NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2022

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Penguins and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON CAMPBELL, NYLANDER AND GIORDANO.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said his assistant GM will be meeting soon with Jack Campbell’s representatives for contract negotiations. The 30-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Campbell professed his love of playing for the Leafs and the city of Toronto but is leaving contract details up to his agent and Leafs management.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t believe there have been many negotiations between those two sides. Nevertheless, I believe the Leafs will re-sign him given how thin this summer’s market will be for goaltenders. They know what they have in Campbell.

Koshan also reports William Nylander acknowledged his name frequently surfaces in Leafs trade rumors. However, he doesn’t want to be moved. Koshan pointed out that general manager Kyle Dubas has indicated he has little appetite for making big changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s not going anywhere. He carries the more affordable contract among their foursome of top forwards plus he elevates his play in the postseason.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there have been talks with defenseman Mark Giordano about bringing back the 39-year-old defenseman at a lower salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giordano’s current AAV is $6.75 million. How much lower is he willing to go to finish his career in Toronto and for how long? Time will tell if they can get something done before the free-agent market opens on July 13.

MALKIN AND LETANG HOPE TO REMAIN WITH THE PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reports the Pittsburgh Penguins’ long-time core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang hope to remain together for a few more years. Crosby has three years remaining on his contract while Malkin and Letang are due to become UFAs in July.

Malkin said he’s leaving his contract business to his agent. He also dismissed a report out of Russia claiming he would return to his hometown of Magnitogorsk next season, stating he wants to stay in the NHL.

Letang declined to discuss his contract citing an agreement with GM Ron Hextall not to talk publicly about the matter.

Meanwhile, fellow UFA Bryan Rust said he felt he’s taken his play to a higher level than the salary he’s been earning the past few years. He indicated he’s seeking a fair and reasonable new deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman cited The Athletic’s Rob Rossi recently tweeting that the Penguins’ best offers to Malkin and Letang were three years and $15 million. Friedman said he’s heard the Penguins and the Malkin camp have discussed a three-year term to line up with Crosby’s contract but they’re far apart on salary. Letang, meanwhile, is apparently seeking a four-year deal for slightly less than his current $7.25 million annual average value.

As for Rust, it doesn’t look like he’s interested in a hometown discount. He earned $3.5 million annually on a four-year contract. He could seek around $5 million per season.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC: Making a decision on Filip Forsberg’s future topped Adam Vingan’s recent list of offseason issues the Nashville Predators must address. The 28-year-old left winger is due to become a UFA in July. They must also decide if they’ll pick up the option year in head coach John Hynes’ contract and find a competent backup for starting goaltender Juuse Saros.

Vingan cited Evolving Hockey’s contract project model indicating Forsberg could get $8.5 million annually on an eight-year extension with the Predators or $9.5 million on a seven-year deal on the open market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg has stated his goal is to remain with the Predators. As I’ve noted before, the concern for GM David Poile is he already has two forwards earning $8 million annually in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. He might not be keen to have another in his lineup. We’ll find out by July 13 which direction Poile wants to go.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

What will the Capitals do with their goaltending this summer? Are the Sharks open to trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns? Will the Blackhawks seek improvement between the pipes? Who could the Red Wings target via free agency? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE CAPITALS LOOK TO IMPROVE THEIR GOALTENDING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski considers the Washington Capitals goaltending an interesting situation worth monitoring during the offseason. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are both restricted free agents. Vanecek had a solid regular season but fared poorly in the playoffs while Samsonov was the opposite.

Wyshynski wondered if the Capitals will seek an upgrade between the pipes. If they decide to keep their tandem intact, for how much and for how long? He also believes their blueline needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals need a reliable starter. There are only four suitable options via this summer’s unrestricted free agent market and one of them (Marc-Andre Fleury) apparently isn’t interested in playing for them. Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper, Toronto’s Jack Campbell and St. Louis’ Ville Husso could be available but will be expensive to sign. The Capitals would face competition from other clubs for those goaltenders should they test the open market on July 13.

