NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray remains on top of Frank Seravalli’s trade-bait board, followed by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Seravalli reports the Penguins are looking at an internal salary cap of $75 million. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to free up cap space to “dip a toe” into the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins have $75.3 million invested in 20 players following yesterday’s trade of Patric Hornqvist to Florida for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. If they trade Murray it could be for draft picks or prospects. They also have eight blueliners under NHL contracts. One of them could be moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is No. 10 on Seravalli’s list, but everything I’ve read and heard out of Pittsburgh suggests he’s staying put. He’s got an 18-team trade list but also carries a no-movement clause, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft. That could be a sticking point if the Penguins shop him.

Regarding Dumba, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger believes the Wild could set a high asking price. GM Bill Guerin would love to land a first- or second-line center but could be willing to accept a “softer deal” of a high first-round pick and a good young NHL roster player. He points out they can hold onto Dumba until their price is met.

Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets could also attempt to move out Alex Wennberg or Markus Nutivaara to clear space to re-sign Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The latter, of course, is the priority. The Jackets could shop Anderson if contract talks stall.

Ekman-Larsson is among several Coyotes (Phil Kessel at No 6 and Darcy Kuemper at No. 12) on Seravalli’s list who could become cost-cutting candidates, along with Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Ekman-Larsson, however, has a full no-movement clause and controls his fate. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reported Hjalmarsson currently doesn’t intend to waive his NMC.

Laine’s appearance on the trade-bait list prompted criticism suggesting TSN put him there as clickbait. Seravalli’s colleagues Dreger and Pierre LeBrun dispute this, with Dreger claiming Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is listening on Laine. However, he indicated there hasn’t been a lot of action, perhaps in part over economics going forward or the cost of re-signing him before he becomes arbitration-eligible next summer.

LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets has some interest in Laine while the Carolina Hurricanes had a brief conversation with the Jets that didn’t go far. The Montreal Canadiens could use a scorer like Laine but LeBrun said they currently don’t intend to get into the Laine sweepstakes.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, the Ottawa Senators two first-round picks, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are also among the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli has Palmieri on that list because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. So far, there’s no indication of what the Devils intend to do with him.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion could listen to offers on those picks. If he moves a first-rounder it’ll likely be the one he got from the Islanders (28th overall) in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. Fleury’s a goner if the Golden Knights re-sign Robin Lehner.

Wild winger Ryan Donato, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome also make the cut between spots 11 and 16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Donato ($1.9 million for one season) would be a cost-cutting candidate. So would Boychuk for the cap-strapped Isles, who has an eight-team trade list as well as an annual average value of $6 million.

LeBrun believes a club could be interested in acquiring Pietrangelo’s rights because re-signing him for eight years would give them a favorable annual average value. DeAngelo and Strome are both RFAs with arbitration rights. One of them could be traded if the Rangers can’t find a way to shed Henrik Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit for next season.

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, and Canadiens center Max Domi fill spots 17 through 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes acquired Skjei at the trade deadline and recently shipped out Joel Edmundson. They could use a scorer or an experienced starting goalie, but I suspect they’d find other options than moving Skjei.

The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. With Johnson carrying a full no-trade clause, Killorn and his 16-team no-trade list seem the most likely to go.

Domi is an RFA with arbitration rights who spent time on the fourth line during the playoffs. He could be moved for a scoring winger if the Habs are comfortable with young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson are in spots 21 through 25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could move Johnsson in a package deal for a defenseman or in a cost-cutting move to clear cap room to sign a blueliner in free agency. The rise of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi has some pundits wondering about Danault’s future, but I don’t believe the Habs intend to move him. He’s a UFA next summer but it’s best to keep him around in case Suzuki or Kotkaniemi struggle next season.

Montour is an RFA with arbitration rights and he could be moved for a forward. There was talk of the Oilers shopping Larsson for a top-six right winger but that’s died down of late.

