How would a new contract for Filip Forsberg affect the Predators’ salary-cap payroll next season? Can the Oilers afford to sign Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked what it would mean for the Nashville Predators’ salary cap if they signed Filip Forsberg to a new contract in the range of $9 million per season. The increase of next season’s salary cap to $82.5 million would leave the Predators with $26.2 million in cap space.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
Setting aside $9 million for Forsberg, Vingan believes they have enough to re-sign such players as Luke Kunin and Yakov Trenin to modest raises. It would also mean trimming payroll around the edges such as replacing backup goaltender David Rittich with Connor Ingram. He advised the Predators to spend wisely as Alexander Carrier, Dante Fabbro and Tanner Jeannot will need new contracts following 2022-23.
Asked if Ryan Johansen’s resurgence this season could make it possible for the Predators to trade him, Vingan pointed out he’ll soon turn 30 and has three more seasons left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $8 million. He doubted there will be many takers unless the Predators retain some salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is 27 and likely seeking an eight-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million per season. Predators general manager David Poile will obviously attempt to sign him at the low end of that asking price and perhaps seek a shorter-term close to five years.
I concur with Vingan regarding Johansen. Poile would have to retain some salary in a trade, something he’s never done.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins recently pondered how the Oilers can hang onto Evander Kane. He’s had a positive effect on the lineup since joining them two months ago as an unrestricted free agent after the San Jose Sharks bought out his contract.
Making that happen could require some hard decisions about younger players such as Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, who will become restricted free agents this summer. Both have endured highs and lows this season, leaving Leavins to wonder whether they’ve shown enough to invest in for the long term or perhaps one or both receive short-term bridge deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s future with the Oilers could also depend upon the outcome of the grievance he filed against the Sharks for terminating his contract. If an arbiter determines Kane should receive most or all of the remainder of his contract with the Sharks ($7 million AAV through 2024-25) while allowing him to remain a free agent, it shouldn’t cost much for the Oilers to retain him if he wants to stay.
Recaps of Tuesday’s action, stars and rookie of the month for February, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson’s plans, the latest on Filip Forsberg and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The league-leading Colorado Avalanche became the first club to reach 40 wins this season by downing the New York Islanders 5-3. Devon Toews had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche hold a five-point lead over the second-place Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings with 84 points. Avs defenseman Jack Johnson also reached a notable milestone by playing his 1,000th NHL game.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on an overtime goal by Lucas Raymond. Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves for the win over his former team. The Hurricanes (79 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)
The Lightning, meanwhile, overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Brayden Point had a goal and three assists while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the win. The Lightning (76 points) hold a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom kicked out 32 shots to backstop his club to 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund each had two-point performances. The Flames have won 12 of their last 13 games and hold a five-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division with 70 points. The Wild remain in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.
The Vegas Golden Knights got two goals by Reilly Smith to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Robin Lehner made 16 saves in his first game since being sidelined for a month with an upper-body injury. It was Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer’s 500th career NHL victory. Sharks goaltender James Reimer left the game with a lower-body injury. With 64 points, the Golden Knights are third in the Pacific Division. The Sharks, however, are nine points out of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 54 points.
Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen picked up his first shutout since 2019 with a 39-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored his 37th goal of the season to tie Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead. With 63 points, the Oilers hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith returned to action after suffering a concussion on Feb.9. However, the club also revealed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered last week.
Trevor Zegras scored with 22 seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Anaheim Ducks over the Boston Bruins 4-3, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists as the Ducks (61 points) remain two points behind the Oilers. The Bruins still hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Winnipeg Jets kept their playoff hopes alive with an 8-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois each had three points for the Jets. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson tallied a hat trick. With 57 points, the Jets are six behind the Oilers.
Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves for the win. Devils center Jack Hughes scored to extend his points streak to eight games.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine were the NHL’s three stars for February 2022. Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman was named the rookie of the month for February 2022.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: New Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he’s looking more at a rebuild than a retool of his roster. “There are some things that we really need to fix that are going to take time,” he said, adding he’s not going to put a timeline on how long it’ll take to complete the rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s going to provide fodder for speculation over his trade deadline plans and where certain veterans such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the club’s long-term plans. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.
NHL.COM: Nashville Predators GM David Poile maintains his intent is to re-sign Filip Forsberg before the March 21 trade deadline. He added he’s not trying to trade the pending free-agent winger. Poile also indicated a deal isn’t done yet but they’re working on it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg became fodder for trade speculation following a report last week claiming Poile was shopping the winger. He quickly denied it but there’s conjecture he’s conducting “due diligence” in case he decides a contract extension won’t be reached by the trade deadline.