General manager Brian MacLellan could try the trade market by looking at netminders such as Anaheim’s John Gibson, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Vegas’ Robin Lehner and the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov. Acquiring either of them, however, won’t be easy and will cost assets as well as salary.

Limited salary-cap space will also impede the pursuit of a goalie upgrade or the addition of a quality defenseman. Cap Friendly shows the Capitals with $73.5 million invested in 17 active players for 2022-23 with Vanecek and Samsonov as their key free agents. MacLellan might have to shed a contract or two to find sufficient cap space to address those needs.

THE SHARKS COULD BE OPEN TO TRADING KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks interim general manager Joe Will indicated he has no problem talking to other clubs about trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer. Both players recently surfaced in the rumor mill after the Sharks missed the playoffs last month.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Will said nothing was off-limits in terms of looking at ways to improve the roster wherever they could. However, he added that would be a decision left to whoever becomes the club’s general manager. He stated no changes are imminent but they’re open to discussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Will is talking about a hypothetical trade scenario involving Karlsson or Burns rather than something that will actually take place. He or his successor are making it known they’re open to offers for their high-end talent but that doesn’t mean they’re actively shopping those players.

That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharks management quietly gauged the market for Karlsson or Burns. However, Karlsson’s injury history, the 37-year-old Burns’ age, and their respective hefty contracts and no-trade clauses make moving either defenseman a difficult task in an offseason where the salary cap is rising by only $1 million for 2022-23.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus recently reported goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. Current netminders Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are slated to become UFAs this summer.

GM Kyle Davidson said Lankinen and Delia are part of the conversation but there are players in this summer’s free-agent market the Blackhawks will be looking at. He also didn’t rule out a foray into the trade market. A source claims the club hasn’t started contract discussions yet with Lankinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Blackhawks could keep Lankinen or Delia as a backup as they pursue a reliable starter via free agency or a trade. Many of the options I listed for the Capitals could also apply here.

Davidson has $61.4 million committed to 14 players with Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach, Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev slated to become restricted free agents. There is sufficient room to add a decent starter provided those RFAs can be inked to affordable deals. Strome or Kubalik could be traded or allowed to depart as UFAs.

WHO COULD THE RED WINGS TARGET VIA FREE AGENCY?

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen recently published a list of forwards who might interest Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman in this summer’s UFA market.

Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nick Paul were Allen’s top three candidates

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck and Paul should be available this summer but it remains to be seen if they want to sign with a rebuilding club. Copp, however, could be off the market as the Rangers are quite keen to re-sign him.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, Rangers center Ryan Strome and Lightning winger Ondrej Palat were also among Allen’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings’ plentiful cap space means they could afford to pay Forsberg a big raise. Like Trocheck and Paul, he might not prefer joining a rebuilding team.

Strome’s situation with the Rangers could go either way. Yzerman drafted Palat when he was GM of the Lightning so the latter might be willing to consider a reunion.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin, Avs winger Andre Burakovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev and KHL forward Andrei Kuzmenko round out Allen’s listing.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2022

Are significant offseason changes in the cards for the Predators? Could the Senators and Islanders shop their 2022 first-round draft picks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHANGES COMING FOR PREDATORS?

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes Nashville Predators’ ownership must react after getting eliminated from the opening round of the 2022 playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche. It’s the first time the Predators have been swept from a postseason series in franchise history.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

The subdued atmosphere in Nashville during Games 3 and 4 of that series has to be a concern. So is a club getting outclassed despite carrying two 40-goal scorers in Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene, a 90-point defenseman in Roman Josi, an All-Star goaltender in Juuse Saros and the rookie goal-scoring leader in Tanner Jeannot.

