Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Could the Boston Bruins go shopping for a center? Which defenseman could the Islanders pursue in a trade? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported NHL sources confirmed Bruins general manager Don Sweeney remains open to acquiring a center but the trade market has gone stale in recent days. For now, the club intends to use Charlie Coyle as their second-line center after David Krejci announced he’s returning to the Czech Republic to finish his playing career.

Are the Boston Bruins targeting Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak in the trade market? (NHL Images)

Recent speculation suggests Sweeney could use winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Jakub Zboril as trade bait to land a center. The Bruins had serious trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding Christian Dvorak over two weeks ago but those talks hit a stalemate. There’s no indication if DeBrusk and/or Zboril were mentioned in those talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy also noted Sweeney hinted David Krejci could return to the Bruins later this season. However, he’d have to sign before Dec. 15 to avoid passing through waivers. After that, he’d had to sign before the trade deadline but there’s no guarantee he won’t get snapped up by a rival club on the waive wire.

The Bruins are among several clubs linked to Dvorak but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to part with the 25-year-old two-way center. He might accept DeBrusk or Zboril but could want a first-round pick as part of the return. Other clubs could also out-bid the Bruins.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could turn to the trade market to fill the gap on the left side of their defense corps after trading Nick Leddy to Detroit.

He listed Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, Chicago’s Calvin de Haan, Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, Carolina’s Jake Gardiner, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Winnipeg’s Nathan Beaulieu and New Jersey’s Damon Severson as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn avoided salary arbitration with the Kraken by signing a two-year, $8 million contract soon after Staple’s piece was published. It doesn’t appear they intend to part with him. Lindholm could be available but the rebuilding Ducks could seek a couple of quality futures in return.

I don’t see the Blue Jackets parting with Gavrikov as he’s expected to fill the left-side position on their second pairing. Staple indicated Gardiner’s awaiting surgery that could sideline him for several weeks past the start of this season.

Predators GM David Poile is said to be intent on re-signing Ekholm so he’s probably not available. As Staple observed, Fowler would be expensive in both contract and assets. He also has a four-team trade list and the Islanders might not be on it. Staple also acknowledged Severson’s a right-side defenseman, which doesn’t really make him a viable solution.

Beaulieu and de Haan could be available. However, I don’t think either guy can suitably fill that second-pairing role. The Isles might have to be patient and see what develops in the trade market over the course of the season.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2021

The Predators look to make an expansion draft deal with the Kraken plus the latest on Duncan Keith in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited Nashville Predators general manager David Poile appearance on ESPN 102.5 The Game last Thursday saying he’d like to make a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to have a certain player selected. He didn’t indicate which player it would be.

Could the Nashville Predators try to move Matt Duchene to the Seattle Kraken? (NHL Images)

Given their depth in defensemen, Lewis speculates the Predators could go with the eight-skater protection. Trading Vikor Arvidsson last week to the Los Angeles Kings for draft picks gives them one less player to worry about protecting.

One move Poile could have in mind is offering up draft picks to the Kraken to select center Matt Duchene in the expansion draft. Duchene has five more seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8 million. He’s amassed just 55 points in 100 games with the Predators thus far.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes also took note of Poile’s appearance on ESPN 102.5 last week. He focused on the GM’s comment suggesting Arvidsson was ok with being traded to the Kings because he was unhappy with where he was on the Predators.

Estes wondered who else on the Predators might be feeling the same way as Arvidsson did. While the infusion of promising young players replacing sidelined veterans helped to save the Predators’ season, the question was never asked as to why the veterans lacked intensity in the first place. He also wondered if the traits that head coach John Hynes values most in his players (effort, physical play, toughness) might not have meshed with the roster he inherited when he took over midway last season as head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators featured prominently in this season’s rumor mill through February and March. Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg were among the players floated as possible trade candidates by the media. That talk faded away as the Predators staged their impressive second-half turnaround and died out when Poile didn’t become a seller at the trade deadline.

Poile, however, doesn’t intend to stand pat this summer. The Arvidson trade signaled he plans to shake things up. The rise of those young players, such as Eeli Tolvanen and Alexandre Carrier, seems to have emboldened him.

Ekholm and Forsberg are a year away from UFA eligibility. Poile prefers re-signing them but that will depend on what they’re seeking on their next contracts and if they still believe their futures lie in Nashville. If those extension talks get difficult, maybe one of them gets shopped this summer.

Poile will have to come up with some tasty sweeteners to convince the Kraken to take Duchene and his big contract. He might have to absorb some of that $8 million cap hit to get it done.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports there are two northwestern NHL cities (Edmonton and Seattle) that Duncan Keith would waive his no-movement clause for. The 37-year-old defenseman has asked the Chicago Blackhawks to look into a trade that would move him closer to his son in Penticton, B.C.

Leavins believes the Oilers are the front-runners for Keith because they’re far closer to winning than the Kraken and have a stronger supporting cast. He also doubts the Blackhawks want to absorb half of the blueline’s $5.538 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons, suggesting they could be comfortable picking up around 25 percent. However, he feels they’d be more comfortable taking back a contract and buying it out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could welcome a respected veteran like Keith in their dressing room. He wouldn’t be a top-two defenseman but could work on their second pairing.

