NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.

NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.

TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.

NHL RUMOR MILL

TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.

We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.

PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.

Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.

The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.

Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.

Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2020

A look at the latest TSN “Trade Bait” board in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
TSN: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine is No. 5 on Frank Seravalli’s latest NHL ‘Trade Bait’ list. He believes Laine will be in play as the Jets explore options to address their depth on the blueline and at center. The 22-year-old sniper has a year left on his contract and will be due for a hefty raise next year over his $6.75-million annual average value.
Seravalli cautions Laine is not a lock to be traded, as the Jets could look at free agency to address their defensive needs. That could be challenging as few true standout players reach the market. He also suggested winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be a trade chip, listing him at No. 12.
The Carolina Hurricanes could be a trade partner with their depth in blueline talent. Seravalli considers Jaccob Slavin untouchable but placed Dougie Hamilton on the trade board (No. 20) because he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Ted Wyman and Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe aren’t keen on the notion of the Jets moving Laine or Ehlers. Wyman believes there isn’t a single center on Seravalli’s list worth trading for, suggesting the return for Laine should be massive. “Think Jack Eichel, if he wants out of Buffalo,” though Wyman acknowledged it would take more than Laine to pry Eichel away from the Sabres.
I wouldn’t fault Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for considering all his options, but you don’t move guys like Laine and Ehlers unless you’re doing a roster tear-down. I don’t believe Cheveldayoff is entertaining that option.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray tops Seravalli’s list, followed by Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s status has been well-documented. It’s expected he’ll be traded at some point in the offseason. Same for Anderson, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
“JvR” has struggled this season under Flyers coach Alain Vigneault and managed just one goal thus far in the playoffs. He lacks no-trade protection but the 31-year-old winger carries a $7 million annual salary-cap hit for three more years.
Ekman-Larsson recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Coyotes would like to test their captain’s trade value. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan reports the club’s offseason plans are uncertain at this point because they don’t have a general manager yet. Steve Sullivan is filling in on an interim basis.
Morgan also points out Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause and loves living in Arizona. Perhaps he might change his mind if the club decides on another rebuild. Morgan suggested the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs as two clubs that need blueline help.
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang round out the top-10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere, Domi and Fleury have also recently popped up in the rumor mill. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan suggests the Senators take a run at acquiring Domi and reuniting him with former Coyotes teammate Anthony Duclair. What say you, Senators fans?
In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak was asked about Palmieri’s future. The 29-year-old winger becomes a UFA after next season. He’s said he wants to stay in New Jersey but Masisak felt dollars and term will determine if he has a long-term future with the Devils.
Letang was briefly mentioned as a trade option following the Penguins’ elimination last month from the playoff qualifying round. GM Jim Rutherford, however, insists he’s keeping his veteran core intact, and that includes Letang.
Hurricanes winger Ryan Dzingel. Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, Lightning winger Alex Killorn and Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson join Ehlers in the 11 to 15 spots. Seravalli suggests Dunn could be moved if the Blues re-sign Alex Pietrangelo, while Killorn could be among the options for the Lightning to clear cap room because of his limited no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dzingel hasn’t been the same since getting traded by the Senators to the Blue Jackets at last season’s trade deadline. He has only 29 points this season after netting 56 with the Sens and Jackets in 2018-19.
Dunn could get moved if the Blues can’t free up sufficient cap space after re-signing Pietrangelo. The Lightning must re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev so Killorn seems most likely to go. Larsson’s been mentioned as a trade chip to bring in a top-six winger. Sportsnet’s Brian Burke suggested he’d be a good fit with the Leafs.
Penguins center Jared McCann, Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, and Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson join Hamilton in spots 16-20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann, Johnsson, and Andersen have turned up in recent media trade chatter. I don’t see the Leafs moving Andersen unless it’s for an upgrade between the pipes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP

NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus updates on Braden Holtby, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Lias Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Andrew Berkshire was asked if the Montreal Canadiens should attempt to sign Dustin Byfuglien. The 35-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was mutually terminated earlier this year.

Assuming Byfuglien is interested in continuing his NHL career, Berkshire doesn’t see a fit in Montreal. His age, injury history, and questions about his commitment to play are big warning flags.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens must bolster their blueline depth next season, but Byfuglien isn’t the answer here. We don’t know if he’s even interested in playing again. Assuming he is, those factors Berkshire raised will be significant issues.

HOLTBY TO THE FLAMES?

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (Photo via NHL Images).

Berkshire was also asked where he thinks Braden Holtby will end up after this season. The Washington Capitals goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Berkshire said he’d be shocked if Holtby wants more than a one-year deal or if a club is willing to give him one. He points to the 30-year-old netminder’s recent struggles and feels he needs to prove himself again as a starter.

He believes the best option for Holtby is joining a team that is somewhat established but lacking a top-end goalie and with a highly touted prospect who could claim the net by 2021-22. He suggested the Calgary Flames, as Holtby could provide support for David Rittich with the Flames having to rush promising Dustin Wolf. However, that might not be necessary if Cam Talbot wants to return on a short-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap constraints could prevent the Flames from signing Holtby. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $64.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. RFAs include Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, and Oliver Kylington, while the UFAs include T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, and Michael Stone.