Vingan believes the blame lies with David Poile, suggesting it might be time to hire someone to work in tandem with Poile but has the final say over personnel decisions. He noted the club faces some critical decisions this off-season, including new contracts for pending free agent Forsberg and head coach John Hynes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators ownership could surprise us by following Vingan’s advice or perhaps even firing Poile. However, he started a “competitive rebuild” last summer with the club exceeding expectations when they weren’t considered a playoff contender to start the season. Those factors probably ensure there won’t be any shakeup in the general manager’s office this summer.

NHL.COM: John Glennon reports Forsberg said he wants to return with the Predators. He said there’s been a progression in contract talks throughout the season, adding there will be ongoing discussions. “We’ll just have to see where we end,” he said. Those talks were paused at the March 21 trade deadline but he said they’ll resume soon.

Forsberg is coming off a career-high 42-goal, 84-point performance. The 27-year-old winger said he likes the direction of the Predators and believes they can be a Stanley Cup champion in the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Poile wants to keep Forsberg but the latter’s asking price will be an issue. The Predators are already carrying two forwards (Duchene and Ryan Johansen) each carrying annual average values of $8 million. Forsberg will likely seek something comparable if not more.

COULD THE SENATORS OR ISLANDERS SHOP THEIR FIRST-ROUND PICKS?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch noted the Senators will have the opportunity to add another promising talent to their roster with the seventh-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft. However, he noted there’s a belief GM Pierre Dorion could be willing to part with that pick if a rival club offers up a player who can help the Senators compete for a playoff spot. It’s unlikely any decision will be reached until the first round of the draft on July 7.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner wondered if the New York Islanders might use their pick (13th overall) to address more immediate needs. He pointed out GM Lou Lamoriello has talked about making hockey trades during this offseason.

This year’s draft isn’t considered a deep one. Rosner suggested that the pick could be used to acquire a top-four defenseman or a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be some cap-strapped teams attempting to shed salary or rebuilding clubs looking to stockpile first-round picks in this year’s draft. Perhaps the Senators or Islanders can find some suitable trade partners among those clubs.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

The latest on John Klingberg’s contract talks with the Stars, a difficult postmortem could face the Predators if they’re swept by the Avalanche, and the Blue Jackets’ offseason focus in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STARS GM STILL HOPES TO RE-SIGN KLINGBERG

NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill would love to re-sign John Klingberg. However, he understands the 29-year-old defenseman has to look out for himself as he approaches eligibility for unrestricted free agent status this summer. Nill said he intends to speak with Klingberg’s representatives once the playoffs are over.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Klingberg felt underappreciated by Stars management and expressed his frustration over the lack of progress in earlier contract discussions during an interview in January. However, he’s now indicated he refocused on his game since the All-Star break and has been happy with his performance. Nill is also happy with Klingberg’s play, claiming he’s had many discussions with the blueliner and the two have “a great relationship.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the two sides have patched things up from where they were in the first half of the season. However, it will still come down to what Klingberg seeks on his next contract and whether the Stars are willing to meet his expectations.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek last fall indicated Klingberg sought an eight-year deal worth between $62 million and $68 million. That’s between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes the Nashville Predators could face “a tough postmortem” if they’re swept by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night in Game 4 of their first-round series. They face losing the fifth consecutive postseason series.

The Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg in hopes of a playoff run. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Considering how overmatched the club has been against the Avalanche, it should mean more questions for the roster beyond Forsberg.

Head coach John Hynes’ contract expires at the end of this season. Estes suggested he could be retained given the Predators exceeded expectations this season but wondered why it hasn’t been announced yet. He also doubted a healthy Juuse Saros would’ve significantly altered the course of this series with the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile last summer indicated his club was undergoing a “competitive rebuild”. If he meant remaining in playoff contention while making changes to his roster with a long-term goal of returning to Cup contender status, then it’s mission accomplished for this season.

