NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

A number of teams appear interested in Evander Kane plus the latest on the Flames and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TEAMS INTERESTED IN SIGNING EVANDER KANE

TSN: With Evander Kane now an unrestricted free agent following his contract termination with the San Jose Sharks, Pierre LeBrun believes the 30-year-old winger will want to sign a one-year deal for the remainder of the season. It would be for a bargain price as he attempts to prove his worth.

Former San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

LeBrun also indicated Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein, indicated a number of teams have expressed interest in his client. One of those clubs is the Edmonton Oilers but he doesn’t know if that’ll translate into a contract offer. He said it remains to be seen how many of those clubs come back with legitimate offers. LeBrun believes the Kane camp will take their time to evaluate what makes sense.

Meanwhile, LeBrun’s colleague Gord Miller tweeted he’s heard Kane could have a contract with a new team by the end of this week.

CALGARY HERALD: Michael Traikos reports a source close to Kane said the winger wants to play for a championship contender on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to $2 million. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights are among the other teams reportedly interested in Kane’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted Kane’s contract termination and the NHLPA filing a grievance on his behalf in today’s morning coffee headlines.

Despite Kane’s personal baggage and his reputation as a dressing room cancer, he is a proven performer as a power forward. Hence the interest by so many clubs provided they can get him cheap. There were rumors prior to his contract termination of several teams interested in him if the Sharks could find a way to swing a three-team deal to spread around his $7 million annual cap hit.

Some of these clubs, like the Hurricanes and Lightning, have well-respected head coaches who get the best out of their players. Some, like the Golden Knights and Panthers, have a solid leadership core within their rosters who can rein in a teammate’s selfish tendencies.

As Traikos pointed out, some of these clubs (Toronto, Carolina) have taken chances before on players with reputations for underachievement (Alex Galchenyuk, Joshua Ho-Sang) or courting controversy (Tony DeAngelo). For the right price, they could take a calculated gamble on Kane.

The Oilers’ interest, however, has a whiff of desperation given their free-fall in the standings. Goaltending is their primary concern but they could use another scoring winger. Nevertheless, they seem like they’re flailing about for anything at this point that can save their season.

Others, like the Golden Knights, Leafs, Lightning and Panthers, have limited cap space. They could end up having to make a cost-cutting deal to create sufficient cap space to sign Kane.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES AND CANUCKS

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane paused on the idea of the Flames adding Evander Kane and examined the pros and cons of several possible trade options to bolster their offense and improve their blue-line depth.

San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl topped his list, followed by Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux and Seattle Kraken defenseman (and former Flames captain) Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl won’t be available if the Sharks are in playoff contention by the trade deadline. The Flames will have to win a bidding war for his services if he hits the trade block as he’ll generate considerable interest. His three-team no-trade list will significantly narrow the field of potential trade destinations.

Giroux has a full no-movement clause and there’s no indication thus far he’ll be available. That could change by the deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll waive his clause to come to Calgary as a rental forward.

Giordano, meanwhile, could welcome an opportunity to return to the Flames, who reluctantly made him available in last summer’s expansion draft. His agent didn’t dismiss that possibility in a recent interview with Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.

The others on Macfarlane’s list are Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Rust or Fiala going anywhere. Rust is a UFA this summer but I believe the Penguins will hang onto him for the playoffs. Fiala was briefly linked to Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller in November but there hasn’t been any other speculation suggesting the Wild are shopping him. Doesn’t mean they won’t but it seems unlikely right now.

DeBrusk made a trade request over a month ago but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in his services. Chiarot is expected to be available but the asking price could be a first-round pick. Kessel still has an eight-team trade list and could be reluctant about returning to a Canadian team.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites the Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston reporting the Vancouver Canucks are open to the idea of trading backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He has two performance bonuses in his contract totaling $1.5 million that will count against the Canucks cap payroll for 2022-23 if he reaches them. His current cap hit is $1.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC’S Rick Dhaliwal yesterday tweeted the Vancouver Canucks have shown no interest in trying to sign Evander Kane.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2021

Analysis of TSN’s first Trade Bait Board of 2021-22 in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot tops Chris Johnston’s first NHL trade bait board of 2021-22.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A pending unrestricted free agent, Chiarot has frequently surfaced in trade speculation while the Canadiens flounder in the standings. Some observers believe the 30-year-old blueliner could fetch a first-round pick. The Habs aren’t believed to be shopping him but that could happen closer to the March 21 trade deadline.

Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin sits second while Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Ben Bishop inching closer to returning to action, Khudobin is seen as the odd man out in the Stars’ crowded crease. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported last Saturday the Stars talked to the Buffalo Sabres about the 35-year-old netminder. However, their recent acquisition of Malcolm Subban and call-up of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen probably take them out of the trade market for now.

DeBrusk recently requested a trade from the Bruins. Marek’s colleague Elliotte Friedman indicated they’re seeking a defenseman or forward of equal value in return. He also said they’re not in a hurry to move him right now.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano and San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl check in at numbers four and five respectively.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Chiarot, Giordano and Hertl are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. Naming Giordano their captain suggests the Kraken hope to keep him beyond this season. Hertl’s future with the Sharks remains uncertain given how many expensive veterans are already on their roster. Nevertheless, they’re unlikely to part with him this season as long as they remain in playoff contention.

Detroit Red Wings blueliner Nick Leddy and New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov are seventh and eighth on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy is also due to become a UFA next summer. The Wings, however, are off to a good start and are jockeying for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. They could retain Leddy for the rest of the season if they remain in playoff contention.

Kravtsov refused to accept a demotion to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate and returned to Russia in October to await a trade. He is on loan to KHL team Chelyabinsk and cannot return to the NHL this season until the KHL season is completed.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane round out the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala, 25, is on a one-year, $5.1 million contract for this season. He becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. A gifted but streaky scorer, he popped up recently in trade speculation linking the Wild to the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently dismissed the notion of Wild general manager Bill Guerin shopping Fiala just because he’s in a scoring slump, especially while his club is leading their division. That seems even less likely with the Wild now atop the Western Conference.

Reports out of Arizona earlier this season indicated Kessel would prefer a trade and the Coyotes would like to move him. Finding a suitable trade destination, however, will take time. While he’s earning $1 million this season in actual salary, his $6.8 million cap hit is difficult to move at this point in the season.

Kane’s turbulent year has been well-documented. There was a recent report claiming an Eastern Conference club was interested in the 30-year-old winger while the Sharks are believed trying to trade him. Still, his off-ice issues and $7 million cap hit through 2024-25 are significant stumbling blocks that could prove too big to overcome during the regular season.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2021

Does Vladimir Tarasenko still want to be traded? Could the Wild trade Kevin Fiala? What is the latest on Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if Vladimir Tarasenko still wants a trade from the St. Louis Blues. The 29-year-old winger made the request this summer.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Despite rumors suggesting Tarasenko’s had a change of heart, Rutherford cited a source close to the situation saying the winger is standing by his trade request. Regarding Tarasenko’s return to form (16 points in 19 games) improving his trade value, Rutherford said it’s not enough to convince Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to move him before the March trade deadline “or even next summer”.

Rutherford also observed Tarasenko continues to blend well with his teammates. His situation hasn’t become a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that changes if the Blues fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline. For now, there’s little reason for Armstrong to trade him until he gets a worthwhile offer.

Tarasenko’s contract is also a sticking point. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million but earns $9.5 million in actual salary this season and $5.5 million next season. That’s why I think a Tarasenko trade is more likely to take place next summer, as interested clubs would prefer taking on that lesser actual salary.

Rutherford was also asked about what the Blues might do with Marco Scandella. He knows they’re “pretty disappointed” the defenseman hasn’t become the player they thought they were signing. He believes they’ll try to trade Scandella but the remaining two years on his contract ($3.75 million annual cap hit) won’t be easy to move.

EXCERPTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman commented on the latest trade speculation swirling around the Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala. He doesn’t believe GM Bill Guerin will trade the 25-year-old winger just because he’s in a slump. With the Wild on top of the Central Division, Friedman feels Guerin would trade Fiala only for a return that improves his club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala was mentioned as a possible trade chip for the Wild to pry versatile forward J.T. Miller away from the free-falling Vancouver Canucks. Time will tell if anything comes of that. Fiala could get peddled elsewhere or Guerin would remain patient with the winger in the hope he’ll regain his scoring form.

