NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2021

Could Nazem Kadri’s latest suspension turn him into an offseason trade candidate? What’s the latest on the Canucks and Senators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD KADRI BECOME AN OFFSEASON TRADE CANDIDATE?

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh yesterday examined the fallout of Nazem Kadri’s then-pending suspension for the Colorado Avalanche lineup during their series with the St. Louis Blues. Kadri received an eight-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their opening-round series.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Baugh pointed out Kadri was traded in 2019 to the Avalanche by the Toronto Maple Leafs following two playoff suspensions. He wondered if the 30-year-old center could face the same fate again this summer.

The Avalanche have two young centers in Tyson Jost and Alex Newhook working their way up the depth chart. They must also shed salary to re-sign core players such as captain Gabriel Landeskog, goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Cale Makar.

Kadri carries a $4.5 million salary-cap hit. Baugh speculates the Avs could explore trade options this summer or leave Kadri unprotected in the expansion draft.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the Avalanche should cut ties with Kadri as soon as possible. He feels whatever value he brings to their lineup is overshadowed by his reckless play and unwillingness to adjust his style.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision, of course, rests with Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic. Whether he sees things the same way as Kadri’s critics among Avs followers remains to be seen.

If Sakic decides Kadri must go he’ll probably go the trade route rather than lose him for nothing in the expansion draft. While the latter is an easy way to shed Kadri’s salary if the Seattle Kraken select him (and I think they would), Sakic would probably want to get something in return for him.

Despite his suspension history, Kadri would still be an enticing commodity in the trade market. His 10-team no-trade clause would be a bit of a sticking point but not insurmountable.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS AND SENATORS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning takes responsibility for his club’s failure to reach the playoffs this season. He also dropped hints as to his offseason plans for the roster.

Contract buyouts are on the table. Johnston listed Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Loui Eriksson and even Jake Virtanen as potential candidates, though the latter’s legal situation could make things murky.

Benning said none of his players have asked for a trade. He also indicated he would be aggressive in the trade and free-agent market in search of more offense.

Johnston noted there’s currently no third-line center as Brandon Sutter is due to become an unrestricted free agent and best-suited for fourth-line work. Benning also feels they need more speed up front and veteran leadership.

Steve Ewen reported Alex Edler hasn’t heard from the team yet but he’d love to remain with the Canucks. The 35-year-old defenseman is due to become a UFA this summer. Sutter also indicated a willingness to return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks production was down this season (2.64 goals per game compared to last season’s 3.21). However, that was due to Elias Pettersson’s season-ending wrist injury in early March and most of the roster being waylaid by a COVID-19 outbreak for nearly three weeks in April.

I believe the Canucks’ biggest need is shoring up their blueline and checking lines. Last season, the Canucks had a goals-against per game of 3.10, their penalty killing percentage was 80.4 and they gave up 33.3 shots-against per game. This year, their goals-against was 3.34, the PK percentage was 79.8 while their shots-against was 33.4.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch noted Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spoke about his club’s roster needs during an interview earlier this week with Bob McCown.

Melnyk is confident his club will re-sign Brady Tkachuk to a contract extension. The 21-year-old winger is completing his entry-level contract. Garrioch recently reported the expectation is Tkachuk will receive a lucrative long-term deal instead of a bridge contract.

The Senators owner also feels his team needs a “good defensive defenseman” and “a veteran-type first-line center” but acknowledged those types of players are easy to come by.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Tkachuk should be the easy part for the Senators. They could be forced to continue building with youth while augmenting their ranks with affordable veteran depth before they’re in a position to address those needs cited by Melnyk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the latest on Patrik Laine, injury updates, waiver news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs got third-period goals by Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Leafs center Auston Matthews’ goal streak ended at eight games but he collected an assist to extend his points streak to 11. Teammate Jake Muzzin collected three assists.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Brad Marchand’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins the New York Rangers 3-2. Marchand extended his points streak to nine. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and spent most of the third period on the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs sit atop the overall standings with 23 points while the Bruins vaulted past the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning into second place with 20 points.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine said he and the coaching staff have moved on after he was benched during their previous game for disrespecting a member of the staff. He and assistant coach Brad Larsen spoke amicably during practice yesterday. While it’s not confirmed Larsen was the coach in question, Portzline feels their discussion spoke volumes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Laine benching, Mikko Koivu’s retirement and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ recent departure have critics of head coach John Tortorella wondering if he’s on thin ice with the Jackets. I don’t believe that’s the case.

Laine admitted he deserved his benching. The now-retired Koivu was an aging center whose limited effectiveness led to his reduced playing time. Dubois requested a trade for reasons not directly tied to Tortorella. I think management and the players still believe in their coach.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson and Ottawa Senators center Artem Anisimov was placed on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt either guy gets claimed. Their play has declined and they’re carrying expensive salary-cap hits. Eriksson is signed through 2021-22 at $6 million annually while Anisimov’s is carrying $4.55 million for this season.

