NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2020

Updates on the Blues and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with Blues fans, Tom Timmermann was asked how the club could afford to keep Justin Faulk if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. Doing so would involve freeing up some salary-cap space by trading two well-paid players. Timmermann also suggested Faulk could be exposed in the 2021 NHL expansion draft.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have over $79.4 million invested in 20 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly) with Pietrangelo and blueliner Vince Dunn as their notable free agents to re-sign. There’s been speculation for weeks over which players the Blues could trade (or buy out) to free up cap room for those two, with Tyler Bozak ($5 million annually through 2020-21) and Alexander Steen ($5.75 million through ’20-’21) considered the likely candidates. Bozak has a 10-team no-trade list while Steen’s no-trade expires on Feb. 1.

Maybe Blues general manager Doug Armstrong surprises us by trading Faulk at season’s end after re-signing him last fall to a long-term extension, but that would mean he waives his no-trade clause. It’s assumed Faulk was acquired and re-signed as insurance in case Pietrangelo departs via free agency later this year.

Speaking of Pietrangelo, Timmermann thinks the odds of the Blues captain staying put have slightly increased because he’s unlikely to get a lot of lucrative contract offers if the salary cap remains flat for next season. If Pietrangelo agrees to a short-term deal, the Blues have a better chance of re-signing him. Nevertheless, Timmermann reminds us it only takes one team with lots of cap space to put an end to that.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects Senators GM Pierre Dorion will be working the phones between now and whenever the 2020 NHL Draft is held. With 13 selections, including potentially three in the first round and seven in the first two rounds, Garrioch expects Dorion will use some of those picks to move up or down in the draft order or to acquire NHL players.

TSN analyst Craig Button points out the Senators also have lots of salary-cap space for next season. That will work to their advantage as there will be teams looking to shed salary to become cap compliant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Dorion could use some of those picks and his cap room to bring in one or two good, young NHL players. The Senators have only $41.9 million invested in nine players. 

Much of that cap space will be invested in re-signing RFAs like Connor Brown, Chris Tierney, and Anthony Duclair, and perhaps one or two UFAs like Ron Hainsey or Mark Borowiecki. I doubt they’ll be a cap team, but I do believe they’ll be willing to invest in some NHL talent if it will help them over the long term.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

The Red Wings and Hurricanes pull off upset victories, Sportsnet and NBC Sports make NHL history with all-female broadcast crews, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri carried the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime and the shootout frame. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and three assists. Brayden Point tallied twice for the Lightning (92 points), who sit six points back of the league-leading Boston Bruins. Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury, but Victor Hedman (lower body) missed the game and is listed as day-to-day.

Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha had a four-point performance in a 5-4 upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

Carolina Hurricanes rookie Morgan Geekie scored twice in his NHL debut to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. Justin Williams also scored twice for the Hurricanes (76 points), who surged ahead of the New York Islanders into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The slumping Penguins (84 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve dropped eight of their last 10 contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were playing better when their roster was depleted by injuries. They’re struggling despite a healthier lineup bolstered by recent additions made before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen turned in a 29-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Pietrangelo were the goal scorers. Blues defenseman Justin Faulk missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game with a suspected concussion after being elbowed in the head by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. In the subsequent scrum, Chicago forward Drake Caggiula left the game after injuring his wrist in a fight with the Blues’ Vince Dunn. The Blues (92 points) remain two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, kept pace with the Blues by nipping the San Jose Sharks 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog led the way with a goal and two assists each. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game after being struck in the face with the puck. He was placed in concussion protocol but could return to action on Wednesday.

The red-hot Vegas Golden Knights (84 points) defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 to regain first place in the Pacific Division. Third-period goals by Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault carried Vegas to victory after the Flames overcame a 3-1 deficit. The Flames (79 points) sit third in the Pacific.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was Fiala’s second goal of the game for the Wild (77 points), who moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell each had three points for the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala is blossoming into a star for the Wild this season. He’s their leading scorer with a career-high 54 points and is tied with Zach Parise and Joel Eriksson Ek for second in game-winning goals with four.

