Some trade predictions for the coming season plus the latest on Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I underwent surgery on Oct. 5 to repair damaged tendons in my left hand. It was similar to the procedure I had in February. As a result, it could take a little longer to post my daily updates over the next few days. Please bear with me. As always, I appreciate your support.
TRADE PREDICTIONS FOR 2022-23
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli included some trade forecasts among his 32 bold predictions for the coming NHL season.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks has suggested the Rangers should pursue Kane as a playoff rental at the trade deadline. I’m not dismissing that possibility but I doubt they’ll sign him to a long-term extension unless he accepts a massive pay cut from his current $10.5 million annual average value.
The Rangers already have $65.1 million invested in just 11 players for 2023-24. Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil will be due for new contracts as they become restricted free agents next summer.
Another prediction is the Detroit Red Wings moving Dylan Larkin before the March 3 trade deadline. He’s eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next July and carries a no-trade clause for this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings and Larkin were reportedly holding contract extension talks over the summer. The Michigan native hopes to stay put and management probably feels the same. As always, these things will hinge on dollars and term but I can see the two sides reaching an agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sticking point has been the Coyotes’ rumored asking price. It’s believed they seek at least a first-round pick and a good young NHL player or a top prospect as part of the return. Unless they come down from that, Chychrun won’t be going anywhere.
In other predictions, Seravalli foresees Vancouver Canucks bench boss Bruce Boudreau becoming the first head coach to be fired, Kyle Dubas parting ways with the Toronto Maple Leafs as general manager after his contract expires, and the Vegas Golden Knights making Kelly McCrimmon the first GM to be fired this season.
LATEST ON PIERRE-OLIVIER JOSEPH
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel reports the Penguins to have nine NHL defensemen and can’t afford to keep them all. Pierre-Olivier Joseph appears the most likely to be moved as he’s reportedly being shopped. He’s now waiver eligible meaning a rival club could snap him up if the Penguins attempt to send him to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph is traded. He claims general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke isn’t enamored with the 23-year-old blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far there’s no indication the Penguins are close to trading Joseph. Unless they package him with a draft pick, an interested team could be merely waiting until he goes on waivers and then gets him for nothing.
Kyle Dubas faces an uncertain future as Leafs GM plus the latest on Auston Matthews David Pastrnak, Jason Robertson and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will not be receiving a contract extension this season. Michael Traikos speculates the decision could be a wait-and-see approach by his bosses after the Leafs failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. He also suggested it could be because Dubas didn’t bring in a true No.1 goaltender or upgrade the defense during the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas downplayed the notion that this could be a make-or-break season for him, but there’s really no other way to look at it. For most of the past four seasons, the Leafs were among the top teams during the regular season but never staged a deep playoff run. Another early playoff exit (or worse) probably spells the end of Dubas’ tenure as Leafs general manager.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)
Speaking of the Leafs, Auston Matthews has two years remaining on his contract but that’s already sparking concern that he might depart Toronto as a free agent. Matthews told reporters he loves the city and considers it like home but won’t be entertaining any further questions about his contract. “There’s nothing that can be done for two more years,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: His critics will likely take him to task for not saying he would look forward to opening contract talks as soon as possible. However, he’s absolutely right that they can’t do anything about it now. The earliest Matthews and the Leafs can start contract extension discussions is July 1, 2023, so it’s pointless to badger him or Dubas about it during this season.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said he will continue to hold discussions with David Pastrnak’s representatives in hope of reaching an agreement on a contract extension. The 26-year-old right winger is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Pastrnak could start the coming season without an extension in place.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney was asked if Pastrnak might sign a team-friendly deal as some claim Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did at Pastrnak’s age. He indicated that those players signed for what was market value at the time. Rising salaries during the course of their contracts made them seem like bargains over time.
