NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

The Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the Devils, the Panthers buy out Keith Yandle, Ben Bishop agrees to waive NMC for the expansion draft, Leafs give Zach Hyman permission to speak to other clubs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST/NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Colorado Avalanche last night traded defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.

The Colorado Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche risked losing Graves to the Seattle Kraken for nothing in next week’s expansion draft. They get a promising young forward in Maltsev and replace the second-round pick they shipped to the New York Islanders last fall for Devon Toews. The move also gives the Avs some much-needed salary-cap relief, replacing Graves’ $3.21 million annual average value with Maltsev’s $925K for 2021-22.

Graves, 26, established himself as a quality top-four defenseman during his tenure with the Avalanche. The 6’5”, 220-pounder brings a good mix of size, physical play and a solid defensive game to the Devils’ blueline.

NBC SPORTS: The Florida Panthers have bought out the remaining two years of Keith Yandle’s contract. The 34-year-old defenseman had an annual average value of $6.35 million. The first year of the buyout will count as $2.34 million against the Panthers’ cap for 2021-22, jumping to $5.3 million for 2022-23, and dropping to $1.24 million annually for the final two seasons.

They also re-signed winger Anthony Duclair to a three-year, $9 million contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a three-year, $7.98 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things were coming to a head between Yandle and the Panthers this season. He was nearly a healthy scratch to start the season, which would’ve threatened his Ironman consecutive games streak. He was scratched from three postseason games. This move freed up immediate cap room to address other needs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. That will allow the Stars to protect goalie Anton Khudobin as promising Jake Oettinger is exempt from the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop missed all of this season recovering from a knee injury. His lengthy injury history likely means the Kraken will pass on selecting him in next week’s draft.

THE SCORE: cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs are allowing Zach Hyman to speak with other teams. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a chance the Leafs could match the best offer but that appears slim. I’ll have more on Hyman in today’s Rumor Mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates Shea Weber’s situation could end in a dispute between the NHL and NHLPA if the league doesn’t allow the Canadiens to put the 35-year-old defenseman on long-term injury reserve. Weber’s career is in jeopardy from the effects of multiple injuries suffered over the past four seasons. He’s reportedly expected to miss the entire 2021-22 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone is waiting for clarity on this before deciding what to do next. Weber is reportedly getting a second medical opinion. Dreger indicated the timing of this situation is what’s clouding the issue with the expansion draft coming up.

THE SCORE: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said Matiss Kivlenieks died a hero during the memorial service for his late teammate. Kivlenieks died at age 24 from chest trauma from a fireworks mortar blast. The tube tilted and started firing toward a hot tub. Merzlikins and his pregnant wife were nearby. He said the young goaltender sacrificed his life to protect others

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Matiss, your last save was your biggest.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed winger Brett Ritchie to a one-year, $900K contract.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Dylan Gambrell to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2021

Some proposed trade destinations for Vladimir Tarasenko and some recent Devils speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD TARASENKO GO?

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz looked at several teams that he believes should pursue a trade for Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year-old St. Louis Blues winger has requested a trade, reportedly in part because of his unhappiness over the club’s treatment of an ongoing shoulder injury.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Gretz suggests the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Seattle Kraken and Nashville Predators should be calling. He believes the Rangers have the cap space and could be a good fit alongside Artemi Panarin on their top line. The Oilers should avoid pursuing aging defenseman Duncan Keith in favor of adding another impact player to provide more scoring depth.

The Devils have cap space and they need a scoring winger. The Kraken also have plenty of cap dollars and Tarasenko could quickly help them become competitive. The Predators need scoring though Gretz acknowledged the cap hit could get tricky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The complication for the Rangers is how Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value for the next two seasons would affect their efforts to re-sign first-line center Mika Zibanejad or find a suitable replacement. The Oilers have a greater need to improve their blueline and their goaltending so I don’t see them getting into the bidding for Tarasenko.

The Devils could be a good fit provided they’re on Tarasenko’s list of preferred trade destinations. If he wants to go to a contender he won’t be interested in joining an expansion club because there’s no certainty the Kraken will emulate the Vegas Golden Knights’ success. I don’t think the Predators can afford to add Tarasenko without shedding Matt Duchene’s contract.

Gretz considers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders as long shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko can’t help the Jackets’ need for a first-line center. I agree with Gretz that the Bruins won’t be able to add another scorer if they’re focused on re-signing Taylor Hall, Tuukka Rask and David Krejci. He also pointed out the Islanders would need to make several moves to fit Tarasenko under their salary cap.

