NHL Rumor Mill – May 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 15, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Jets, and Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Frank Seravalli expects the Toronto Maple Leafs to acquire more players on long-term injury reserve. Under the NHL CBA, a player under a contract whose career is cut short by injury but doesn’t retire can be placed on LTIR. That allows a team sitting at the cap maximum to exceed it by an amount equal to the player’s annual average value.

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs try to acquire a potential LTIR player like Chicago’s Brent Seabrook? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Leafs previously acquired the contracts of all-but-retired players like Nathan Horton and David Clarkson to give themselves more salary-cap wiggle room. With both players coming off the books at the end of this season, Seravalli believes Leafs management will be on the hunt for more LTIR contracts.

His suggested targets include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Ottawa’s Marian Gaborik, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, and Chicago’s Brent Seabrook. Others could include Vancouver’s Micheal Ferland and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman doubts the Leafs are eager to go the LTIR route again. “They knew they were starting last year without Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman. It wasn’t an easy dance for them — or Vegas — last season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate this loophole could be closed in the next collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, there’s nothing within the CBA preventing the Leafs (or anyone else) from doing this again. Several LTIR contracts (including those of Gaborik and Hossa) were traded in recent years to cap-strapped clubs seeking some payroll flexibility. Bear in mind it remains to be seen if Kesler, Seabrook, Ferland, and Shaw become permanent LTIR players. They haven’t ruled out returning to play next season. 

Friedman raises a good point about the difficulty the Leafs faced to pull this off this season. It could become more complicated if their roster starts next season healthier than they were at the start of 2019-20.  


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Ken Wiebe examined some backup goaltending targets for the Winnipeg Jets if they don’t re-sign pending free agent Laurent Brossoit. Trade targets could include St. Louis’ Jake Allen and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, while the UFA market includes the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss and San Jose’s Aaron Dell. New Jersey’s Cory Schneider could be a long-shot option if the Devils buy out the final two years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could move Allen in a cost-cutting deal to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo, but they won’t just give him away. Their asking price could be a good, young, affordable NHLer.

Dubnyk has a modified no-trade clause containing 19 preferred trade destinations. There’s no certainty the Jets would be on it.

In addition to Greiss and Dell, Cam Talbot and Anton Khudobin are also potentially available. All but Dell, however, could cost over $3 million annually each.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils might go after a big-name free agent like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. While acknowledging the possibility, he considers the odds slim, suggesting it might not make sense to pay Pietrangelo huge money for a couple of seasons before the Devils are ready to become playoff contenders. He advocates pursuing a younger top-pairing blueliner in a trade. 

Asked if the Devils could shop one of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft, Masisak thinks it’s too early to tell. “I don’t think they would consider trading the Arizona pick or the Vancouver pick until we know if it’s being transferred in 2020 or is an unprotected 2021 choice,” he said. “The value of those picks changes depending on that information.”

The Best NHL Trade Deadline Deals Since 2010

The Best NHL Trade Deadline Deals Since 2010


Best NHL Players You Didn’t Know Played For Your Favorite Team: Metropolitan Division

Best NHL Players You Didn’t Know Played For Your Favorite Team: Metropolitan Division


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2018

Austin Watson receives 27-game suspension, Blue Jackets re-sign John Tortorella plus updates on Jake Allen, Marian Gaborik and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson received a 27-game suspension from the NHL following its investigation after he pleaded no contest in July to misdemeanor domestic assault.

SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reports the NHL Players Association will file an appeal on Watson’s behalf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The appeal will likely be for a reduction in the length of Watson’s suspension rather than overturning the league’s decision. In the wake of domestic assault cases involving NHL players (Semyon Varlamov, Slava Voynov) in recent years, the league is sending a clear message it won’t tolerate such behavior. Because Watson’s not one of the Predators’ core players, his absence likely won’t adversely affect their on-ice performance. 

STLTODAY.COM: Back spasms are expected to sideline St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen for 10-to-14 days.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen has been sidelined by back spasms. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s a good opportunity for the Blues’ goalie prospects to catch the eye of the coaching staff in Allen’s absence. 

