NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2023

Are the Sabres a fit for Patrick Kane? Could the Panthers pursue Nikita Zadorov? What’s the latest Canucks speculation? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: In his latest mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked why so many Sabres fans think Patrick Kane will sign with their club if he’s trying to latch onto a Stanley Cup contender.

Kane has links to his hometown Sabres including with Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and head coach Don Granato. He noted that the club is among the few with the cap space, opportunity and supporting cast to entice the 35-year-old free-agent winger.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

However, Lysowski doesn’t see Kane selecting the Sabres unless they overpay or give him a multi-year contract. The latter scenario seems unlikely as they have several right-wing options for next season that include Alex Tuch, Jack Quinn and Matthew Savoie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are among a handful of clubs (including the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs) that have been linked to Kane in the media rumor mill. He’s expected to decide by the end of this week as to where he’ll spend the rest of this season. The Sabres and Panthers have reportedly kept in touch with his camp since the summer.


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked if he thinks the Panthers will be in on Nikita Zadorov. The defenseman recently requested a trade from the Calgary Flames.

Richards believes the Panthers always have an interest in any player who could help them out. However, he doubts that they have what it would take to make a move for someone like Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means depth in draft picks and prospects, something the Flames would want in return for Zadorov.

The Panthers have traded away their first-round picks for 2024 and 2025 as well as their 2024 second-rounder. Their prospect pipeline was ranked No. 23 by The Athletic back in August largely because of Anton Lundell’s success. They won’t part with Lundell as he’s a key part of their roster.


THE PROVINCE: In a recent mailbag segment, Patrick Johnston was asked if the Canucks are continuing to search for more defensive depth with Carson Soucy sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Johnston noted that the Canucks were interested in the Flames’ Nikita Zadorov since before last summer’s draft. His teammate Chris Tanev loved his time playing in Vancouver and would probably welcome a return, especially with how well the Canucks are playing right now.

However, Johnston doesn’t believe the Flames want to trade either player to Vancouver. To make it work, the Canucks might have to find an Eastern Conference club willing to swing a three-team deal.

The Canucks would also like to add another winger or two. Conor Garland has been in the rumor mill for some time but no one’s sprung for him yet. If the Canucks could trade Anthony Beauvillier and his expiring contract, they could use the savings to add a more effective player to their lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks strong performance of late means management doesn’t have to rush around trying to find a suitable deal this early in the season. They could end up having to wait until the calendar flips to 2024 before they start finding any suitable possibilities in the trade market.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2023

What next for the Oilers after placing Jack Campbell on waivers? Are the Canucks planning any big moves? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston believes the Oilers hope that Jack Campbell will regain his form playing for their AHL affiliate and return at some point to help them at the NHL level. In the meantime, they’re recalling Calvin Pickard, who makes considerably less than Campbell’s $5 million cap hit, allowing them to accrue more cap space for potential wheeling and dealing later in the season.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Pierre LeBrun points out the difficulty the Oilers face in finding a goalie upgrade via the trade market. General manager Ken Holland isn’t dealing from a position of strength here. Any attempt at an upgrade would mean overpaying for a replacement for Campbell, who would also have to be traded in a separate deal.

As for a coaching change, LeBrun and Darren Dreger agree that Holland likely doesn’t want to replace head coach Jay Woodcroft just yet. If things continue to go sideways they could consider promoting assistant coach Glen Gulutzan.

Dreger also noted that owner Daryl Katz and his advisors are very involved in seeking solutions for what currently ails the Oilers. Among the questions being asked is whether it’s time to start peddling draft picks and prospects and try to shake up the current roster core right now.

Following the news yesterday of Campbell going on waivers before assignment to the AHL, TSN’s Oilers reporter Ryan Rishaug expressed his belief that there was no trade imminent to bring in a replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ limited salary cap space and that of most teams around the league leaves them with few options to improve their goaltending. The fact they’re demoting Campbell in the hope that he’ll regain his confidence and improve his performance speaks volumes to the difficulties they’re facing in addressing that glaring issue.

Replacing Woodcroft as head coach won’t make the goaltending any better. If anyone on the Oilers coaching staff should be feeling the heat it is Dustin Schwartz, who’s been their goalie whisperer since 2014.

THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun also pondered what missing the playoffs could mean for the Oilers’ hopes of signing Leon Draisaitl to a contract extension after this season. He’s got one year remaining on his current deal.

