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.
Check out the latest on Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Mark Giordano and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports the Boston Bruins have discussed a contract extension with Patrice Bergeron. The 36-year-old Bruins captain has one year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $6.875 million.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s eight-year contract turned into a long-term bargain for the Bruins. He won two of his four Selke Trophies during the term of that deal and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. Despite his age, Bergeron remains among the best two-way centers in the league. He won’t get another long-term deal but I expect he’ll sign a short-term extension for perhaps $6 million annually.
Speaking of the Bruins, general manager Don Sweeney said there’s a possibility for David Krejci to return. The 35-year-old center recently announced he intends to finish his playing career in his native Czech Republic “We’ll see if somewhere down the road Krejci opens the door back up,” said Sweeney. He indicated it would be a family decision and there’s no timeline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci could return to the Bruins this season if he signs before the trade deadline. According to Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy, he’d have to sign before Dec. 15 to avoid passing through waivers.
TSN: Salim Valji reports Mark Giordano is adjusting to his new team after being selected by the Seattle Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. The former Flames defenseman said he’s turned the page on his time in Calgary and looks forward to taking on a leadership role with the Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How well things go for Giordano with the Kraken will determine how long he plays in Seattle. The 37-year-old blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall has full confidence in his goaltenders heading into next season, especially in Tristan Jarry. He expects the 26-year-old Jarry will bounce back from last season’s inconsistent performance in his first campaign as the Penguins’ full-time starter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was plenty of speculation the Penguins would pursue a more reliable starter via trade or free agency this summer. Perhaps they would’ve if not for salary-cap constraints. A recent change in goalie coaches could help Jarry regain his form. If he struggles again, however, Hextall could end up shopping for help before the trade deadline.
CITYNEWS 1130: Player agent Kevin Epp released a statement on behalf of client Jake Virtanen questioning why the complainant who accused the former Vancouver Canucks winger of sexual assault chose to file a civil lawsuit over criminal charges.
Epp said the way the accusation unfolded was “unusual and troubling.” He added Virtanen learned of the accusation via anonymous social media postings, claiming it led to a negative impact upon his client’s career and family.
Kyla Lee, a criminal lawyer at Acumen Law Corporation, said it’s not unusual for a person claiming to be a victim of sexual assault to file a civil suit without contacting the police. She cites the long process of a criminal charge often boils down to a “he said she said” situation making the pursuit of criminal charges challenging. There’s also the perception allegations won’t be taken seriously which prevents victims from reporting the sexual assault to police.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers signed Brendan Perlini to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level. Perlini last played in the NHL in 2019-20 with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.
The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).
Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.
Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.
Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.
No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.
In other news…
TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.
Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is tonight at 8 pm ET plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Phillip Danault, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken will finally have a full roster of players as they reveal their selections this evening in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. The names will be announced at Seattle’s Gas Works Park starting at 8 pm ET. Among the notable names available is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.
Seattle Kraken expansion draft is July 21. (NHL.com)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Price, Tarasenko and Giordano could be selected by the Kraken. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill update. Ovechkin, however, is expected to re-sign with the Capitals following the expansion draft.
THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Tarasenko, Jeremy Rutherford reports the surgeon who conducted the winger’s third shoulder surgery claims his patient’s left shoulder is “rock solid.”
Dr. Peter Millett said Tarasenko’s shoulder is “very stable and strong”, adding the winger told him it feels better now than it has for months. Millett is confident that Tarasenko is “100 percent ready for the upcoming season.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues spent several weeks attempting to trade Tarasenko before exposing him in the expansion draft. This news could make him more enticing to the Kraken or to clubs that expressed interest in the 29-year-old winger.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels cited sources claiming it’s highly unlikely Phillip Danault returns with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Engels also indicated there’s no truth to a reported deal between Danault and the Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault has put his Montreal-area home up for sale. His solid defensive play during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs should help him land a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere on July 28.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they named Jean-Francois Houle as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Laval. The son of former Canadien Rejean Houle, he has several years of coaching experience at the university, Junior-A and minor-league levels. In 2011-12, he won the Ron Lapointe Trophy as the QMJHL’s top coach.
TSN: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis denied suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery this season. He said it was an injured knuckle that sidelined him for 20 games with the Nashville Predators. Ellis was traded to the Flyers on Saturday before the expansion draft roster freeze. He said he’s good to go for next season.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Patrik Laine is mulling the $7.5 million qualifying offer he received from the Blue Jackets. If he signs the one-year deal he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. The move could allow time for the Jackets to negotiate a long-term extension with the 23-year-old winger.
TSN: Prospect Logan Mailloux has renounced himself from this weekend’s NHL Draft. He’s asking teams not to select him following a criminal charge while playing in Sweden last year. He was investigated after distributing a photo of himself and a woman engaged in a sexual act. The photo was taken without her consent.
