NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2017

Florida Panthers ship Jason Demers to the Arizona Coyotes for Jamie McGinn.

Panthers trade Demers to Coyotes plus updates on Joffrey Lupul, Nail Yakupov & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS/SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers traded defenseman Jason Demers to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for winger Jamie McGinn. The Panthers also retain over $562K of his $4.5 million annual salary-cap hit over the remaining four seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demers was the subject of offseason trade speculation following reports he nixed a trade to the Vancouver Canucks for Erik Gudbranson. The Coyotes obviously weren’t on his eight-team no-trade list.

It’s a good move by the Coyotes, bolstering their veteran depth for the long term while addressing the short-term absence of promising Jakob Chychrun to a knee injury. McGinn, meanwhile, is expected to bring more gritty size and skill to the Panthers’ forward lines. A 22-goal scorer with the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16, he hopes to rebound from a disappointing nine-goal effort last season with the Coyotes. 

Speaking of the Coyotes, they canceled their preseason opener because of poor ice conditions at the Gila River Arena.

TORONTO STAR: Sidelined Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul took to social media recently to suggest he didn’t fail his training camp physical. Responding to a comment on the subject on his Instagram account, Lupul said, ““Haha failed physical. They cheat, everyone lets them.” He later deleted the remark.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will only stoke suspicions the Leafs are playing fast and loose with LTIR rules to free up cap space for other players. However, it appears to a murky issue, one the league apparently cannot prevent under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman remains day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

BSN DENVER: Having signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche, winger Nail Yakupov knows this is his last chance at redemption in the NHL. The first-overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, Yakupov has so far failed to play up to expectations as a scoring forward.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons is looking forward to a fresh start under new head coach Phil Housley.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Tyler Wong tallied a hat trick as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Vancouver Canucks 9-4, picking up their first preseason win in franchise history. 

THE PROVINCE: Ed Willes has an in-depth report on the rise of hockey in China.


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 10, 2017

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 10, 2017

A look at Sportsnet’s nine trade candidates to watch this season in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET; Rory Boylen lists his nine NHL trade candidates to watch this season, including potential destinations for each. Topping the list, of course, is Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, with Columbus, NY Islanders, Montreal, Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh as possible landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen also notes Duchene’s topped most trade candidate lists, citing the high asking price by Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic as the main sticking point in efforts to trade the center. He also notes the recent rumblings suggesting Duchene might not report to training camp.

Sakic recently told BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater he expects the 26-year-old center to be there when camp opens on Sept. 14. Of these possible destinations, Columbus and Nashville seem the most likely, as those clubs have the right combination of tradable assets and salary-cap space to acquire him. 

Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk could be among this season’s notable trade candidates.

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. If the Leafs aren’t able to re-sing him, perhaps he could be shopped for blueline depth. Carolina, Calgary, Florida, Columbus and Anaheim are possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carolina’s biggest need is for a playmaking center so van Riemsdyk might not be a fit there. Calgary already has Johnny Gaudreau and promising Matthew Tkachuk as their top-two left wingers, while Artemi Panarin and Nick Foligno patrol the left side for Columbus. Florida and Anaheim could be more promising options. 

Vegas Golden Knights wingers Jonathan Marchessault and James Neal are UFAs next summer and could be shopped near the trade deadline. Boylen doesn’t expect either player to be re-signed by Vegas. Pittsburgh, Calgary, Carolina, Montreal, NY Islanders and Boston are possible options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those destinations will obviously depend upon where those teams are in the playoff chase by the trade deadline. 

Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek could also be moved by the trade deadline as a rental player. Destinations could include the “NY Islanders, Ottawa, Montreal, Buffalo — as long as they’re in the playoff race.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, I don’t see the current managements of the Islanders and Canadiens bringing back Vanek. Buffalo did reacquire winger Jason Pominville in June so maybe they will look at a Vanek redux if they’re in the postseason hunt by February. Vanek could be a fit with the Senators, who seem a little thin at left wing. 

Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers surfaced in this summer’s trade rumor mill. He carries an eight-team no-trade clause and there were reports he nixed a trade to the Vancouver Canucks. Boylen lists Colorado, Detroit, Montreal, New Jersey and Dallas as possible options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Demers wants to play on a postseason contender I doubt Colorado, Detroit and New Jersey will be on his list. 

