NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: more speculation linking the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun to the Sabres, pondering the possibility of the Hurricanes pursuing a defenseman, the latest on Senators’ winger Alex Formenton plus the Bruins could be working on a trade.

COULD CHYCHRUN BE HEADED TO THE SABRES?

POST MEDIA: Michael Traikos believes the Buffalo Sabres are the favorite to acquire Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Traikos argues the Sabres have the cap space to get a deal done. They also possess plenty of prospects, having made five first-round picks in the last two years.

With the Sabres stuck once again near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Traikos believes they have the biggest need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are reportedly among the clubs interested in Chychrun, but is he interested in going from one perpetually rebuilding team to another? He lacks no-trade protection but reportedly spiked a deal that would’ve sent him to the Columbus Blue Jackets before the 2022 NHL Draft.

Some of you asked me how Chychrun could reject a trade if he lacks no-trade protection. In the Blue Jackets’ case, his apparent unwillingness to go to Columbus was said to have made them reconsider their options. After what happened with Pierre-Luc Dubois in 2020-21, I daresay they don’t want history repeating itself.

The Sabres have had their own recent history of unhappy players (hello there, Jack Eichel) becoming an unnecessary distraction. They’ll have to ensure Chychrun would have no issues coming to Buffalo before pulling the trigger.

There’s no denying the Sabres have the cap room and the depth in promising young talent to tempt the Coyotes. Those five first-rounders Traikos was referring to are Owen Power and Isak Rosen in 2021 and Matthew Savoie, Noah Ostlund and Jiri Kulich from last season’s draft class. Power, of course, isn’t going anywhere but perhaps the Sabres would part with one or two of those other prospects.

COULD THE HURRICANES TARGET A DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently took note of the Carolina Hurricanes’ woeful power-play percentage this season, pointing out it was much better last season with Tony DeAngelo on their blueline.

Duhatschek wondered if the Hurricanes might bring in another puck-moving rearguard to improve their power-play production. He wondered if they might add someone such as the Coyotes’ Shayne Gostisbehere or the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Brent Burns last summer was supposed to be an overall upgrade over DeAngelo. Having scoring wingers like Teuvo Teravainen and Max Pacioretty sidelined by injuries hasn’t helped. Neither has the departure of center Vincent Trocheck via free agency in July or the offensive struggles of sophomore forward Seth Jarvis. Their overall production should improve once Teravainen and Pacioretty return to the lineup, which could also boost Jarvis’ offense.

LATEST SENATORS AND BRUINS RUMORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators forward Alex Formenton is this season’s last remaining unsigned restricted free agent. He has until 5 pm ET on Thursday, Dec. 1 to sign a new contract or be ineligible to play the remainder of this season.

Formenton faces three options. One is signing a new deal with the Senators if an agreement can be reached before Thursday’s deadline. The second is the Senators trade his rights to another club for something in return if he signs with his new team. The third is Formenton ends up playing in Europe for the remainder of this season with the Senators still holding his RFA rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch reports neither side is commenting on the contract talks. Some fans speculate Formenton’s contract status is linked to his being part of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team that’s under investigation over allegations of sexual assault. There’s been no indication thus far that this is the case.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports the Bruins might do more than just demote defenseman Anton Stralman if he clears waivers later today to free up more cap space. Removing Stralman from their books would clear just enough cap room to accommodate Derek Forbort coming off long-term injured reserve.

Murphy cited an NHL executive recently saying Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was working the phones seeking a cost-cutting trade. This occurred prior to Stralman being placed on waivers. Mike Reilly ($3 million average annual value) and Craig Smith ($3.1 million) are considered trade candidates. Murphy wondered if Brandon Carlo might become a trade option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reilly and Smith have frequently surfaced in recent Bruins’ trade chatter but nothing’s come of it thus far. Carlo’s also surfaced as a trade candidate but his injury history could hurt his value.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2022

How will the Canadiens address their surplus of forwards? What’s the latest on the Senators’ contract talks with Alex Formenton? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu reports the Montreal Canadiens will face a delicate balancing act of managing their surplus of forwards this season. They’re currently carrying 15 forwards but will have to move one of them once defenseman Joel Edmundson returns from injury.

