Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.

They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.

Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.

If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.

Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.

The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.

TIDBITS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” SATURDAY SEGMENT

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.

The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.

Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.

Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2022

Could the Canucks attempt to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Are they laying the groundwork for a potential offer sheet? Could Ducks winger Max Comtois hit the trade block this summer? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

DAILY HIVE: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Vancouver Canucks could attempt to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson. During a recent interview with CHEK TV’s Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal, Friedman said he anticipated the Canucks will be “a very aggressive team” in the offseason. He thinks they’ve looked around to see if there’s a market for the 30-year-old defenseman.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ previous management acquired Ekman-Larsson last summer. Daily Hive’s Rob Williams pointed out the blueliner played well defensively this season, sitting second among the Canucks in ice time. However, his 29 points were his lowest during a full 82-game schedule.

Williams also noted that moving Ekman-Larsson’s contract could be a herculean task. The Canucks carry $7.26 million of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit with the Arizona Coyotes picking up the rest.

Ekman-Larsson is signed through 2026-27 and still carries a full no-movement clause. Even if he agreed to waive that clause to go to a club of his choosing, his cap hit and the remaining term of his contract will be tough to move with the salary cap rising by only $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23.

I’m not saying it can’t happen. However, it will take some salesmanship on the part of Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin and president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford to pull it off.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek recently suggested the Canucks could also be laying the groundwork for a potential offer sheet this summer. He pointed out the Canucks got back their own third-round draft pick in this year’s draft from the Ottawa Senators in the Travis Hamonic trade.

Marek pointed out that successfully signing a restricted free agent to an offer sheet this summer worth between $4.1 million and $6.1 million would require giving up their own first and third rounders as compensation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marek said he’s not sure if the Canucks will play the offer sheet game this summer but commended them on “getting as many weapons together as possible.” Going that route would also mean shedding some salary, which might in part explain the Ekman-Larsson speculation.

This could be worth monitoring when the free-agent market opens on July 13. Offer sheets are rare and only two players in the salary-cap era (the latest being Jesperi Kotkaniemi) have been successfully signed away. Nevertheless, we can’t rule out that possibility if the Canucks can dump some salary beforehand.

WILL COMTOIS BECOME A TRADE CANDIDATE?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently reports Max Comtois’ disappointing season with the Anaheim Ducks saw his name pop up in trade rumors. There was some thought that the 23-year-old winger might benefit from a change of scenery.

Comtois, however, hopes to stay put. He lacks a no-trade clause and acknowledged it is up to management to decide. Still, he said he likes the team and hopes to help this rebuilding club succeed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comtois led the low-scoring Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points in last season’s COVID-shortened campaign. He got off to a slow start to this season before being sidelined for six weeks by a hand injury and struggled to regain his form following his return.

New general manager Pat Verbeek could still see Comtois as an important part of his roster rebuild. He’s signed through next season with an affordable $2.037 million cap hit. Still, Verbeek showed his willingness to wheel and deal before the trade deadline. He could consider Comtois as a potential trade chip this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2021

The NHL returns with CBA exemptions to give teams COVID roster relief, several stars lament the decision to withdraw from the 2022 Olympics, plus injury updates and much more in the morning coffee headlines.

NHL COVID NEWS UPDATES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman provided highlights of recent CBA exemptions formalized by the NHL and NHLPA to provide COVID relief to their teams.

Teams will be allowed to add a third goaltender when two regulars aren’t available. There will be an emergency salary-cap exemption allowing clubs to make emergency recalls for teams that cannot dress two goalies, six defensemen or 12 forwards. The recalled player’s cap hit cannot exceed $1 million.

The taxi squad has returned until at least the All-Star break in early February consisting of a maximum of six players who cannot be on the squad longer than 20 days. Players cannot be on it if they were part of an NHL roster on Dec. 22, are waiver-exempt, were on the roster at least 75 percent of regular-season days or played in 16 of a team’s last 20 games through Dec. 22. Goalies who dressed but didn’t play are counted as having played.

