NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus updates on the Predators, Sabres, Coyotes, Kings, Red Wings and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley appearing on Andy Strickland and Cam Janssen’s podcast where he said he doesn’t want goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be traded. “He never came close to be part of a deal,” said Foley. “I would’ve had a big problem with it if that had been presented to me.” Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to reacquire Fleury through another team and they thought they were close to a deal.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman indicated if Foley doesn’t want Fleury traded then that’s the end of it. The 36-year-old goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Friedman believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers and management wants to keep him. The biggest challenge is the economic landscape is recovering more slowly than expected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the salary cap is likely to remain at $81.5 million for next season, affecting how much the Oilers can comfortably afford to invest in a long-term extension for Nugent-Hopkins.

Following up on his Saturday report regarding the Nashville Predators’ trade speculation, Friedman said their deep respect for aging goaltender Pekka Rinne means they want him to retire in their uniform. They have no desire to move defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. They’re willing to listen to trade offers but it will be difficult to pry away Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators most likely to be traded are pending unrestricted free agents like Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula or those on affordable contracts (Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok) that expire at the end of 2021-22. They’ll entertain offers for expensive underachievers such as Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen but I doubt there will be much interest in either guy.

The Buffalo Sabres are making Brandon Montour available. The 26-year-old defenseman is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes are looking for a center. They could also be interested in a rental player like Montour or a winger like the Vancouver Canucks’ Tanner Pearson if he becomes available.

Don’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to become buyers if they remain in playoff contention by the trade deadline. General manager Rob Blake intends to stick with his rebuilding plan.

UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS AND FLAMES

TSN: Frank Seravalli believes three Detroit Red Wings – Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening and Marc Staal – could draw attention from rival clubs as the Apr. 12 trade deadline approaches. Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, said the Calgary Flames’ recent slump sparked speculation whether GM Brad Treliving was up to something. However, it seems all’s quiet on the Flames front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Ryan, Staal and Glendening could be playing elsewhere by Apr. 12. As for the Flames, Treliving is remaining patient with his roster but his hand could be forced if they don’t show significant improvement. Complicating things, of course, are the COVID protocols and travel restrictions for any players acquired from American teams.










Jack Eichel’s Future A Hot Topic In The NHL Rumor Roundup

Jack Eichel’s Future A Hot Topic In The NHL Rumor Roundup

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

More Jack Eichel speculation, almost everyone on the Predators could be available in the trade market, and Ethan Bear’s trade value in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Jack Eichel era is heading toward a cliff in Buffalo. The Sabres captain was disgruntled over the club’s direction before last year’s front-office purge, the team isn’t scoring and Larkin expects rival clubs could soon start making trade offers for their franchise player.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel remains a hot topic for trade conjecture (NHL Images).

Larkin cites recent comments by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating Eichel was unhappy over his situation last summer. While he didn’t request a trade, rival teams did make inquiries. Larkin wonders how much more Eichel will endure before he wants out.

Eichel’s no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until after the 2021-22 season, giving the Sabres a window of opportunity to trade him to any team. They would get significant offers because the 24-year-old center is in the prime of his playing career.

Larkin acknowledged the idea of moving Eichel and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall hurts. However, if the Sabres aren’t improving with those two in the lineup it might be best to hit the reset button.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos also wonders if it’s time for the Sabres to trade Eichel. He points to this being the center’s sixth season in the league with a team showing no sign of progress. Traikos pondered the possibility of Eichel following the same path as Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois and ask his agent to request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres shopping Eichel before the trade deadline if they haven’t climbed into playoff contention by then. However, I expect ownership and management will sit down with their captain to discuss the club’s situation and his future in Buffalo.

The Sabres will hang onto Eichel if he’s willing to stay put. If one side or the other believes it’s time to move on, an offseason trade makes the most sense. That’s when teams have more cap space and a willingness to make blockbuster moves.

Possible destinations for Eichel could be rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space to absorb his $10 million annual average value and with sufficient assets to help the Sabres rebuild. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers fall into that category and could be among the suitors.

