NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

The fallout from the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens, an update on Jake Gardiner, player milestones to watch this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media yesterday about his club successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL Images).

Waddell said the Hurricanes weren’t surprised that the Canadiens opted not to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. He denied revenge for the Habs’ unsuccessful attempt to sign Sebastian Aho in 2019 was the motivation behind the Kotkaniemi offer. Waddell also dismissed the club’s PR staff trolling the Canadiens over the signing as merely a marketing ploy to keep their fans engaged.

The Hurricanes GM said he initially attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and decided several days later to tender an offer sheet. Waddell indicated he hasn’t had contract extension discussions with the 21-year-old forward and his agent. The earliest they can re-sign him is in January.

Asked where Kotkaniemi would play this season, Waddell indicated the 21-year-old will probably start at left wing. Although the Hurricanes now sit above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million, they intend to place defenseman Jake Gardiner ($4.05 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve. Waddell indicated Gardiner will undergo hip and back surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Kotkaniemi also talked about his new contract with the Hurricanes. He considers it a great opportunity and felt confident his new club has trust in him. He noted the presence of fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and considers it an honor to play for a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Asked about his time with the Canadiens, Kotkaniemi acknowledged there were “ups and downs” but overall felt he had a good run in Montreal. However, he did say he thought his development with the Habs could’ve gone better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The revenge angle keeps getting played up in the media but I think that’s just a small factor here. The Hurricanes were seeking a young forward who could play center or wing. They had an interest in Kotkaniemi, tried to trade for him and when that didn’t work not only went the offer-sheet route but gave the Habs a heads-up as to their intentions.

PuckPedia speculates the Hurricanes could maximize their long-term injury reserve space to the full $4.05 million of Gardiner’s cap hit by demoting two players to put them just under the cap ceiling before the start of the season. They’ll then put Gardiner on LTIR. No word yet on how long he’ll be sidelined but the 31-year-old blueliner could be sidelined for the season.

A contract extension for Kotkaniemi will be decided by his performance this season. It would cost them $6.1 million to qualify his rights but the two sides could agree to a long-term deal for a lower annual average value.

Kotkaniemi’s comments about his development in Montreal and his willingness to accept the Hurricanes offer had some observers suggesting the Canadiens must ensure that issue doesn’t recur with their other younger players. Whether the current management shares that view remains to be seen.

SI.COM: Jason Chen looks at several player milestones to watch in 2021-22. Joe Thornton has an opportunity to move into third place overall for games played, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Spezza could reach 1,000 points while Alex Ovechkin is 36 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third place (766) on the all-time goal-scoring list.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Former Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski sold his Muirfield, Ohio home for $3.75 million.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2021

What next for the Hurricanes after signing Andrei Svechnikov? What else do the Lightning need for this season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: With Andrei Svechnikov finally under contract, Luke DeCock believes the Carolina Hurricanes still need to add one more skilled winger. He points out they have around $4.5 million in cap space to address that issue.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner (NHL Images).

DeCock wonders if the Hurricanes will invest that money now or save that flexibility for the trade deadline later this season. He also believes they could have more and better options if they can find a way to shed defenseman Jake Gardiner, who’s earning $4 million annually for two more seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell could target a cap-strapped club looking to shed salary before the start of the season. However, those pickings could be slim. He might have better odds waiting to see how things shake out over the course of the season, especially as rival clubs fall out of playoff contention and become keen to sell by the trade deadline.

DeCock isn’t optimistic about the Hurricanes’ chances of offloading Gardiner’s contract. The 31-year-old defenseman hasn’t been the same since suffering a back injury in 2018-19. Doing that kind of deal during the season is difficult. DeCock pointed out that stranger things have happened. Nevertheless, they could have better luck attempting that move next summer when teams have more cap space and Gardiner has just one year left on his deal.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti believes the Tampa Bay Lightning could use more forward depth for this season to replace departed forwards Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Johnson. Signing Corey Perry helps but they might need to acquire another veteran if their younger players fail to adequately address that loss of production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will take considerable creativity on the part of Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois. They’re already sitting in LTIR country with their cap space courtesy of the permanently sidelined Brent Seabrook’s contract. It could take a dollar-for-dollar swap to add a veteran forward unless BriseBois can find another way to free up some cap room.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 8, 2021

Could the Boston Bruins go shopping for a center? Which defenseman could the Islanders pursue in a trade? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported NHL sources confirmed Bruins general manager Don Sweeney remains open to acquiring a center but the trade market has gone stale in recent days. For now, the club intends to use Charlie Coyle as their second-line center after David Krejci announced he’s returning to the Czech Republic to finish his playing career.

