NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.

The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.

The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.

BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.

Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.

Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.

Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.

The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.

I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

The Jack Eichel trade chatter is heating up plus the latest on Sam Reinhart in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL TRADE CHATTER HEATING UP

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing trade conversations between the Buffalo Sabres and other teams regarding Jack Eichel are getting “serious and intense.” He believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will want a first-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the return.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

LeBrun lists the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers among the clubs as potential landing spots.

WGR 550: Franklin Heinzmann suggests the Ducks could be the ideal trade partner for the Sabres. He wondered if they would offer up promising center Trevor Zegras and the third-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of the return for Eichel.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Ottawa Senators should also be among the Eichel suitors. He points out they desperately need a big, talented center.

The price for Eichel, who’s coming off a down season and a neck injury, will never be better. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league, the Senators can afford his $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the remaining five seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt teams calling the Sabres to inquire about the asking price for Eichel. First-line centers in their playing prime don’t become available every day. They’re also certain to be interested in his ongoing treatment for a herniated disk in his neck. After all, if you’re going to part with some prized assets for a $10 million superstar, you better be sure he won’t have any lingering health issues that could hamper his performance.

The Kings seem the best fit in terms of cap space and tradeable assets. They’re also reportedly seeking two top-six forwards this summer. In my recent conversation with John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, however, he said it’s believed they’re seeking established scorers around 27-years-old with two or three years remaining on their contracts. In other words, they want transitional players to buy more development time for their promising youngsters.

Everything I’ve seen and heard about the Ducks in recent weeks points toward rebuilding with younger players like Zegras. GM Bob Murray attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois earlier this season, but that was when he still considered his club a potential playoff contender. I could be wrong but I think it’s a different story now.

I agree with Brennan that the Senators are well-positioned to make a competitive bid for Eichel. However, Dorion and his staff like the potential they’re seeing from their club over the last two seasons. I’d put them in the “long shot” category.

Rick Carpiniello, The Athletic’s Rangers writer, said he’s heard they’re “not likely, or much less likely now”, to pursue Eichel. He didn’t elaborate but I suspect that’s due to the recent front-office shake-up and their hiring of Gerard Gallant earlier this week as their new head coach.

The Wild need an established first-line center but I’m not sure GM Bill Guerin will part with the assets necessary to get Eichel following his club’s solid performance this season. He could consider more affordable options in the trade and free-agent markets. The Flyers seem more focused on pursuing a top-pairing right-side defenseman than on landing a first-line center.

With nearly $25 million in cap space, the Blue Jackets have the room to take on Eichel’s cap hit, and that will include signing restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine to a new contract.

The Jackets have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres need goaltenders and the Jackets are reportedly willing to move Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins to a return that addresses other roster needs. Perhaps there’s a fit there. Heck, maybe they include Laine in the deal if he proves difficult to sign to a long-term extension.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SAM REINHART?

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes it would be worthwhile for the Vancouver Canucks to kick the tires on the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart. A versatile forward who can play center or wing, the 25-year-old North Vancouver native wants out of Buffalo and wants to move west.

There’s a buzz among Canucks fans about potentially parting with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft to acquire Reinhart. GM Jim Benning has indicated he’s going to keep his options open with that pick, including shopping it for a good young player.

SPORTSNET 650: Chris Johnston believes Reinhart can be a top-six contributor for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He feels he could be very effective in a second-line role behind an all-star first line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning took a lot of flak last year for letting Tyler Toffoli depart to Montreal via free agency. Acquiring Reinhart could atone for that move.

Reinhart to Vancouver seems like a great fit. The Sabres would be very interested if Benning came calling with that first-round pick, though they could also ask for something else to be included in the deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

The Lightning tie their semifinal series with the Islanders, Oskar Lindblom win the Masterton Trophy, plus the latest on Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov collected three assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2 to tie their semifinal series at a game apiece. Brayden Point tallied his playoff-leading 10th goal and Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson replied for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov was briefly replaced by Ilya Sorokin in the Isles net after being shaken up in a collision with Point but returned to finish the final two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a rough game culminating in a scrum at the end of the third period that saw Anthony Cirelli head directly to the Lightning bench following an altercation with Isles forward Travis Zajac. Bolts coach Jon Cooper said Cirelli should be okay.

