NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at the Ducks’ potential offseason plans and what the future could hold for Coyotes defenseman Anton Stralman and Canucks winger Alex Chiasson.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE DUCKS THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked about Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek’s plans for the offseason. He observed Verbeek has the assets to make some moves this summer with 14 picks in the first three rounds of the next three NHL drafts. His club also carries $41 million in salary-cap space for next season and must spend to reach the projected $60.8 million cap minimum.

Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek (NHL Images).

Some of that money will go toward re-signing restricted free agents such as Sonny Milano, Isac Lundestrom and Urho Vaakanainen. Verbeek must also ensure he has sufficient long-term cap room to sign Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Troy Terry after next season.

Stephens suggested the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk, Columbus Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine and Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois as trade targets. However, he pointed out the high cost of signing those restricted free agents, who could seek short-term deals to take them up to their unrestricted free agent eligibility. Possible UFA targets could include the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ondrej Palat, Vegas Golden Knights’ Reilly Smith and the Colorado Avalanche’s Andre Burakovsky.

Verbeek subsequently acknowledged his salary-cap space and bushel of draft picks heading into this offseason. However, he told Stephens he intends to invest his assets wisely. “I’m not going to do silly deals, if that’s what you’re asking, even though I’ve got lots of cap space.” If he does pursue some UFA talent, he’ll have to sell them on playing for a club rebuilding around a young core.

The Ducks GM might also have to sell John Gibson on his future plans. Having signed an eight-year deal in 2018, the 28-year-old goaltender will have to decide if he wants to remain with a club in transition.

The decision to pick up the option year in head coach Dallas Eakins contract indicates the direction Verbeek is taking the club. Eakins has bought into management’s rebuilding efforts. Bringing him back also provides some stability after two months of changes since Verbeek took over as general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verbeek was among the busiest general managers leading up to last month’s trade deadline, shipping out pending UFAs Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson to playoff contenders for draft picks and prospects. More changes will be coming to the Ducks this summer with some additions via trades and/or free agency and perhaps another notable player being shipped out if Gibson should request a trade to a contender.

Verbeek could surprise us by pursuing a big-name player such as Tkachuk in the trade market or his Flames teammate Johnny Gaudreau via free agency. However, I think he’s going to adhere to a more patient approach this summer by adding more experienced depth to the supporting cast to take some of the burdens off his promising young players.

LATEST ON STRALMAN AND CHIASSON

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently reported Anton Stralman’s tenure with the Arizona Coyotes might not end after this season. Sources tell Morgan the club is interested in signing the 35-year-old defenseman, who’s in the final season of a three-year deal with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million.

Management values the experience and leadership skills Stralman brings to their rebuilding roster. The blueliner is in no rush to decide his future but admitted he and his family enjoy living in the Phoenix area.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma recently reported Alex Chiasson’s resurgent performance this season is showing value to the Vancouver Canucks. He could also draw interest in this summer’s UFA market. The 31-year-old winger is making the most out of this season after earning a one-year deal following a training-camp tryout last fall.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2022

The Jets keep their playoff hopes alive, Evgeni Malkin is suspended, Drew Doughty is done for the season, the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets got third-period goals from Evgeny Svechnikov and Adam Lowry to double up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in the only game on Monday’s schedule. Jets forward Paul Stastny reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time since 2013-14. With the win, the Jets (81 points) move to within five points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Morgan Barron collected his first two points since joining the Jets at last month’s trade deadline from the New York Rangers in the Andrew Copp deal. Meanwhile, his younger brother Justin missed his third straight game with the Montreal Canadiens with a suspected broken right ankle that could finish his season. Like his older brother, the younger Barron was also traded on deadline day. The Canadiens acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche in the Artturi Lehkonen trade.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

  PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The NHL department of player safety handed down a four-game suspension to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin for his “retaliatory and aggressive” crosscheck on Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki on Sunday. It’s the second time in Malkin’s NHL career that he’s been suspended for a stick infraction.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty is the Kings’ top defenseman. His absence could cripple their efforts to secure their first playoff berth since 2017-18. The Kings are clinging to third place in the Pacific Division with 86 points, two points ahead of the surging Vegas Golden Knights.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 10.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has not yet returned to on-ice activities in his recovery from knee surgery. However, he’s still expected to return to action when the playoffs begin in early May.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee injury) has resumed solo skating but there’s still no timetable for his return to the lineup. Leafs winger Ondrej Kase remains sidelined with a concussion.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Torey Krug could return to the lineup tonight against his former club, the Boston Bruins. He’s missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury.

