Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 30, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 30, 2019

The Leafs have a tentative deal to send Nikita Zaitsev to the Senators. Check out the details, plus the latest on Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sebastian Aho, and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

ZAITSEV FOR CECI?

TSN: Bob McKenzie reported the Toronto Maple Leafs could have a tentative deal in place shipping Nikita Zaitsev to the Ottawa Senators for Cody Ceci. This trade won’t be finalized until July 1 when the Leafs pay Zaitsev his $3-million signing bonus.

The Toronto Maple Leafs strike a tentative deal to send Nikita Zaitsev to the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

McKenzie adds there could be other pieces in this deal. The Leafs could include a “sweetener” like a player (Connor Brown?) or a draft pick. Zaitsev, 27, has five years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $4.5 million. Ceci, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan adds Zaitsev has agreed to waive his modified no-trade clause, which kicks in tomorrow, to go to Ottawa. Senators head coach D.J. Smith, a former Leafs assistant coach, got involved to help facilitate the deal.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports this move is an indication Ceci and the Senators aren’t on the same page in contract talks. It’s believed Ceci, who earned $4.5 million on a one-year contract this season, seeks a five- or six-year deal worth between $5 – $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, the Leafs will honor Zaitsev’s trade request and move out his troublesome contract. On the other hand, they’ll have to re-sign Ceci, who’ll cost more for longer than Zaitsev. It’s interesting that Smith got involved to make this happen. He seems to see more in Zaitsev’s game than the blueliner’s critics. 

Ceci’s faced considerable criticism from Senators fans for his defensive miscues. However, maybe a move to Toronto could benefit his play. The Leafs could flip Ceci to another club. Given their blueline needs, however, I think they’ll try to keep him.

If Ceci’s seeking up to $5.5 million annually, it could complicate the Leafs’ efforts to re-sign Mitch Marner. It’ll also hinder efforts to land a suitable replacement for Jake Gardiner and perhaps Ron Hainsey. 

LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE AND PANARIN

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater recently reported a source close to Artemi Panarin said the Colorado Avalanche continued to have serious interest in the 27-year-old left winger. The source also claimed the club met with Panarin personally this week. Dater acknowledged Panarin’s trips this week to the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to regular reader “Shawn” for the link. It’s worth noting Dater wrote this before the Avalanche acquired Andre Burakovsky on Friday from Washington. While he doesn’t think that move takes them out of the running for Panarin, “the optics aren’t good.” He also noted the Avs are among the suitors for winger Joonas Donskoi. If so, I think that takes them further out of the Panarin sweepstakes. 

UPDATE ON THE PREDATORS AND DUCHENE

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens could still have a shot at signing Matt Duchene. While it’s assumed Duchene will land with the Nashville Predators, Friedman said more than one source indicates that’s not locked in. Whatever happens, Friedman suspects the Predators will make a major move via trade or free agency. He also linked the Predators to Anders Lee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last weekend’s trade of P.K. Subban to New Jersey was done to free up cap space to add a scoring forward. If the Predators miss out on Duchene I can see them pursuing someone like Lee. I don’t think they’re in the bidding for Panarin as he’d be way out of their price range. 

HURRICANES PLAYING HARDBALL WITH AHO?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon intends to play hardball with Sebastian Aho. The 21-year-old center is a restricted free agent completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. The Hurricanes, to Brooks’ knowledge, haven’t indicated that they wouldn’t match an offer sheet for Aho. The pundit suggests it would be interesting to find out if they would.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s John Shannon recently reported the Hurricanes are talking an eight-year deal for Aho worth $6 million per season. Of course, that could simply be their opening bid. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said he didn’t think the two sides were that far apart. He also expressed confidence a deal will be reached before training camp in September.

Waddell also indicated he’s not concerned about Aho receiving an offer sheet. I can see the two sides agreeing to a long-term deal worth around $8 million per season. Given Aho’s upside, he’ll be worth more than that in a few years. 

UPDATE ON PAVELSKI

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Ali Thanawalla cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting Joe Pavelski has initiated contract talks with the Dallas Stars. He met with the club earlier in the week. He also noted The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Pavelski decided not to meet with the Minnesota Wild. Meanwhile, Russo’s colleague Aaron Portzline reported the Columbus Blue Jackets were among the clubs Pavelski politely declined to visit this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, Pavelski is making the Stars his top destination when the UFA market opens tomorrow. Of course, another club could swoop in at the last minute with a better offer. Stay tuned.

