Asked if the Bolts could get a player in return like Wild defenseman Matt Dumba for Cirelli, he doesn’t see how that player’s contract  ($6 million annual average value) would fit within their limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli or Sergachev could be shopped if Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois feels he can’t afford to keep both players. However, I believe his priority is to re-sign them and move out one or two other players to free up sufficient cap room for their new contracts.

Both are coming off entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights. BriseBois could use that leverage to sign both to affordable short-term contracts, but one of them could sign an offer sheet with another club.

Smith feels Alex Killorn is the most likely to be shopped in the off-season. His value is high, he’s got only a few years left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million AAV, and his limited no-trade clause provides some flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Killorn will help but the Bolts could be forced to shed another salary. Speculation suggests Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, or Yanni Gourde, but they carry full no-movement clauses. Smith suggested they could deal away one of the RFAs. He felt contract buyouts would be the last resort.

Asked about what the Lightning’s threshold would be if Sergachev signed an offer sheet, Smith feels $7 million is their cutoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many clubs lack sufficient cap space to go the offer-sheet route this summer, but some have the cap space to make that pitch. However, that depends on Sergachev’s willingness to sign one. He could stick with the Lightning on a short-term bridge deal with the promise of greater riches down the road. The same goes for Cirelli.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked if there was any word on the Winnipeg Jets re-signing Dylan DeMelo. The Jets acquired the 27-year-old defenseman in February. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season.

Re-signing DeMelo is likely a priority for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Despite the flat salary cap, he’s got more short-term flexibility to make a move or two this summer. While DeMelo could seek long-term stability, Wiebe speculates he might take a short-term deal in hope league economics improve in a few years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe reported DeMelo indicated there hasn’t been much conversation regarding a new contract, but he feels he’s fit in well with the Jets and would welcome a chance to re-sign.

Most contract talks are on hold for now as teams prepare for the upcoming playoff tournament. If Cheveldayoff is interested in re-signing DeMelo, and I think he could be, those discussions will likely begin once the playoffs are over.

DeMelo’s earned $900K annually on his current contract and will be seeking a significant raise. Provided his asking price is reasonable – around $3 million annually – he could remain with the Jets.

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Winnipeg Jets

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Winnipeg Jets


NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations

NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations


Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

The Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft (originally belonging to Colorado) and a conditional third-rounder in 2021. The Sharks retain half of Dillon’s $3.27 million annual average salary. If the Capitals win the 2020 Stanley Cup, the 2021 third-rounder becomes the 2020 third-rounder that originally belonged to Arizona.

The Washington Capitals acquire defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s a big, physical rearguard logging over 19 minutes of ice time per game. He’ll bring some welcome grit to the Capitals’ blueline down the stretch and into the postseason.

The Sharks appear to be getting started on selling off their UFAs to restock their prospect pipeline. With Dillon gone, perhaps forward Melker Karlsson and goaltender Aaron Dell could be next. This move could also stoke speculation over the fates of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets were in the market for some experienced blueline help. DeMelo is a reliable depth rearguard carrying an affordable $900K AAV. He’s also due to become a UFA this summer. TSN’s Darren Dreger speculates Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might not be done adding to his defense corps before deadline day.

DeMelo could be the start of another UFA selloff by the Senators. Expect the conjecture about center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s trade status to ramp up in the coming days.

The St. Louis Blues acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of teams selling off UFAs, this could be just the start for the Canadiens. Ilya Kovalchuk and Nate Thompson could be next out of Montreal before the deadline. This deal means the Habs have three second-rounders and 12 picks overall in this year’s draft.

Scandella appears to be a replacement for Jay Bouwmeester, who’s on long-term injured reserve recovering from a cardiac incident last week.


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 16, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 16, 2020

Could Joe Thornton accept a trade to the Avalanche? Could the Panthers peddle Vincent Trocheck? What’s the latest on Jake Muzzin’s contract talks? Could Max Domi hit the trade block? All this and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will attempt to move as many pieces as possible before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Defenseman Brenden Dillon is expected to be traded, but there will be a lot of attention on veteran Sharks center Joe Thornton. He has a full no-movement clause, but there’s a belief he could waive it to join a Stanley Cup contender. Garrioch thinks the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are good fits.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes Thornton would be a good fit with the Avalanche. He’d be a short-term replacement for sidelined center Nazem Kadri and a potential playoff replacement for Tyson Jost or Vlad Kamenev. Jost hasn’t scored in 31 straight games. Dater also wouldn’t be surprised if Thornton returned to Boston.

