NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2022

Check out the latest on Claude Giroux, Christian Dvorak, Max Domi, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexander Radulov. Semyon Varlamov and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON GIROUX, SANHEIM AND DVORAK.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Colorado Avalanche are interested in Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, “but there’s a preference for the Panthers, although it doesn’t look like anything is close”. The Flyers haven’t been impressed with offers thus far but it’s expected the real negotiations start following Giroux’s 1,000th game tonight. The 34-year-old forward controls this process.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure if Friedman is referring to the Panthers as Giroux’s or the Flyers’ preference. Regardless, I’m not surprised that he hasn’t been moved yet. He and the Flyers wanted to have him reach his 1,000th game as a Flyer. He could be moved over the weekend.

Friedman also addressed rumors suggesting the Flyers might shop Travis Sanheim after re-signing defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen last week. He noted the two played together so it would make sense to keep them. He also wondered what the Flyers will do with talented rearguard Ivan Provorov given his struggles this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d be more shocked if the Flyers move Provorov than I would if they move Sanheim. While general manager Chuck Fletcher will consider his options, I think he’ll keep those two defensemen.

TVA SPORTS: As Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak returns from injury, Renaud Lavoie believes the club’s goal is to trade him. He considers the 26-year-old Dvorak more of a Western Conference player. Lavoie said several teams were interested in Dvorak, including the Minnesota Wild, but it remains to be seen if they’re willing to compromise to get him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman said he’d heard the Wild had a prior interest in Dvorak but they can’t fit him into their lineup now. The Wild will be facing a salary-cap crunch after this season. Dvorak’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.

UPDATE ON THE LEAFS AND BLUE JACKETS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t want to part with any of his top prospects or his first-round pick for a rental player. Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm is their top target but they’ve also looked at the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, the Flyers’ Justin Braun, the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg, and the San Jose Shark’s Jacob Middleton.

The Leafs have been shopping Travis Dermott and Justin Holl for months. Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if Dermott gets a fresh start elsewhere. He also makes a “completely insane prediction” of the Leafs acquiring New York Islanders blueliner Zdeno Chara.

If the Leafs decide to pursue Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury it’ll come down to whether Fleury believes he can win in Toronto. Friedman also dismissed the possibility of the Leafs acquiring John Gibson from the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Leafs a top prospect and/or a first-round pick as part of the return for Lindholm, Giordano and Klingberg, though the latter isn’t going anywhere with teammate Miro Heiskanen sidelined by mononucleosis. Those guys are all slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. I also don’t see Chara agreeing to a trade to the Leafs.

Fleury’s situation is so muddied we don’t know if he’s staying or going. At this point, I’ll be surprised if there’s a deal that will work well enough for the Blackhawks to approach him about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs end up sticking with the goalies they already have and hope for the best.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi could be on the radar of the Washington Capitals while Jeff Marek suggested the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche as possible destinations. Marek also suggested Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan as a fit with the Edmonton Oilers but Friedman doubts that’ll happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Hockey Now’s Sammi Silber believes Domi could be a good fit in Washington. However, his $5.3 million cap hit makes him an expensive rental for the cap-strapped Capitals.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman repeated his earlier reports suggesting the Canadiens were among the teams interested in New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha, as well as contract extension talks continuing between the Nashville Predators and Filip Forsberg.

The New York Rangers have shown interest in Dallas Stars winger Alexander Radulov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are the Stars willing to move him? They’re not believed to be in sell mode as they jockey for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Radulov also might not be the best fit for the Rangers. The 35-year-old winger has been hampered by injuries in recent years and his production is down this season with just 18 points in 52 games.

Two sources expressed doubt to Friedman that New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov will be going anywhere by the trade deadline. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck’s name has come up in the rumor mill quite a bit of late.

The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the market for a left-side defenseman.

Keep an eye on the St. Louis Blues. Friedman expects they’ll be busy in the trade market. They were interested Ben Chiarot before he was traded to the Panthers and are linked to the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are pressed for cap space so it might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move, or a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around if they intend to add a notable defenseman.

The Capitals continue to monitor the goalie market.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp has been linked to the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins.

