NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED MOVE TO IMPROVE THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.

DOES LEHTONEN’S SIGNING SPELL THE END OF DERMOTT AS A LEAF?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

Check out the latest Maple Leafs and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MAPLE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked how much it could cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly when the defenseman’s contract expires in 2022. A good comparable is the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. Fox also suggested paying attention to whatever Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug gets in the coming off-season.

How much could it cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox acknowledged the fallout from the pandemic could affect the salary cap by 2022, which could impact what Rielly’s next contract looks like. Then again, perhaps league revenue rebounds by that point. Given Rielly’s value to the Leafs, don’t be surprised if his agent seeks top dollar. It’s worth noting the Leafs have over $55 million invested in just seven players for 2022-23.

Asked about a suggestion in The Athletic in which the Leafs trade goaltender Frederik Andersen and sign Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Fox isn’t sold on either guy as an upgrade over Andersen. He doesn’t expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to break up his current goalie tandem in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I expect the Leafs will return with their Andersen-Jack Campbell tandem next season. Their performances will determine their long-term futures in Toronto. Murray, by the way, is a restricted free agent. The Leafs will have to trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet.

Fox doesn’t see the Leafs acquiring another LTIR contract to free up cap space to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. However, he thinks Dubas could attempt to acquire a defenseman via trade. “Paying Ryan Kesler or Marian Hossa to not play hockey won’t help Toronto land Petro. Paying Kesler might, in theory, help Dubas acquire a Josh Manson plus a draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas and his staff surprised observers with their wheeling and dealing last summer to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Mitch Marner. We can’t rule out a scenario like that mentioned by Fox to bring in a defenseman, although that might not be necessary with yesterday’s signing of Mikko Lehtonen. Speaking of which…

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the addition of Lehtonen could bring some intrigue to the Leafs defense corps. On paper, his addition creates a log-jam of left-handed defensemen. O’Brien wonders if the Leafs could trade someone like Travis Dermott to balance things out on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen said he’s comfortable playing either side. If he adjusts well on the right side with the Leafs, they won’t have to trade someone like Dermott for a right-handed defender.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined potential free-agent options to bolster the Red Wings’ defense corps. The best of the bunch is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, but he’d probably prefer going somewhere more competitive if he doesn’t re-sign with the Blues. It might not be possible to lure Michigan native Torey Krug away from the Boston Bruins.

Other options include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. A good chunk of that cap room will be invested in re-signing key players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

Provided ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, they should have enough to make a competitive offer to one of those UFAs in the offseason. Nevertheless, the rebuilding Wings might have to overpay to entice one of those blueliners to join them.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2019

Three stars of the week, Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined for five months, Evgeni Malkin hopes to return by week’s end, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A five-goal first period powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 7-2 thrashing of the Florida Panthers, ending the latter’s eight-game points streak. J.T. Miller scored twice while Elias Pettersson and Alexander Edler each collected three assists. Panthers goaltender Sam Montembault was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots but returned for the second period after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two goals on six shots.

Nick Schmaltz scored in the shootout as the Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Conor Garland had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who’ve won six of their last seven games. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 27, 2019.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for five months.

Shoulder surgery will sideline St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko for five months (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a serious blow to the Blues’ offense, robbing them of their best goal scorer. They’ll have to turn to a young forward like Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais or Robby Fabbri to fill the void.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin hopes to return to action on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. A lower-body injury has sidelined him for all but two games this month.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Brendan Perlini to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Alec Regula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perlini requested a trade last week after seeing limited playing time with the Blackhawks. He could provide a bit of a boost to the struggling Red Wings’ anemic offense. Regula currently skates for the OHL’s London Knights.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Adam Lowry received a two-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington during Saturday’s Heritage Classic game in Regina.

TSN: The Flames placed winger Tobias Rieder on waivers.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott will make his season debut tonight against the Washington Capitals. He was sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Connor Carrick required surgery to repair a broken finger. He’ll be sidelined four-to-six weeks.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray will miss three-to-four weeks with a broken hand.

Dallas Stars blueliners Andrej Sekera (undisclosed injury) won’t play tonight against the Minnesota Wild.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland is day-to-day with a minor lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek will join their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint. He hasn’t played since undergoing season-ending knee surgery last March.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins assigned Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson to their AHL affililate.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers called up Filip Chytil and Ryan Lindgren.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2019

Bruins draw first blood against Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, John Tavares and Travis Dermott injured, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins scored four unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. Power-play goals by Marcus Johansson and Patrice Bergeron 28 seconds apart sparked the Bruins comeback while goaltender Tuukka Rask made 29 saves. Game 2 will be Sunday afternoon (3 pm ET start) in Boston.

Patrick Bergeron tallied the game-winner as the Boston Bruins downed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in Game 1 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penalties were the Hurricanes undoing in this one. Some of the calls, like Dougie Hamilton getting sent off for roughing, were debatable. However, Jordan Staal’s boarding penalty was an undisciplined infraction.

The inconsistent officiating cut both ways. The Hurricanes’ first goal was the result of a roughing penalty called on the Bruins Sean Kuraly after taking a shoulder to the face from Brock McGinn. The Hurricanes need a more disciplined effort going forward in this series. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center John Tavares returned from the World Championships in Europe nursing an oblique strain. No word how long he’ll be sidelined. Meanwhile, Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott undergoes shoulder surgery today and will require six months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dermott will miss training camp and likely the opening month of the season. 

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz fractured his left foot in Game 6 of his club’s second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. He had painkilling injections and played over 23 minutes in Game 7.

Winger Mats Zuccarello admitted he still felt lingering pain from the broken right arm suffered in late-February that sidelined him for a month. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak missed the entire second round with an injured knee while forward Mattias Janmark played through a fractured foot suffered in February or March. Blueliner Joel Hanley was sidelined by a shoulder injury.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets assistant general manager Bill Zito was in Seattle yesterday meeting with that city’s NHL expansion group. It’s not clear if they’ll be hiring management staff this summer or next.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed defenseman Dylan McIlrath to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way deal worth $700K annually at the NHL level.