NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Travis Hamonic, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO CONTRACT TERMINATION FOR EVANDER KANE

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the San Jose Sharks cannot terminate Evander Kane’s contract due to his 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He cites two sources as saying the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) doesn’t allow them to do so.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he doesn’t believe the league sought to terminate the contract and the NHL Players Association would have fought it.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston and Friedman wondered what happens with Kane once his suspension ends in late November. They agree that a trade is pretty much unlikely right now.

Will he be welcomed back by his teammates or has his behavior since last season irreparable damaged their relationship? If so, will management bury him in the minors or tell him to just stay home? That’s something they’ll have to sort out with Kane once he serves his suspension.

UPDATE ON TRAVIS HAMONIC

TSN: Pierre LeBrun noted the void Travis Hamonic’s absence leaves on the Vancouver Canucks blueline. The 31-year-old defenseman is currently on what the club is calling a temporary leave of absence for personal reasons. They currently intend to stick with the rearguards they have while remaining hopeful Hamonic will return at some point this season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Canucks placed Hamonic on a leave of absence because a suspension is a road no one is willing to travel. He cites sources saying there’s more to this situation than meets the eye, which is why the club is remaining patient

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change, however, if there’s no change in Hamonic’s status and his absence becomes an ongoing issue on the ice.

RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

Elliotte Friedman cites Al Morganti stirring things up last week by suggesting Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux would be happy to play for the Ottawa Senators. There were rumors about the two clubs talking this summer but Friedman looked into it and got multiple denials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of Giroux moving this season, Morganti said the only place he could see him willingly go to was Ottawa, where he resides in the offseason. He was only referring to a hypothetical situation where the Flyers shop Giroux if they’re unable to re-sign him before the March 21 trade deadline. As I noted yesterday, that will depend on whether the Flyers are sellers by that point, if Giroux is willing to waive his full no-movement clause to facilitate a trade, and if the Senators are in a position to acquire a big-name player as a playoff rental.

Keep an eye on the Anaheim Ducks over the course of this season. Ryan Getzlaf, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell are all unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Friedman doesn’t get the sense contract extensions are close in any case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf has a full no-movement clause in his one-year contract. However, he said last season he’d accept a trade if the return would help the Ducks. The others lack his full no-trade protection.

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant personally called winger Vitali Kravtsov hoping to convince him to return. The young winger is back in Russia but several teams say they’ve been told he wants to play somewhere in the NHL where he’ll get a fresh start. He indicated the Rangers seek a high price for the 2018 first-rounder but there’s definite interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate as to what that high price might be. TSN’s Chris Johnston last week speculated it could be a return comparable to what the Rangers got from the Los Angeles Kings (second-round pick) in the Lias Andersson trade. Andersson was another first-round pick who didn’t pan out for the Blueshirts.

The Ottawa Senators will ask real value for Erik Brannstrom from teams calling about him. The 21-year-old defenseman still hasn’t landed a full-time roster spot but the Senators recognize his talent.

Friedman also touched on the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain salary in a Jack Eichel trade and how much Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg is seeking on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman spoke about those during Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast and were duly noted in last Sunday’s NHL Rumor Roundup.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2021

Can the Sharks find a way to move on from Evander Kane? Could the Senators pursue Blackhawks center Dylan Strome? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz wonders if the San Jose Sharks can find a way to get out of the remaining three years on Evander Kane’s contract. The 30-year-old winger’s off-ice problems prompted three NHL investigations in allegations of betting on games, domestic violence and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. The first two couldn’t be substantiated but the league suspended Kane 21 games for the fake card.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

As a group, the Sharks players have moved on from Kane, who wasn’t allowed to join them during training camp or their season-opener on Friday while the investigations were ongoing. Reports also emerged during the offseason suggesting Kane’s relationship with his teammates may be irreparably damaged due to his behavior and flouting of team rules last season.

Kurz is hoping Sharks general manager Doug Wilson can provide some clarity into Kane’s future in the coming days. He considers signing the winger to be the worst move in Wilson’s tenure, suggesting that sort of thing tends to lead to a management housecleaning.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt wonders whether the Sharks might get into the bidding for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel if they can somehow shed the remainder of Kane’s contract. He pointed to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggesting the same thing last Friday before the winger’s suspension was announced.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kurz feels Kane’s use of a fake vaccination card to be a “blatant disregard for the health of his teammates and, in turn, his teammates’ families”. However, that behavior might not be sufficient grounds under the collective bargaining agreement for the Sharks to terminate his contract. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires.

