NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2019

The latest on Ilya Kovalchuk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


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.

Could the Los Angeles Kings terminate Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract? (Photo via NHL Images)

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.


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.


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.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2019

Updates on Taylor Hall, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and Brendan Perlini, plus updates on the Sharks and Senators, in today’s NHL rumor mill.


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.

The Washington Capitals and Nicklas Backstrom could let the season play out before discussing a new contract (Photo via NHL Images).

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.


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.


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. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2019

The Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith, plus the latest free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/OTTAWA SUN: The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday traded center Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for forward Zack Smith. 

The Chicago Blackhawks traded Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for Zack Smith (Photo via NHL Images).

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. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2019

Game recaps, Red Wings trade Gustav Nyquist to the Sharks, Mats Zuccarello injured in his first game with the Stars, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in overtime as the Washington Capitals edged the New York Rangers 6-5 in a wild and physical contest. Nicklas Backstrom tallied twice for the Capitals while Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei also netted two goals. Following the game, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist cut short his interview after becoming emotional responding to a question about the trade of Mats Zuccarello, his friend and long-time teammate, to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, NHL hockey is a business and yes, players know getting trading is always a possibility. Nevertheless, they’re still human like the rest of us and it can be difficult to part ways with a good friend. 

Speaking of Zuccarello, he was having a strong debut with the Stars (one goal, one assist) during their 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks but suffered an arm injury that likely requires surgery after blocking a shot and is expected to be sidelined for four weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zuccarello could return to the Stars before the end of the season, but his absence still leaves them in need of scoring depth if they’re to avoid slipping out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Stars captain Jamie Benn also left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to be re-evaluated today. 

The Detroit Red Wings trade forward Gustav Nyquist to the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski tallied a natural hat trick to lead his club to a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Following the game, the Red Wings traded winger Gustav Nyquist to the Sharks for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a conditional third in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings also retained $1.425 million of Nyquist’s $4.7-million salary-cap hit. A versatile forward who can skate at center or on the wing, he’s tallied 49 points in 62 games and is on pace to exceed 60 points this season. He could slot in as a second- or third-line winger, providing even more bite to an already potent Sharks offense.

An overtime goal by Ryan Donato enabled the Minnesota Wild to beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Donato now has four points in three games with the Wild since being traded to Minnesota from Boston. The Wild (66 points) have now won three straight and still cling to the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk scored a goal but brother Matthew Tkachuk’s Calgary Flames won their first-ever face-to-face matchup 2-1 on a late goal by Austin Czarnik. The Flames (85 points) opened a three-point lead over the Sharks for top spot in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. Following the game, the Senators shipped minor-league defenseman Patrick Sieloff to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for left wing Brian Gibbons.

The Arizona Coyotes (63 points) moved to within three points of a playoff spot by downing the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. Before the game, the Coyotes honored former long-time captain Shane Doan by retiring his No. 19 jersey. Doan began his career with the original Jets and moved with that club when it relocated to Arizona.

TSN: The Boston Bruins signed forward Lee Stempniak to a one-year contract and placed him on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Providence.


Wild Trade Charlie Coyle to Bruins

Wild Trade Charlie Coyle to Bruins

The Minnesota Wild have reportedly traded forward Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Wild will receive forward Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick. 

Minnesota Wild trade Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the deal won’t be officially announced until 10 PM ET, presumably because of the Wild’s flight delay. No word yet on what year that draft pick will be in but presumably it’s this year. 

This is likely the first of what could be several moves by Wild general manager Paul Fenton over the next several months. He’s received permission from ownership to do whatever he deems necessary to shake up his roster for the short- and long-term, even if it jeopardizes their playoff hopes. With the Wild currently clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Fenton has evidently seen enough and isn’t wasting time retooling his roster. 

