NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2022

More speculation about the Jets plus an update on the Senators’ off-season plans in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JET GM CHEVELDAYOFF FACING A CHALLENGING SUMMER.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe believes how Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff proceeds with Mark Scheifele and Pierre-Luc Dubois will determine the club’s future.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Meeting with the media yesterday, Cheveldayoff said Scheifele, who made eyebrow-raising comments on Sunday about his future in Winnipeg, has not submitted a trade request nor have the two held an exit interview yet. The Jets GM also attempted to diffuse Scheifele’s comments, as well as those of several of his teammates over their frustration and disappointment about the team’s failure to reach the playoffs. He chalked them up to their competitive nature.

Wiebe believes Scheifele would draw plenty of interest if Cheveldayoff were to put the 29-year-old center on the trade block this summer. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $6.125 million.

Dubois, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights completing a two-year, $10 million contract. Cheveldayoff met with the 23-year-old center yesterday and was encouraged by what he heard, though he added the contract negotiations will take time.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes this is a mess of Chevelodayoff’s making. With his new contract, he’s got three years to clean this up, suggesting the number of players making their frustrations public isn’t normal or healthy behavior.

McIntyre claims Scheifele isn’t the only player seeking an exit plan but he’s the only one to say so out loud. While he expects the center is likely a goner this summer, he also believes his frustration is a disturbing trend, citing the recent departures of several Jets including Dustin Byfuglien, Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic, Jacob Trouba and Andrew Copp. He also pointed to head coach Paul Maurice’s unexpected resignation last December.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen called on Cheveldayoff to ship out Scheifele, citing the latter’s comments about the club’s plans and whether he fits within them. He also believes the Jets GM should hire a tough coach who will demand accountability from the players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ woes appear tied to a broken culture within the dressing room that’s been ongoing for some time. Some of those earlier departures McIntyre mentioned could be put down to difficult contract negotiations. Some, like Laine, Roslovic and Trouba, weren’t happy with their roles with the clubs.

At the time Maurice stepped down as head coach, he claimed the team needed a new voice behind the bench. That suggests some of the core players may have been tuning him out while others could share the same concerns that led to some of those aforementioned departures.

Hiring a tougher coach could help provided he earns the players’ respect. As for trading Scheifele, he’s under contract for two more seasons. Cheveldayoff can afford to take his time to evaluate trade offers. Scheifele could return with the Jets next season unless he’s the main reason behind his teammates’ discontent. That could spur the Jets’ general manager to seek a trade sooner rather than later.

LATEST ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said his club won’t spend to the $82.5 million cap next season but they will increase their salary budget. He also indicated he’ll be starting contract talks soon with restricted free agent center Josh Norris. The club has also held contract discussions with defenseman Erik Brannstrom, who shares the same agent with Norris.

Dorion said he would like to bring in a player to help his young talent play meaningful games by the end of next season. That player could be acquired via trade or free agency. Dorion didn’t rule out the possibility of shopping his first-round pick in this year’s draft provided the Senators don’t win next Tuesday’s draft lottery and they remain seventh in the selection order.

Garrioch said it’s no secret the Senators would like to add a top-six right winger to skate alongside center Tim Stutzle. While promising young defenseman Jake Sanderson could become an impact player, they might want to add a little more support around him by acquiring a veteran blueliner.

The Senators could be among the clubs interested in Ottawa native Claude Giroux if he hits the open market this summer. Garrioch reports they’ve also been linked to Kevin Fiala but Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin could find a way to re-sign the pending restricted free agent winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Senators have $59.1 million invested in 14 active roster players for 2022-23 with Norris, Brannstrom and forward Alex Formenton as their notable restricted free agents. Re-signing those three could push their payroll closer to $69 million. They’ll still have room to add a veteran or two but they might be unable to chase someone like Giroux or Fiala if they’re not going to be a cap team next season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2022

Can the Wild find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala? Can the Leafs afford to retain Ilya Mikheyev? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CAN THE WILD AFFORD FIALA?

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Kevin Fiala’s bet on himself last summer by signing a one-year, $5.1 million contract with the Minnesota Wild should pay off handsomely with a new lucrative deal following this season. Whether it’s with the Wild or another club remains to be seen.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala has taken his game to a higher level this season with a career-best performance of 30 goals, 45 assists and 75 points in 76 games. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights and could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually.