Given Kane’s problems, I don’t see any team trading for him. Even without those issues, his contract would still be difficult to move under the flattened salary cap with so few teams carrying sufficient cap space to take on his $7 million annual average value.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports the Blackhawks don’t seem to be giving Dylan Strome the same opportunity everyone else is getting. The 24-year-old center remains a healthy scratch after the Hawks opened the season with three straight losses. He wonders if Strome will get the opportunity with the Blackhawks or another club.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is still looking around for help with center Colin White sidelined for potentially the season by shoulder surgery and forwards Auston Watson and Clarke Bishop out with ankle injuries.

Garrioch observed the Blackhawks have been trying to trade Dylan Strome. “Ottawa studied this option in the summer, so it feels like that ship has sailed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries and inconsistent play over the last two seasons contributed to a decline in Strome’s production. However, he’s proven he can be productive when healthy and skating alongside talented linemates. Based on Garrioch’s assessment, the Senators aren’t likely to give him that chance.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2021

Lopsided wins by the Blues and Flyers, the three stars of the week, Evander Kane receives a lengthy suspension, Nikita Kucherov could be sidelined longer than expected, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A five-goal outburst in the second period powered the St. Louis Blues over the Arizona Coyotes 7-4. Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists and Klim Kostin also scored twice for the Blues. Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists for the Coyotes. Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich could face supplemental discipline after receiving a match penalty in the first period for headbutting Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse.

Eleven Philadelphia Flyers collected points in their 6-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Derick Brassard led the way with a goal and two assists while Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee and Justin Braun each had a goal and an assist. Carter Hart picked up the win with a 23-save performance.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal lifted the New York Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ilya Shesterkin made 40 saves while Mika Zibanejad also scored for the Rangers. Michael Bunting replied for the Leafs while teammate Auston Matthews was shut out in his season debut as he returned to action from offseason wrist surgery.

The Anaheim Ducks picked up their second win of the season by nipping the Calgary Flames 3-2 in overtime. Jamie Drysdale tallied his first NHL game-winning goal. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists for the Flames.

HEADLINES

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Steven Stamkos are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 17, 2021.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL has suspended San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane without pay for 21 games for violating the league’s COVID protocols by using a fake COVID vaccination card. His salary will not count against the Sharks’ cap payroll during his suspension. The league also announced its concurrent investigation into allegations of domestic abuse by his wife could not be substantiated.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s ongoing off-ice issues are raising questions about his future with the Sharks. He hasn’t skated with the team since the end of last season after mutually agreeing with the club not to participate in training camp while those investigations were ongoing.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov could be sidelined for an extended period by a lower-body injury suffered during Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals. The club is trying to determine the severity of the injury and whether surgery is required.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov missed the entirety of the 2020-21 regular season after undergoing hip surgery last December. It’s unclear if his latest injury is tied to that procedure.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Nathan MacKinnon will be joining his Avalanche teammates in Washington following a negative COVID-19 test yesterday. He’s been sidelined nearly a week after testing positive twice. MacKinnon, who is reportedly asymptomatic and feeling fine, could play in tonight’s game against the Capitals if he has another negative test today.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler entered the league’s COVID protocol yesterday. His status for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild is uncertain.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Mike Hoffman is expected to make his debut with the Canadiens tonight when they face off against the Sharks at the Bell Centre. Hoffman was recovering from an injury suffered during offseason training.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Max Domi will be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a fractured rib.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks announced defenseman Travis Hamonic has been granted a temporary leave of absence for personal reasons. His salary won’t count against their salary-cap payroll during his absence.

TSN: Dallas Stars forward Radek Faksa was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for slashing Ottawa Senators winger Tim Stutzle on Sunday. Stutzle left the game immediately but return to action in the third period.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders forward Matt Martin will make his season debut after recovering from an ankle injury. The Isles also place forward Leo Komarov on waivers.

TSN: Former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk was named the general manager for the Russian Olympic Committee’s men’s hockey team at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Former NHLers Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Fedorov and Evgeni Nabokov will serve as assistant coaches.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

The Golden Knights defeat the Kraken while the Penguins upset the Lightning as the puck drops on the 2021-22 season. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A tie-breaking goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken in the latter’s first-ever NHL regular-season game. Max Pacioretty scored twice and Robin Lehner made 28 saves for Vegas, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Kraken rallied on goals by Ryan Donato (the first in franchise history), Jared McCann and Morgan Geekie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken were expected to have a strong defense but they look shaky while their offense acquitted themselves well in this contest. McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Johanssen and Jamie Oleksiak had entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Monday but were cleared to play in this game.

