NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2022

Will the Wild re-sign winger Kevin Fiala and who will be their starting goalie next season? What’s next for the Golden Knights? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON THE WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani listed Kevin Fiala’s contract situation and sorting out the starting goaltender position among the five things he believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin needs to address this summer. He also expects late-season acquisition Jacob Middleton will be re-signed but the restricted free agent defenseman will require a big raise.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also considers Fiala’s contract status and choosing between goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot to be among Guerin’s offseason priorities. The 25-year-old Fiala is due for a big raise following his 85-point season but his poor performance against the St. Louis Blues in the first round could affect his negotiations with the Wild GM.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

The Wild’s limited salary-cap space also complicates Fiala’s contract negotiations. If Guerin decides to trade him, Russo noted the Ottawa Senators have long had an interest in the winger while the New Jersey Devils are seeking an impact forward.

Fleury, meanwhile, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Russo pointed out Guerin has a long history with the goaltender going back to 2009 when they were teammates on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He could bring back the Fleury-Talbot tandem for another season or trade Talbot and bring in a more affordable backup.

If promising Calen Addison is ready to play next season, Russo suggested they could shop a defenseman like Matt Dumba or Dmitry Kulikov. Forward Tyson Jost could also be a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over the Wild’s offseason plans is the salary-cap crunch they’ll face over the next three seasons because of last summer’s buyout of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. NBC Sports’ James O’Brien has the breakdown of its effect on their cap payroll. It could also force them to part ways with Fiala, Talbot or Dumba.

Following his playoff struggles, Fiala isn’t sure what the future holds. “There’s no other answer other than, ‘We’ll see’,” he said. “I don’t know.” Guerin could reach an agreement with the winger’s camp on a new contract, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he trades him this summer.

As for the goaltenders, Russo recently suggested Guerin must repair the relationship with Talbot after he was benched for all but one playoff game or trade him this summer. Following the Wild’s elimination by the Blues, Mizutani reported Talbot isn’t holding a grudge and wants to stick with the team. He also noted Fleury’s interest in re-signing with the Wild if the price is right.

That limited cap room for next season means someone – Fiala, Fleury, Talbot or Dumba – won’t be returning with the Wild. It’s shaping up to be an interesting summer for the Wild.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Golden Knights’ sacking head coach Pete DeBoer, Owen Krepps examined some of the important questions facing the club in the offseason.

He wondered who the starting goaltender will be after Robin Lehner’s inconsistent, injury-riddled performance this season. Late-season call-up Logan Thompson’s solid play raised eyebrows, leading Krepps to wonder if Thompson will back up Leher next season or take over as the starter with Laurent Brossoit or someone else in the backup role.

Krepps also wondered how Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon will free up much-needed salary-cap space for next season. He could attempt to trade Evgenii Dadonov again, or try to peddle Lehner, Alec Martinez or William Karlsson. They also risk losing long-time Golden Knight winger Reilly Smith to unrestricted free agency in July.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger suggested Max Pacioretty could also become a salary-cap casualty. He remains the Golden Knights’ best pure scorer and his trade value could be done following an injury-plagued season. Nevertheless, they’ve shown they’re not shy about unloading expensive contracts for little-to-no value in return, and shedding his $7 million cap hit would free up a lot of room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Dadonov and Martinez each earn $5 million or more per season. Pacioretty, Karlsson and Dadonov each have 10-team no-trade lists, Martinez has a 12-team no-trade list and Lehner has an eight-team no-trade list. It’s going to take considerable skill on McCrimmon’s part to find a suitable trade partner for one of them given the flattened salary cap for next season and the high number of teams with cap issues of their own.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2022

Golden Knights fire head coach Pete DeBoer, Patrice Bergeron sheds light on his future, Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking, Islanders name Lane Lambert as their new coach & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Pete DeBoer on Monday after less than three seasons in the role. The decision comes after the club failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Former Vegas Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics suggest DeBoer was made the fall guy for the club’s inability to clinch a postseason berth. He had a number of his core players sidelined by injuries this season as well as management’s inability to suitably address that problem because of limited salary-cap space. The club’s messy split with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury last summer was also a factor, as was the cost of acquiring Jack Eichel and his late addition to the lineup due to his recovery from neck surgery.

Speculation has already started over DeBoer’s potential replacement. Former NHL coaches such as Barry Trotz, Paul Maurice and Joel Quenneville have been mentioned, though the latter would require the approval of league commissioner Gary Bettman due to his role in the Kyle Beach scandal.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron shot down rumors he could sign with the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent in July. He indicated he’ll either re-sign with the Bruins or retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That rumor was fueled in part by NBC Sports Boston analyst Tony Amonte claiming Bergeron grew up as a Canadiens fan, as well as pointing out his former agent was now the Habs general manager. In fact, Bergeron grew up as a Nordiques fan plus the Canadiens’ limited cap space would’ve made it almost impossible to sign him even if they wanted to.