Coyle, 26, is a native of Weymouth, Massachusetts so this move to Boston will be like coming home after spending his entire NHL career with the Wild. He’s a versatile forward who can play center or wing, possesses good size (6’3″, 220 lbs) and decent scoring touch, reaching 56 points in 2016-17. He could fill that second-line winger role or third-line center spot for the Bruins. Perhaps this move turns Coyle into the 35-goal scorer he was projected to become when he joined the Wild. 

Donato, 22, can also skate at center or on the wing. While smaller than Coyle (6′,193 lbs), he has offensive potential but found it difficult cracking the Bruins’ roster. He’s earning $900K this season and should be an affordable re-signing for the Wild, who also clear Coyle’s $3.2 million salary-cap hit through 2019-20 from their books. Donato recently said he believes he can become a full-time NHL player. He’ll get his opportunity with the Wild. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2018

Game recaps, three stars and the top rookie for October revealed, and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrick Laine’s hat trick in his native Finland powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at the NHL 2018 Global Series at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Panthers center and fellow Finn Aleksander Barkov picked up an assist. Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves. Earlier in the day, the Panthers activated Roberto Luongo (knee) from injured reserve and it’s expected he could return to action next week.

Patrick Laine’s hat trick carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers in Helsinki. (Photo via NHL Images)

Anton Khudobin made 30 saves as the Dallas Stars held on for a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stars forward Tyler Seguin collected two assists.

Thomas Greiss made 29 saves, including a well-timed poke-check on Sidney Crosby in overtime, to give the New York Islanders a 3-2 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, sweeping their home-and-home series. Josh Bailey tallied the only goal in the shootout.

Montreal Canadiens rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored his first two NHL goals in his club’s 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals. The Habs final two goals set a record for the fastest in league history (two seconds). Brendan Gallagher also scored twice for the Canadiens. Capitals forwards Alexander Ovechkin and Lars Eller also each tallied two goals.

Craig Anderson kicked out 46 shots as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Sabres winger Jason Pominville skated in his 1,000th career NHL game.

The Detroit Red Wings picked up their third straight victory by edging the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Justin Abdelkader and Trevor Daley each scored shorthanded goals in the third period to give the Wings the win. Speaking of the Wings, former captain Henrik Zetterberg revealed  “a degenerating disc eventually caused a nerve problem and a malfunction of a muscle that controls the movement of the ankle” led to his retirement.

In his first game since returning from an undisclosed injury, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne turned aside 42 shots in a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Oskar Sundqvist tallied his first two goals of the season as the St. Louis Blues downed the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 5-3.

The Calgary Flames overcame a 4-1 deficit with five third-period goals to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-5. Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk each had three-point performances for the Flames.

Mikko Koskinen made 40 saves for his first NHL shutout as the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Drake Caggiula scored twice for the Oilers.

Shootout goals by Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the free-falling Anaheim Ducks, who’ve won just twice in their last 10 games.

The Philadelphia Flyers won their second consecutive game for the first time this season by dropping the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Like the Ducks, the Kings have just two victories in their last 10 contests.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 saves, including 25 in the third period, to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane are the NHL’s three stars for October 2018. Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was named rookie of the month for October.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward David Backes is expected to make his return from a concussion Saturday against the Predators. The Bruins also demoted forward Ryan Donato to their AHL affiliate in Providence.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: An unidentified woman has filed a lawsuit against San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane alleging he reneged on a promise to pay for her abortion. Kane and his lawyer deny the allegation and intend to fight it in court.

SPORTSNET: Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is applying for reinstatement. He’s been suspended since 2015 after pleading guilty on misdemeanor domestic abuse charges and spending nearly two months in jail. The Kings terminated his contract but his NHL rights still belong to them. Voynov’s conviction was dismissed by a judge in July.

CBS SPORTS: The Caroline Hurricanes have sent Phil Dio Giuseppe to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte. 

OTTAWA CITIZEN: The Senators have returned rookie Alex Formenton to the OHL’s London Knights. 

NBC SPORTS: The NHL plans on playing more games in Europe to expand its footprint on the continent.