NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2021

Five players who could use a change of scenery, more Victor Mete trade speculation and some suggested changes for the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Travis Dermott, the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn, the Detroit Red Wings’ Anthony Mantha and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen need fresh starts on new teams.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn is among several players who could use a change of scenery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Larkin but there are various reasons why these players might not be moved this season, if at all.

The Flames are reportedly reluctant to move Bennett because of his value as a proven playoff performer. Larkin also noted if they move him they’ll have to protect someone else in this summer’s expansion draft.

Dermott’s having trouble earning a full-time spot this season on Toronto’s blueline. Larkin points out he’s in nearly every Leafs rumor and would be perfect trade bait to add another forward. The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel suggested a Dermott-for-Sam Bennett swap if they can make the dollars work.

Dunn is probably the most likely on this list to get traded. Larkin feels it’s only a matter of time until he’s moved. The Blues reportedly seek a first- or second-round pick in return. There are several clubs that could use him but finding the right fit is the sticking point. The Blues at this point don’t seem in a hurry to trade him.

Mantha’s a big, fast forward with good offensive skills but his inconsistency and injury history hurt his trade value. So does his $5.7 million annual average value.

Virtanen has come up a lot of late in trade rumors but reports out of Vancouver suggest there’s not much of a market for him. He’s brought that on himself with his poor play. Maybe he’ll finally reach his full potential on a different team but there doesn’t appear to be a general manager out there willing to take a chance on him.


SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston lists the Red Wings, Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres as clubs that could show interest in Victor Mete. The agent for the Montreal Canadiens defenseman recently went public with a trade request for his client, angering Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin.

Mete’s been a frequent healthy scratch as he’s become the odd man out on the Canadiens’ blueline. However, they haven’t sent him to their taxi squad because another club could scoop him up off waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Flames with Bennett, the Canadiens aren’t rushing to ship out Mete. They’d prefer hanging onto him as insurance in case injuries strike their defense corps.

Steven Ellis of SI.com/The Hockey News believes Mete would be a good value pickup for teams seeking blueline depth. Those clubs listed by Johnston could be potential destinations for the 22-year-old rearguard whenever Bergevin decides to honor his trade request. However, that move probably won’t happen until the offseason unless one of those clubs makes an irresistible pitch before the Apr. 12 trade deadline.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked what the struggling Nashville Predators should do to avoid sliding into years of becoming a bad team with bloated contracts.

Vingan believes the Predators should become sellers by the April trade deadline if they’re still out of the playoff running by then. He advocates moving players on one-year contracts (Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Brad Richardson) for draft picks. They should also consider moving defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who has one year remaining on his cap-friendly contract.

The next step is trying to unload Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen in this summer’s Seattle expansion draft. He suggested using some of the draft capital acquired at the trade deadline and/or throw in a player to sweeten the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vingan acknowledged all of this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I agree with his take. The Predators have been trending downward since winning the President’s Trophy in 2017-18. They’re near the bottom of the Central Division and the overall standings. It’s time for GM David Poile to acknowledge the obvious that his roster needs at least a significant retooling.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2021

A list of several clubs possibly interested in Tony DeAngelo plus the latest on Keith Yandle and Derek Stepan in today’s NHL rumor mill.


Several teams are reportedly interested in New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

NBC SPORTS (via Mike Gould of Flames Nation): Bob McKenzie reported at least four or five teams were “kicking tires” and doing due diligence to see if Tony DeAngelo is a worthwhile reclamation project. The Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are among the clubs potentially interested in the 25-year-old New York Rangers defenseman.

McKenzie said the Rangers’ Plan B if a trade isn’t possible is to buy out DeAngelo at the end of the season. They’re not prepared to retain a huge portion of his $4.8 million annual average value nor are they willing to take on a huge contract coming back the other way. They’d only face a $300K penalty for buying him out next season and $800K the season after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo was banished from the Rangers following an altercation with teammate Alexandar Georgiev over the weekend. He’s at home while his agent and the Blueshirts attempt to find a suitable trade partner.

Gould also cited Sportsnet 960’s Dean Molberg reaching out to the Flames regarding McKenzie’s report. Based on that conversation, Molberg doesn’t expect they’ll make a move to acquire DeAngelo.

The Red Wings and Kings are rebuilding while the Ducks should be. The Wings and Ducks desperately need more offensive punch, which the puck-moving DeAngelo could provide from the blue line. The Kings could use some more experienced skill on their blueline, though DeAngelo’s shaky defensive game might not fit into their plans.

Cap Friendly indicates the buyout numbers are over $383K in 2021-22 and over $883K in 2022-23. Because he doesn’t turn 26 until October, his buyout is calculated at one-third the remaining value over twice the remaining term.


