NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Flat Cap Fallout – Central Division

NHL Flat Cap Fallout – Central Division

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2020

​In today’s NHL rumor mill, we take a look at the latest Blues speculation plus several suggested second-line center and defense targets for the Jets.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat, Tom Timmermann was asked if the St. Louis Blues could trade Jaden Schwartz, Jake Allen, or both as cost-cutting measures.

Could the Blues trade Jake Allen after this season? (Photo via NHL Images)

He feels trading Allen would be the easiest solution to freeing up salary-cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. The improvement in his play this season could improve his trade value.

If Schwartz intends to seek a significant raise on his next contract in 2021, the Blues could be forced to move him. Trading him early when a team can get a full season out of him before his contract expires would improve his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $79.4 million invested in 20 players, with Pietrangelo and RFA blueliner Vince Dunn their priorities to re-sign. Shedding Schwartz ($5.35 million through 2020-21, 15-team no-trade list) and Allen ($4.35 million through 2020-21) would free up $9.7 million in cap room. That’s enough to re-sign Pietrangelo, but not for Dunn.

Unless Blues management intends to let Pietrangelo walk after this season, they’ll probably have to dump around $14 million to retain their cap, re-sign Dunn, and leave sufficient cap space for other roster moves next season.

SECOND-LINE CENTER & DEFENSE OPTIONS FOR THE JETS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Murat Ales suggested 16 candidates to address the Winnipeg Jets’ second-line center position for 2020-21.

In-house options include Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, and Jack Roslovic.

Unrestricted free agent possibilities include re-signing Cody Eakin or pursuing the Islanders’ Derick Brassard, Minnesota’s Alex Galchenyuk, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Arizona’s Carl Soderberg or Florida’s Erik Haula.

Trade options include Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Montreal’s Max Domi, or Dallas’ Roope Hintz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic could be the most likely in-house option. He wants to move up into the Jets’ top-six. It might be worthwhile to give him that opportunity. If it doesn’t work, they can turn to the in-season trade market.

Granlund might be the best of those proposed UFA options, though he’s spent more time on the wing in recent years. Unless Johnson waives his no-trade clause, he’s not going to Winnipeg. Despite the speculation in the Montreal media over Domi’s future with the Habs, I think they’ll re-sign him. The Stars aren’t moving Hintz, as the big 23-year-old sophomore winger is blossoming into one of their core forwards.

Ken Wiebe (subscription required) looks at 10 defense options via the off-season free-agent and trade markets. The UFAs include Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk. His trade targets include Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Jake Gardiner, New Jersey’s Damon Severson, and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, Hamonic, and Barrie could be reasonable options. Hamonic is a Manitoba native and could be keen on returning home if the Flames don’t re-sign him.

I don’t see the Ducks parting with Manson, the Devils with Severson, or the Wild with Dumba. Given the state of their respective bluelines, they need those rearguards if they hope to be competitive next season. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, might gladly listen to offers for Gardiner, but I doubt the Jets’ management would be interested in him.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

 










NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

 










Wild Trade Zucker to the Penguins

Wild Trade Zucker to the Penguins

The Minnesota Wild traded winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional 2020 first-round pick, and defense prospect Calen Addison

The Minnesota Wild trade winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a failed attempt to acquire Zucker last May, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford gets his man.The 28-year-old winger is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $5.5 million. With 14 goals and 29 points in 45 games this season, he’s on pace to exceed 20 goals and 40 points for the fourth consecutive year. Depending on how well he meshes with his new linemates (Sidney Crosby? Evgeni Malkin?), he could finish with much more.

Rutherford recently indicated he was in the market for a scoring winger after left winger Jake Guentzel suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Zucker skates on the right side, but Rutherford suggested the versatility of his existing wingers meant he wasn’t fussy over which side his trade target played. Perhaps this means Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust move to the left side to make room for Zucker.

With over $68.9 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, the addition of Zucker could leave the Penguins squeezed for salary-cap space. Goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. Both will seek substantial raises, meaning one could be traded this summer. Defenseman Justin Schultz is an unrestricted free agent and could price himself out of Pittsburgh unless Rutherford frees up more cap space.

That’s a problem for the off-season. For now, the Penguins signaled they’re a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season.

The Wild, meanwhile, have needed a roster rebuild for some time. Whether trading Zucker means this is the start of a full rebuild or merely another effort to retool on the fly remains to be seen.

It’s the first significant move by Bill Guerin since taking over as GM last summer. In Galchenyuk, he gets a winger with decent offensive skills who’s now on his fourth team since 2018. Slated to become a UFA this summer, the 26-year-old was sidelined by an injury to start this season and struggled upon his return to fit in with the talent-laden Penguins. Depending on his performance over the remainder of the schedule, he could be joining his fifth team this summer.

Reports indicate the first-round pick in 2020 could revert to 2021 if the Penguins miss the playoffs and decide to push it back a year. That’s unlikely, considering where the Penguins are in the standings. It’ll give the Wild two first-round picks in this year’s draft.

Addison could be the real prize for the Wild. Selected in the second round (53rd overall) by the Penguins in 2018, the 19-year-old is said to a top defensive prospect. He’s got 43 points in 39 games this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and helped Canada win gold at the 2020 World Junior Championships.