TSN: Because of seven NHL teams based in Canada, the league cannot do blanket testing of fully vaccinated, asymptomatic players due to the rules and restrictions set up by the Canadian federal and provincial governments. A lack of widespread booster availability in Canada could also affect efforts by the NHL to make an extra dose part of being considered fully vaccinated.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league could review its COVID protocol after the US Centers for Disease Control reduced its recommended 10-day isolation period to five days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reduction in the isolation period plus the recent CBA changes could reduce the current upheaval affecting the NHL schedule by leading to fewer postponements in the coming weeks. There have also been calls for the league and PA to allow asymptomatic players to continue playing rather than undergo any isolation period but there’s no indication if that’s under serious consideration at the moment.

NHL.COM: Three more games were postponed due to COVID concerns, bringing the full number of postponements to 70. The three games are the Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets and the home-and-home series on Wednesday and Friday between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are trying to avoid any positive COVID tests as their Winter Classic matchup on Jan. 1 with the St. Louis Blues at Target Field draws near.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson described the stress the players are feeling trying to play with COVID lurking in the background. “Over the last two seasons, you kind of get used to it a little bit, but it’s not really about hockey, it’s about mental health,” he said. “It tears you down a little bit thinking about it all the time when you’re supposed to be playing and be good out on the ice.” He added that the players have to try to live with that, while also saying they were fortunate that no one has gotten seriously ill and are vaccinated.

SPORTSNET: Has a daily tracker of the NHL players and head coaches currently in COVID protocol. Among the latest are Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen, Detroit’s Lucas Raymond, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau, Philadelphia’s Ryan Ellis, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, Toronto’s William Nylander and Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer.

MORE REACTION TO NHL WITHDRAWAL FROM 2022 OLYMPICS.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid called for a best-on-best tournament if the 2022 Winter Olympics aren’t pushed ahead by COVID in the same way the Tokyo Summer Games were moved from 2020 to 2021. “We can’t go six, seven, eight years without playing best-on-best,” said McDavid. “I’d like to see something worked out if the Olympics don’t get pushed.”

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL owners don’t like Olympics breaks because they don’t make any money from it. They only agreed to participate to get the players on board with last year’s extension to the collective bargaining agreement. However, they would be amenable to a World Cup of Hockey. That’s an NHL-controlled event staged in September that doesn’t adversely affect the regular season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were the latest NHL stars to express disappointment over the league’s decision to withdraw from the Olympics. Bergeron indicated he would’ve gone as it would’ve been his last opportunity to experience it after having played in 2010 and 2014.

Marchand has never played in an Olympic competition and this year was likely his best chance of doing so. He criticized the decision, claiming the league doesn’t care about the Olympics because they don’t make any money from it. “It’s a business and we’re an asset. Let’s call a spade a spade,” he said.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said he would’ve gone to the Olympics despite the potential consequences of testing positive for COVID while in Beijing. Under Chinese law, anyone testing positive while in the country must quarantine three to five weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players’ frustration is understandable but the league took the necessary action and was within its rights to do so under the CBA. The postponed games brought about by the latest spread of COVID-19 threatened to derail this season. That would’ve significantly affected league revenue, in turn affecting next season’s salary cap, which also would’ve impacted the timetable for the players to repay their hockey-related revenue debt to the owners incurred last year.

IN OTHER NEWS…

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Winger Zach Hyman returns to the Oilers lineup after being sidelined by a shoulder injury since Dec. 11. Meanwhile, goaltender Mike Smith looks ready to return to action for the first time since suffering an ankle injury on Oct. 19.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust took part in full-contact practice yesterday. Rust could return to action later in the week but there’s still no set time for Malkin’s return. Meanwhile, winger Jason Zucker is listed as week-to-week with a nagging lower-body injury.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forward Bradon Tanev will require season-ending ACL surgery after suffering a knee injury on Dec. 18.

TSN: A lawsuit filed against the Chicago Blackhawks for a former high school student who claimed he was sexually assaulted by former video coach Bradley Alrich has been dismissed. Rick Westhead reports the withdrawal of the suit indicates a settlement has been reached.

THE PROVINCE: Former NHL coach Bob McCammon passed away on Dec. 23 at the age of 80. He served two stints as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers (1978-79, 1981-82 to 1983-84), two stints as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers (1985-86, 1995-96 to 1997-98) and was head coach of the Vancouver Canucks from 1987-88 to 1990-91.