I believe the Bruins will bring back Bergeron for at least another season. The 36-year-old remains among the NHL’s elite two-way centers and his departure would leave the Bruins quite thin at that position.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking at gunpoint in Etobicoke on Monday evening. Three suspects armed with two handguns and a knife robbed Marner of his black Range Rover at the Cineplex Theatre on The Queensway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner and his friend were shaken up but unhurt in the incident and didn’t have guns pointed at them. The suspects apparently didn’t know who he was and were only interested in the vehicle.

TSN: The New York Islanders announced Lane Lambert has been named their new head coach. He served as an associate coach under former bench boss Barry Trotz for the past four seasons.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara, Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for this season’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point is “highly doubtful” for Game 1 of the second-round series with the Florida Panthers. Point appeared to injure his right leg during Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he could potentially return later in the second round.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow might return at some point during their upcoming second-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Goodrow is believed to have fractured his foot or ankle in Game 1 of their first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will likely undergo back surgery on Wednesday. He’s expected to be available for the start of training camp in September.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba confirmed the upper-body injury that sidelined him for 12 games in April was a punctured lung and a dislocated rib. He returned for their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues but admitted being less than 100 percent in that series. The Wild were eliminated by the Blues in six games.

THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc. The injury kept him out of the Kings’ series with the Edmonton Oilers. They were eliminated by the Oilers in seven games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will undergo surgery for an injured right shoulder that nagged him most of this season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brian Boyle underwent surgery on his left knee on Monday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Tim Stuetzle suffered an injured left leg playing for Germany against France during a World Championships game on Monday. He left the game and there’s no word yet as to the severity of the injury.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2022

A look at the Wild’s offseason priorities and the latest on Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith as he approaches UFA eligibility in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE WILD?

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looks at the Minnesota Wild’s keys to the offseason following their first-round postseason elimination by the St. Louis Blues. General manager Bill Guerin goes into the summer with roughly 15 percent of his salary-cap payroll eaten up in dead cap space from last year’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Contract negotiations with Kevin Fiala will be a priority. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.1 million contract after a career-high 85-point performance.

Goaltending will also be an issue with Marc-Andre Fleury slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Cam Talbot has one season remaining on his contract but they’re in need of a reliable backup. Guerin must also re-sign RFA defenseman Jacob Middleton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wild have almost $79 million invested in 23 players for next season, with over $12 million of that going to Parise and Suter.

Fiala enjoyed a terrific performance, providing invaluable scoring punch to their lineup. However, he was held to just three assists in the Wild’s six-game series against the St. Louis Blues and appeared frustrated at times over his lack of production. That could have an effect on contract talks with Guerin.

Coming up with the cap space for Fiala, Middleton, and a new backup will mean shedding some salary via trades. Unless Guerin ships out Fiala and Middleton and goes with cheaper replacements, he might have to peddle Matt Dumba, who’s frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past two years. Dumba is slated next summer for UFA status and carries a $6 million cap hit for 2022-23.

LATEST ON REILLY SMITH

LAS VEGAS SUN: Danny Webster reported Reilly Smith could be a hot commodity in this summer’s free-agent market. The 31-year-old winger is slated to become a UFA and had 38 points in 56 games this season until sidelined by injury for the final six weeks of the schedule.

Webster stated there was mutual interest between Smith and the Golden Knights on a contract extension. However, the club is already $500K over the $82.5 million cap for next season with only 18 players under contract. They’ll have to decide if trading someone like Evgenii Dadonov, William Karlsson, Laurent Brossoit or even Robin Lehner is worth bringing back Smith.

Smith is completing a five-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5 million. The Golden Knights won’t go that high but Webster suggested clubs like the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils or Ottawa Senators might be willing to pay that much.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be interesting to see what the Golden Knights do after missing the playoffs for the first time in their short franchise history. Smith could be allowed to walk away or they could shake things up with some cost-cutting deals that also enable them to bring him back if he’s willing to accept a bit of a pay cut to stay in Vegas.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2022

The number 13 proves to be lucky for the Panthers, the Blues extend their points streak, Sidney Crosby ties Jaromir Jagr for the second-most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers set a franchise record with their 13th consecutive win by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brandon Montour. Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots. Mitch Marner and Justin Holl scored for the Leafs while teammate Auston Matthews was held scoreless in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also set an NHL record for the most overtime goals in one season with 13. They have opened a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche in the overall standings with 120 points. Meanwhile, Toronto picked up a point and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 109 points. Leafs rookie winger Michael Bunting is expected to miss some time after leaving the game with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Justin Faulk lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 to extend their points streak to 15 games (13-0-2). Faulk finished the game with two goals and an assist. Coyotes rookie winger Bokondji Imama tallied his first career NHL goal. The Blues are tied with the Minnesota Wild with 107 points but the latter holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby tied Jaromir Jagr for the second-most 30-goal seasons in Pittsburgh Penguins history as he led his club over the Detroit Red Wings 7-2. Crosby has ten 30-goal campaigns and sits one back of franchise leader Mario Lemieux. Evgeni Malkin scored twice and Kris Letang had a three-point performance as the Penguins opened a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 101 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina missed this game and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with appendicitis.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored multiple points for the fifth straight game in a 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Stamkos had a goal and two assists and has 13 points in his last five contests. Nikita Kucherov also had three points as the Lightning (104 points) sit five points back of the Leafs in third place in the Atlantic Division. Predators captain Roman Josi scored to become the first defenseman to reach 90 points since Raymond Bourque in 1993-94.

