Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 25, 2024

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 25, 2024

Teams are calling about Canucks center Elias Pettersson, the latest on the Penguins’ Jake Guentzel and speculation that the Hurricanes could be listening on Martin Necas. Details on these and other trade conjecture on the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

GROWING INTEREST IN PETTERSSON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a lot of noise has developed over the past couple of weeks regarding Elias Pettersson. Teams are calling the Vancouver Canucks to ask what’s going on regarding the 25-year-old center’s contract situation and if he’s available.

Pettersson is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. He’s completing a three-year contract with an average annual value of $7.35 million.

Friedman said the Canucks don’t want to comment on this. He added that they’re telling teams they are trying to re-sign Pettersson.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Canucks position in the standings (first overall) I’ll be amazed if they were to trade Pettersson by the March 8 trade deadline. It’s rumored they’ve tabled a long-term contract with an AAV of $12 million but he prefers to wait until the offseason to discuss a new deal.

Given Pettersson’s RFA status, the Canucks are under no pressure to trade him by March 8. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement on a long-term extension and it appears he’ll head to market by his UFA eligibility in July 2025 they’ll shop him in June, probably leading up to the opening round of the 2024 draft.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are among the clubs interested in Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having interest is one thing. Having the cap space to absorb the remainder of Guentzel’s $6 million cap hit as well as the tradeable assets to entice the Penguins is another. It could take some creativity on the part of one of these teams to pull it off, perhaps involving another club acting as a third-party broker.

Friedman also reports teams are inquiring about the Penguins goaltenders. They’ve got Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic at the NHL level and a promising prospect in Joel Blomqvist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jarry wants out, the more likely to move is Nedeljkovic. Jarry is the better of the two, leading the league with six shutouts and among the leaders in goals-against average and save percentage. He’s been among the few bright spots for the Penguins this season.

Jarry would fetch a nice return but if general manager Kyle Dubas is looking at retooling the roster rather than rebuilding he’ll want to hang onto his starting goalie. I don’t see him moving Blomqvist as he’s part of that youth movement that Dubas wants for the future.

Friedman also took time to calm the waters about his musing over the possibility of Erik Karlsson returning to Ottawa. “That’s just me spitballing,” he chuckled. “Let’s not get too crazy about that one at this point in time.”

HURRICANES LISTENING ON NECAS?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports being told that the Carolina Hurricanes could be willing to entertain offers on winger Martin Necas. He also wondered if the Hurricanes would be calling the Calgary Flames about goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of spitballing, could the Hurricanes package Necas in a deal for Markstrom? Discuss it in the comments section below.

UPDATE ON THE DUCKS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers are seeking some forward depth. He thinks they’re looking at Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick. He’s not sure if they’re after both players or just one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been mentioned that the Oilers would like to add a third-line center and a gritty checking-line forward. Henrique would handle that center role plus he can also play on left wing while Carrick would bring a more physical presence to their checking lines. Of the two, Carrick would be the more affordable to acquire in terms of return and cap hit.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Ducks winger Frank Vatrano remains on the Rangers’ radar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks also took notice of speculation suggesting the Rangers reacquire Pavel Buchnevich from the St. Louis Blues. However, he believes Vatrano is the better former Ranger to bring back into the fold, citing the strong chemistry he had with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider down the stretch in 2022.

TEAMS CALLING THE FLYERS ABOUT SEELER AND WALKER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes two teams have contacted the Philadelphia Flyers about defensemen Nick Seeler and Sean Walker as a pair. They’ve been a solid defense duo this season and the Flyers have been weighing whether to sign or trade them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk earlier this season that the Toronto Maple Leafs had looked into Seeler and Walker after a failed attempt to acquire Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames before Zadorov was traded to Vancouver.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS, STARS, ISLANDERS AND COYOTES

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Leafs continue to look for a right-shot defenseman. That’s been their focus for most of this season.

The Dallas Stars have been quietly among the more aggressive teams in the trade market. They’re seeking defense and depth.

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears believes Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello would like to add a more reliable No. 3 goaltender. Of the three they have with their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, only one has a save percentage over .900.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reported Friday that Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is once again in sell mode leading up to the trade deadline. The obvious trade candidates are rental players such as defenseman Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker.

Armstrong could get calls on players with a year left on their contracts like goaltender Karel Vejmelka and Nick Bjugstad. LeBrun said the Coyotes GM doesn’t sound motivated about Vejmelka and deflected when asked about Bjugstad.