DAILY DEMOCRAT: Former NHL player and coach Jim Wiley died Sunday at age 71. He spent five seasons as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks from 1972-73 to 1976-77, finishing with four goals and 14 points in 63 games. He went on to become a minor league coach from 1984-85 to 2007-08, except for one season as head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 1995-96.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the families and friends of both men.










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

The NHL expansion draft begins at 8 pm ET tonight. Check out the latest on Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EXPANSION DRAFT SPECULATION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s an expectation the Seattle Kraken could make an 11th-hour pitch to the Montreal Canadiens to ask their price to not select Carey Price. LeBrun doubts Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will pay it since he and Price agreed the latter would be exposed in the draft.

Will the Seattle Kraken select Carey Price in the expansion draft? (NHL Images)

Price, meanwhile, is slated to be examined in New York on Thursday regarding hip and knee ailments. Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Francis has received the green light from Kraken ownership to select Price if they see fit despite the goalie’s health issues and expensive contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan examined Bergevin’s options to replace Price if he’s selected by the Kraken. Free-agent options could include Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, who began his NHL career in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn officially after 8 pm ET tonight if the Kraken snap-up Price. Doing so would free up $10.5 million in cap space for Bergevin to seek a short-term replacement. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports of rumors the Kraken could select St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and flip him to the Philadelphia Flyers for winger Jakub Voracek and a draft pick. Other reports they could target the  Washington Capitals for center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The New York Rangers have also been mentioned because of Tarasenko’s friendship with Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be very interesting to see if the Kraken would go that route with Tarasenko. They’ll have to get something worthwhile in the return to consider it.

Maybe they’d accept Voracek if they select James van Riemsdyk from the Flyers in the expansion draft. Despite Kuznetsov’s personal baggage, the Kraken could take the chance if they fail to land a quality center in the draft. Perhaps they could pry Pavel Kuchnevich and a draft pick or prospect from the Rangers.

Tarasenko isn’t the only player the Kraken could attempt to flip to another club soon after the draft. NBC Sports Adam Gretz also listed Calgary’s Mark Giordano, New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok, Anaheim’s Adam Henrique and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere as possible trade candidates if selected by the Kraken.

Pierre LeBrun also reported Gabriel Landeskog’s camp had a conversation with the Kraken on Sunday but there’s been nothing further since. Unless things change, he doubts the Kraken will sign the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Darren Dreger reports Francis has had a number of conversations with agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFAs Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson. They could be preliminary discussions. Francis’ window of exclusivity to negotiate with unprotected free agents expires at 10 am ET today.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are locked-in on Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger. He wondered if they’ll also attempt to add Frank Vatrano or if Driedger becomes their pick from the Panthers. They’re also interested in St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. Do they add him now or select Vince Dunn and add the winger later?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kraken don’t sign Landeskog, Driedger, Schwartz, Hamilton or Larsson today they can continue contract discussions with them. It just means they’ll be jockeying with other clubs interested in their services as the start of free agency (July 28) draws nearer.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited a recent report claiming the New Jersey Devils appear interested in moving P.K. Subban. They exposed him in the expansion draft but were also trying to find a taker for the former Norris Trophy winner. Lewis wondered if they can convince the Kraken to take on the final season of Subban’s contract. He carries a $9 million cap hit for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that will become one of those side deals we heard so much about leading up to today’s draft. It could take a significant sweetener to convince the Kraken to do that.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported the Minnesota Wild continues to have discussions with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Jack Eichel. However, the asking price for the 24-year-old center remains very high.

It’s believed Sabres GM Kevin Adams sought all futures from the Wild. That would mean top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy plus two first-round picks. Given Eichel’s $10 million annual average value, the Sabres would have to take back a significant salary from the Wild or find another club to act as a third-party broker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo doesn’t see a clear path for the Wild to acquire Eichel unless the Sabres lower their prices. He’s previously reported GM Bill Guerin is reluctant to burn through his cap space or deplete his prospect pipeline.

