NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel (yes, again!), updates on the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, and the latest on the Canadiens and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are some NHL teams interested in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel who are willing to let him undergo disc replacement surgery, others not so much.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those teams are also telling the Sabres they want a conditional component to any trade because we don’t know what Eichel will be like when he returns from surgery, which could involve four months of recovery. LeBrun said the Sabres are willing to have a conditional part to a potential trade. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent but another step in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun said, a conditional component is a big deal as that could help to facilitate a trade. What that could look like is anyone’s guess. It could involve additional draft picks or prospects, perhaps some money retained by the Sabres, or something else. What’s also important is there are clubs willing to let Eichel get the surgery he wants. Whether those clubs can work out a suitable swap with the Sabres remains to be seen.

EKHOLM AND FORSBERG

LeBrun reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and his agent have told general manager David Poile that they would like to shelve contract talks for the season if a deal cannot be reached when the season opens next week. Talks are expected to continue before next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reports Filip Forsberg’s agent told him contract talks with Predators management have not started.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg didn’t sound like he was in a rush to start contract discussions during a recent interview. Ekholm, on the other hand, appeared keen last week to get a deal done as soon as possible.

The issue here is whether either player fits into the Predators’ long-term plans. Ekholm is 31 and signing him to a long-term deal might not be the wisest course of action for a club in the midst of what Poile deemed “a competitive rebuild”.

Forsberg, 27, will command much more on the open market, perhaps $8 million per season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a player during a time when the club is undergoing a transition. Besides, Forsberg might not be keen to stick around with a rebuilding club as he enters his playing prime.

CANADIENS AND SENATORS SPECULATION

TSN: LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens announcement that the future of general manager Marc Bergevin wouldn’t be addressed until after this season suggests he could be a lame-duck GM. He points to the fact Bergevin and team president Geoff Molson spoke about his future in January and an offer was made in July that didn’t produce an agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is a lame-duck one wonders how long it will take for Molson to find a suitable replacement. It could depend upon the club’s performance this season.

The possibility of Bergevin’s departure will get a mixed reaction from Canadiens fans. Some have long wanted him gone, even after the club reached the Cup Final last season. Others have fully supported most of his moves and decisions. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the long-term absence of center Colin White to shoulder surgery could have the Senators seeking a short-term replacement via the waiver wire or trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s confirmed White could be out four to six months. Don’t be surprised if the Senators make a move via waivers or trade in the coming days.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 3, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 3, 2021

Which notable players in next summer’s UFA class could get shopped at the March trade deadline? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently looked at which notable players among the 2022 unrestricted free agents could become trade candidates later this season.

Those UFAs include the Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly, Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville Predators’ Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm, New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Duhatschek pointed out those players belong to clubs that see themselves as playoff or even Stanley Cup contenders this season. He believes they’ll be retained as “own rentals” by their current teams.

The prime trade candidates will likely come from clubs that could be out of playoff contention with five weeks remaining in the regular season. Those could comprise the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. Trade bait could include Sharks center Tomas Hertl, Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, and perhaps Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek suggested Phil Kessel could fetch something of value for the Coyotes. Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and Red Wings blueliner Nick Leddy could draw interest from clubs seeking blueline depth.

Keep an eye on the Flames’ Gaudreau and the Predators’ Forsberg. Those clubs aren’t a sure thing to reach the 2022 playoffs. Trade speculation has dogged Gaudreau for the past two years. Ekholm seems more likely to be re-signed by the Predators than Forsberg, who could get around $8 million annually on the open market.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes Filip Forsberg’s contract negotiations could determine the Nashville Predators’ true intentions. Trading him for draft picks and prospects will signal the rebuild is on rather than a soft reset, marking the end of an era for the club.

Estes believes Forsberg will be traded unless this year’s team turns out to be better on the ice than anyone expects. Re-signing him will cost considerably more than his current $6 million annual average value. It isn’t something a rebuilding club would do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Estes also noted Forsberg’s seemingly indifferent comments about his contract talks, which suggest a lack of progression. If this persists, Forsberg will be a goner by the March 21 trade deadline if the Predators are out of the playoff race.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2021

An update on Johnny Gaudreau and the latest on the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz observes there’s been little word on the status of contract talks between Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. The 28-year-old left winger is entering the final season of a six-year, $40.5 million deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Gaudreau holds a lot of control over his current situation. His no-trade clause has kicked in for this season, limiting the Flames to just five potential trade partners. It puts plenty of pressure on management to sign the winger or risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Gretz speculates Gaudreau’s next contract could be in the $7.5 million to $8 million range per season at a minimum. The Flames must also re-sign restricted free-agent forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. That will make things tight under a salary cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, Gaudreau’s contract status will be the dominant storyline following the Flames this season.