The Coyotes are already well-stocked with draft picks but Armstrong is willing to accept more via trades. He pointed out that some of those picks will be used as trade currency to add established NHL players.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

Teams are expressing interest in Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, the Canadiens inquired about Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, the Golden Knights could get busy in the trade market if Mark Stone is sidelined long-term, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

BLUES ARE GETTING CALLS ABOUT BUCHNEVICH

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source claims the St. Louis Blues are getting calls about Pavel Buchnevich. General manager Doug Armstrong is listening but he’s not shopping the 28-year-old winger, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.8 million. Buchnevich also carries a 12-team no-trade clause.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images)

Rutherford’s source believes it would take a substantial offer for Armstrong to consider moving Buchnevich. Still, teams are operating on the premise that it’s possible to acquire him. With so little high-quality talent in this year’s trade market, Buchnevich could have a much higher value.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson indicates the Oilers have been scouting the Blues. He believes they’re looking at Buchnevich as a second-line winger option. Matheson believes the cost to acquire him could be comparable to what the Oilers gave up in last year’s Mattias Ekholm trade (a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and a prospect).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are currently battling for a wild-card spot. Armstrong could be reluctant to part with one of his best forwards while his club remains in the playoff chase.

Buchnevich has another year left on his contract which means Armstrong is under no pressure to move him at the deadline. If he doesn’t get any suitable offers, he’ll wait until the offseason.

I think it’ll take more than a couple of draft picks and a prospect to get Buchnevich. The Blues are retooling rather than rebuilding their roster. They’ll want something that helps them now and in the future, and that likely means a good young NHL player as the centerpiece of the return.

CANADIENS CALLED ABOUT ZEGRAS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently reporting that the Anaheim Ducks were casually taking calls about Trevor Zegras. LeBrun also confirmed the Montreal Canadiens were among the callers. He indicated the Ducks haven’t been calling around mentioning Zegras but rather it’s other teams making inquiries.

Dumont doubted that a Zegras trade would come to fruition by the March 8 deadline. However, the young Ducks forward could be a name worth keeping in mind for the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on this report, the Ducks aren’t shopping Zegras and no one’s made an offer for him. Like Dumont, I don’t expect the 22-year-old forward to be on the move by March 8 but this could be something that carries over into the offseason.

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has mentioned he’d like to add more scoring to his roster. He has the depth in draft picks, prospects and promising youngsters to make a competitive bid for Zegras if he becomes available. The youngster’s dazzling offensive abilities would be a big boost to the Canadiens scoring lines while his age makes him a good fit alongside their other young players.

However, there would be some concerns here. One is Zegras’ poor defensive play, though that can be improved with time and maturity on his part.

Another is whether he can handle the intense pressure of playing in a major hockey market. Zegras hasn’t faced the kind of media and fan scrutiny in Anaheim that he would have to endure in Montreal playing for a storied franchise like the Canadiens. Some players have handled it well while others have wilted under that harsh spotlight.

Finally, there’s the asking price. You’re not getting Zegras for a bunch of mid-range picks, second-tier prospects, and veterans or castoffs. The Ducks will want a significant return such as a first-round pick (Montreal’s 2024 without any top-10 protection), a top prospect (hello there, Lane Hutson) and a good young NHL player. Hughes has a reputation as a tough negotiator but so is Ducks GM Pat Verbeek.

STONE INJURY COULD SEND VEGAS INTO THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could go shopping for help if captain Mark Stone ends up on long-term injury reserve for the rest of this season. Stone is currently listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury and they’ll reevaluate him near the March 8 trade deadline.

Dreger said losing a heart-and-soul player like Stone hurts the Golden Knights. However, they’ll do everything they can to backfill on the trade front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights did the same thing last season when Stone went on long-term injury reserve following back surgery. He carries an average annual value of $9.5 million, so placing him on LTIR will give them considerable cap relief. It could make them a major player in the trade market leading up to March 8.

DEVILS REJECTED OFFERS FOR MERCER

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying some teams that have been speaking with the Devils have asked about the availability of Dawson Mercer. However, they told those clubs that the 22-year-old forward is not available.

CAPITALS COULD BECOME TRADE-DEADLINE SELLERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they haven’t made any progress in the standings by the trade deadline. Trade candidates would include pending free agents such as Anthony Mantha, Max Pacioretty and Joel Edmundson.

