Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Check out the latest on the Flames, Oilers and Senators in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving scoured the trade market this summer but couldn’t find many options to shake up his roster core. Treliving pointed out the difficulty in finding a trade partner to make a deal that made sense.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis noted few Flames drew much interest in the offseason trade market. Johnny Gaudreau’s struggles over the past two seasons hurt his trade value, as did the hip injury that affected Sean Monahan’s performance last season. Several other Flames, including Matthew Tkachuk, also played poorly.

Outside of signing Blake Coleman, it was difficult for the Flames to attract notable free agents. Francis cited “the dated arena, winter weather, high taxes, the team’s lack of playoff success, the scrutiny in a Canadian market and a coach (Darryl Sutter) who scares some players off.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving drew considerable criticism for what was perceived as his lack of effort to make significant changes. He didn’t make any excuses but it’s apparent some of those issues raised by Francis hampered Treliving’s offseason plans. It’s worth pointing out, however, the Flames had little difficulty landing Jacob Markstrom, who was last summer’s top free-agent goaltender.

Gaudreau is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could become a trade candidate if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. A bounce-back campaign could draw interest from other clubs at the March trade deadline.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples points out the Oilers will have difficulty re-signing Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi next summer if both play well this season. The club will have limited salary-cap space for the foreseeable future with the flat cap and the big contracts of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.

It’s hard to imagine the Oilers having enough cap space to re-sign Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. They could try to move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million cap hit but maybe they can’t. Staples expects they’ll have to choose one or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $74.5 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 according to Cap Friendly. They’ll need to find a suitable goaltender to share the duties with Mike Smith as Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock probably won’t be re-signed.

Moving Kassian in a cost-cutting deal isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. Holland might have to include a sweetener (draft pick or prospect) to get someone to take the full value of his remaining contract. That will also depend upon his performance this season.

They will also likely put Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to return from the shoulder surgery sidelining him for the coming season. They could also attempt to move him to a team seeking an LTIR player for cap relief. Still, that might not be enough to keep Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators center Logan Brown asked to be traded and changed agents in hopes of getting a deal. However, the club has insisted it’s not going to just give him away. With no value in the trade market, Brown signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. He could get picked up by another club off waivers.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation and a look at possible goalie trade candidates this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked which club makes the most sense for the Buffalo Sabres to trade Jack Eichel to get the best return.

Assuming Eichel eventually gets healthy and returns to form, Duhatschek feels it’ll take a team willing to make a bold move in order for the Sabres to get full value for him. He rules out the Los Angeles Kings as too conservative and unwilling to part with prospect Quinton Byfield. Also ruled out are the Boston Bruins as there doesn’t appear to be a fit in salary or the player/draft choice combination heading the other way.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Duhatschek feels the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jarmo Kekalainen and the Minnesota Wild’s Bill Guerin are two general managers with the courage to wade into an Eichel deal. Both clubs need a genuine No. 1 center. He also considers the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks as long shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never with the Kings but I agree with Duhatschek’s take. Anze Kopitar is still their first-line center and the signing of Phillip Danault suggests they’re buying time until Byfield and Alex Turcotte are ready to join the roster on a full-time basis.

The Bruins certainly could use hometown boy Eichel but there just isn’t a fit there unless GM Don Sweeney gets very creative by bringing in a third team to pull off the swap. He could instead set his sights on a more affordable short-term option such as San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

I’ve also suggested the Blue Jackets as a destination. They have over $10 million in cap space, carry potentially two first-round picks in next year’s draft and have some promising players in their system (Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakhov, Liam Foudy) that could tempt the Sabres. Kekalainen has made bold moves in the past but I’m not sure he’s willing to pursue a big fish like Eichel.

The Wild’s cap space will shrink considerably once winger Kirill Kaprizov is under contract unless Guerin pulls a swerve and becomes willing to part with the young winger in a package for the Sabres’ center. While the Wild need a bonafide first-line center, I don’t think they’ll pursue Eichel.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving reportedly looked into an Eichel swap but it doesn’t appear things got too far. Unless Treliving intends on a dramatic roster shake-up this season I don’t see Calgary as a serious bidder. The Ducks have lots of cap space and promising youngsters such as Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale but GM Bob Murray probably won’t part with those guys.

Duhatschek was also asked which goaltenders could surface in the trade rumor mill by the Olympic break in February. He points out the Dallas Stars’ depth between the pipes could make them the first place to call, especially if Ben Bishop returns from knee surgery. He doesn’t see Jake Oettinger getting moved as he’s their future starter but Braden Holtby could be an affordable option.

Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo could also get moved. He and Elvis Merzlikins are unrestricted free agents next summer but Merzlikins is the better goalie. Others could include Detroit’s Thomas Greiss, Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Stars’ goalie situation shakes out. The uncertainty over Bishop’s career is why they brought in Holtby. They could go with him and Anton Khudobin as their tandem to start the season and send Oettinger down to the minors as he’s waiver-exempt. They could also put Khudobin on the trade block.

