NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Canucks and Blues in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the Maple Leafs haven’t been actively shopping goaltender Frederik Andersen, but it behooves general manager Kyle Dubas to listen to offers. A high number of goalies potentially available via the trade and free-agent markets could affect Dubas’ final decision on Andersen. Koshan expects Andersen will still be a Leaf when next season opens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So do I unless Dubas can find a replacement who’s as good or better than Andersen.

Michael Traikos believes the Leafs shouldn’t waste their time pursuing an expensive defenseman such as St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. Instead, he suggests signing a more affordable physical option like Mark Borowiecki, who’s heading to the free-agent market after several seasons with the Ottawa Senators. While Borowiecki isn’t the right-shot blueliner the Leafs seek, he would add a much-needed element of toughness to their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dubas can’t find that top-pairing right-side rearguard, he might be forced to consider one or two affordable depth alternatives. Someone like Borowiecki could be among those options depending on how much cap space Dubas can free up.

SPORTSNET: Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and Vancouver’s Troy Stecher are among Luke Fox’s list of 15 intriguing blueline trade targets for the Leafs.

Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Brett Pesce, Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, Columbus’ David Savard and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin are also on Fox’s list. The remainder includes Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar and Edmonton’s Adam Larsson and Matt Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Ekblad, Dumba, Parayko and Pesce are available. Ristolainen was rumored to be on the trade block a year ago but Sabres coach Ralph Krueger loves his game so he’s probably off the market. Manson’s a possibility but the Ducks will want a good scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. Ditto the Wild with Brodin and the Blue Jackets with Savard. 

The Coyotes could try to move Hjalmarsson in a cost-cutting deal provided he waives his no-movement clause. The asking price for Ekholm could also be a scoring forward. Stecher is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and could hit the trade block if the Canucks can’t afford to re-sign him.

Larsson, Benning and Murphy have surfaced in offseason trade chatter. The Panthers could cut some payroll but I think they want to re-sign Weegar.

Rory Boylen, meanwhile, wondered if Dubas might flip his recently-acquired first-round pick (15th overall) to upgrade the defense corps, seek out further salary-slicing deals that would involve moving a mid-level contract like Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million), Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million) and Pierre Engvall ($1.2 million), or explore options for Andersen’s replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if Dubas flips that first-rounder in a deal for a top-four defenseman. They want to win right now and already have enough youth on the roster.

CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Tyler Toffoli’s willingness to re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks creates another salary-cap headache for GM Jim Benning. Toffoli, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9, along with goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev. Toffoli earned an annual average value of $4.6 million on his current contract and his next deal could be worth between $5-$6 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Tanev also wants to re-sign with the Canucks. Unless the club can free up some salary-cap space, keeping the 30-year-old defenseman won’t be easy. Benning remains hopeful of re-signing the long-time Canucks blueliner. Johnston urges caution, pointing out a decade of wear-and-tear have taken a tool upon Tanev’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston points out the Canucks have $15 million in cap space. Unless Benning can shed a salary or two, there won’t be enough room to re-sign Markstrom, Toffoli and Tanev. Even then, Tanev would be the odd man out. The combined cost of re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli could be at least $11 million.

Toffoli won’t lack for suitors if he hits the open market. In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz suggests he’d be a good target for the San Jose Sharks.

BLUES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford reported a source claimed the St. Louis Blues offered Alex Pietrangelo a five-year deal worth close to $7 million than $8 million annually. It’s believed the 30-year-old defenseman isn’t happy with the offers he’s received.

It’s believed Pietrangelo could settle for something between $8-$9 million. Rutherford expects negotiations to continue, but sources say if Pietrangelo’s wife wasn’t from St. Louis and they hadn’t started their family there he might’ve already told the Blues he’s moving on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo won’t come down from his asking price the Blues must shed more salary to re-sign him or bid him farewell. Plenty of time remains until the free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 to hammer out an agreement.

Rutherford acknowledged the trade chatter about Vince Dunn, but he believes the Blues want to keep him. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, giving the club control over his contract. Barring a holdout, they could re-sign him for next season between $2.5 – $3 million. Maybe they trade him if they cannot re-sign him beyond 2020-21.