FLYERS IN CONTRACT EXTENSION TALKS WITH SEELER

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are engaged in contract extension talks with Nick Seeler. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and was a frequent fixture in trade rumors this season involving the Flyers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

Three hat-trick performances as the Wild defeat the Canucks, Leafs center Auston Matthews moves closer to the 50-goal plateau, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild overcame 4-1 and 5-2 deficits in a 10-7 upset of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota forwards Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each scored three goals and three assists with the latter picking up his hat trick during his club’s seven-goal outburst in the third period. Matt Boldy and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and three assists as the Wild improved to 26-23-6 and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

J.T. Miller collected a hat trick and added an assist for the 37-14-6 Canucks (80 points) as they hold a three-point lead over the Boston Bruins in the overall standings. Pius Suter had three assists while Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild also set a franchise record for most goals in a single game. They capitalized on three 5-on-3 man-advantage scenarios to turn the game in their favor. They nearly blew an 8-5 lead when the Canucks scored twice to move within a goal but two empty-netters sealed the deal. Canucks winger Conor Garland left the game in the second period after blocking a shot but returned to action in the third period.

A shootout goal by Charlie McAvoy lifted the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 43 shots while David Pastrnak tied the game with his 35th goal of the season late in the third period for the 33-12-11 Bruins, who regained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. Wyatt Johnson, Ryan Suter and Esa Lindell replied for the Stars (34-14-8) as they hold first place in the Central Division with 76 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored captain Brad Marchand for recently reaching the 1,000-game milestone in a pregame ceremony. Meanwhile, the Stars played without center Matt Duchene due to a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season as his club doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Mitch Marner collected three assists and William Nylander netted a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs (30-16-8) as they picked up their fourth straight victory and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the 29-24-2 Blues as they cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 60 points.

A four-goal third period gave the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes, leaving the latter winless in their last 10 games (0-9-1). Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, Evander Kane tallied twice and Evan Bouchard picked up three assists for the 33-18-1 Oilers as they hold third place in the Pacific Division with 67 points. Nick Bjugstad scored two goals and Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes as they dropped to 23-28-4.

Vegas Golden Knights rookie Mason Morelli had a goal and an assist in his season debut while Logan Thompson made 29 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alec Martinez collected three assists for the Golden Knights (32-17-6) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 70 points. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 22 shots for the 15-35-5 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights activated defenseman Shea Theodore off injured reserve but he didn’t play in this game. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 22 with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, the Sharks activated Henry Thrun on injured reserve and placed captain Logan Couture on IR. The Sharks also made winger Alexander Barabanov a healthy scratch.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Nazem Kadri scored twice and collected an assist while Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (26-25-5) as they overcame a 3-1 deficit. With 57 points, they’re three back of the Blues for the final Western wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied a natural hat trick for the 33-15-5 Jets as they remain in third place in the Central Division with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness was displeased by his club’s performance in this contest after they upset the league-leading Canucks in their previous game. “That’s as soft a five-on-five game as we’ve played all year,” he told reporters in a postgame interview. “That’s not us at all. That didn’t even look like the Winnipeg Jets out there.”

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Seth Jarvis picked up two assists as the Hurricanes (33-17-5) sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 71 points. Rookie Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists for the 15-38-3 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is showing no lingering effects from the fractured jaw that recently sidelined him for six weeks. He has six points in three games since returning to action on Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield missed this game with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Ben Chiarot gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. Lucas Raymond had a goal and an assist while Alex Lyon made 38 saves for the 29-20-6 Red Wings, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Jared McCann tallied twice for the Kraken (23-21-11) as they sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 57 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Patrick Kane collected an assist to reach 800 for his career.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Mathieu Joseph scored two goals while Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist for the 23-27-2 Senators. Brayden Point and Mitchell Chaffee replied for the Lightning (30-22-5) as they hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 65 points.

Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano scored twice as his club nipped the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists while John Gibson stopped 34 shots for the 20-33-2 Ducks. Dylan Cozens collected two assists for the 24-27-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sabres announced defenseman Owen Power (hand) was placed on injured reserve.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL COM: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk are the three stars for the week ending Feb. 18, 2024.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: The Predators’ poor performance since the All-Star break prompted the club to cancel the team’s plans to journey to Las Vegas following Saturday’s game against St. Louis to watch U2 perform at Sphere. General manager Barry Trotz said the team’s recent standards were “below expectations”, especially during home games, pointing to their 9-2 loss to the Dallas Stars last Thursday. They face the Golden Knights tonight in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, play well and be rewarded.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2024