It’s expected the Blue Jackets will retain Merzlikins and move Korpisalo by the March trade deadline. It was assumed Korpisalo would get shopped this summer but that plan was shelved by the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks in July.

Greiss and Koskinen are UFAs this summer and could become rental players at the deadline. Quick, however, has another season on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. Given his age (35) and injury history, there might not be many takers for him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2021

The hockey world remembers 9/11 victims Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, Zach Parise signs with the Islanders and the Flames ink Erik Gudbranson and Michael Stone. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Twenty years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the hockey world remembers Los Angeles Kings scouts Garnet “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis, who perished aboard highjacked United Airlines Flight 175 when it was deliberately crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Garnet “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis (NHL.com).

Wayne Gretzky shared his memories of Bailey, who mentored The Great One early in his pro career and became his close friend. Mike Bavis recalled identical twin brother Mark’s path to becoming a scout.

Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau talked about how would’ve been on the same flight with Bailey and Bavis if he hadn’t flown to Los Angeles a day earlier to attend a dinner of all the coaches in the Kings’ organization. At the time, Boudreau was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, an AHL affiliate of the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Please spare a thought for the families and friends of Bailey, Bavis, and the other innocent people who perished during the attacks on that terrible day and for the survivors, many of whom still bear the physical and mental scars.

NEWSDAY: The worst-kept secret of the offseason was officially confirmed yesterday as the New York Islanders announced Zach Parise had signed a one-year contract. Financial terms for the former Minnesota Wild winger were not disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parise recently confirmed he’d signed with the Isles earlier in the season and would soon be on his way to Long Island for training camp.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed free-agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a one-year, $1.95 million contract yesterday. They also brought back blueliner Michael Stone on a one-year deal worth $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson’s critics believe his style of play no longer fits into today’s fast-paced game. Nevertheless, he keeps finding teams willing to pay for his leadership and physical shutdown game. The Flames are the well-traveled blueliner’s seventh NHL team.

THE SCORE: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins revealed a new mask honoring his late friend and teammate Matiss Kivlenieks, who perished in a fireworks accident on July 4.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo tweeted former Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will be joining the club’s prospect camp and training camp. It’s believed he’ll eventually have a position within the organization. Koivu announced his retirement in February after 16 NHL seasons.

USA HOCKEY: announced Ryan Kesler will be a volunteer assistant coach for the organization’s National Team Development Program.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows Kesler under contract with the Anaheim Ducks this season. However, he’s all but retired after being sidelined by a hip injury. This announcement indicates Kesler is taking the first step toward what could be a coaching career in the pro ranks.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators announced a proof of vaccination and mask-wearing will be required for fans attending their home games this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

Sidney Crosby undergoes wrist surgery, Patrice Bergeron discusses his contract situation, the latest on Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent surgery on his left wrist on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks and could miss the Penguins’ opening four games of this season. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby has been dealing with an unspecified ailment in his wrist for several years.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Crosby aggravated the ailment as he was ramping up his training in preparation for the coming season. The Penguins will now be without their top two centers to open the season. Evgeni Malkin is recovering from offseason knee surgery that will sideline him much longer than Crosby.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said his focus is on the upcoming season and not on his contract status. The 36-year-old center is entering the final season of his deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He indicated he’ll play out this season and discuss his contract with the Bruins after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make some Bruins fans nervous after seeing long-time stars Zdeno Chara and David Krejci depart over the last two years. Bergeron is no longer in his playing prime but he remains among the league’s best two-way forwards.

Much will depend upon his performance and how much he’ll seek on his next contract. They could be more accommodating to Bergeron given how thin the Bruins are at center.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The NHL’s investigation into allegations San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on his own games has hit a snag. Kane’s estranged wife Anna made the accusations on social media but the league has thus far been unable to interview her. The NHL hoped to have its investigation completed before training camp opened later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also reported an examination of betting trends that showed no abnormalities for Sharks games last season. Kane was also the Sharks’ leading scorer in 2020-21.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed center Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free agent forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $800K contract and restricted free agent defenseman Connor Mackey to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $912,500.

Former NHL player J.T. Brown pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston. “We need more information about brain injuries and concussions, the kind of information you can get from studying brains after someone has died,” said Brown, adding he loves hockey and hopes to make it safer for future generations.

