NHL Rumor Mill – March 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 1, 2021

Could the Bruins acquire Jack Eichel? Is there interest in Canadiens goalie Carey Price? Could the Kings pursue Ryan Graves? What’s the latest on the Ducks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggests the Boston Bruins should look into acquiring Jack Eichel should the Buffalo Sabres center become available in the trade market. They can only count on aging centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for only so long.

Could the Boston Bruins pursue Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel if he becomes available in the trade market? (NHL Images).

Eichel’s no-trade protection doesn’t kick in until 2022-23, giving the Sabres a wide selection of possible trade partners before then. The Bruins could fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary cap payroll if they don’t re-sign Krejci and fellow UFA Tuukka Rask this summer.

The Sabres’ asking price, however, will be expensive, with a source suggesting it could cost the Bruins at least Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic. Multiple bidders with a deeper pool of promising players and prospects could drive that price even higher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel would be a great fit between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. I don’t doubt the Bruins would inquire if the Sabres put him on the trade block but they lack sufficient available young players to outbid other clubs. They certainly won’t part with McAvoy. They’ll also re-sign Rask because they lack a viable replacement. They’d still have sufficient cap space to acquire Eichel after signing Rask but it would leave very little room to flesh out the rest of the roster for next season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source telling him Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would still like to add a top-four left side defenseman. The source suggests Sweeney will keep tabs on blueliners like St. Louis’ Vince Dunn or Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm but wonders if ownership might limit how much money he can add to the payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn would be more affordable than Ekholm if Sweeney is interested in either guy. The Blues defenseman is on a one-year, $1.85 million contract while the Predator rearguard is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $3.75 million.

TEAMS INTERESTED IN PRICE?

Murphy cited numerous NHL sources claiming several teams contacted the Montreal Canadiens last October about Carey Price’s availability. The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche were believed among the interested clubs.

The Canadiens are standing by Price, who played well in last year’s postseason but is struggling this season. Murphy wondered if there would still be a market for the veteran netminder if the Habs decided a change of scenery might be best for all concerned.

One source told Murphy he feels Price still has value and could turn things around but his contract would be a sticking point. The best-case scenario would be trading Price in the offseason if he regains his form and plays well the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price has five years remaining on his contract. He also has a full no-movement clause so he controls his situation. If (and that’s a big IF) he agreed to be traded the Canadiens will have to pick up at least 20 percent (probably more) of his $10.5 million annual average value or take back a toxic contract in return to make the deal palatable to the acquiring club.

KINGS EYEING GRAVES?

Murphy noted TSN’s Darren Dreger last week reporting the Los Angeles Kings sought a young, dynamic left-shot defenseman. A source confirmed they looked into Vince Dunn and suggested Ryan Graves of the Colorado Avalanche could be a viable trade target. There’s a good chance the Avs could lose Graves to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Graves could be a good fit with the Kings but I don’t think the Avs are in any hurry to move him this season. As Murphy’s source suggested, that could be a deal that takes place in the offseason before the expansion draft.

UPDATE ON THE DUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens cites a high-ranking NHL executive saying there would be interest in Anaheim Ducks veterans such as Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler and even Ryan Getzlaf. However, the Ducks would have to retain some of their salaries if they hoped to move them.

Stephens believes that would mean the Ducks absorb 50 percent of Henrique’s $5.8 million AAV over the remaining three years of his contract. Getzlaf is a UFA this summer but carries a full no-movement clause and few teams can afford his $8.25 million cap hit.

Players that would be easier to move based on age, contract lengths and past performance include Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. Josh Manson’s been mentioned in trade rumors but he’s been hurt this season and struggled during the last two years.

Stephens said Ducks GM Bob Murray is open to making a deal, pointing to recent reports suggesting shipping forward Danton Heinen to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. The sticking point is Virtanen will make $3.4 million in actual salary next season. As of Saturday night, that deal appeared dead or dormant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks simply have too many expensive veterans on contracts far too long for teams to absorb under a flattened salary cap. If they don’t pick up part of those salary-cap hits they won’t be able to move them unless they take back toxic contracts as part of the return.

Rakell’s AAV is $3.789 million through 2021-22 while Lindholm’s is $5.205 million over the same period. If Getzlaf is willing to move the Ducks will have to pick up part of his cap hit but could be willing to do so since it’s just for the remainder of this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2021

The Jack Eichel trade speculation flares back to life as the Sabres continue to struggle, plus the latest on Taylor Hall, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Binnington in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman yesterday giving WGR 550 a quick “yes” when asked whether he sees the possibility of the Buffalo Sabres trading Jack Eichel. Friedman pointed to the Sabres’ performance coming out of their COVID-19 protocol break “has started a lot of talk about what could be happening.”

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

While the Sabres’ recent play isn’t enough to spur a franchise-changing move, Vogl took note of the fact Eichel hates losing and there’s been little change in the club’s fortunes despite recent changes. The Sabres captain is also off to a slow start after suffering an upper-body injury during training camp.