The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch for 2022-23 as last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will eat up over $12.7 million in cap space next season, followed by $14.7 million in dead cap space for 2023-24 and 2024-25. It’ll be nearly impossible for the Wild to retain Fiala under those financial constraints.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also believes it’s “damn near impossible to find a way that Fiala won’t be jettisoned this offseason.” Nevertheless, he felt they must find a way or they’ll end up regretting it. Russo suggested trading oft-injured defenseman Matt Dumba, but he’s one of the team’s leaders and is well-regarded by Wild general manager Bill Guerin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Guerin will ship out Dumba, though his $6 million cap hit through next season and 10-team no-trade list will complicate such efforts. Perhaps the Wild GM will surprise us by coming up with something creative to create the necessary cap space to keep Fiala in the fold.

Otherwise, this will be Fiala’s final season with the Wild. They’ll either trade him to a club willing to pay him whatever he wants before the arbitration filing period. Perhaps he’ll do a sign-and-trade to a club willing to take on his new contract. Fiala’s play this season ensures he’ll have considerable value in this summer’s trade market, which should translate into a solid (and affordable) return of promising talent for the Wild.

CAN THE LEAFS AFFORD MIKHEYEV?

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently mused over the potential cost for the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Ilya Mikheyev. A versatile hard-working forward, the 27-year-old can hang among the top six or boost the bottom six of a contender. He has 18 goals and 28 points in 48 games this season.

Mikheyev is completing a two-year contract with a $1.645 million annual cap hit and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Fox speculates he could get between $4 million and $5 million annually on the open market.

Despite making a trade request last summer, Mikheyev’s agent said his client was more frustrated with his own play and wasn’t unhappy with the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Mikheyev’s willing to accept under $4 million to remain in Toronto, it’s unlikely he’ll be back with the Leafs next season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $73 million tied up in 15 active players for next season with goaltender Jack Campbell also eligible for UFA status and RFA defenseman Rasmus Sandin due for a raise coming out of his entry-level deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, more speculation linking Claude Giroux to the Senators, questions about possible offseason moves by the Red Wings and Lars Eller’s future with the Capitals.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Ian Mendes was asked if Kevin Fiala or Claude Giroux would be easier for the Ottawa Senators to obtain in the offseason. He believes it could be Giroux, as the Florida Panthers forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent whereas the Minnesota Wild winger is a restricted free agent.

Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux (NHL Images)

Mendes noted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the 34-year-old Giroux is doing some homework on the Senators and their situation in Ottawa. If the former Flyers captain can win a Stanley Cup with the Panthers, it could nudge him toward signing with his hometown club.

Fiala, meanwhile, would prove expensive to acquire via trade and to sign as he also has arbitration rights and is in line for a significant raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The uncertainty over the Senators’ ownership situation following the recent death of Eugene Melnyk could affect the club’s efforts to attract free-agent talent. No one knows yet whether Melnyk’s heirs will maintain control of the franchise or sell to another ownership group willing to keep the club in Ottawa.

As for Giroux, I don’t rule out the possibility of him coming home to Ottawa. Nevertheless, it’s not a certainty that’s what he wants to do or that the Senators would be interested in signing him. If the Panthers fail to win the Cup and they’re unable to re-sign Giroux, he could opt to sign with a contender for next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman was recently asked by a reader if the entire Detroit Red Wings core had to be remade (except for Moritz Seider). He suggested Filip Hronek could be a good trade candidate if management wanted to shake things up and get a solid return. However, he could prove difficult to replace, making it more worthwhile to keep the 24-year-old defenseman unless someone’s willing to make a big offer for him.

Asked about the future of winger Filip Zadina, Bultman suggested a possible coaching change by the Wings could factor into their decision to keep or trade him. Ultimately, it comes down to their evaluation of the former first-round pick and whether they feel they’ve done all they can to tap into his potential.

Bultman also doesn’t expect Wings general manager Steve Yzerman to pursue a big-ticket UFA such as John Klingberg this summer. A good second-line center option via free agency could be Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck, who wouldn’t break the bank or be a signing that goes over five years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. He’s been building patiently with promising youth over the past three years. Nevertheless, the Wings are at a point where he could attempt to accelerate the process via trade or free agency. Then again, he could also decide a coaching change would be more beneficial.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir was asked if the Washington Capitals might part with center Lars Eller in the offseason. He doesn’t consider it a slam dunk but didn’t rule it out if the Capitals decide to shed some salary and free up a roster spot for promising Connor McMichael. Eller, 32, has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, speculation on how the Wild might make room to re-sign Kevin Fiala plus a look at what might be in store for the Sharks under a new general manager.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Gear recently examined ways for the Minnesota Wild to escape their salary cap hell following 2021-22 when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter bite deeply into their payroll for the next three seasons. The most immediate effect will be felt in the club’s efforts to sign winger Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s completing a one-year, $5.1 million deal and is enjoying a career-best performance with 61 points in 69 games.