UPDATE ON GOSTISBEHERE

PHILLY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for a trade partner for Shayne Gostisbehere. While the 26-year-old defenseman struggled this season, the Flyers aren’t looking to just give him away. If they do try to move Gostisbehere, Carchidi thinks the asking price could be a young forward with 20-goal potential or a second-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill. Following the trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher denied Gostisbehere was on the trade block. Considering the growing depth on the Flyers’ blueline and their need for secondary scoring, Ghost Bear will probably remain the subject of trade speculation.

LATEST ON ANDERSSON

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lias Andersson told Rangers president John Davidson he wants to remain a Ranger, but he declined an invitation to attend next month’s training camp leading to the 2020 Stanley Cup tournament. Brooks wonders if Andersson will ever don a Rangers jersey again.

Last December, Andersson returned home to Sweden and demanded a trade, prompting the Rangers to suspend him. Both sides agreed he would be allowed to play for his hometown club for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson has popped up from time to time in trade rumors, usually linking him to Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade. Most of the trade chatter suggests little or no interest in the once-promising young center.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2020

Could the Canadiens pursue Torey Krug or Taylor Hall via free agency? Does Shayne Gostisbehere fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? What’s the latest on the Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

COULD CANADIENS TARGET KRUG OR HALL VIA FREE AGENCY?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked about the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens pursuing a left-handed defenseman like Torey Krug during the off-season.

The 29-year-old Boston Bruins defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. While Engels believes the Canadiens would love to have Krug’s skills in the lineup, he doubts the long-time Bruin will sign with the Habs.

Could the Montreal Canadiens target Taylor Hall in the off-season free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have plenty of cap space to make Krug a tempting offer. While the idea of Krug in a Montreal jersey could excite Habs fans and infuriate Bruins’ followers, I agree with Engels. If Krug hits the open market, it’s doubtful he’ll sign with the Canadiens.

Engels was also asked if Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall had any connections with the Canadiens that might tempt him to come to Montreal as a free agent after this season. Engels isn’t aware of any but acknowledged the Habs are among the few clubs that can afford to make Hall a maximum contract offer. He’d be the type of high-end offensive player the Canadiens need, but Engels wonders if Hall sees the makings of a winner in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have long struggled to entice UFA talent to Montreal, even during years when they had the cap space to do so.

Hall, 28, wants to play on a winner after years of skating with non-contenders in Edmonton and New Jersey. If the Coyotes can’t convince him to stay in Arizona, I anticipate he’ll try to land with a potential contender.

LATEST ON GOSTISBEHERE

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked about where Shayne Gostisbehere fits in long term in the Flyers defense corps. Carchidi observers the 27-year-old defenseman struggled over the past two seasons and could be moved in an off-season trade.

Carchidi expects Gostisbehere will have a difficult time getting into the lineup when this season resumes. While he’ll be healthy and has impressive speed and offensive skills, the Flyers defense has excelled and showed great chemistry without him.

If the Flyers shop “Ghost Bear”, Carchidi expects they’ll hold out for a first- or second-round pick, or a winger with 20-goal potential.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The decline in Gostisbehere’s performance hurts his trade value. However, a strong bounce-back effort in the 24-team playoff tournament could make him more enticing to clubs seeking a mobile blueliner. That could improve the Flyers’ chances of landing a solid pick or a scoring winger in return.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2020

Could Shayne Gostisbehere become a Flyers’ off-season trade chip? Could the Ducks trade one of their top-three defensemen? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD GOSTISBEHERE BECOME AN OFF-SEASON TRADE CHIP?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Shayne Gostisbehere remains the subject of frequent trade speculation. The 27-year-old defenseman is in his playing prime with offensive skills and an attractive contract that could make him enticing to other clubs.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Photo via NHL Images).

Following the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher admitted teams had made inquiries about Gostisbehere but he wasn’t shopping the blueliner. Nevertheless, Hall doesn’t dismiss the possibility he could become an off-season trade chip.

The development of prospect Egor Zamula, efforts to re-sign pending UFA rearguard Justin Braun, and whenever promising college prospect Cam York turns pro could factor into Gostisbehere’s future in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere also lacks no-trade protection, making it easier for Fletcher to move him. I don’t doubt there was interest in “Ghost Bear”, but his stock has tumbled this season. Despite his offensive abilities, he’s been criticized for sloppy defensive play.

If Fletcher were inclined to move Gostisbehere, he’d probably want a decent scoring forward in return. That deal probably isn’t available right now. 

DO THE DUCKS RECENT SIGNINGS SUGGESTS A BLUELINE CHANGE?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently mused over the Anaheim Ducks’ blueline plans in the wake of their signing Christian Djoos, Brendan Guhle, and Jani Hakanpää to new contracts. He feels the Ducks are trying to fill a pressing need for depth among their bottom-three defense.

The new contracts for Djoos and Hakanpää are ‘show me’ deals based on their promising auditions this season, while Guhle’s contract indicates they want to iron out the inconsistencies in his game. Stephens doubts Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, or Josh Manson will be subtracted from an already question-filled blueline corps. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fowler and Manson frequently surfaced in trade rumors this season. At one point, Fowler was linked to the Montreal Canadiens, while Manson is often suggested as a trade target for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Given the Ducks’ defensive woes over the last two seasons, I don’t think they’ll make a bad situation worse by shopping any of those three. Besides, Fowler has a four-team trade list while Manson has a 12-team no-trade list.