Rutherford also expects the Blues will do everything they can to re-sign winger Jaden Schwartz, but if Pietrangelo re-signs, he could become a cap casualty. He’s got a year left on his contract with an AAV of $5.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford also touched on the possibility of the Blues getting $7.5 million in cap relief next season if Vladimir Tarasenko is on long-term injury reserve throughout the season. He’s projected for reevaluation of his surgically-repaired shoulder in December or January, but could be sidelined longer. Right now, there’s no certainty he’ll be out for the entire season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2020

Exhibition games begin today, there were no positive COVID-19 tests during the final week of training camp, plus the latest on Max Pacioretty, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Exhibition play for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan begins today in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins face off at 4 pm ET, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens at 8 pm ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In Edmonton, the Oilers tangle with the Calgary Flames at 10:30 pm ET at Rogers Place.

Rogers Place in Edmonton (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These could be the most-watched exhibition games in NHL history. It will provide hockey fans a first glimpse of what the upcoming playoff tournament will look like under bubble conditions without fans.

SPORTSNET: The NHL yesterday announced it received no positive COVID-19 tests from the 4,256 tests among over 800 players during the final week of Phase 3 training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a total of two positive tests during Phase 3. That’s still no assurance a COVID-19 outbreak won’t take place during the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s a very promising sign as the 24 teams prepare to face off for Phase 4 under stricter quarantine conditions.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty didn’t travel with his teammates to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s recovering from a minor injury that kept him out of the final week of training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is expected to travel to the Edmonton bubble at a later date. He will undergo a brief quarantine requiring four negative COVID-19 tests before he can rejoin his teammates.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton missed practice in Toronto yesterday. He’s been listed as unfit to participate. Hamilton hasn’t skated since leaving practice on Wednesday in some discomfort.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad returned to the ice on Monday after missing the last three practice sessions. He’ll be held out of Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for precautionary reasons.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase didn’t travel with his teammates to Toronto on Sunday and there’s no indication when he’ll rejoin the club. He missed all of the Bruins’ training camp and remains listed as unfit to play.

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby are among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award honors “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.”

NEW YORK POST: The son of former NHL defenseman Barry Beck was fatally stabbed over the weekend in Binbrook, Ontario. Brock Beck, 20, was pronounced dead in hospital following a confrontation with unidentified suspects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Beck family. Here’s hoping the suspects are quickly captured and feel the full penalty of the law.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2020

Uncertainty over the status of Coyotes GM John Chayka, plus updates on Sidney Crosby, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Torey Krug, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

IS CHAYKA OUT AS COYOTES GM?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a growing sense John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes are headed for a divorce. The Coyotes general manager was not present during a meeting last week between several key members of the club’s ownership group and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall. It has yet to be determined if Chayka will be traveling with the club to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. One source claims his office has been cleaned out.

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting bit of intrigue as the Coyotes prepare for the upcoming qualifying round. Chayka has yet to speak with the media about this situation. We’ll likely learn more about his fate in the coming days. 

Friedman wondered if this might be tied to accusations the Coyotes violated draft-eligible workout rules earlier this year, but he added the NHL denied that was the case. He also mused over whether assistant GM Steve Sullivan might become Chayka’s replacement.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out Chayka has three years remaining on his contract following the tournament, but Coyotes insider Craig Morgan indicates the extension runs through 2023-24. He also noted the two sides seem headed for a split. 

NOTABLE TRAINING CAMP NEWS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidney Crosby got a round of applause from teammates as the Pittsburgh Penguins captain returned to full practice for the first time in nearly a week. League protocols prevented the club from elaborating on Crosby’s absence, but a team source explained he’d been withheld from practice as a precautionary measure as he dealt with a minor ailment.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Defenseman Brent Seabrook won’t be joining his teammates in Edmonton for the Blackhawks’ upcoming qualifying-round series against the Oilers. He attempted to return from two hip surgeries and a shoulder surgery earlier this season but felt he wasn’t fully up to speed. Seabrook intends to spend more time building up his strength for next season’s training camp in the fall.