If the Flames improve it could improve their chances of keeping Gaudreau in Calgary. If they remain a middle-of-the-pack playoff club, they risk losing him to free agency next summer.

And if they struggle as they did last season, I expect they’ll try to find a suitable trade partner among the five clubs on Gaudreau’s list of preferred destinations before the March 21 trade deadline.

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Mattias Ekholm still hopes to remain with the Nashville Predators beyond this season. The 31-year-old defenseman s entering the final season of his six-year, $22.5 million contract and is due to become a UFA next July.

I want to be here. I want to stay here,” said Ekholm, adding his agent is dealing with Predators general manager David Poile. He remains hopeful they’ll work something out. “I’d rather have it done yesterday,” he said.

Skrbina notes Ekholm’s name surfaced in trade rumors last season, which made the blueliner uncomfortable as he and his wife had a four-week-old baby at that point. He could get a raise for around $6 million annually.

Ekholm’s teammate and fellow UFA, Filip Forsberg, said his focus is on training camp and not on his contract status. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $36 million deal.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Ekholm and Forsberg are unsigned the more likely their names will surface in trade speculation this season, especially if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the March trade deadline approaches. It will be worth keeping an eye on their respective situations.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2021

What asking price could the Sharks set for Tomas Hertl? Could the Predators consider shopping Filip Forsberg? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked what potential return the San Jose Sharks could get if they traded Tomas Hertl. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and recently expressed uncertainty over his future in San Jose.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Kurz speculates the Sharks would want a first-round pick as part of the return. He also believes they’ll have to get a high-end prospect, “preferably someone who could play NHL games ahead of or along the same timeline” as Sharks prospects like William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau. That player could be a center but the declining stock of Ryan Merkley and Brent Burns’ advancing age could make a defenseman just as welcome.

Hertl has a three-team trade list. If he gets traded it could be in part because he believes the Sharks are several years away from Stanley Cup contention. Kurz also feels the Sharks will allow his agent to facilitate a trade somewhere he wants to go if he wants out.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty suggested Hertl as a trade option for the Bruins if Charlie Coyle struggles to replace David Krejci as their second-line center. He proposed offering up a first-rounder and Jack Studnicka if the Sharks center becomes available.

Signing Hertl to a contract extension could be difficult as he’ll seek a big raise over his current annual average value of $5.625 million. The Bruins could try moving Coyle ($5.25 million) or Jake DeBrusk and/or John Moore to make the dollars work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl is well-respected around the league as a versatile and skillful two-way forward despite a history of knee injuries. He’ll attract plenty of interest if he and the Sharks decide to part company before the March trade deadline. The Bruins could be among the suitors if Coyle can’t get the job done centering their second line.

Giving up a first and a promising young player is a lot to pay for someone who could turn out to be a rental player unless there’s a certainty he’ll re-sign with his new club. A team would have to be a Cup contender or close to it to sacrifice pieces of their future in that way.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter suggests Nashville Predators general manager David Poile should give consideration to trading Filip Forsberg this season. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become a UFA next summer.

Porter points out Forsberg carries a “reasonably price” $6 million AAV and lacks no-trade protection. With the Predators “lacking oomph on the roster” and shipping out veterans like Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson, they might think about peddling him for “exciting prospects and younger NHLers who have yet to peak.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg could become a trade candidate later this season if the Predators are out of contention by the trade deadline. It could cost over $8 million annually to get him under contract but they’re already carrying two $8 million forwards in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Forsberg also might not wish to be part of a rebuild if that’s where Poile is going with the roster. If the Predators are playoff contenders this season, however, Poile could be reluctant to move him.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2021

The latest on Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm plus a look at some Blackhawks trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked whether the Nashville Predators should re-sign Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm to long- or short-term contracts. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Vingan expects Ekholm to get a four-year deal worth around $6 million annually. He doesn’t anticipate the 32-year-old defenseman will drag out the process.