Gear speculates it could cost the Wild $6.5 million to sign Fiala. He wondered if they might part with Jordan Greenway or Marcus Foligno or perhaps consider moving defenseman Matt Dumba or winger Mats Zuccarello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin knew full well he was putting his club into a cap crunch over the next three years when he bought out Parise and Suter. I daresay he’s got several options in mind to address this issue for next season.

Guerin could simply trade Fiala this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the winger on a new contract and use the savings to invest in younger, cheaper talent. Otherwise, he’ll have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to keep Fiala in the fold. Greenway or Foligno would be easiest to move given their affordable contracts and lack of no-trade protection.

Dumba’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past two seasons. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While he should draw interest in the trade market, his $6 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause are potential stumbling blocks.

Zuccarello also carries a $6 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. However, the no-trade portion becomes modified after this season to a 10-team no-trade list. Nevertheless, teams could be reluctant to take on a 34-year-old winger with two years remaining on his contract.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will conduct an extensive external search for a new general manager after Doug Wilson announced yesterday he’s stepping down for health reasons. They intend to take their time as several candidates might not be available until the summer.

Ownership has faith in the current management to handle the draft and free agency until a suitable replacement for Wilson is found. They’re not interested in a full rebuild and that could affect which candidates are interested in the job.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng also noted the Sharks’ unwillingness for a full rebuild, pointing to their recent signing of Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. He also believes the reason they’re not handing the role to assistant GM Joe Will, noting they’re seeking an infusion of new ideas as well as different types of candidates. Will also didn’t deny interest in the job.

Peng also thinks Bob Boughner’s job as head coach remains safe for now. That could depend on who eventually takes over for Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will did a good job filling in for Wilson. He re-signed Hertl, terminated Evander Kane’s contract and acquired promising goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t end up with the GM job, he’ll likely remain in the front office as assistant GM.

The Sharks have several aging stars carrying expensive contracts that could prove difficult to move. With ownership uninterested in rebuilding, Wilson’s replacement will have to find suitable players to incorporate with those veterans in order to build a serious playoff contender.

As noted in yesterday’s rumor mill, the Sharks could trim some payroll to make room for younger talent. Kahkonen’s addition means James Reimer or Adin Hill will be shopped this summer. They could attempt to move Kevin Labanc and his $4.75 million cap hit or Radim Simek and $2.25 million annual average value.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

How much could it cost for the Canucks to re-sign J.T. Miller? How will Alex Goligoski’s new contract affect the Wild’s salary-cap payroll for 2022-23? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma suggested it could cost the Vancouver Canucks an annual average value of $8 million over five or six years to sign J.T. Miller to a contract extension. He considers that to be the going rate and term against comparable players such as the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl.

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

Miller, 29, has one year remaining on his current contract with a $5.25 million cap hit. Kuzma believes the Canucks cannot allow their catalyst on and off the ice to test the 2023 free-agent market.

Doing so, however, will require some creativity by Canucks management to free up sufficient cap space for 2023. Winger Brock Boeser is a restricted free agent this summer who is due a $7.5 million qualifying offer while captain Bo Horvat is also slated to become a UFA in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That creativity could involve shopping Boeser this summer if they cannot reach an agreement on a new contract. It could also involve trading players signed beyond 2023-24 such as Conor Garland ($4.95 million AAV) or Tanner Pearson (3.25 million).

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a two-year contract extension worth $2 million per season leaves the club with less salary-cap wiggle room for next season.

The Wild’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last year will eat up a big chunk of their cap space for 2022-23. They now have six defensemen under contract for next season with promising Calen Addison waiting in the wings.

Goligoski’s signing prompted O’Brien to wonder if blueliner Matt Dumba’s days with the Wild could be numbered. He also speculated they could be forced to trade the rights of winger Kevin Fiala, who is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. In addition, O’Brien pondered whether recent additions Marc-Andre Fleury and Jacob Middleton will be playoff rentals or if the Wild will try to bring them back this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild will be a team to monitor during this summer. The additions of Fleury and Middleton could be general manager Bill Guerin going for it this season because he knows cap constraints could hamper the Wild’s progress in 2022-23. That could also involve moving parting ways with Fiala and with Dumba, who is slated to become a UFA following next season.