NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2021

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.

Of the Leafs’ other unrestricted free agents, Hornby feels Zach Hyman, Jason Spezza and perhaps Alex Galchenyuk should be signed. Siegel thinks restricted free agent Travis Dermott will be an affordable re-signing.

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.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards considers it important for the Panthers to free up some salary to re-sign pending free agents such as Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Montour. They’ll also have to consider long-term cap space to sign Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau to contract extensions over the next couple of years.

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.

Jimmy Murphy reported there have been numerous rumors over the last two years linking Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin to the Panthers. Malkin lives in Florida with his family during the offseason.

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.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

The latest on the Leafs and Canadiens plus ongoing speculation about Mattias Ekholm, Rickard Rakell, Devan Dubnyk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS AND CANADIENS

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.

LATEST ON EKHOLM AND DUBNYK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm “is the belle of the trading ball.” The Predators have made it clear they want a return similar to that the Leafs gave up two years ago to acquire Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings. That was a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a prospect.

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.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk could be available by the trade deadline. Dubnyk has a 10-team no-trade list but LeBrun feels he’d waive it for the right contender and the right fit. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals come to mind as possible destinations. The Avs are in the market for a short-term replacement for sidelined backup Pavel Francouz.

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.

MORE TRADE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS

The Jets need one more defenseman. Ekholm or David Savard would be a good fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard might be the better one as they seem to have more of a need to address the right side.

The Ducks were asked about Max Jones but that’s a no-go. Friedman said we’ll see where things go with Troy Terry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman last Saturday said he’d heard Terry might welcome a change of scenery. However, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens subsequently cited a source saying that’s not the case.

The New Jersey Devils and Kyle Palmieri have started conversations about the pending UFA’s future. Friedman thinks the Bruins, New York Islanders and Leafs could be interested if Palmieri hits the trade block.

Friedman believes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will consider almost anything heading toward the trade deadline. He feels Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider aren’t going anywhere. There’s interest in pending UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier.

It could be difficult for the Vancouver Canucks to re-sign pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson with Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes due for new contracts as well.

The Colorado Avalanche is one of the teams seeking a Blake Coleman-type player.

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.










NHL ProteauType: Leafs’ Collapse Another Sign Andersen May Be On His Way Out

NHL ProteauType: Leafs’ Collapse Another Sign Andersen May Be On His Way Out

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2020

Some recent Leafs speculation and a look at Dougie Hamilton’s contract situation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what might happen if the Toronto Maple Leafs miss the playoffs or are eliminated in the opening round. He believes team president Brendan Shanahan, general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe should be granted one more shot in 2021-22. However, it could spell the end of the “Core Four” of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox noted Dubas has resisted breaking up that core, pointing out the moves made during this offseason doesn’t project a sense of hot-seat panic. Nevertheless, a shakeup could be in store if the Leafs make another early playoff exit or miss the postseason entirely.

Matthews, Tavares and Marner each earn over $10.8 million annually. Tavares has a full no-movement clause. It could be difficult moving one of them under a flattened cap for 2021-22, Nylander could be the more likely trade chip. His annual average value ($6.96 million) is more affordable and he lacks no-trade protection.

Fox believes the Leafs are done for the offseason. He doesn’t rule out professional tryout offers (PTO), noting Dubas said he’s open to anything. However, the club’s lack of cap space makes it unlikely they’ll sign another UFA or go the PTO route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are above the $81.5 million cap by just over $1 million according to Cap Friendly. They have no room for other additions unless Dubas acquires a player on permanent long-term injury reserve for additional salary-cap wiggle room or makes a cost-cutting trade.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes Dougie Hamilton’s next contract is among several big decisions facing the Carolina Hurricanes in 2021. GM Don Waddell is interested in negotiating a new deal with him before the start of the season.

O’Brien speculates Hamilton will want security after being traded twice. While the 27-year-old rearguard could find next year’s UFA market challenging, O’Brien notes high-end defensemen like Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug received lucrative deals this year. Even lesser blueliners like Chris Tanev, Dylan DeMelo and Joel Edmundson were among those receiving significant terms.

The Hurricanes must also re-sign rising star Andrei Svechnikov plus goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek will become UFAs next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s understandable that Waddell would be interested in signing Hamilton before this season opens. The puck-moving blueliner is in the final season of a six-year deal with an AAV of $5.75 million. Hamilton was in the running for the Norris Trophy last season until sidelined by a broken leg. Another Norris-worthy performance in 2020-21 could push his asking price to between $8 – $9 million annually.

