Dubois, Laine Remain Top Trade Candidates In The NHL Rumor Mill
The latest on Aleksander Barkov, Keith Yandle and Patrik Laine in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS (via KUKLA’S KORNER): TSN insider Darren Dreger reports it’s hard to say at this point how seriously we should take trade speculation about Aleksander Barkov. The 25-year-old Florida Panthers captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Dreger said the Florida Panthers and general manager Bill Zito believe they have time. Zito spoke to Barkov’s representative stating they had no interest in trade the center. Barkov has a no-movement clause in his contract for this season and a modified (12-team no-trade list) no-trade clause for 2021-22.
Barkov wants to win and wants assurances the Panthers are on the road toward achieving that goal. If they’re heading in that direction when it comes time to start contract talks, he’s willing to listen. Dreger indicates there are lots of NHL general managers who are eager to let Zito know they’re interested if Barkov becomes available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers cannot open contract talks with Barkov until he’s officially entered the final season of his deal, which will be when free agency begins on July 28. The recent trade speculation arose because some general managers are said to be skeptical that he’ll re-sign with the Panthers.
Barring the unforeseen, this will probably be the last we’ll hear about Barkov in this season’s rumor mill. Don’t be surprised, however, if the speculation over his future in Florida resurfaces this summer, especially if the Panthers have another disappointing season.
Dreger was also asked about Keith Yandle’s status with the Panthers. He called it “curious, at best,” suggesting the 34-year-old defenseman probably isn’t sure about his situation with the club going forward. He was told before the start of the season that he wouldn’t be in the lineup but there was an about-face perhaps because of push-back from his teammates. Dreger wondered if Yandle was seeing action to improve trade interest.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes believes the Bruins should pursue Yandle. Weekes called out the Panthers’ organization for disrespecting the veteran blueliner and believes it’s an opportunity for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to acquire Yandle to bolster the Bruins’ scoring if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his $6.35 million cap hit.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss acknowledged Yandle, a Massachusetts native, is still productive. However, his agent, contract and the Bruins’ need to give their young defensemen a chance to prove themselves doesn’t make Yandle a good fit at this time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Goss. If Yandle were a little younger or had less time remaining on his contract at a more reasonable cap hit, perhaps he’d be a worthwhile trade target for the Bruins.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the current absence of Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) will give the Winnipeg Jets a good idea of what life will be like without him. The winger asked for a trade during the off-season but Garrioch said the Jets could find a suitable trade partner.
That doesn’t mean Laine is off the market. Garrioch pointed out many observers believe a deal could happen during this season. The 22-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who could seek over $9 million per season. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could attempt to move Laine before the trade deadline rather than meet Laine’s expensive salary demands.
Garrioch notes the speculations linking Laine to Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Like Laine, Dubois has requested a trade, prompting suggestions of a one-for-one swap. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen would have more than a passing interest in Laine.
Anyone interested in acquiring Laine will have to talk to him about a contract extension. Garrioch lists the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks among the potential suitors. He dismissed rumors linking Laine to the Carolina Hurricanes because he doesn’t believe they’ll shell out big bucks to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Laine during the season is possible but only if the Jets have fallen out of the playoff race or they get an offer of an immediate impact player in return. Laine remains a key ingredient in the Jets’ playoff hopes for this season.
The Blue Jackets would certainly need to know if Laine would be willing to sign a contract extension. The Jets, however, could also have concerns about Dubois’ contract status. He’s signed through next season and they could be unwilling to part with Laine for a player who could prove unwilling to commit to a long-term deal with them.
Laine would certainly provide some welcome star power to the Red Wings but their biggest needs remain improving their defense. Ditto the Blackhawks.
The Flyers reportedly kicked tires on Laine but the cost of the return apparently ended those discussions. The Devils could be a good fit as they have the cap space and the assets to acquire and re-sign Laine, provided he’s willing to agree to a long-term deal.
Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.
The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.
Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.
The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.
THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.
The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.
NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.
