NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

What does the future hold for trade candidates Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko in the wake of yesterday’s free-agent frenzy? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl provides an update on where things stand with the Buffalo Sabres’ efforts to trade Jack Eichel. The Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers could still be in the mix but the Minnesota Wild have dropped out. The Los Angeles Kings’ free-agent spending spree (Phillip Danault, Alex Edler and Andreas Athanasiou) takes them out of the equation.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Vogl indicates the Sabres feel teams are offering too little for Eichel while the interest parties feel the Sabres are asking too much. Teams with cap space that could benefit from a first-line center like Eichel include the Ducks, Rangers, Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because most of those teams have the cap space to acquire Eichel’s hefty contract doesn’t mean they will. His neck injury and the Sabres’ high asking price are the big sticking points here.

The Kraken lack suitable assets in draft picks, prospects and young NHL talent to make a suitable bid. The Islanders still have to re-sign Anthony Beauviller, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

The Predators are already carrying two expensive centers in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen and won’t be keen to add a third unless the Sabres agree to take Duchene or Johansen in return. The Devils, meanwhile, are building around young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

Vogl’s colleague Michael Russo reports the Wild backed out because they’re fed up with the Sabres’ high asking price for a $10 million star with a neck injury. Meanwhile, Hailey Salvian wonders if the Calgary Flames could be positioning themselves to make a bid for Eichel with $12.9 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could get back into it if the Sabres reduce their price. However, I think their focus is on re-signing Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. As for the Flames, GM Brad Treliving probably kicked tires but I don’t think he’s planning a serious bid here. His bold moves were signing Blake Coleman and acquiring Nikita Zadorov.

Eric Stephens observes the Ducks can afford Eichel if general manager Bob Murray can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to take back a salary in return, suggesting Adam Henrique or Rickard Rakell as options. He anticipates the Ducks would also have to part with a promising young center (other than Trevor Zegras) and their 2022 first-round pick as part of the return.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Drury’s first summer as Rangers GM can be distilled by whatever decision he makes regarding Eichel. He speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could be among the Eichel suitors after shipping out Marc-Andre Fleury’s $7 million cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks. Brooks believes there’s no need for Drury to rush into a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Ducks and Rangers are most interested in Eichel. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pulling the trigger until the Sabres reduce their price and they get assurances Eichel’s health has improved.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon poured cold water on the notion of his club pursuing Eichel. “We’re not likely to be involved in other discussions,” said McCrimmon. He pointed out they’ve spent the money available to them and addressed their needs going forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights made several moves, but none that addressed their obvious need for a true first-line center. The only nod in that direction was signing third-line center Mattias Janmark. As things stand now, they’ll be heading into 2021-22 with Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson remaining as their top-two centers.

They might not be in on Eichel but that doesn’t mean they don’t make a move for another center before training camp. Maybe they make a move for Mika Zibanejad if the Rangers decide to make a serious pitch for Eichel? Yes, Zibanejad has a no-movement clause but maybe he’d waive it for Vegas. Something to ponder, folks.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a source believes the St. Louis Blues are diminishing Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade value the longer they hand onto the unhappy winger. The source feels Blues GM Doug Armstrong miscalculated the situation by seeking too much in return. Where once there were four teams interested in Tarasenko there are now still at least two but the options are dwindling following yesterday’s activity in the free-agent market.

Rutherford believes the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils make the most sense as trade destinations. The Devils have plenty of salary cap space and would like to add a top-six forward. The Hurricanes have $15.4 million in cap space and need scoring but they must also re-sign winger Andrei Svechnikov. He also wondered if the Blues might include Tarasenko in a pitch for Jack Eichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong has indicated he wouldn’t have any problem with Tarasenko returning this season but I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest right now. The Blue GM could be forced to accept less than his asking price to move him now. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Devils could be out if Brandon Saad accepts the contract offer they pitched him yesterday. If that falls through, maybe they’d be willing to pursue a Tarasenko deal if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

This year’s draft is history and the start of free agency is days away. Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton and more in today’s Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WILL EICHEL BE TRADED THIS SUMMER?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams continues to field calls from teams interested in acquiring Jack Eichel. He also hasn’t ruled out keeping the 24-year-old center if he doesn’t receive a suitable offer that addresses his club’s needs.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello believes the reason Eichel wasn’t traded this weekend was the Sabres’ asking price remains too high. A league source said Sabres owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel traded to a Western Conference team.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers must resolve Mika Zibanejad’s contract situation one way or the other before turning to Jack Eichel. They cannot afford to carry both.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Brooks believes the Rangers prefer re-signing Zibanejad but the price has to be right. Preliminary talks between Zibanejad’s camp and the Rangers have begun with the 28-year-old center reportedly seeking a deal similar to Eichel’s $10 million annual average value for seven or eight years. The Rangers prefer to keep the term to between five and six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price and Pegula’s supposed desire to ship Eichel to the west could assure he’s still suiting up with the Sabres this fall. At this point, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where a Western Conference club ponies up the equivalent of four first-round picks.

Time isn’t on the Sabres’ side. I’m not doubting Adams’ sincerity when he said he’s fine with Eichel being on the roster next season but his preference is to move him. I don’t blame him for setting a high asking price but he’ll have to lower it if he wants Eichel off the roster before training camp opens in September.

Zibanejad’s a talented center but the Rangers would be crazy to invest $10 million annually on him. He’ll be 29 next April and I don’t think he’d get that much from any club around the league. Maybe they reach an agreement on a five-year deal worth around $8 million. We’ll see. Lots of time for this to play out.

It’s time to start preparing for this to be the summer of Eichel in the rumor mill.

BUSY MARKET FOR GOALIES & DEFENSEMEN?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen believes the goalie market will be intriguing with many teams seeking help between the pipes. The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks could be busy addressing that issue via trades or free agency. So could the Colorado Avalanche if Philipp Grubauer departs as a free agent on July 28.

Trade targets could include Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said Braden Holtby might be available.

Several teams, including the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils will be shopping for defensemen. Pending free-agent blueliners include Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Alexander Edler, David Savard, Alec Martinez, Tyson Barrie and Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reports the Hurricanes are continuing talks with Hamilton’s agent. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said they seemed to be getting closer to an agreement but it would have to be reached before free agency opens on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Larry Brooks reports there could be mutual interest between Hamilton and the New Jersey Devils that could come in the form of a seven-year deal worth around $9 million. That would replace P.K. Subban’s contract when it expires next summer.

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders are among the clubs pursuing Suter, who was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild. Yandle could also be an option for the Bruins if they don’t land Suter.










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.