NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2020

The Penguins could face trading a goaltender, plus some recent Jets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE PENGUINS TRADE A GOALTENDER?

NHL.COM: cites Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford saying he might have to trade one of his goaltenders during an interview with The Athletic’s Josh Yohe. Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights following this season. The Penguins have over $68 million invested in next season’s roster.

Will Matt Murray still be a Pittsburgh Penguins goalie after this season? (Photo via NHL Images)

“I’ll say this: If we are going to keep both of them, we’d have to move a few things around on our team,” Rutherford said. “There is a way to do things and to make that work, yes. There are some very, very tough decisions ahead.” Though next season’s salary cap has yet to be determined, he admitted he’s planning that it won’t be as high as this year’s $81.5 million. “We know that much,” Rutherford said. “It’s certainly not going up.”

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also referred to Rutherford’s interview with The Athletic. He noted third-stringer Casey DeSmith didn’t come up much in that interview but feels he’s relevant to this situation. O’Brien admitted his surprise that DeSmith failed to secure the backup role this season and that no other club snatched him up when he was placed on waivers before the start of the season. DeSmith’s inconsistency in the minors this season makes O’Brien doubt he’d fetch much of a return in a trade. His best guess is DeSmith will back up Murray or Jarry next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a tough call for Rutherford. Murray backstopped the Penguins to their last two Stanley Cups, but his injury history is cause for concern. Jarry showed potential as a full-time NHL starter this season, but he’s only been in that role for a short time.

I think Rutherford was counting on seeing how Murray and Jarry performed down the stretch and in the playoffs before deciding which one he’d keep. He could re-sign both but that will mean shedding salary elsewhere in the lineup, adversely affecting their overall roster depth.  Murray or Jarry will be playing elsewhere next season.

RECENT JETS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the Winnipeg Jets’ long-term needs. Citing their issues on the blueline, he wondered if Ville Heinola and Sami Niku will develop into NHL defensemen. He also points out their ongoing need for a second- or third-line center.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Murat Ates recently listed veteran defensemen Dmitry Kulikov, Nathan Beaulieu, and Luca Sbisa among those most likely to depart in the off-season. Center Cody Eakin could also be among them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With last month’s termination of Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players for next season. The good news is all their key players are signed for next season, so there should be enough room for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to address those depth issues.

Kulikov, Beaulieu, Sbisa, and Eakin are unrestricted free agents and might not fit into the Jets’ plans. Maybe one of them gets an affordable one-year deal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Cheveldayoff considers other options via trade or free agency.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2019

The latest on the Leafs, Flames, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COACHING CHANGE OR TRADE FOR THE LEAFS AND FLAMES?

TSN: Bob McKenzie doesn’t believe the struggling Calgary Flames are considering replacing Bill Peters as head coach. He reports general manager Brad Treliving is trying to shake things up with a trade but there’s nothing imminent on that front.

Darren Dreger said there’s ongoing speculation over the availability of certain players like Mark Jankowski, Oliver Kylington and Michael Frolik. He also suggests the possibility of moving defenseman Travis Hamonic as the trade deadline creeps closer, though they could also retain him if they’re a playoff club by that point. Hamonic is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Tyson Barrie’s poor start could make it difficult for the Toronto Maple Leafs to move him (Photo via NHL Images).

The Leafs ongoing struggles raised questions about coach Mike Babcock’s future in Toronto. McKenzie doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs are predisposed to a coaching change in-season. However, the Leafs can’t afford many more games like their 6-1 loss on Saturday to Pittsburgh.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle wonders what the Leafs will do with Tyson Barrie as his poor start continues to worsen. The defenseman’s recent play and tiny salary ($2.75 million) makes it hard for the cap-strapped Leafs to get a decent return. Mirtle suggests a deal for Colin Miller, who seems to have fallen out of favor with the Buffalo Sabres. He also proposed a deal with another club that retains salary to get the contracts to match, pointing out the Leafs showed off-season interest in Flames rearguard TJ Brodie.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan thinks the Leafs should address their backup goalie issues by trying to acquire Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Greg Wyshynski suggests they should go further by flipping Barrie and a sweetener to the Penguins for fellow UFA defenseman Justin Schultz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A coaching change appears more likely in Toronto than Calgary. With the Leafs winless in six, Babcock’s future remains a hot topic. We’re also hearing more trade rumblings regarding the Flames than the Leafs, though that doesn’t mean the latter isn’t exploring the market.

Cap Friendly indicates the Flames and Leafs have limited salary-cap space. If they’re going to deal with each other, it’ll likely have to be dollar-for-dollar. Given Brodie’s recent medical scare, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for the time being. The Leafs can’t afford to take on Schultz’s $5.5 million cap hit unless the Penguins absorb a big chunk of it, which they’re unlikely to do.

The Sabres have more cap space (over $2 million) and could pick up a bit of Miller’s $3.75-milllion cap hit to get Barrie in return. But as we’ll see, they’re not in the market for a defenseman.

