NHL Rumor Mill – January 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 31, 2022

Could the Canadiens trade Jeff Petry or Brendan Gallagher? What are some possible trade targets for the Bruins? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


LA PRESSE: Guillaume Lefrancois reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said he was willing to trade Jeff Petry if it works out for both sides. The 34-year-old defenseman has not requested a trade but he’s struggling through his worst season on the ice while his family has returned to the United States due to the COVID measures in place in the province of Quebec.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

Hughes met with Petry during the club’s recent road trip. He told the blueliner he was aware of what was happening in his life, saying if there’s a chance it will work out on both sides to trade him they would do so. Until then, he expects Petry to play his best for the Canadiens.

Lafrancois suggested Hughes might want to do Petry a favor by trading him to an American club. However, his $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 combined with the flattened NHL cap makes that contract difficult for some teams to absorb.

Hughes also mentioned he’d like to add more leadership to his roster. Ideally, he’d like to add another center to provide support for Nick Suzuki. Francois suggested it would be interesting if the Habs GM pursued former client Patrice Bergeron during the offseason. The Boston Bruins captain is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan suggests Brendan Gallagher faces an uncertain future with the Canadiens. Though he’s in the first season of a six-year, $39 million contract, Cowan believes it would be understandable if the 29-year-old winger didn’t want to stick around for a rebuild at this stage in his career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry certainly seems unhappy this season. There’s also conjecture he hates playing for Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme. It was telling that he no longer had the assistant captain’s “A” on his jersey when the Habs played the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. The blueliner was also singled out by the press and on social media for not coming to the defense of Sam Montembeault when the Canadiens goalie was run by Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian on Saturday.

The decline in Petry’s performance would hurt his trade value but I daresay there would be teams willing to gamble on a change of scenery helping him regain his usual 40-point production. However, his contract is a serious sticking point. In addition to his cap hit, he has a 15-team no-trade clause and a no-movement clause to prevent any demotion to the minors. The Canadiens will either have to retain some salary, take on a toxic contract, or try to spread around that cap hit with a three-team deal.

Gallagher is in the same boat contract-wise, though his no-trade list consists of six teams. His feisty style would be enticing for some clubs but not his $6.5 million cap hit through 2026-27.

The bottom line is it will require considerable management skills by Hughes and hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton to swing deals that move one or both players without leaving the Canadiens carrying too much dead cap space.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss listed five forwards he believes the Bruins should target before the March 21 trade deadline.

Topping his list is the Vancouver Canucks J.T. Miller as he’d be a great fit as the Bruins’ second-line center. The cost would be high, leading Goss to wonder if they would consider parting with Jeremy Swayman or Mason Lohrei as part of the deal for Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Miller is signed through next season. The Canucks could listen to offers but they’re under no pressure to move him now. The Bruins lack sufficient asset depth to win a bidding war for his services against clubs like the New York Rangers, who have more cap space and promising young talent to draw upon for trade bait.

Goss also listed the Arizona Coyotes Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel, the Vegas Golden Knights’ Reilly Smith and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Max Domi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players could be more realistic trade options for the Bruins. Kessel, however, has an eight-team no-trade clause and might not prefer returning to Boston. Crouse would certainly be more affordable as a depth addition plus he’s a restricted free agent this summer.

Smith lacks no-trade protection and could be a good fit. Like Miller, however, there could be other clubs who could outbid the Bruins. Domi’s inconsistency has been an issue throughout his career.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2022

The latest Oilers and Canadiens speculation plus updates on Jakob Chychrun and Ryan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers’ recent struggles prompted Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman to muse about whether it’s time for the club to make a trade to avoid falling out of postseason contention. Friedman believes missing the playoffs isn’t an option for them this season.

Goaltending is a concern with aging Mike Smith frequently sidelined. Their left-side defense and forward depth are also concerns. Friedman believes there will be sensible moves out there for the Oilers involving teams that aren’t that good looking to make moves that don’t have to involve parting with a first-round pick for a rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes Oilers general manager Ken Holland must move on from backup goalie Mikko Koskinen, either by recalling Stuart Skinner and giving him more starts or making a trade.

Finding a suitable option in the current trade market, however, is easier said than done. The pickings are very slim right now as clubs that could become sellers aren’t in any hurry to make moves right now.

The Dallas Stars attempted to move struggling Anton Khudobin last month but couldn’t find any takers and would up demoting him to the minors. There’s also no certainty the 35-year-old goalie will waive his no-trade clause to come to Edmonton.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (NHL Images).