As for the Wild, The Athletic’s Michael Russo cites sources claiming they’re “aggressively pursuing” winger Mats Zuccarello. They’re prepared to offer him a long-term contract. Russo speculates it could be a five-year deal worth up to $6 million per season. I like Zuccarello but that’s too much for too long for a winger who turns 32 in September. 

RISTOLAINEN TRADE RUMORS PERSIST

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington believes the Sabres’ recent acquisition of defenseman Colin Miller means Rasmus Ristolainen will be traded soon. He cites Sabres GM Jason Botterill speaking of the options it gives his club on the blueline and “flexibility within their lineup”.

Ristolainen’s been the subject of trade speculation for weeks. While Botterill attempted to downplay the rumors, Harrington noted the Sabres GM also didn’t deny them. He points out the Sabres need for offense, suggesting Ristolainen would be the best trade chip to address that requirement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out a Ristolainen trade this summer. However, as TSN’s Darren Dreger observed, a team must “step up” in a big way or the Sabres won’t part with him. In other words, it’ll take a top-six forward to pry Ristolainen away from the Sabres. 

 

 










Five Potential Bargains in the 2019 NHL UFA Market

Five Potential Bargains in the 2019 NHL UFA Market

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2019

Updates on Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Despite the Colorado Avalanche’s salary-cap space, Elliotte Friedman doesn’t see them as a destination for unrestricted free agent winger Artemi Panarin. He believes they’re also concerned about signing UFAs to long-term deals. That could affect efforts to re-sign key players like Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog down the road. He said they were looking at winger Mats Zuccarello but contract term could be an issue. Friedman thinks Joe Pavelski “makes a lot of sense here”, but the contract term makes it unlikely. 

Friedman also said the Avs unwillingness to part with their first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft scuttled a proposed deal for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. He doubts they’ll revisit their interest in Kreider. He also shot down rumors linking the Avs to Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has lots of salary-cap space ($38.9 million, according to Cap Friendly) and is looking for more scoring punch. Shipping out Carl Soderberg earlier this week to Arizona stokes speculation he’s got bigger moves in store.

Like Friedman, I don’t see Panarin heading to Colorado but it didn’t hurt to inquire. Pavelski hasn’t met with the Avalanche but visited the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

If Sakic’s unwilling to invest too much for too long in older UFAs, he could return to the trade market. Some believe he’s preparing to sign Toronto’s Mitch Marner to an offer sheet. However, I’ve read he’s not a fan of offer sheets. I don’t think Sakic’s done making moves. 

Speaking of Panarin, Friedman said it looks like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers are the front-runners for his services. The Panthers are also linked to UFA goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Friedman speculates Bobrovsky’s new contract could affect Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning netminder is a restricted free agent next summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks acknowledged the Rangers are on Panarin’s radar but the Panthers are considered the favorites to sign him. He feels the potential cost of signing Panarin ($11-$12 million per season for seven years) would be too high for the Blueshirts. 

Pending UFA center Matt Duchene met with the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (Photo via NHL Images).

Having shipped P.K. Subban and his $9-million annual average value to New Jersey, Friedman wonders if the Nashville Predators will pursue Matt Duchene. The Columbus Blue Jackets center is slated to become a UFA on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Duchene is slated to meet with the Predators today. Darren Dreger reported the 28-year-old center met with the Montreal Canadiens yesterday. While Habs fans are excited over the notion of Duchene signing with the Habs, I think the Preds are going to get him. They’re still a Stanley Cup contender, Duchene loves Nashville, and Tennessee doesn’t have a state tax.

After trading Subban, the Predators might not be done dealing. The Tennessean’s Paul Skrbina wonders if Kyle Turris, Ryan Ellis, or Nick Bonino might become trade candidates. 

The Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins are on Corey Perry’s radar. Friedman also wonders if the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators will pursue him. Friedman also wonders if the Canadiens might take a run at New York Islanders winger Anders Lee. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But is Perry on the Habs and Penguins radar? His declining speed and production are significant concerns. If the Canadiens are looking at Lee they’re going to have competition. Recent speculation suggests the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks could also pursue him. 

Friedman thinks forward Gustav Nyquist could be a fit with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also reports the Calgary Flames could try to move winger Michael Frolik before July 1, with the New Jersey Devils a possibility. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks haven’t ruled out bringing back Nyquist. He also cites sources saying the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings (Nyquist’s former team) could also have interest in him. 

Speaking of the Devils, Friedman said they’re not moving blueliner Damon Severson. The Minnesota Wild could make a pitch for winger Wayne Simmonds. 

The San Jose Sharks would like to move backup goalie Aaron Dell. Mike Smith’s been tied to Calgary, as is former Flyers goalie Cam Talbot. Edmonton and Carolina are also possible destinations for Smith. The Oilers are linked to Petr Mrazek and Semyon Varlamov. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have reportedly connected with Smith. If he heads up the road to Edmonton, the Flames could go after Talbot as an affordable short-term replacement. 

Despite not qualifying Ben Hutton, the Vancouver Canucks will try to sign him to a more palatable contract. They could still be the favorite to sign Tyler Myers. In need of another left-hand defenseman, perhaps they’ll consider Jordie Benn. The salary-cap recapture penalty ($3.03 million) for Roberto Luongo’s contract will dent their salary-cap space. Friedman also said the rumored “Tyson Barrie-to-Vancouver” deal was never as close as it seemed. 

OTHER FREE-AGENT NEWS

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports teams have contacted representatives of Carolina’s Sebastian Aho and Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor. The two are restricted free agents and eligible to receive offer sheets from rival clubs. 

The Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, and Buffalo Sabres are among the clubs interested in San Jose Sharks UFA winger Joonas Donskoi.

The Florida Panthers are among six clubs who’ve reached out to UFA defenseman Anton Stralman. 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2019

Updates on Joe Pavelski, Tyler Myers, Nikita Zaitsev, Rasmus Ristolainen, Justin Faulk, Jesse Puljujarvi, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the Vancouver Canucks recently met with Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. MacIntyre believes he could get a seven-year deal on the open market worth over $50 million. Canucks fans took to social media suggesting Canucks general manager Jim Benning should be fired if he signs Myers for that much.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Canucks don’t intend to sign defenseman Ben Hutton to a qualifying offer. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. If they don’t qualify him, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

TSN: Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan discussed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ efforts to trade defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. They believe it’ll take a “sweetener” like winger Connor Brown as an enticement. They wonder if Benning might consider Zaitsev a more affordable option than Myers, especially if he can get an additional asset in the deal.

Tyler Myers could prove too expensive for the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with MacIntyre that paying Myers over $50 million is absurd. The Canucks have been linked to Zaitsev in the rumor mill. He’s earning $4.5 million annually with five years remaining on his contract. That’s much better than what Myers seeks but no guarantee he’ll improve Vancouver’s blueline. Benning should consider other options.

UPDATES ON PAVELSKI AND DONSKOI

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski has UFA interviews set up with a couple of teams this week. Dialogue remains open between Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Pavelski’s agent. It’s believed the 34-year-old forward could visit the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning this week. The Buffalo Sabres are also said to be interested but don’t have a visit scheduled with him.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt cites The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz saying there’s “strong interest” in Sharks UFA winger Joonas Donskoi. While it’s still possible he could re-sign with the Sharks, Kurz believes he’ll be playing elsewhere next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Arizona Coyotes are also believed to have spoken with Pavelski’s agent. However, it doesn’t sound as though he’ll be visiting them this week. Just because he’s meeting with other clubs don’t make it a certainty he’ll sign with one of them on July 1.

Of the two, I think it’s more likely Pavelski returns. Of course, that depends upon how much he’s seeking and for how long. While he matched a career-high in goals this season (38), he turns 35 next month. The Sharks are likely reluctant to ink him to a long-term deal. 

UPDATE ON RISTOLAINEN

WGR 550.COM: Paul Hamilton notes the ongoing debate among Buffalo Sabres fans over trading defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. After examing the pros and cons, Hamilton feels trading Ristolanen is necessary if it’ll bring back a scoring winger. While that would create a hole on the blueline, Hamilton believes Sabres GM Jason Botterill intends to overhaul the defense anyway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen has frequently popped up in trade speculation since April and it’s believed the Sabres are shopping him. However, I think they’ll keep him if they can’t get a scoring forward in return. 

OILERS TO QUALIFY PULJUJARVI

THE SCORE: cites Sportsnet’s Mark Spector saying the Edmonton Oilers will qualify Jesse Puljujarvi’s rights. The 21-year-old winger has requested a trade and threatened to play in Europe next season if he’s not moved this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. The Oilers don’t intend to let Puljujarvi hit the open market. GM Ken Holland hasn’t ruled out a trade if he gets an offer that helps his club but he’s under no pressure to move the winger. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2019

Sharks and Hurricanes win Game 1 of their respective second-round series, Jack Adams Award finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Brent Burns had a four-point performance (one goal, three assists) while teammate Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist (his 100th career playoff assists) to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of their second-round series. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win.

The Sharks were without captain Joe Pavelski (head injury) and winger Joonas Donskoi (undisclosed) for this contest. Both remain questionable for Game 2 on Sunday. 

San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns had a four-point performance against the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-2 Game 1 victory (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks forward Kevin Labanc’s game-winning tally was a thing of beauty, dodging a hit from Avs winger Mikko Rantanen near the Colorado blueliner and firing a high wrister past netminder Philipp Grubauer. 

The Carolina Hurricanes drew first blood in their second-round series with the New York Islanders as Jordan Staal’s overtime goal gave them a 1-0 Game 1 victory. Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek made 31 saves for the shutout while Isles goalie Robin Lehner also kicked out 31 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a one-goal playoff game, this one was rather entertaining. There were some good scoring chances, several flashy saves, and some big hits in this contest. The Islanders didn’t look too rusty from their 10-game layoff while the Hurricanes had little difficulty adjusting to a new opponent after ousting the Washington Capitals less than 48 hours prior. 

Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders are this year’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award, “given annually to the coach voted as the best in the NHL.”

THE SCORE/TSN: Boston Bruins pesky left winger Brad Marchand wasted no time trolling Columbus Blue Jackets forwards Cam Atkinson and Riley Nash. Marchand broke Atkinson’s stick in Game 1 by stomping on it during a faceoff. “I think he was trying to dull my blade there,” Marchand said. He chided former teammate Nash following Game 1 for his hit on David Krejci that sidelined the Bruins center with an upper-body injury. “I don’t think he had a hit in two years with us.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, at least he’s not cheap-shotting someone or licking an opponent’s face. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday re-signed center Jordan Weal to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.4 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens acquired Weal from the Arizona Coyotes before the February trade deadline. This is the second re-signing in as many days of a depth forward they traded for this season, having inked Nate Thompson on Thursday to a one-year contract. Both are reasonable short-term signings. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Igor Ozhiganov is likely to return to the KHL next season. The Leafs remain interested in re-signing him. 

CBS SPORTS: Former NHL winger Jannik Hansen is hanging up his skates. He spent nearly 13 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks – all but two with the Canucks – from 2006-07 to 2017-18. In 626 NHL games, the 33-year-old tallied 109 goals and 147 assists for 256 points, as well as seven goals and 19 points in 70 playoff contests. He spent this season in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2019

Game recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Tomas Hertl tallied a hat trick and Joe Thornton scored in his 1,000th game with the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, picking up their seventh straight win. Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi returned to action after leaving Saturday’s game against Ottawa with an upper-body injury. 

Tomas Hertl’s hat trick powered the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo via NHL Images)

Viktor Arvidsson’s hat trick powered the Nashville Predators to a 7-2 drubbing of the Washington Capitals. Nick Bonino also scored twice for the Predators. 

An overtime goal by Valtteri Filppula gave the New York Islanders a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, handing Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington his first NHL defeat. The Blues sit four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given up for dead a few weeks ago, the Blues have slowly climbed back into the playoff race as a couple of ahead of them in the standings (Edmonton and Anaheim) have struggled. Binnington played a significant role in the Blues’ recent improvement, with a 3-0-1 record in his four NHL starts. 

The Anaheim Ducks suffered their 12th consecutive defeat, falling 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. Ducks forwards Ryan Kesler (undisclosed) and Jakob Silfverberg (lower body) left the game with injuries. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed forward Michael Rasmussen (hamstring) on injured reserve

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks remain only two points out of a playoff berth but they’re in danger of tumbling much further down the Western Conference standings. This tailspin could also ramp up pressure on general manager Bob Murray to do something to arrest this skid. 

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad scored twice and set up two others in a 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo also tallied two goals each for the Rangers. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to four games by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-1. Backup Joonas Korpisalo has three of those victories and kicked out 29 shots in this one. 

Montreal Canadiens backup Antti Niemi made a career-high 52 saves to backstop his club to a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Shea Weber had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who extended their win streak to three games and moved into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

The Minnesota Wild snapped a three-game losing skid as they edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on a shootout goal by Jason Zucker. 

Winnipeg Jets backup Laurent Brossoit turned aside 43 shots and teammate Kyle Connor scored twice in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 35-save shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. It was the Stars third straight loss and captain Jamie Benn wasn’t pleased over his club’s poor performance on the power play. “Our power play was s**t and that was the difference,” he said. They were 0-6 with the man advantage.

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers placed winger Dale Weise on waivers. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers claimed center Colby Cave off waivers from the Boston Bruins. 

TSN: A film about NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk is slated to hit screens in March.