Mailloux received a summary punishment by fine. The NHL responded that he remains draft-eligible.
NHL.COM: Defenseman Yannick Weber has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons. He intends to continue his playing career in Switzerland. Weber amassed 94 points in 499 games with the Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Weber in his future endeavors.
The Lightning face some tough decisions this summer, the latest Vladimir Tarasenko speculation and updates on the Flames, Islanders and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LIGHTNING FACE DIFFICULT OFFSEASON DECISIONS
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning could face some tough decisions this summer to become salary-cap compliant for next season. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million cap by $3.5 million.
The Lightning has several players (Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde) with market value. Sources say all of them will receive interest so moving one of them wouldn’t be a salary dump.
General manager Julien BriseBois said he’s had discussions with the Seattle Kraken about a side deal. He doesn’t intend to ask any of his players with no-movement clauses to waive them for the upcoming expansion draft.
BriseBois has no plans to buy out anyone. That includes Tyler Johnson, who won’t be easy to move with three years left on his contract and an annual average value of $5 million. He also admitted it’s possible forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow depart via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has 17 players under contract for next season. They could be looking at trying to clear over $10 million to leave enough wiggle room under the cap to fill out the rest of their lineup and still leave room for other moves if necessary during next season.
They’ll have to shed even more if they want to keep Coleman, Goodrow and fellow UFA David Savard. That doesn’t seem likely. Rumor has it the Bruins will push hard to sign Goodrow when the free-agent market opens.
Could the Tampa Bay Lightning ask Steven Stamkos to waive his NMC to accept a trade? (NHL Images)
Smith’s colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if BriseBois might approach captain Steven Stamkos about waiving his no-movement clause for a trade. There was talk last fall Stamkos’ camp was approached but the answer was no. LeBrun thinks there could be another conversation about it but I don’t think Stamkos wants to consider it. He took less than market value to stay with the Lightning and could be determined to stay put for the duration.
The Lightning are believed to be Tarasenko’s top preference but they’re already well over the salary cap for next season. The Rangers are an option but GM Chris Drury might want to move Chris Kreider in the deal. That could prove difficult, in part because of the winger’s no-movement clause.
Rutherford thinks the Islanders could also be a possible landing spot. However, they might not be willing to part with defenseman Noah Dobson. The Bruins could be unwilling to give up a first-round pick while the Flyers might not give up prospect Morgan Frost. There’s also speculation about a one-for-one swap with the Capitals for Evgeny Kuznetsov but he’s had off-ice issues and carries a $7.8 million cap hit for four more seasons.
It’s believed the Blues have an interest in Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. However, the Flames aren’t on Tarasenko’s list. The Flames aren’t looking to move Tkachuk this summer but Rutherford speculates they might be forced to next summer if he doesn’t want to sign a long-term deal with the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of interesting stuff here. The Rangers’ focus could be more on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Islanders have limited cap space and are trying to free up room to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Not saying they couldn’t use a scorer like Tarasenko but they’ll have to make room by perhaps moving out a forward such as Jordan Eberle.
The Golden Knights are more interested in shoring up their depth at center. The Bruins’ focus is on improving the left side of their blueline and re-signing Taylor Hall and perhaps Tuukka Rask and David Krejci. The Flyers are focused on adding a top-pairing right-side defenseman such as Columbus’ Seth Jones or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.
It’ll take quite a display of salary-cap gymnastics by the Lightning to squeeze Tarasenko into their limited payroll for next season. Kuznetsov’s personal baggage and cap hit screams “buyer, beware!” The Panthers could use a reliable right-side scorer but GM Bill Zito might prefer the Blues retain some salary in a Tarasenko deal.
I’m not suggesting Tarasenko won’t be traded. However, his injury history and $7.5 million AAV for the next two seasons make it tough to find a suitable deal.
UPDATES ON THE FLAMES, ISLANDERS AND FLYERS
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving quashed a recent rumor suggesting winger Matthew Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary. “There’s nothing to it,” said Treliving. He’s also touched base with other clubs to gauge interest in several of his players coming off disappointing seasons.
Contract extension talks have begun between Treliving and the agent for Johnny Gaudreau. The winger’s limited no-trade clause kicks in on July 28, prompting some to suggest he’d have to be moved before then if a new deal cannot be reached.
Team captain Mark Giordano appears a prime candidate to be snapped up by the Seattle Kraken in next week’s expansion draft. The Flames could leave him unprotected. Discussions between Giordano and Treliving on the subject are continuing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giordano, 37, has a year remaining on his contract. He could be exposed if Treliving opts to protect just three defensemen as expected. Perhaps Treliving is working on a side deal with the Kraken to have them pass over Giordano for someone else on the Flames’ unprotected list.
DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited The Athletic’s Arthur Staple recently reporting two league sources said the New York Islanders are shopping Nick Leddy. They’re hoping to get something for the 30-year-old defenseman rather than lose him in next week’s expansion draft to the Kraken for nothing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy still has some value as a second-pairing defenseman. His cap hit ($5.5 million), however, could make it difficult to find a suitable trade partner.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is willing to trade his first-round pick (13th overall) in this year’s draft if it’ll fetch a player who can help the club over the long term.
Reaction to rumors linking Jack Eichel to the Coyotes, plus the latest on the Flames and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ARE THE COYOTES INTERESTED IN EICHEL?
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan said a report earlier this week claiming the Arizona Coyotes were a “serious contender” to acquire Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel appears to be inaccurate. His understanding is the Coyotes aren’t interested in trading for Eichel and he doesn’t think they’ve even talked to anyone about the Sabres star.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
Morgan acknowledged the Coyotes could use Eichel, noting they haven’t had a legitimate first-line center in 20 years. However, they forfeited their first-round pick in this year’s draft, which would be a crucial part of the Sabres’ asking price.
The Coyotes cannot afford to give away any more first-round picks. Concerns about Eichel’s neck injury, leadership and his willingness to be in Arizona would also be worrying issues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Los Angeles Kings could be the front-runners if the Sabres put Eichel on the trade block. They’ve got the cap space, plenty of draft picks, and considerable depth in prospects and promising roster players to make a competitive bid if general manager Rob Blake is so inclined.
The Rangers would be next but their proximity to Buffalo would make trading Eichel to New York a sticky issue for Sabres management. Their preference could be moving him as far away as possible.
UPDATE ON THE FLAMES
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames general manager Brad Treliving acknowledged his club must make changes following this season’s disappointing performance. Whether he’ll be sticking around to make those changes remains to be seen. While Treliving is said to have two years left on his contract, he indicated he hasn’t heard from team ownership yet about his own job security.
Gilbertson also reported captain Mark Giordano could be left exposed in this year’s expansion draft, where he’d be a tempting target to be plucked away by the Seattle Kraken. Giordano said he wants to remain with the only NHL club he’s ever played for. However, the Flames can’t risk leaving younger defensemen like Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin or Chris Tanev exposed.
Daniel Austin reports winger Johnny Gaudreau is willing to discuss a contract extension. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Gaudreau said he loves the city and loves playing there. Austin considers the winger to be their best trade chip and re-signing him won’t be easy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Big decisions are coming for the Flames this summer, starting with whether Treliving remains as the general manager. If he does, he’ll likely be working more closely with head coach (and former Flames GM) Darryl Sutter on addressing their roster needs.
The Flames’ best option with Giordano is exposing him in the draft but cutting a side deal with the Kraken so they’ll take someone else from their protected list. Otherwise, they’ll have to hope Kraken GM Ron Francis will be put off by Giordano’s age (37) and the single year left on his contract.
Gaudreau’s been the whipping boy for fans and pundits for the Flames’ recent struggles. Nevertheless, I think he’s sincere about wanting to sign an extension. He’s going to seek a hefty raise over his current $6.75 million annual average value.
Given the decline in Gaudreau’s production over the last two seasons, the Flames must decide if he’s worth that kind of long-term investment. If not, they could shop him this summer. for the best possible return.
LATEST ON THE RED WINGS
THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman reported Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman believes his club must add more scoring and shore up the depth on the left side of his blue line.
Bultman speculates Yzerman could turn to free agency or trades to address those issues, especially for a left-shot defenseman. He also noted the Wings GM would consider trading draft picks and prospects for a 26-or-young scorer who would fit in with the club’s current young forwards.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Marc Staal is open to returning with the Wings next season. The 34-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent this summer, completing a six-year, $34.2 million contract. He’s also open to playing with brother Eric (who’s also a pending UFA with the Canadiens) or Jordan in Carolina.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Jonathan Bernier is also interested in returning with the Wings. Like Staal, the 32-year-old netminder is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Look no further than Jakub Vrana for the type of young forward Yzerman would like to add to his roster. He acquired Vrana from the Washington Capitals (along with two draft picks and veteran winger Richard Panik) in exchange for Anthony Mantha at last month’s trade deadline. Yzerman didn’t give up draft picks and prospects in that deal but he would to in order to land another comparable young scorer.
If Staal and Bernier are willing to accept affordable short-term deals then there’s probably a place for both with the Wings. However, that will depend on what moves Yzerman has in store during the summer. Both could be replaced by younger options via trades or free agency.