The Sabres’ ongoing woes have given rise to speculation over Eichel’s future in Buffalo. He’s in the third year of an eight-year deal with the final four years containing a full no-movement clause. Moving him before that clause kicks in 17 months from now would give the Sabres a broader trade market.

Vogl speculates the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings could be best-positioned to make a competitive pitch for Eichel. Both have considerable depth in promising youth and the cap space to take on Eichel’s $10 million annual average value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Eichel trade conjecture first surfaced last year when he voiced his unhappiness over the club’s performance. Few observers seriously entertained the notion of the Sabres star getting traded then. However, Vogl and Friedman pointed out the longer the club continues to stumble the more questions will be asked about Eichel’s future.

Another failed season could force a discussion this summer between Eichel and the Sabres’ ownership and management over the team’s direction. I don’t see them trying to move him if he wants to stay. He’s the guy they’ve been trying to build around since drafting him in 2015. But if Eichel decides it’s time to move on, trading him before his NMC kicks in makes the most sense.

Every NHL club would love to have a player like Eichel in their lineup. As I noted last September, finding a suitable trade partner willing to take on his big contract and pony up what will be an expensive asking price won’t be easy. Just because the Rangers and Kings have the cap space and assets to make a competitive offer doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s mutual interest between Taylor Hall and Sabres management in discussing a contract extension when the time is right. Both sides can start those discussions on March 12, one month before the Apr. 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Hall could be moved before the trade deadline if the Sabres fail to re-sign him by then. That’s still a possibility. If they can re-sign him, however, it could help alleviate some of the potential concerns Eichel might have about the club’s plans going forward.

UPDATES ON GETZLAF, NUGENT-HOPKINS AND BINNINGTON

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports teams have a lot of interest in Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. The 35-year-old center is slated to become a UFA this summer. Seravalli indicates the Ducks have no plans to ask Getzlaf about a trade unless he asks to be moved to a contender before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf is among the greatest players in Ducks history. They’re not going to force him out the door if he’s non-committal about returning next season or doesn’t fit into their future plans. They’ll give him all the time he needs to make a decision.

Ryan Rishaug took to Twitter on Tuesday reporting no resumption of contract talks between the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 27-year-old forward is due to become a UFA this summer. He wants to stay and the club wants to re-sign him but working out term and dollars on a new deal during a flat-cap COVID environment has proven tricky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rishaug points out Nugent-Hopkins isn’t an asset the Oilers want to risk losing for nothing to free agency this summer. It’ll be interesting to see if talks resume before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I don’t expect them to move Nugent-Hopkins while they’re in the midst of the playoff race but perhaps that changes if they tumble in the standings.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said his goal is to sign Jordan Binnington to a new contract. The 27-year-old goaltender is due to become a UFA this summer and is off to a strong start to this season.

Armstrong cited Binnington’s accomplishments in the short time he’s been with the Blues. He also pointed out the club would have to find a replacement for him if he departs via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues don’t have anyone in their system who can step up and fill Binnington’s skates. There aren’t many suitable options to replace him via this summer’s UFA market.

Tuukka Rask could be available but it’s expected he’ll re-sign with the Boston Bruins. Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen has a solid regular-season record but hasn’t accomplished much in the playoffs. Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Devan Dubnyk of the San Jose Sharks are past their prime.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2020

More speculation over which Lightning player could be moved in a cost-cutting trade plus the latest on the Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen examined which players the Tampa Bay Lightning could shop in a cost-cutting move. They’re above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.904 million after re-signing defenseman Mikhail Sergachev earlier in the week, with restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak in need of new contracts.

The Lightning put winger Tyler Johnson and his $5 million salary-cap hit on waivers last month but he went unclaimed. His no-trade clause gives him some say over where he could go but there might not be a market for a 30-year-old winger with declining stats and a high cap hit for the next four years.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn could become a cost-cutting trade candidate (NHL Images).

Alex Killorn is another candidate because of his modified no-trade clause whereas other Bolts with annual average values exceeding $4 million have full no-trades. Ondrej Palat and captain Steven Stamkos have also come up in speculation but both have full no-trade protection.

Whoever the Lightning trade they won’t get back a favorable return. However, the point is to free up cap room to keep as much of their roster intact as possible.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked if Tyler Johnson was a legitimate trade target for the Anaheim Ducks. While acknowledging Johnson’s had a solid NHL career, he wonders how well the 30-year-old will perform away from a deep roster like the Lightning. Given the Ducks’ own salary-cap constraints, the Bolts would have to absorb half of Johnson’s cap hit while the Ducks made a separate cost-cutting move to balance out the $2.5 million.

Stephens also suggested moving Ryan Kesler’s contract and perhaps another cap-related asset for Johnson if the center stays on long-term injury reserve during 2020-21. However, Ducks general manager Bob Murray could prefer retaining Kesler’s contract for his own LTIR purposes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson would be a tough sell that could end up costing the Lightning more than they’d like to part with in terms of a sweetener since they can’t afford to take back salary. It’ll be a tricky bit of juggling for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois.