Forsberg’s negotiations, on the other hand, could get more complicated. The 27-year-old winger is in his playing prime as the Predators engage in a “competitive rebuild”. General manager David Poile will have to sell Forsberg on his short- and long-term plans for the Predators.

Poile must also decide Forsberg’s worth. He’s currently earning an annual cap hit of $6 million. While he’s the Preds’ most talented forward, he’s inconsistent and injury-prone.

Vingan believes Forsberg could get up to $8 million annually on the open market. He feels the Predators should avoid paying that much but it’s hard to see Forsberg accepting less than the $8 million annually being paid to teammates Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg’s contract situation will be worth following if he’s unsigned when the season begins. Vingan may be right about not paying him more than $8 million annually. However, having Johansen and Duchene each earning that much makes it difficult for Poile to justify paying Forsberg less.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing Forsberg’s name surface in this season’s rumor mill the longer he goes unsigned. That speculation could go into overdrive if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the trade deadline approaches.

Ekholm was the subject of intense trade chatter last season but that quickly died off as the Predators surged into a playoff spot in the weeks leading up to the April trade deadline. He seems keen to stay and Poile wants to keep him. I’ll be surprised if a new deal isn’t worked out before the season begins in October.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: With the Blackhawks bringing in additional depth and flexibility to their roster for this season, Ben Pope examined which players could become trade candidates.

Among the forwards, Dylan Strome could be shopped but that might not happen if captain Jonathan Toews isn’t ready to return to action in September and October. If that happens, Strome could get a second chance as a second-line center.

Brett Connolly could also hit the trade block. He’s 29 and overpaid at $3.5 million per season through 2022-23. With Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Lankinen expected to split the goalie duties, Malcolm Subban could be traded rather than lost for nothing via waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2021

Team owners approved jersey ads starting in 2022-23, Predators hope to re-sign Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, Steven Stamkos sells his Tampa mansion, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTICO: The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding advertisements to team jerseys effective 2022-23. Clubs can now begin negotiating with potential ad partners. The ads must fit a 3 by 3.5-inch rectangle. Last season, the league began selling ad space on the side of players’ helmets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics of these ads believe it is yet another step in a slippery slope toward turning players into billboards on skates akin to some European leagues. No NHL fans want to see that but I doubt it’ll ever go that far. European clubs have little choice because they lack the lucrative revenues streams enjoyed by the NHL.

Manufacturer logos have appeared on NHL player equipment for decades with no quibble from hockey fans. The small patch to appear on the front of jerseys will be as unobtrusive as those on the helmets.

The NHL is a business and that business took a big hit during the pandemic. They’re looking for whatever measures they can find to generate more hockey-related revenue. Anything that increases HRR will eventually translate into a higher salary cap, providing teams with more cap space to invest in building and maintaining their rosters.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Fans got used to ads painted on the boards and the ice. They weren’t put off by arenas being named after corporations or ads on the players’ helmets. They won’t be distracted by a small jersey patch as long as they don’t spread like measles all over the jersey.

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said his club is focused on signing Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg to long-term contract extensions. Both players are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Poile said discussions have started with Ekholm’s agent and should continue later this week or next week. He intends to reach out to Forsberg’s representatives before training camp opens next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Predators with over $46.4 million invested in 10 players for 2022-23 with Ekholm and Forsberg as their two core players becoming free agents. They have plenty of cap space to re-sign both players.

The question is how much Ekholm and Forsberg want on their new contracts and if they see their long-term futures in Nashville. It might be easier to re-sign them if the Preds were a Cup contender as they were three years ago. Their recent decline, however, could become a factor in those contract talks.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recently sold his Davis Islands home for a whopping $16 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, this doesn’t mean Stamkos is going to be traded. He still has a full no-movement clause and reportedly has no intention of waiving it.

As the story goes, the house was never listed and he and his family were happy living there. Stamkos had no intention of selling until someone met his “move-out number.” He and his family are preparing to move to another unlisted home in the area.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed rugged forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid have returned to the club in off-ice roles. Kelly is now an assistant coach while McQuaid is their new player development coordinator.

WGR 550.COM: Buffalo Sabres alumni Tim Kennedy and Nathan Paetsch have returned to the club as player development coaches.

TSN: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced attendees to their sports teams (including the Toronto Maple Leafs) will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test effectively mid-September to gain access to its arenas, stadium and restaurants.