In other words, Pastrnak’s camp will seek market value that could exceed $9.5 million annually based on his performance in the upcoming season. That could explain why the two sides haven’t reached an agreement on an extension yet.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of the Stars’ training camp today. The 23-year-old winger was their leading goal scorer last season but remains an unsigned restricted free agent. GM Jim Nill said negotiations have been ongoing and he’s hoping an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have $6.3 million in cap space and could reportedly have $7-$8 million in salary-cap space for this season depending on their roster makeup. The Robertson camp could be angling for an expensive new deal but their client is coming off his entry-level contract.
Robertson’s only leverage is to refuse to report to training camp (and perhaps miss the start of the season) but that won’t do either side any good. The sooner Robertson’s in camp, the more effective he’ll be to their roster. The longer he holds out, the longer it’ll take for him to regain his form and that could hurt their production this season.
Speaking of the Stars, Ben Bishop’s front-office role will have to wait until next season. His career was ended by chronic knee injuries but he didn’t retire as he had a year remaining on his contract. The Stars traded that contract to the Buffalo Sabres in June to remove it from their books for this season. However, the league has informed the Stars it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work for them while he’s still being paid by Buffalo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers raised the point that the NHL had no issue with permanently sidelined Chris Pronger working for their department of player safety while he was still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes.
Maybe the league realized its mistake with Pronger and didn’t want the Stars to repeat it with Bishop. Perhaps it’s a different story if a player is working for the department of player safety while still under contract with another club despite the potential for a conflict of interest.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced general manager Kevyn Adams has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. In a statement, team owner Terry Pegula praised Adams’ work over the past two seasons and believes the club is heading in the right direction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ lack of management experience raised questions over his suitability for the job when he was hired two years ago. Over that time, however, he’s made some good selections in the draft (including promising defenseman Owen Power) and got a solid return from the Vegas Golden Knights (including Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs) in the Jack Eichel trade. The Sabres also showed promising signs of improvement last season.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point is “fully healthy” after recovering from a torn quad muscle suffered during the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Copp is still recovering from off-season abdominal surgery and won’t be available until the start of the regular season. The versatile 28-year-old forward signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings in July.
THE ATHLETIC: Nicolas Hague isn’t expected to join his Vegas Golden Knights teammates when training camp opens for them today. The 23-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent, Murray Koontz, remains hopeful of getting a deal done with the Golden Knights but they’re not at that point yet.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (personal matter) and winger Andrew Mangiapane (undisclosed injury) will miss the start of training camp today.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed Adam Ruzicka to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $762K. It’s a two-way deal for this season and a one-way for 2023-24. Meanwhile, Brett Ritchie inked a one-year, $750K deal.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers restricted free agent Ryan McLeod remains without a contract but is expected to join his teammates for the start of training camp today. Management hopes to trade away some salary to clear up cap space to sign McLeod to a new deal.
The Oilers also announced defenseman Slater Koekkoek remains at home as he continues to work on improving his mental health.
DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders signed UFAs Cory Schneider and Nikita Soshnikov and RFA Parker Wotherspoon to one-year contracts.
Sidney Crosby speaks about his future as well as his celebration of Nathan MacKinnon’s Stanley Cup win, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas faces a make-or-break season, the most and least expensive arenas to watch an NHL game, and more in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines.
YAHOO! SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recently spoke about how long he intends to continue playing during a recent appearance on the “32 Thoughts” podcast.
“I’m thinking about three more years, then seeing what happens from there,” said the 34-year-old Crosby. That’s also when his current contract expires in 2025. He wants to ensure he can continue playing at a high level, with good health being among the factors that will determine how long he’ll continue his NHL career.
Crosby also opened up about celebrating with long-time friend and fellow Cole Harbour, NS native Nathan MacKinnon at the latter’s Stanley Cup party this summer. “At least top five (drunkest there)”, he joked, adding that MacKinnon left the party two hours before he did. “I think I shut the ale house down that night,” said Crosby.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby has a well-deserved reputation as one of the fittest players in the NHL. Now in his mid-thirties, he’s no longer the dominant player of his youth but remains among the league’s elite stars.