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba’s contract expires after this season and speculation could arise over his future. He requested a trade last summer but eventually rescinded it and signed a two-year deal with the Jets. If he becomes available, Boylen lists Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, New Jersey, Dallas, Vancouver as potential suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One reason Trouba wasn’t dealt last year was the big return sought by the Jets. I doubt their asking price will be lower next summer, especially if he continues to improve. Trouba will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in line for a big raise so things could again get interesting in his negotiations with the Jets. 

Boylen expects the Hurricanes will eventually have to move a defenseman for a big forward. He considers Justin Faulk as an underrated, big-minute blueliner carrying an affordable ($4.8 million per season) contract for the next three seasons. He thinks Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are less likely to be moved while promising Noah Hanifin has flown under the radar. Boylen suggests “Toronto, Colorado, Winnipeg, Dallas, Boston, Montreal” as destinations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Faulk tends to get mentioned most in Hurricanes trade speculation.

If the New York Islanders decide to trade pending UFA center John Tavares, Boylen lists  “Montreal, St. Louis, San Jose, Calgary… let’s be honest: anywhere” as possible landing spots. He also points out there’s no certainty Tavares gets traded but the longer he goes unsigned, “the greater chances the team decides to recoup whatever assets it can get.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon the Islanders performance this season and their efforts to find a place to build a new arena. Tavares is loyal to the Isles but he also wants to play for a stable Stanley Cup contender. If they’re not heading in the right direction this season, he could decide on continuing his career elsewhere. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2017

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene continues to dominate the NHL rumor mill.

Latest on Matt Duchene, James van Riemsdyk and more in your NHL rumor mill.

 TSN: Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene tops Frank Seravalli’s trade board for the upcoming season. He notes Duchene’s absence from a recent voluntary skate involving Avalanche players raised eyebrows, stoking speculation he might not report to training camp next week. Duchene and the club declined to comment and his agent Pat Brisson would only say his client is skating in Toronto.

Seravalli observes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames have been linked to Duchene throughout this summer. One of the complicating factors is Duchene has just two seasons remaining on his contract before his eligibility for unrestricted free agency in 2019. It’s also too early to sign him to an extension.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Duchene and teammate Gabriel Landeskog sit atop Matt Larkin’s list of the top-10 NHL trade candidates for the upcoming season. He believes there’s no rush to move Landeskog, who’s signed throught 2021-22 but feels it could cost Colorado dearly if general manager Joe Sakic fails to move Duchene before the starting of the season.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 he believes a Duchene trade is going to happen, it’s just a question of when. He lists the Predators, Canadiens and Blue Jackets as possible destinations. He doesn’t know if Sakic has softened his stance regarding his asking price. Dreger said he’s seeking a young left-shot defenseman and notes the Avs blueline needs help.

Nichols also cites Elliotte Friedman telling Sportsnet 590 he thinks there’s been some renewed effort by the Avs to trade Duchene and believes the Columbus Blue Jackets could be in there, noting their attempt to land the center in early July. He said there’s been rumors the Hurricanes talked to the Avs about Justin Faulk. They’re concerned about Duchene’s contract and doesn’t think the Avs were interested in Faulk, preferring younger players like Jaccob Slavin or Noah Hanifin, who the Canes don’t want to part with.

BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports Duchene’s agent Pat Brisson doesn’t have anything to say about his client’s status right now. It’s possible the Avs could have an ugly holdout situation on their hands, though Dater cautions we haven’t heard anything yet from Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade talk between the Avs and other clubs interested in Duchene could be heating up. Then again, after a quiet summer in the NHL trade market since June, this could be wishful thinking.

We know Sakic is willing to continue listening to offers and he’s refusing to budge on what he wants in return. We know several teams are interested but are balking at Sakic’s asking price and are concerned over Duchene’s $6 million annual salary, his eligibility for UFA status in 2019 and the decline in his play last season.

Duchene’s absence from that voluntary skate earlier this week has stoked anticipation he could refuse to report to training camp until the Avs trade him but that’s not yet a certainty. If he does, however, that will provide more fodder for the rumor mill and could perhaps push Sakic to make a trade before the start of the season. 

Seravalli also included Vegas Golden Knights winger James Neal, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, Golden Knights blueliner Jason Garrison, Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek, Golden Knights winger David Perron, Philadelphia Flyers center Valtteri Filppula, Avs left wing Landeskog, Los Angeles Kings winger Marian Gaborik and Florida Panthers rearguard Jason Demers on his list of 2017-18 potential trade bait.

