NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and an update on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON TARASENKO

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports all’s quiet on the Vladimir Tarasenko trade front. He believes it became “painfully apparent” there was no market for the unhappy 29-year-old winger when the Seattle Kraken passed on him in favor of Vince Dunn in last month’s expansion draft. It was assumed they would select Tarasenko and flip him to another club for assets.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images)

It’s become known around the league that Tarasenko has relaxed his no-trade clause completely. Trade options are shrinking as teams filled their needs when the free-agent market opened last week. His poor performance last season after coming back from his third shoulder surgery in two years has adversely affected his trade value.

Thomas wonders if there’s a Cup contender in need of more offense willing to take a chance on Tarasenko. He pointed out the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes have the cap space to absorb the winger’s $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could be working on a trade. They think that’s why the club hasn’t officially announced the signings of free agents such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri because Lamoriello doesn’t want other teams to know how much cap space he’s got. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s up to something but I don’t see how he can absorb Tarasenko’s contract with the Blues absorbing part of that $7.5 million cap hit.

There’s talk Lamoriello could offer up Josh Bailey ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) because he was left exposed in the expansion draft. The Blues, however, could ask for a draft pick or prospect as part of that return to make it worthwhile to retain part of Tarasenko’s cap hit.

The Hurricanes have to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov but they would still have sufficient cap room to acquire Tarasenko. Team owner Tom Dundon could be reluctant to add more salary while Tarasenko’s shoulder surgeries could also be a concern for management.

Another possible destination for Tarasenko is the New Jersey Devils. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford recently pointed out Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald was interested in adding a top-six winger. They have a lot more cap space and depth in promising prospects and young NHL-ready players to dangle as trade bait.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens still have some areas to address this offseason. They could use a puck-moving defenseman and an experienced center.

Vince Dunn could address that need on the blueline but the Seattle Kraken probably won’t part with him. Tyler Bozak could be an interesting free-agent option at center.

The Canadiens should also look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Canadiens have salary-cap space, good prospects and promising young players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov to offer up as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn recently filed for salary arbitration with the Kraken but I don’t see them moving him unless contract negotiations completely break down. Bozak would be an affordable depth signing but the Habs seem content with Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette as their bottom-six centers.

As for Eichel, the Canadiens are already over the cap by nearly $2.3 million, though they’re expected to get some cap relief for 2021-22 by placing Shea Weber on long-term injury reserve. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pursuing Eichel unless they’re moving significant salary and the Sabres are picking up a big chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Blackhawks, the Kraken’s contract with Philipp Grubauer rejected by the league, Evander Kane denies betting on NHL games, and 17 players file for salary arbitration. Get the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury confirmed Sunday he will report to the Blackhawks this season. “Hey, Chicago, it’s Marc,” he said via the club’s social media account. “Just wanted to let you know: I’m in. Let’s get to work.”

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks acquired Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday. However, he took several days to discuss his situation with his family and consider his future. The 36-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract with a $7 million salary cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time last season with the Golden Knights. He won’t have a solid defense in front of him in Chicago as he did in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could have a shot at a playoff spot in the Central Division this season if Fleury maintains his Vezina form.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have rectified an accounting error that resulted in the league rejecting the club’s first attempt to finalize its contract with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The front-loaded contract violated the CBA’s 25 percent cap above the amount in the initial contract year.