Speaking of the Blues, they re-signed defenseman Jordan Schmaltz to a two-year contract. It’s a two-way deal for the upcoming season, paying him $700K at the NHL level.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed head coach John Tortorella to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s done a good job turning the Blue Jackets from a bottom feeder into a perennial playoff team. This extension expresses the front office’s confidence in his ability to guide them into Stanley Cup contenders. 

OTTAWA SUN: Senators winger Marian Gaborik still hasn’t been medically cleared to play and it’s uncertain if he’ll suit up this season. He had surgery earlier this year to repair a herniated disc. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries have hampered Gaborik throughout his career. Cap Friendly indicates he’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.875 million. The Senators will likely place him on long-term injured reserve to start the season. 

TSN: The Humboldt Broncos played their first game since a bus accident last April killed 16 and injured 13. The Broncos lost 2-1 to the Nipawin Hawks, last year’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champions. The Broncos were on route to meet the Hawks in a playoff game when the tragedy took place. “Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter are the only two players who were involved in the crash and are back on the Broncos this season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An emotional night for the Broncos, the families of the dead and the survivors, and the town of Humboldt. Best of luck to everyone this season. 


NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2018

Latest on the Golden Knights, Senators and Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.


LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports trade rumors have linked the Vegas Golden Knights to Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson for some time. But with training camp opening in two weeks, they appear no closer to landing the all-star blueliner.

Schoen considers Karlsson a “perfect fit” for the Golden Knights’ fast-moving transition game. The blueliner is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status. All signs point to Karlsson not re-signing with the Senators, who can’t afford to lose their best trade asset for nothing.

Are the Vegas Golden Knights still interested in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson? (Photo via NHL Images)

Schoen notes trade speculation has also tied the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks to Karlsson. He suspects the Senators’ asking price could be four pieces, including an NHL player, a top prospect and a first-round pick.

The Golden Knights were reportedly close to landing the two-time Norris Trophy winner at last season’s trade deadline but the deal fell through. They have the cap space to absorb Karlsson’s $6.5-million salary-cap hit and enough to re-sign him. However, the Senators could also be trying to unload winger Bobby Ryan’s contract ($7.25-million annually through 2021-22) in the deal. They could also want one of the Golden Knights top prospects, such as Cody Glass or Erik Brannstrom, or perhaps promising defenseman Shea Theodore.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good synopsis by Schoen of where the Golden Knights stand in the Karlsson trade rumor chatter. While the Stars and Lightning are considered the front-runners by many observers, I would include Vegas among them.

Of the clubs supposedly interested in the Senators captain, the Golden Knights appear to be an ideal trade partner. They have plenty of salary-cap room, depth in quality prospects and promising young players, lots of extra draft picks and appear keen to bring in a true superstar. Their impressive inaugural season and Sun Belt location could make them a tempting destination for Karlsson, who holds a 10-team no-trade list. 


OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren reports Erik Karlsson politely declined a recent interview request, saying he’d speak to the press when training camp opens on Sept. 13. Warren also expects Bobby Ryan will return with the Senators this season as his contract makes him almost untradeable.

Warren wonders what the future holds for 36-year-old winger Marian Gaborik. If he’s healthy, Warren believes the Senators could buy out his contract or perhaps explore a trade, perhaps by trying to include him in a Karlsson deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last week’s resurgence in Karlsson trade speculation prompted some pundits to suggest the Senators could be trying to move Karlsson before training camp opens. We’ll find out soon enough if that’s the case.

As for Gaborik, unless there’s a different rule in the CBA regarding contract buyouts and players coming off injury, the Sens will have to wait until next June at the earliest to go that route. I doubt they’ll find any takers for Ryan or Gaborik, but then again, I didn’t think the Kings would be able to move the latter’s contract until the Senators came calling by offering up defenseman Dion Phaneuf. 


