NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

Teams are making inquiries about the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov while the club tries to figure out what to do with Keith Yandle, plus the latest on Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BARKOV AND YANDLE

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports being told there are “a number of teams” making inquiries about Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov in recent weeks. Panthers general manager Bill Zito said he has no intention of trading the 25-year-old center and hopes to re-sign him. However, rival clubs are skeptical that Barkov will re-sign when his contract expires in 2022.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images)

Barkov’s camp wants to win in Florida and is willing to give Zito the time needed to get the right pieces in order to do that. However, Seravalli believes Barkov’s situation will be worth watching in the coming months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is perhaps the NHL’s most overlooked star. He’s among the league’s best two-way forwards and one of the most disciplined players, winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2018-19.

Nevertheless, most fans and pundits around the league don’t seem to realize just how good he really is. Panthers fans won’t like me saying this, but he’d garner far more recognition and plaudits if he played on a better team in a bigger hockey market.

I don’t doubt Barkov’s sincerity about wanting to win with the Panthers. However, they’ve been a sad-sack organization through most of his tenure. He could consider testing the UFA market if the Panthers are still spinning their wheels by the end of next season.

Speaking of the Panthers, Pierre LeBrun reports Keith Yandle’s agent believes Zito is trying to put pressure on his client to convince him to waive his no-movement clause. Zito, however, said he hasn’t asked the 34-year-old defenseman to waive that clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito is wasting little time trying to shake things up since taking over as Panthers GM in September. LeBrun’s colleague Travis Yost indicated moving the puck-moving blueliner won’t be easy because of his declining play and $6.3 million annual average value.

Nevertheless, Yost doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Yandle getting traded to a club with blue-line issues provided the Panthers retain some of his annual average value. I don’t dismiss that possibility but Yandle’s age and the remaining term of his contract (through 2022-23) are significant sticking points.

LATEST ON DUBOIS

Former Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos took to Twitter yesterday saying the Montreal Canadiens are Dubois’ destination of choice. He claims the Jackets’ asking price is focused around “Nick Suzuki/plus.” Kypreos also said Habs defenseman Alexander Romanov “has been deemed untouchable.”

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger replied to Kypreos with a tweet saying he’s heard “Kotkaniemi/Mete and something else” was what he heard from asking around.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should be in the mix if the Columbus Blue Jackets intend to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois. He feels Zito is a big fan of Dubois, suggesting he’d make a good fit centering the Panthers’ second line with Barkov on the top line. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will pry Dubois from the Jackets, adding it will be costly to land him.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins could get into the bidding for Dubois. Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen are their best assets but Haggerty feels it will cost much more to get a deal done. He’s not holding his breath expecting to see Dubois in a Bruins jersey. Meanwhile, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports the Panthers and New Jersey Devils are among those interested in the Jackets’ center.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a legitimate first-line center, something they haven’t had since Jason Spezza was traded away in 2014. He thinks it would take a significant offer to acquire Dubois, suggesting anyone other than Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot or Tim Stuetzle should be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said Blue Jackets’ coach John Tortorella’s recent comments about Dubois wanting out isn’t making GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s job any easier. LeBrun said other clubs are saying Kekalainen wants to be patient with this situation, but it’s apparent there’s plenty of interest in the 22-year-old center.

It’s possible that a trade could shake out during this season that Kekalainen finds too good to pass up. I believe that deal must include a scoring forward, preferably a center. However, I still believe a deal of that magnitude takes place in the offseason. Despite the flattened salary cap, there will be clubs with the cap space this summer to take on Dubois’ $5 million AAV for next season and to pay him a big raise beyond that.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

Updates on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: John Lane reports Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella confirmed Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request. “Yeah, he wants out,” said Tortorella, commending the 22-year-old center for his honesty but wishing he’d be more transparent about his reasons.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Tortorella indicated Dubois had a good training camp but he intends to keep the center on a short leash this season. “He needs to continue to do the things to help this team and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes,” he said. “It’s a situation, and we’ll go to it day by day.”

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline suggests big changes could be coming to the Blue Jackets after this season. In addition to Dubois’ trade request, Tortorella is in the final year of his contract, as is team captain Nick Foligno. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen also has to decide whether Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is their starting goalie as both are slated for UFA status in 2022.

Portzline believes Kekalainen has shown no urgency to move Dubois but wonders how long this can fester before he’s forced to act. The center is under contract through 2021-22. Dubois could be with the Jackets throughout this season unless they fall out of playoff contention and receive a tempting trade offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets were among the clubs with interest in Dubois. Kekalainen will set a significant asking price, perhaps seeking a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. The Jackets GM isn’t known for hasty trades and will wait until the offseason if necessary for the right return.