Getting the dollars to fit appears the sticking point. That could involve the Blackhawks absorbing part of his cap hit, taking back a contract to buy out, or both. Maybe there’s a third team with cap space willing to get involved and pick up part of the cap hit in return for a draft pick or prospect.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

Are offseason changes coming for the Predators? Has Evgeny Kuznetsov played his final game with the Capitals? Are the Senators interested in Flyers captain Claude Giroux? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PREDATORS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes it’s time for the Nashville Predators to start incorporating more young players into their lineup. She also anticipates they’ll prioritize re-signing defenseman Mattias Ekholm if he seeks a long-term extension before his contract expires next summer.

Could the Nashville Predators attempt to trade Matt Duchene this summer? (NHL Images).

Free-agent goaltender Pekka Rinne won’t be back as Juuse Saros has taken over the starter’s job. Kaplan proposed trying to entice the Seattle Kraken into selecting Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene in this summer’s expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Rexrode believes the Predators must figure out where they are and how to get to the next level. Assuming long-time general manager David Poile isn’t asked to leave or doesn’t step down, he’ll have to figure out what to do with Johansen, Duchene and pending free agent Mikael Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attempting to unload overpaid underachievers Johansen and Duchene won’t be easy. Both have several seasons remaining on their respective contracts with each carrying an $8 million annual average value. They lack no-trade protection but those contracts will be tough to move with the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million next season.

Poile will have to get creative to find a way to move one or both. Getting the Kraken to select one of them will mean offering up a sweetener in the form of a draft pick, a top prospect or a good young player. That still might not be enough to get it done. Maybe Poile finds a club will to be a third-party broker by taking on part of the cap hit in return for a pick or prospect.

HAS KUZNETSOV PLAYED HIS FINAL GAME WITH THE CAPITALS?

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir reported Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan addressed the recent trade rumors about Evgeny Kuznetsov during his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday. “We’re always open to trading people if it makes sense,” he said. “If it’s going to make our team better, we’re open to it. “

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan also said they need Kuznetsov to play at his highest ability. If that wasn’t possible, they wouldn’t be a good team and they’ll have to make some other decisions.

The Capitals GM could entertain trade offers for Kuznetsov this summer. Then again, this could be his public way of reminding the center that his tenure in Washington is in jeopardy unless he cleans up his act on and off the ice.

Kuznetsov’s play has declined over the last couple of years. He received a three-game suspension by the league in 2019 for “inappropriate conduct” less than a month following a four-year ban from international competition following a positive test for cocaine. He tested positive twice this year for COVID-19 and was benched for one game earlier this month after he and goalie Ilya Samsonov missed a team function.

Those factors could impede MacLellan’s efforts to trade Kuznetsov. So could his $7.8 million annual average value over the remaining four years of his contract and his 15-team no-trade clause.

ARE THE SENATORS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s speculation among Senators followers over Claude Giroux’s future with the Philadelphia Flyers. He becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. Garrioch considers it doubtful he’ll be traded because of his no-move clause and his desire to stay in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That speculation linking Giroux to the Senators wasn’t generated by media sources. The Athletic’s Ian Mendes recently observed the “Giroux-to-Ottawa” talk that appeared among Senators fans on social media in recent weeks. The Flyers captain spends his offseasons in the Ottawa area but Mendes doubted that would be a factor in his future plans. If Giroux and the Flyers part company, the 33-year-old center will likely want to join a Stanley Cup contender.

Garrioch believes there are other possibilities in the trade and free-agent markets if the Senators decide to bring in an experienced center. His list included Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche, and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

He also mentioned Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doesn’t believe that move makes much sense for the Senators. He also dismissed Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov because of his hefty contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.

The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.

Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.

They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.

Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.

LATEST ON THE KINGS

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.

Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.

They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.

The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.

Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2021

Could the Coyotes trade Phil Kessel or Oliver Ekman-Larsson this summer? Could the Flyers pursue Jack Eichel? What’s the latest on the Stars and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD KESSEL OR EKMAN-LARSSON BE ON THE MOVE THIS SUMMER?

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Arizona Coyotes could trade Phil Kessel now that Rick Tocchet is no longer their head coach. He believes the Coyotes would’ve done that whether Tocchet remained behind the bench or not. The fact he isn’t their coach anymore suggests they want to build around their younger players and could seek a younger coach to grow with them.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Kessel is 33 and is a year away from unrestricted free agent status. If he stays, he could become a rental option for a contending team at the 2022 trade deadline. Trading him could fetch the Coyotes some much-needed draft picks, though he won’t bring in a first-rounder.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan also believes Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong could shop Kessel, speculating the winger could be open to that option. He’s due a $5 million signing bonus on July 1, after which he’s only due $1 million for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes could try moving Kessel before July 1 but interested parties will prefer waiting until after then. He’s coming off a solid bounce-back performance and could be a good fit with a contender seeking experienced scoring depth on the wing.