MLIVE.COM: In a recent profile of Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou, Ansar Khan noted his inconsistency made the winger fodder for trade speculation. If the Wings decide to trade him they’ll want a player who can help them immediately, like a defenseman. With Henrik Zetterberg likely headed for long-term injured reserve, the Wings could slide Athanasiou into their third-line center role. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This coming season could determine how long Athanasiou remains with the Red Wings. His speed and offensive skills are enticing but his lack of consistency casts his future in Detroit into doubt. They’ll assess his performance over the course of 2018-19. If he fails to play up to expectations they could shop him before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. 


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 10, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 10, 2018

Contract buyout candidates plus updates on Milan Lucic, Ilya Kovalchuk and Ian Cole in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

Could Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza become a buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)


SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently listed Ottawa Senators winger Marian Gaborik, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jori Lehtera, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling, Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza, Minnesota Wild winger Tyler Ennis, San Jose Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, Calgary Flames right wing Troy Brouwer, and Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky as this year’s top-eight buyout candidates.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz lists Brouwer, PIttsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Hunwick and Buffalo Sabres left wing Matt Moulson as “costly, but might be worth it” buyout candidates. He feels Lehtera and Ennis are definitely worth buying out but suggests Spezza might be worth retaining for the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract buyout period runs from June 15-30. Check out Cap Friendly for their buyout calculator.

Players with one year remaining on their contracts, such as Spezza, Lehtera, Ennis and Martin, are more likely to be bought out than those with two or more years remaining on their deals. For example, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports being told there’s a “strong possibility” the Sharks buy out Martin later this month. 

Even then, that’s not a certainty. In April, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he doesn’t plan to buy out Lehtera though he doesn’t rule out changing his mind.  Boylen also reminds us players must be medically cleared before being eligible for buyouts. If Gaborik hasn’t fully recovered from recent back surgery, he’ll be ineligible for a buyout this month. 

I don’t expect the Hurricanes will buy out Darling this summer, as they’re likely to give him another shot at proving himself as a reliable starting goaltender. Dubinsky battled with injuries and personal issues this season, but given the Blue Jackets’ depth issues at center, I believe he’ll return with them in 2018-19. If the Penguins need more cap room to bring in depth elsewhere in the lineup, I can see them buying out the final two years of Hunwick’s contract. 


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples is “somewhat optimistic” another NHL team will want to trade for Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and his $6-million annual average value through 2022-23. Despite the troubling decline in Lucic’s offensive stats last season, Staples suggests we shouldn’t underestimate how some NHL GMs value size, toughness and past reputation. Lucic also has a full no-movement clause but there’s a belief he could be open to being dealt.

Staples colleague Jim Matheson believes there isn’t a rush on the Oilers part to move Lucic. “The only conceivable way the Oilers could trade Lucic today would be to take on somebody’s onerous long-term contract back, and maybe toss in a draft pick or prospect to sweeten the pot,” said Matheson, who feels there’s no real upside to trading him. He noted the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks tried hard to sign Lucic in 2016 and wondered if they might still be interested in him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, of course, but I share Matheson’s doubts about the Oilers finding a trade partner to take on those remaining five years of Lucic’s contract. There was some speculation of a Lucic for Andrew Shaw swap with Montreal, but I think the Oilers would have to absorb part of Lucic’s cap hit to make it palatable for the Canadiens. Even then, the remaining years of his contract could be a deal breaker.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets pending UFA defenseman Ian Cole is open to re-signing if he gets “the right offer” from the Jackets. Cole was acquired in February from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a three-way deal involving the Ottawa Senators and is completing a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $2.1 million. “He quickly became a stalwart for the Blue Jackets, joining David Savard on the No. 2 pair and the top penalty-kill unit,” writes Porzline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blue Jackets have over $61.6 million invested in 19 players. Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Ryan Murray are their restricted free agents and will all seek raises this summer. The Jackets aren’t expected to re-sign Jack Johnson and Thomas Vanek but could bring back Cole and Mark Letestu if their salary demands are realistic. They must also keep sufficient long-term cap space open for Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski and Sergei Bobrovsky, who will become free agents next summer.