Are the Boston Bruins targeting Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak in the trade market? (NHL Images)

Recent speculation suggests Sweeney could use winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Jakub Zboril as trade bait to land a center. The Bruins had serious trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding Christian Dvorak over two weeks ago but those talks hit a stalemate. There’s no indication if DeBrusk and/or Zboril were mentioned in those talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy also noted Sweeney hinted David Krejci could return to the Bruins later this season. However, he’d have to sign before Dec. 15 to avoid passing through waivers. After that, he’d had to sign before the trade deadline but there’s no guarantee he won’t get snapped up by a rival club on the waive wire.

The Bruins are among several clubs linked to Dvorak but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to part with the 25-year-old two-way center. He might accept DeBrusk or Zboril but could want a first-round pick as part of the return. Other clubs could also out-bid the Bruins.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could turn to the trade market to fill the gap on the left side of their defense corps after trading Nick Leddy to Detroit.

He listed Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, Chicago’s Calvin de Haan, Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, Carolina’s Jake Gardiner, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Winnipeg’s Nathan Beaulieu and New Jersey’s Damon Severson as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn avoided salary arbitration with the Kraken by signing a two-year, $8 million contract soon after Staple’s piece was published. It doesn’t appear they intend to part with him. Lindholm could be available but the rebuilding Ducks could seek a couple of quality futures in return.

I don’t see the Blue Jackets parting with Gavrikov as he’s expected to fill the left-side position on their second pairing. Staple indicated Gardiner’s awaiting surgery that could sideline him for several weeks past the start of this season.

Predators GM David Poile is said to be intent on re-signing Ekholm so he’s probably not available. As Staple observed, Fowler would be expensive in both contract and assets. He also has a four-team trade list and the Islanders might not be on it. Staple also acknowledged Severson’s a right-side defenseman, which doesn’t really make him a viable solution.

Beaulieu and de Haan could be available. However, I don’t think either guy can suitably fill that second-pairing role. The Isles might have to be patient and see what develops in the trade market over the course of the season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2020

A look at some intriguing offseason trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently listed 6 intriguing players who could still get traded this offseason.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (NHL Images).

He begins with Shayne Gostisbehere, noting the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly made the puck-moving defenseman available earlier in the offseason. Matt Niskanen’s sudden retirement and the Flyers’ subsequent addition of Erik Gustafsson (who plays a similar style to Gostisbehere) leaves the 26-year-old blueliner’s status uncertain in Philadelphia. Wegman suggested the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings as potential landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ and Jets’ limited cap space means the Flyers would have to take back some salary to move Gostisbehere to either of those clubs. Cap Friendly indicates he has three years remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million annually. The Kings can afford him but general manager Rob Blake already acquired Olli Maatta from Chicago and could be content to promote from within.

Wegman noted the trade speculation swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. He pointed out Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will want either a top-six center or top-four defenseman as part of the return. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres landed Taylor Hall via free agency so I doubt they’re in the market for Laine. The Hurricanes could be a good fit but I don’t see them parting with any of their top-four defensemen plus they lack the depth in centers to pry Laine away from the Jets. The Wild need a proven top-line center, not a left-winger, so I don’t think they’re a fit.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they reportedly placed Jake Gardiner on the trade block. He’s tumbled down their depth chart and carries a $4.05 million cap hit, but could be a top-four defenseman for clubs like the Jets, Florida Panthers or New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner’s contract runs through 2022-23 so the Hurricanes will either have to absorb part of that cap hit or take back salary to make this work. The Panthers and Jets are looking for more defensive-minded options, plus the latter has limited cap space. I don’t see the Rangers taking on his contract.

Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors for some time, prompting Wegman to wonder if new Sabres GM Kevyn Adams might find a taker for him. The Sabres have a logjam at right defense and moving one of their right-side blueliners to the left side isn’t ideal. Wegman suggested the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Jets as possible landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports out of Buffalo on Ristolainen suggested he was no longer on the trade block because head coach Ralph Krueger thinks highly of him. If so, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s need to shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev have Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson on Wegman’s list. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list, making him somewhat easier to move. Johnson has a full no-trade clause but is willing to work with the Lightning to work out a trade, but there were no takers for his $5 million AAV when he was placed on waivers. They’ll have to include a sweetener to move him. The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators or Panthers could be destinations for one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit has the salary-cap space plus former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is now the Red Wings’ GM. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Killorn or Johnson would accept a trade to a rebuilding club like the Wings or the Senators.

The Panthers also have the cap space but could be unwilling to spend much higher than they already have. They could also be trying to woo back free agent Mike Hoffman. We also don’t know if Killorn or Johnson would accept getting traded to the Lightning’s less-successful rival.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2020

The latest on Mike Hoffman, Joe Thornton, Steven Stamkos, Patrik Laine, Jake Gardiner, Anthony Duclair and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports teams in the market for a scorer like Mike Hoffman include Boston, Carolina and Columbus.

Free-agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss believes Hoffman would make sense for the Bruins on a one-year, $6 million contract. However, that would bite deeply into their $11 million in cap space and could mean trading winger Jake DeBrusk or a defenseman.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes Hoffman will make his decision within the next couple of days. He includes Edmonton and Nashville among the potential suitors.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are courting Joe Thornton but Friedman says not to underestimate the center’s loyalty to the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I respect Thornton and his Hall of Fame-worthy career, but he’s 41 years old and coming off his worst performance (31 points) since his rookie season in 1997-98. That’s right, he made his NHL debut 23 years ago. Thornton is not who the Leafs need to center their third line.

Friedman believes the Tampa Bay Lightning asked captain Steven Stamkos to consider waiving his no-movement clause. “There’s a wall of secrecy around it”. Stamkos is recovering from abdominal surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Stamkos waives his clause.

Friedman also wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets made a pitch for Alex Pietrangelo before he signed with the Vegas Golden Knights. Defenseman David Savard was available for a while but that appears to have changed with Pietrangelo going to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blue Jackets have over $13 million in cap space. That’s enough to re-sign center Pierre-Luc Dubois and add another player via trade or free agency.

Anaheim, Boston, Colorado, Toronto and Winnipeg are among the clubs to check into the availability of Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. It’s believed the Leafs rejected a request for Travis Dermott/Andreas Johnsson. Tyson Jost of the Avalanche and Jack Roslovic of the Jets were also discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar recently filed for salary arbitration. Speaking of Roslovic, the Jets are reportedly gauging his value in the trade market. They’d like another established NHL defenseman before next season begins.

Speaking of the Jets, Friedman believes their re-acquisition of Paul Stastny means things remain “status quo” regarding winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine isn’t going anywhere unless a team offers up a top-two defenseman similar to Columbus’ Seth Jones in return.

The Vancouver Canucks had an interest in free-agent defenseman Travis Hamonic before their acquisition of Nate Schmidt. They are looking for another defenseman, prompting Friedman to suggest Slater Koekkoek or Sami Vatanen. Hamonic had some interest from Eastern clubs like Philadelphia but prefers staying in the West.

The Flyers had talks with Arizona regarding Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes are examining trade options with blueliner Jake Gardiner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes could make Demers their cap-cutting trade candidate after failing to move Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week. The 32-year-old’s modified no-trade clause expired at the end of last season. He has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual cap hit of $4.5 million but his actual salary is $2.6 million after being paid his signing bonus for this season.

An interesting bit about Gardiner, who has three years left on his contract worth an AAV of $4.050 million with a seven-team no-trade list. I’m not sure how much interest he’ll garner in the trade market given how his performance declined over the last two years.

The Panthers are among the clubs that have talked to free-agent winger Anthony Duclair.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports five or six clubs have heard from Duclair, who’s representing himself in the free-agent market. The Senators haven’t shut the door on the winger, who rejected their two-year extension offer that would’ve doubled the $1.65 million he made last season.










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.