Perhaps BriseBois could attempt to move Johnson for a permanent LTIR contract from another club thus providing sufficient wiggle room to re-sign Cirelli and Cernak and remain cap compliant. Some readers have suggested swinging a deal with the Detroit Red Wings to acquire the contract of all-but-retired center Henrik Zetterberg and his $6.083 million cap hit.

Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is the Lightning’s former GM and BriseBois’ mentor so there could be a fit there. However, Yzerman might not be keen to take on Johnson’s contract when he’s still got Frans Nielsen on his books for two more years at $5.25 million per season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Anaheim Ducks should embrace a rebuild rather than attempting to become a playoff contender in 2020-21. If David Backes ($4.5 million) ends up on LTIR it would provide the Ducks with more salary-cap wiggle room. That could allow them to take on another team’s problem contract along with some valuable pieces for their future.

Should they go the rebuild route, team captain Ryan Getzlaf could become a valuable trade chip if the 35-year-old center is willing to waive his no-movement clause to join a contender. Getzlaf is in the final season of his contract with an $8.25 million cap hit but earning only $3 million in actual salary.

O’Brien also suggested winger Rickard Rakell and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson as trade options. They’re in the late-20s and their contracts will expire at the end of 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Bob Murray is convinced his club can compete for a playoff berth this season. His opinion could change if the Ducks are wallowing near the basement again by the trade deadline.

Getzlaf, Rakell, Lindholm and Manson would all have considerable trade value if Murray opts to tear things down and stage a full rebuild. Backes on LTIR for the season might also be enticing to cap-strapped contenders looking to free up space for other moves.










Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2020

Could the Ducks trade Ryan Getzlaf? How will the Islanders free up cap space for Mathew Barzal? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray has been working the phones trying to get cap compliant for 2020-21 and leave some wiggle room during the season. The Ducks are above the $81.5 million salary cap by nearly $930K.

Could the Anaheim Ducks consider trading captain Ryan Getzlaf? (NHL Images)

Wingers Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg have come up in the rumor mill, but Murphy wonders if the Ducks would consider moving Ryan Getzlaf. A source told Murphy that three teams looked into the availability of the long-time Ducks captain. The 35-year-old center is entering the final season of his contract with an $8.25 million cap hit and a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible and Murray could be considering all his options. However, the Ducks GM might not have to go the trade route to become cap compliant.

Center Ryan Kesler could remain on long-term injury reserve if he’s still sidelined by a nagging hip injury. That would enable the Ducks to exceed the cap limited by the equivalent of his $6.875 million annual average value for 2020-21.

Trading a veteran like Getzlaf (if he agrees), Rakell or Silfverberg is an option. However, that could be based more on their performance in the coming season and where the Ducks are in the standings leading up to the 2021 trade deadline.

Murphy also reported the New York Islanders only have around $3 million in salary-cap space and must find more in order to sign first-line center Mathew Barzal. Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello was reportedly attempting to trade defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy but couldn’t find any takers in part because of their salaries.

Murphy wondered if Lamoriello might try moving a forward instead. A source suggested Josh Bailey as an option. He’s owed $5 million annually for the next three seasons but could be a fit on a young club with salary cap room like Detroit or Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello would probably find more takers for Bailey than for Boychuk or Leddy. The 31-year-old winger is a versatile two-way forward who can skate on either wing and netted 40-plus points in five of the last six seasons. He played a key role in their run to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final with 20 points in 22 games.

Those traits, however, also make Bailey a valuable member of the Islanders. I think the Isles GM will instead consider other trade options.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

A look at next year’s unrestricted free agent class in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently previewed the NHL’s 2021 unrestricted free agent class.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The notable forwards include Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar, Boston Bruins center David Krejci, and Avalanche winger Brandon Saad.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s already signaled his intent to re-sign with the Capitals. Unless Getzlaf feels he’d like one more shot at a Stanley Cup run, I can see him staying with the Ducks on a short-term deal. The Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins are discussing a long-term contract extension. I doubt the Avalanche part ways with Landeskog and I don’t see the Blues letting Schwartz depart after losing Alex Pietrangelo to free agency this year.

Hall could stay with the Sabres if he develops strong chemistry with Jack Eichel and the club significantly improves. Otherwise, he’ll test the market again. Tatar’s inconsistency means the coming season is likely his last in Montreal. The Bruins could let Krejci go unless he accepts a significant pay cut. Saad could be a one-year rental unless the Avs fail to re-sign Landeskog.

Noteworthy defensemen on O’Leary’s list include the Carolina Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Oilers’ Adam Larsson, and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Alec Martinez.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four could end up hitting the market next summer. Cap constraints could make it difficult for Hamilton, Larsson and Martinez to remain with their current clubs. Savard will turn 31 next October and the Jackets could be reluctant to invest too much in him for too long.

The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, the Blues’ Jordan Binnington, and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer are among next year’s best UFA goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Bruins re-signing Rask to a short-term deal provided he doesn’t opt for retirement at the end of 2020-21. Andersen is likely a goner after next season.

The Blues parted ways with Jake Allen this year by trading him to the Montreal Canadiens. Things will really have to go sideways for them to let Binnington walk next summer. Grubauer’s future in Colorado could depend upon his performance in the coming season, especially during the playoffs.