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards said he thinks one reason the Panthers would like to move Keith Yandle is his no-movement clause means he’d be among the three defensemen they’d have to protect in this summer’s expansion draft. They could ask him to waive it thinking Seattle wouldn’t claim him because of his contract.

Richards was also asked about the possibility of the Panthers swapping Yandle for St. Louis’ Vince Dunn or Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere. He said the veteran blueliner doesn’t want to leave the Panthers, pointing out his NMC gives him full control. While there’s been talk linking Yandle to the Flyers, Richards doesn’t know if he’d agree to be traded to Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The more likely scenario could be the Panthers asking Yandle to waive his clause for the draft. Given what transpired last month when they were reportedly thinking of benching him before the start of the season, he could be unwilling to oblige them.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cites a report from Nick Kypreos indicating the Senators are willing to move Derek Stepan. The 30-year-old center was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes before training camp but hasn’t made the impact the Senators would like.

Former NHL GM Doug MacLean wondered if Stepan might want to be moved because he’s not happy with his role under Senators coach D.J. Smith. He also mentioned perhaps the veteran center is missing his family back in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection so the Senators could send him anywhere they want. If he does want out of Ottawa, perhaps they’ll try to deal him to a team closer to his Arizona home. It won’t be the Coyotes as they moved him to shed salary.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 3, 2021

The latest on Tony DeAngelo, Sam Bennett, Victor Mete, Travis Dermott, Vince Dunn and Brett Connolly in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Rangers have told Tony DeAngelo to wait at home as they work on trading the 25-year-old defenseman. Dreger said there’s “a ton of interest in him all of a sudden,” with a source claiming the blueliner could be moved within the next few days.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Rangers are willing to absorb part of DeAngelo’s annual salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade. Friedman believes it won’t be easy to move the blueliner as any acquiring team knows there will be heat.

The Blueshirts aren’t looking at terminating his contract as it would be unlikely to do so without the player’s agreement. If they decide to buy him out at season’s end it’ll be at one-third the remaining value as he doesn’t turn 26 until October.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes it might be in DeAngelo’s best interests to enter an anger management program before returning to play given his history of outbursts. He also believes the defenseman’s social media activity could also be a red flag for any organization looking at him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report merely confirms my belief that there is always an NHL general manager somewhere willing to give players with maturity or personality issues a chance provided they have a talent that can address a roster weakness.

DeAngelo’s defensive game leaves much to be desired but his offensive skills make him valuable to a team lacking blueline production. The Rangers’ willingness to eat part of his $4.8 million AAV improves his trade value. Now it comes down to what the Blueshirts want in return and how much salary they’re willing to absorb to get this deal done.


Calgary Flames are in no rush to move Sam Bennett (NHL Images).

TSN: Dreger also reports the Calgary Flames aren’t in any rush to trade forward Sam Bennett after his agent surprised them over the weekend by saying his client would prefer a change of scenery. It has to be a deal that works for the Flames. General manager Brad Treliving is willing to hang onto him as a potentially impactful player for Calgary.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Flames coach Geoff Ward dismissed any talk of Bennett being unhappy with his playing time. Ward indicated he spoke with Bennett before the start of the season to give him the choice of where he wanted to play in the lineup. He started at center and after a couple of games asked to be moved to the wing.

Friedman also expects the Flames to move cautiously on Bennett, in part because of his playoff performance. It’s also possible any frustration between player and organization could pass over time. The Flames have tested his value in the trade market but held onto him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett still hasn’t spoken about his agent’s remarks while the official word from management and teammates is this won’t be a distraction. This could settle down over the course of the season but it could resurface if Bennett’s play suffers or the Flames struggle to stay in the playoff chase.


SPORTSNET: Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the clubs showing interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete. He points out the Canadiens’ limited cap space means it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal but they do like Mete. He also added the Penguins were poking around Toronto for Maple Leafs blueliner Travis Dermott.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance looked at whether players such as Mete, Dermott, Bennett or St. Louis Blues defenseman Victor Dunn might make sense as trade targets for the struggling Vancouver Canucks.

Drance doesn’t believe Bennett would resolve the Canucks’ long-term need for an established third-line center. He feels Mete would be a poor fit because the Canucks have a surplus of puck-moving left-shot defensemen.

The Blues’ asking price for Dunn (first-round pick) is expensive plus he couldn’t join the Canucks until after a two-week quarantine period due to Canadian border restrictions. Dermott might not be an ideal fit but he’d be more reasonably priced than Dunn and would join the team more quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance offers up a more detailed analysis than my synopsis but I concur with his take. There really isn’t much available that would provide an immediate, affordable improvement to the Canucks’ roster. That doesn’t mean management won’t stop looking but the pickings appear slim right now.