Kris Letang collected two assists and Tristan Jarry made 26 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Danton Heinen and Brian Boyle scored in their debuts with the Penguins. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli replied for the Lightning, who raised their 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner in a pre-game ceremony.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning were flat throughout this game, outshot 35-28 by a Penguins team skating without scoring stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. The Bolts certainly missed former third-liners Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who departed this summer via expansion draft, free agency and trade.

It was nice seeing Boyle score in his first NHL game since 2019-20. He missed all of last season as an unsigned free agent and earned a spot on the Penguins following a professional tryout offer.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Nick Suzuki to an eight-year, $63 million contract extension. The annual average value is $7.875 million, making him the highest-paid forward on the roster.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers questioned the Canadiens signing Suzuki to such a hefty raise after just two consecutive 41-point performances. Anyone who watched his performance in the 2021 playoffs will understand the rationale behind this contract. The 22-year-old Suzuki blossomed into a reliable first-line center, playing a solid game at both ends of the rink.

Suzuki was scoring at a higher rate last season than in his rookie campaign. His 41 points in 56 games last season prorates to 60 points in an 82-game season. Should he reach or exceed that point total this season he would’ve been in a better position next summer to seek a more lucrative deal. The Canadiens now have Suzuki locked in through what should be his prime playing years at what could prove to be a cost-effective long-term contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens sitting at $84.88 million in projected cap space for 13 players in 2022-23, well above the projected $82 million for next season. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if Shea Weber ends up on permanent long-term injury reserve. Even then, however, they won’t have much cap space to fill out the rest of their roster.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their season-opener tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s reportedly asymptomatic and feeling good. His earliest possible return is Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL announced just four players remain unvaccinated. Nevertheless, MacKinnon’s case shows why the league has implemented strict protocols for this season for even its fully vaccinated players.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (hip injury) was placed on long-term injury. Though he skated yesterday for the first time as he rehabs his injury, he will miss at least the first 10 games of the season. Meanwhile, team captain Alex Ovechkin remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury but took to the ice for the club’s optional skate on Tuesday.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Speaking of Ovechkin and Backstrom, they starred in a new commercial for MassMutual.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a funny commercial with Backstrom in a brief but memorable scene-stealing role.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner left practice yesterday as a precautionary measure following a collision with Wayne Simmonds. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen have missed several recent practices for “maintenance days.” That’s raising some concern over whether they’ll be in the lineup for their season opener on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos took to Twitter reporting the NHL could be leaning toward suspending San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane under supplementary discipline as per Section 18-18a of the CBA. After serving a set number of games he could be cleared to resume his career. Meanwhile, Cap Friendly reports Kane’s $7 million cap hit currently doesn’t count against the Sharks cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is currently under two league investigations regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets named Boone Jenner as their new captain.

WGR 550: Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons will split the captaincy of the Buffalo Sabres this season.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov refused assignment to their AHL affiliate in Hartford and could face suspension. His agent has also been given permission to speak to other teams to facilitate a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kravtsov was projected as a potential third-line winger this season for the Rangers. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $750K contract. He earned a roster spot following a professional tryout offer.

THE ATHLETIC: The NHL set the escrow rate on players’ contracts at 17.2 percent for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is in line with the rates set in the CBA extension last year. The players owe the owners close to $1 billion as a result of the impact of the pandemic upon hockey-related revenue.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2021

Are the Buffalo Sabres finally closing in on a Jack Eichel trade? What’s the latest on Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl, Nick Suzuki and Morgan Rielly? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there could finally be some progress on the Jack Eichel front. Sources told him ongoing discussions between Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and clubs interested in acquiring the 24-year-old center have become more serious in recent days.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Much of that is due to those teams having access to Eichel’s medical records specific to the impasse between the center and the Sabres regarding treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Speculation suggests one of the interested clubs is a West Coast team like the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks though sources from those teams are downplaying their interest. Turning to Eastern clubs, New York Rangers sources say they’re not among them.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported in his latest “32 Thoughts” column there’s a real push to reach a solution because Eichel’s displaced disc can’t be allowed to just sit on the nerve. It’s difficult to determine if he’ll be traded first or gets surgery, returns to health and plays some games for the Sabres to regain his trade value. There’s a growing belief there are clubs willing to allow Eichel to undergo disc replacement surgery but they have to be able to make a trade first.