The Carolina Hurricanes got an overtime goal by Seth Jarvis to nip the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Hurricanes rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov made 19 saves for the win in his first NHL game. With the win, the Hurricanes opened a two-point lead over the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division with 110 points.

Speaking of the Rangers, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist in his return to the Bruins lineup after missing eight games with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins hold a two-point lead over the Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 101 points.

Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm scored his 40th goal of the season in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Chris Tanev collected three assists, Dillon Dube scored twice and Johnny Gaudreau collected two points for the Flames, who sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The loss leaves the Canucks’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread. With 87 points, they’re six behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card berth. The Stars need just one point to eliminate the Canucks from postseason contention.

Speaking of the Stars, they overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Seattle Kraken 3-2. Roope Hintz tallied twice and Jake Oettinger kicked out 30 shots for the win. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers was held pointless for the first time in six games.

The Los Angeles Kings improved their chances of securing a playoff spot by doubling up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Anze Kopitar, Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev each collected two points as the Kings hold a seven-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division with 96 points. Trevor Zegras scored to set the Ducks rookie points record with 58.

The Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 with rookie forward Mark Kastelic scoring his first two NHL goals and Anton Forsberg making 44 saves. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield scored his 20th goal of the season and Rem Pitlick tallied twice. Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot was held scoreless in his first game since breaking his hand on March 16.

Forwards Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson each had a goal and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres extended their win streak to four games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier scored his 34th goal of the season in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Kaapo Kahkonen got the win by stopping 27 shots.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner missed practice for the second straight day amid speculation he requires season-ending knee surgery. The Golden Knights have declined to comment and remain hopeful he’ll play tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti have been shut down for the season due to nagging injuries.

CBS SPORTS: An upper-body injury could sideline Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba for the remainder of the regular season and possibly the first game of their opening-round series against the Blues.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: The Flyers have ruled all their injured players except for Nick Seeler are sidelined for the season. That list includes Cam Atkinson, Carter Hart, Rasmus Ristolainen, Sean Couturier and Cam York.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2022

Can the Wild find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala? Can the Leafs afford to retain Ilya Mikheyev? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CAN THE WILD AFFORD FIALA?

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Kevin Fiala’s bet on himself last summer by signing a one-year, $5.1 million contract with the Minnesota Wild should pay off handsomely with a new lucrative deal following this season. Whether it’s with the Wild or another club remains to be seen.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala has taken his game to a higher level this season with a career-best performance of 30 goals, 45 assists and 75 points in 76 games. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights and could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually.

The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch for 2022-23 as last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will eat up over $12.7 million in cap space next season, followed by $14.7 million in dead cap space for 2023-24 and 2024-25. It’ll be nearly impossible for the Wild to retain Fiala under those financial constraints.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also believes it’s “damn near impossible to find a way that Fiala won’t be jettisoned this offseason.” Nevertheless, he felt they must find a way or they’ll end up regretting it. Russo suggested trading oft-injured defenseman Matt Dumba, but he’s one of the team’s leaders and is well-regarded by Wild general manager Bill Guerin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Guerin will ship out Dumba, though his $6 million cap hit through next season and 10-team no-trade list will complicate such efforts. Perhaps the Wild GM will surprise us by coming up with something creative to create the necessary cap space to keep Fiala in the fold.

Otherwise, this will be Fiala’s final season with the Wild. They’ll either trade him to a club willing to pay him whatever he wants before the arbitration filing period. Perhaps he’ll do a sign-and-trade to a club willing to take on his new contract. Fiala’s play this season ensures he’ll have considerable value in this summer’s trade market, which should translate into a solid (and affordable) return of promising talent for the Wild.

CAN THE LEAFS AFFORD MIKHEYEV?

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently mused over the potential cost for the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Ilya Mikheyev. A versatile hard-working forward, the 27-year-old can hang among the top six or boost the bottom six of a contender. He has 18 goals and 28 points in 48 games this season.

Mikheyev is completing a two-year contract with a $1.645 million annual cap hit and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Fox speculates he could get between $4 million and $5 million annually on the open market.

Despite making a trade request last summer, Mikheyev’s agent said his client was more frustrated with his own play and wasn’t unhappy with the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Mikheyev’s willing to accept under $4 million to remain in Toronto, it’s unlikely he’ll be back with the Leafs next season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $73 million tied up in 15 active players for next season with goaltender Jack Campbell also eligible for UFA status and RFA defenseman Rasmus Sandin due for a raise coming out of his entry-level deal.