Grubauer’s annual average value is $5.9 million for six seasons. He will earn $5 million in actual salary this season. It was originally slated to rise to $6 million in 2022-23 and $7.5 million in 2023-24, an increase of 30 percent. The deal has been restructured by shifting $250K from the third year to the second year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this was first reported some fans on social media wondered if the contract would be voided. Doesn’t work that way. The team gets the opportunity to fix the accounting error. In this case, it was an easily addressed minor detail.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane denied allegations made by his estranged wife claiming he bet on NHL games. “I have NEVER gambled/bet on hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on Sharks games, NEVER gambled/bet on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The NHL announced it would investigate Kane based on the allegation made on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Angela Kane. She responded to Kane’s statement via that account yesterday, accusing him of abandoning her and their daughter to party and gamble in Europe. She also claimed he had a gambling addiction and claimed he was trying to use the media to control the narrative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s personal life has been under growing media scrutiny since applying for bankruptcy in January. He was also the topic of trade speculation following a recent report claiming several of his teammates expressed frustration about him to management during their season-ending exit interviews. The Sharks released a statement on Saturday saying they supported the league’s intent to investigate the gambling allegations.

NHLPA: Seventeen NHL players applied for salary arbitration yesterday:

Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ross Colton 
(Tampa Bay Lightning)
Andrew Copp 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Jason Dickinson 
(Vancouver Canucks)
Vince Dunn 
(Seattle Kraken)
Adam Erne 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Dante Fabbro 
(Nashville Predators)
Dennis Gilbert 
(Colorado Avalanche)
Adin Hill 
(San Jose Sharks)
Michael McNiven 
(Montreal Canadiens)
Victor Mete 
(Ottawa Senators)
Adam Pelech 
(New York Islanders)
Neal Pionk 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Zach Sanford 
(St. Louis Blues)
Juuse Saros 
(Nashville Predators)
Jakub Vrana 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Nikita Zadorov 
(Calgary Flames)

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 2. The arbitration period is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several notable names on this list include Dunn, Pelech, Pionk, Saros and Vrana. If history is anything to go by we can expect most, perhaps all of these players to reach agreements with their teams on new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 4, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 4, 2021

Some recent Seth Jones speculation plus updates on the Islanders, Rangers and Red Wings in Sunday’s roundup of NHL rumors.

LATEST ON SETH JONES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has heard from “just about every GM in the league” regarding Seth Jones. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are believed the front-runners to land the prized defenseman.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Portzline brought up the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018 as a possible comparable. While Jones is a better all-around defenseman, Karlsson had a more impressive career at that point with two Norris Trophies on his resume. He anticipates the Jackets will get a smaller return for Jones than what the Senators got for Karlsson.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now cited a league source claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs interested in Jones from the beginning. He also believes Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could be up to something.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Jones could also be interested in going to a team where he can play a leadership role. He could get that opportunity on teams like the Blackhawks, Kings and Flyers where there could be a turnover in veteran leadership in the next couple of years as contracts expire.

The Leafs could’ve kicked tires on Jones. I doubt they have sufficient cap room to sign him to a long-term contract extension or sufficient resources to outbid the clubs listed by Portzline.

With plenty of cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects, the Red Wings have the assets to make a competitive bid for Jones. However, they could also be on the blueliner’s 10-team no-trade list. The Wings could certainly use someone like Jones but he might not be keen to join a team still in the midst of a rebuild.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, RANGERS AND RED WINGS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently proposed the Islanders need to land a reliable scoring winger for Mathew Barzal’s line. He believes they need someone “more dynamic and reliable than (Jordan) Eberle,” who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. They could leave him exposed in the upcoming expansion draft but there’s no certainty the Seattle Kraken will take him.

He also wondered if they might move defenseman Nick Leddy. That would free up $5.5 million of cap space to find an upper-echelon talent to skate alongside Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need more scoring punch up front. They were 21st overall during the regular season. Eberle had four goals and 11 points in 19 playoff games this year but at 31 he doesn’t have many productive years left. As Brooks pointed out, they must improve the quality of talent on Barzal’s right side.

The Islanders could also try to move Eberle and/or Leddy simply to free up cap room to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier. Perhaps they cut a deal with the Kraken to take one or the other. Maybe they get shopped to other clubs this summer.