TSN: CCM Hockey announced it will stop using Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars in any of its global marketing. The move comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure we’ll see other pundits and insiders later today weighing in on this. As of this morning, there’s no indication as to which teams the Predators are talking to regarding the 27-year-old winger, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Forsberg’s popped up at times this season in the rumor mill. With the Predators in a playoff spot, the assumption was they’d stick with him as an “own rental”. He leads them with 26 goals in 38 games and sits third in points with 44.
This seems to be an unusual move for a club in postseason contention. It would signal contract extension talks have completely broken down. Forsberg would draw considerable interest from postseason contenders seeking additional scoring punch and could fetch a significant return for the Predators.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane cites Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy yesterday telling Sportsnet 960 saying a contract extension for Johnny Gaudreau is “a done deal”. The 28-year-old left winger is a UFA this summer and leads the Flames with 64 points in 49 games.
“That’s a done deal. We’re going to get that done. We’ll get that done,” said Conroy. He added he doesn’t know when that will happen, adding he has to talk with Gaudreau’s agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Macfarlane observed, Conroy’s remark was off-the-cuff and doesn’t appear to be confirmation that a deal has indeed been negotiated for Gaudreau. The winger and Flames GM Brad Treliving both said they wouldn’t discuss the contract talks with the media.
Prior to this season, Gaudreau frequently indicated his willingness to remain with the Flames. Doing so, however, will be expensive. His current annual average value is $6.75 million. On pace to exceed 100 points this season, he could command between $9 million and $10 million on a seven- or eight-year extension.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flames have $54.45 million invested in 12 players for next season. They must also re-sign Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington. Tkachuk could also be in line for over $9 million annually. They’ll have to shed some salary in the offseason to accommodate those signings.
SPORTSNET: Appearing on The Jeff Marek Show (stick tap to NHL Watcher), Elliotte Friedman believes the Dallas Stars will attempt to sign Joe Pavelski to a contract extension. The 37-year-old forward is a UFA this summer.
Friedman said Pavelski is receptive to staying in Dallas. He plays alongside young forwards Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, who are a key part of the Stars’ future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on Pavelski’s asking price and what the Stars do with John Klingberg, I can see him spending another two seasons in Dallas. He’s still an effective and productive player whose leadership is valued by the Stars.
Silber also noted an RDS report last week claiming the Canadiens had an interest in Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Moving him, however, would leave the Caps seeking an experienced netminder who can play with consistency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarot is expected to be the next player traded by the Canadiens because of his UFA status. With the Leafs allowed to exceed the salary cap by roughly the equivalent of Jake Muzzin’s $5.625 million cap hit when the blueliner was placed on LTIR, that gives them the wiggle room to acquire someone like the Habs blueliner.
Lehkonen is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from UFA eligibility. The Canadiens could ship him out before the March 21 trade deadline if the two sides fail to agree on a long-term extension.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mike DeFabo examined the Penguins’ roster needs and the possible trade targets and assets they could move.
DeFabo also feels they could use a bigger, stronger body on defense, suggesting Philadelphia’s Justin Braun or Detroit’s Marc Staal as trade options. Given the Penguins’ limited trade assets and cap space, he doesn’t see them pursuing big-ticket blueliners like Dallas’ John Klingberg, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm or Seattle’s Mark Giordano. He also suggested the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell as a trade target to add a big-bodied scoring forward.
Of these, Kingerski believes former Penguin McCann to be the most likely candidate. If not for the Seattle expansion draft last summer, he’d still be in Pittsburgh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker’s on LTIR and even if he returns before the trade deadline I doubt he’ll draw much interest if he’s put on the trade block. His declining production makes him a tough sell.
Kapanen could be enticing but his inconsistency hurts his trade value. Joseph could be a worthwhile trade chip but they’ll probably have to package him with a decent draft pick to get a quality return.
The contracts of Matheson and Pettersson could be difficult to move this season. Those moves would probably have to be made in the offseason. Even then, they won’t be easy to move because of the length of those deals. Both earn over $4 million annually but Matheson has four years left on his deal while Pettersson has three.
Forget about seeing van Riemsdyk or Boeser suiting up for the Penguins. However, I think McCann, Lehkonen or Domi are doable, though the Blue Jackets would have to retain a healthy chunk of the remainder of Domi’s $5.3 million cap hit.
