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 – January 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2022

Should the Flames or Islanders consider signing Evander Kane? Should the Oilers try to acquire Canadiens winger Josh Anderson? Which defensemen could the Panthers target? Will the Penguins go shopping at the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE FLAMES OR ISLANDERS SIGN EVANDER KANE?

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane wonders whether the Calgary Flames should consider signing San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane after he cleared unconditional waivers yesterday. He acknowledged the 30-year-old winger’s well-documented personal baggage and reputation as a bothersome teammate but observed he’s a proven point producer who could be an affordable free-agent signing.

Will there be teams interested in signing Evander Kane as a free agent? (NHL Images)

Macfarlane suggested the Flames should at least consider that option given their need to add another scoring forward. He felt general manager Brad Treliving should poll his players to determine if they’d be open to adding Kane to their roster. He also felt head coach Darryl Sutter might be able to handle the talented-but-troublesome winger.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner also examined whether the New York Islanders should bring in Kane to provide a boost to their sagging offense. He believes they should avoid him at all cost given Kane has proven to be untrustworthy and disdainful of rules, something that wouldn’t be tolerated under general manager Lou Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks can terminate Kane’s contract without penalty for breach of contract owing to the winger allegedly violating AHL COVID protocols and failing to report back to their AHL affiliate on time. However, the NHLPA is expected to file a grievance perhaps as early as today. It could take several weeks for an arbiter to determine the outcome.

Despite Kane’s reputation as a bad teammate and his off-ice issues, there are reportedly teams that could be willing to sign him to an affordable short-term contract if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. However, I doubt you’ll see his agent receive any formal offers until his grievance has been settled.

SHOULD THE OILERS TARGET JOSH ANDERSON?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to pry away Josh Anderson from the floundering Montreal Canadiens. He pointed out they lack a “power forward, mean-streak type in their top six.”

Anderson is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury but the 27-year-old winger is expected back early next month. He’s in the second year of a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million and carries an eight-team no-trade list. Matheson wondered if the Habs would be interested in an offer of a 2022 first-round pick, prospect Xavier Bourgault and “something else.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know what plans Canadiens hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton and whoever he hires as a general manager has in store for their club before the trade deadline. They are expected to shop pending unrestricted free agents like Ben Chiarot but they could entertain offers for players under contract beyond this season such as Anderson.

It probably wouldn’t hurt for the Oilers to contact the Canadiens about Anderson. However, he can’t address their pressing need to reduce their goals-against. Right now, the Oilers need a reliable starting goaltender. They shouldn’t be wasting their tradeable assets on a power forward. 

LATEST ON THE PANTHERS AND PENGUINS

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports the Panthers are in “go-for-it” mode this season and will be buyers at the March 21 NHL trade deadline. The main focus will be on bolstering the blueline.

Richards lists Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, Dallas’ John Klingberg, Montreal’s Ben Chiarot, Seattle’s Mark Giordano and Detroit’s Nick Leddy as potential trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards isn’t confident that the Panthers have sufficient trade capital to win a bidding war for Chyrchrun. He also suggested their limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to acquire Giordano or Leddy.

Klingberg could be affordable in cap hit and return but there’s no certainty the Stars will move him if they’re in playoff contention by the trade deadline. That leaves Chiarot, who has been linked to the Panthers by other NHL insiders.

The Canadiens’ asking price for Chiarot could be a first-round pick, but Panthers GM Bill Zito could be willing to pay that much for a rental shutdown defenseman with playoff experience. His $3.5 million cap hit could also be squeezed into their cap space if they move out another player or convince the Canadiens to absorb half of his cap hit.

NHL.COM: Dave McCarthy reports Pittsburgh Penguins team president Brian Burke is impressed by his club’s recent success this season. He also admitted that it will be difficult for his club to make any significant additions before the trade deadline.

Burke said his club will still be looking in the trade market but their limited salary-cap space will make it tough to swing a major deal. He’s also reluctant to continue borrowing against the team’s future to address present needs. He felt they must stop the trend where they give up a lot for a 20 percent chance of winning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins really don’t have much choice. They’re playing well now but they have an aging core of talent such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang who will soon have to be replaced. Gutting their future for a quick fix will only make the inevitable rebuild much longer and more painful.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2022

The Hurricanes snuff out the Flames, the Blues defeat the Capitals, plus the latest COVID news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to five games by dousing the Calgary Flames 6-3. Brady Skjei had a goal and two assists while teammate Andrei Svechnikov scored twice. With 49 points, the Hurricanes vaulted over the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flames have lost three straight and sit third in the Pacific Division.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images).

