NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2021

Matt Dumba wants to remain with the Wild plus updates on Jack Roslovic and Paul Byron in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Matt Dumba was fully aware of the trade rumors swirling about him. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old Minnesota Wild defenseman informed general manager Bill Guerin he doesn’t want to be moved. “This is where I want to be,” said Dumba. “I don’t want to move nowhere.”

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images)

Guerin reportedly entertained trade offers for Dumba during the offseason, presumably for a first-line center. The blueliner understood that, saying Guerin wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t listening to offers.

Muzitani suggests Dumba could make himself too invaluable to trade if he returns to the form he displayed two seasons ago. The blueliner was on pace for a 30-goal performance when he suffered a season-ending pectoral tear. Dumba struggled through last season, though his game improved over the course of the schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba could be the best trade chip the Wild have to land an established No.1 center. Guerin could seriously consider moving him if a rival team makes a suitable pitch.

Dumba’s also the only member of the Wild’s top-four blueliners lacking a no-movement clause. He could be selected by the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft if Guerin opts to protect just three defensemen. That scenario will ensure the Dumba trade rumors keep simmering throughout this season.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines why some young players have struggled to fit in with the Winnipeg Jets and ended up traded. One factor is the Jets have boxed themselves in financially by signing many of their players to expansive, long-term contracts that can come back to bite them. Another is their roles within the Jets’ lineup.

McIntyre ties those factors to the current contract standoff between the Jets and Jack Roslovic. The restricted free agent has reportedly requested a trade and is home in Columbus. He’s also out of sight and out of mind among his teammates and coaches as his roster spot has been taken over by Mason Appleton. Roslovic’s agent, Claude Lemieux, has also gone silent of late.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McIntyre observes the Jets have the financial flexibility to sign Roslovic with Dustin Byfuglien off their books and Bryan Little slated for long-term injury reserve. The main issue here is his unhappiness over his role with the Jets. McIntyre notes Roslovic sees himself earning top-six minutes as a center but has been relegated to checking-line winger duties.

Roslovic completed his entry-level contract and has little leverage except to stay home and hope for a trade. Once this season begins, Roslovic has until Feb. 11 to sign with the Jets (or another club if traded) or become ineligible to play this season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports there have been rumors of Paul Byron being traded with the Canadiens up against the $81.5 million salary cap. The 31-year-old forward is entering the second year of a four-year, $13.6 million contract. Byron claims he doesn’t listen to trade rumors and is focused on the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byron could remain the subject of trade chatter as promising youngsters make their way into the Canadiens’ lineup. However, it’s unlikely he’ll be shopped given the value of his experience and leadership. They’ll employ some other salary-cap gymnastics to become cap compliant when their season opens this week.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2021

The latest on Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Matt Dumba in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The trade status of Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic is among Mike McIntyre’s 10 key storylines for the Winnipeg Jets entering training camp.

Is Patrik Laine here to stay, at least for this season? Will Jack Roslovic’s trade wish be granted or will the restricted free agent ultimately be re-signed?”, asked McIntyre. Their statuses are contributing to what McIntyre called “an air of uncertainty hanging over the team.”

Will the Winnipeg Jets grant Jack Roslovic’s trade wish? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer the uncertainty over the futures of Laine and Roslovic, the greater the risk it becomes an unwelcome distraction for the team during the season.

Roslovic’s situation could be resolved first. He’s an RFA whose apparent unhappiness with his role in Winnipeg has bubbled over recently into the media. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s moved before the regular season opens on Jan.13. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will probably want a quality asset in return, like a defenseman who can help the Jets blueline right away.

Laine is under contract for the coming season. While his agent floated the notion of a trade during the offseason, there aren’t any reports of the winger pushing the issue. It seems like his camp and Jets management could take a wait-and-see approach this season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Addressing the No. 1 center position is among Dane Mizutani’s five storylines worth watching as the Minnesota Wild begin training camp on Sunday.

It appears offseason acquisition Marcus Johansson will be their first-line center because there are no other suitable options. Wild GM Bill Guerin gave Johansson a big vote of confidence but the 30-year-old forward struggled at the center position in the past.

Shopping defenseman Matt Dumba could be among the options if the issue needs to be addressed this season. Mizutani pointed out Guerin dangled Dumba as trade bait in the past and he has proven unafraid to pull the trigger on trades he feels will help the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin indicated in November he’s prepared to start this season with Dumba in the lineup. However, he didn’t state the 26-year-old blueliner was untouchable.