Goaltender Corey Crawford, however, could be traveling with the team to Edmonton. While he missed the Blackhawks’ entire training camp, he’s reportedly on their roster list. It’s unclear if he’ll be in the lineup for Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blame Seabrook for attempting to return to the lineup. As for Crawford, his addition speaks to the Blackhawks’ lack of skilled depth between the pipes. I doubt he’ll be that effective after missing their training camp following a four-month layoff. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Defenseman Torey Krug admitted the upcoming playoff tournament could be his final Stanley Cup run with the Boston Bruins. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and the flat salary cap for next season could make it difficult for the Bruins to re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins handle this. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $63.5 million invested in 18 players, with Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork among their noteworthy free agents. It could prove a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap constraints.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Defenseman Aaron Ekblad missed his second consecutive Panthers’ practice yesterday. Coach Joel Quenneville couldn’t elaborate as per league protocols but indicated Ekblad had been at their training facility in recent days. He expects the blueliner will be ready for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Ekblad’s dealing with an issue that is not related to COVID-19. Probably a minor injury.

NEW YORK POST: Young Rangers winger K’Andre Miller won’t be joining his teammate for the playoff tournament despite a solid training camp. He’s ineligible because his entry-level contract doesn’t begin until next season. Meanwhile, the Rangers loaned center Lias Andersson to Swedish Hockey League team HV-71 for 2020-21.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Brett Kulak admitted he’d tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month after self-isolating from his teammates when he first experienced symptoms. He’s fully recovered and rejoined the club in practice this week.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers will honor former teammate Colby Cave before their final scrimmage today by wearing his No. 12 on their jerseys. Cave passed away unexpectedly in April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice tribute by the Oilers to Cave and his family. The club will auction off the jerseys at a later date with the proceeds going toward the Colby Cave Memorial fund.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: National sales of Seattle Kraken merchandise is already 50 percent higher than what the Vegas Golden Knights sold in their first 24 hours of making their merchandise available in 2017. The Kraken unveiled their nickname, logo, and jerseys on Thursday.

 










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Florida Panthers

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Florida Panthers

 










What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2020

Latest on the Canadiens and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT COULD BE IN STORE FOR THE CANADIENS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry at last week’s NHL trade deadline. He admitted receiving calls about both players, but never intiated any trade talk.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing Max Domi (Photo via NHL Images).

Bergevin declined to say if he would attempt to extend Tatar or Petry, who are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. He also doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He also shot down a rumor that goaltender Carey Price was unhappy and might want out of Montreal. The Canadiens GM will look into the UFA market this summer, though he acknowledged the difficulty of attracting free agents to the hockey hotbed.

TVA SPORTS: In a recent interview, Bergevin indicated he has no interest in trading a promising youngster like Jesperi Kotkaniemi for a veteran player who would only be with the team for two or three years. He also doesn’t rule out going the offer sheet route again. He made a failed attempt last summer to sign Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer is a crucial one for Bergevin. He must bolster his backup goaltending, the left side of his blueline, and find an impact scorer. He’s got 14 picks in the 2020 NHL draft, 10 of those between rounds two and five. I expect he’ll draw upon some of those picks for trade bait, but I doubt he dangles his first-round pick.

Should the salary cap rise to between $84 million to $88 million as projected, Bergevin will have between $20-$24 million to re-sign Domi and fellow RFA Victor Mete and bring in help via trade or free agency. That’s also sufficient room to make an offer sheet, perhaps one that won’t be so easily matched as the one he signed Sebastian Aho to last summer.

COULD BIG OFF-SEASON CHANGES BE COMING FOR THE PANTHERS?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders what the consequences will be for the Florida Panthers if they miss the playoffs again. Owner Vinny Viola spent more than $100 million to improve the club, including signing Sergei Bobrovsky and Anton Stralman and hiring Joel Quenneville as head coach. Rival general managers suspect the Panthers could break up their core if they fail to reach the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those changes to the core could include captain Aleksander Barkov, winger Jonathan Huberdeau, or defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Of the three, Barkov and Ekblad lack no-trade protection, while Huberdeau has a full no-movement clause.

I realize this sounds extreme, but things simply aren’t working out with the current core. If they decide to shake things up, one of those three could hit the trade block. Mike Matheson also surfaced in trade speculation this season. Like Barkov and Ekblad, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract.