NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

How will the Bruins cope without David Krejci? What’s going on with the Islanders and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HOW WILL THE BRUINS REPLACE KREJCI?

THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of David Krejci’s decision to finish his playing days in the Czech Republic, Fluto Shinzawa pondered how they could replace the 35-year-old second-line center.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

One option could be the trade market but Shinzawa rules out pursuing Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, citing their lack of cap space and Eichel’s health issues and hefty contract. Jake DeBrusk remains a trade asset but the dropoff in his performance last season makes him unlikely to fetch a second-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shinzawa reports the Bruins are about $1 million under the $81.5 million salary cap. While a trade is possible for a second-line center I wouldn’t be surprised if they start the season with Charlie Coyle replacing Krejci. And no, they’re not trading for Eichel.

Perhaps they’ll have an opportunity to add a short-term replacement before next year’s trade deadline. The pickings in the free-agent market are slim and none will suitably replace Krejci unless someone can find a fountain of youth for Joe Thornton or Eric Staal.

LATEST ISLANDERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple weighs in on the seeming inactivity of the New York Islanders since the start of free agency on Wednesday. He believes general manager Lou Lamoriello is keeping silent about his signings because he doesn’t want anyone in the league to know where the Isles are with their salary-cap space. He believes Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri have been signed, perhaps Casey Cizikas and maybe Travis Zajac but doesn’t know when we’ll know for sure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello employed the same tactic last fall with Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Cory Schneider. No surprise he’s doing it again.

Staple took note of a report by colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating the Islanders are believed in the mix for St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He doubts Anthony Beauvillier would be part of that deal, suggesting Josh Bailey as the likely trade candidate given the Isles left him exposed in the expansion draft. Perhaps Bailey packaged with a high draft pick and/or another asset might be enough to clear cap space to acquire Tarasenko (if the Blues pick up part of his $7.5 million cap hit) and leave enough to acquire a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple also mused about the Isles pursuing Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler or Hampus Lindholm as a replacement for the departed Nick Leddy on their blueline.

Dunn, a restricted free agent, hasn’t been signed yet by the Kraken but I think that’s only a matter of time. The Predators are committed to re-signing Ekholm. Lindholm might be available but the Isles would have to part with a suitable package that fits the Ducks’ rebuilding scheme. Fowler, meanwhile, has a four-team trade list and the Isles might not be on it.

OILERS ATTEMPTING TO ACQUIRE KORPISALO?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports of rumors that have the Oilers offering up goaltender Mikko Koskinen (along with a first-round pick and/or prospect Dmitri Samorukov) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for netminder Joonas Korpisalo.

It’s hard to imagine how such a deal makes sense, as Korpisalo isn’t obviously a better goalie than Koskinen,” writes Staples. He believes the Oilers are better off with Mike Smith, Koskinen and Alex Stalock as their goalies to start the season and shop for a goalie if Koskinen and Stalock fail to cut it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couldn’t have said it better myself.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and Jack Eichel plus updates on the Stars and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE HURRICANES, DEVILS, ISLANDERS INTERESTED IN TARASENKO?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford speculates the St. Louis Blues’ signing left winger Brandon Saad yesterday might spark a trade of Vladimir Tarasenko. The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have an interest in the 29-year-old right winger, and there are signs the New York Islanders could get back into the mix.

Could the St. Louis Blues be closer to trading Vladimir Tarasenko? (NHL Images)

Having signed Saad for less than expected, perhaps Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will be more willing to retain part of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit. That could be enticing for the Islanders, who have $17.6 million in cap space but must also re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Beauvillier, 24, has also been mentioned as a trade candidate. The Islanders remain on Tarasenko’s list of preferred destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been quiet on the Islanders’ front. As usual, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to tip his hand as to his plans for his RFAs or for UFAs Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, though there’s plenty of conjecture suggesting he intends to re-sign them or already has them under contract but hasn’t officially announced them yet. There’s also talk he’s signing Zach Parise.

If the Isles are in the mix for Tarasenko the Blues must retain some salary and/or take back a contract as part of the return. Parting with an RFA like Beauvillier would also work but we don’t know if Armstrong has any interest in him.

The Hurricanes have almost $14 million in cap space but they must re-sign RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Owner Tom Dundon could prefer keeping the payroll as far below the $81.5 million cap as possible. With over $22 million in cap room and five more roster spots to fill, the Devils are best positioned to swing a deal for Tarasenko. However, they could be on his no-trade list.

THE LATEST ON EICHEL

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams feels no pressure to trade Jack Eichel. He explained he’ll make that move if he gets an offer that makes sense for his club but won’t ship out the 24-year-old center simply for the sake of doing so.

However, Vogl points out Eichel wants out and his agents’ only discussions with Adams center on trade requests. He feels Eichel can’t show up in training camp as captain as it would damage the fresh start with a young core. The Sabres GM still believes there’s a market for his captain.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Mika Zibanejad would accept a six-year contract extension from the Rangers worth between $9 million and $9.5 million annually. “Wouldn’t that be enough to put an end to the Jack Eichel narrative as relates to the Rangers?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Adams is going to publicly say he feels no pressure to move Eichel. He’s not going to admit that it could get difficult to move the unhappy center with the NHL Draft and the start of free agency behind them.

While Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years and the Sabres’ high asking price are sticking points, his neck injury remains the main issue. If he was healthy, he’d probably be with another team (like the Rangers?) by now. But interested parties are understandably reluctant to part with assets for a player who might not be able to participate in a full schedule next season.

Still, it’s not too late for the Sabres to trade Eichel, or the Blues to move Tarasenko. Three years ago, the Ottawa Senators traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks and the Montreal Canadiens shipped Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights just before training camp opened in September. The Eichel and Tarasenko trade situations could be resolved in the same time frame.

COULD THE STARS SHOP A GOALTENDER?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars signing Braden Holtby on Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $2 million raised questions about their overcrowded crease that already features Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Stars GM Jim Nill said Bishop’s status for next season remains uncertain as he continues to recover from last fall’s knee surgery. The Stars could send Oettinger back to the AHL as he remains waiver-exempt but that might not be best for potentially the best healthy goalie in the organization. DeFranks speculates they could also shop Khudobin, who’s under contract for two more seasons at $3.33 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill told DeFranks his club would wait to figure out their situation before opting to move one of their surplus goalies. Bishop’s career could be over if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to the rigors of NHL action.

Oettinger is their goalie of the future coming off a solid NHL debut (11-8-7, 2.36 GAA, .911 SP) last season. Khudobin could be the odd man out here. There will be teams on the lookout for a goalie during training camp.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators could still try to add a center and a winger through a trade. They’re still in the mix for New York Rangers center Ryan Strome. They kicked tires on Jack Eichel but his contract and the asking price make that prohibitive. They could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait. Victor Mete or Erik Brannstrom could become trade candidates if GM Pierre Dorion decides to go that route.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

What does the future hold for trade candidates Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko in the wake of yesterday’s free-agent frenzy? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl provides an update on where things stand with the Buffalo Sabres’ efforts to trade Jack Eichel. The Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers could still be in the mix but the Minnesota Wild have dropped out. The Los Angeles Kings’ free-agent spending spree (Phillip Danault, Alex Edler and Andreas Athanasiou) takes them out of the equation.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Vogl indicates the Sabres feel teams are offering too little for Eichel while the interest parties feel the Sabres are asking too much. Teams with cap space that could benefit from a first-line center like Eichel include the Ducks, Rangers, Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because most of those teams have the cap space to acquire Eichel’s hefty contract doesn’t mean they will. His neck injury and the Sabres’ high asking price are the big sticking points here.

The Kraken lack suitable assets in draft picks, prospects and young NHL talent to make a suitable bid. The Islanders still have to re-sign Anthony Beauviller, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

The Predators are already carrying two expensive centers in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen and won’t be keen to add a third unless the Sabres agree to take Duchene or Johansen in return. The Devils, meanwhile, are building around young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

Vogl’s colleague Michael Russo reports the Wild backed out because they’re fed up with the Sabres’ high asking price for a $10 million star with a neck injury. Meanwhile, Hailey Salvian wonders if the Calgary Flames could be positioning themselves to make a bid for Eichel with $12.9 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could get back into it if the Sabres reduce their price. However, I think their focus is on re-signing Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. As for the Flames, GM Brad Treliving probably kicked tires but I don’t think he’s planning a serious bid here. His bold moves were signing Blake Coleman and acquiring Nikita Zadorov.

Eric Stephens observes the Ducks can afford Eichel if general manager Bob Murray can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to take back a salary in return, suggesting Adam Henrique or Rickard Rakell as options. He anticipates the Ducks would also have to part with a promising young center (other than Trevor Zegras) and their 2022 first-round pick as part of the return.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Drury’s first summer as Rangers GM can be distilled by whatever decision he makes regarding Eichel. He speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could be among the Eichel suitors after shipping out Marc-Andre Fleury’s $7 million cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks. Brooks believes there’s no need for Drury to rush into a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Ducks and Rangers are most interested in Eichel. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pulling the trigger until the Sabres reduce their price and they get assurances Eichel’s health has improved.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon poured cold water on the notion of his club pursuing Eichel. “We’re not likely to be involved in other discussions,” said McCrimmon. He pointed out they’ve spent the money available to them and addressed their needs going forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights made several moves, but none that addressed their obvious need for a true first-line center. The only nod in that direction was signing third-line center Mattias Janmark. As things stand now, they’ll be heading into 2021-22 with Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson remaining as their top-two centers.

They might not be in on Eichel but that doesn’t mean they don’t make a move for another center before training camp. Maybe they make a move for Mika Zibanejad if the Rangers decide to make a serious pitch for Eichel? Yes, Zibanejad has a no-movement clause but maybe he’d waive it for Vegas. Something to ponder, folks.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a source believes the St. Louis Blues are diminishing Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade value the longer they hand onto the unhappy winger. The source feels Blues GM Doug Armstrong miscalculated the situation by seeking too much in return. Where once there were four teams interested in Tarasenko there are now still at least two but the options are dwindling following yesterday’s activity in the free-agent market.

Rutherford believes the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils make the most sense as trade destinations. The Devils have plenty of salary cap space and would like to add a top-six forward. The Hurricanes have $15.4 million in cap space and need scoring but they must also re-sign winger Andrei Svechnikov. He also wondered if the Blues might include Tarasenko in a pitch for Jack Eichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong has indicated he wouldn’t have any problem with Tarasenko returning this season but I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest right now. The Blue GM could be forced to accept less than his asking price to move him now. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Devils could be out if Brandon Saad accepts the contract offer they pitched him yesterday. If that falls through, maybe they’d be willing to pursue a Tarasenko deal if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, the goaltending market and Evgeny Kuznetsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD AN EICHEL TRADE HAPPEN THIS WEEK?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Jack Eichel’s agents believe the 24-year-old center will be traded in the near future, adding all their discussions with the Buffalo Sabres have centered around that issue. Eyebrows were raised when Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said he’d have no problem if Eichel was still with the club when training camp opens in September.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Friedman listed the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild among the clubs with some interest in Eichel. The Montreal Canadiens have engaged in talks with the Sabres but they’re not anywhere near a point where the latter would agree to a deal. The New York Rangers and Sabres aren’t close in their conversations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sticking point, of course, is the herniated disk in Eichel’s neck. While he’s returned to skating, it’s believed he still prefers surgery. However, the Sabres are reluctant to go that route because the procedure has never been done on a professional hockey player.

Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is another issue. So is the Sabres’ rumored asking price of the equivalent of four first-round draft picks. As I’ve recently speculated, this could drag on throughout the summer before reaching a resolution before the start of training camp.

A LOOK AT THIS SUMMER’S GOALIE MARKET

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman observed the Toronto Maple Leafs have made finding a goaltending partner for Jack Campbell to be their top priority. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers seek an experienced partner for young starter Carter Hart.

He wondered if the Vancouver Canucks will buy out Braden Holtby if unable to trade him and if Martin Jones will get a fresh start elsewhere assuming he’s bought out by the San Jose Sharks.

Other goalie questions include where Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper ends up, what the Vegas Golden Knights will do with their goalie tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, and what the market will be for Sabres UFA Linus Ullmark.