Trade speculation dogged Dumba through most of last season. Of the Wild’s top four defensemen, he’s the only one lacking a no-movement clause, meaning Guerin could be forced to expose him in this summer’s expansion draft if he opts to protect just three blueliners.

That issue alone could ensure Dumba remains a topic for media trade chatter, which will only intensify if Johansson can’t get the job done as their first-line center.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

Some recent speculation on the Bruins, Wild and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently pondered moves by the Boston Bruins if they should struggle during the 2020-21 season. He points to their weakness on the left side of their blueline as well as the possibility of star forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak missing the start of the schedule recovering from offseason surgeries.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images)

O’Brien feels management won’t need to blow things up but they could consider moving a handful of veterans at the trade deadline. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak and center David Krejci are unrestricted free agents next summer. Perhaps the Bruins could get something of value for one of them. He also wondered if they might try to move a supporting cast member like Charlie Coyle or Jake DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins perform in a shortened season without Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on the blueline and their two leading scorers possibly sidelined for the opening weeks. General manager Don Sweeney could consider selling a couple of veterans at the trade deadline if his club is struggling to stay in playoff contention by then. For now, of course, it’s all hypothetical.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if defenseman Zdeno Chara would return for another season. He predicted Chara wouldn’t return, speculating the big blueliner would reject relegation to a third-pairing role. Haggerty has the feeling the Bruins are ready to move on to a younger, more mobile defense corps.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL.com’s Amelie Benjamin, who covered her fair share of Bruins games with the Boston Globe, believes Chara will return for another season, though she acknowledged it’s not a certainty. Chara’s agent said his client was waiting to see what the format for the 2020-21 season would look like before deciding where he’ll play.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Minnesota Wild would trade defenseman Matt Dumba before the season is over. He notes the club intends to start the season with Dumba as part of their top-four blueliners.

Gulitti suggested the Wild might not be able to protect the 26-year-old Dumba in next summer’s expansion draft with Jonas Brodin recently signing a seven-year contract extension while Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon each have five years remaining on their deals. The Wild could try to move him before the trade deadline or wait until the offseason and do so before the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba, who has three years left on his contract, is the only one of those four lacking no-movement protection in the 2021 expansion draft. The Wild could protect all four but they’d have to expose an extra forward. General manager Bill Guerin could swing a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Dumba isn’t selected in that draft.

Guerin could see Dumba as a trade chip to bring in a first-line center. He could try to move the blueliner for the right offer before the expansion draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins recently reported hearing something needs to give on the Oilers’ roster before the club returns to play. However, he doesn’t expect it to happen until the middle of January when training camp might be underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rather cryptic take by Leavins. Is he referring to their goaltending? Perhaps a short-term replacement for Oscar Klefbom if (when) he’s placed on long-term injury reserve as he recovers from treatment for his injured shoulder? An additional scoring winger? What say you, Oilers fans?










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

The proposed Jan. 1 start of the 2020-21 season in jeopardy, four Blue Jackets test positive for COVID-19, plus updates on Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the lack of progress over the last five days to draft protocols could jeopardize the NHL’s proposed Jan. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season. Well-placed sources tell Brooks of continuing adamant, widespread resistance among the NHLPA membership to the league’s recent requests to renegotiate the terms of the recent CBA extension to increase the escrow and salary deferral rates.

The league made those requests citing liquidity issues. While the players’ share of hockey-related revenue cannot exceed 50 percent, Brooks said the adoption of annual escrow caps combined with uncoupling the salary cap from actual HRR has ended the assurance of a yearly 50-50 split.

Brooks notes the 10 percent salary deferral for this season was to be repaid without interest in three equal annual installments over the final three years of the extension. He wonders if the players would be amenable to adjusting the agreement if the league agrees to repay all deferred money with interest.

The stalled negotiations suggest a 48-game schedule beginning the third week in January appears more likely. The NHL returned from the 1994-95 lockout on Jan 20 and from the 2012-13 lockout on Jan. 19. Brooks reports the league remains focused on playing in home arenas with or without fans in attendance despite recent positive COVID-19 tests among two NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL was facing a tight schedule to meet a suitable timetable for a Jan. 1 start well before the recent lull in negotiations with the PA.