Elvis Merzlikins returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets net for the first time since Feb. 24 to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Vancouver Canucks. With 81 points, the Jackets moved into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, while the Canucks (76 points) cling to the second Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are in trouble, winning just three of their last 10 contests. They definitely miss starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who’s been sidelined since late February with a knee injury.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Sportsnet and NBC Sports made NHL history yesterday with all-female broadcast crews calling the Golden Knights-Flames and the Blue-Blackhawks games.

NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry on Saturday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes’ playoff hopes took a hit as leading scorer Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets forward Adam Lowry is expected to return to action tonight after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed Alex Biega to a one-year, $875K contract.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has tentatively finalized April 9 as the date for the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.










NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: St. Louis Blues

NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: St. Louis Blues

 










What Are The Jets’ Options if Dustin Byfuglien Retires?

What Are The Jets’ Options if Dustin Byfuglien Retires?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2019

Updates on Mikko Rantanen, Justin Faulk, and Rasmus Ristolainen in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RANTANEN

TSN: cited The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark reporting “it is understood” the Colorado Avalanche are looking at signing Mikko Rantanen to a six- to eight-year contract worth between $8.4 million and $8.75 million.

How much will it cost the Colorado Avalanche to re-sign winger Mikko Rantanen? (Photo via NHL Images)

On Thursday, Pierre LeBrun reported the Avs made a long-term offer to the 22-year-old winger earlier this month but there’s been little progress since. LeBrun said the Avalanche are unwilling to pay Rantanen a deal comparable to Mitch Marner’s six-year contract ($10.9 million annual average value) with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Some observers wondered if Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen might attempt to sign Rantanen to an offer sheet. LeBrun doubts that will happen. While the Jackets have plenty of cap space, the Avalanche have much more and would easily match it.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW’s Adrian Dater subsequently took to Twitter citing Rantanen’s agent, Mike Liut, calling reports about a possible deal between $8.4 to $8.75 million “inaccurate.”

Dater reports the Rantanen camp seeks around $9.5 million annually. He believes something “like a five-year, $47.5 million offer would close a deal right now. Or, a two-year, $19 million offer would close a deal right now. Or a three-year, $28.5 million offer would close a deal right now.” Beyond five years is harder to nail down.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs could be trying to keep as much long-term cap space open as possible for other significant signings (Gabe Landeskog, Cale Makar, Tyson Jost, Nikita, Zadorov, to name a few) over the next two years. Maybe the two sides will agree to something closer to $9 million than $9.5 million.

Don’t expect anyone to try and offer sheet Rantanen. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $15.6 million in cap space, more than enough to match an offer right now.

FAULK AND RISTOLAINEN

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported it’s widely known Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is available while the Buffalo Sabres are listening to offers for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, who would apparently welcome a change of scenery.

A potential trade that would’ve sent Faulk to the Anaheim Ducks fell through. Sources claim the Ducks checked in with the Sabres on Ristolainen but the asking price was high. Given the Winnipeg Jets’ depleted blueline and uncertainty over Dustin Byfuglien’s future, it would make sense for them to be monitoring Faulk or Ristolainen.

LeBrun also noted the Columbus Blue Jackets could be moving a defenseman in the coming weeks. He speculated left-side blueliner Ryan Murray and right-side rearguard David Savard would attract the most interest. One source recently said the Florida Panthers could be in the market for a left-side shutdown d-man but it’s not an urgent need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the trade speculation swirling around Faulk, he told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti he’s blocking out the rumors and preparing for the upcoming season as a member of the Hurricanes. It could take time to move Faulk but I think he’s aware his days are numbers in Carolina. Much will depend upon whether the Canes can get a decent return and their own blueline depth.