Philadephia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak and Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton round out the list. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson are also there but this listing was published before they were traded for each other yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s struggles this season made him a frequent subject of trade chatter. Bozak could be shopped if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo. Hamilton is a UFA next summer but the Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with him.

In other trade-rumor nuggets, Seravalli believes it’s a poorly-kept secret the Vegas Golden Knights could pursue Pietrangelo via free agency but he wonders how they can afford him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They can’t unless they forget about re-signing Robin Lehner or find a way to shed a lot of salary. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. Even moving Fleury’s $7-million AAV won’t leave enough for Pietrangelo and Lehner, who could cost a combined $15 million to sign.

Seravalli also reports many are wondering if Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the trade value of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has a year remaining on his contract at $7 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney must find a suitable replacement for Rask if he’s going down that road, especially if he still feels the Bruins championship window remains open. Rask has a 15-team trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

The latest on the Penguins, Coyotes, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is going to make significant moves in the coming weeks, though the pressure from team executives may have relented a bit since their qualifying-round elimination over a month ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

It’s only a matter of time until goaltender Matt Murray is moved. They’d love to get a first-round pick in return but so far there are no takers. Given their cap issues, they could be fine with a return of draft picks and prospects for Murray. Yohe also expects another salaried player could be moved.

Yohe would be surprised if defenseman Kris Letang is traded. He doesn’t rule out recently re-signed Jared McCann getting traded but feels they’d like to keep him as a third-line center. He also said adding a right-hand defenseman is high on the Penguins’ wish list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe recently suggested Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey and Philadelphia’s Justin Braun as possible right-shot free-agent defense targets for the Penguins. Depending on how much cap space Rutherford frees up, Hainsey or Braun would be his most affordable options.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Madden wouldn’t be surprised if McCann gets traded. He points out the center’s new two-year contract ($2.94 million AAV) could make him easier to move.

COYOTES

TSN: Travis Yost believes teams interested in acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson should be aware of the decline in his production since 2015-16. While he feels the Arizona Coyotes captain is still a good player who could be very good in the right situation, the 29-year-old defenseman is on the wrong side of the aging curve carrying a big contract ($8.25 million AAV) through 2026-27.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER.COM: Craig Morgan cites league sources say Arizona Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson will not waive his no-movement clause for the final year of his contract. He wants to spend the season in Arizona for family reasons that likely center around his two sons. Morgan doubts the Coyotes will buy him out because the savings would be nominal and he’s already received half of his $4 million in actual salary in signing bonus money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ekman-Larsson trade chatter emerged weeks before their recent hiring of Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. He could prefer hanging onto Ekman-Larsson in hopes his performance improves as the roster does. If ownership insists on dumping salary, Armstrong could see what the trade market is like for his captain. The decline in his stats plus his hefty contract (with a full no-movement clause) could dampen his trade value.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently listed Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Pat Maroon and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as bargain free-agent options for the Nashville Predators. He also suggested they could re-sign winger Craig Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have $73.3 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Unless GM David Poile sheds some salary, they won’t be major players in the UFA market. The best they’ll get is bargain signings like those suggested by Vingan. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring back Smith.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

The latest on the Oilers, Kings, and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill

OILERS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently examined several potential trade targets for the Oilers. He suggested Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper would be an attractive option given his salary-cap hit ($4.5 million) for the next two years and solid save percentages (.920 or higher) over the last three years.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins expects the Oilers focus will be on their goaltending rather than on defense or a third-line center. He notes speculation suggests Darcy Kuemper could be available but feels he’ll go to a goalie-poor club with draft picks to spend like the Calgary Flames. He also considers Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract is too expensive.

Leavins argues for upgrading Mikko Koskinen’s goalie partner rather than seeking a true starter. He points out Koskinen’s save percentage (.917) is similar to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and comparable to Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (.919) and Vegas’ Robin Lehner (.921). Re-signing Mike Smith to a one-year, $1-million deal would make sense if Smith accepts playing 20-25 games per year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly reports the Oilers have $70.9 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They seemingly lack the cap room to bring in an established starter, but recent rumors indicate they had talks with the Penguins about Matt Murray but balked at parting with a first-round pick. Maybe Oilers general manager Ken Holland attempts a dollar-for-dollar deal to add a goalie or dumps salary in a separate trade.