Brooks doesn’t think the Rangers have room on their roster to add an unrestricted free agent such as Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Toronto’s Zach Hyman because of their depth on left wing. To address the club’s deficiencies, he feels GM Chris Drury can’t add players without subtracting in two-for-one or three-for-one deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the Rangers are being linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in the rumor mill. They have the depth in young assets to bundle into solid trade offers for an established young center or power forward. We’ll find out over the coming weeks if Drury will make that kind of move.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could use their plentiful cap space this summer to acquire good contracts or players that have to be moved by cap-strapped teams. He thinks Yzerman will call the St. Louis Blues about Vince Dunn. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild could also shop a defenseman to cut costs or because they can’t protect them in the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman also has 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the first round, three in the second and two in each of the following three rounds. He could draw upon them as bait for clubs looking to moving a blueliner leading up to the draft weekend (July 23-24).










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 6, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 6, 2021

Will the Blues trade Vladimir Tarasenko or Vince Dunn this summer? What could the Flames get for Sean Monahan? Check out the latest speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WILL TARASENKO OR DUNN HIT THIS SUMMER’S TRADE BLOCK?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford was asked if St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will consider trading Vladimir Tarasenko during a mailbag segment last week.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

He believes Armstrong will gauge Tarasenko’s trade value this summer. The 29-year-old winger has two years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $7.5 million and they need more production from him.

Tarasenko could improve with more playing time following his third shoulder surgery. However, if the Blues opt for a more hardworking, blue-collar lineup, they might feel it’s time to go in a different direction. Tarasenko might feel the same way.

If Armstrong feels Tarasenko cannot help the Blues, he’ll have to find a “hockey trade” because the Blues would benefit from a player or players at the equivalent of $7.5 million who can play within their system. Rutherford points out Tarasenko’s no-trade clause gives him some control here.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon believes Tarasenko’s salary, shoulder surgeries and declining production will have limited appeal in this summer’s trade market. “Only a moron would pay a premium for him while assuming his injury risk and cap hit,” said Gordon. He did, however, acknowledge Armstrong got the Philadelphia Flyers to take “The Ghost of Jori Lehtera” for Brayden Schenn.

Armstrong’s more realistic trade chips include Vince Dunn, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, Jake Walman, Scott Perunovich and Klim Kostin. Gordon also speculates the Blues GM could be willing to part with premium draft picks while trying to get his talented nucleus back into the Stanley Cup chase.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Vince Dunn is drawing trade interest around the league. There was a time earlier in the year when the Blues were thinking about moving him and were asking for a first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out a Tarasenko trade but I wouldn’t anticipate it for the reasons cited by Gordon. He could be exposed in the expansion draft but those aforementioned factors could scare off the Seattle Kraken.

Dunn, on the other hand, seems the more likely trade candidate. The Blues were looking into moving him back in January but nothing came of it, perhaps because teams weren’t willing to part with a first-round pick.

At the time, I suggested the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets as potential destinations for Dunn. Maybe those clubs will be among the suitors.

If that move happens it’ll likely be near the July 23-24 NHL draft weekend. I daresay we’ll hear his name come up more frequently in the rumor mill over the next several weeks.

WHAT COULD THE FLAMES GET IN RETURN FOR MONAHAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian was asked by a reader last week what kind of player the Calgary Flames could get in a one-for-one trade of Sean Monahan.

She isn’t certain what the return would be at this point, suggesting his value falls between what he was in 2018-19 and what we’ve seen in the last two years. The 26-year-old center’s recovery from recent hip surgery could be a factor. However, it’s not a big red flag because he’s expected to be ready in time for training camp.

The decline in his production over the last two seasons would have an effect on his trade value. His contract ($6.375 million AAV through 2022-23, modified no-trade clause) could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Monahan also leaves a void at center that the Flames could struggle to fill. There’s also the risk of trading him this summer only to see him bounce back with another club while the Flames get a pittance in return.

