Check out the latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Claude Giroux plus Brian Burke addresses the Penguins’ offseason goalie trade speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported on the lack of a contract extension thus far for Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau. He said it wasn’t for lack of trying as both sides talked numerous times during the offseason.
Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).
Gaudreau has publicly stated he wants to sign past this season with the Flames. LeBrun still believes that’s the case and hasn’t found any evidence to suggest the Gaudreau camp has cut contract talks. He felt the two sides will continue discussions but will keep them out of the public eye.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect Gaudreau’s name to surface in trade rumors if he’s still unsigned when the calendar flips to January 2022. We’ll likely hear a lot more about him as the March 21 trade deadline approaches of the Flames are out of playoff contention.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps recently reported Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke addressed offseason rumors that his club was shopping for another starting goalie. He said it would be false to say they never looked at another netminder but it wasn’t a priority and not something they went looking for. Burke also shot down offseason rumors linking the Penguins to Marc-Andre Fleury after he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke believes Penguins starter Tristan Jarry will have a big bounce-back season after his disappointing performance in last spring’s playoffs. If he doesn’t, however, the Penguins could start seriously seeking help between the pipes before the trade deadline.
Philly reporter Al Morganti (@nufced) on @SiriusXMNHL on the possibility of Claude Giroux moving this season: “The only place I could see him willingly go to would be Ottawa.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By willingly, Morganti is referring to Giroux waiving his no-movement clause to accept a trade to Ottawa. That’s assuming he’s willing to go and the Senators want him. He’s not going anywhere as long as the Flyers are a playoff contender.
Check out the latest on Robin Lehner, Carey Price, Auston Matthews, Anders Lee and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Robin Lehner clarified comments he made on Twitter Sunday accusing several NHL teams of distributing medication to players without a doctor’s prescription. He said he was not accusing Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault of doing this but was instead criticizing how he handled his players. Vigneault, meanwhile, denied Lehner’s claim mistreated his players.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).
Meanwhile, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he takes Lehner’s comments seriously and expects to speak with him in short order to hear his concerns and follow up to determine what merit there may be. He added Lehner could’ve contacted the league directly rather than taking to Twitter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Say this for Lehner, he got everyone’s attention with his tweets. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this after his interview with Bettman.
Bettman also spoke about the current standoff between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel regarding medical treatment for his injured neck. He indicated the league is “up to speed” on the current situation, adding there’s legitimate disagreement among doctors as to which course of treatment Eichel should undergo.
“It’s a terrible situation,” said Bettman. “I don’t think it’s fair to point the finger at anybody in terms of who’s right or who’s wrong.” He felt both sides are approaching this issue with “the best intention, ” adding people “need to be a little more patient.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t expect a resolution to this story anytime soon.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Montreal Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price was absent from Monday’s practice to a non-COVID illness. He said they’re less confident the 34-year-old goaltender will start the season on time as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a tad optimistic expecting Price to be at full strength when the season opens next week. The Habs would be wise to continue giving their franchise player more time to get into game shape.
The Canadiens got some good news as rookie winger Cole Caufield has resumed practice after missing the past week with an upper-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews participated in full practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing wrist surgery during the offseason. It’s uncertain if he’ll take part in a preseason game.
TSN: Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau is fine after leaving Monday’s preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period for precautionary reasons.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders captain Anders Lee could make his preseason debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. It would be his first game since undergoing knee surgery in March.
THE ATHLETIC: Seattle Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in practice for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. The timeline for his return remains uncertain. He’ll be evaluated in a couple of weeks.
TSN: Ottawa Senators center Colin White could be sidelined for a while after leaving Monday’s preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore and forwards Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden are listed as day-to-day.
TSN: Nashville Predators assistant coach Todd Richards is recovering from a heart attack. He suffered the attack on Friday but has been released from hospital and is resting at home.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Richards for a swift and full recovery.
CAP FRIENDLY: Free agent defenseman Ben Hutton has signed a professional tryout offer with the Anaheim Ducks.