They need a 14-day training camp period in the run-up to the start of the season while last season’s seven non-playoff clubs were promised an extra seven-to-10 days of camp. Many players remain scattered across North American and Europe with those returning to Canadian clubs needing to self-isolate for 14 days. The players could also be reluctant to take part in training camp during the Christmas holidays.

The league and the PA were hoping for a Jan. 1 start in order to stage a 60-game schedule. If they cannot hammer out an agreement by the end of this week, they’ll have to push that start date to late January or early February and consider adopting a shorter schedule.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran believes the prospect of a new US television agreement next season brings the promise of the NHL playing this season. The current contract with NBC Sports expires at the end of 2020-21.

Playing this season means the league could enter into lucrative new deals with a diverse group of broadcasters and/or streamers starting in ’21-’22. That includes traditional TV networks like NBC, cable networks like ESPN and Fox, and streamers such as DAZN and Amazon Prime.

The effect of COVID-19 upon league revenues could result in a less fruitful bidding war than anticipated. However, McGran points out Major League Baseball just signed a seven-year extension with Turner Sports worth a 65 percent increase annually over its previous deal with the broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the saying goes, it’s all about the Benjamins. That’s one of the main reasons why the NHL and the NHLPA are keen to return to play as soon as possible. That’s why commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly believes canceling the season would damage the league’s long-term health.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets announced “several players” tested positive for COVID-19. Those players immediately began to quarantine and the club closed its off-ice facilities at Nationwide Arena beginning Nov. 16. This news comes a day after the Vegas Golden Knights announced four players tested positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be an ongoing concern for the NHL’s efforts to stage a 2020-21 season. Teams are following health and safety protocols similar to those in use prior to the 2020 playoffs but it doesn’t make the players immune from the coronavirus.

Edmonton Oiler captain Connor McDavid is training with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona (NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid joined Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona earlier this month. The two superstars have skated together four days a week. They’ve been joined in recent weeks by several NHL players, including Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players have been taking part in informal voluntary workouts and on-ice training throughout North America and Europe in preparation for whatever format the ’20-’21 schedule will be.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said his players are waiting to see when training camp begins. He said it doesn’t make sense to bring everyone to Vancouver right now to go through a two-week quarantine, only to have them return home for Christmas and then go through another quarantine when they return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything’s in a holding pattern right now for all NHL teams. Because of the health and safety protocols, they can’t bring their players back in anticipation of a December training camp when they don’t know if that’s even going to happen.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel believes the club did an “awesome job” with its offseason moves. Those include adding left wing Taylor Hall and centers Eric Staal and Cody Eakin.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault said he’s had no contract talks with the club and expects to enter the final season of his current deal without an extension. He said he’ll see what happens, leaving it up to general manager Marc Bergevin.

Danault clarified that he never said he wanted to be the club’s full-time first-line center but the two-way center doesn’t want to be placed into just one role. Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens’ offseason additions of Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson means Danault will likely remain with linemates Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s future with the Canadiens will depend on the development of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. If they outperform Danault, this season could be his last with the Habs.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo recently told HBO’s Real Sports that psychedelic drugs helped him cope with the aftereffects of brain trauma suffered during his playing career.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets prospect Dylan Samberg was involved in a multi-vehicle accident in Minnesota that left him unhurt but sent four other people to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

TSN: The NHL is embroiled in a legal fight with several insurance companies refusing to pay most of the costs related to the league’s concussion lawsuit and the settlement reached with retirement players.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Former Blackhawks forward Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Indigenous players in the NHL, passed away yesterday at age 86 from COVID-19. Sasakamoose played 11 games with the Blackhawks in 1953-54 and was a pioneer and role model for Indigenous and Native American players. Sasakamoose was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Order of Canada in 2017.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes mourning the passing of nine-year-old fan Leighton Accardo, who passed away yesterday following a long battle with cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sasakamoose’s family, friends and former teammates, and to the Accardo family and the Coyotes’ organization.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2020

What’s next for the Bruins after signing Jake DeBrusk? What’s the latest on Matt Dumba’s trade status? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: D.J. Bean praised Bruins general manager Don Sweeney for signing winger Jake DeBrusk to an affordable short-term bridge contract yesterday. The move also leaves Sweeney with “somewhere between $2.9 million and $3.7 million”, enough to bring in a left-side defenseman or another left winger, though they’ll have to shed some salary to address both issues.