Emptying the cupboard to save the season could help the Oilers keep Draisaitl in the fold. However, it might be best to retain those assets in case he decides to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Draisaitl goes when his contract expires in 2025, does Connor McDavid follow suit in 2026?

Yes, the Oilers hired McDavid’s former agent Jeff Jackson as their CEO of hockey operations this summer. However, that might not be enough to deter the Oilers captain from moving on if this club is still spinning its wheels by 2026 and Draisaitl is no longer on the roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Gerry Moddejonge noted that there are just as many alarm bells ringing over the Oilers’ struggling offense and defense as there have been over their goaltending. He wonders who else on the current roster could be next to get moved.

Moddejonge believes that the only real option to shake things up is a trade and not a one-for-one deal. It would have to be someone (other than Connor McDavid) agreeing to waive their no-trade clause to bring in two or three pieces in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moddejonge suggested everyone except McDavid should be on the table. Those with no-trade/no-movement clauses include Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse and Campbell.

Good luck convincing any of them to waive their clauses or find a suitable trade partner this early in a season with a flattened salary cap. It’s not impossible but it’s still damn difficult to pull off.

Moves of that magnitude tend to occur in the offseason when teams have more cap space and willingness to swing major trades.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered what would happen if the Oilers contacted the Bruins about Linus Ullmark.

ESPN host John Buccigross recently suggested the Oilers offer up Draisaitl and Warren Foegele in exchange for Ullmark, winger Jake DeBrusk, rookie Matthew Poitras, prospect Fabian Lysell and the Oilers’ 2026 first-round pick. However, Murphy doesn’t see that deal happening, in part because the Oilers are likely on Ullmark’s 16-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Off to another strong start, the Bruins are under no pressure to make that kind of move at this stage in the season. Not that they wouldn’t be interested in Draisaitl but the cost of his contract and what they’d have to give up to get him right now doesn’t suit their immediate needs. Besides, it’s a moot point if the Oilers are on Ullmark’s no-trade list.


THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently addressed a question from one of his readers regarding speculation that the Vancouver Canucks could be planning to add “a big piece” to their roster.

Johnston cited sources claiming that the Canucks would like to add another forward. However, it won’t be an easy swap to make. They’d also love to add another defenseman to their blueline.

The Canucks have tried to move Tyler Myers’ contract but they may be stuck with it until it expires at the end of this season. They’ve also looked into moving forwards Conor Garland and Anthony Beauvillier but both are struggling to score which hurts their value in the trade market. Unlike Myers, they lack no-trade protection which could help efforts to move them later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ hot start to the season alleviates pressure to make a big early-season move. Nevertheless, they’ll likely continue to monitor the trade market and gauge interest in Myers, Garland and Beauvillier as the season continues.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2023

Check out the latest on Leafs forward William Nylander and Canucks winger Conor Garland in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Stan Fischler considers William Nylander one of the best players in Canada. He also thinks the 27-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs winger will become one of the NHL’s highest-paid players on his next contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

Fischler believes Nylander will want to get out from under the shadow of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares and be the top banana with another club.

TSN: Earlier this week, Dave Poulin took note of Nylander’s hot start to this season and how it might affect the Leafs’ efforts to re-sign him. He believes fair compensation for the 27-year-old winger would be what teammate Mitch Marner is earning annually ($10.9 million) on his current contract.

That’s $4 million more than Nylander, who has scored more goals than Marner over that time and outperformed him in the playoffs. Nevertheless, the latter is going to get a raise on his next contract.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan also weighed in on Nylander’s performance thus far and his contract situation. He noted that it’s clear the winger has been underpaid.

If $10 million annually was a sticking point between Nylander and Leafs management at the start of the season, that number is bound to rise as he continues his dominating play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have just 11 players under contract for 2024-25 with a projected $33.4 million in cap space. $10 million annually for Nylander will eat up roughly one-third of that cap room, leaving little room to re-sign or replace fellow UFAs Tyler Bertuzzi, TJ Brodie, Max Domi, John Klingberg, Mark Giordano and Ilya Samsonov.

Assuming the Leafs re-sign Nylander, they’ll have over $45 million invested in just four forwards (Matthews, Marner and Tavares) for next season. That will be over half of what could be an $88 million cap payroll.

Some observers believe the Leafs will trade Nylander by the March 8 trade deadline if he’s not under contract by then. I doubt that’ll happen as long as they’re in playoff contention. They’ll keep him for one more postseason run even if it means losing him to free agency next July.