CBC NEWS: Brandon University scolded former NHLer Theo Fleury for “reprehensible remarks” he made against vaccine passports. The university granted Fleury an honorary doctorate in 2015 but says his espousing of conspiracy theories is a “stain on his legacy”. He recently took to Twitter claiming vaccine passports would make it easier for pedophiles to track children and touted an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was one of my favorite players during his NHL career. His work in exposing sexual predators in hockey and as a mental health advocate remains worthy of praise. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see him disappear down this rabbit hole of misinformation.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks scout Patrik Jonsson recently passed away at age 51 of prostate cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Jonsson’s family, friends and the Canucks’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid, Matthew Tkachuk, Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: in an exclusive interview with Mark Lazerus, Jonathan Toews acknowledged he’s probably a COVID “long hauler” given the tell-tale signs of a bout with the coronavirus in February 2020 before the pandemic became widespread. Combined with the cumulative effect of his long NHL career, it led to the symptoms of a mysterious illness that cost him a year, including the entirety of the 2020-21 season.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Toews’ doctors initially believed his condition was due to chronic immune response syndrome. Feeling rejuvenated, he intends on returning to action this season. He also said he doesn’t want his story to overshadow the lawsuits by two former players against the Blackhawks alleging the club’s inaction to address their allegations of sexual assault by the team’s former video coach a decade ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews might not be the only NHL player who contracted COVID-19 well before the league shut down the remainder of the regular season in March 2020. Many of them may have been asymptomatic.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s focus this season is on becoming a more complete player. He believes the key to helping his club go deeper in the playoffs is improving his play without the puck and in his own zone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Working on the defensive aspects of his game may help McDavid improve his all-around game, but he still needs a good supporting cast for his Oilers to become a serious Stanley Cup contender. While the roster has improved they still have a ways to go no matter how much their captain’s game evolves.

THE SCORE: Matthew Tkachuk is entering 2021-22 determined to help the Calgary Flames stage a long postseason run. The Flames reached the playoffs in three of his five seasons in Calgary but failed to advance beyond the first round.

NBC BOSTON: An emotional funeral and procession were held on Monday for former Bruin Jimmy Hayes in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts yesterday. Hayes died suddenly last week at age 31. His brother, Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, recalled Jimmy bringing a cancer-stricken youngster to the Bruins locker room, giving the child one of his best memories before he succumbed to the disease.

NHL.COM: Denmark defeated Norway 2-0 to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics thanks to an insurance goal by Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons collected an assist to help Latvia qualify for the Beijing Games in a 2-1 win over France in Group E qualification action on Sunday.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed winger Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year, $4.35 million contract.

Former NHLer Matt Calvert has joined the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings as a development coach. Injuries forced Calvert to announce his retirement earlier this year after 11 seasons.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed Dylan Guenther to a three-year entry-level contract. He was the ninth overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

PHILLY.COM:The Philadelphia Flyers will name a new inductee into their Hall of Fame for the first time in five years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2021

The Philadelphia Flyers sign Sean Couturier to an eight-year extension, the Carolina Hurricanes ink Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year deal, Canadiens expect Carey Price and Jonathan Drouin to attend training camp, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia Flyers signed center Sean Couturier yesterday to an eight-year, $62 million contract extension.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couturier will earn an annual average value of $7.75 million starting in 2022-23 through 2029-30. He’ll be 29 when that contract begins.

Winner of the Selke Trophy in 2019-20 as the NHL’s top defensive forward, Couturier is considered among the best two-way players in the league. He’s also the Flyers’ best player and one of their team leaders.

This deal could work out well for the Flyers as long as he maintains that Selke form. That shouldn’t be a concern through the first half of this new deal but could become burdensome if his performance declines over the second half.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year, $62 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov is getting a big pay raise coming off his entry-level contract. Unlike Couturier who is an established star at the peak of his playing career, the 21-year-old Hurricanes winger is a rising star who has displayed considerable potential as a first-line winger.

The Canes are banking on Svechnikov reaching or exceeding expectations. If he does, they’ll have a high-scoring top-line forward under contract during most of his best seasons at a price well below those of his peers.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price is expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month. The 34-year-old goaltender is currently recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Jonathan Drouin is also expected to be at camp. The 26-year-old winger took a leave of absence in April for personal reasons and missed the remainder of the regular season and the Canadiens march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite last season’s surprising playoff success, the Canadiens could be in a tough fight to clinch a playoff berth in 2021-22 in the competitive Atlantic Division. A healthy Price and Drouin could be crucial to their postseason hopes this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins center Charlie Coyle is recovering well from offseason surgery to repair a fracture in his left kneecap and a small tear in his patellar tendon. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in mid-September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty indicates those injuries accounted for Coyle’s struggles last season as he managed only 16 points in 51 games. He’s expected to take over the second-line center position left vacant by David Krejci’s decision to return to the Czech Republic.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed winger Dillon Dube to a three-year, $6.9 million deal.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are expected to name a team captain before the end of training camp. Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk could be the leading candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators haven’t had a captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks three years ago.