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks-Vegas Golden Knight game for Thursday will proceed as scheduled after Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek was pulled from Tuesday’s contest due to a positive COVID-19 test. Nosek was immediately isolated from his teammates and close contact tracing initiated. The Golden Knights didn’t practice yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers games on Sunday against the New York Rangers has been postponed. The Flyers will be out of commission until Monday when they will resume practicing. Three players – Claude Giroux, Justin Braun and Travis Sanheim – were added to the NHL protocol list earlier this week.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann is sidelined on a week-to-week basis with an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Washington Capitals hired Michael Peca as a player development coach.

NEWSDAY: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced arenas and stadiums in the state can admit up to 10 percent capacity provided they follow appropriate social distancing and masking protocols.










Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 18, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 18, 2020

A look at the notable remaining UFAs plus the latest on the Lightning and Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BARGAINS AVAILABLE IN UFA MARKET

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently examined the best remaining bargains in this year’s NHL unrestricted free agent market. Topping the list is winger Mike Hoffman, prompting Traikos to wonder if it might make sense for the Ottawa Senators to bring him back.

Winger Mike Hoffman remains the best available player in the NHL UFA market (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but given Hoffman’s messy departure from Ottawa over two years ago, I don’t see a reconciliation between the two sides.

Traikos also suggested the Nashville Predators would be a good destination for winter Anthony Duclair because of their need for scoring wingers. He doesn’t rule out Travis Hamonic returning to the Calgary Flames but also thinks a chance to play for his hometown Winnipeg Jets would be a perfect situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky scoring could prompt Predators general manager David Poile to seek a more consistent option. Hamonic could be a fit on the Jets blueline but they’re bumping against the cap ceiling.

Traikos suggested Sami Vatanen could be a perfect stopgap on the Senators blue line until youngsters such as Erik Brannstrom, Jake Sanderson and Lassi Thomson are ready. He also feels winger Corey Perry could attract interest from Stanley Cup contenders, including the Dallas Stars. Speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou could also be a fit with the Senators or the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stars bring back Perry for another season. Vatanen and Athanasiou could be very affordable short-term options for many NHL clubs right now.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith recently examined the Tampa Bay Lightning’s efforts to clear salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents such as Anthony Cirelli and Mikhael Sergachev. It’s clear they’ll have to package Tyler Johnson with a pick or prospect and retain part of his $5 million annual salary-cap hit if they hope to move him in a cost-cutting deal.

Smith also noted rumors of the Lightning approaching Steven Stamkos about a trade. While neither the club or the Stamkos camp is talking about it, their Lightning captain’s full no-movement clause gives him complete control over the situation. Smith cited Pierre LeBrun indicating Stamkos has decided he’s staying put until further notice.

The Lightning are reluctant to move Alex Killorn, in part because of his leadership and affordable contract. They also haven’t approached Yannie Gourde or Braydon Coburn about a trade. Smith believes Ondrej Palat is one player the Bolts would least want to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams are sitting back and playing the waiting game with the Lightning. The Bolts’ need to shed salary gives GM Julien BriseBois little leverage in the current economic conditions. He still has plenty of time to address this situation, but it looks like he’ll have to make a painful move or two and it will involve adding assets to make it happen.

UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes the Vancouver Canucks need to do some salary-cap juggling following their recent acquisition of defenseman Nate Schmidt. They have limited cap space with restricted free agents Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette in need of new contracts. He also believes they need to add an experienced defenseman and a second-line winger. One way to alleviate their cap crunch would be to place Sven Baertschi on waivers and demote him to free up $1 million.

Johnston also doubts the Canucks will find a new home for winger Loui Eriksson and his $6-million annual cap hit. He believes if that were possible it would’ve happened by now. He doesn’t expect Eriksson or Baertschi will be bought out once Virtanen signs.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the Canucks kicked tires on UFA winger Mike Hoffman but adding him is only possible if they can carve out sufficient cap space to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $1.998 million in cap space. Johnston expects the combined contracts for Virtanen and Gaudette will be $4 million, meaning GM Jim Benning still has some cost-cutting to do.

The Canucks could get $3.5 million in wiggle room if oft-injured winger Micheal Ferland starts the season on long-term injury reserve but that likely won’t be determined until the training-camp medicals. Eriksson’s cap hit likely means he’s not going anywhere unless the Canucks buy him out. Brandon Sutter came up in trade rumors but his 15-team no-trade list and $4.37-million cap hit makes him difficult to move.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2020

The latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Jets, Coyotes, Canucks and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered how the cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning will navigate the offseason following their Stanley Cup win. Only three defensemen (Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn) are under contract for next season, with Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak restricted free agents while Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn are among their unrestricted free agents. Center Anthony Cirelli is an RFA due for a big raise.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (NHL Images).