Could San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton be a good fit with the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Shawn Lamba for the Dater link. Thornton hasn’t indicated his intentions except to say he’d think about it if approached about a trade to a contender.

Returning to the Bruins, where his NHL career began, would make a nice story, but he’s not the second-line scoring winger they need. The Avs could be a better fit, but GM Joe Sakic could have other options on their radar.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s talk Vincent Trocheck could be available as the struggling Florida Panthers search for a defenseman before the trade deadline. The 26-year-old has two more seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million, which Friedman feels many teams can handle.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes Trocheck’s contract could be difficult to move unless Panthers GM Dale Tallon agrees to pick up a portion of his annual salary-cap hit. He thinks the slumping Panthers could be ready to accept the reality of their situation and become deadline sellers. Pending UFA wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be on the move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon could go from buyer to seller if the Panthers fail to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings. He’s made no secret of his wish to acquire a defense partner for Aaron Ekblad to bring some stability to his blueline, but that sort of player isn’t cheap or easy to find.

Dangling Trochek instead of a rental player like Hoffman or Dadonov could fetch that type of return. Given the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space, it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move.


TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Jake Muzzin believes he’s close to a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Muzzin didn’t go into specifics, but it’s believed it could be a four-year deal worth around $5.5 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the CBA tagging rule could determine when Muzzin and the Leafs reach their agreement. They can only commit so much salary following the season they’re in. That amount goes up by 10 percent on March 1, leading Johnston to speculate the contract won’t be completed until after that date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like this is a done deal, it’s just a matter of time. Assuming it’s $5.5 million annually, that will push the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2020-21 to over $76.8 million invested in 16 players. If the cap rises to $84 million, it won’t leave much to re-sign or replace their other free agents.


LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Marc de Foy expects defenseman Jeff Petry and winger Tomas Tatar will remain with the Montreal Canadiens after the trade deadline. He claims that the decision was made a long time ago. Both players have a year remaining on their respective contracts.

He speculates center Max Domi could be on the move, pointing to a recent rumor linking him to the Minnesota Wild. He thinks Habs GM Marc Bergevin could have a Wild defenseman, like Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin in his sights.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the Canadiens must lower their asking price of a second-round pick for winger Ilya Kovalchuk if they intend to move him by the trade deadline. He expects teams will come calling about Max Domi but doesn’t think the Habs intend to go that route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumor linking Domi to the Wild came from The Athletic’s Michael Russo in a piece suggesting that several teams could be interested in Dumba and Brodin.

Here’s what Russo wrote: “The Canadiens would likely part with center Max Domi, maybe in a trade for Brodin because they have a surplus at Domi’s position and could use a quality left-shot defenseman.” He mentioned Domi because he feels the Wild would want a center in return for either blueliner. He’s not saying Domi is definitely on the block, he’s not saying it’s a Domi-for-Dumba swap, and he’s not saying the Habs are definitely pursuing Brodin.

All of the trade chatter about Domi seems to originate from a few Montreal pundits unhappy with the 24-year-old’s performance this season. They also suggest his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could complicate his future in Montreal. Perhaps that’s true, but GM Marc Bergevin isn’t under any pressure to move Domi at the trade deadline. If he decides to shop Domi, he can do it in the summer, when teams have more money and a willingness to make hockey trades.


New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is said to have mild interest in Travis Zajac. The New Jersey Devils center has a year left on his contract and history with Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac reportedly refused to waive his no-movement clause earlier this season when presented with a trade opportunity. Just because he has a history with the former Devils GM doesn’t mean he’s going to accept a trade to the Islanders.

Garrioch believes Ottawa Senators defenseman Dylan DeMelo will be on the move by the deadline. The Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, and Vegas Golden Knights could be potential destination for DeMelo.

If the New York Rangers don’t trade Chris Kreider, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau could become the top forward available. Don’t expect the Senators to get a first-round pick for him.