Pavel Buchnevich scored two goals and set up another as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Goaltender Ville Husso kicked out 26 shots for his first win since Nov. 27. The Blues (45 points) move to within one point of the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division. Earlier in the day, the Capitals placed Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on injured reserve.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier and Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto were among the players placed on the COVID protocol list on Friday.

NHL.COM: Two Ottawa Senators games have been postponed. The first is tonight’s match against the Vancouver Canucks and the second is their Jan. 15 contest against the Winnipeg Jets.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets have backed off their suggested plan to play some of their home games in Saskatoon where arena capacity restrictions aren’t as strict as in Manitoba. A survey of the idea among their season-ticket holders found 40 percent against the idea with 30 percent neutral and 30 percent in approval.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov will miss tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals after suffering an upper-body injury on Thursday against the Boston Bruins. There is no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov is enjoying a strong sophomore campaign, sitting among the top-10 scorers with 40 points. A lengthy absence from the lineup could be devastating for the Wild.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced they will be raising a banner to long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret during “RJ Night” on Apr. 1 honoring his career. Jeanneret is retiring following this season and will call his final Sabres game on Apr. 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting tribute to a fine play-by-play man who’s been part of the Sabres’ history since 1971-72.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2022

The Rangers move into first place in the overall standings, the three stars of the week are announced, the latest COVID protocols updates, the Flames new arena deal is dead and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers (48 points) moved into first place in the overall standings by dropping the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, Adam Fox collected two assists, Chris Kreider tallied his 20th goal of the season and Alexandar Georgiev picked up the win with 33 saves. The Oilers (38 points) have only two wins in their last 12 games and are clinging to the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (NHL Images).

Last night’s game between the Ottawa Senators and Seattle Kraken was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns affecting the Senators. Thomas Chabot, Zach Sanford and Chris Tierney entered COVID protocol yesterday, bringing the total number of Senators players in protocol to eight.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski and Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart were among those who also entered COVID protocol yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The total number of players going on or coming off the protocol list changes daily. For example, 10 Dallas Stars players (including Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Esa Lindell, Jason Robertson and Ryan Suter) were removed from the list yesterday.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and assistant coach Dean Chynoweth missed practice yesterday after submitting positive rapid COVID-19 tests. Both are asymptomatic and are awaiting the results of their PCR tests.

Meanwhile, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he doesn’t expect many more Canadian franchises will have games postponed due to attendance issues because the league is running out of time to make up games already postponed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the seven Canadian franchises had asked for their home games in January to be rescheduled for later in the season when attendance restrictions in their respective provinces are lifted when the Omicron COVID variant fades. Those clubs will see a significant reduction in their hockey-related revenue (HRR) under the current capacity limitations which will have an adverse effect upon the league’s overall revenue, in turn affecting the salary cap down the road.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues center Jordan Kyrou, New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau are the league’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 2.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis recently started skating after being sidelined for weeks with a lower-body injury. However, there’s still no timetable for his return to action. Acquired last summer from the Nashville Predators, the 31-year-old Ellis appeared in just four games and hasn’t played since Nov. 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis’ absence is one reason why the Flyers are struggling to stay in the hunt for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is nursing a lower-body injury suffered during Saturday’s Winter Classic. Winger Jordan Greenway entered COVID protocol.

CBC SPORTS: The City of Calgary’s deal with the owners of the Calgary Flames for a new downtown arena is officially terminated due to “unresolved issues.” It’s estimated the two sides had already spent between $20 million and $25 million on the $600 million project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This doesn’t mean the Flames will be relocating to another city. The club’s ownership group indicated it intends to remain in the Saddledome. However, they’ll be looking at investing millions in updating and upgrading the building.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars hired former Buffalo Sabres assistant general manager Steve Greeley as their new director of hockey strategy/scouting and development.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

It was a day of hat tricks for the Penguins and Rangers, Nathan MacKinnon extends his points streak, the three stars and rookie of the month for December are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their eighth straight win by holding off the San Jose Sharks 8-5. Penguins forwards Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust led the way with three goals each as the club played its first game in 13 days due to COVID postponements. Rust also collected two assists to finish the game with five points. Sharks forward Timo Meier picked up three assists while James Reimer got the hook after giving up six goals on 17 shots.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust (NHL Images).