With Jake DeBrusk signed, will the Boston Bruins bring back Zdeno Chara? (NHL Images)

Bean suggests there’s enough to bring back Zdeno Chara for next season in perhaps a third-pairing role. However, they’ll have to bid Chara adieu if they decide to sign unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty took note of my recent Bleacher Report piece listing the Bruins fourth among my top-five destinations for Hoffman. I pointed out the Bruins’ limited cap space puts them at a disadvantage with the three teams ahead of them in my ranking.

Haggerty speculates Hoffman could be waiting for the right team to make some cost-cutting moves to free up sufficient cap space to sign him. That could bode well for a club like the Bruins.

In a recent mailbag segment, Haggerty suggests Anthony Duclair as an affordable alternative if they can’t sign Hoffman.

He also said acquiring Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larson wouldn’t be an idiotic decision. He praised Ekman-Larsson’s offensive abilities while suggesting his size wouldn’t make him a defensive zone liability like the smaller former Bruin Torey Krug.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $2.9 million in cap space. Unless they shed salary they can’t afford to bring back Chara and add a third-line left winger or a second-line right wing.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. If he won’t budge from that asking price, the Bruins can’t sign him without making a cost-cutting trade.

Haggerty’s suggestion about Hoffman waiting for the right team to clear some cap space to sign him is a reasonable one, but I don’t think that helps the Bruins. I don’t see who they can move that would free up sufficient cap room without weakening the roster elsewhere.

The same goes for acquiring Ekman-Larsson. While he could agree to waive his no-movement clause before next year’s trade deadline if the Coyotes approached him again about going to Boston, I don’t see how the Bruins could free up sufficient room to take on his $8.25 million cap hit. They’ll want the Coyotes to pick up a healthy chunk but I don’t see them agreeing to that. The only reason they explored trading Ekman-Larsson was to get his full cap hit off their books.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin reiterated he’s not shopping Matt Dumba. The 26-year-old defenseman was the subject of trade speculation in recent months, but Guerin said he’s prepared to start the season with Dumba, praising his energy and competitiveness.

There was talk Dumba could be available after the Wild signed Jonas Brodin to a seven-year contract extension. The club might not be able to protect Dumba in next year’s expansion draft with Brodin, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon under contract for five more seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin, Suter and Spurgeon all have full no-movement clauses meaning they must be protected by the Wild in the expansion draft unless they consent to waive those clauses. Dumba lacks that protection. Guerin could decide to protect those four defensemen but it would mean leaving an extra forward exposed.

Guerin saying he’s happy to start the season with Dumba doesn’t full slam the door on the speculation over the blueliner’s future in Minnesota. Assuming there’s a 2020-21 season, don’t be surprised if he resurfaces in the rumor mill if the Wild are struggling before next year’s trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2020

The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Dumba and MacKenzie Weeger in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON BYFUGLIEN AND DUMBA

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo considers it the notion of Dustin Byfuglien signing with the Minnesota Wild a long shot. The 35-year-old defenseman has shown no interest in returning to action after missing last season and terminating his contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images).

Talk of Byfuglien joining the Wild was sparked in part by speculation they were on the verge of trading Matt Dumba. However, Russo reports the Dumba trade talk has quieted while the Wild’s cap space has shrunk to $1.775 million.

Russo feels if Wild general manager Bill Guerin attempted to trade the blueliner now he won’t get a first- or second-line center in return. Teams aren’t moving those types of players right now, Dumba’s coming off a down year and the expansion draft is slated for next summer. Guerin isn’t in any rush to trade the rearguard, who’s got three years remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly also indicates Dumba carries an annual average value of $6 million, which is now tough to move with only seven teams carrying over $6.9 million in cap space. As for Byfuglien, Russo also noted his agent remains hopeful his client might one day decide to sign with the Wild. For now, however, the big blueliner doesn’t seem keen to return to NHL action.

UPDATE ON WEEGAR

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about the trade speculation regarding MacKenzie Weegar. Richards said the Florida Panthers were working to sign the restricted free agent defenseman to a four-year contract before his arbitration hearing on Nov. 7. He acknowledged the Panthers are listening to offers but teams thinking they can get him for nothing will be disappointed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards expects Weegar will return on the top defense pairing alongside Aaron Ekblad. The blueliner’s hearing would be the last one in this year’s arbitration schedule.