SABRES SEEK A FORWARD

WGR 550: Paul Hamilton reports Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill acknowledged he’s actively seeking a forward to improve his struggling club. He also admitted the difficulty in a salary-cap world of swinging a major deal in November.

That doesn’t mean Botterill will shop a defenseman. He wants to ensure he’s got sufficient blueline depth in case injuries strike. However, they already have nine blueliners on their roster and three NHL-ready rearguards (Lawrence Pilut, Will Borgen and Casey Nelson) in the minors.

Sidelined defenseman Zach Bogosian is close to returning to the roster. That means any trades the Sabres make could be dollar-in, dollar-out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill might be reluctant to move a defenseman but I don’t see how he can address his need for a scoring forward without parting with a blueliner. He’s got several potential trade chips on his blueline in Miller, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Marco Scandella.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2019

A look at several notable names on the waiver wire plus updates on Evander Kane, Brock Boeser, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC SPORTS: New York Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith, and Anaheim Ducks winger Daniel Sprong are among several notable name to hit the NHL waiver wire yesterday.

Others include veterans like Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn, and Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Click the above link for the complete list. These players will be demoted to their teams’ respective AHL farm clubs if unclaimed by noon ET today. A few, however, could be plucked off the waiver wire before then. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane could face a lengthy suspension for shoving an on-ice official during a preseason game (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Evander Kane’s abuse of an official penalty carries an automatic 10-game suspension. “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will have to confirm and officially enforce the suspension,” write Dreger. The incident took place during a pre-season game between Kane’s San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights. 

SPORTSNET: Brock Boeser has been cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion last week. The Vancouver Canucks winger was injured after being hit from behind by Ottawa Senators forward Chris Tierney during a pre-season game. 

NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues received their 2019 Stanley Cup championship rings.

THE TENNESSEAN:  The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone announced the naming rights extension for Bridgestone Arena to 2030. 

NHL.COM: The NHL announced a two-year marketing and promotional platform with the rock group Green Day. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the league is taking the longview in this partnership. 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2019

Taylor Hall denies he’s close to a new contract with the Devils, the Canadiens could be shopping a forward, trade talks could heat up for the Penguins, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HALL DENIES HE’S CLOSE TO A NEW CONTRACT

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reports Taylor Hall disputed reports claiming he’s close to re-signing with the New Jersey Devils. While confirming his agent met over the weekend with Devils general manager Ray Shero, the winger claimed it was a preliminary meeting.

Taylor Hall denies he’s getting close to signing a new contract with the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He described the meeting as a positive one. “That’s the thing, when a guy like (TSN reporter Darren) Dreger says stuff that a deal is imminent or it could be close, there wasn’t even numbers discussed. That’s when you have to just let things take shape and see where they go.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s what Dreger actually said:

“Well, Taylor Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, met with Devils general manager Ray Shero over the weekend and it sounds like they’re making some traction here”…”Now, you have to keep in mind that is coming off a significant injury. He loved the way he was treated by the Devils organization – very professional from start to finish. He likes what Shero has done in the changes that he’s made to the lineup of the New Jersey Devils”…”So it’s one of those situations. It could happen sooner than later, which is saying a lot considering that he’s in the final year of his contract.”

In other words, Dreger merely speculated that there might be some progress. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Devils and Hall are “underselling this a bit.” He said they’re trying “to make a serious run at an extension.”

CANADIENS SHOPPING A FORWARD?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens are looking to move a forward. He points out promising youngsters Nick Suzuki, Jake Evans, and Ryan Poehling are pushing for roster spots. Friedman noted Jonathan Drouin played a team-low 11:57 in Monday’s 3-0 preseason loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and suggests this is something worth watching.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs assigned Evans to the Laval Rocket but Suzuki and Poehling could be on the Habs roster when the season opens next week.

While the thought of Drouin being shopped just two years after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning makes for interesting speculation, I doubt the Canadiens will move him. Le Journal de Montreal indicated Nick Cousins or Charles Hudon could be the odd man out.

Recent rumors indicate the Habs have interest in Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka. Perhaps Cousins or Hudon gets dangled for the young blueliner.

TRADE COMING FOR THE PENGUINS?

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford suggested a trade is a possibility before the start of the season. The Penguins are over the $81.5 million salary cap by between $300-400K and must become cap compliant before the season opens next week.

During the summer, Rutherford admitted interest in trading goaltender Tristan Jarry but couldn’t find any takers at the time. He now believes the goalie market has heated up in recent days. Jarry and goalie Casey DeSmith are no longer waiver exempt, meaning they could be claimed by another club if the Penguins attempt to demote one of them.

Yohe also reports sources claim the Penguins are willing to deal “numerous players” for the right return. They include Jarry, defenseman Jack Johnson, and forwards Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication what the “right return” would be for those players, though I daresay it would be an affordable young roster player. If push comes to shove, it could come down to Jarry or DeSmith.

