NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing
Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19, the Wild trade Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Donato to the Sharks, Matt Niskanen retires, Penguins buy out Jack Johnson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The club reports McDavid, 23, is experiencing minor symptoms but otherwise feeling well and self-quarantining at his Ontario home.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McDavid for a swift and full recovery. He’s the biggest NHL star to be diagnosed with the coronavirus since a report emerged in June revealing Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews also tested positive. Matthews recovered and played for the Leafs in the NHL’s return-to-play tournament in August.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild made two trades yesterday with the San Jose Sharks, shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk (along with a seventh-round pick in 2022) and winger Ryan Donato to the Sharks for a fifth-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2021. The Wild also retained half of Dubnyk’s $4.33 million cap hit for 2020-21, which is the final season of his contract. The Wild also re-signed defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk will share the Sharks’ goaltending duties with Martin Jones. General manager Doug Wilson is confident the 34-year-old netminder can regain his form after dealing with his wife’s health issues last season. Wilson also feels Donato, who was stuck on the Wild’s fourth line, could flourish given more playing time.
These moves were straightforward salary dumps by the Wild, giving them $12.5 million in salary-cap space. GM Bill Guerin has made no secret he wants to improve his goaltending plus he still needs a proven scoring center after trading Eric Staal to Buffalo last month. Perhaps he’ll put some of that cap space to addressing those needs.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen has retired after 13 NHL seasons. The 33-year-old blueliner had a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.75 million. Niskanen had 72 goals and 356 points in 949 games with the Flyers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the latter in 2018.
The Flyers also re-signed defenseman Justin Braun to a two-year, $3.6-million contract worth annual average value of $1.8 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Niskanen in his future endeavors. His decision was reportedly based on being away from his family during the recent playoffs and uncertainty over what next season could be like. His retirement clears his cap hit from the Flyers’ books.
With the Braun signing, the Flyers have $2.9 million in cap space for 2020-21. Niskanen’s retirement could send them into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, or it could make them reluctant to trade blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday placed defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a surprising move. The writing was on the wall for Johnson when the Penguins acquired Mike Matheson last month from the Florida Panthers. The move leaves the Penguins with $1.16 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, $1.9 million in 2022-23, dropping to $916K for the following three seasons.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza, 37, was a worthwhile depth addition playing a variety of roles for the Leafs last season. His signing scarcely dents their cap room, leaving them with $4.7 million.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed forward Tage Thompson to a three-year contract worth $1.4 million per season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-signed defenseman Josh Brown to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The Dallas Stars salary-cap space shrunk for next season, incurring over $3 million in performance bonuses last season that will count against their 2020-21 salary cap payroll.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames will be adopting their classic 1980s jerseys and color combinations for the entire 2020-21 season.
The latest on Patrik Laine, the Sharks and Wild are working on a trade involving Devan Dubnyk, plus the latest on the Oilers and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.
JETS GM ACKNOWLEDGED LAINE COULD BE TRADED
NHL.COM: Tim Campbell reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff acknowledged Patrik Laine could be traded when asked about the recent trade rumors swirling about the 22-year-old winger. “So we’re looking at all our options, including potentially trading different players,” said Cheveldayoff.
The Jets GM added there are some holes to fill in his roster, due in part to the uncertainty over center Bryan Little’s injury status and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien’s departure. Their defense corps was further depleted last summer when Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers and Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot departed via free agency.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there will be no shortage of suitors for Laine if the Jets decide to trade him. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are two clubs in need of a scoring forward, but Garrioch speculates the asking price could be a top defenseman or a second-line center plus a prospect and a pick. Other interested clubs could include the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine would be a very attractive trade chip for the Jets, but just because they could trade him doesn’t mean they will. Their asking price could be more than most are willing to pay.
For example, I don’t see the Blue Jackets giving up Seth Jones or Zach Werenski, while the Canadiens could be reluctant to part with promising Nick Suzuki. The Habs could offer up Max Domi but the Jets will probably want a lot more in the package.
WILD COULD SHIP DUBNYK TO THE SHARKS
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Ali Thanawalla cites TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting of trade discussions between the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild regarding Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dreger called the talks “promising” but not done. Pierre LeBrun added it could take a few days before a deal is done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted Wild winger Ryan Donato could also be part of this proposed deal. No indication yet what would be heading the Wild’s way.
It’ll be interesting to see how this deal could shake out. Dubnyk and Donato carry a combined annual average value of $6.23 million for 2020-21. With the Sharks already having $67.3 million invested in 14 players, they could insist on the Wild taking a player in return or retaining some of that cap hit.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered about what it would cost the Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 26-year-old forward is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility and is earning $6 million per season on his current contract. Matheson speculates it could be a five- or six-year contract. The Oilers could offer up $6.5 million annually using St. Louis Blues forward Brayden Schenn as a comparable, but Nugent-Hopkins’ agent could seek something similar to the $8 million annually being earned by Matt Duchene of the Nashville Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing $7 million per season on a six-year deal for Nugent-Hopkins. What say you, Oilers fans? Too much? Not enough? Just right?