The Canadiens could send rookie Juraj Slafkovsky to their AHL affiliate as he’s exempt from waivers. However, the 18-year-old winger’s performance thus far doesn’t merit demotion.

Montreal Canadiens winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images)

Basu believes they don’t want to put affordable forward Michael Pezzetta on waivers because he’d likely be claimed by another club. He speculates it could instead be a veteran such as Jonathan Drouin, Evgenii Dadonov or Mike Hoffman who could get waived and demoted.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes Dadonov could become the odd man out among the Canadiens forwards. He suggested a trade would be best for the 33-year-old winger as he clearly doesn’t have a future in Montreal.

Dadonov was a healthy scratch during their 7-4 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and didn’t practice or play with the club against Minnesota on Tuesday. Cowan points out the Russian winger has no points in eight games and carries a cap hit of $5 million for this season, though he’ll earn $6.5 million in actual salary.

TVA SPORTS: Marc-Andre Perreault reports Dadonov’s absence was due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Perreault also spoke with Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes during last night’s game against the Wild. Hughes told him Dadonov’s agent called him on Friday to discuss his client’s situation, something he understood as a former agent himself. Perreault reported Dadonov met with Hughes on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dadonov hasn’t really done much this season to earn more playing time with the Canadiens. As Cowan pointed out, his performance combined with his contract makes him tough to move at this stage of the season. The Habs will have to retain part of his cap hit if they want to do that right now.

Slafkovsky has made steady improvement thus far but the Canadiens will soon have to reach a decision with the 18-year-old winger. He’s played seven games and can only play two more before the Canadiens can send him down to Laval if they want to push the start of his entry-level contract ahead to next season. That would be the easiest way to address the issue but Basu doesn’t believe that would be the right decision.

They could put Dadonov, Drouin or Hoffman on waivers and demote one of them, though that means they’ll only get $1.125 million in cap relief by doing so. Those three have been disappointing thus far with a grand total of four points between them. Finding a taker for one of them in the trade market is a daunting challenge.

UPDATE ON FORMENTON’S CONTRACT TALKS WITH THE SENATORS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there hasn’t been much progress in contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and Alex Formenton. He claimed the Senators “have reasons for slow-playing this situation”. However, they have until Dec. 1 to sign Formenton or else he becomes unavailable to play the remainder of this season.

Dreger said some believe a trade is more likely. He also suggested, “Europe, long term, could be an option as well”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Formenton is a 23-year-old winger who completed his entry-level contract last season. He’s a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights who showed promise last season with 18 goals and 32 points in 79 games.

It’s been radio silence from the Senators and Formenton’s camp on this situation. That’s sparked speculation that he could be one of the players involved in the sexual assault allegations leveled against members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team. Formenton didn’t attend training camp and hasn’t made any statements or conducted any interviews.

Whatever the reason behind the stalemate, the clock is ticking regarding his playing status in the NHL for this season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

A recent look at the notable remaining restricted free agents in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of the remaining notable restricted free agents.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

Topping his list is the Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson. The 23-year-old winger has blossomed into a first-line scorer who was the Calder Trophy runner-up in 2021. Fox wonders if the Stars will attempt to sign Robertson to a long-term deal that could look like a bargain down the road or ink him to a bridge deal that hands the winger more leverage for his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be a bridge deal, pointing out the Stars couldn’t do a long-term deal for Jake Oettinger, who recently signed a three-year, $12 million contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Stars carrying $6.3 million in cap space with 22 players under contract. My guess is Robertson agrees to a two-year deal worth $5 million annually to put himself in line for a major pay raise in 2024. That’s when the salary cap is expected to significantly increase.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi and Ottawa Senators winger Alex Formenton are second and third on Fox’s list. He reported Kings general manager Rob Blake continues to negotiate with the Durzi camp. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion said his discussions with Formenton’s agent were positive and he expects the 22-year-old will be under contract prior to training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, the Kings re-signed blueliner Mikey Anderson to a one-year, $1 million contract. With $1.3 million remaining in cap space, I wouldn’t be surprised if Durzi gets a similar deal. Both rearguards completed their entry-level contracts last season.