Which notable players in next summer’s UFA class could get shopped at the March trade deadline? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently looked at which notable players among the 2022 unrestricted free agents could become trade candidates later this season.
Those UFAs include the Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly, Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville Predators’ Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm, New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).
Duhatschek pointed out those players belong to clubs that see themselves as playoff or even Stanley Cup contenders this season. He believes they’ll be retained as “own rentals” by their current teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek suggested Phil Kessel could fetch something of value for the Coyotes. Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and Red Wings blueliner Nick Leddy could draw interest from clubs seeking blueline depth.
Keep an eye on the Flames’ Gaudreau and the Predators’ Forsberg. Those clubs aren’t a sure thing to reach the 2022 playoffs. Trade speculation has dogged Gaudreau for the past two years. Ekholm seems more likely to be re-signed by the Predators than Forsberg, who could get around $8 million annually on the open market.
THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes Filip Forsberg’s contract negotiations could determine the Nashville Predators’ true intentions. Trading him for draft picks and prospects will signal the rebuild is on rather than a soft reset, marking the end of an era for the club.
Estes believes Forsberg will be traded unless this year’s team turns out to be better on the ice than anyone expects. Re-signing him will cost considerably more than his current $6 million annual average value. It isn’t something a rebuilding club would do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Estes also noted Forsberg’s seemingly indifferent comments about his contract talks, which suggest a lack of progression. If this persists, Forsberg will be a goner by the March 21 trade deadline if the Predators are out of the playoff race.
An update on Johnny Gaudreau and the latest on the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz observes there’s been little word on the status of contract talks between Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. The 28-year-old left winger is entering the final season of a six-year, $40.5 million deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).
Gaudreau holds a lot of control over his current situation. His no-trade clause has kicked in for this season, limiting the Flames to just five potential trade partners. It puts plenty of pressure on management to sign the winger or risk losing him for nothing next summer.
Gretz speculates Gaudreau’s next contract could be in the $7.5 million to $8 million range per season at a minimum. The Flames must also re-sign restricted free-agent forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. That will make things tight under a salary cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, Gaudreau’s contract status will be the dominant storyline following the Flames this season.
If the Flames improve it could improve their chances of keeping Gaudreau in Calgary. If they remain a middle-of-the-pack playoff club, they risk losing him to free agency next summer.
And if they struggle as they did last season, I expect they’ll try to find a suitable trade partner among the five clubs on Gaudreau’s list of preferred destinations before the March 21 trade deadline.
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Mattias Ekholm still hopes to remain with the Nashville Predators beyond this season. The 31-year-old defenseman s entering the final season of his six-year, $22.5 million contract and is due to become a UFA next July.
“I want to be here. I want to stay here,” said Ekholm, adding his agent is dealing with Predators general manager David Poile. He remains hopeful they’ll work something out. “I’d rather have it done yesterday,” he said.
Skrbina notes Ekholm’s name surfaced in trade rumors last season, which made the blueliner uncomfortable as he and his wife had a four-week-old baby at that point. He could get a raise for around $6 million annually.
Ekholm’s teammate and fellow UFA, Filip Forsberg, said his focus is on training camp and not on his contract status. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $36 million deal.
Forsberg: “I have no rush to sign. I mean I still have a full year. I don’t know, I feel like you have to play your contract out. Obviously I have a full year. I love this place. I’ve loved every minute since I got here. I definitely feel like we have a really good opportunity
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Ekholm and Forsberg are unsigned the more likely their names will surface in trade speculation this season, especially if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the March trade deadline approaches. It will be worth keeping an eye on their respective situations.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes Jack Eichel will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp but won’t pass his physical and thus won’t be cleared to play. He also believes the club will remove his captaincy.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
The 24-year-old center remains in a standoff with Sabres management regarding which medical procedure he’ll undergo for a herniated disc in his neck. Friedman heard some trade talks a couple of weeks ago but he thinks teams want to hear what the doctors say.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Eichel’s wish to undergo a disc replacement procedure (which the Sabres are against), there’s no end in sight for this impasse. One side or the other will have to bend or Eichel won’t be playing this season.