Larkin includes every pending UFA on the Golden Knights, Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson, Green, New Jersey Devils winger Drew Stafford, Kings forward Michael Cammalleri, Predators prospect Dante Fabbro, Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen and Hurricanes blueliner Faulk on his list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the players on these two lists (Neal, Green, Garrison, Vanek, Perron, Gudbranson, Filppula, Stafford, Cammalleri and Kane) are eligible for UFA status next summer. Most could indeed be on the move by the 2018 trade deadline.

Gaborik is signed through 2020-21 at over $4.8 million annually. I doubt there’ll be any interest in the oft-injured 35-year-old winger. The Panthers reportedly tried to trade Demers to the Canucks but the defenseman spiked the deal. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with a $4.5 million annual cap hit and a modified no-trade clause.

Vatanen and Faulk could be shopped but those moves might not take place until next summer, if at all. 

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsyk is said to be seeking around $6 million annually on a contract extension before his UFA eligibility next summer. If the Leafs truly want to acquire a defenseman, McGran considers the winger their best trade chip. While van Riemsdyk could be mentioned in trade rumors this season, he’s focused on being a productive player for the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The better van Riemsdyk plays this season the more his trade value will rise. However, so will his value to the Leafs, especially if they’re jockeying for a playoff spot this season.

There’s also the concern that re-signing van Riemsdyk to a big raise could complicate efforts to re-sign rising stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander to the big raises they’re bound to command. The Leafs won’t move van Riemsdyk now but could consider that possibility later in the season, depending on where they are in the standings by February. 


NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2017

Calgary Flames might have some interest in free agent winger Jaromir Jagr.

Updates on Jaromir Jagr, Drew Stafford, Jason Demers and more in your NHL rumor mill.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on the NHL Network on Monday discussing various topics. Among them was the status of unrestricted free agents Jaromir Jagr and Drew Stafford.

Friedman believes the Calgary Flames are among the clubs that “kind of looked at” the possibility of signing Jagr, noting Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan is one of Jagr’s former coaches. He also said he checked into speculation the Anaheim Ducks also had interest in the 45-year-old winger but found that’s not the case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames are looking at Jagr, perhaps it’ll be in a second or third line role at right wing. I expect Michael Frolik will skate on the first line at that position, which would leave Jagr jockeying with Troy Brouwer for the second-line spot. Of course, for now we don’t know for sure if the Flames intend on signing him. 

Friedman said he’d heard a couple of teams had interest in Stafford around July 1. He notes there’s been some conversations with the Stafford camp over the past week and they’re hopeful of getting something done. Friedman added he’s surprised the winger hasn’t been signed at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman points out, Stafford is never going to be a big scorer but he has the skills to chip in as a depth forward. The 31-year-old has reached the 20-goal, 40-point plateau four times in his 11 NHL seasons. With the right club, perhaps he could hit those numbers again in 2017-18.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers declined to comment on rumors earlier this summer he spiked a trade to the Vancouver Canucks. He carries an eight-team no-trade clause and was left unprotected by the Panthers in June’s expansion draft.  “That’s between my agent and me and Dale, but I’m going to camp right now a Panther,” Demers said, adding he’s going to be with the club for four more years. He also acknowledged he and the team have to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t sound as though Demers will be going anywhere for the time being. If he and the Panthers have better performances this season, it’ll further dampen any trade speculation about the 29-year-old blueliner. But if he or the club struggle again, his name could resurface in the rumor mill. 

WGR 550: Agent Brian Bartlett, who represents free-agent defenseman Will Butcher, said it could take another week for his client to reach a decision over where he’ll sign.




Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 2, 2017

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 2, 2017

Colorado Avalanche still holding firm on their asking price for Matt Duchene.

Latest on Matt Duchene, Marcus Kruger, Sami Vatanen and Jason Demers in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic declined to comment on the trade rumors swirling about center Matt Duchene. Current speculation has the Columbus Blue Jackets pursuing a deal for the 26-year-old Duchene. Sakic, however, is standing firm on his asking price, which includes a young, established top-four defenseman. 

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis speculates New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has a bevy of draft picks to use when the proper trade arises. “That very well could be the Avalanche’s Matt Duchene, if Colorado comes down on the asking price after the free-agency dust settles.”

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford continues to shop around for a third-line center to replace Nick Bonino, who signed with the Nashville Predators yesterday as a free agent. He remains confident of landing a replacement through a trade.

Mackey suggested it was possible Rutherford was playing a game of chicken with the Avs over Matt Duchene. He also wondered if perhaps Rutherford might be trying to bring Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal back to Pittsburgh. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the free-agent pool drains of notable talent in the coming days, the focus on Duchene will escalate in the rumor mill. This could drag on throughout the summer.