The officiating was terrible in this contest. The Isles scored a power-play goal in the first period after Brayden Point was tagged for goaltender interference after being pushed into Varlamov by Isles blueliner Adam Pelech. The Lightning scored their second goal with seven men on the ice that somehow went unnoticed by the officials.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom is this year’s winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance. He overcame a rare form of bone cancer last year to play 50 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Lindblom, who was declared cancer-free during a scan in March. Here’s hoping he has a long, productive and happy life on and off the ice.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry will be a game-day decision for Game 2 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Petry is recovering from a hand injury suffered in the previous series against the Winnipeg Jets. Center Jake Evans (concussion) and defenseman Jon Merrill (undisclosed) are also game-day decisions for the Habs.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The province of Quebec will allow up to 3,500 fans at the Bell Centre for the Canadiens upcoming home games against the Golden Knights. The same ruling also applied to venues hosting shows and other sporting events as pandemic restrictions continue to ease in the province.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated there is mutual interest with Taylor Hall regarding a new contract. The 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall proved to be a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. It’s believed the winger is interested in term over dollars.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley underwent core-muscle surgery on Tuesday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for the 2021-22 season.

TSN: Forward Linus Wallmark has signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Wallmark split this season between the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks added former Calgary Flames bench boss Geoff Ward to their coaching staff.

CBS SPORTS: Drew Shore announced his retirement yesterday. The center played 98 NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes from 2012-13 to 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shore in his future endeavors.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets arena is changing its name from Bell MTS Place to the Canada Life Centre.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2021

Could the Avalanche let Gabriel Landeskog walk via free agency? Could they shop Samuel Girard? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST AVALANCHE SPECULATION

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers, Mark Kiszla and Ryan O’Halloron discussed possible offseason moves for the Colorado Avalanche following their second-round elimination by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Could the Colorado Avalanche part ways with Gabriel Landeskog? (NHL Images)

They mused over Gabriel Landeskog’s future with the club following his disappointing performance against the Golden Knights. Chambers speculates the Avs could offer their captain a “take it or leave it” offer of $5 million annually and not at his preferred term. O’Halloran believes a “bad team with salary-cap space” like the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks seeking a “heart-and-guts leader like Landeskog” will give him an offer he can’t or won’t refuse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic faces some difficult decisions this summer. Cap Friendly indicates he has $61.7 million invested in 18 players with Landeskog, goaltender Philipp Grubauer and winger Brandon Saad as unrestricted free agents and defenseman Cale Makar a restricted free agent.

The Avs will get some additional cap space when they lose a player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft but it will still be expensive to re-sign those four. They can’t afford to lose Grubauer to free agency and Makar will get a hefty raise as a Norris Trophy finalist.

How much Landeskog wants will determine if he still has a future in Colorado. Chambers’ pitch of $5 million annually would probably ensure his departure.

Samuel Girard also had a difficult series against the Golden Knights. The 23-year-old defenseman is earning $5 million annually through 2025-26. Kiszla suggests Sakic check Girard’s value in the trade market, pointing out they have enough blue-line “wizardry” with Makar. O’Halloran thinks Sakic will listen to offers as the Avs need cap flexibility for Makar’s new contract. If they keep Girard, O’Halloran believes they need to add a defenseman like Jamie Oleksiak to give him the space he needs to use his puck-moving skills.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Girard to free up some cap space makes sense, but it could also deplete their defense corps if they lose an unprotected defenseman (like perhaps Ryan Graves) in the expansion draft. If they trade Girard they could promote from within or perhaps look for an affordable physical defender.

If Sakic decides to make a blockbuster move, Chambers believes he should target a third-line power forward similar to Vegas’ Alex Tuch and “a big, heavy defenseman”. Kiszla proposed offering Girard to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones, though he admitted the Jackets could be hesitant to do that deal. O’Halloran proposed pursuing Buffalo’s Jack Eichel but also suggested more realistic options like Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Toronto’s Nick Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic has shown in the past his willingness to make big moves. We can’t discount he’ll make a big deal or two this summer to address his club’s needs.