Kessel still carries an eight-team no-trade list. He has a no-movement clause but that’s to ensure he cannot be demoted to the minors or left exposed in the expansion draft.

Morgan was also asked if the Coyotes could attempt to shop Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s not sure yet if their captain will expand his no-trade list but knowing the front office wants to move him can’t be a comforting thought. They would have to take back a big salary as Ekman-Larsson is due to earn $10.5 million annually in real salary over the next three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but moving Ekman-Larsson could be more difficult than it was last fall when the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks explored that possibility. His performance has declined over the past three seasons. If a swap of expensive contracts isn’t possible, the Coyotes could be forced to absorb part of his cap hit or attempt to get a third team involved in order to find a creative way to make it work.

COULD THE FLYERS PURSUE EICHEL?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Philadelphia Flyers could be busy during the offseason following their disappointing performance this season. He thinks GM Chuck Fletcher is determined to make this offseason count.

LeBrun can see the Flyers looking into Jack Eichel’s situation with the Buffalo Sabres. He also thinks they could reach out to the Nashville Predators to inquire again about Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis. They could also have interest in Seth Jones if the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t able to sign the blueliner to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Flyers have the young pieces necessary to make a big trade. For me, the sticking point is their cap space.

Cap Friendly shows them with over $69 million invested in 17 players. That’s not much room to take on a high-salaried star such as Eichel unless they’re willing to offer up a young player like Travis Konecny ($5.5 million AAV) or Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million) as part of the package. The other option is finding someone to take an expensive veteran such as Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million AAV) or James van Riemsdyk ($7.14 million) off their hands.

I’m not suggesting such moves are impossible. As we’ve seen in recent years, general managers can find creative ways to move players with hefty contracts. Finding a trade partner will to do so, however, is the hard part.

Predators GM David Poile would probably prefer someone taking expensive underachievers like Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene off his hands rather than move Ekholm or Ellis. Jones will attract plenty of interest if he doesn’t sign an extension this summer but Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicated he’ll still keep him for next season.

UPDATES ON THE STARS AND OILERS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Stars GM Jim Nill didn’t dismiss the idea of adding another scoring forward. He feels his club has the cap space to make that move if the right player can be found.

DeFranks estimates the Stars could have between $4 million and $5 million to work with after re-signing key players such as Miro Heiskanen. They could also have more room if the Seattle Kraken select goalie Anton Khudobin in the expansion draft. He wondered if that would be enough to bring in someone like Mike Hoffman, Blake Coleman or Alex Wennberg.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the recent rumors suggesting the Oilers could be close to signing Adam Larsson to a new contract could signal the end of Tyson Barrie’s tenure in Edmonton.

Re-signing Larsson, the presence of Ethan Bear and the potential elevation of Evan Bouchard next season would give the Oilers a shutdown defenseman and two right-side puck-passers for under $7 million combined.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2021

What could the future hold for Predators forward Matt Duchene and defenseman Mattias Ekholm? Could Tyler Bozak re-sign with the Blues? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes Matt Duchene must prove his worth as the Nashville Predators jockey to hang onto the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division. Recently returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury, the 30-year-old winger has not held up his end of his $8 million per season deal.

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene (NHL Images).

Vingan believes Duchene must earn his keep or risk emboldening critics who feel he’s more of a hindrance than a help to the Predators. Trying to move the winger’s hefty contract this summer could prove difficult. He suggested leaving Duchene exposed in this summer’s expansion draft but admitted convincing the Seattle Kraken to select him will take some work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s been a big disappointment for the Predators. He managed 42 points in 66 games last season but only nine points in 26 games this season.

It could take tempting the Kraken with a high draft pick or a top prospect. Even then, the idea of carrying an overpaid 30-something underachiever for five seasons probably won’t be appealing to Seattle general manager Ron Francis.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes reports Mattias Ekholm is happy to still be with the Nashville Predators following weeks of speculation leading up to the recent NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old defenseman was at one point atop TSN’s trade-bait list until the Predators surged in the standings.

No one knows how close Predators GM David Poile came to moving Ekholm. Reports claimed the asking price was a first-round pick, a top prospect and another asset. Poile has suggested Ekholm, who has a year remaining on his contract, isn’t going anywhere, indicating a desire to re-sign the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm’s strong play was a key factor behind the Predators’ rise over the past month into playoff contention. Depending on how much he wants and for how long, a contract extension could be worked out during the offseason. If he’s not resigned, don’t be surprised if his name pops up in next season’s rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas recently reported Tyler Bozak would like to re-sign with the St. Louis Blues. The 35-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent this season. He’s completing a three-year, $15 million contract and was sidelined 21 games this season by concussion issues.

Bozak’s played well centering the Blues’ third line since returning from injury. Whether they can afford to keep him with the salary cap remaining flat is another matter. If they do re-sign him it’ll be a short-term deal for less than his current $5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bozak will have to accept a significant pay cut to stay in St. Louis for another season. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $63.3 million invested in 15 players next season. Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman are also pending UFAs while Vince Dunn, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford are restricted free agents.