Despite missing the opening weeks of last season due to offseason wrist surgery, the Penguins captain tied with linemate Jake Guentzel as the club’s leading scorer with 84 points in 69 games. If Crosby is still capable of that type of production by 2025 it’s probably a safe bet that he’ll continue playing beyond that season.
THE ATHLETIC: Kyle Dubas will soon become the longest-serving general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 25 years. However, it could also be his final season in the job if the Leafs once again fail to advance past the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. His contract expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the article points out, the Leafs under Dubas have become one of the league’s best clubs during the regular season, twice setting franchise records for most points in a season (2017-18 and 2021-22). Nevertheless, the club’s ongoing postseason drought and Dubas’ reluctance to shake up his roster core have put him in what appears to be a difficult position with an uncertain future.
Dubas will probably earn a contract extension if the Leafs can at least get past the first round of the 2023 playoffs. Should they come up short again or miss the postseason, he won’t be back as GM.
TIME2PLAY: Rhiannon O’Donohue compiled a list of the most and least expensive arenas to watch an NHL game.
The New York Rangers top the list with the overall cost (factoring in ticket prices, food and drink and parking) being $188.26 USD or $247.99 Canadian based on 2021-22 numbers. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights are second and third followed by the Seattle Kraken and Boston Bruins.
The Arizona Coyotes are the least expensive ($87.93 USD, $115.83 Cdn), followed by the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox for the link.
LE QUOTIDIEN: Antoine Roussel has been invited to the Philadelphia Flyers training camp on a professional tryout offer. The 32-year-old winger spent last season with the Arizona Coyotes.
CAP FRIENDLY: The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Matt Bartkowski to a professional tryout offer. He spent last season with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Former New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has rejoined the franchise in a player development role.
Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and Hurricanes GM Don Waddell outline their plans for the trade deadline plus some suggested trade destinations for Claude Giroux in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS AND HURRICANES
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wants to see what a healthy and complete roster can do in the coming weeks before reaching any decisions regarding potential moves before the March 21 trade deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)
Dubas hopes to see how young defensemen Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren fare over the next several weeks. The Leafs GM would prefer adding players with term remaining on their contracts. However, he pointed out salary cap limitations will have an effect upon whatever decisions he makes before the deadline. Dubas would prefer retaining his draft picks but they could be in play if necessary.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel believes Dubas will be aggressive at the trade deadline to address an apparent need on the blueline or to shore up other roster weaknesses that could crop up before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are in “win-now” mode this season, perhaps more so than in previous years given their inability to get past the first round. Another early postseason exit could spell the end of Dubas’ tenure as general manager. He’s proven adept at salary-cap gymnastics in the past and I don’t doubt he’ll find some cap flexibility to make a deal that helps his club.
We can expect to hear the Leafs being linked to a number of notable trade candidates in the coming weeks. They’ve already been tied to Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson despite being on his “no-trade” list.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell isn’t feeling any urgency to make a deal right now simply for the sake of doing so. The Hurricanes are on pace for a franchise record of 124 points this season. He’s also not feeling any pressure to react to whatever his division or conference rivals do.
LeBrun points out the Hurricanes are deep in young prospects to draw upon for trade bait to address any need that could arise. He speculates their priority could be adding a left-side defenseman though it remains to be seen if it’s a 4/5 blueliner or a 6/7 rearguard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t be surprising if Waddell swings a deal or two before the trade deadline. Still, he can afford to take his time with his club playing as well as it is. If his roster remains healthy he could stand pat or make an affordable minor depth addition.
Speculation over Giroux’s future in Philadelphia has been growing with the Flyers near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. General manager Chuck Fletcher has left it up to Giroux to decide if he’ll waive his no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames need secondary scoring, the Wild and Bruins need reliable second-line centers while the Avalanche could use Giroux’s two-way skills on their second line. Whether any of those clubs are on his no-trade list and if they can afford the Flyers’ asking price (which could be a first-round pick and a top prospect) remains to be seen.
Could Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas or Sheldon Keefe lose their jobs following another early playoff exit by the Leafs? Could the Florida Panthers try to acquire Penguins center Evgeni Malkin? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TORONTO SUN/THE ATHLETIC: Lance Hornby and Jonas Siegel wondered if heads will roll in the Maple Leafs’ front office or among the coaching staff following the club’s early playoff exit.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).