One way or the other, though, this could be Nylander’s final season with the Leafs. He will draw plenty of interest next summer from clubs that will consider him as a franchise player and pay him accordingly on a long-term contract.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Fischler also noted the number of teams reportedly interested in Conor Garland. The Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets are among the clubs linked by the media to the 27-year-old Vancouver Canucks winger.

Fischler pointed out that it’s been over a year since the Garland rumors began and yet he remains with the Canucks. He suggested the possibility that the winger might never get dealt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The interest in Garland seems genuine but the timing has been all wrong. The flattened salary cap since last season has made it difficult for clubs to take on his $4.95 million cap hit through 2025-26 even with the Canucks reportedly willing to retain 30 percent of his cap hit.

Perhaps that situation changes closer to the trade deadline when teams will accrue more cap space. Otherwise, it might have to wait until the offseason when the salary cap is expected to jump by at least $4 million.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2023

Could the Flames’ sputtering start affect efforts to re-sign Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm? Which players could be early-season trade candidates? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: In his recent “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman wrote that the Calgary Flames will continue to close in on a contract extension for Noah Hanifin despite the club’s rocky start to this season. Hanifin turns 27 in January and is in his playing prime plus he’s more open to an extension than he was at the end of last season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes the Flames’ negotiations with Hanifin may have hit a bit of a snag because of their shaky start to this season. He suggests that it leaves a lot of questions about where they go next as they attempt to sign pending unrestricted free agents such as Hanifin and Elias Lindholm.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli goes on to say the Flames don’t want to become “the New York Islanders of the West” where they have a team locked into long-term contracts with a group of players that can’t get over the hump.

So far, it seems like Flames management wants to retain core players like Hanifin and Lindholm. How much willingness there will be from both sides to continue those negotiations could depend on whether this club can snap out of its early-season swoon.


SPORTSNET: Also in this week’s “32 Thoughts” column, Friedman listed five players whose teams would like to move them or they might welcome a trade. They are Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia, Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland, San Jose Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, Washington Capitals winger Anthony Mantha and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman acknowledged cap space is tight and rosters are short around the league. It could take some time for those players to get traded during this season.

Garland has garnered the most attention after the Canucks allowed his agent permission to speak with other clubs about a trade. However, his $4.95 million cap hit through 2025-26 seems to be difficult to move right now.

Armia started the season with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in Laval. He was recently recalled but hasn’t seen any NHL action yet this season. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $3.4 million.

Labanc’s in the final season of his contract with an AAV of $4.725 million but his production’s been in decline since his career-best 56-point effort in 2018-19. Mantha is also in the last year of his contract and has struggled offensively since his career-high 48 points in 2018-19 with the Detroit Red Wings. His $5.7 million cap hit for this season is the most expensive of this bunch.

Peeke is in the first season of a three-year contract with an AAV of $2.75 million. The Blue Jackets are reportedly looking to move a defenseman now that promising David Jiricek has earned a regular roster spot. Peeke’s been a healthy scratch for every game except the Jackets’ season opener. Adam Boqvist is another Jackets blueliner who has surfaced as a trade candidate.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest Canadiens speculation plus a look at why the Jets didn’t opt for a rebuild during the offseason.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently noted that the Canadiens’ early-season injury woes provide them with an advantage in salary cap space.

The Canadiens have $15 million in relief space with Carey Price and Christian Dvorak on long-term injury reserve. Dvorak is expected to return to action in November but Kirby Dach’s season-ending knee injury would still ensure they have over $13 million in cap relief once Dach is placed on LTIR. Defenseman Chris Wideman is also out indefinitely and can also be placed on LTIR.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes (NHL.com).

D’Amico suggests the Canadiens could use this wiggle room to help teams shed some salary, like the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators. He noted that the Canucks’ Conor Garland, the Blue Jackets’ Adam Boqvist, the Capitals’ Anthony Mantha and the Senators’ Mathieu Joseph are all currently on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes was inclined to help those clubs directly or as a third-party broker he’ll want them to include a draft pick or prospect as part of the return.

Hughes could keep his powder dry for now as he accrues cap space over the course of the season. Making an early-season move might bite into that when he could be in a good position to get a better return closer to the March 8 trade deadline.

THE FOURTH PERIOD: Dave Pagnotta recently noted the Canadiens recalled Joel Armia from their AHL affiliate in Laval. He pointed out that they attempted to trade the 30-year-old forward during the offseason and re-engaged in trade talks last week. Armia has a year remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $3.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia also lacks no-trade protection so the Canadiens can send him anywhere if they find a trade partner. His cap hit is difficult to move this early in the season with so many teams pressed against the $83.5 million ceiling.

