NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2022

Mark Scheifele’s uncertain future with the Jets plus a roundup of recent Blackhawks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SCHEIFELE FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE WITH THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Scott Billeck and Mike McIntyre reports Mark Scheifele said he needed to know management’s vision for the Jets over the remaining two years of his contract.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Scheifele sounded frustrated during yesterday’s season-ending press conference. The 28-year-old center said he’s in the prime of his playing career and believes he’s improving all the time. However, he wants to know the club’s direction and what changes could be in store.

Completing his 11th season with the Jets, Scheifele said he’d love to be in Winnipeg. Nevertheless, he has to think about his career and what’s best for him and his family. He anticipates a “tough talk” with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff during his end-of-season interview today.

Billeck and McIntyre believe Scheifele’s comments are the start of what could be a turbulent offseason for the Jets. While Cheveldayoff received a three-year contract extension yesterday, he will have a lot on his plate.

In addition to Scheifele’s future, there were reports of a divided dressing room and a lack of accountability throughout this season. A decision must be made whether to make interim head coach Dave Lowry the full-time bench boss or find a replacement. Center Pierre-Luc Dubois is a restricted free agent who’s in line for a lucrative new contract. Their defense corps also needs to be improved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele’s inconsistent performance this season and seeming indifference toward his defensive play sparked speculation he could become an offseason trade candidate. He didn’t come out and demand a trade yesterday but that could be in the cards if his meeting with Cheveldayoff goes sour or he disapproves of the GM’s offseason moves.

Expect speculation over Scheifele’s future to be a hot topic following the playoffs in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8. That’s usually the period when notable players like himself get traded as teams have more cap room and a willingness to make big moves in the trade market.

Trading Scheifele would be a significant shakeup of the roster core. It could also set the table for a big raise for Dubois.

RECENT BLACKHAWKS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis recently reported long-time Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he’d had multiple conversations with general manager Kyle Davidson and expects to learn more about the club’s offseason plans following the end of the regular season.

Kane acknowledged his leadership role with the club could speed up its rebuild. He also enjoys the chemistry and relationship he’s built with winger Alex DeBrincat. The 33-year-old winger hopes the Blackhawks can follow the blueprint of the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers as they rebuilt on the fly and are playoff clubs this season.

Roumeliotis also wondered what the future holds for Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews as they both had one season remaining on their identical contracts. He pointed out the Blackhawks don’t have many tradeable assets to start a true rebuilding. Alex DeBrincat would fetch the best return but it would take a significant offer to convince Davidson to move the 24-year-old winger.

It remains to be seen if restricted free agent forward Dylan Strome will be back. Davidson must also address his goaltending after trading away Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline. Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are pending UFAs this summer.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reported that DeBrincat acknowledged this was a frustrating season for him. Nevertheless, he’s open to signing a contract extension with the Blackhawks. DeBrincat has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The futures of Kane and Toews have already sparked plenty of conjecture that will continue to grow between now and into July when business picks up in the trade market. Kane’s still-impressive offensive stats would draw considerable interest if Davidson tries to shop him.

However, moving Kane and/or Toews won’t be easy. Kane and Toews each carry hefty $10.5 million cap hits and full no-movement clauses.

DeBrincat hit 41 goals and 78 points this season. He’s a player the Blackhawks should be building around, especially if he’s interested in a contract extension. Then again, I said the same thing about Brandon Hagel before the trade deadline and he got shipped to Tampa Bay. Davidson could listen if someone makes a substantial offer for DeBrincat.

Davidson could keep Strome if he envisions rebuilding on the fly with the aim of reaching the playoffs in two or three years’ time. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be surprising if he becomes a trade candidate.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2022

An update on Jakob Chychrun plus the latest on the Blackhawks plus in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about Jakob Chychrun’s future with the Arizona Coyotes. He believes once rumors got out that teams were calling about the 24-year-old defenseman that his camp became open to the idea of a trade.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Morgan doesn’t think Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25, wants to sacrifice three seasons of his playing prime in a rebuild. He doesn’t see Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong budging from his high asking price. If teams aren’t willing to pay it this summer (and Chychrun’s subpar season didn’t help), Armstrong won’t trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The passing of last month’s NHL trade deadline brought an end to the seemingly endless Chychrun trade speculation that had been ongoing since last fall. Things are quiet now but we can expect the rumors to ramp up again as teams are eliminated from the playoffs, reaching another fever pitch approaching the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8.