Matheson notes the Oilers will have too many right-wingers if Jesse Puljujarvi returns. He’ll join Kailer Yamamoto and Josh Archibald, who Matheson believes aren’t going anywhere. The others include Zach Kassian, Alex Chiasson and James Neal. “Something’s got to give there,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And it could be Kassian, Chiasson or Neal, though the latter’s $5.75-million cap hit is tough to move.
David Staples, meanwhile, notes there’s plenty of talk linking the Oilers to Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie. Slated to become a UFA on Oct. 9, the puck-moving Barrie struggled last season with the Leafs. Staples feels he would be a more affordable acquisition than trying to trade for Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Ekman-Larsson carries an $8.25-million annual average value for seven more years. The Oilers would also have to give up some assets, including a good young player or two, to pry him away from the Coyotes if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.
Barrie, on the other hand, will be more affordable as a UFA signing and could regain his offensive form with the Oilers. We’ll find out by the end of next week if he ends up in Edmonton or elsewhere.
UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS
THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic recently reporting Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is willing to make his first-round pick (16th overall) in the upcoming draft available for the right price. He indicated he’d be interested in a player who can help the Canadiens right away with more than a year remaining on his contract. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Bergevin seeks a top-six forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Bergevin to get into the bidding for Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. In a recent interview, TVA Sports reported the Habs GM said it would take emptying his team to acquire a player of that caliber, sending them sideways or backward. He also doesn’t intend to overpay for a big-ticket free agent like Taylor Hall. It sounds like he could target clubs looking to shed salary before next season.
The latest on Ilya Kovalchuk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
UPDATE ON KOVALCHUK
THE HOCKEY NEWS: cited a source close to the situation claiming Ilya Kovalchuk will be granted his outright release from his contract by the Los Angeles Kings with more details to follow. A Kings’ spokesman had no comment. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported Kovalchuk would be a healthy scratch for the foreseeable future.
Kovalchuk is in the second year of a three-year, $18.75-million contract. Termination of the deal won’t provide the Kings any salary-cap relief because it’s a 35-plus contract. He’ll be free to return to the KHL or to sign with another NHL club as an unrestricted free agent.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there was a meeting with the winger on Tuesday. He was informed he was being removed from the lineup. Several options were discussed, including contract termination. Friedman doubts Kovalchuk would walk away from the money unless it’s coming from elsewhere.
Other options include “working on a trade; leaving the team; staying until his bonus is paid in December, then leaving.” Friedman also said there was some pushback that he shouldn’t be forced to leave if he doesn’t want to go.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported the Kings and Kovalchuk haven’t made any firm decisions yet. LeBrun suggests the best trade opportunity would be after his Dec. 15 bonus is paid but he wondered if there’s a market for the 36-year-old winger. He considers it a fluid situation right now.
As others have shared, the Kovalchuk situation is complex and fluid with many layers. They have tried to trade him- and some teams did kick the tires last year. Unsure of market this year. But part of the team’s plan going forward is to separate themselves from heavier contracts.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) November 13, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen how this shakes out, but it certainly appears the Kings and Kovalchuk will part company soon. If the Kings terminate his contract, it means there’s no trade market for the aging winger. Maybe a rival club will gamble on him with a cheap one-year deal. However, I don’t see anyone taking on the remainder of his current contract.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Friedman also reported a couple of sources claiming Ryan Donato’s name is out there in the trade market. However, he thinks the Minnesota Wild intend to remain patient with the 23-year-old forward.
The Buffalo Sabres have been in the market for a forward for some time. Vladimir Sobotka’s recent injury adds to that desire.
The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t as concerned over their backup goaltending as others seem to be. Friedman suggested Arizona’s Eric Comrie as an option but there’s no indication the Leafs have look into acquiring him. Minnesota’s Alex Stalock or either Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith of the Pittsburgh Penguins would be affordable targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless call-up Kasimir Kaskisuo can provide the answer to their backup problem, the Leafs could be forced into the trade market at some point to address this issue. Perhaps they’ll look at some of those suggested by Friedman.
Updates on Taylor Hall, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and Brendan Perlini, plus updates on the Sharks and Senators, in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE LATEST “INSIDER TRADING.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun expects the agent for New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall to meet with general manager Ray Shero within the next two weeks. The dialogue between the two sides has been very transparent, including almost daily communication between Hall and Shero. The winger, however, is nowhere close to deciding on taking negotiations to the next level.