MLIVE.COM: Sam Gagner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but hopes to return with the Detroit Red Wings next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings reportedly appreciate the 32-year-old Gagner’s experience, leadership and two-way skills. He’s on a one-year, $850K contract and should be an affordable re-signing if they wish to bring him back next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports sources indicate Dallas Eakins will return next season as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 3, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor roundup, Johnny Gaudreau’s on-ice success this season could affect his contract talks with the Flames plus Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau is among several notable bench bosses in line for new contracts.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane recently reported speculation that the Flames could trade Johnny Gaudreau over his contract status didn’t disappear until the March trade deadline passed. The 28-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer unless he and the Flames reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Flames general manager Brad Treliving wants to sign Gaudreau long-term but the winger’s performance this season will make him expensive to retain. He’s earning an annual salary-cap hit of $6.75 million on his current deal. Gaudreau currently sits fourth among the league’s leading scorers with 92 points (with over 70 of those points at even strength) and was named the league’s second star for March 2022.

Both sides are keeping mum on the status of their contract negotiations. Nevertheless, Macfarlane believes Gaudreau is in line for a massive raise on his next deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How massive? It could be an annual average value of $10 million on an eight-year deal. Barring injury, Goudreau’s going to break his previous career-high of 99 points and could be in the range of 110 points before the end of this season. He’s appeared in all 68 games for the Flames this season, garnering praise from head coach Darryl Sutter for his checking and all-around performance.

Treliving wants to keep Gaudreau and by all accounts, he and his wife love Calgary and want to stay put. $10 million annually over eight years could be what it takes to get it done.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek listed 11 full-time or interim coaches are on contracts that expire at the end of this season. They include the Anaheim Ducks’ Dallas Eakins, Chicago Blackhawks’ Derek King, Detroit Red Wings’ Jeff Blashill, Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness, Edmonton Oilers’ Jay Woodcroft, Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, Montreal Canadiens’ Martin St. Louis, Nashville Predators’ John Hynes, Philadelphia Flyers’ Mike Yeo, Vancouver Canucks’ Bruce Boudreau and the Winnipeg Jets’ Dave Lowry.

Marek expects this summer could be a turbulent one among the NHL coaching fraternity. Elliotte Friedman reported that Boudreau is on a one-year contract with an option for next season. If they don’t keep him, there’s a payment that goes to him. Boudreau can also opt out though he wouldn’t get that payment if he does.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how all these situations unfold.

Eakins was hired by the predecessor of the Ducks’ new general manager Pat Verbeek. He might have designs on bringing in his own bench boss. The Red Wings showed improvement this season but their second-half collapse has Detroit fans and pundits calling for Blashill to be fired. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman recently indicated he’ll meet with Blashill after this season to discuss his future.

The Blackhawks improved when King took over in November but their roster still needs work. Whether he’ll be part of the rebuild is anyone’s guess right now. Securing a playoff berth could earn Bowness an extension. The Oilers’ improvement since Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett could turn him into their full-time coach next season.

Brunette’s done a fine job with the Panthers since taking over after Joel Quenneville stepped down last fall. A deep playoff run should ensure his return on a multi-year contract. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said he’d like St. Louis to return as their full-time coach. The Predators’ better-than-expected effort this season could extend Hynes’ tenure behind their bench.

The Flyers’ sad decline this season could lead to a rebuild that probably won’t include Yeo. Boudreau’s done a good job with the Canucks since taking over from Travis Green last fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up the option year. Lowry could end up replaced if the Jets fail to reach the postseason.