Despite the decline in Chychrun’s production this season, his age, puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million contract will ensure he remains an attractive trade candidate this summer. A number of the clubs that were linked to him before the trade deadline, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues could revisit their interest when the offseason begins.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently speculated over the potential rebuilding plans of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson in the upcoming offseason. If they end up with one of the top two picks in this year’s draft following next month’s draft lottery and send their 2023 first-round to Columbus as part of the Seth Jones trade, perhaps Davidson will have some incentive to improve the club next season. He won’t want that pick to turn into a generational talent for the Jackets if he tanked next season.

On the other hand, if the Blackhawks don’t get that top-two placement and send their 2022 pick to the Blue Jackets, Davidson could commence a major teardown to improve his club’s chances of winning next year’s draft lottery. That could mean letting restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome walk this summer without bringing in top-six forwards to replace them.

A league source told Powers they wouldn’t be shocked if Davidson shopped Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat this summer. However, there’s no indication the Blackhawks GM has any plans to do that. Davidson is expected to meet with Pat Brisson, the agent for Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews, to discuss his offseason plans.

Meanwhile, Mark Lazerus recently reported Tyler Johnson is willing to embrace a role in the Blackhawks’ rebuild. However, it’s uncertain where he fits in Davidson’s plans.

Johnson is signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5 million. He could fill a veteran leader role if Toews and/or Kane decide to move on from the Blackhawks. Otherwise, Davidson could attempt to move Johnson via trade or buy out the remainder of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks will be one of the clubs worth watching during this offseason. Big changes could be in the works that might involve a core player like Toews, Kane or DeBrincat moving on. Davidson won’t shop those guys just for the sake of making changes. However, as we saw with the Brandon Hagel trade, he’ll be willing to move those players for the right offer.

Toews and Kane are in the final seasons of their respective contracts with $10.5-million annual cap hits and full no-movement clauses. DeBrincat is a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has a $6.4-million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection but is slated to earn $9 million in actual salary next season.

Johnson’s decline in production and injury history could make him a tough sell in this summer’s trade market. He also has a 20-team list of preferred trade destinations. Cap Friendly shows a buyout will count as over $2.6 million next season, $1.66 million in 2023-24, followed by over $1.46 million for each of the final two years.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

Updates on Kris Letang and Patrice Bergeron plus four free agents who could use a strong finish to this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s been ongoing talk between the Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang. While Letang wants to focus on the season, there’s been more of a connection between his camp and the Penguins, though the progress has been slow.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang, 34, is completing an eight-year contract worth $7.25 million per season. Earlier this year, there was talk he would seek a raise based on his strong performance this season. With 64 points in 74 games, he’s just three away from tying his personal best set in 2015-16.

The Penguins must also attempt to sign fellow UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Malkin, 35, has indicated he’s willing to accept a pay cut. The 29-year-old Rust is finishing a four-year, $14 million contract and will justifiably seek a raise on a long-term deal.

Letang has said he’d like to retire as a Penguin. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut or perhaps a modest raise on a short-term deal, he could price himself out of Pittsburgh. The Athletic’s Josh Yohe guesses Malkin stays, Letang signs with the Montreal Canadiens and Rust cashes in with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. We’ll find out by July 13 if those scenarios come to pass.

There’s been less discussion between the Boston Bruins and Patrice Bergeron but that’s by design. There’s a willingness to be patient between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron and the Bruins agreed to shelve contract talks until the end of this season. I expect he wants to finish his career in Boston and the Bruins want to keep him. Their contract negotiations will start in earnest following the playoffs.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes pending free agents such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser, New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban and Dallas Stars Alexander Radulov could benefit from a strong finish to this season.

Strome overcame a struggling start to this season to score a career-best 21 goals this season. He’s a restricted free agent and the Blackhawks could be reluctant to pay $3.6 million to qualify his rights for another year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus believes Strome faces a murky future in Chicago. However, he believes the 25-year-old forward’s solid play over the past four months could earn him a new contract with another NHL team if the Blackhawks let him walk.