Wyshynski observes the Lightning have $5.3 million in cap space. It’s expected they’ll have to move a veteran forward to free up cap space, with Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual value, no-trade clause) and Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV, modified no-trade) among the trade candidates.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun also mentioned Johnson as a trade candidate as well as center Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million). He points out both could be tough to move because of their full no-trade clauses.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests the Winnipeg Jets attempt to trade for Cirelli. Noting the Lightning’s cap situation, he feels picks and/or prospects could be the return. Failing that, McIntyre suggests attempting to sign Cirelli to an offer sheet worth between $4.2 million and $6.3 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of general managers will be interested in what Lightning GM Julien BriseBois will do to address his cap issue and re-sign Cirelli and Sergachev. Shopping one or two veteran forwards seems the likely play, though that could prove difficult if there isn’t much of a market for them or if interested clubs insist on a sweetener in the deal. Killorn’s lesser cap hit and modified no-trade makes him easier to move than Johnson and Gourde

An offer sheet for Cirelli is possible, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he does, the Bolts can spend over the cap ceiling by 10 percent in the offseason to match the offer, though they must be cap compliant when next season begins.

OILERS INTERESTED IN EKMAN-LARSSON, KUEMPER?

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Edmonton Oilers are among the clubs with interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman carries a hefty contract ($8.25 million AAV through 2026-27, full no-movement clause), making it a difficult transaction for the Oilers. Dreger also adds the Boston Bruins in the mix.

Pierre LeBrun adds the Oilers are looking at goaltenders and believes they’ve spoken to the Coyotes about Darcy Kuemper. He also said they have shown interest in Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek and could keep an eye on Jacob Markstrom’s contract talks with the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples doesn’t see any of those players coming to Edmonton because of the Oilers’ cap constraints. Unless GM Ken Holland intends to dump some salary to make room for one of those players, I agree with Staples’ take.

VIRTANEN ON THE MOVE?

TSN: Darren Dreger suggests the Vancouver Canucks might not have much choice but to trade Jake Virtanen. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but it could cost $3 million annually on a two-year deal. Dreger indicated other teams are interested in Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $14.2 million in cap space but they’re also trying to re-sign Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, which will eat up a big chunk of their available cap payroll. Depending on how those negotiations go, they could be forced to shop Virtanen.

The Canucks could also shed salary to free up additional cap room. The Province’s Steve Ewen reports GM Jim Benning is rumored to be trying to move Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter. He noted Eriksson’s agent said he has permission from Benning to speak with other clubs about brokering a deal, though Ewen speculates that could also require packaging the winger with a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect.

LATEST ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggested possible options for the Senators if they decide to bring in an experienced goaltender. Free-agent targets could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss. Trade options include Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek.

Garrioch also reports the Senators are willing to listen to offers for the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have plenty of goaltending options to choose from and the cap space and trade assets to make it happen. It’ll be interesting to see what route they take.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

A look at Sportnet’s list of possible contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist top Luke Fox’s list of 14 players who might be considered for contract buyouts.

Will the New York Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images)

Buying out Neal would free up $3.83 million if the Oilers need room to go shopping in the trade or free-agent markets. The Rangers, meanwhile, don’t intend to carry three goalies as they did this season, making Lundqvist a possible buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alzner has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million. The Habs have kept him buried in the minors and could afford to do so again for 2020-21. Cap Friendly indicates buying him out would only give them over $666K in cap savings next season, though that increases to $2.66 million in 2021-22.

The first buyout period runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers could wait until the 24-hour second buyout window following the settlement or award on filings by any one of their arbitration-eligible restricted free agents. That would allow some additional time to determine if there’s a trade partner for Lundqvist once the goalie market carousel slows down.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Vancouver Canucks forwards Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi are also on Fox’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks would see substantial savings buying out Maatta, as the annual cap hit over the next four years would be over $680K. I believe the Golden Knights will attempt to trade Fleury if they re-sign Robin Lehner. A buyout could be the option of last resort.

Fox points out an Eriksson buyout wouldn’t provide much cap relief for the Canucks, but they would get $1.7 million in relief by buying out Baertschi. Canucks GM Jim Benning could prefer the trade route for one or both, even if it meant absorbing some salary.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman are other possible buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Turris has four years at $6 million annually on his contract, Ladd has three years with an AAV of $5.5 million, while Abdelkader has three years at $4.25 million annually remaining on his deal.

Because buyouts are at twice the remaining tenure, their respective teams could be reluctant to go that route. The Isles won’t get much immediate cap relief buying out Ladd. Stralman has two years at $5.5 million annually left. A buyout would provide $3 million in cap savings for next season.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, and Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore round out Fox’s list. It was subsequently noted the Ducks informed Backes they’ll keep him for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo and Moore each have three years remaining on their contracts. The Sabres have gone the buyout route in the past so we can’t dismiss the possibility they’ll do it again. However, an Okposo buyout would count as $4 million against their cap for next season and $5 million in 2021-22.