FEW UNTOUCHABLES AMONG THE PREDATORS.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports word is there are only three untouchables – Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne – on the Nashville Predators. He believes they could be willing to listen to trade offers on almost everyone else, including winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman points out Rinne is among the untouchables because he’s coming to the end of his contract. I doubt there would be much of a market for the 38-year-old goaltender given his fading performance and $5 million annual average value.

Just because the Preds are willing to listen to offers on guys like Forsberg and Fabbro doesn’t mean those players will be traded. Those two are among their better players and I doubt they’ll be moved unless there’s a mind-blowing offer for either guy.

The most obvious trade candidates are pending UFAs such as Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson. Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Cousins could also be available as they each have a year remaining on their contracts with affordable salary-cap hits.

Ekholm has been often mentioned in recent days as perhaps their most desirable trade chip. That would change, of course, if guys like Forsberg and Fabbro are available.

COULD THE OILERS SHOP ETHAN BEAR?

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently observed the notion of the Edmonton Oilers shopping Ethan Bear has been floating around. Willis doubts they will move the 23-year-old defenseman because they lack a proper replacement for him, weakening their blue line. He feels any assessment of Bear as a trade chip only makes it clear how important he is to the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t argue with Willis’ assessment. Sure, the Oilers could use him as a trade chip to address another roster issue but doing so would then leave a hole to be addressed on the defense.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 10, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 10, 2019

Sidney Crosby and Mitch Marner fall to injuries, Lightning sweep their two-game Global Series with the Sabres, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COMThe Pittsburgh Penguins nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout but lost captain Sidney Crosby to a lower-body injury in the third period. The Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to the severity of Crosby’s injury. We could learn more later today.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner suffered an ankle injury during his club’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers blew a 2-0 lead but went on to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on a shootout goal by Sean Couturier. Leafs forward Mitch Marner left the game early in the second period with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs coach Mike Babcock was uncertain over the status of Marner’s injury. An update could come today or tomorrow.

Patrick Maroon tallied two goals and Curtis McElhinney kicked out 40 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 to sweep their two-game Global Series. The Sabres have dropped five straight games.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice as the league-leading Washington Capitals picked up their sixth consecutive win by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2.  John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Jakub Vrana each collected two points for Washington. Capitals winger Carl Hagelin missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Calgary Flames 3-2 on an overtime goal by David Perron. Ryan O’Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo each had two-point nights for the Blues. Flames forward Elias Lindholm had his points streak end at nine games.

Cale Makar scored twice and Pavel Francouz made 39 stops as the Colorado Avalanche doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. The Jackets have dropped six of their last seven games. Team captain Nick Foligno was tossed from the game for an elbow to the head of Avs’ forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who left the game and didn’t return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on how long Bellemare could be sidelined. The Avs are already missing Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer, and Colin Wilson. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov was the latest to join their ranks, listed as week-to-week following surgery to mend a broken jaw.

The New York Islanders extended their points streak to 12 games by edging the Florida Panthers 2-1. They’ve picked up wins in 11 of those contests. Thomas Greiss made 37 saves while Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist. Winger Jordan Eberle returned to the lineup and prevented a Panthers’ goal with a game-turning goal-line save.

Ottawa Senators forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Jean-Gabriel Pageau set a franchise record with second-period goals within four seconds of each other to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. The Hurricanes have dropped four straight contests. They also revealed center Erik Haula (knee injury) could be sidelined longer than anticipated.

Shea Weber scored two first-period goals and Carey Price made 31 saves as the Montreal Canadiens held on for a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The Canadiens have won five of their last seven games. Kings forward Trevor Lewis missed the game with a lower-body injury and will be reassessed on Monday.

The Minnesota Wild tallied three unanswered goals to squeak past the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. Kevin Fiala, Ryan Suter, and Jared Spurgeon had two points each. This was the fourth consecutive time the Coyotes blew a lead and went down to defeat.

Timo Meier scored in the seventh round of a shootout to give the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Tomas Hertl scored the game-tying goal for the Sharks. Filip Forsberg tallied for the Predators.

SPORTSNET: New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will be sidelined at least two weeks following surgery to address an infection in his ankle.










Breakout Candidates in the NHL Central Division

Breakout Candidates in the NHL Central Division