NHL training camps will start by Sep. 21 so look for the Senators to have Formenton’s new contract sorted by then.

Fox cited Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reporting center Barrett Hayton should have a new deal before training camp. He doesn’t see the two sides being far apart. Fox pointed out the Coyotes have plenty of salary-cap room. He recommended a bridge deal but observed the club has a tendency of signing their promising young players to long-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikey Anderson was also on Fox’s list but he was re-signed on Saturday by the Kings.

Rasmus Sandin’s contract talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly remain at a standstill. Meanwhile, Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon recently said re-signing defenseman Nicolas Hague before training camp was his top priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I covered Sandin’s situation in yesterday’s Rumor Mill. As for Hague, McCrimmon reportedly has had little dialogue with Hague’s representatives since early July.

Both defensemen are coming off ELCs and have no leverage other than refusing to report to training camp. We’ll find out within the next 10 days if they’ll end up signing bridge deals before camps open on Sep. 21.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod and Calgary Flames forward Adam Ruzicka complete Fox’s list. He reported there’s little concern in Edmonton over getting McLeod signed before training camp. Meanwhile, Fox believes Flames GM Brad Treliving must decide if Ruzicka is ready to be a full-time NHLer or if he will sign him to a two-way contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

Leon Draisaitl talks about how his ankle injury affected his postseason play, Joe Thornton won’t be returning with the Panthers, Mike Babcock intends to retire from coaching and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited Leon Draisaitl telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman how his high ankle sprain during the playoffs forced him to change his style of play. The Edmonton Oilers center suffered the injury in Game 6 of his club’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Draisaitl usually relies on speed to beat his opponents. He explained that the injury forced him to slow down his game and evolve as a player. “I tried to find a way to be productive in a different way,” said Draisaitl. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”

For the remainder of the Oilers’ playoff run, Draisaitl scored twice and collected 22 assists in 10 games while playing a more stationary style.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was apparent Draisaitl was hampered by his injury yet his output was impressive. It’s bad news for opponents that he used the experience to evolve his style of play. This lesson could also help him remain productive when age inevitably slows his skating.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: On Wednesday, Joe Thornton’s wife posted to her private Instagram account that the family will be moving on from South Florida. He signed a one-year contract last summer with the Panthers but appeared in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. It’s uncertain what the future holds for the 43-year-old free-agent forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After 24 seasons, Thornton’s NHL career has likely come to an end. His performance has been declining since his season-ending knee injury in 2017-18.

650 CKOM: Mike Babcock said he intends to retire from coaching after stepping down earlier this week as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. While he seemed to leave the door open for a possible return to the NHL coach ranks, the 59-year-old indicated retirement was best for himself and his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock had a long and successful career in the NHL. He sits 10th all-time in wins (700) between 2002-03 and 2019-20 with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008. Babcock faced allegations of bullying players following his dismissal by the Leafs but he has denied those claims.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed Filip Zadina to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.825 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a top-six winger. The Wings appear intent on staying patient with the 22-year-old right winger. His affordable new contract could also make him easier to trade if the two sides feel he might benefit from a change of scenery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed Philippe Myers to a one-year, $1.4 million contract extension. The 25-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Nashville Predators as part of the return in the Ryan McDonagh trade earlier this summer. Myers is entering the final season of his current contract with a $2.55 million cap hit.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said the club will go with the goalie tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit to start the upcoming season. There was speculation over how they would address the absence of Robin Lehner, who is undergoing double hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCrimmon has no choice. There are no viable replacement options via free agency or the trade market for his cap-strapped club.

TSN: cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Senators general manager Pierre Dorion saying he’s still talking with the agents for Erik Brannstrom and Alex Formenton. He anticipates the two restricted free agents to be signed before training camp opens next month.

In other Senators’ news, they recently reached an affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Allen Americans. Speaking of NHL teams and ECHL affiliates…

CALGARY SUN: The Flames named the Rapid City Rush as their ECHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks did the same with the Wichita Thunder as did the Arizona Coyotes with the Atlanta Gladiators.