LeBrun also said there’s no hurry between the Washington Capitals and pending free agents Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby to reach agreements on new contracts. There’s been a dialogue between the team and the two players but they’ve decided to let the season play out for a while. The salary cap, the Capitals’ status as a contender, and promising goalie Ilya Samsonov are behind this decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall could be waiting to see how things pan out for the Devils this season before reaching a decision. Money and term won’t be an issue for the Devils. I think it comes down to whether Hall believes the Devils are building a true Stanley Cup contender.
Backstrom and Holtby aren’t getting as much attention as Hall in the rumor mill. The Capitals’ wait-and-see approach is one reason but there’s also a widespread assumption Backstrom will be re-signed and Holtby will depart via free agency, especially if Samsonov keeps making the case for more starts this season.
Bob McKenzie reports the Chicago Blackhawks are working with Brendan Perlini’s agent to find him a new NHL home. He’s skated in just one game this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 6’3″, 211-pound Perlini has power forward potential, tallying 17 goals with the Coyotes in 2017-18. At 23, he still has time to reach his full potential with the right club. He’s on a cap-friendly one-year contract worth over $874K and shouldn’t be too costly to acquire.
COULD THE SHARKS SHOP VLASIC OR DILLON?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if the San Jose Sharks could consider trading Marc-Edouard Vlasic or Brenden Dillon. He doesn’t see them shopping Dillon right now as he’s been their most consistent defenseman this season. If the Sharks are out of the playoffs by the February trade deadline, perhaps they’ll consider shopping the pending UFA.
Vlasic’s recent struggles are cause for concern but his no-movement clause makes a trade unlikely. Kurz wondered if the Montreal Canadiens might be interested but Vlasic hasn’t given any previous desire to play for his hometown club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the two, Dillon would be the easiest to move but I don’t think the Sharks are entertaining that option. Vlasic’s contract is nearly ironclad. If he doesn’t want to be traded there’s nothing Sharks management can do about it. I don’t believe he wants to play under the harsh spotlight in Montreal.
LATEST ON THE SENATORS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is working the phones in search of forward depth but his best bet could come from within the organization. Garrioch cites three league executives claiming the pickings are slim in the trade market. He said Minnesota Wild forwards Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Ryan Donato are on the market.
Garrioch also listed Tyler Toffoli but believes the Los Angeles Kings’ pending UFA is a likely trade-deadline candidate. He also said the Pittsburgh Penguins have some forwards they’d like to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For what it’s worth, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is preaching patience despite his club’s poor start, claiming he won’t make any panic moves. I agree that Toffoli is more likely to be moved near the Feb. 24 trade deadline if the Kings fail to re-sign him.
All of the reports out of Pittsburgh claim the Penguins want to move a defenseman like Jack Johnson or Erik Gudbranson. They’ll have to make some room once sidelined forwards Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Bryan Rust return to action. However, they could do so by demoting forwards Sam Lafferty and Adam Johnson, who are waiver exempt.
Updates on Taylor Hall, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and Brendan Perlini plus updates on the Senators and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
The Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith, plus the latest free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move addresses needs for both clubs. The Senators get some offensive skill in Anisimov while Smith brings more defensive skill and toughness up front for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks also free up an additional $1.3 million in cap space by swapping Anisimov’s $4.55-million annual average value (through 2020-21) for Smith’s $3.25 million. The Senators, meanwhile, will only pay $2 million of Anisimov’s actual salary for this season and $1.5 million in 2020-21.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed forward Jakub Vrana to a two-year, $6.7-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana, 23, completed his entry-level contract and lacked arbitration rights this summer. With the Capitals squeezed for cap space, he’s doing them a favor by accepting this bridge deal. Vrana’s coming off a career-best 24-goal, 47-point performance. If he continues to improve he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Connor Carrick to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.5 million.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Ryan Donato to a two-year, $3.8-million contract. He netted 16 points in 22 games after being acquired from the Boston Bruins in a late-season trade.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750K per season.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks confirmed their signing of defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $750K contract. Blueliner Chris Wideman was inked to a one-year, two-way contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed defenseman Haydn Fleury to a one-year, $850K contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay $874,125 at the NHL level.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed UFA forward Josh Archibald to a one-year, $1-million contract.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract worth over $858K per season. It’s a two-way deal for 2019-20 and one-way for the next two seasons.
SEATTLE TIMES: Hall-of-Famer Ron Francis is set to become the general manager of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. Francis is also the former general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The budget-conscious Hurricanes failed to reach the playoffs during Francis’ tenure. However, he brought in young players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele to Carolina and developed young talent like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. All played key roles in the Hurricanes’ march to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
THE SCORE: U.S. Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are pushing their colleagues to honor Willie O’Ree with the Congressional Gold Medal. O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL and was inducted last year into the Hockey Hall of Fame.