I also wouldn’t rule out the Penguins pursuing an affordable and experienced backup goalie. Landing former Capital Holtby would certainly be intriguing but I don’t think the Stars will part with him. Greiss or Korpisalo could be more likely options.
If the Canadiens decide to move Gallagher and/or Toffoli it’ll likely happen in the offseason. It’s difficult to move older players with several years on their contracts during the season, especially with 22 teams carrying less than $3.6 million in cap space. Some will have more cap room by the trade deadline but they must also keep an eye on next season’s payrolls with the cap only rising by $1 million.
Predators GM David Poile said in July he was engaging in a “competitive rebuild”. That could continue with Forsberg’s departure. If they’re still in playoff contention by the deadline they’ll keep him as an “own rental” and let him walk this summer if they can’t reach an agreement on an extension.
Marek is referring to the Edmonton Oilers. However, that depends on the health of Oiler goalie Mike Smith, whether Fleury would accept a trade to Edmonton and if the Blackhawks are willing to pick up part of his cap hit.
Tarasenko hasn’t rescinded his trade request and is fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries. However, his $7.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 remains a sticking point as it was this past summer. The fact he’s owed $9.5 million in actual salary this season and I believe the earliest he gets moved is next summer.
New York Rangers GM Chris Drury won’t budge on honoring Vitali Kravtsov’s trade request unless he gets something of quality in return. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s name has also been in the rumor mill.
Kravtsov is on loan to KHL club Chelyabinsk and can’t return to the NHL until the KHL season is over. Georgiev’s solid effort filling in for sidelined starter Igor Shesterkin could improve his trade value but the Blueshirts could be reluctant to move him unless they’ve got a reliable backup to replace him.
I doubt the Penguins shop any of those three if they’re holding a playoff berth by deadline day. Rust is the only one lacking any kind of no-trade protection and carries the most affordable cap hit ($3.5 million).
Marek wondered if Oilers GM Ken Holland will use his first-round pick as trade bait to bring in immediate help for his roster. He also mused over whether the Buffalo Sabres would use one of their three 2022 first-round picks to address an organizational need.
Carey Price reveals treatment for substance abuse while Ducks GM Bob Murray is placed on administrative leave for improper professional conduct. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price broke his silence yesterday regarding the reasons why he entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program last month. In a statement released on his Instagram account, Price said he sought treatment for substance abuse after years of neglecting his mental health. He admitted it could take some time before he returns to action. The 34-year-old goaltender also expressed appreciation for the support and well wishes he’s received.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price didn’t owe the public an explanation for seeking help but it was brave of him to do so. He’s dealt with an unimaginable burden of pressure as a superstar in one of hockey’s most demanding markets. Success and millions of dollars does not make a person immune from struggling with mental health issues. Best wishes to Price and his family in his ongoing recovery.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Anaheim Ducks placed general manager Bob Murray on administrative leave following the initial findings of an internal investigation into allegations of “improper professional conduct”.
Frank Seravalli reported sources claimed Murray allegedly created a toxic workplace atmosphere through repeated verbal abuse and harassment of Ducks players, coaches and personnel. His intimidation tactics and temper tantrums fostered a climate of fear throughout the organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli indicated the Ducks GM was with his team in Vancouver yesterday when the news was delivered. He was ordered to leave the team immediately and return to Anaheim on his own. Murray’s fate could be decided once the team receives additional findings from the investigation.
This news comes less the two weeks following the release of the report into allegations by Kyle Beach that he was sexually assaulted by former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Alrich in 2010. That report cost Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman his job over his handling of the allegations.
TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have settled a lawsuit filed by a former minor-league assistant and his wife. Jarrod and Erin Skalde accused the team of negligently retaining a coach who sexually assaulted and harassed Erin and threatened retaliation against Jarrod for reporting the incident.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, NHL teams, here’s a thought: stop hiring and protecting abusive scumbags and sexual predators.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils overcame a 3-2 deficit to thump the Florida Panthers 7-3, handing the latter their second straight regulation defeat after going 10-0-1. Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves, Ty Smith had a goal and two assists and Andreas Johnsson scored twice.
Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov tallied two goals and Alex Nedeljkovic kicked out 31 shots in a 4-2 upset of the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi replied for the Oilers after the Wings opened a 3-0 lead. Moritz Seider put the game away with an empty-net goal. Detroit extends its record to 7-5-2.