Johnson’s declining performance and contract (four years remaining at $3.25 million annually) could be a tough sell. There’s been talk Rutherford is reluctant to part with Rust or Bjugstad.

LATEST ON THE DUCKS AND KINGS

Friedman said the Anaheim Ducks continue to look for a right-shot defenseman. They recently attempted to acquire Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes but that deal fell through. Faulk was shipped yesterday to the St. Louis Blues. He also said there’s nothing imminent on Tyler Toffoli. The Los Angeles Kings forward is slated to become a UFA next summer and could attract interest in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have been linked to Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres’ asking price could be a scoring right-winger.

If Toffoli and the Kings failed to reach an agreement on a new contract, he could be shopped if the Kings are out of playoff contention by the Feb. 24, 2020 trade deadline.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2019

Game recaps, Rick Nash retires, an update on Sergei Bobrovsky, the latest trades and contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.com: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner scored his 30th of the season in his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes since they trade him last summer, but it was the Hurricanes that emerged with a 4-3 win. Sebastian Aho scored twice, Micheal Ferland had a three-point night and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves as the Hurricanes held on for the victory.

Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner scored his 30th goal of the season on Friday and was also voted into the NHL All-Star Game by the fans. (Photo via NHL Images)

Speaking of Skinner, he joined Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl as the “Last Men In” to skate for their respective divisions in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in San Jose.  

Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a 3-0 deficit to thump the Anaheim Ducks 7-4, handing the latter their 10th consecutive defeat. Evgeni Malkin had a four-point performance, Phil Kessel had three points and Tanner Pearson scored twice for the Penguins.  Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced the re-signing of backup goaltender Casey DeSmith to a three-year extension worth an annual average value of $1.25 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have slipped out of a wild-card berth and are in danger of tumbling out of playoff contention altogether if they don’t snap out of this tailspin soon. Getting Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell back from injury should help but general manager Bob Murray could be under pressure to do something, be it a trade or a coaching change, to reverse this season-threatening skid.

As for the DeSmith signing, it’s an affordable move by the Penguins to ensure a measure of stability behind oft-injured starter Matt Murray. It could turn into an incredible bargain if DeSmith goes on to outplay Murray and take over the starter’s role, or easily moveable if Tristan Jarry should supplant him from the backup job. 

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit kicked out 33 shots and teammate Kyle Connor collected three points to lead their club to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. 

The Calgary Flames overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Florida Panthers 4-3. Michael Frolik led the way with a goal and two assists. 

SPORTSNET: After 15 NHL seasons, multiple concussions have forced Rick Nash to announce his retirement. A six-time all-star, Nash tallied 437 goals, 368 assists, and 805 points in 1,068 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. He won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2003-04 as the league’s leading goal scorer. He captained the Blue Jackets for over four seasons (2007-08 to 2011-12. He also won two gold medals (2010, 2014) playing for Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  A dazzling goal scorer, Nash remains the Blue Jackets’ all-time offensive leader. Those who ran the Blue Jackets during his tenure with them did an insufficient job building around his scoring talent. His playoff scoring stats weren’t as impressive as his regular-season numbers, at times making him a target for criticism. Those concussion injuries often took a lengthy toll upon his performance. With better health, he would’ve been a more dominant scorer. 

THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): Following a meeting with Blue Jackets management, coaches and players, Sergei Bobrovsky has returned to the lineup. The club had disciplined him following an incident during a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. He spoke to the media following the meetings, acknowledged he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, apologized to his teammates, said the air has been cleared and they’re all moving on from the incident. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing Bobrovsky snapped after he was pulled from the game and verbally lashed out at his teammates. Whatever the reason, the proof of whether he and the club have put this situation behind them will be determined by their play. 

DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon apologized for getting into a spat on the bench with head coach Jared Bednar during a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. He said he felt embarrassed after seeing the footage and took responsibility for handling the situation poorly. He defended Bednar and said he and his teammates enjoy playing for him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good on MacKinnon for owning up to his mistake. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson publicly shared his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness on Friday. Last summer, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor domestic abuse and received an 18-game suspension by the league. He said he and his girlfriend, who also struggled with alcohol, are now in a better place, have put the incident behind them, and remain committed to their sobriety. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Watson and his family as they work to improve their lives with the help of the resources available to them from the league, the NHLPA and the Predators, as well as the support of their families. 

TSN: The St. Louis Blues placed forwards Tyler Bozak (concussion) and Robert Thomas (shoulder) on injured reserve.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Slater Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Jan Rutta.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek struggled to crack a very deep Lightning blueline. He’ll have a better opportunity becoming an NHL regular with the Blackhawks, whose blueline depth has steadily eroded in recent years. 

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers traded center Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for minor-league defenseman Jacob Graves and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.