The Hurricanes have over $52 million invested in 12 players for 2020-21. Big raises for Hamilton and Svechnikov could use up a combined $15 million. Given the uncertainty over next season and another flattened salary cap, the Hurricanes might not spend to the ceiling for 2021-22. The longer Hamilton goes unsigned, the more his name will surface in the rumor mill during 2020-21.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Bruins, Blackhawks, Leafs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is willing to let Zdeno Chara take his time to reach a decision for the 2020-21 season. He said he’s been in regular contact with the 43-year-old defenseman and his agent. Chara is an unrestricted free agent who’s spent the past 14 seasons with the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara has yet to reach a decision on next season (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s agent recently said his client is drawing interest from multiple teams. For now, there’s no indication the long-time Bruins captain is planning to leave Boston. The uncertainty over what next season will look like could be a factor in his decision not to rush into signing a new contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Uncertainty over the status of Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith is affecting the Blackhawks’ salary-cap flexibility. The trio missed the 2020 playoffs because of injuries and there’s some question whether they’ll be medically cleared to play next season. They could be placed on long-term injury reserve to start the season, which would allow the Blackhawks to address their goaltending and other roster issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have around $5 million in cap space with center Dylan Strome to re-sign. Seabrook, Shaw and Smith take up roughly $14 million.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t anticipate making any more significant offseason moves for the 2020-21 season. Dubas has added Joe Thornton, TJ Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, Aaron Dell, Zach Bogosian, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd and Joey Anderson. He also brought back Jason Spezza. He doesn’t anticipate having to move out salary to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott and Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have $1.469 million in salary-cap space. Dubas could bury some salary in the minors.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost elected to sign his one-year qualifying offer worth over $874K.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2020

Updates on the Jets and Leafs, plus the latest speculation about Matt Dumba and Brandon Saad in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS TRADE OPTIONS

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman believes the Jets have money to spend in this offseason with Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov off the books and the uncertainty over center Bryan Little’s future following last season’s serious injury. He feels they don’t have to trade away a young star like Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers unless they’re getting a star player without a no-trade clause or a big-minute defenseman and a two-way, top-six center in return.

Wyman suggests general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff dangle the Jets’ first-round pick (10th overall) in this year’s draft and young players like Jack Roslovic, Sami Niku and Kristian Vesalainen. He thinks they could get something good, like Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. Failing that, Wyman proposed pursuing unrestricted free agents like Travis Hamonic, Brenden Dillon or T.J. Brodie on defense, Mikhail Granlund, Alex Galchenyuk or Derick Brassard at center.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe listed Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli or Tyler Johnson, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, Florida’s Erik Haula, Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick, Vegas’ Paul Stastny and the New York Islanders Derick Brassard as possible trade targets to address their second-line center need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Cheveldayoff moves Laine or Ehlers. Wyman’s proposals won’t land a superstar but I agree the Jets could get one or two good players from cap-strapped teams. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports they’re believed to have some interest in Dumba, but they don’t have a top-six center to entice the Wild.

Looking at Wiebe’s list, I don’t see the Lightning trading Cirelli and doubt Cheveldayoff will try to go the offer-sheet route to get him. Johnson, however, could be available but he’ll have to waive his no-trade clause. I don’t see the Canadiens parting with Danault. If they do, they’ll want a scoring winger in return.

Haula has been hampered by injuries. Patrick’s been dealing with a migraine disorder that cost him the entire 2019-20 season. Stastny was effective in his short tenure with the Jets in 2018 but the 34-year-old performance has declined since then. Brassard seems best suited for checking-line duty now.

LEAFS GM MUST GET CREATIVE TO ADDRESS DEFENSE ISSUES

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes there are blue-line options out there for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, but he’ll have to get creative to acquire them. Given the Leafs limited cap space, he doesn’t expect they’ll sign St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market.

Koshan assumes Dubas will acquire a right-shot rearguard. Free-agent options include Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Dylan DeMelo, Justin Schultz and Chris Tanev. He also wonders if Dubas will take another look at Zach Bogosian, who’s played well for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this year’s playoffs.

Dubas could make a splash in the trade market by shopping William Nylander but Koshan doubts he’ll do that. Trade chips could include Andreas Johnsson or Alexander Kerfoot, or perhaps the first-round pick he acquired from Pittsburgh. He thinks Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Anaheim’s Josh Manson or Carolina’s Brett Pesce would look good in a Leafs jersey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild reportedly seek a center for Dumba. I doubt they’ll part with him for a third-line center like Kerfoot. I don’t see Parayko or Pesce going anywhere. The Ducks might listen if a scoring forward is offered up for Manson but Kerfoot or Johnsson won’t do it.

Dubas might have to go the free-agent route to land that right-shot blueliner. He’ll have to shed a little more salary to do it.

UPDATE ON SAAD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Lazerus was asked if the Chicago Blackhawks might trade Brandon Saad before his UFA eligibility next summer. He doesn’t think there will be much of a market for a winger with a year left on his contract and a $6-million cap hit.

Lazerus also doesn’t see trading Saad making the Blackhawks better with the front office still in “win-now” mode. If they do move the left winger it’ll likely be at the trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hawks are willing to absorb part of Saad’s contract there would be more interest in him this summer. They could try to peddle him as a cost-cutting move, but they’ll likely have better luck shopping or buying out Olli Maatta or Zack Smith to free up the cap dollars to re-sign Dominik Kubalik, Corey Crawford and Dylan Strome.