Brendan Shanahan’s in his seventh season as team president but the club’s postseason woes continue. General manager Kyle Dubas has been in the role three years and head coach Sheldon Keefe completed his second season.
Hornby and Siegel raised some questions about several of the moves made by the franchise in recent years and the overall performance. However, they don’t expect Shanahan, Dubas or Keefe to lose their jobs. They instead anticipate an assistant coach such as Manny Malhotra, Dave Hakstol or Paul MacLean or goalie coach Steve Briere could become a sacrificial firing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sun’s Steve Simmons also doesn’t expect Shanahan, Dubas or Keefe to be fired. One or two of the assistant coaches could be replaced. The Leafs’ struggling power play could cost Malhotra his job.
Hornby wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs see which goaltenders are available in the summer’s trade and free-agent markets. If nothing’s worthwhile there, he suggests returning with Jack Campbell and either David Rittich or a goalie from within their system. He doesn’t expect Frederik Andersen will be re-signed.
With defenseman Morgan Rielly a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, Siegel believes the Leafs must decide on his future this year. Trading Rielly would fetch assets and clear cap space but the move would also leave a big hole on their blueline.
As for shopping a core player such as Mitch Marner or William Nylander, Siegel preaches caution here. Making change for change’s sake could set the Leafs back several years, pointing to the Boston Bruins’ trading Tyler Seguin in 2013 and the Edmonton Oilers trading Taylor Hall in 2016.
Both pundits believe the Leafs could lose Dermott or Alex Kerfoot in the expansion draft unless the Leafs cut a side deal with the Seattle Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have to tread carefully as Siegel suggests. Nevertheless, they must fully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to determine what moves are necessary and what’s available to address their needs.
They’ve still handcuffed themselves with those big contracts for Marner, Nylander, John Tavares and Auston Matthews. The latter two, of course, aren’t going anywhere. Tavares has a full no-movement clause while Matthews is coming off a Richard Trophy performance despite his lack of production in the series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Marner, Nylander or Rielly are the prime trade candidates if they wish to shake up the core. Each would fetch significant returns in the trade market. By moving one of them, however, they must ensure they’re not creating one problem by trying to fix another.
Losing Rielly could hurt the Leafs the most as it could prove difficult to replace him on the blueline. If they’re going to trade him they better be sure they’ve got a suitable replacement lined up.
Their depth at center suffered against the Canadiens when Tavares and Nick Foligno were injured. They’ll have to address that issue if Foligno isn’t re-signed and they lose Kerfoot to the Kraken. Finding a suitable goaltender to split the duties with Campbell is a must. So is replacing Hyman if he departs via free agency.
The Leafs sacrificed speed for experienced grit this year. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have physical players in their lineup but they can’t be the slowfooted kind.
They could also end up pursuing bargain players via trades or free agency if they don’t make a significant cost-cutting move. Cap Friendly shows them with nearly $69 million tied up in 14 players. They will get some relief depending on which player they lose in the expansion draft, but not enough to make an impact addition.
THE LATEST PANTHERS SPECULATION
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards shot down a recent report in the New York Post speculating Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville could head to the Seattle Kraken. “No one is taking it too seriously,” said Richards, pointing out Quenneville is among the NHL’s highest-paid coaches and appears very happy in his current job.
Richards wondered what the Panthers will do with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman Keith Yandle. They’re the club’s highest-paid players with a combined annual average value of $16 million. However, both were healthy scratches during the Panthers’ final game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round series.
Both players have no-movement clauses plus Bobrovsky has a lot of years left on his contract. After seeing GM Bill Zito trade Mike Matheson and his contract last year, Richards doesn’t rule out the possibility of trading Bobrovsky or Yandle.
Zito didn’t sign Bobrovsky and Yandle to those contracts. He inherited them from his predecessor. Moving Matheson was easier because he lacked no-trade protection and had a more affordable $4.875 million cap hit. Trading those other two presents a bigger challenge for Zito.