DEVILS SHOPPING DEFENSEMEN?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported New Jersey Devils general manager is working on reshaping his defense corps. Multiple sources claim they’re gauging interest in P.K. Subban and are listening on Will Butcher.

Subban and Butcher are a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Blueliners Matt Tennyson, Ryan Murray and Connor Carrick become UFAs on July 28. Murphy wonders if Fitzgerald will try to sign away Adam Pelech from the New York Islanders with an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban isn’t the offensive star he once was but has remade himself into a more defensively responsible blueliner. The Devils will have to absorb part of his $9 million annual salary-cap hit or take back another hefty contract to facilitate a trade. Butcher has good puck-moving skills but his stats have declined since his promising 44-point debut in 2017-18.

The Devils have over $35 million in projected cap space for 2021-22. Fitzgerald has the room to sign Pelech or another club’s restricted free agent defenseman to an offer sheet. However, that doesn’t mean anyone he targets will sign. Offer sheets rarely occur and the last player successfully signed away was Dustin Penner in 2007.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Jonathan Toews reveals the illness that sidelined him this season, Tom Dundon takes over full ownership of the Hurricanes, the latest coaching hires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. They hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it shifts to Montreal for Games 3 and 4.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves while Blake Coleman broke a 1-1 tie with a diving buzzer-beater goal in the second period. Ondrej Palat put the game out of reach with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. Nick Suzuki tallied the Canadiens’ only goal.

The Lightning played without winger Alex Killorn. He suffered a suspected leg injury in Game 1 after blocking a Jeff Petry shot and is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 is Friday night at 8 pm ET in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens outplayed the Lightning in this contest but the few mistakes they made wound up in the back in their net. They blew an opportunity to open the scoring in the first period by failing to capitalize on a 4-on-3 power play. Joel Edmundson was the goat on the Lightning’s third goal as his behind-the-net back pass went directly to Palat.

Vasilevskiy was solid in this game for the Lightning but the Canadiens still didn’t generate enough high-quality scoring opportunities. Carey Price, meanwhile, wasn’t bad for the Canadiens but he hasn’t been at his best thus far in this series.

The Lightning have a great opportunity to take a commanding lead in Game 3. The Canadiens cannot afford to fall behind 3-0 against a powerhouse like the Bolts. They’ll need a better effort on Friday or risk watching the Lightning skate away with the Stanley Cup on Monday night.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens request to allow more than 3,500 fans for Games 3 and 4 was rejected by the Quebec government and health officials. The Habs hoped to expand that number to 10,500.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews revealed he was diagnosed with chronic immune response syndrome. The condition sidelined him for the entire 2020-21 season. He indicated he’s feeling much better now and intends to rejoin his teammates next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews in his recovery.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Tom Dundon is now the full owner of the Carolina Hurricanes. He’d been the majority owner of the club since January 2018 but bought out all the remaining shareholders, including those of former owner Peter Karmanos Jr. The sale of the shares was unanimously approved by the NHL board of governors.

NJ.COM: Scott O’Neil, the CEO of the parent company that owns the New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, is stepping down to pursue other interests.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports the Arizona Coyotes have called a news conference for today where they’ll announce the hiring of Ottawa 67s head coach Andre Tourigny as their new bench boss.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings have hired Alex Tanguay as an assistant coach. The former NHL player spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Iowa Wild.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks’ poor performance over the last two seasons saw their season-ticket sales drop from 10,500 in 2019 to 9000 for 2021-22.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2021

Check out the latest on Seth Jones, Matthew Tkachuk, Jack Eichel, Viktor Arvidsson, Wayne Simmonds and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NOTABLE SPECULATION FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s still hearing a lot about the Philadelphia Flyers having an interest in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate but it’s not surprising the Flyers would look at Jones to fill their glaring need for a top-pairing, right-side blueliner. They have the assets to make a competitive pitch, but they’ll have to shed salary to squeeze in his $5.4 million cap hit for next season. Cap Friendly shows them with $13.08 in projected cap space. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim are due for new contracts plus they need to find a suitable backup for Hart.