The 25-year-old Boeser is also a restricted free agent. The Canucks could be unwilling to pay $7.5 million to qualify his rights given how injuries have hampered his production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser was the frequent topic of trade speculation this season. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut to stick with the Canucks next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shopped this summer regardless of his performance over his remaining games. If anything, a strong finish would burnish his value in this summer’s trade market.

Stephens acknowledges that Subban and Radulov are now past their prime. Nevertheless, he suggests the pending UFAs could have value playing sheltered minutes on bargain contracts with contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old old Subban is no longer the flashy mobile defenseman that garnered him the Norris Trophy in 2013 and made him a finalist for the award in 2017. However, he could have value as Stephens suggests in a third-pairing role.

Age and injuries have caught up with the 35-year-old Radulov. I don’t dismiss the possibility he could sign with another NHL club on a cheap one-year deal. Still, I think that he’s at the point in his career where he might need a training-camp tryout next fall to earn a new contract.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

A look at five players on non-postseason contenders with something to play for down the stretch in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DAILY FACEOFF: Phil Kessel and Travis Konecny are two of the five players on non-playoff clubs that Matt Larkin believes still have something to play for over the remaining weeks of this regular season.

Kessel sits second on the all-time consecutive games-played list with 971. He won’t catch Keith Yandle’s record of 989 but he could reach 982 by season’s end if he stays in the lineup.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s pursuit of the NHL Ironman record isn’t a rumor, but it could play a part in his efforts to find a new club after this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and the Coyotes aren’t expected to bring him back.

Kessel’s best seasons are behind him but the 34-year-old right winger sits third on the low-scoring Coyotes with 44 points and is their leader with 37 assists. Those are respectable numbers and could make him enticing as an affordable short-term free-agent signing by a playoff contender this summer.

Konecny, meanwhile, has struggled over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s difficult to judge the 25-year-old winger’s performance when the entire club has underachieved. Larkin’s colleague Frank Seravalli reported Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had spoken with other clubs about Konecny. While no deals materialized before the trade deadline, the groundwork may be laid for an offseason move. His performance over the remainder of this season could determine his fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s contract could also become a factor in whether he’s traded this summer. He carries an annual average value of $5.5 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor recently suggested he could become a trade candidate if Fletcher decides to shake up the roster core this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic’s inconsistent play this season saw him become the subject of trade rumors. A restricted free agent this summer, the final weeks of this season could give him an opportunity to show the Jackets that he’s worth retaining. Larkin speculates he could accept the Jackets’ qualifying offer in the hope of improving his value next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic had six points in 10 games leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. He had a four-point performance Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings (including a hat trick) but that’s accounted for most of the six points he’s had in the 10 games since deadline day.

Dylan Strome’s erratic production frequently surfaced in trade chatter this season. However, the 25-year-old center has 22 points in his last 17 games since being moved to the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat at the start of March. If he continues playing well with those two it could earn him a multi-year extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Blackhawks could also try to trade Strome this summer while his value is up.

Larkin also wondered what the future could hold for Erik Brannstrom as the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman attempts to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. A solid effort down the stretch could earn him a bridge deal with the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin observed Thomas Chabot’s season-ending hand injury has opened the door for Brannstrom. He’s been paired with Artem Zub and is seeing regular top-four minutes. However, the addition of top prospect Jake Sanderson could make Brannstrom’s future in Ottawa an uncertain one.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2022

What could the future hold for Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome? Could the Sharks trade a goaltender in the offseason? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLACKHAWKS?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported agent Pat Brisson, who represents Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Seth Jones, would meet this week with Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. It’s felt Brisson will want to discuss his clients’ futures and where they fit into the Blackhawks offseason plans. LeBrun believes a number of teams would be drooling over the possibility of Kane becoming available this summer.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson recently indicated he’ll keep an open dialogue with Kane and Toews regarding his rebuilding plans. Kane didn’t want to discuss his future with the media by saying that’s a topic for discussion in the summer. Toews, meanwhile, admitted he’s mused about the possibility of playing for another club but insisted he still enjoys living and playing in Chicago. I expect Jones remains a big part of the Blackhawks’ plans as his new eight-year contract kicks in next season.