Speaking of sellers, Marek and Friedman also pondered what moves could be in store for the Montreal Canadiens before the March 21 trade deadline. Defenseman Ben Chiarot is an unrestricted free agent this summer and could fetch a late first-round pick.

They wondered if management will approach Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher to determine if a parting of the ways is best for both sides if a rebuild is a plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of Canadiens executive VP of hockey ops Jeff Gorton and whoever he hires as the new general manager meeting with Price and Gallagher to discuss their futures. Trading either guy, however, probably won’t happen until the offseason.

Both players carry hefty contracts with several years remaining on them. Price has a full no-movement clause while Gallagher carries a six-team no-trade list.

Price has yet to play this season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery and mental health issues that saw him spend a month in the NHL-NHLPA player assistance program at the start of the season. Gallagher, meanwhile, has had his own injury woes as he struggles through the worst season of his career.


Friedman believes the first big trade of 2022 will involve Jakob Chychrun. The 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman carries an affordable $4.6 million annual average value for three more seasons. He is usually the type of player a rebuilding club prefers to retain but he could fetch the Coyotes a significant return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors before Christmas suggested the Coyotes could seek four assets for Chychrun but interested parties weren’t put off by that high asking price. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if Friedman’s prediction comes true.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson will be interested to see what the New York Rangers do with Ryan Strome. The 27-year-old second-line center skates alongside winger Artemi Panarin but is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Matheson notes Strome currently makes $4.5 million annually, which is low for a second-line center. He draws a comparison to former Rangers center Kevin Hayes, who signed a seven-year deal for $7.1 million annually with the Philadelphia Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have reportedly held preliminary contract talks with Strome. If he uses Hayes as a comparable the Blueshirts could balk but that will leave them shopping around for a replacement in the offseason.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2022

Alex Ovechkin becomes the all-time power-play goal leader, the Blues and Wild prepare to meet in the 2022 Winter Classic, plus the latest COVID updates and more in the first NHL morning coffee headlines of the New Year.


NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin became the NHL’s all-time power-play goal leader as his Washington Capitals defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-1. The Capitals captain tallied his 275 career power-play goal to pass Dave Andreychuk in what also proved to be the game-winner. Ovechkin added an empty netter to seal the win for the Capitals (47 points), who moved into first place in the overall standings.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 754 career goals, Ovechkin is now just 12 behind Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time goal list.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Hughes finished with three points for the second straight game. Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto each tallied twice for the Oilers (37 points), who moved one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Mika Zibanejad’s shootout goal lifted the New York Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow scored twice against his former club. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their 10th win in their last 12 games by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. The Golden Knights sit atop the Western Conference with 44 points and three ahead of the Ducks in the Pacific Division. Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 42 saves in a losing cause.


NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild are preparing to meet in the 2022 Winter Classic at Target Field commencing at 7 pm ET today. It’s the first Winter Classic to be staged in Minnesota and could be the coldest outdoor game in league history as temperatures could reach between minus-3 and minus-9 Fahrenheit. The Blues and Wild enter this game jockeying for first place in the Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could prove to be a more competitive game compared to some of the previous Winter Classics. The extreme cold, however, will affect the players’ performance and test the hardiness of the anticipated 40,000 fans in attendance.

COVID-19, meanwhile, continues to affect the regular-season schedule as the league postponed nine more games yesterday, bringing the total of deferred games to 90. Eight of those games were postponed due to current attendance restrictions in some Canadian cities.

SPORTSNET: NHL senior vice president Colin Campbell said the league will try to preserve as many full-capacity home games for Canadian teams as possible. All seven Canadian teams currently have reduced capacity due to recent provincial restrictions introduced to reduce the spread of the COVID Omicron variant.

A number of Canadian home games have been postponed. The league hopes to reschedule those contests as restrictions are eased or lifted over time.

Alberta and British Columbia joined Ontario in reducing its isolation requirements from 10 days to five for fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators will get players who test positive back sooner than the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, whose home provinces of Manitoba and Quebec still have mandatory 10-day self-isolation periods.