A 37-save effort by Adin Hill carried the San Jose Sharks over the Calgary Flames 4-1. Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Jonathan Dahlen netted three unanswered third-period goals for the Sharks, who now sit 7-4-1 on the season.
The Los Angeles Kings extended their winning streak to six games by nipping the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on an overtime goal by Adrian Kempe. Cal Petersen made 33 saves for the win as the Kings’ record sits at 7-5-1. Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin missed his third straight game as he still feels lingering effects from a recent head injury.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 41 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Winger Troy Terry netted the game-winner to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Ducks (7-4-2) have won five straight games. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two assists in a losing cause.
The Carolina Hurricanes (10-1-0) downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on an OT goal by Martin Necas. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos opened the scoring but Teuvo Teravainen tied in the third period. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves. Before the game, the Hurricanes placed winger Nino Niederreiter (lower body) on injured reserve.
A shootout goal by Ryan O’Reilly gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 39 stops while teammates Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou each had a goal and an assist. The Blues’ record sits at 8-2-1.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith scored twice in a 46-second span in the third period as his club doubled up the Seattle Kraken by a score of 4-2. Vegas defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore each had a goal and an assist. The Kraken (4-8-1) have dropped four of their last five contests.
Patrice Bergeron tallied the game-winner late in the third period as the Boston Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy picked up his 200th career NHL victory. The Senators (3-8-1) have lost five straight games. Bruins forward Trent Frederic left the game after being hit in the second period by Senators defenseman Josh Brown. Earlier in the day, Senators defenseman Victor Mete became the sixth member of the team placed on COVID protocol.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves while shootout goals by Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat completed the comeback. The Blackhawks (3-9-2) have won two straight games under interim head coach Derek Kings. Jeff Carter scored two goals for the Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks placed winger Mackenzie Entwistle (ankle injury) on IR. He’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS: Tuukka Rask returned to the Boston Bruins practice facility in full goalie gear working out with the club’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa. The 34-year-old Rask underwent hip surgery three months ago and remains an unrestricted free agent. Whether he returns with the Bruins or signs with another NHL club remains to be seen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask has already indicated he’s open to returning to the Bruins on an inexpensive one-year deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in the lineup at some point in the New Year.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed practice yesterday with a lower-body injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Nashville Predators placed Filip Forsberg (upper body) on injured reserve.
The latest on Filip Forsberg and a suggestion for the Penguins to target a Leafs defenseman in the trade market in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked if the Nashville Predators have held any contract talks with Filip Forsberg. His agent, J.P. Barry, told Vingan those discussions have not started but anticipated they could begin at some point in the season.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
Forsberg is in the final season of a six-year, $36-million contract. Vingan speculates Barry could push for his client to become the Predators’ highest-paid forward, exceeding the $8 million annually earned by Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene.
Another reader wondered if Forsberg’s latest injury (upper body, week-to-week) could affect those talks. The 27-year-old winger had already missed a total of 56 games over the previous four seasons to injury. While Forsberg isn’t a reckless player, his latest injury is a reminder of how risky it is for the Predators to sign him to a contract extension.
Vingan suggested Predators general manager David Poile tread carefully in negotiations. He also suggested an argument could be made for Poile to shop Forsberg before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile has indicated his preference to signing Forsberg but I doubt he wants to repeat the mistakes he made with Johansen and Duchene. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Predators GM shops Forsberg if a contract extension isn’t ready before the March 21 trade deadline. Despite his recent history of injuries, Forsberg would draw considerable interest from playoff contenders if he becomes available in March.
Recent reports out of Toronto indicate the Leafs are shopping a right-side defenseman. While the 29-year-old Holl won’t light up the scoreboard, the 6’4”, 210-pounder is a physical blueliner who can clear traffic around the Penguins net and block shots. He also carries an affordable $2 million cap hit through 2022-23.
The cap-strapped Penguins would have to get creative to acquire Holl but he’d be an immediate upgrade. Kingerski recommended the Penguins offer up goaltender Louis Domingue in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski also proposed the Penguins look at the Buffalo Sabres’ Mark Pysyk but he could be harder to acquire as he’s earning second-pairing minutes. Meanwhile, Holl has been a healthy scratch for the past five games.
It remains to be seen if there’s a deal to be had between the Penguins and Leafs regarding Holl. He shouldn’t cost that much to acquire but there doesn’t appear to be much interest in him thus far. The Leafs are also rumored to be willing to entertain offers for Travis Dermott.