There’s not much movement in contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and pending UFA forward Nick Paul.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2022

Check out the latest on the Canadiens and recent rumblings about J.T. Miller and Alexandar Georgiev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ROUNDUP OF RECENT CANADIENS SPECULATION

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Earlier this week, Pat Hickey reported the Canadiens defense corps is in line for a major overhaul. No one expects sidelined captain Shea Weber to play again, the club is getting offers for pending UFA Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry could be moved if the right deal can be found while pending UFA Brett Kulak could also be shopped at the March 21 trade deadline.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (NHL Images).

On Wednesday, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun told TSN690 (stick tap to NHL Watcher) the Canadiens have a list of players they wish to move and a list of those they want to keep. He believes Brendan Gallagher and Josh Anderson are on the “do not move” list because a team needs competitive players even when undergoing a rebuild. Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak and Artturi Lehkonen are on the “would like to move” list but that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be traded.

LeBrun also believes the Canadiens covet some of the New York Rangers prospects while the Habs have some players to fill the Rangers’ needs. With 12 picks already in this year’s draft, the Canadiens could prefer returns of prospects over draft picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton was the Rangers general manager until last May. Most of their current prospects were chosen by him so it’s not surprising he wouldn’t mind landing one or two of them. Whether or not he’ll be successful and which ones he might get remains to be seen.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens notes recent reports linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to Chiarot. However, his near-league-worst overlying numbers plus the Canadiens asking price of a first-round pick should send the Leafs looking elsewhere to bolster their blueline. Stephens suggested the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson, Philadelphia Flyers’ Justin Braun and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo could be better options.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites a report by RDS claiming the Canadiens reached out to the Capitals regarding goaltender Ilya Samsonov. The 24-year-old Samsonov has struggled at times with consistency but has played better of late. The Capitals are believed in the market to upgrade their goaltending and their forward lines as well. They’ve been linked to the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are expected to be among the prime sellers leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. UFAs such as Chiarot and Kulak are the most likely to go as they’ll be the easiest to move. The same goes for Lehkonen, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and a year away from UFA eligibility. Struggling players with term on their contracts (Petry, Hoffman, Drouin, Dvorak) could be tougher to ship out during the season.

The Habs’ interest in Samsonov could be a desire to bring in a younger NHL goalie who has the potential to perhaps take over for Carey Price if he’s traded or ends up on permanent LTIR. I think the Capitals prefer hanging onto Samsonov given his youth and potential.

LATEST ON J.T. MILLER

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday the Vancouver Canucks might not be in any hurry to move J.T. Miller, who’s signed through 2022-23. Canucks management doesn’t buy into the notion that the 28-year-old center’s trade value would be higher now than in the offseason. They could also sign him to a contract extension this summer so all options are all the table. Clubs interested in Miller, such as the New York Rangers, must step up if they hope to pry him away from the Canucks.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty believes the return the Montreal Canadiens received for Tyler Toffoli from the Calgary Flames (2022 first-round pick, 2024 fifth-rounder, bottom-six forward Tyler Pitlick and prospect forward Emil Heineman) sets the market price for Miller. He believes it would cost the Bruins a first-rounder, an additional pick, winger Jake DeBrusk and Jack Studnicka to land the Canucks forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All due respect to Haggs but I think it’ll take more than what the Canadiens got for Toffoli to land Miller, specifically the type of NHL player and prospect. I also doubt his suggested return would bring the Canucks center to the Bruins, especially considering the Rangers have the cap space and the depth in prospects and young players to outbid them.

Yes, the Canucks could trade Miller by the March 21 trade deadline if a club makes an impressive bid. However, that might not be out there during this season. While there are exceptions, the overwhelming majority of deadline moves tend to involve pending free agents on non-playoff clubs shipped to contenders as rentals.

UPDATE ON ALEXANDAR GEORGIEV

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev’s career has stalled as Igor Shesterkin took over as their full-time starter. The 26-year-old struggled last season and got off to a poor start to this one, though he played well filling in for Shesterkin when he was sidelined by a groin injury in December.

Since then, Georgiev’s numbers have declined, prompting Brooks to suggest any of his upcoming starts could be his last with the Rangers. With Georgiev a restricted free agent this summer who could become unrestricted if the Blueshirts don’t qualify his rights, the upcoming trade deadline could be their last chance to get something in return.