The fates of Tortorella, Foligno and their goaltenders will be determined by the club’s performance this season. Missing the playoffs or another early postseason exit could bring about a shake-up.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what’s next for Keith Yandle now that the Florida Panthers are trying to ease the 34-year-old defenseman out of their lineup. His no-movement clause prevents them from placing him on their taxi squad unless he agrees to waive it. They could start the season by making him a healthy scratch, ending his 866-game Ironman streak.

Yandle’s declining performance could hurt his trade value. Larkin suggests the Panthers might have to absorb part of his $6.35 million annual average value (through 2022-23) to make him enticing in the trade market, provided he agrees to waive his NMC. Larkin reports a source said Yandle hasn’t been the initiator on any plans to waive his clause.

Larkin suggested the Boston Bruins as a potential fit. The New York Islanders could be another but they lack sufficient cap space to find room for Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see any club having an interest in Yandle at this point in his career. He has too much tenure on his contract even if the Panthers agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit. Never say never, of course, because we’ve seen instances in the past where seemingly untradeable players get moved. Still, the Panthers could be forced to wait until the offseason to make that happen.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

With the regular season opening today, check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUE JACKETS GETTING CALLS ABOUT DUBOIS

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports several sources claim interested teams are “not screwing around” when it comes to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Interest is reportedly growing in Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman said the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are among the pursuers but there are other clubs in the chase who haven’t received as much attention. Friedman wonders if the Jackets will move quickly to trade Dubois.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s been some speculation linking Dubois to Jets winger Patrik Laine. “That makes a lot of sense, but there’s nothing close there,” said Dreger.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if the Canadiens would or should make a player for Dubois. He feels it would cost the Habs one of their two promising young centers (Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi) and there’s no guarantee Dubois will be more successful over the long run than either of those two. If Habs general manager Marc Bergevin could find a way to acquire Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi it would be a no-brainer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation also has the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers as possible or suggested suitors for Dubois. Whether they’re actually pursuing him is another matter.

Dubois-for-Laine addresses the Jets’ outstanding need for a reliable young second-line center. That proposed swap would help the low-scoring Jackets but creates a big hole at center for them.

If the Canadiens land Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi they’d be set for years at center, salary cap permitting. Maybe Bergevin bundles pending UFA Philip Danault with a top prospect like Cole Caulfield and a couple of his 11 picks between rounds 2 and 5 of the 2021 NHL draft, though that would require a commitment from Danault to sign a contract extension with the Jackets. However, the Canadiens would have to include another salaried player to create room for Dubois’ $5 million AAV. 

That’s just spitballing on my part. Suzuki or Kotkaniemi would have to be part of the return and I doubt Bergevin wants to give up either guy.

YANDLE OUT OF FAVOR WITH THE PANTHERS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Keith Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Florida Panthers. They’ve informed the 34-year-old defensemen he no longer fits into their plans for this season. His no-movement clause (NMC), however, prevents them from demoting him to their taxi squad. It’s believed they plan to make him a healthy scratch for their season-opener, which would end his Ironman streak of 866 games.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Yandle’s NMC gives him ultimate control over this situation. However, it’s difficult to move salary right now. Friedman said he’d heard the Panthers had some talks with the New York Islanders, with the Panthers taking back some salary, but a deal didn’t happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle yesterday said he hadn’t been approached by the Panthers about waiving his NMC. Maybe GM Bill Zito is trying to force the rearguard into seeking a trade or accepting a demotion to the taxi squad.

PuckPedia shows Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $6.3 million. If he’s willing to accept a trade, the Panthers will have to do a dollar-for-dollar swap or absorb a healthy chunk of his cap hit to make the deal work. Even then, his age and the remaining term on his contract could be sticking points.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 10, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 10, 2021

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford, and an update on the Islanders in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers would have to pay a “painful cost” to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center reportedly seeks a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It would prove costly for the New York Rangers to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL Images).

Brooks said the Rangers are monitoring Dubois’ situation. He believes the Jackets will want a center in return, suggesting the Blueshirts might have to part with Filip Chytil as part of the return. He also thinks the Jackets would want Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko in the deal. Brooks suggests K’Andre Miller, Matthew Robertson, Tony DeAngelo or Vitaly Kravtsov could also interest the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Jackets would want a player who can improve their roster immediately. Maybe they’d be tempted to accept a package of young Rangers’ players/prospects if Lafreniere were part of the deal, but I don’t see the Blueshirts moving him or Kakko. Perhaps the Jackets would accept a package of young players and/or prospects if they could flip some of them to another club for an impact center.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons said if he were New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello he’d trade recently-signed Mathew Barzal to the Jackets for Dubois. While Barzal is the better offensive player, Dubois is bigger, less expensive and plays a better three-zone game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But Lamoriello isn’t Simmons and he’s not going to trade Barzal for Dubois. It would be a little risky for the Isles as we don’t know if Dubois would commit beyond next season to staying on Long Island.

THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak examines the New Jersey Devils’ options to replace Corey Crawford. The 36-year-old goaltender announced his retirement yesterday.