The Flames issued firm denials regarding a recent rumor claiming Matthew Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary. That’s different from when no one denied the leak that Seth Jones would test next summer’s free-agent market or the news the Arizona Coyotes will try to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson or reports the Carolina Hurricanes allowed Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There weren’t any earlier indications Tkachuk was unhappy in Calgary prior to last week’s rumor claiming he wanted out. Flames management could consider all options after missing the playoffs this season. Moving Tkachuk, however, doesn’t sound like one of them.

Things were quieter on the Jack Eichel rumor front last week. Friedman expects things to pick up once they hire a new coach. Interim coach Don Granato and Rick Tocchet are among the contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports several sources said the Rangers have had preliminary talks with the Sabres and would like to look into Eichel’s medical condition. He said it’s uncertain if general manager Chris Drury is performing due diligence or has a serious interest in the Sabres’ captain. The Sabres haven’t granted permission for clubs to examine Eichel’s medical records but it’s expected they would do so if trade talks intensify.

Friedman also heard Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson could be available. The hard-working winger has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Arvidsson would attract considerable interest. However, he’s been hampered by injuries the past three seasons, which would explain why the Predators could be willing to move him.

It sounds like Wayne Simmonds could be returning for another season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds completed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Leafs. Given their limited cap space, my guess is they’ll try to sign him to a one-year deal worth under $1 million. They’ll also probably wait until after the expansion draft to formally announce it so they don’t have to place him on their protected list.

**UPDATE: TSN reports the Leafs signed Simmonds to a two-year extension with an annual average value of $900K. 

Friedman thinks some trade discussions are stalled over worries about expansion draft protection. There’s also concern the Seattle Kraken could draft exposed players and then flip them elsewhere. For example, they could select someone like Matt Dumba or Mark Giordano and then entertain bids and potentially absorb part of their salary. Friedman feels either player would make sense for the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken GM Ron Francis will try to use the same playbook as the Vegas Golden Knights during their expansion draft. He’s going to look at side deals if it lands a return that provides long-term benefits.

Speculation suggests Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook could test the free-agent market. There are also Warren Foegele trade talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The potential departures of Martinook and Foegele could be in anticipation of re-signing pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton and restricted free agents Andrei Svechnikov and Alex Nedeljkovic. The Hurricanes have over $29 million in projected cap space but new contracts for those three will eat up a big chunk.

The New Jersey Devils could consider moving their first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s draft for a good young defenseman.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton, Patrik Laine, Rasmus Ristolainen and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’s asked around to see if the Buffalo Sabres gave other clubs permission to speak with Jack Eichel but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He added the club and its captain are negotiating the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his neck. Sources indicate if the Sabres shop Eichel or Sam Reinhart that we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up with another high pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski predicted the Sabres will grant permission for interested clubs to speak to Eichel. That will be necessary because of the treatment Eichel requires to treat his injury. If a rival club is willing to allow him to undergo the surgery he seeks and offers the right trade package, Lysowki believes the Sabres will make the deal sooner rather than later.

THE ATHLETIC/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins will pass on Eichel because of his neck injury. “A $10 million player has to be a sure thing,” he wrote. Joe Haggerty dismissed any talk of the Bruins acquiring Eichel as “fantasy stuff.”

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Seattle Kraken could use the prospect they select with the second-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of a package offer for Eichel. One NHL executive said he was told Kraken general manager Ron Francis checked in on the Sabres captain.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports hearing the New York Rangers are not likely, or much less likely now, to get into the bidding for Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s neck injury will determine the number of teams with interest in the Sabres captain. Some could be willing to take a chance on him having surgery on his herniated disk, a procedure that’s never been performed before on an NHL player. However, I think most general managers share Shinzawa’s opinion. If you’re going to invest assets and cap space acquiring an expensive talent like Eichel, you better be sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy.

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Philadelphia Flyers might not aggressively pursue Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The Hurricanes are allowing Hamilton to speak with other teams.

Friedman indicated the Flyers’ interests in addressing their blueline needs appear to be elsewhere, speculating they could target Columbus’ Seth Jones or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also suggested the Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils could make sense for Hamilton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes it would cost the Flyers “multiple high draft picks and either Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers for starters” to acquire Hamilton, and only if they can get him to sign a long-term contract extension. He feels the Flyers would have difficulty fitting him under the cap unless Jakub Voracek headed the other way.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall speculates the Flyers could consider more affordable options if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones. He pointed out they had an interest in Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak before tumbling out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. Hall also mentioned Vegas’ Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh’s Cody Ceci as other UFA options.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Florida Panthers are expected to be aggressively pursuing improvement this offseason. He’s curious if they ask the Columbus Blue Jackets about Patrik Laine. He and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether the Jackets are going for a full-scale rebuild. A shake-up is probably coming after Seth Jones indicated his intent to test next summer’s free-agent market but it could be a retooling rather than a teardown.