Trading Monahan could be among the Flames’ options as management considers shaking things up following the disappointments of the last three seasons. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if they stick with him for one more season and see where things stand after that.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

The Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues face serious offseason decisions following their first-round exits Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CAPITALS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes re-signing Alex Ovechkin is the offseason priority for the Washington Capitals. Their 35-year-old captain and franchise player is eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 28.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Kaplan wonders how much it would cost the Capitals and for how long to keep Ovechkin in the fold. Sources said he initially sought $12.5 million per season before the pandemic struck. With the salary cap flattened at $81.5 million for the foreseeable future, the Capitals might have budgeted for less. Nevertheless, Kaplan believes Ovechkin will be staying in Washington.

After a coaching change last year failed to improve their playoff fortunes, management could shake up the roster. There’s speculation the club could be growing impatient with center Evgeny Kuznetsov. He carries a $7.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25 as well as a 15-team no-trade list.

Kaplan noted the Capitals are among the NHL’s oldest teams. They could start retooling on the fly by bringing in some younger talent like top prospect Connor McMichael.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir also weighed in on the Capitals’ offseason needs, including Ovechkin’s contract and Kuznetsov’s status.

El-Bashir feels whatever general manager Brian MacLellan does with Ovechkin’s new deal will affect the rest of this summer’s decision. Moving Kuznetsov’s big contract won’t be easy but there could be a team with interest in the 29-year-old center. He wonders how this year’s disappointing finish will affect the Capitals’ expansion draft protection list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals part ways this summer. Kaplan pointed out Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has indicated his intent to ensure his captain stays put.

Because of the flattened cap, Ovechkin might have to accept something between $9 million and $10 million on perhaps a three-year deal. Despite his age, he’s shown little sign of slowing down, with 24 goals and 42 points in 45 games.

A roster shakeup was likely to happen for cap purposes even if the Capitals hadn’t bowed out in the first round. Cap Friendly shows them with just over $72 million invested in 18 players for 2021-22, with Ovechkin as the only core player due for a new contract.

Moving Kuznetsov would help to address that issue. There could be a market for his services but the recent decline in his play, his three-game suspension for “inappropriate conduct” in the fall of 2019, getting placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list twice this season and his recent benching for missing a team function all but scream, “buyer beware.”

The expansion draft will help alleviate some of that salary-cap issue as they’re going to lose a player to the Seattle Kraken. It could be a high-salaried veteran such as T.J. Oshie ($5.75 million annual average value) or perhaps someone like Justin Schultz ($4 million), Lars Eller ($3.5 million) or Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million).

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates the St. Louis Blues roster could have a different look next season following a second straight first-round elimination. Pending UFAs include Jaden Schwartz, Mike Hoffman, Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson, though management has expressed interest in signing Schwartz. They could also bring in an experienced backup for starter Jordan Binnington.

Wyshynski also wondered if the Blues would dare leave oft-injured sniper Vladimir Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft. Others who could be exposed include Schwartz, Sammy Blais, Ivan Barbashev, Marco Scandella and Vince Dunn. It’s expected Dunn, a restricted free agent, could be playing elsewhere next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford believes Schwartz’s status could be the Blues’ biggest question heading into the offseason. He struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs but their left-wing depth is thin.

Rutherford suggests Dunn and perhaps Robert Thomas could be trade candidates. He also feels they need to address their backup goaltending, add size to their blueline, and bring back the versatile Bozak on a one-year, plus-35 contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $66.8 million invested in 20 players next season. A new contract for Schwartz will take a big bite out of their remaining cap space but they could have little choice if they don’t feel they can find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency.

Dunn was a fixture in this season’s rumor mill. He could be shopped this summer for a return that addresses one of the Blues’ roster needs.

Rutherford isn’t advocating for Thomas to be traded but wondered where he fits on the top six if Brayden Schenn is their second-line center. As he suggests, it might not hurt to examine his value in the trade market.

Exposing Tarasenko in the expansion draft would be a bold move. However, I don’t think it’s one they’ll consider.










NHL Playoffs: St. Louis Blues vs Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Preview

NHL Playoffs: St. Louis Blues vs Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Preview