Whether Forsberg will be part of that process beyond this season remains to be seen. He’s completing a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $6 million and is coming off a career-best 42-goal, 84-point performance in 69 games. That could push the annual average value of his next contract to well over $8 million per season.

There were reports prior to the March trade deadline that there wasn’t much progress in contract talks between the two sides. Unless that changes, we could be seeing the last of Forsberg in a Predators jersey.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BLUE JACKETS THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets face heightened expectations for next season after overachieving in 2021-22. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen must get restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine under contract and shed some salary to make room for the younger players set to join the lineup next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and has arbitration rights this season. Portzline indicated the 24-year-old winger wants to stay with the Jackets. However, Kekalainen will have to pony up some big bucks to keep him in the fold long term.

The Laine camp could seek over $9 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal. They could also prefer a short-term deal to take their client up to UFA eligibility and a shot at a major contract on the open market.

Laine’s new contract will also bite deeply into the Jackets’ cap space. Cap Friendly shows them with over $54 million committed to 15 players.

A likely trade candidate is Gustav Nyquist. The 32-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. He enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season with 53 points. Perhaps a playoff contender seeking offensive depth on the wing would be interested in his services.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

Do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild process? What could be in store this summer for the Islanders and Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson reported Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson cleared up any ambiguity about a fast rebuild for his club. He didn’t put a timeline on it but suggested it could take at least three-to-five years.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews recently remarked they saw no reason the club couldn’t turn things around within a year or two. With a year remaining on their respective contracts, they have no choice but to go along with Davidson’s plans unless they agree to waive their no-movement clauses and ask to be traded.

Davidson believes Kane and Toews have a place in the club’s plans and made his expectations clear to both during their exit interviews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reported Davidson also said those conversations were healthy and productive and he’s pleased with how they went. It’s believed the Blackhawks GM intends to keep his two aging stars in the loop regarding the club’s direction.

Whether that silences the trade speculation about those two (especially Kane) that surfaced in the final weeks of the regular season remains to be seen.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined the New York Islanders’ offseason priorities.

Finding a high-end winger for first-line center Mathew Barzal topped his list. He advocated the cap-strapped Islanders pull off some “salary-cap gymnastics” to pursue Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Florida’s Claude Giroux if they become available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Isles with $70.2 million invested in 18 active players for 2022-23 with Noah Dobson as their only notable free agent to re-sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have to shed considerable salary to free up space to make a serious offer for Gaudreau, Forsberg or Giroux.

Gaudreau could seek $10 million annually if he hits the open market while Forsberg could come in around $8 million. Giroux is 34 and would be more affordable but a lot could depend on how well the Panthers do in this postseason.

Kurz also suggested the Isles need to sort out their goalie tandem. Semyon Varlamov made it clear he was happy not being moved at the March trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if he’s willing to take a back seat next season to Ilya Sorokin.

If not, perhaps the Isles should attempt to trade Varlamov and the remaining year on his contract this summer. He carries a $5 million cap hit plus a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of teams calling the Islanders about Varlamov. Given general manager Lou Lamoriello’s secretive nature, we have no idea if those calls were seriously entertained or even took place.

Moving Varlamov and his cap hit would make it easier for Lamoriello to pursue a top-six winger for Barzal’s line. Sorokin has proven himself as an NHL starter but he and Varlamov work well together as a tandem. Lamoriello could be reluctant to break that up for next season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis intends to see more goal-scoring for his club in the offseason via free agency. He’ll be looking for someone who can play in their top-six or top-nine. Francis also mentioned he could seek a blueline upgrade, especially for someone who is offensively inclined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken has the cap space to invest in a scoring winger or a puck-moving defenseman this summer if they’re willing to spend toward the cap. They have $59.6 million committed to 14 players next season with no expensive core players to re-sign.

Francis was able to woo Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz to Seattle in last summer’s UFA market. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him landing another notable free-agent player.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Jets could face offseason changes following the disappointing outcome of this season plus a look at some potential decisions facing the Red Wings.