Trading for Jones seemed like a bad idea given the Avs’ blueline depth. But if they lose Graves and decide to trade Girard, perhaps pursuing the Jacket defenseman wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Sakic could consider signing Danault or Foligno via free agency but he could seek better options in the trade market.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

The latest on Mitch Marner, Seth Jones, Sam Reinhart and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS GM SAID HE WON’T MOVE MARNER BUT SPECULATION PERSISTS

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Mitch Marner won’t be part of any potential offseason roster changes. He defended Marner and Auston Matthews, adding that moving either of them would be foolish.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos acknowledged Dubas’ comments but believes rival general managers will be calling about Marner. He thinks the Leafs should listen to offers, especially if they’re coming from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Traikos wondered if they could swap out Marner for Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, or Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, or Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas seems adamant about not trading Marner or Matthews. It would have to be a significant deal to pry Marner away from the Leafs. Maybe he’s willing to listen if Jones or Gibson or Eichel were pitched to him for Marner, but we don’t know if those offers will be made.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S RECENT “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there will be plenty of interest in Jackets defenseman Seth Jones despite his unrestricted free agent eligibility next summer. He feels it could be a complex transaction. He thinks it could be “a trade and free agency at the same time” unless someone’s willing to offer up a major package for Jones as a playoff rental for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said before, interested clubs could want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension before signing off on a trade. He’ll be of more value in the trade market that way. Perhaps a sign-and-trade scenario takes place. Maybe the Jackets grant permission for rival general managers to speak with Jones’ agent about a new deal.

Speaking of the Jackets, Friedman believes they spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about Sam Reinhart. The Sabres are looking for goaltenders and could have interest in Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. He thinks these two clubs would make sensible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart for Korpisalo or Merlikins could make sense for both clubs. As Friedman noted, however, there’s no guarantee that a deal takes place.

Friedman expects the Anaheim Ducks will try to make a big move this summer. They attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Blue Jackets before he was traded in January to the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pursuit of Dubois suggests Ducks GM Bob Murray will be in the market for a center. Aging captain Ryan Getzlaf is a UFA this summer. If he returns it won’t be in a top-six role.

Sources indicate league revenue for this season could be between $1.8 billion and $2 billion. Factor in money owed to the league by the players and the salary cap could remain static for several seasons, perhaps to 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman suggests that could mean offer-sheet thresholds could be lower than ever. I still don’t hold my breath waiting for one given how rarely that tactic is employed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

The Golden Knights advance to the second round, updates on the Leafs and Canadiens, the Ducks seek an assistant coach, a Gretzky rookie card fetches a record price at auction, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 of their first-round series. Mattias Janmark tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, who faced the Colorado Avalanche in round two. Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the first period with an apparent upper-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Mattias Janmark (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game early in the second period tied at two. However, the Golden Knights scored twice before the period was out and Janmark put it away with two goals in the third. It was a hard-fought series and the only one thus far in the first round to go the full seven games. This was a tough loss for the Wild but they have a promising future thanks to their budding core of young talent.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and questionable for Game 6 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Defenseman Travis Dermott could replace Rasmus Sandin for tonight’s game.

Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans could return to the lineup tonight after being sidelined since Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) remains doubtful.

NHL.COM: Game 1 of the second-round series between the Carolina Hurricanes – Tampa Bay Lightning goes Sunday in Carolina at 5 pm ET.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Lightning, they’ve ended their policy that restricted fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL clubs in their premium seating areas. This move came after a video went viral showing Florida Panthers fans being asked to remove their jerseys jersey by team staffers during a recent playoff game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bush-league rule that never should’ve been implemented in the first place.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said head coach Dallas Eakin will return next season. He’s also looking for an assistant coach who can run their power play.

NBC SPORTS: A Wayne Gretzky rookie card recently sold for a record $3.75 million at auction.