Regarding Dermott, Drance’s colleague Jame Mirtle feels the Leafs will handle the blueliner the same way the Canadiens are handling Mete. They’re leery of moving him because they want to ensure they have sufficient depth over the course of the season. Dermott also won’t fetch a return that provides a swift upgrade to the lineup.


Friedman suggests keeping an eye on Florida Panthers winger Brett Connolly, who was a healthy scratch in their last two games. He speculates a contender could show interest in the 28-year-old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows Connolly is in the second year of a four-year deal with an annual average value of $3.5 million. Teams could be reluctant to take on that cap hit given how tight payrolls are this season.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 31, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 31, 2021

The latest Vince Dunn speculation plus reports of the Flames’ Sam Bennett and the Canadiens’ Victor Mete requesting trades in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman suggested the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets as potential destinations for Vince Dunn. Reports emerged last week indicating the St. Louis Blues were shopping the 24-year-old defenseman.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports sources claiming Jim Rutherford was closing in on a trade for Dunn before he abruptly stepped down last week as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager. The return for the Blues isn’t known.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins should get into the bidding for Dunn. He notes the blueliner carries an affordable $1.875 million cap hit on a one-year contract, suggesting he could fill their requirement for a left-shot defenseman. If the Bruins were to pursue Dunn, Haggerty proposed offering up winger Anders Bjork as part of a package.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price for Dunn is said to be a first-round pick, though I think the Blues could settle for a second-rounder if that return isn’t available. They can’t afford to take back any salary because of their limited cap space and must leave room for Vladimir Tarasenko’s eventual return from shoulder surgery later this season.

Those clubs suggested by Wegman could be reluctant to part with a first-rounder. The Senators and Kings each have two second-round picks in the 2021 draft while the Red Wings have three second-rounders. The Rangers lack a second-rounder but have two third-rounders.

The Penguins lack picks in the first, third and fourth rounds of this year’s draft. Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer but I don’t think he’d part with his second-rounder and leave his club without picks in the first four rounds of the draft. Maybe he was offering up something else from his 2022 picks or a prospect to the Blues.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the agent for Sam Bennett confirms his client might want a change of scenery. Darren Ferris said the 24-year-old Flames forward would like it to be considered. The Flames aren’t commenting and Friedman said the club isn’t rushing to move him because they like their depth at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett’s been the subject of trade speculation for some time but nothing ever came of it. This is the first time we’re hearing from his camp that he would like the club to consider a trade. He’s been seeing checking-line minutes and could seek a bigger role.

Cap Friendly indicates Bennett’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at season’s end. Flames management could hang onto him for the remainder of the season and then attempt to trade him during the offseason.


TSN: Salim Nadim Valji reports Victor Mete formally requested a trade from the Montreal Canadiens. The 22-year-old defenseman has been a healthy scratch for all seven of the Habs games thus far this season.

Valji said Mete’s agent, Darren Ferris, will work with the Canadiens to find a trade partner. However, Pierre LeBrun subsequently reported Montreal GM Marc Bergevin denied the story. “Not true and not trading him,” Bergevin said via text message.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll likely get more details from one or both sides about this story within the next day or two. There was speculation last week suggesting some teams were monitoring Mete’s status with the Canadiens.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 30, 2021

Check out the latest on the Penguins, Ducks and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski addresses some of the conspiracy theories surround Jim Rutherford’s decision earlier this week to step down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Among them was speculation Rutherford was working on trading center Evgeni Malkin or defenseman Kris Letang but team co-owner Mario Lemieux blocked those moves. Kingerski dismissed that conjecture, pointing out the difficulty in keeping such a trade under wraps, especially involving Malkin, who would have to waive his no-movement clause to make it happen. He pointed out not a single legitimate reporter had a whiff that type of deal was being worked on.

The last time a team kicked the tires on Malkin, we knew it,” said Kingerski, referring to 2019 when the Florida Panthers made a pitch. The internal conclusions were that Malkin, Letang and team captain Sidney Crosby should retire as Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many trades happen that catch most insiders by surprise. However, in today’s salary cap world where superstars like Malkin a measure of control over where they play because of their no-trade clauses, moving a player of his stature wasn’t something that could be kept quiet.

I agree with Kingerski that Rutherford’s decision to step down had nothing to do with any supposed blocked attempt to trade one of the Penguins’ stars. Rutherford even subsequently dismissed that notion.

Recalling the Malkin chatter during the summer of 2019, it sounded to me like two general managers spit-balling, a “Hey, what would you want in return for Malkin?” kind of discussion. Even then, it still leaked out and was duly noted in the press.

We might someday learn the real reason behind Rutherford’s departure. I doubt it’ll be because of a thwarted attempt to trade a Penguins star.