Hat trick performances by the Leafs’ Auston Matthews and the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Canucks expand their lead in the overall standings, Connor Bedard returns to action for the Blackhawks, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his fifth hat trick of the season as his club nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on an overtime goal by William Nylander. Mitch Marner collected three assists for the Leafs (28-16-8) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 64 points. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist for the 29-19-7 Flyers (65 points) as they hold third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews now has a league-leading 45 goals on the season, six more than Florida’s Sam Reinhart in second place. The Leafs center also set a franchise record with his 72nd multi-goal game.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider’s hat trick led his club over the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 7-4. Adam Fox collected four assists while Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad each had three points for the 35-16-3 Rangers, who picked up their sixth straight win as they lead the Metropolitan Division with 73 points. Cole Caufield scored twice while Juraj Slafkovsky had a goal and an assist for the 22-24-8 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Rangers as winger Blake Wheeler left the game in the first period with an injured leg following a hit by Montreal defenseman Jayden Struble. He was helped off the ice by teammates before heading down the tunnel on a stretcher. There was no postgame update on his condition. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Slafkovsky set a franchise record for the longest Canadiens points streak by a teenager.

Elias Lindholm scored two goals as the Vancouver Canucks became the first team to reach 80 points this season with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Elias Pettersson picked up three assists and Thatcher Demko stopped 27 shots for the 37-12-6 Canucks as they’ve won three straight games. J.T. Compher scored for the Red Wings (27-20-6), who hold the final Eastern wild-card spot with 60 points but have dropped three of their last four games (1-2-1).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Red Wings announced that goaltender Ville Husso is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie star Connor Bedard collected an assist in his return to action but his club fell 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bedard missed 14 games with a fractured jaw. Sidney Crosby tallied twice for the Penguins (24-20-7) as they moved to within five points of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 55 points. Philipp Kurashev scored for the 14-37-3 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced that winger Jake Guentzel will be sidelined for three to four weeks with an upper-body injury. I’ll have more about Guentzel in today’s Rumor Mill.

The Florida Panthers took over first place in the Eastern Conference by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 4-0. Anthony Stolarz kicked out 45 shots for his first shutout of the season while Carter Verhaeghe scored two goals for the 35-15-4 Panthers (74 points) as they picked up their fourth straight win and their 10th straight road victory. Eric Comrie turned aside 27 shots for the 23-26-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers and Boston Bruins each have the same amount of points but Florida has more wins. Meanwhile, Comrie got the start for the Sabres as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Speaking of the Bruins, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Seattle Kraken. Matty Beniers had a goal and two assists while Joey Daccord stopped 36 shots for the Kraken (23-21-10) as they moved to within four points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 56 points. David Pastrnak netted his 34th goal of the season for the 32-12-10 Bruins, who are winless in their last three games (0-2-1).

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov scored twice and collected an assist as his club defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3. Kucherov leads the league with 94 points while his Lightning (30-20-5) picked up their third straight win. They hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 65 points. Bowen Byram scored two goals while Nathan MacKinnon had two assists to sit four points behind Kucherov in the scoring race. The Avalanche (33-18-4) hold second place in the Central Division with 70 points.

The Dallas Stars (34-14-6) have a four-point lead over the Avalanche with 74 points after crushing the Nashville Predators 9-2. Wyatt Johnston scored twice and collected two assists, Matt Duchene tallied twice against his former club while Tyler Seguin and Ty Dellandrea each had three points. Cole Smith and Tommy Novak replied for the 27-25-2 Predators (56 points) as they sit four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have won just three of their last 10 games and are in danger of falling further out of the playoff race. That’s stoked recent trade speculation regarding goaltender Juuse Saros, which I’ll feature in today’s Rumor Mill. Meanwhile, Stars defenseman Nils Lundkvist left this game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

St. Louis Blues forwards Jake Neighbours and Robert Thomas each had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Jordan Binnington made 35 saves for the Blues (29-22-2), who’ve won eight of their last 10 games and hold the final Western wild-card berth with 60 points. Connor McDavid picked up three assists for the 31-18-1 Oilers as they remain in third place in the Pacific Division with 63 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is in third place in the scoring race, sitting nine points back of MacKinnon and 13 behind Kucherov. He’s tallied three or more points in five of his last seven games.

The Los Angeles Kings (25-16-10) maintained their hold on the first Western wild-card spot (60 points) by nipping the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Quinton Byfield broke a 1-1 tie in the third period while David Rittich stopped 26 shots for the Kings. Tyler Toffoli replied for the 27-22-4 Devils (58 points) as they remain two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings welcomed back winger Viktor Arvidsson as he made his season debut following his recovery from an injured back.