United States-based teams are also now under the five-day rule after the US Centers for Disease Control reduced their isolation requirements earlier in the week.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Jeff Carter, New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff and St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn were among the latest to enter COVID protocol.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (lower-body injury) is questionable for today’s game against the Florida Panthers.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin has been sidelined with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian missed yesterday’s game against the Rangers with a lower-body injury.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Patrick Marleau’s wife Christina said the second of the couple’s four sons was nearly kidnapped during a family trip earlier this week. An unnamed couple attempted to coax 11-year-old Brody into coming with them after he returned to the hotel pool to collect the sunglasses he’d left behind. A good samaritan family intervened and alerted hotel security.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thank goodness for the other family stepping in when they did. Christina also said she saw the woman who attempted to lure away Brody and informed him the police had been called, hotel security was watching her and she had to leave. The report didn’t indicate if that woman and her partner were detained.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2021

How will the Golden Knights clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return in February? Could the Canadiens trade Brendan Gallagher or Tyler Toffoli before the March trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Evgenii Dadonov and Reilly Smith top Owen Krepps’ list of potential cost-cutting Vegas Golden Knights trade candidates to clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return to action in February.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights acquired Eichel in an early-season trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He’s been on long-term injury reserve after recovering from neck surgery last fall and is expected to make his Golden Knights’ debut in late February.

Eichel carries a $10 million annual salary-cap hit. His return would put the Golden Knights over the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling by $4.6 million.

Krepps considered Dadonov the most likely trade candidate, pointing to his lack of consistency this season. He felt the winger could be of interest to rebuilding clubs like the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Red Wings. Dadonov’s annual cap hit is $5 million through 2022-23 and he carries a modified no-trade clause.

Smith is also earning $5 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. That could make him a trade candidate and he could fetch a good return. However, he’s producing at a better level than Dadonov and could be worthwhile retaining for the playoffs.

Other trade candidates include Brayden McNabb and Mattias Janmark. Krepps also suggests they could get some cap relief if defenseman Alec Martinez remains on LTIR recovering from a facial injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krepps piece was published before Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty was sidelined indefinitely by wrist surgery. As NBC Sports’ James O’Brien points out, Pacioretty’s $7 million cap hit won’t totally cancel out Eichel’s $10 million but it would alleviate much of that potential salary-cap strain if the veteran winger goes on LTIR for the remainder of the season.

The Golden Knights could still be forced to move Dadonov or Smith if Pacioretty and Martinez return before Eichel’s debut or soon afterward. While Krepps believes Dadonov is the more likely trade candidate, I think it’s Smith who ends up moving despite his value to the Golden Knights.

Dadonov’s inconsistency, the extra year on his contract and his 10-team no-trade list would make him harder to move than the productive Smith, who lacks no-trade protection. I doubt the Senators are interested in bringing Dadonov back. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are jockeying for a wild-card berth and could prefer Smith over Dadonov if they’re in the market for a scoring winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels made three bold predictions for the Montreal Canadiens in 2022. He doesn’t believe they’ll trade winger Brendan Gallagher before the March 21 trade deadline but felt winger Tyler Toffoli could be on the move by then.

Engels points out Gallagher is in the first year of a six-year, $39 million contract with a no-movement clause and partial no-trade clause. He considers the idea of retaining some of his salary and recouping good value in a trade to be farfetched. Engels also believes Gallagher would be of more worth to the Canadiens as their captain leading a crop of new up-and-coming players.

Toffoli, on the other hand, has an affordable $4.25 million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Despite his recent hand injury, he’s the type of player postseason contenders could be interested in as the deadline approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Engels is merely making “bold predictions” here and isn’t citing sources indicating what the Canadiens intend to do with Gallagher and Toffoli. They still haven’t chosen a new general manager yet and we don’t know what they and Jeff Gorton (their new executive VP of hockey operations) intend to do at the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, I concur with Engels that Toffoli would be more likely to move before the trade deadline than Gallagher if the Canadiens intend to commence a full roster rebuild.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2021

Cross-border games are postponed until after the upcoming holiday break as the number of teams shut down by COVID outbreaks reaches seven while Olympic participation is in question. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The league announced yesterday all cross-border games between Canadian and American clubs have been postponed through the upcoming holiday break period (Dec. 24-26) over COVID-19 concerns.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: 16 teams (Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets) won’t be playing this week for COVID-related reasons.

Despite the increasing number of positive COVID tests among players, the league and the NHL Players Association agreed to continue the 2021-22 schedule. That decision was based on advice by medical experts on both sides who point to the low number of cases among the players with concerning symptoms or serious illness.

Given the rising number of postponed games and its potential effect upon the schedule, the league and the PA are discussing whether players will participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last night reported there’s a “real sense” the players won’t be taking part in the Olympics but there’s nothing official yet. A further announcement is expected in the coming days.