Speaking of hat tricks, Mika Zibanejad tallied three times as the New York Rangers blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Igor Shesterkin made 38 saves for the shutout while Lightning goalie Andre Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 21 shots in his first game since returning from COVID protocol.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with three assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Linemate Mikko Rantanen also had three points with a goal and two assists as the Avs played their first game in 16 days. Ducks forward Max Comtois and defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the lineup from recent injuries.

A three-point performance by Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) powered the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jacob Markstrom turned aside 30 shots for the Flames.

The Boston Bruins scored five straight goals to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Charlie McAvoy and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist as the Bruins (34 points) vaulted over the Wings into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Kyle Connor’s overtime goal lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4. Playing their first game in 13 days, the Jets blew a 4-2 lead as Mattias Janmark scored two unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame.

The New Jersey Devils blew a 3-1 lead but still managed to upset the Washington Capitals 4-3 on an overtime goal by Nico Hischier. It was Hischier’s second goal of the game as his Devils picked up their third straight victory. The Capitals, however, moved past the Lightning into first place in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin were among the latest players to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko were the NHL’s three stars for December 2021. Ducks forward Trevor Zegras was named the rookie of the month.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for three games for an illegal hit to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

TSN: Speaking of the Canadiens, their search for a new general manager is reportedly underway. Pierre LeBrun reports they’ve been reaching out to NHL clubs to seek permission to speak with potential candidates. Roberto Luongo, Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere are believed among the Habs targets.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2022

Some recent predictions for the Flames plus the latest on Jake DeBrusk in the first NHL rumor mill of 2022.

PREDICTIONS FOR THE FLAMES IN 2022

TSN: Salim Valji made six predictions for the Calgary Flames in 2022. Among them was his belief general manager Brad Treliving will be active at the March 21 trade deadline by bringing in at least one significant player.

This season could be the Flames’ best opportunity to stage a deep playoff run before having to deal with the effect upon the salary cap of re-signing free agents such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.

One possibility could be bringing back defenseman Mark Giordano, who was selected by the Seattle Kraken during last summer’s expansion draft. Treliving could attempt to acquire a forward with term on his contract such as Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli.

Given the Flames’ limited salary-cap space, they’ll have to ship out a contract or two to make those additions. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov and winger Dillon Dube could be expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving made several significant trade acquisitions in the past, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm and Milan Lucic. However, those moves took place in the offseason. He’s yet to make a major in-season addition via the trade market, preferring depth moves over bigger ones. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll roll the dice this time around.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis believes the Flames will trade for a top defenseman like Giordano or someone else. He pointed out they’ll have to be prepared to pay a high price to bring back their former captain as a number of playoff contenders will also be interested.

Valji also believes the Flames will part ways with center Sean Monahan by buying him out or trading him. The 27-year-old center hasn’t been the same since undergoing hip surgery in the spring. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $6.375 million and a 10-team no-trade list. They’ll need the cap space to re-sign their key free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Monahan is more likely to occur in the offseason. Even then, it won’t be easy. The decline in his performance over the past couple of seasons hurts his trade value. It could mean retaining half of his cap hit, taking back a toxic contract in return, or attempting to broker a three-team trade to spread around his cap hit at the cost of a quality draft pick or prospect.

A buyout could be the way to go here. Cap Friendly indicates it would cost $2.375 million against the Flames cap in 2022-23 and $2 million the following season.

In other predictions, Valji believes Gaudreau will depart via free agency this summer, Tkachuk signs a three-year deal worth $9.5 million annually and they’ll make a strong pitch via free agency for Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those predictions for Gaudreau and Tkachuk taking place. However, I don’t think Treliving will convince Kadri to sign with the Flames. Valji observed the center invoked his no-movement clause to block a trade from Toronto to Calgary in 2019. I think Kadri sees his future elsewhere if he hits the open market this summer.

LATEST ON DEBRUSK

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the return of the taxi squad until February gives the Boston Bruins a better opportunity to honor Jake DeBrusk’s trade request. GM Don Sweeney hasn’t found an offer to his liking, with the 24-year-old winger’s market value said to be a similarly dissatisfied player to a mid-round draft pick.

Shinzawa speculates the Bruins could be forced to accept that draft pick if they hope to move DeBrusk and clear sufficient salary-cap space for Tuukka Rask. It’s believed they intend to bring back the free-agent goaltender later this month as he progresses in his recovery from offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could depend on how much it’ll cost the Bruins to sign Rask to what’s expected to be a low-cost, prorated one-year contract. They currently have around $2 million in projected cap space.