Speaking of Eichel, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames are out of the bidding, at least for now. The Wild and Rangers are listed as possibilities.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov received a significant offer from KHL club CSKA Moscow. Guerin is aware of it but he believes they can bridge the cap in contract talks with the 2021 Calder Trophy winner.

LeBrun also reports the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are among the teams believed interested in Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could lose defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the expansion draft. Canadiens captain Shea Weber could miss all of next season (and perhaps more) due to multiple lingering injuries.

Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes continue shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson but his $8.25 million annual cap hit is a tough sell. Perhaps interest will pick up if a team loses a good defenseman in the expansion draft.

Meanwhile, there’s no progress in contract talks between the Coyotes and winger Conor Garland. Several clubs are keeping an eye on the restricted free agent’s situation.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 11, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 11, 2021

An update on the Matthew Tkachuk speculation, the Sharks are reportedly open for business, and a look at possible Coyotes trade bait in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON MATTHEW TKACHUK

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian recently weighed in on the trade speculation swirling about Matthew Tkachuk this summer. One rumor linked the Calgary Flames winger was linked to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

The Flames firmly denied Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary and a return to his hometown of St. Louis. Salvian also cited colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating sources saying the Blues had an interest in Tkachuk but it would take more than Tarasenko to pry him away from the Flames. That’s if Tarasenko would waive his no-trade clause to go to Calgary.

Tkachuk struggled through this season. However, Salvian attributed that performance to a combination of multiple injuries and his inability to train with Gary Roberts in Toronto during the offseason because of the border restrictions related to the pandemic. She anticipates a bounce-back effort by the 23-year-old winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors cited by Salvian would certainly account for Tkachuk’s difficulties throughout this season. Given his previous strong performances and his youth, the Flames would be understandably reluctant to part with him.

Tkachuk’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. Both sides could be waiting to see how this season shakes out before negotiating a long-term deal. He’s entering the third season of a three-year, $21 million contract. He’ll earn $9 million in actual salary this season, which could be what he’ll seek as an annual average value on his next deal.

SHARKS SHOPPING LEBANC

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports multiple sources said the San Jose Sharks are ramping up trade talks with other clubs. Kevin Labanc, Radim Simek and Dylan Gambrell are being dangled as the Sharks seek a “hockey trade” in which they get players in return. They’re also hoping to land draft picks. General manager Doug Wilson wants to upgrade his goaltending and add a third-line center.

Labanc would be their best trade chip in this group. Wilson felt he had 60-point potential but he got bumped out of the top six by head coach Bob Boughner. He tallied 28 points in 55 games this season and netted a career-high 56 points in 2018-19. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.725 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Lebanc’s production could be tied to the change in the Sharks’ system under Boughner. He tallied six points in 10 games for Team USA at this year’s World Championships. Perhaps playing with a deeper club or one with a more offensive style would be better suited to his type of game. His contract could be an issue with the cap remaining flattened for 2021-22.

POTENTIAL COYOTES TRADE BAIT

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recommends teams contact the Arizona Coyotes if they’re seeking a trade or free-agent bargain. He doesn’t anticipate they’ll be in buy mode this summer despite carrying $30 million in cap space due to reported money challenges.

Potential bargains could include restricted free agent winger Conor Garland. A June 23 report by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli indicated not much communication between Garland’s agent and management after they exchanged contract proposals. Center Christian Dvorak was mentioned by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman as a possible trade target. He’s signed for four more years at an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.

Pending UFA options include goaltender Antti Raanta and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers. O’Brien also recommends teams avoid trading for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Phil Kessel, citing cap hit and declining performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Bill Armstrong completed his first season on the job. He could be planning some significant changes after evaluating his club’s performance. We know they’re shopping Ekman-Larsson and it’s believed they could be willing to move Kessel. Finding suitable trade partners, however, could be difficult, especially if the Coyotes aren’t willing to retain salary.

Garland, 25, is completing a two-year, $1.55 million contract. Even if he gets a raise to $4 million annually it would be an affordable signing. The question is whether Armstrong sees Garland as a long-term part of the roster or if he’d prefer building up with younger players. The same applies to Dvorak.