Moving Georgiev would mean finding a suitable backup. Brooks suggested Detroit’s Thomas Greiss or Vancouver’s Jaroslav Halak, though the latter is on injured reserve.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting Georgiev could be an option for the Golden Knights if starter Robin Lehner remains sidelined by a suspected shoulder injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out the possibility of Georgiev getting traded provided the Rangers ensure they have a suitable replacement in hand in case Shesterkin gets injured again. Greiss could be a better option than Halak, who has a no-movement clause while Greiss lacks no-trade protection. Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo could also be an option. If Rangers GM Chris Drury doesn’t believe they’ll do a better job, he’ll hang onto Georgiev.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2022

Could the Flames have an interest in Tyler Toffoli or Christian Dvorak? Are the Capitals any closer to acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury? What’s the latest on the Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE FLAMES PURSUE TOFFOLI OR DVORAK?

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW: Elliotte Friedman said “a lot of people” think Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli could end up with the Calgary Flames by the trade deadline. He feels it makes a lot of sense. The Flames are in the market for secondary scoring plus Toffoli played for head coach Darryl Sutter during their tenures with the Los Angeles Kings.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Friedman also mentioned there’s “some traction from teams in the West” who’ve seen Christian Dvorak quite a bit during his tenure with the Arizona Coyotes. They liked what they saw then and believe what they’re seeing of his play with the Canadiens isn’t him. Marek wondered whether the Flames would be interested, pointing out Dvorak and Flames star Matthew Tkachuk played together with the OHL’s London Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management could prefer retaining Toffoli and Dvorak. They carry reasonable contracts and they would maintain some veteran skill if the front office is going forward with a roster rebuild as expected. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers.

If the Flames are interested in either guy it’s going to cost them. The asking price could include a first-round pick and a top prospect such as Jakob Pelletier, Matt Coronato, Connor Zary or Dustin Wolf. I don’t believe the Canadiens will be interested in fading 27-year-old center Sean Monahan, who’s only a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

CAPITALS UNABLE TO LAND FLEURY

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Capitals made a push to acquire the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury. However, it appears their efforts to land the 37-year-old goaltender was unsuccessful.

Seravalli also said the Capitals were in the market for a “jack-of-all-trades” forward who can work well with the club’s younger players. Potential trade chips include their 2022 first-round pick, goaltender Vitek Vanecek and defenseman Michal Kempny.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim beyond Fleury for contenders like the Capitals who are in the market for a goalie upgrade. As for Capitals trade bait, The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir also listed Carl Hagelin, Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz and the Capitals 2020 second-round pick in his “let’s talk” tier.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel listed prospects Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson and Rodion Amirov, a first-round pick in 2022, and defenseman Travis Dermott among his list of possible trade assets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blueliners Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl, winger Nick Ritchie and their 2023 first-rounder as other potential trade chips.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran speculates Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin could find themselves as trade bait by the March 21 deadline. He pointed out Leafs GM Kyle Dubas brought them up unprompted during a recent interview, indicating he wants to see what they can do over the next several weeks. McGran also believes Dubas could be reluctant to part with draft picks after having just three picks in last year’s draft and only three in this year’s.

Liljegren and Sandin could be the Leafs’ best trade chips if they’re seeking a player with term on his contract who can help them beyond this season. Whether they have enough value to draw that type of return has yet to be determined.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2022

Keith Yandle ties the league’s Ironman record, Chris Kreider takes the lead in the goal-scoring race, the Avalanche takes over first overall in the standings, the Canucks hire their first female assistant GM, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle tied the NHL’s Ironman record of 964 consecutive games but his club also tied a franchise record with its 12th straight defeat in a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist and Jake Oettinger made 27 saves as the Stars won their third straight game to sit tied with the Calgary Flames with 44 points.

Philadelphia Flyers defeneman Keith Yandle (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Yandle, who can break the record tonight against the New York Islanders. It’s the sole bright spot for the Flyers of late, who hold the fourth-worst record (13-21-8, 34 points) in the Eastern Conference.

Speaking of the Flames, they’ve taken over the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference by thumping the St. Louis Blues 7-1. Matthew Tkachuk collected a career-high five assists while Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and three helpers for Calgary, who hold two games in hand over the Stars and five games over the San Jose Sharks, who also have 44 points.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider scored his league-leading 30th goal of the season as his club beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Adam Fox tallied the winning goal in a shootout while teammate Artemi Panarin picked up two assists for the Rangers, who sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 60 points and are just one back of the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Kings, meanwhile, slip to third in the Pacific Division with 48 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers played without Kaapo Kakko as the 20-year-old winger is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Filip Chytil also missed this game as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche extended its home winning streak to 16 games and its points streak to 13 by blanking the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0. Pavel Francouz turned in a 23-save shutout while Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers. With 61 points, the Avalanche sits atop the Western Conference and has taken over first place in the overall standings.

Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist and Hampus Lindholm collected three assists as the Anaheim Ducks downed the Boston Bruins 5-3. With the win, the Ducks slipped ahead of the Kings into second place in the Pacific with 49 points. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 50 points. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk missed this game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did not look sharp in this game as he struggles to shake off the rust from his lengthy absence recovering from offseason hip surgery. He’s won two of his four starts but gave up five goals in each of his losses and has a 4.29 goals-against average and .844 save percentage after four games.

Robin Lehner made 34 saves and Michael Amadio scored the only goal as the Vegas Golden Knights shut out the Washington Capitals 1-0. It was the seventh straight road victory for Vegas, who remains atop the Pacific Division with 52 points. The Capitals hold the first wild-card berth in the East with 55 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner had a frightening moment in the second period when a slapshot by Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin broke the cage of his mask, forcing him to use the mask he wore last season as a backup. “It was probably the hardest shot I have ever taken to the head,” said Lehner. It was a little scary, as I felt the cage bend…”

The Minnesota Wild extended their points streak to seven games by crushing the Montreal Canadiens 8-2. Nico Sturm had a goal and two assists while Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Jared Spurgeon and Kevin Fiala were among eight Wild to finish the night with two points. Canadiens center Christian Dvorak left the game after a high hit by Spurgeon in the first period and didn’t pass the concussion protocol.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks made franchise history as Emilie Castonguay become the club’s first female assistant general manager. Castonguay had previously made history by becoming the first female NHLPA-certified player agent in 2016. She played NCAA Division 1 hockey in her youth and holds degrees in law and finance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Castonguay, who was also under consideration for the role of general manager of the Montreal Canadiens before they hired player agent Kent Hughes last week.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso and San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan 23, 2022.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Teddy Blueger will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair a fractured jaw.

DAILY FACEOFF: The International Ice Hockey Federation accidentally leaked Canada’s roster for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics before Hockey Canada’s official reveal today. Former NHLers include Eric Staal, Jason Demers, David Desharnais and Mark Barbeiro. 2021 NHL first-overall pick Owen Power and third-overall pick Mason McTavish are also on the roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

The Canadiens don’t match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and acquire Christian Dvorak from the Coyotes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

KOTKANIEMI OFFICIALLY WITH THE HURRICANES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday they would not match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens received the Hurricanes’ first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first time a player has been successfully signed away from another club via offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers inked the Anaheim Ducks’ Dustin Penner to a multi-year contract in 2007. While the Hurricanes PR department delighted in taunting the Canadiens on social media, at least there were no threats of a barn fight among general managers.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was pressed for salary cap space, the Hurricanes boxed him in with that offer sheet and he couldn’t justify that investment on a promising but inconsistent young forward. Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.

Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.5 million but they’re expected to put defenseman Jake Gardiner on long-term injury reserve for the start of the season. Given their depth at center, Kotkaniemi will likely be a winger on their second or third line.

CANADIENS ACQUIRE DVORAK FROM COYOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Canadiens wasted little time finding a replacement for Kotkaniemi, acquiring center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

The Coyotes will receive the highest of the Canadiens’ two first-round picks in the 2022 draft plus a 2024 second-rounder. However, if either or both of the Canadiens’ picks are among the top-10, the Coyotes get the lower of the two picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were linked to the 25-year-old Dvorak throughout last week. He’s a skillful underrated two-way center carrying a $4.45 million annual average value for the next four seasons. Dvorak should prove a worthwhile fit as the Habs second-line center.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been busy this summer rebuilding his club by shipping out veteran assets for draft picks. He now has eight picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, including three first-rounders. Armstrong could keep those picks but it wouldn’t surprise me if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness said Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Roope Hintz and Joel Hanley have recovered from the injuries that sidelined/hampered them for much of last season. Goaltender Ben Bishop is skating again but the club remains uncertain if he’ll be available for the coming season. He missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW‘s Adrian Dater tweeted Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has returned to full health and is anxious to resume his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lower-body injury sidelined Francouz for the entirety of last season.