Regarding Tkachuk, Friedman believes the Senators have talked about a long-term contract but he wonders if a short-term deal is necessary to get things done. He doesn’t think they’re far apart in dollars but the Senators’ reluctance to give bonuses could be an issue. A no-trade/no-movement clause near the end of the deal could also be a sticking point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually for Tkachuk. Signing bonuses are likely the main sticking point here as that’s money the player gets upfront each season.
It appears the Canucks face a bit of a stalemate with Hughes and Pettersson. It’s thought the club is thinking short-term but Friedman wonders if a six-year deal might be the solution here. There’s also pushback to rumors the Canucks might make a cost-cutting trade to free up salary for those two with Tyler Motte remaining sidelined.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with over $10.6 million cap space. They will get another $3.5 million if necessary by placing Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve to start the season. Motte would give them another $1.225 million if he ends up on LTIR. As I noted yesterday, I doubt they’ll get Hughes and Pettersson for less than a combined $14 million.
Friedman said the Dahlin rumors are all over the map. At first, it sounded like things were going well. However, the Sabres want a short-term deal not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because of overall frustration and an unwillingness to commit to a long-term agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin’s development in Buffalo has been hampered in part by a revolving door of coaches. A short-term deal could set the stage for a messy arbitration battle down the road.
There were teams with interest in Robert Thomas. However, Friedman thinks St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told teams he wasn’t interested in trading him.
The cone of silence has dropped on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks with the Calgary Flames now that training camp has started. He’s told reporters he’s not talking to them about his contract situation. Meanwhile, the club won’t be releasing any updates. The 28-year-old left winger can become an unrestricted free agent next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will only stoke speculation over his future in Calgary, especially if the club gets off to a slow start this season.
Check out the latest on the Flames, Oilers and Senators in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving scoured the trade market this summer but couldn’t find many options to shake up his roster core. Treliving pointed out the difficulty in finding a trade partner to make a deal that made sense.
Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).
Francis noted few Flames drew much interest in the offseason trade market. Johnny Gaudreau’s struggles over the past two seasons hurt his trade value, as did the hip injury that affected Sean Monahan’s performance last season. Several other Flames, including Matthew Tkachuk, also played poorly.
Outside of signing Blake Coleman, it was difficult for the Flames to attract notable free agents. Francis cited “the dated arena, winter weather, high taxes, the team’s lack of playoff success, the scrutiny in a Canadian market and a coach (Darryl Sutter) who scares some players off.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving drew considerable criticism for what was perceived as his lack of effort to make significant changes. He didn’t make any excuses but it’s apparent some of those issues raised by Francis hampered Treliving’s offseason plans. It’s worth pointing out, however, the Flames had little difficulty landing Jacob Markstrom, who was last summer’s top free-agent goaltender.
Gaudreau is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could become a trade candidate if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. A bounce-back campaign could draw interest from other clubs at the March trade deadline.
It’s hard to imagine the Oilers having enough cap space to re-sign Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. They could try to move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million cap hit but maybe they can’t. Staples expects they’ll have to choose one or the other.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $74.5 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 according to Cap Friendly. They’ll need to find a suitable goaltender to share the duties with Mike Smith as Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock probably won’t be re-signed.
Moving Kassian in a cost-cutting deal isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. Holland might have to include a sweetener (draft pick or prospect) to get someone to take the full value of his remaining contract. That will also depend upon his performance this season.
They will also likely put Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to return from the shoulder surgery sidelining him for the coming season. They could also attempt to move him to a team seeking an LTIR player for cap relief. Still, that might not be enough to keep Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators center Logan Brown asked to be traded and changed agents in hopes of getting a deal. However, the club has insisted it’s not going to just give him away. With no value in the trade market, Brown signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. He could get picked up by another club off waivers.