NHL.COM: Robin Lehner made 29 saves to backstop the Vegas Golden Knights to their fifth straight win by beating the New York Islanders 4-3. Shea Theodore and Nicolas Roy scored in the shootout to give the Golden Knights the win. Theodore also scored twice in regulation. The Golden Knights have won five straight and taken over first place in the Pacific Division with 40 points. Vegas captain Mark Stone missed the game with an upper-body injury while the Islanders placed Matt Martin and Robin Salo on COVID protocol before this match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was Lehner’s first game back on Long Island since he last played for the Islanders in 2018-19. He credits Isles fans for helping him battle bipolar disorder and addiction as he got his career back on track.

Paul Stastny scored twice and collected his 500th career assist and Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and three assists as the Winnipeg Jets doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced captain Blake Wheeler (lower body) was placed on long-term injury reserve.

The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their win streak to seven games with a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils, who’ve now lost six straight.

Three unanswered goals lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the Washington Capitals 3-2. Garret Sparks made 33 saves for his first NHL win since 2019 as the Kings have won four of their last six contests. Capitals forwards T.J. Oshie and Michael Sgarbossa and Kings center Phillip Danault missed this game as they were placed on the COVID protocol list. Earlier in the day, the Capitals placed winger Tom Wilson (upper body) on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 10.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher said he was hit hard by COVID-19 symptoms during the first two days after he tested positive on Dec. 2 and went into the mandatory 10-day quarantine. He’s since recovered and rejoined his teammates during practice on Sunday.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets canceled practice yesterday after Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic and Gabriel Carlsson were placed on the COVID protocol list.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point is expected to make his return to action from a shoulder injury on Dec. 28 against the Canadiens. He’s been sidelined for a month.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Chicago Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly for four games for interference against Dallas Stars forward Tanner Kero on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kero was stretchered from the ice and taken to a hospital for observation following the hit by Connolly. He’s reportedly been released and is resting at home.

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Coyotes senior director of hockey development Matt Shott passed away Sunday following a 10-month bout with liver cancer. He was 34.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Shott’s family, friends and the Coyotes organization.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2021

The latest Canadiens speculation and an update on Evander Kane in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Marc Antoine Godin spoke with several NHL scouts regarding the potential trade value of several notable Montreal Canadiens players.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Several clubs could have an interest in goaltender Carey Price but his hefty contract and no-movement clause make him difficult to trade. It could be worthwhile testing Jake Allen’s trade value if Price returns from offseason knee surgery later this season as they already have Sam Montembault and Cayden Primeau as backups. Allen could fetch a first-round pick.

Jeff Petry could draw some interest from clubs seeking a second-pairing defenseman and could bring in perhaps a couple of draft picks. His $6.25 million annual salary cap hit and no-trade clause are stumbling blocks.

Ben Chiarot is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The 30-year-old defenseman could be worth a first-round pick if he remains healthy.

Left winger Brendan Gallagher is another who would draw interest but whose expensive contract and no-trade clause could make him difficult to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Godin touched on several other Canadiens (including Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Toffoli) but I’m focusing on those who’ve surfaced most frequently in the rumor mill. The piece is also behind a paywall so you’ll need a subscription to read the entire thing. I’ve also encapsulated the takes on the aforementioned as Godin and the scouts he spoke with go into great detail over each player’s potential value.

Changes will be coming for the Canadiens, most likely starting around the time of the March 21 trade deadline. Pending UFAs like Chiarot, Brett Kulak, Mathieu Perreault, Cedric Paquette and Chris Wideman will be shopped. I wouldn’t be surprised if a restricted free agent with arbitration rights like Artturi Lehkonen ends up on the trade block if they’re unwilling to sign a long-term deal.

The biggest changes could occur in the offseason. One or two could involve an expensive core player such as Price, Petry or Gallagher. Maybe one or two players with a year or two left on their contracts, such as Drouin or Toffoli, get peddled this summer. We’ll just have to wait and see what executive VP of hockey ops Jeff Gorten and his new general manager have in store.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen observed several NHL clubs sent scouts to follow scandal-plagued San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane as he works on his conditioning and timing with their AHL affiliate.

A Red Wings scout was in attendance at one of Kane’s AHL games but there’s no confirmation he was there to follow the 30-year-old winger. Allan doesn’t believe Kane is the type of player the Wings need given his age and expensive contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s well-documented off-ice issues and reputation for being a dressing-room hasn’t dissuaded some clubs from considering the possibility of adding him to their roster. He’s a reliable scorer who plays with a physical edge.

The Sharks are said to be willing to retain part of his salary to facilitate a trade. I’m with the camp that believes it could take a three-team deal to spread his $7 million cap hit around to get it done. We’ll see if there’s any serious interest in him in the coming weeks.