TORONTO SUN: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe will be sidelined four-to-six months following hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day when they face off against the St. Louis Blues.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Could the Canadiens target the Sabres Jack Eichel or the Coyotes’ Christian Dvorak if they don’t match Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet? Which centers could the Penguins target if the need arises this season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE CANADIENS BE SHOPPING FOR KOTKANIEMI’S REPLACEMENT?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the Carolina Hurricanes signing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet on Saturday. Friedman said the Hurricanes had discussed the possibility of a trade for Kotkaniemi with the Canadiens but couldn’t work out a deal. He thinks the Hurricanes informed the Canadiens of their intention to sign Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet, probably within 24 hours of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet took most observers by surprise. Some suggested Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was caught off-guard, chiding him for not signing Kotkaniemi when he had the chance to avoid this situation.

Based on Friedman’s reporting, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Habs GM still didn’t seem fully convinced Kotkaniemi was fully prepared for second-line center duty. He was using his leverage to attempt to sign the youngster to a two-year bridge deal worth around $2.5 million annually.

Bergevin also had plenty of advance warning of Carolina’s interest in Kotkaniemi. While the Hurricanes’ PR team played up the revenge angle on Twitter to great amusement on social media, that seems to be merely a secondary factor. Why engage in trade talks if they intended to do the offer sheet all along? And why inform the Habs of their plan and provide Bergevin an opportunity to get Kotkaniemi under contract?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels speculates Bergevin could target Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Habs GM will have some extra draft capital with the first- and third-round picks he’d get from the Hurricanes as compensation. The Coyotes showed a willingness over the past month to collect as many high-end picks as possible.

Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (NHL Images).

Dvorak, 25, would be a good fit. The 6-foot, 200-pound two-way center has averaged a half-point per game and carries a cost-effect annual cap hit of $4.45 million over the next four seasons.

Engels also wonders if Bergevin could use those picks as part of a package deal for Jack Eichel. They’d have to live with the risk of the 24-year-old center becoming the first player to have an artificial disc-replacement procedure before he played his first game with them. Bergevin could also attempt the offer-sheet route with Elias Pettersson but doubts he’ll target the Vancouver Canucks center.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault also thinks Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will be working the phones to find a suitable, affordable replacement. He speculates he’ll target teams that have to reduce payroll before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has seven days to match the Hurricanes offer for Kotkaniemi. If he has no intention of matching he’s already calling around looking to package those compensatory picks for a replacement or an upgrade.

Dvorak reportedly drew considerable interest around the league but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Maybe he’d be swayed if Bergevin offered up a first and a third. PuckPedia shows the Habs currently have two picks in the third, fourth and seventh rounds of next year’s draft. Bergevin could include one or two of those along with the compensation from the Hurricanes or add a prospect or two to sweeten the pot.

Much has been made of Bergevin’s cozy relationship with Eichel’s new agent, Pat Brisson. However, the Sabres are still reportedly seeking four assets comparable to first-round picks. Unless that asking price is lowered, I don’t see the Habs getting into the bidding for the Sabres captain.

Bergevin could attempt to sign Pettersson to an offer sheet but I don’t think the young Canuck is interested. As Engels points out, the expensive price to do so would be difficult to squeeze within the Canadiens’ salary-cap limits.

COULD THE PENGUINS TARGET A RENTAL CENTER?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently examined four possible rental centers for the Penguins if Evgeni Malkin should be sidelined by knee surgery longer than expected. That could create a problem with the Penguins lacking depth at center beyond their top four. The club was also wracked with injuries last season plus Malkin and Jeff Carter are unrestricted free agents next summer.

The first is San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl. Kingerski speculates he could be had for a similar cost the Carolina Hurricanes paid for Vincent Trocheck, which was two bottom-six forwards and a promising prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Sharks intend to move Hertl or he intends to test the market. There could be mutual interest in working out an extension. If the Sharks do shop him I suspect they’ll seek a better return than what the Florida Panthers got for Trocheck.

Other options include Columbus’ Max Domi, Dallas’ Joe Pavelski if the Stars are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, or swapping defenseman Marcus Pettersson’s bad contract for the Minnesota Wild’s Victor Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski acknowledged Domi is sidelined by shoulder surgery until December. He also pointed out the Blue Jackets’ own lack of depth at center. Pavelski has a three-team trade list and could prefer staying out west.