San Jose Sharks forward Filip Zadina scored twice and collected two assists to lead his club to a 6-3 upset of the Calgary Flames. Luke Kunin tallied two goals and Justin Bailey had a goal and two assists for the 15-33-5 Sharks. Chris Tanev had two assists for the Flames (25-24-5) as they remain five points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 55 points.

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler and winger Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Mason McTavish scored twice for the 19-32-2 Ducks while Claude Giroux replied for the 22-26-2 Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks goaltender John Gibson left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2024

Check out the latest on Jacob Markstrom, Noah Hanifin, Jake Guentzel, Adam Henrique and Kevin Labanc plus an update on the Canucks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON MARKSTROM AND HANIFIN

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Calgary Flames management did not ask goaltender Jacob Markstrom to waive his no-movement clause to accept a trade to the New Jersey Devils. He said the two clubs engaged in trade discussions but it never reached the stage where Markstrom’s approval would be required to facilitate the deal.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

LeBrun indicated the sticking point was salary retention. It’s uncertain if those trade talks between the two clubs are over or not but it’s clear that the Devils still need to upgrade their goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Salary retention is the one thing all insiders seem to agree on regarding what derailed the Markstrom trade talks between the two clubs. He’s signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $6 million.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Flames don’t seem keen to carry dead cap space for the next two seasons. Even with the salary cap projected to significantly increase over that period, they’ll need as much room as possible to re-sign key players and add others to their roster.

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports the Devils were also kicking tires on Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Elvis Merzlikins.

Speaking of the Flames, they’re still awaiting a decision from Noah Hanifin on whether he’ll re-sign with them. Darren Dreger indicates there’s plenty of interest in the 27-year-old defenseman if he becomes available. The Flames want to re-sign Hanifin but are willing to move him before the March 8 deadline if he’s not interested in a new deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade deadline is three weeks away so Hanifin still has plenty of time to decide his future. However, the Flames will want a decision soon to set the wheels in motion for a trade if he’s not willing to stick around.

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis reports Flames general manager Craig Conroy isn’t going to gut his roster so that they tank this season. Conroy pointed out how well young players such as Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil, and others have fit in among the veterans this season, helping to keep the Flames within wild-card contention. Adding Andrei Kuzmenko from Vancouver in the Elias Lindholm deal indicates he’s trying to retool the roster on the fly.

Francis also noted that Conroy is in no hurry to trade Markstrom. However, he’s willing to listen to offers and could pull the trigger for the right return provided the goalie accepts the move.

NO ASKING PRICE SET FOR GUENTZEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are receiving calls about Jake Guentzel. However, GM Kyle Dubas has not yet set an asking price for the 29-year-old winger. LeBrun claims they’re not at that point yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently speculated Dubas would want a return comparable to what the Philadelphia Flyers received from the Florida Panthers in the Claude Giroux trade two years ago. The Flyers received a first-round pick, a third-rounder and young winger Owen Tippett.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Friedman telling Brenden Escott of Oilers Now that he believes the Oilers will attempt to go big at the upcoming trade deadline. He believes Guentzel is the player they rank the highest on their wish list though he added that he’s not saying that’s going to happen.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Guentzel would be a perfect fit with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers and Avalanche would need the Penguins to retain half of Guentzel’s $6 million cap hit to make the dollars fit. That would require a significant return to the Penguins.

Speaking of Guentzel, he left last night’s game against the Florida Panthers with an upper-body injury. The severity of that injury could determine whether he gets traded by March 8. Stay tuned.

UPDATE ON ADAM HENRIQUE

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens believes the Anaheim Ducks won’t have any problem retaining half of Adam Henrique’s $5.825 million cap hit for the remainder of this season to facilitate a trade. He also believes Ducks GM Pat Verbeek will want a first-round pick as part of the return.

Verbeek could also look at upgrading his current roster with a proven player on the same timeline as their young core.

As for potential trade partners, Stephens listed the New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins. All three could use additional depth at center.

LABANC REQUEST A TRADE FROM THE SHARKS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller reports agent Mike Curren confirms he’s working with Sharks management to find a new opportunity for client Kevin Labanc. The 28-year-old winger is in the final season of his contract with the Sharks and has recently been a frequent healthy scratch.