Friedman indicated Evander Kane has been skating in San Jose for the past two weeks. The Sharks are keeping mum on the 30-year-old winger’s status as the end of his 21-game suspension approaches. Friedman theorizes they could send him to the AHL for a few games. He also said the club is willing to retain some of Kane’s salary in a trade but doesn’t see much of a market for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt there’s any market for Kane given his personal baggage and reputation as a dressing room cancer.

Friedman believes the Buffalo Sabres have to be looking for a goaltender with Aaron Dell and Dustin Tokarski struggling and sidelined Craig Anderson’s return date still uncertain. With so many teams still in the playoff picture, he wonders how many of them would make any goalies available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be keeping an eye on the Dallas Stars. They could be forced to shop a goaltender whenever Ben Bishop is finally ready to return to action. That, however, remains up in the air.

With Jake Oettinger playing well, they could also try to move Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby. Khudobin, however, has a four-team no-trade list and the Sabres could be on it. Holtby lacks no-trade protection but he’s also played better than Khudobin.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2021

Could the struggling Canucks trade J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser? Are the Wild interested in one of them? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS ARMY: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating tension is really high among the Vancouver Canucks organization. “Everybody’s looking around at everybody else and saying, ‘okay, we’re waiting for something to happen.’ Is it going to be an executive? Is it going to be a coach or is it going to be a player? Who’s it going to be,” he said.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Friedman also observed there are agents calling the Canucks trying to figure out who’s getting moved if anyone. He also said he’s heard from a couple of teams that saying they can tell the Canucks are trying to be careful to avoid making a move that could hurt them for decades.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the Minnesota Wild have contacted the Canucks expressing interest in J.T. Miller. He speculates the Wild would likely dangle winger Kevin Fiala, who’s on an expiring contract and has managed just three goals this season despite 58 shots.

Fiala could regain his scoring touch with a change of scenery but Kuzma believes the Wild must sweeten the deal if they hope to land Miller. He suggested big winger Jordan Greenway but felt he’d be better suited to a fourth-line role rather than skating alongside Elias Pettersson. He’s also on an expiring contract worth $2.1 million this season, which could be difficult for the cap-strapped Canucks to absorb.

Kuzma thinks a logical ask by the Canucks in any trade would be a high draft pick. They shipped their 2022 second-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason. Kuzma wondered if Fiala and a second-rounder would be enough for Miller or would it take another pick to close the deal. He also suggested the Wild could be just fishing in hope of landing a player who can help them get out of a tough division and make noise in the playoffs.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson reports NHL executives will tell you Brock Boeser has been “out there” since the offseason but the trade talk has heated up in recent days. Simpson wondered if that knowledge might be contributing to the 24-year-old winger’s woeful production of late.

Simpson noted Canucks general manager Jim Benning didn’t rule out the possibility of trades during his media availability last week. It appears there’s interest in Boeser but it won’t be easy finding a trade partner with sufficient cap space and a glut of defensemen. He also cited a source saying Elias Pettersson wouldn’t be happy if Boeser was traded. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are a hot mess and show no sign of significant improvement. Team owner Francesco Aquilini met with Benning last week but apparently, no changes were in the offing as Aquilini intended to remain patient.

The takeaway from that suggests Benning and head coach Travis Green are safe for now. That could mean a shakeup trade could be coming if the Canucks’ fortunes don’t improve soon.

Fiala is a scoring winger but consistency has long been an issue with his production. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. His $5.1 million cap hit this season is comparable to Miller’s $5.25 million and would be a little more affordable than Boeser’s $5.875 million. Greenway is also an RFA with arbitration rights next summer.

If Miller or Boeser are available I would expect Benning will be getting some interest from clubs other than the Wild. Given his uneven trade record, however, Canucks fans will be understandably nervous about his ability to land a solid return for either guy.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2021

What’s the latest on Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks? Do the Blue Jackets still have roster needs to address? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TWINCITIES.COM: John Shipley reports Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin isn’t concerned about the possibility of Kirill Kaprizov signing with KHL team CSKA Moscow. “It’s not my decision, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. Asked of the report of the 24-year-old winger signing a one-year, “eight-figure” deal with the Russian club was true, Guerin said he couldn’t tell if it was true or not.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

While Guerin had nothing new to report on Kaprizov’s contract talks, he believes things are going well. “We still have lots of time. There’s no rush or panic. I’m in constant communication with Kirill’s agent, and we continue to move forward.”