Yandle could be easier to move than Bobrovsky. The 34-year-old blueliner’s got two years left on his deal with an annual average value of $6.35 million. It will require some creativity, perhaps a third-party broker and it could cost the Panthers a couple of draft picks or prospects to make happen in a package deal. Still, they’d have a better chance at moving Yandle than Bobrovsky’s $10 million AAV for the next five years.
Murphy cited an NHL source with direct knowledge of the situation saying he believes there is and has been mutual interest there. However, they’re stuck with Bobrovsky’s big contract plus they’re planning to sign Barkov to an expensive new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers’ rumored interest in Malkin first surfaced when Dale Tallon was the general manager. I doubt that’s the case now under Bill Zito. Even if he found a way to shed Bobrovsky’s salary, I don’t think he’ll use the savings to acquire an aging Malkin.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun cited the different approaches by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens toward the April 12 trade deadline. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas is going all-in as the Leafs aim to add a forward. Meanwhile, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin indicated he might not do much owing to limited salary cap space and 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American-based teams. LeBrun also feels the Canadiens’ inconsistency thus far could affect whether Bergevin adds at the deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).
The Leafs could pursue a rental player such as New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, or a hockey deal for a player with term on his contract like Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. Frank Seravalli also noted Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect. He considers Rasmus Sandin as close to untouchable as possible unless Dubas can hit a home run at the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas told reporters yesterday he’d like to get a deal done sooner rather than closer to the trade deadline because of that 14-day quarantine period. He would like to add a rental player but didn’t rule out adding a player with term if the deal made sense. Darren Dreger considers Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect falls in line with being open to moving a first-round pick if the trade made sense.
Adding a rental forward is probably the Leafs’ best bet in terms of cost. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t think Rakell’s a fit. He observed the Anaheim Ducks’ asking price for Rakell is high, preferring younger players with a bit of NHL experience. He also said the Calgary Flames wouldn’t pay it. The Predators will also set a high ask for Forsberg.
Montreal GM Bergevin didn’t rule out making a move if it made sense but it’s clear it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap. Defenseman Ben Chiarot could be placed on long-term injury reserve thus giving the Habs around $3.5 million in cap relief. However, Bergevin expects he’ll return from his fractured hand by late-April, meaning the Canadiens would have to dump salary to become cap compliant.
Bergevin could make a move over the next couple of weeks if his club can string together some wins and improve their chances of securing a playoff spot. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes he’ll pursue a more affordable addition like Detroit’s Luke Glendening than Buffalo’s Eric Staal to shore up his depth at center.
Engels cites sources saying the Canadiens are interested in Glendening but they’ll have to move a player off their roster if they wish to have enough cap space to address their need for a left-side defenseman. He suggested a swap of forward Artturi Lehkonen for Glendening.
Friedman believes the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets are among those interested in Ekholm. He’s doubtful the Philadelphia Flyers are in because they could be unwilling to pay the cost this year. The Leafs looked into it but they’re already deep on the left side of their blue line with Muzzin and Morgan Rielly. Friedman feels Ekholm would be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers but he believes Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to build up his draft and prospect capital.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss doesn’t believe the Bruins should pursue Ekholm when their obvious priority is landing a top-six forward. He points out secondary scoring is their most glaring issue right now.
Eric Engels also mentioned the Canadiens as a suitor for Ekholm if they can find a way to shed a salary such as Tomas Tatar or Joel Armia. Based on Bergevin’s comments, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be pursuing the Predators’ defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk isn’t a full-time starter anymore but he has plenty of playoff experience and could be a worthwhile addition for playoff contenders in a backup role. Making the dollars fit, however, could be tricky. He carries a $4.33 million annual average value with over $1.9 million remaining to be paid.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in a position to absorb a contract or two for the right assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reported on this, pointing out they’ve got $22 million in LTIR cap space. They’re willing to take on a rival team’s bad contract if they can also get some good assets (draft picks, prospects) as part of the return.