NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED MOVE TO IMPROVE THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.

DOES LEHTONEN’S SIGNING SPELL THE END OF DERMOTT AS A LEAF?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2019

The Canadiens and Flames rally for overtime victories plus the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAMES RECAPS

NHL.COM: Max Domi’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Habs overcame a 4-2 deficit on goals by Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher to force the extra frame. Domi and Tatar each had a goal and an assist. Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty collected an assist against his former club for his 500th career NHL point. Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi missed the game as he’s listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.

The Calgary Flames overcame 2-0, 4-1, and 5-4 deficits to burn the Nashville Predators 6-5 on a between-the-legs overtime goal by Matthew Tkachuk, who also tallied the game-tying goal. Tkachuk and Sean Monahan finished with three points apiece. Predators winger Auston Watson celebrated his new three-year, $4.5-million contract extension with a four-point performance. Teammate Calle Jarnkrok also tallied twice.

HEADLINES

TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien could require up to four months to recover from recent ankle surgery. His agent is in discussions with the NHL Players Association as they review his case. it could have financial complications if it’s determined he injured his ankle playing hockey.

Dustin Byfuglien’s ankle surgery raises more questions over his future with the Winnipeg Jets (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien is on a leave of absence mulling his future and was suspended without pay for salary-cap purposes. He underwent this surgery in his home state of Minnesota without informing the team.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff shed little light on the situation, raising speculation of a difference of opinion between the player and the organization over the status of his injured ankle. The silence from both sides only generates more questions over the future of Byfuglien’s playing career. For the time being, it seems increasingly likely he won’t be back with the Jets this season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets got more bad news as center Mark Letestu has been sidelined by a heart virus (myocarditis) for six months. Winger Patrik Laine remains sidelined with a minor lower-body injury. Center Bryan Little left practice yesterday with an undisclosed injury and could miss tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letestu is expected to make a full recovery but he’ll miss the remainder of the regular season.

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has hired a lawyer to investigate how his name became associated with a Russian virtual reality start-up that reportedly lost millions of dollars. The report claimed Malkin invested $4 million into the company, which used his name to attract other investors. He denied investing in the company.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they’ve assigned Sam Lafferty to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Buffalo Sabres winger Jimmy Vesey (lower body) has been upgraded from week-to-week to day-to-day. San Jose Sharks center Dylan Gambrell is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was a healthy scratch during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli is an unrestricted free agent in July. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to this move.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks have recalled defenseman Adam Boqvist.

The Charlotte Checkers have released Jamie McGinn from his professional tryout offer.