Kane and Toews are both signed through next season with identical $10.5 million cap hits and full no-movement clauses. That gives them full control over their short-term futures while their respective cap hits would be difficult to move even in the offseason.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO/THE ATHLETIC: Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott Powers wondered what the future holds for Dylan Strome. The 25-year-old Blackhawks forward was a fixture in the rumor mill but wasn’t moved by the trade deadline. His performance improved over the second half of the season but it remains to be seen if that’ll translate into a new contract for the pending restricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid finish on Strome’s part could improve his value in the offseason trade market or it could convince Davidson to sign him to a one-year deal and see how next season unfolds.

SHARKS COULD TRADE A GOALIE THIS SUMMER

THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak speculates the San Jose Sharks’ addition of goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen from the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline could result in James Reimer getting shopped in the offseason. Reimer and Adin Hill are signed through next season while Kahkonen is a restricted free agent. Management doesn’t intend to carry three netminders next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas Hockey Now’s Sheng Peng cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun indicating the Sharks were getting some calls about Reimer at the trade deadline. His solid performance this season could draw attention this summer from teams that sought goaltending depth this season. The Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals could be among the suitors.

Peng also reported the Sharks were dangling Matt Nieto and Nick Bonino at the trade deadline. Both forwards have one season remaining on their contracts Perhaps management will revisit efforts to move them during the summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

The Flames set a franchise record in win over Blue Jackets, the Avalanche’s home win streak continues, the Penguins re-sign Jeff Carter, the Canucks hire Patrik Allvin as GM, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames fired a franchise-record 62 shots at the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-0 victory. Johnny Gaudreau collected three assists, Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom turned in a 23-save shutout. Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 56 saves. With 46 points, the Flames tie the Dallas Stars but take over the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with two games in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins wasn’t to blame for his club’s lopsided loss. His teammates let him down with a lousy defensive effort. They also lost center Alexandre Texier as he left the game with an injured hand.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Cale Makar’s overtime goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, extending their home winning streak to 17 games. They forced the extra frame with unanswered third-period goals by Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog while Nazem Kadri finished the night with three assists. Charlie McAvoy collected two assists for the Bruins. The Avs are tied with the Florida Panthers with 63 points but hold first overall with two games in hand while the Bruins hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 51 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game following a hard hit from Bruins winger Taylor Hall. MacKinnon’s face was bloodied by his own stick following contact from Hall’s shoulder. He could miss the Avs’ upcoming game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shootout goal by Auston Matthews. Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell reached the 20-win mark in a season for the first time in his career as his club remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points. The Ducks picked up a point thanks to goalie John Gibson’s 41-save effort and sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dylan Strome tallied his first NHL hat trick in an 8-5 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Alex DeBrincat scored twice and added an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have been trying to trade Strome since last season. The Athletic’s Scott Powers speculates his improved play of late might make him more enticing to other clubs if he keeps playing well between now and the March 21 trade deadline.

The San Jose Sharks got a 32-save performance from James Reimer to beat the Washington Capitals 4-1, handing the latter their third loss in the past four games. The win keeps the Sharks (46 points) in the hunt for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Jeff Carter to a two-year contract extension. The 37-year-old forward will receive an annual average value of $3.125 million with a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable contract for a veteran forward who still has plenty left in the tank. He’s been a good fit with the Penguins since joining them in a trade last season. He’s sixth among their leading scorers this season with 12 goals and 26 points in 36 games.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Penguins with $51.8 million invested in 10 players for 2022-23. Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Kasperi Kapanen are among their free agents to be re-signed or replaced.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks officially announced Patrik Allvin as their new general manager. He’d been with the Penguins for 16 seasons and was named their assistant GM in 2020. Allvin previously worked with Canucks president Jim Rutherford during the latter’s tenure as Penguins GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Canucks management team in place, there’s speculation big roster changes could be coming before the March trade deadline. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor update.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell received a three-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for interference on Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of Batherson, he suffered a high-ankle sprain as a result of Dell’s actions. He was slated to play in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game and has been replaced by Brady Tkachuk. Batherson could be sidelined for months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson is the Senators’ leading scorer so this is a significant blow to their offense.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild got some good news as defenseman Jonas Brodin is set to return after missing several weeks with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to begin reaching out to potential general manager candidates for interviews this week. Current interim GM Kyle Davidson will also interview for the job.