Appearing Monday on the Jeff Marek Show, Friedman said the Calgary Flames were among the teams that “really tried” to acquire Eichel this summer. He also indicated not once did anyone say to him that Eichel wouldn’t go to Calgary. He also didn’t think the Sabres could swing a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights because the latter didn’t want to part with promising center Peyton Krebs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest sticking point could be whether those teams interested in Eichel want to acquire him first and then allow him to have the disc replacement procedure done. The other will be the Sabres’ asking price. If it remains high, teams will be reluctant to take that chance.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

Regarding the investigation into whether Evander Kane used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, Friedman isn’t sure where this is going to go. However, he isn’t under the impression that transgression could jeopardize the winger’s contract with the San Jose Sharks if proven true.

Speaking of the Sharks, Friedman feels Tomas Hertl could fetch the best return if they decide to bring in new blood.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see how things play out for Kane if that investigation into his COVID card (or the one into allegations of spousal abuse) turns out to be true. For now, the club is reportedly planning to start the season without him while the investigations continue.

As for Hertl, his future in San Jose depends on the Sharks’ performance this season. He’s hinted at a willingness to entertain a hometown discount but he also wants to play for a winner. If the Sharks are out of contention by the March trade deadline, Hertl could be playing elsewhere by then.

Friedman predicts the Montreal Canadiens could attempt to sign center Nick Suzuki to a contract extension sooner rather than later to avoid any more offer-sheet shenanigans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether Suzuki and his agent are willing to sign a new contract before next summer. He’ll be coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. The possibility of an offer sheet would give Suzuki some leverage he otherwise wouldn’t have.

The Toronto Maple Leafs could let the season play out before making a decision on Morgan Rielly. It’s not just about how much it’ll cost to sign him but what else they need to do cap-wise if they sign him. His performance, and theirs, could determine the outcome here. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Leafs and Rielly play well, re-signing him is still going to force them to shed some salary. Cap Friendly shows them with $67.7 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23.

Assuming Rielly accepts a modest raise in his annual average value to $6 million to stay in Toronto, the Leafs won’t have sufficient space to re-sign fellow UFA Jack Campbell, RFA defenseman Rasmus Sandin and still fill out the rest of the roster with quality talent.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

The Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov expected to miss the start of the season, Wild owner discusses his club’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Sharks prepare to start the season without Evander Kane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports an undisclosed injury could sideline New York Islanders starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the upcoming start of the season. It’s uncertain if Varlamov’s condition is tied to a nagging knee injury that hampered him during the 2021 playoffs. His absence would mean Ilya Sorokin becomes the Isles’ start with Cory Schneider as his backup. 

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov wouldn’t be the only noteworthy starter expected to miss the start of this season. Montreal’s Carey Price will also reportedly remain sidelined when the schedule begins next week. Speaking of the Canadiens…

TSN: Habs defenseman Joel Edmundson will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with an undisclosed injury. He’s been day-to-day since training camp opened.

NHL.COM: Bad news for Los Angeles Kings’ Quinton Byfield as the 19-year-old center was diagnosed with a fractured left ankle suffered during Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Arizona Coyotes. He’s been placed on injured reserve and sidelined indefinitely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate setback for Byfield. Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, he was hoping to garner a full-time roster spot with the Kings this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto will miss tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He could have a concussion after suffering the injury during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

THE SCORE: New York Rangers enforcer Ryan Reaves is day-to-day with an injured left leg after his skate was clipped by New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban as they went into the corner chasing a loose puck. Reaves had to be helped off the ice.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold told Michael Russo he supported general manager Bill Guerin’s decision to buy out winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter this summer. However, he expressed no regrets about signing the duo to their 13-year contracts back in 2012.

It totally changed our franchise,” said Leipold. “We went from not selling any tickets and having a future that looked bleak to overnight being a sellout team for the next five, six years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The additions of Parise and Suter didn’t translate into a Stanley Cup for the Wild but Leipold’s right about how much they improved the franchise. Before they joined the Wild, the club reached the playoffs just four times in 11 seasons. With Parise and Suter in the lineup, they qualified for the postseason eight times in nine seasons.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said his club is preparing to start the season without Evander Kane in the lineup. The 30-year-old winger has been out of the lineup while under investigation by the league regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.