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports the Penguins’ early shortlist of potential replacements for Rutherford includes New York Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury, Boston Bruins director of player personnel John Ferguson Jr, Los Angeles Kings adviser Ron Hextall, Colorado Avalanche assistant GM Chris MacFarland, and Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby.

Rossi also reports signing Malkin to a new contract will be the next general manager’s top priority. The Penguins ownership wants Malkin, Crosby and Letang to retire as Penguins but also wants the new GM to prioritize retooling around those aging stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shortlist provides a good indication of what the Penguins are looking for in their new general manager. Those candidates seem best suited to implement ownership’s plan of building around their veteran stars.


THE ATHLETIC: During a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked if Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray would consider moving one or two core players like Rickard Rakell, Jakub Silfverberg, Adam Henrique, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson or Hampus Lindholm for future assets to fit in alongside promising youngsters like Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale.

Stephens doubts Murray wants to move players of importance to his roster. He also notes the Ducks lack the salary-cap space to bring in free-agent help, while making cost-cutting deals for prospects and draft picks opens up more holes in the roster. They could be filled with younger players provided they’re ready to do so and be more productive than the players you’ve traded away.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray entered this season believing his club can compete for a playoff spot. He’s not ready to blow up his roster and start rebuilding but wants instead to improve what he’s currently got. That’s why he looked into acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine before they were swapped for each other last Saturday by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets.

Maybe he reaches that point this summer if the Ducks fail to qualify for the postseason. For now, he’s going to stick with his core while transitioning younger players into the lineup.


ARIZONA COYOTES INSIDER: During a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked if the Coyotes would have any interest in St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn. Morgan acknowledged Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong has a connection with Dunn from his days as Blues assistant GM.

The problem, however, is the Coyotes would have to move out another blueliner to make room. Dunn is also a left-hand shot and the Coyotes need more right-hand rearguards. There are also questions about Dunn’s commitment to training and his attitude.

Asked about possible moves this season by the Coyotes, Morgan believes they could involve players on expiring contracts who could be shopped at the trade deadline. They include Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Raanta.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2021

Check out the latest on the Penguins and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger wonders what other changes could be in store for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they search for a new general manager after Jim Rutherford stepped down earlier this week.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images)

If the Penguins miss the playoffs or don’t do well in the postseason there could be potential for a seismic shift. Dreger feels the organization owes it to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to have a conversation over the direction of the club under new management. He wonders if they will want to chase a Stanley Cup elsewhere or retire as Penguins. “But, imagine if those names were in play at some point in the near future?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins’ attitude remains “win now” but that could change if things go sideways this season. Of the three, Malkin and Letang could face the more uncertain futures with the organization. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2022 while Crosby’s under contract until the end of 2024-25.

If there’s a change in direction after this season the new GM will have to discuss it with Crosby, Malkin and Letang to determine where those three fit into the club’s long-term plans. Crosby and Malkin have full no-movement clauses while Letang has an 18-team trade list.

They’re obviously not going anywhere during this season but this situation could be worth watching this summer.

Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports 20 different candidates have reached out to the Penguins to indicate interest in their vacant GM position. They include Jason Botterill, Chris Drury, Ron Hextall, Mark Hunter, Tom Fitzgerald, Peter Chiarelli, Scott Mellanby, Mike Gillis, Laurence Gilman, John Ferguson Jr and Mike Futa. Interim GM Patrik Allvin will also be under consideration.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille also looked at some possible candidates to replace Rutherford. Among his suggestions are old friends of team owner Mario Lemieux such as agent Pat Brisson, NHL analyst Pierre McGuire and Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin.

Others could include Dean Lombardi, Colorado Avalanche assistant GM Chris MacFarland, NHL analyst Kevin Weekes, and Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins won’t lack for suitable candidates. I don’t see Bergevin getting hired unless he quits the Canadiens or is fired by team owner Geoff Molson. The New Jersey Devils could be reluctant to part with current GM Tom Fitzgerald.

McGuire always comes up as a GM candidate but seems to get courtesy interviews before being passed over. He hasn’t been in a management position in over a quarter-century. Brisson seems happy in his role as one of the most powerful player agents in hockey.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s sure the Vancouver Canucks are looking around for help on their blueline but there are no guarantees they’re getting it. He indicated defensemen such as the Montreal Canadiens’ Victor Mete, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Travis Dermott and the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks stumbled out of the gate in part because of their porous defense but recently swept their three-game series with the struggling Ottawa Senators. That could buy management a bit of breathing room while they evaluate their defensive game.

We don’t know what the Canadiens’ asking price for Mete could be. The Leafs are said to be looking for some depth at forward while the Blues’ asking price for Dunn is reportedly a first-round pick or as high a draft pick as they can get for him.