Same goes for Ristolainen. If Bradon Montour’s recent hand injury turns out to be more serious than expected, Ristolainen won’t be going anywhere for a while.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 20, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 20, 2019

Updates on Dustin Byfuglien, Patrik Laine, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Dustin Byfuglien’s decision to take a leave of absence from the Winnipeg Jets isn’t the action of someone who doesn’t intend to play this season. It’s believed the ankle injury that cost him 30 games last season never properly healed and continued to give him problems. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will give Byfuglien as much time as he needs.

Dustin Byfuglien’s leave of absence from the Winnipeg Jets continues to fuel trade speculation (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman notes there’s trade speculation linking the Jets to Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Justin Faulk and Buffalo Sabres rearguard Rasmus Ristolainen. However, if Byfuglien is returning at some point, the Jets must account for his $7.6-million salary-cap hit. That also doesn’t mean they can throw extra cash at restricted free agents Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s colleague Ryan Dixon is among those wondering if the Jets could pursue a top-four defenseman like Faulk. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun also pondered the possibility of the Jets looking at Faulk or Ristolainen.

The off-season departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot depleted the Jets’ defense corps and linked them to Ristolainen earlier this summer. Byfuglien’s absence only heightens that speculation.

Friedman also looked at Laine’s contract impasse with the Jets and how his name is being floated as a trade candidate for a defenseman in the aftermath of the Byfuglien news. However, he considers that a hard trade to win. As for how much Laine seeks on his new contract, Friedman speculates it won’t be under $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s asking price could be much more than $6 million per season. Dixon suggested moving Laine might be worth exploring if it fetches two significant pieces on the blue line. It would also allow them to re-sign Kyle Connor. If Cheveldayoff is exploring that possibility he’s keeping those plans close to the vest. So far, there are no reports suggesting he’s looking into that option.

Friedman believes former Minnesota Wild Paul Fenton wanted to pursue a trade for Mitch Marner during the winger’s contract negotiations with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, it never got far on a contract. Fenton has since been replaced by Bill Guerin while Marner re-signed a six-year deal with the Leafs.

Justin Faulk’s agent hesitated to say a potential trade to the Anaheim Ducks to be completely dead but Friedman thinks it looks that way. It’s believed the Faulk camp sought a new deal worth $6.75 million per season.

Buffalos Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen declined to say if he’s asked for a trade but other NHL clubs assume he has. A recent injury to Brandon Montour, however, could affect the Sabres’ decisions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun reports the Ducks checked into Ristolainen but the Sabres’ asking price was high. While he didn’t indicate what it was, rumors throughout the summer suggest they’d want a top-six winger.

The Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, and Calgary Flames were believed among the clubs looking at Dallas Stars d-man Julius Honka, though the Flames’ interest doesn’t appear recent.

The Vancouver Canucks have four or five players available but Friedman doesn’t believe forward Jake Virtanen is among them.

UPDATES ON RANTANEN AND POINT

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Colorado Avalanche made a long-term contract offer earlier this month to restricted free agent winger Mikko Rantanen. Since then, however, there hasn’t been much movement in negotiations. Rantanen’s agent Mike Liut recently suggested Toronto’s Mitch Marner as a comparable. However, LeBrun said the Avalanche won’t pay him the same as Marner, who’s earning an annual average value of $10.89 million.

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston reports Brayden Point’s agent, Gerry Johansson, said they don’t appear close to signing a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While he indicated talks are ongoing, they’re still a ways apart. The Lightning has around $8.4 million in salary-cap space. Johansson said Point is open to short- and long-term offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected Rantanen will become the Avalanche’s highest-paid player. The question is, how much will his annual cap hit exceed superstar Nathan MacKinnon’s $6.3 million? There was speculation it could come in between $9 – $10 million per season.

As for Point, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois has over $67 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21 with Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, and Erik Cernak becoming restricted free agents next summer. He’ll want to leave as much wiggle room as possible to accommodate those new deals next year.