Miller indicates there’s no animosity between the two sides. Curren claimed there were clubs interested in Labanc earlier this season but nothing materialized.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Labanc’s production as well as his $4.725 million cap hit for this season makes him difficult to move. The Sharks could retain half of that cap hit for the remainder of the season but they’ve already used up two of their salary-retention slots.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston took note of the Vancouver Canucks inviting Phil Kessel to skate with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford but he might not be the only player they consider adding to their roster for the playoffs.

Johnston believes they could also look at adding a right-shot defenseman. While they’d love to bring back Chris Tanev from Calgary, they’ll likely have to consider more affordable options that can fit within their system. Possibilities include Seattle’s Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh’s Chad Ruhwedel, Anaheim’s Ilya Lyubushkin or Buffalo’s Erik Johnson.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest on Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Hanifin, updates on the Canadiens and Rangers, and a hypothetical trade to send Penguins winger Reilly Smith back to the Golden Knights.

UPDATES ON CHRIS TANEV AND NOAH HANIFIN

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames defenseman Chris Tanev has become a top target in the trade market for playoff contenders seeking a missing piece for their respective bluelines.

A pending free agent, the 34-year-old Tanev is a dependable right-shot shutdown defenseman. He could fetch the Flames a couple of meaningful assets like a prospect and a draft pick. The New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks could be among the suitors for Tanev.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

Gilbertson also noted the Flames have made a big-money contract offer to Noah Hanifin. Like Tanev, the 27-year-old blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Gilbertson believes Hanifin is likely a goner if he’s not re-signed soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev is the most likely to move of the two. There’s still a chance that Hanifin and the Flames reach an agreement on a contract extension by March 8. However, the longer he remains unsigned, the more likely he will also be on the move by deadline day.

WILL THE CANADIENS MAKE A SIGNIFICANT ADDITION?

TVA SPORTS: Maxim Lapierre believes the Montreal Canadiens have the assets to use as trade bait to make a significant addition to their lineup.

The Canadiens got a 2024 first-round pick from the Winnipeg Jets in last Friday’s Sean Monahan trade. They also have an additional first-rounder in the 2025 draft. Lapierre thinks that gives general manager Kent Hughes the tools to make a big trade to bolster the roster.

Lapierre noted that some Canadiens fans would like to see Hughes acquire center Trevor Zegras from the Anaheim Ducks. However, he’d like to see the Habs GM bring in “a playoff player” comparable to Boston captain Brad Marchand or former Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes has noted that he has sufficient assets in draft picks and prospects that he could use some of them as trade bait to add an established talent. He’ll likely keep a close eye on the trade market leading up to the March 8 deadline but also in the offseason, especially around the draft in June.

I understand why some Canadiens followers want Hughes to acquire Zegras. He’s young, possesses dazzling offensive skills and carries a reasonable short-term bridge contract. However, I agree with Lapierre that Zegras hasn’t reached the stage where he’s proven he can help a team win the Stanley Cup. So far, he’s all flash but little substance.

WHO WILL THE RANGERS PURSUE AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will be buyers leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. He believes they need to bring in a third-line center, a right winger for the Mika Zibanejad-Chris Kreider line, and a physical left-side third-pairing defenseman.

Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique would address that third-line need. Brooks considers it unlikely that Rangers GM Chris Drury would part with a first-round draft pick or a young player like Kaapo Kakko for a rental player like Henrique.

If Ducks right winger Frank Vatrano became part of the equation, Brooks believes it would become “a more nuanced conversation.” Unlike Henrique, Vatrano has a year remaining on his contract at a more affordable cap hit ($3.65 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple and Eric Stephens recently reported the Rangers were interested in Henrique and Vatrano. Landing one or the other won’t be easy largely because Ducks GM Pat Verbeek has a reputation as a tough negotiator. Acquiring both will likely involve parting with a first-rounder or someone like Kakko as part of the return. Verbeek won’t just give

COULD REILLY SMITH RETURN TO THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights would look for a winger if they become buyers at the trade deadline. He suggested they reacquire Reilly Smith, who was traded last summer to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a cost-cutting move.

Smith has the third-most goals and points in Golden Knights history. He hasn’t clicked with the Penguins this season and could become a trade candidate if they become sellers leading up to March 8. He’d likely welcome a return to Las Vegas. However, it would require some salary-cap gymnastics to fit his $5 million average annual value within their cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is merely a suggestion on Granger’s part. He isn’t saying the Golden Knights and Penguins have discussed a trade involving Smith. Still, it would be an interesting move by both clubs if it did come to pass. Smith wouldn’t be the first player in NHL history to struggle on a new club only to regain his form once traded back to his old team.