The Penguins currently have over $11 million in salary cap space and still must re-sign restricted free agents Brian Dumoulin and Conor Sheary, who are in line for significant raises and have arbitration rights this summer. If Rutherford is targeting a $6 million player such as Duchene or Staal, he’ll either have to get the Avs or Hurricanes to absorb part of the salary cap hit or shed some cap space to make room for that expensive contract. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee said he has nothing to report on a potential trade in which he acquired center Marcus Kruger from the Chicago Blackhawks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston yesterday reported Kruger was due a $2 million signing bonus from the Blackhawks yesterday. The center was expected to be dealt after that bonus was paid. Perhaps that anticipated deal goes down later today. 

THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford reports Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers reportedly nixed a deal that would’ve sent him and his $4.5 million annual cap hit to the Vancouver Canucks. It was believed the Canucks were offering up Erik Gudbranson in return. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks re-signed Gudbranson earlier this spring to a one-year, $3.5-million contract. Botchford reports the Panthers are quite keen to move Demers, who also carries an eight-team no-trade list. Perhaps the Panthers will find a different destination for him later this summer. 

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports word around the league is the Anaheim Ducks have taken defenseman Sami Vatanen off the trade block. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen was originally believed available because of salary cap constraints and the need to protect other defensemen in the expansion draft. But after cutting a deal with Vegas and shedding some salary, the Ducks now have over $69 million invested in 21 players. So, there’s no urgency now to dump salary. 


NHL Draft Day Rumor Mill (Part Two) – June 23, 2017

NHL Draft Day Rumor Mill (Part Two) – June 23, 2017

Could Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane be traded this weekend?

Updates on Evander Kane, Travis Hamonic, Alex Galchenyuk, Marc Methot and Jason Demers in Part Two of your NHL Draft Day rumor mill. 

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Darren Dreger commented on the latest trade speculation regarding Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. Both believe Kane could be moved.

Friedman noted the Los Angeles Kings had interest in Kane but only on a “one-year thing” so he doesn’t know what that stands now.

Dreger said he hasn’t been able to nail down the specific clubs with interest in Kane but said they’re believed in “win-now mode”. He noted the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers are among the teams in that mode, though he doesn’t know if they’re targeting Kane. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kane rumors simply won’t die, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s on the move. I think Sabres GM Jason Botterill is doing the right thing by listening to offers but I don’t think he’s under pressure to move Kane, who carries a $5.25 million cap hit next season and is eligible next July for UFA status.

Friedman may have been referring to Kane’s current contract when he spoke of that “one-year thing” the Kings were interested in. Perhaps he was talking about a one-year extension. 

Friedman also wouldn’t be surprised if teams were asking the Sabres about forward Sam Reinhart and suggested Buffalo could be a destination for Washington Capitals pending UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart struggled at times last season but still finished with a respectable 47 points in his sophomore campaign. Botterill could listen but I don’t think he’s that keen to move this kid.

As for Shattenkirk, if he prefers to sign close to New York City, Buffalo would be a good option. However, are they prepared to pony up over $6 million per season for him? And does he want to join a rebuilding team? Not sure he could be a fit there. 

Dreger notes the New Jersey Devils remain a contender for Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rumored the Habs seek a top-four defenseman as part of the return. The Devils don’t have any to spare. 

If you’re a Canadian team with interest in Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Marc Methot, forget about pursuing him via trade. Dreger reports all but the Ottawa Senators are on his 10-team “no-trade” list. The Senators (if interested) can’t get him back until after January 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, Methot could waive it to join another Canadian team, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. 

Friedman also considers the rumor of the Calgary Flames with interest in New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic to be 100 percent accurate. He thinks the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the mix but isn’t sure about the Dallas Stars. He’s also heard rumors the Isles seek two first-round picks for Hamonic and speculates they want to keep sufficient cap space clear for John Tavares. Friedman reports Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers is “definitely available” and wouldn’t be surprised if the Flames were checking him out. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two first round picks is a very high price for Hamonic. Still, he could be worth it for the Flames if they hope to strengthen their top-four defense as they attempt to rise toward Stanley Cup contention. The Leafs have plenty of youth to draw upon in their pipeline and hold two second-round picks this year and next. The Stars have that third overall selection this year and are in the market for an established top-four blueliner.  Demers, meanwhile, could be a more affordable option for clubs that lose out on Hamonic. 

Stick tap to FanRag Sports Network’s Chris Nichols for the links.