For now, their tandem will be starter Mackenzie Blackwood with Scott Wedgewood as the backup. Masisak points out the external options aren’t ideal, with Jimmy Howard as the only goalie in the unrestricted free agent market who won a game in the NHL last season. Howard won just two of 27 appearances with a .882 save percentage with the Detroit Red Wings.

There were reports earlier in the offseason that the Vegas Golden Knights were looking to trade Marc-Andre Fleury but Masisak felt they had time to find a suitable backup by then. He wonders if the Arizona Coyotes might promote Adin Hill and listen to offers for Antti Raanta, who has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.25 million.

The waiver wire could be another option. The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Michael Hutchinson on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils could start the season with the Blackwood-Wedgewood tandem and see how things unfold. It’ll be interesting to see if they pluck someone off waivers. The fact no one signed Howard by now suggests he has little value to NHL clubs.

If the Devils opt for a trade they have plenty of salary-cap space to take on Raanta’s cap hit if the Coyotes want to move him. Fleury, meanwhile, isn’t available. The Golden Knights intend to start this season with Fleury and Robin Lehner splitting their goalie duties.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was trying to trade a player in order to sign Mathew Barzal to a long-term extension. However, it appears no team was willing to take on Thomas Hickey or Leo Komarov with budgets tight and the start of the season fast approaching. Barzal yesterday inked a three-year, $21 million contract with the Isles.










Dubois and Laine Dominate NHL Training Camp Rumor Mill

Dubois and Laine Dominate NHL Training Camp Rumor Mill

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

Suggested trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois and what could be holding up the Islanders’ attempt to sign Mathew Barzal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun listed the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks among seven teams he believes would make sense as trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center has reportedly sought a trade despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets last week.

LeBrun feels the Flames could be an attractive trade partner for the Jackets if they seek a return that can help them right away. He spitballs a deal involving Dubois for Sean Monahan. LeBrun suggests Dubois would be the kind of young core piece that would fit into the Blackhawks’ current direction. However, he believes the Jackets would want promising center Kirby Dach as part of the return.

Should the Calgary Flames consider acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also pitched the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. He discussed them during a recent TSN “Insider Trading” segment. You can get the details and my thoughts on those clubs as Dubois trade destinations by following this link.

As for the Flames and Blackhawks, I can’t disagree with LeBrun’s assessment of Dubois’ impact upon those clubs and the Jackets’ asking price. The Flames could consider shaking things up if this season ends in disappointment so I wouldn’t dismiss a Dubois-for-Monahan swap. I don’t see the Blackhawks moving Dach so Dubois probably isn’t landing in Chicago.

LeBrun’s colleague Lisa Dillman examined the pros and cons if the Kings tried to acquire Dubois. Pros include Dubois filling a need for a No. 1 center as Anze Kopitar ages as well as their depth in promising assets to tempt the Jackets. Cons include what could be an expensive asking price (Quinton Byfield?) by the Jackets and the cap hit required to keep Dubois in Los Angeles after his current deal expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Dillman that the Kings should at least explore the option of acquiring Dubois. If the asking price is Byfield, however, that could be a deal-breaker.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Senators should contact the Jackets about Dubois’ availability and the asking price. He feels the Sens have the depth in prospects, especially young defensemen, to make a serious pitch. Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a first-line center now and for the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Jackets have a trade history. While the Sens have plenty of promising youngsters to offer up a trade bait, the Jackets probably want a return that provides immediate help to their roster.

The Jackets are not a rebuilding club but one that sees itself building toward Stanley Cup contention. I think they’ll want a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return rather than budding young NHL defensemen unless those prospects are flipped to another team to acquire a scoring center.

The Senators would also want assurances from the Dubois camp that he’ll commit to a long-term deal with them after his current contract expires at the end of next season. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of assets to acquire a player who doesn’t want to be there.

Turning to Mathew Barzal’s contract negotiations, THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple reports it’s believed New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is trying to unload another contract in order to sign the 23-year-old center to a lucrative long-term deal. Once completed, Staple suggests Barzal could get perhaps a six, seven or even an eight-year contract at an annual average value close to $10 million.

Staple speculates defenseman Thomas Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, $3.75 million in actual salary for this season and next) and forward Leo Komarov ($3 million AAV, $3.5 million in actual cash) as potential trade candidates. Trading Johnny Boychuk’s contract is another option but that would take away the Isles’ long-term injury reserve flexibility for this season. It doesn’t appear anyone’s taking Andrew Ladd and his $5.5 million AAV off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello attempting to make a cost-cutting trade to free up cap space for an expensive long-term contract for Barzal would explain why the young center remains unsigned a week into training camp. Perhaps this can be sorted out during this weekend.

However, Barzal’s missed a week of practice and scrimmages with his teammates. That’s not going to help his preparation for the upcoming season.