Nevertheless, they could try to sweeten the deal by retaining part of his cap hit. They’re already retaining salary on Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry for this season but have one retention spot left.

There’s a rumor flying around suggesting that the Canadiens could use Armia as a trade chip to broker a deal that would involve sending Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland to another NHL club. The Habs were a third-party broker in the August trade that sent Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


TSN: Darren Dreger reported Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman explained why his club opted to re-sign Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele rather than start rebuilding the roster this summer.

Chipman talked about how long it would take to stage a rebuild as well as the cost. Dreger indicated that it was decided that the market couldn’t sustain a historic rebuild and instead is investing in the here and now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t bode well for the Jets’ long-term future unless they can draft and develop young players who transition well into their lineup. Enticing veteran talent via free agency or acquiring it via trade could prove difficult.

They’ll eventually need replacements for Hellebuyck and Scheifele when their skills inevitably decline in the coming years. Having both players under expensive long-term contracts will still take a big bite out of their cap space even with the cap rising significantly in the coming years.

The Jets seem to be hoping that their fans will return if the team plays better. If they don’t improve, however, their supporters could have less incentive to show up. In addition, the high cost of attending NHL games in the league’s smallest market is bumping up against the rising cost of living. If that cost remains high while the on-ice product stagnates, the Jets could be in a world of hurt in a few years.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2023

Noah Hanifin and the Flames could be closer to a contract extension, the Capitals could be interested in Canucks winger Conor Garland, and an update on the Penguins in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson and Daniel Austin report Noah Hanifin had nothing new to report about his contract situation with the Flames. However, he confirmed his agent has been in discussions with Flames management regarding an extension since the start of the season. The 26-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman broke the news on Saturday that the two sides were getting closer to a deal. Gilbertson and Austin suggest there’s plenty of reason for optimism that Hanifin will be with the Flames for the foreseeable future.

TSN: Salim Valji also reported on Hanifin’s discussions with the Flames. He wrote that the blueliner was “coy” about the details but indicated that he’s had nothing but good things to say about his experience with the club. Valji noted that Hanifin is in the final season of a six-year contract with an average annual value of $4.95 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie speculated over what Hanifin’s next contract with the Flames might look like. “Per Evolving-Hockey’s contract model, Hanifin’s next deal has a 69 percent chance of being an eight-year deal with a $7.446 million AAV.” If the blueliner opts for a seven-year deal, it projects to $6.693 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things have certainly changed since June when reports emerged that Hanifin wasn’t interested in discussing an extension following the Flames’ disappointing performance last season.

General manager Craig Conroy reportedly gauged Hanifin’s trade value during the summer. However, his preference was to re-sign his most valuable defenseman.

Hanifin had a change of heart over the course of the summer. My guess is the departure of Darryl Sutter as head coach may have had something to do with it.

As Friedman indicated in his report on Saturday, nothing’s done until it’s done. Barring a late development that derails negotiations, it appears that Hanifin won’t be testing next summer’s free-agent market.


CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman talking about Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland. He said it’s a difficult time to make trades as there are a lot of teams with too little cap space.

Nevertheless, Friedman is keeping an eye on the Washington Capitals. He noted that they’re trying to move winger Anthony Mantha. However, a Mantha-for-Garland swap doesn’t work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are reportedly willing to retain up to 30 percent of Garland’s $4.95 million cap hit that runs through 2025-26 to facilitate a deal. While Mantha is slated to become a UFA next summer, his $5.7 million cap hit is too much for the Canucks.

The Capitals have been reportedly trying to move Mantha since last season. His declining production isn’t helping his trade value. I doubt the Canucks would be interested in him even if his cap hit were more affordable.


THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Kyle Dubas is “living on the waiver wire these days, looking for fresh bottom-six and bottom-pairing blood at every turn”. Dubas apparently isn’t pleased with the lower end of his roster. Yohe noted that he didn’t waste time sending Jansen Harkins to the minors and recalling Radim Zohorna.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a summer of change that included the additions of Erik Karlsson and Reilly Smith, the Penguins are 2-3-0 in their first five games of the season. Unhappiness reportedly exists in the ranks as key players such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin aren’t pleased with the club’s performance thus far. Pressed against the $83.5 million cap, Dubas has little choice but to see what affordable options become available on the waiver wire.