Recaps of Saturday’s action, Flyers center Sean Couturier sidelined, Penguins forward Jared McCann fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Rookie Yegor Sharangovich’s first NHL goal was also a game-winner in the dying seconds of overtime as the New Jersey Devils nipped the Boston Bruins 2-1. Miles Wood opened the scoring and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 27 saves for the win. Patrice Bergeron replied for the Bruins, who also lost winger Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) after being hit by Wood with what appeared to be a high stick in the second period.
The Arizona Coyotes picked up their first win of the season by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-3. Phil Kessel scored twice, Oliver Ekman-Larsson collected three assists and Antti Raanta kicked out 31 shots for the Coyotes. Timo Meier had a goal and two assists for the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It took Kessel six games into 2019-20 to tally his first two goals in what was a disappointing season for the veteran winger. He now has three in his first two games this season.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price turned aside 34 shots to backstop his club over the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry each tallied twice for the Habs, who held Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scoreless in this contest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens blew this game open with three unanswered second-period goals. Habs winger Josh Anderson left the game late in the third after falling awkwardly into the boards. Following the game, coach Claude Julien said Anderson was ok.
After being shut out 4-0 by the New York Islanders in their first meeting of this season, the New York Rangers turned the tables by blanking the Isles 5-0. Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich each scored twice. Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut in goal for the Islanders after starter Semyon Varlamov was injured during warmups after he was hit in the throat by a puck.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov’s injury reportedly wasn’t serious but it was enough to keep him out of the lineup for this game. Isles coach Barry Trotz refused to blame Sorokin for the loss, pinning it instead on his club’s overall poor performance in this contest.
Robby Fabbri’s goal late in the third period was the game-winner as the Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Dylan Larkin scored twice and Bobby Ryan tallied his first with the Wings. Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A much better effort by the Wings in this contest after getting blanked 3-0 by the Hurricanes in their season opener.
Joe Thornton netted his first goal with the Toronto Maple Leafs as they held on to edge the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Mitch Marner factored in each Leaf goal, tallying once and setting up two others. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle scored his first career NHL goal. Leafs forward Nick Robertson left the game in the first period with an apparent knee injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs improved their defensive play following a sloppy loss 5-3 loss to the Senators on Friday night. They controlled the puck most of the night, out-shooting the Senators 40-19.
A four-goal third-period outburst powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to sweep their season-opening two-game series. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 42 saves while Brad Richardson snapped a 2-2 tie with what proved to be the winning goal. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.
The Minnesota Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings for the second straight game for a 4-3 overtime victory. Marcus Johansson tallied the game-winner with Kirill Kaprizov (the overtime hero in the first game) picking up an assist. Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist for the Wild.
Max Pacioretty was the overtime hero as his Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. William Karlsson scored the tying goal late in the third, setting the stage for Pacioretty’s winner. John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks.
Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom turned in a 32-save shutout against the Vancouver Canucks to defeat his former club 3-0. The Flames got power-play goals by Sean Monahan, Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk. Former Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev led all blueliners in this game with eight blocked shots.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Sean Couturier will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a costochondral separation, which is when one of the ribs becomes separated from the sternum.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann was fined $10,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for elbowing Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim in the head on Friday. Sanheim seemed to escape injury and finished the game.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets canceled practice on Saturday due to potential exposure to COVID-19. It remains to be seen if they’ll hold practice on Sunday.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday claimed goaltender Troy Grosenick off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, he’ll have to stay in Edmonton for 14 days, meaning he’ll miss the club’s upcoming four-game road trip to Toronto and Winnipeg.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported goaltender Jimmy Howard will announce his retirement in the coming days. He spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. In 543 games, he had a record of 246 wins, 196 losses and 70 overtime defeats, with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and 24 shutouts.