Kuemper would be a solid addition if Holland seeks a reliable starter, but I agree with Leavins that he could end up with a club that has the tradeable assets to tempt the Coyotes if they’re looking to rebuild. That would be draft picks, prospects or young NHL-ready players.

If Holland’s going to upgrade Koskinen’s partner he should pass on Smith. There should be better options available in what’s expected to be a flooded goalie market. Dallas’ Anton Khudobin is due to become a UFA but his playoff heroics will price him out of the Oilers’ range. The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.913) could be an option.

Leavins colleague David Staples looks into whether it would be worthwhile for the Oilers to pursue Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. While he considers the Coyotes captain a very good defenseman, his stats indicate he’s not an elite one. He doubts the Oilers can afford Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value plus he could be unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to come to Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication Holland is interested in Ekman-Larsson. I daresay those points raised by Staples ensures the blueliner won’t be coming to Edmonton anytime soon.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell also suggested Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk would be an attractive trade option for the Connor McDavid line. DeBrusk is a restricted free agent and could cost around $5 million annually to sign. The Bruins asking price could be prospects and draft picks, though Mitchell suggests the Oilers’ first-round pick might come into play.

Mitchell’s colleague Jonathan Willis believes the Oilers won’t get fair value in any trade involving Jesse Puljujarvi. While some observers suggest swapping the winger for another underachieving young player, Willis believes that could be simply exchanging one problem for another. He suggests they follow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s example with Jonathan Drouin and hope Puljujarvi can build up his value if he returns to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins don’t re-sign Torey Krug they’ll have the cap room to re-sign DeBrusk, though that could go off the rails if the winger seeks more than they’re willing to pay. I think they intend to re-sign DeBrusk and remain patient with him. He’s only 23 and was on pace to exceed 20 goals for the second straight year and 40 points for the third straight year before COVID-19 prematurely ended the regular season.

I agree with Willis’ take on Puljujarvi. Shipping him out for another struggling youngster doesn’t guarantee improvement. Best to bring him back and give him an opportunity to build up his game.

KINGS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman doesn’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to pursue any big-name talent via free agency. If they do look toward the UFA market it could be for affordable options. Oilers winger Tyler Ennis, Nashville Predators winger Craig Smith, and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon were among Dillman’s suggested targets.

Dillman also pointed out the Kings carry over $19 million in salary-cap space, putting them in a good position to acquire a player from a cap-strapped club who can provide immediate help if they’re willing to part with draft picks and prospects. Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and fellow Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson could be available. The St. Louis Blues could look to move winger Jaden Schwartz to clear cap room to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before COVID-19 flattened the salary cap it was expected Kings GM Rob Blake would wait until next summer before getting into the UFA market as the 2021 pool of free-agent talent is deeper than this year’s. We don’t know if the current economic landscape has changed his mind.

Dillman isn’t saying Blake will pursue a big-name player via trades or free agency. She’s simply looking at possible moves if the Kings GM were inclined to get involved. Blake could make a move or two but I’ll be surprised if he makes a big splash in this year’s trade or free-agent markets. He could stick with his plan of rebuilding with youth but I see him adding a reasonable price veteran or two.

CAPITALS

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan wonders if the Washington Capitals need to trade a defenseman. If they re-sign Brenden Dillon they’ll be overloaded with left-shot blueliners as they’ll also have Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny and Jonas Siegenthaler, as well as prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev. He speculates that could leave one of them expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon whether Dillon re-signs. Even then, there’s no rush to ship out one of those blueliners. If they do I suspect it would be Kempny or Siegenthaler.










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Arizona Coyotes

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Arizona Coyotes










NHL Trade Market Returning to Life

NHL Trade Market Returning to Life