He also mused over what the Colorado Avalanche’s contract limit will be for pending free agent Philipp Grubauer. It’s believed Grubauer’s asking price was close to the six-year, $6 million per season contract of St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan and The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox believe it’s crucial for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas to find the right partner for Campbell. Cox was scathing in his analysis of Dubas’ seeming unwillingness to adequately address the club’s goaltending.

There won’t be any long-term solutions walking through the door via free agency for the Leafs. I doubt they can win any bidding war for Grubauer. The asking price for Kuemper could be a first-round pick but they’ve go just three picks (including their first) in next year’s draft. Acquiring Fleury or Lehner could also cost them a valuable asset.

CAPITALS NOT SHOPPING KUZNETSOV?

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber reports the possibility of the Capitals trading Evgeny Kuznetsov appears less certain after GM Brian MacLellan downplayed that notion over the weekend. “We’ve never said we’re trading Kuznetsov,” he said. “I said we were open to discussions on most of our players in the trade market and if it comes up, it comes up and if it doesn’t make sense, same as always.”

The Capitals face a salary-cap crunch and still have to re-sign captain Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. While clearing Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million AAV would address that issue, MacLellan said decisions to clear cap space will be based on how much they need. He also suggested swinging a blockbuster deal similar to those in recent days isn’t necessarily going to be his team’s strategy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Kuznetsov’s disappointing season on and off the ice, MacLellan could be reluctant to part with him because of his previous contributions when he’s on his game. He may have also tested the market and found lukewarm interest in the 29-year-old center.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

This year’s draft is history and the start of free agency is days away. Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton and more in today’s Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WILL EICHEL BE TRADED THIS SUMMER?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams continues to field calls from teams interested in acquiring Jack Eichel. He also hasn’t ruled out keeping the 24-year-old center if he doesn’t receive a suitable offer that addresses his club’s needs.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello believes the reason Eichel wasn’t traded this weekend was the Sabres’ asking price remains too high. A league source said Sabres owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel traded to a Western Conference team.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers must resolve Mika Zibanejad’s contract situation one way or the other before turning to Jack Eichel. They cannot afford to carry both.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Brooks believes the Rangers prefer re-signing Zibanejad but the price has to be right. Preliminary talks between Zibanejad’s camp and the Rangers have begun with the 28-year-old center reportedly seeking a deal similar to Eichel’s $10 million annual average value for seven or eight years. The Rangers prefer to keep the term to between five and six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price and Pegula’s supposed desire to ship Eichel to the west could assure he’s still suiting up with the Sabres this fall. At this point, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where a Western Conference club ponies up the equivalent of four first-round picks.

Time isn’t on the Sabres’ side. I’m not doubting Adams’ sincerity when he said he’s fine with Eichel being on the roster next season but his preference is to move him. I don’t blame him for setting a high asking price but he’ll have to lower it if he wants Eichel off the roster before training camp opens in September.

Zibanejad’s a talented center but the Rangers would be crazy to invest $10 million annually on him. He’ll be 29 next April and I don’t think he’d get that much from any club around the league. Maybe they reach an agreement on a five-year deal worth around $8 million. We’ll see. Lots of time for this to play out.

It’s time to start preparing for this to be the summer of Eichel in the rumor mill.

BUSY MARKET FOR GOALIES & DEFENSEMEN?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen believes the goalie market will be intriguing with many teams seeking help between the pipes. The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks could be busy addressing that issue via trades or free agency. So could the Colorado Avalanche if Philipp Grubauer departs as a free agent on July 28.

Trade targets could include Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said Braden Holtby might be available.

Several teams, including the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils will be shopping for defensemen. Pending free-agent blueliners include Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Alexander Edler, David Savard, Alec Martinez, Tyson Barrie and Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reports the Hurricanes are continuing talks with Hamilton’s agent. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said they seemed to be getting closer to an agreement but it would have to be reached before free agency opens on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Larry Brooks reports there could be mutual interest between Hamilton and the New Jersey Devils that could come in the form of a seven-year deal worth around $9 million. That would replace P.K. Subban’s contract when it expires next summer.

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders are among the clubs pursuing Suter, who was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild. Yandle could also be an option for the Bruins if they don’t land Suter.