I don’t see the Panthers being keen to take on the potential headache of Laine’s contract negotiations. It will cost $7.5 million to qualify his rights.

The Jackets could decide not to qualify him and let him depart as an unrestricted free agent. However, that would leave them with little to show for shipping Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg.

He cited Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reporting the New Jersey Devils had an interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He wonders if they might also consider Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere if the Flyers included a sweetener in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski pointed out the Devils have the assets in picks and prospects to make a bid for Ristolainen, who indicated last month he’d be open to a trade. The issue here is he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Devils could acquire him and see how next season plays out or they could insist on him signing a contract extension first.

A scout suggested to Friedman that interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique could pick up following his solid play for Canada at this year’s World Championships.

Friedman doesn’t put much stock into recent rumors suggesting Jared Bednar could lose his job as Colorado Avalanche head coach. Despite the club’s disappointing playoff exit, the team still believes in Bednar.

The San Jose Sharks have given pending UFA forward Kurtis Gabriel permission to speak with other teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

A look at possible destinations for Dougie Hamilton plus the latest Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD HAMILTON LAND?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examined some potential destinations for Dougie Hamilton if the 27-year-old defenseman departs the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency.

The Carolina Hurricanes will allow Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams (NHL Images).

Larkin cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting yesterday the Hurricanes will allow Hamilton to speak with other teams before the free-agent market opens on July 28. Friedman suggested that could set the stage for a sign-and-trade but didn’t rule out the blueliner returning to the Hurricanes if he doesn’t receive better offers elsewhere.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets could be aggressive suitors given their need for a top-four right-side defenseman. Other possibilities include the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The latter would have to be willing to swap left-side defender Morgan Rielly for a righty like Hamilton.

Larkin included the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings under the category of too soon in their rebuild for the soon-to-be 28-year-old Hamilton. He also proposed the possibility of a hockey trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones or the New Jersey Devils for P.K. Subban if half of his salary was retained.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Larkin’s take on the Blackhawks, Flyers and Jets among the aggressive suitors. If it’s a sign-and-trade scenario, there would be some salary heading to the Hurricanes in the deal. The Flyers might have to shed more with Cap Friendly showing them carrying $69.2 million invested in 17 players. They could get that if the Seattle Kraken select James van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples is skeptical of the Oilers’ pursuing Hamilton because they have bigger needs than an offensive right-side blueliner, especially if Evan Bouchard is ready for full-time promotion. The Leafs could shake things up and a Rielly-for-Hamilton trade would certainly do that. However, Hamilton’s new contract for next season will be more expensive than Rielly’s $5 million. The Leafs can’t pull this off if they’re unwilling to move one of their high-salaried forwards.

I’ll be surprised if Hamilton ends up with the Wings or Kings. As Larkin points out, he might not be keen to join a rebuilding club at this stage in his career. The same applies to the Blue Jackets and Devils.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reported contract talks between the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins agent, Rick Valette. He speculates general manager Ken Holland could be open to more term in exchange for a more affordable annual average value. Leavins suggests something beyond six years would be risky for the Oilers as that would take him up to age 35 or 36 when his skills would be in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggested the Oilers let Nugent-Hopkins walk and pursue a more affordable center like Montreal’s Phillip Danault. Holland might have to go that route if he can’t get Nugent-Hopkins signed to a contract that fits within his budget. Nevertheless, the fact talks are resumed suggests the Oilers GM would prefer keeping him in the fold.

Leavins also speculates the Oilers could be interested in Toronto’s Zach Hyman if he goes to market but they’ll face competition from many suitors. Other options could include Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn if the Lightning needs to shed salary, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk or perhaps Taylor Hall if he doesn’t re-sign with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The most realistic of that bunch for the Oilers would be DeBrusk given his affordable $3.675 million contract. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list and the Oilers could be on it.

I may be wrong but I can see Hyman accepting less than market value to stay in his hometown of Toronto. He’s got a good gig with the Leafs so why screw that up? Sure, Hall could return to Edmonton but that doesn’t mean a reunion with the Oilers will happen. I see him staying with the Bruins.