CHANGES COULD BE COMING THIS SUMMER FOR THE JETS

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe believes the Winnipeg Jets must begin the process of repairing a winning culture that’s been in decline in recent years starting with their remaining games in this season. He feels the franchise’s foundation is showing cracks in need of repair.

The Jets have plenty of offensive skill but they’re not scoring on a consistent basis. They’re giving up too many quality scoring chances, they don’t defend well enough around their net while their special teams have struggled.

Wiebe feels some of those issues were papered over by goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s play in recent years. However, they were exposed when he wasn’t playing at a Vezina-caliber level this season as the volume of shots and scoring chances against him increased.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck shares Wiebe’s concern that there are cracks in the Jets’ foundation. He pointed out that players such as Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Stastny and Josh Morrissey have publicly admitted the team’s performance is not up to snuff, with Connor also admitting a culture change is needed.

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff (NHL.com).

Billeck believes that will be up to general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff or his replacement if ownership decides a change is needed in the front office. It could also have an effect on contract talks with center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to conduct a full examination to address the malaise gripping the club. He wonders if that will be conducted by Cheveldayoff or his boss, Mark Chipman. The Jets owner has to be seeing the effects on the ice and in the stands, where the Jets are averaging 1,500 – 2,000 empty seats per game.

McIntyre also pondered the possibility of the Jets bringing in an experienced and sharp hockey mind from outside the organization as other clubs have done in recent years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The focus of these pieces center on whether there will be changes in the front office after this season. Cheveldayoff’s been in the job since 2011. While he built them up into a Western Conference finalist in 2018, they’ve been steadily declining since then. Perhaps a change in management is necessary.

Whoever is the Jets general manager this summer must decide if a roster shakeup is required or if the problem could be addressed with a coaching change. Long-time bench boss Paul Maurice stepped down in December claiming the team needed a “new voice” to reach the next level. Assistant coach Dave Lowry took over on an interim basis but was no more successful than his predecessor.

Some roster changes could still be in order if the Jets replace Cheveldayoff and hire a new head coach. McIntyre has suggested moving out a couple of expensive veterans to clear roster and cap space for promising young defensemen such as Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola.

Center Mark Scheifele recently surfaced in the rumor mill as an offseason trade candidate. Some Jets fans would like to see captain Blake Wheeler replaced but his age (35), $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 and full no-movement clause makes that option difficult to achieve.

LATEST RED WINGS SPECULATION

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen and Bob Duff recently addressed some questions about the Red Wings’ future plans. They don’t see Jeff Blashill returning as head coach, with Allen saying he’s heard GM Steve Yzerman could look at some tough, demanding coaching candidates if he replaces Blashill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill’s been the Wings’ head coach for the past seven seasons. He couldn’t be faulted for most of the club’s struggles during the earlier years of its rebuild. However, they were expected to make significant improvement this season, perhaps even contend for a wild-card spot. Their second-half collapse amid ongoing concerns over their defensive play suggests it’s time for a fresh perspective behind the bench.

Allen and Duff both believe Yzerman’s roster priority is to bring in a second-line center. They also expect he’ll seek an experienced second-pairing defenseman. Possible forward options could include the New York Rangers’ Andrew Copp and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Vincent Trocheck via free agency. Duff’s also hearing Yzerman could target Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg if he hits the open market.

They also suggest Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina as trade candidates if the Wings don’t see them as part of their long-term plans. Bertuzzi is a year away from UFA status while Zadina is a restricted free agent this summer. They could retain the latter as they appreciate how hard he’s working to become a better player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman’s shown a willingness to make bold moves, first by shipping Anthony Mantha to Washington for Jakub Vrana at last year’s trade deadline and acquiring goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from Carolina last summer. I wouldn’t be shocked if he peddles Bertuzzi and/or Zadina to land that second-line center or second-pairing blueliner this summer.