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.










NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – August 16, 2021

NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – August 16, 2021

Updated salary arbitration schedule including the latest on Kevin Fiala, the Sharks sign William Eklund, plus the latest speculation on the Flames and Oilers in today’s NHL morning headlines and rumors.

CAP FRIENDLY: Only five of 20 cases remain in this summer’s NHL arbitration schedule.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala’s hearing is slated for Aug. 17, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ is set for Aug. 18 and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Dennis Gilbert’s is Aug. 21. Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Travis Sanheim and Calgary Flames rearguard Nikita Zadorov are scheduled for Aug. 26.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports Fiala seeks $6.25 million while the Wild are countering with $4 million. THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo tweeted Fiala chose a one-year contract. If the arbiter awards him that, he’ll be a restricted free agent again next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All cases thus far have been settled without going before an arbiter. The remainder could go the same route.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings avoided arbitration with Adam Erne, reaching an agreement on a two-year, $4.2 million contract.

PUCKPEDIA.COM: The San Jose Sharks signed William Eklund to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old forward was the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with the other 2021 picks signed to entry-level contracts, those deals will slide forward to next season if they play outside the NHL this season. Eklund could get a taste of action with the Sharks if he performs well in training camp. They could also play him in nine NHL games without burning the first year of his contract.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Hailey Salvian was asked if other moves could be in store for the Calgary Flames. She feels they still have some obvious holes on the defense, especially on the right side. They could consider going the trade or free-agent route or look within their system to address that issue.

Asked if the Flames could make a big move, Salvian believes they’re not done and there’s plenty of time remaining in the offseason. They’ve been linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and St. Louis’s Vladimir Tarasenko. She also wondered if they might shop Sean Monahan or perhaps attempt to pry Christian Dvorak away from the Arizona Coyotes.

NHL.COM: Tim Campbell believes the Flames need a reliable backup goaltender for Jacob Markstrom. They must also negotiate a contract extension for winger Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames general manager Brad Treliving acknowledged changes had to be made following his club’s disappointing performance over the past two seasons. So far, he’s lost Mark Giordano in the expansion draft, acquired defenseman Nikita Zadorov, winger Tyler Pitlick and goalie Dan Vladar, and signed Blake Coleman to a six-year deal.

I don’t see the Flames winning the Eichel sweepstakes. Treliving shot down speculation of a Tarasenko-for-Matthew Tkachuk swap. Monahan’s 10-team no-trade clause is a stumbling block in any attempt to move him. Meanwhile, the Coyotes seem reluctant to move Dvorak unless a club is willing to overpay for his services.

Treliving could be keen to make another significant move and he still could pull it off. However, he could be finding suitable deals difficult to come by.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins speculates the Oilers could use a professional tryout offer route as training camp approaches to add an experienced No. 4 defenseman with a right-hand shot. He suggested Michael Stone or Sami Vatanen as possible options.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2021

What’s the latest with the Wild? Could the Penguins trade Marcus Pettersson or shop for a goaltender?  Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON THE WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani recently reported monitoring the trade market is among several items Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin has on his plate this summer. He believes Guerin could get back into the bidding for Jack Eichel if the Buffalo Sabres lower their asking price.

The Wild GM is also expected to keep an eye on the market to fill some holes at forward. If nothing’s available via trade, he could dip in the shrinking free-agent pool. Some available veterans include James Neal, Tomas Tatar, Tyler Bozak and Kyle Palmieri.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo weighed in on Kevin Fiala’s impending salary arbitration. He believes the winger has popped up in trade talks. If he’s not signed for longer than three years it could hurt his trade value. As an example, Russo believes the Sabres wouldn’t be interested in Fiala as part of a trade for Eichel if he’s on a short-term contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin has to be careful how much he invests in his payroll beyond next season. The Parise and Suter buyouts will bite deeply into their cap space from 2022-23 to 2024-25 to the tune of over $42 million total. He has to keep that in mind even if he decides to jump back into the Eichel sweepstakes. It could force him to look for affordable short-term options via free agency to plug holes up front for this season.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reporting there are some clubs with an interest in Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson. However, they’re not enamored with his contract. The 25-year-old Pettersson is earning $4.025 million annually through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski points out absorbing half of Pettersson’s deal won’t help the Penguins over the long term. While they’d get some short-term savings, the dead cap space of $3 million (including last year’s buyout of Jack Johnson) over the next four years isn’t the way the Penguins should go.

In other words, Pettersson’s not going anywhere in the foreseeable future unless the Penguins can find a club to take his full contract off their hands without taking much salary back in return.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: On Tuesday, Mike DeFabo reported Penguins president of hockey operations, Brian Burke, claimed his club is happy with their goaltending. “Do we want to have a solution with a more experienced guy if we hit a rut? The answer is maybe,” said Burke, adding the caveat, “Depending on the cost.”

DeFabo reports the cost involved in signing starting goalies this summer was much higher than Penguins starter Tristan Jarry’s $3.5 million. Burke and general manager Ron Hextall examined Jarry’s full body of work and decided to put their limited salary-cap space into addressing other roster needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jarry’s struggles in the 2021 playoffs sparked considerable speculation the Penguins would seek a replacement via trade or free agency. Their limited cap space, however, kept them from bidding on this summer’s best free-agent options. There’s not much available in the trade market right now.

That explains why they’ve changed goalie coaches this week. They want to work with Jarry and improve his performance.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

Kevin Fiala and Travis Sanheim headed to club-selected arbitration, an update on Igor Shesterkin’s contract talks, the Avalanche sign Ryan Murray, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim are being taken to salary arbitration by their respective teams. Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between August 11-26.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As when a player files for arbitration, the players and teams in these cases can continue to work toward new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings. In most instances, the arbitration date is used as a deadline to working out a new deal, avoiding negotiations dragging on for weeks.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Igor Shesterkin’s decision not to file for salary arbitration suggests he and the New York Rangers are making progress toward a new contract. The 25-year-old goaltender is two years away from qualifying for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker indicated Rangers general manager Chris Drury could attempt to sign Shesterkin to a cost-effective four-to-six year deal. Shesterkin is projected to cost between $5 million and $6 million annually. She speculates a new deal for the netminder could come in closer to $5.75 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s signing shrinks an already shallow pool of decent free-agent talent.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL and the International Olympic Committee failed to secure an expanded media rights agreement for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, the league still intends to send players to those Games. Talks are reportedly ongoing between the league, IOC, NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The NHL apparently lost leverage for a bigger media rights deal when it left NBC, which hosts the Winter Olympics, to sign new broadcasting agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports.

THE MERCURY NEWS: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s probe into gambling allegations leveled at Evander Kane will be done before the start of training camp next month. Kane’s estranged wife took to social media accusing the 30-year-old San Jose Sharks winger of betting on NHL games, including throwing games to win money.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to publicly release the findings of its investigation into sexual assault allegations against the team’s former video coach. The investigation has been ongoing since June.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.

A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.