Guerin reached an agreement yesterday with winger Kevin Fiala on a one-year contract. He indicated Kaprizov’s deal will be longer.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Wild have been rebuffed in his attempts to sign Kaprizov to seven- or eight-year contracts in the range of $9 million per season. They’re now willing to discuss a mid-range deal lasting four, five or six years.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz points out a lucrative deal for Kaprizov could complicate efforts to re-sign Fiala to a long-term deal starting next season when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter start eating up a big chunk of cap space over the following three years.

Gretz suggests embracing a rebuild, perhaps by shopping Kaprizov for a big return. While it wouldn’t be the best PR move, he felt it would be the best long-term option. He also recommended shopping Fiala if they’re not sold on the winger. It might also be too cost-prohibitive to retain defenseman Matt Dumba, who’s earning $6 million annually through 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin is calling Kaprizov’s bluff, confident the young forward will return to the Wild. The winger has little leverage except to threaten to return to the KHL. Most observers doubt he’ll follow through. A four-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million seems likely.

Guerin’s bold decision to buy out Parise and Suter will cost the Wild over $12 million in dead cap space in 2022-23, and over $14 million in each of the following two seasons. Big new contracts for Kaprizov and Fiala will make it difficult to re-sign future free agents like Dumba, Cam Talbot, and Jordan Greenway. It will also be tough to add new players over that period.

A rebuild suggested by Gretz seems unlikely at this stage. A lot will depend upon the club’s performance this season, especially with the younger players already on the roster and those who could crack the lineup this season. Affordable youth stepping up could provide Guerin the room to navigate through his difficult salary-cap situation after this season.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti believes the Columbus Blue Jackets need a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a center with Max Domi sidelined until November by offseason shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim in the free-agent market. Right-hand shot blueliners include Jason Demers, Sami Vatanen and Erik Gudbranson. Centers include Eric Staal, Tyler Bozak, Artem Anisimov, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas, though the latter two could already be under contract with the New York Islanders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2021

Juuse Saros and Kevin Fiala among four players to avoid arbitration, Alex Nedeljkovic remains eligible for the Calder Trophy plus an update on Jack Eichel in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

  THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators and goaltender Juuse Saros agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Winger Kevin Fiala inked a one-year deal worth $5.1 million with the Minnesota Wild.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks reached an agreement with winger Alex Nylander on a one-year deal worth just over $874K.

THE DENVER POST: Defenseman Dennis Gilbert signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By re-signing with their respective clubs the four avoided salary arbitration. Only two players – Calgary’s Nikita Zadorov and Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim – are now slated for hearings, both on Aug. 26.

It’s unsurprising that the Predators invested that much in Saros. After all, he took over as their starting goalie from Pekka Rinne last season. Cap Friendly shows them carrying over $12 million in cap space with restricted free agent winger Eeli Tolvanen to sign.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin hoped to sign Fiala to a long-term deal but the two sides couldn’t find common ground. They’ll get another opportunity next summer when the winger once again becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

How much the Wild can pay Fiala beyond this season depends on the cost of signing Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov. That’s when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter start biting deeply into their cap room.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: 2021 Calder Trophy Finalist Alex Nedeljkovic remains eligible for the award this season. That’s because he played less than 25 games last season, in fewer than six games in each of the previous two seasons and doesn’t turn 26 until January.

WGR 550: “Blueshirts Breakaway”, a New York Rangers-based podcast, attempted to pressure the Buffalo Sabres into trading Jack Eichel (preferably to the Rangers) with a billboard near KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The billboard, in Rangers colors, reads, “Aren’t trade requests a pain in the neck? #FreeJack”. It refers to Eichel’s well-publicized standoff with Sabres management and medical staff regarding treatment for a herniated disc in his neck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scene: A headshot of Jack Eichel. Narrator: “Blueshirts Breakaway got their wish but it wasn’t the result they expected.” The camera pulls back revealing Eichel wearing an Anaheim Ducks jersey. Cue end music and credits.