CBC.CA: Adam McQuaid has officially announced his retirement. He last played in 2018-19 but was sidelined by a herniated disc in his neck, leading to concussion symptoms and nerve pain in one arm. In 512 NHL games, McQuaid tallied 16 goals and 73 points with a plus-minus of plus-62 with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He played all but one of his 10 seasons with the Bruins, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard joined the Red Wings at the tail end of their dominance but played well through most of his tenure. McQuaid was a hard-nosed defensive blueliner who was a key part of the Bruins’ defense corps for most of his time in Boston. Best wishes to both players in their future endeavors.
Teams are making inquiries about the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov while the club tries to figure out what to do with Keith Yandle, plus the latest on Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BARKOV AND YANDLE
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports being told there are “a number of teams” making inquiries about Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov in recent weeks. Panthers general manager Bill Zito said he has no intention of trading the 25-year-old center and hopes to re-sign him. However, rival clubs are skeptical that Barkov will re-sign when his contract expires in 2022.
Barkov’s camp wants to win in Florida and is willing to give Zito the time needed to get the right pieces in order to do that. However, Seravalli believes Barkov’s situation will be worth watching in the coming months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is perhaps the NHL’s most overlooked star. He’s among the league’s best two-way forwards and one of the most disciplined players, winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2018-19.
Nevertheless, most fans and pundits around the league don’t seem to realize just how good he really is. Panthers fans won’t like me saying this, but he’d garner far more recognition and plaudits if he played on a better team in a bigger hockey market.
I don’t doubt Barkov’s sincerity about wanting to win with the Panthers. However, they’ve been a sad-sack organization through most of his tenure. He could consider testing the UFA market if the Panthers are still spinning their wheels by the end of next season.
Speaking of the Panthers, Pierre LeBrun reports Keith Yandle’s agent believes Zito is trying to put pressure on his client to convince him to waive his no-movement clause. Zito, however, said he hasn’t asked the 34-year-old defenseman to waive that clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito is wasting little time trying to shake things up since taking over as Panthers GM in September. LeBrun’s colleague Travis Yost indicated moving the puck-moving blueliner won’t be easy because of his declining play and $6.3 million annual average value.
Nevertheless, Yost doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Yandle getting traded to a club with blue-line issues provided the Panthers retain some of his annual average value. I don’t dismiss that possibility but Yandle’s age and the remaining term of his contract (through 2022-23) are significant sticking points.
LATEST ON DUBOIS
Former Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos took to Twitter yesterday saying the Montreal Canadiens are Dubois’ destination of choice. He claims the Jackets’ asking price is focused around “Nick Suzuki/plus.” Kypreos also said Habs defenseman Alexander Romanov “has been deemed untouchable.”
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger replied to Kypreos with a tweet saying he’s heard “Kotkaniemi/Mete and something else” was what he heard from asking around.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should be in the mix if the Columbus Blue Jackets intend to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois. He feels Zito is a big fan of Dubois, suggesting he’d make a good fit centering the Panthers’ second line with Barkov on the top line. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will pry Dubois from the Jackets, adding it will be costly to land him.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins could get into the bidding for Dubois. Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen are their best assets but Haggerty feels it will cost much more to get a deal done. He’s not holding his breath expecting to see Dubois in a Bruins jersey. Meanwhile, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports the Panthers and New Jersey Devils are among those interested in the Jackets’ center.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a legitimate first-line center, something they haven’t had since Jason Spezza was traded away in 2014. He thinks it would take a significant offer to acquire Dubois, suggesting anyone other than Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot or Tim Stuetzle should be in play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said Blue Jackets’ coach John Tortorella’s recent comments about Dubois wanting out isn’t making GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s job any easier. LeBrun said other clubs are saying Kekalainen wants to be patient with this situation, but it’s apparent there’s plenty of interest in the 22-year-old center.
It’s possible that a trade could shake out during this season that Kekalainen finds too good to pass up. I believe that deal must include a scoring forward, preferably a center. However, I still believe a deal of that magnitude takes place in the offseason. Despite the flattened salary cap, there will be clubs with the cap space this summer to take on Dubois’ $5 million AAV for next season and to pay him a big raise beyond that.