Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, speculation on how the Wild might make room to re-sign Kevin Fiala plus a look at what might be in store for the Sharks under a new general manager.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Gear recently examined ways for the Minnesota Wild to escape their salary cap hell following 2021-22 when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter bite deeply into their payroll for the next three seasons. The most immediate effect will be felt in the club’s efforts to sign winger Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s completing a one-year, $5.1 million deal and is enjoying a career-best performance with 61 points in 69 games.

Gear speculates it could cost the Wild $6.5 million to sign Fiala. He wondered if they might part with Jordan Greenway or Marcus Foligno or perhaps consider moving defenseman Matt Dumba or winger Mats Zuccarello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin knew full well he was putting his club into a cap crunch over the next three years when he bought out Parise and Suter. I daresay he’s got several options in mind to address this issue for next season.

Guerin could simply trade Fiala this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the winger on a new contract and use the savings to invest in younger, cheaper talent. Otherwise, he’ll have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to keep Fiala in the fold. Greenway or Foligno would be easiest to move given their affordable contracts and lack of no-trade protection.

Dumba’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past two seasons. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While he should draw interest in the trade market, his $6 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause are potential stumbling blocks.

Zuccarello also carries a $6 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. However, the no-trade portion becomes modified after this season to a 10-team no-trade list. Nevertheless, teams could be reluctant to take on a 34-year-old winger with two years remaining on his contract.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will conduct an extensive external search for a new general manager after Doug Wilson announced yesterday he’s stepping down for health reasons. They intend to take their time as several candidates might not be available until the summer.

Ownership has faith in the current management to handle the draft and free agency until a suitable replacement for Wilson is found. They’re not interested in a full rebuild and that could affect which candidates are interested in the job.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng also noted the Sharks’ unwillingness for a full rebuild, pointing to their recent signing of Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. He also believes the reason they’re not handing the role to assistant GM Joe Will, noting they’re seeking an infusion of new ideas as well as different types of candidates. Will also didn’t deny interest in the job.

Peng also thinks Bob Boughner’s job as head coach remains safe for now. That could depend on who eventually takes over for Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will did a good job filling in for Wilson. He re-signed Hertl, terminated Evander Kane’s contract and acquired promising goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t end up with the GM job, he’ll likely remain in the front office as assistant GM.

The Sharks have several aging stars carrying expensive contracts that could prove difficult to move. With ownership uninterested in rebuilding, Wilson’s replacement will have to find suitable players to incorporate with those veterans in order to build a serious playoff contender.

As noted in yesterday’s rumor mill, the Sharks could trim some payroll to make room for younger talent. Kahkonen’s addition means James Reimer or Adin Hill will be shopped this summer. They could attempt to move Kevin Labanc and his $4.75 million cap hit or Radim Simek and $2.25 million annual average value.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2022

The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin tied for third on the all-time scoring list, the Leafs’ Auston Matthews widens his lead in the Richard Trophy race, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to tie Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time goal list (766) as his club held off the Calgary Flames 5-4. With 36 goals, Ovechkin sits fourth in this season’s goal-scoring race. The Capitals hold the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 71 points, sitting two behind the Boston Bruins. Flames forward Elias Lindholm also scored two goals as his club remains atop the Pacific Division with 75 points.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Auston Matthews powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-4 win over the Seattle Kraken. The Leafs blew a 3-1 lead and fell behind 4-3 before getting two goals from Matthews and one from Mitch Marner for the win. With 43 goals, Matthews holds a five-goal lead over the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and the New York Rangers Chris Kreider. the Leafs (78 points) are two back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is just seven goals from becoming the first Leaf to reach the 50-goal plateau since Dave Andreychuk in 1993-94. With 74 points, he’s just five points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.

Patrick Kane netted a career-high six points (one goal and five assists) as his Chicago Blackhawks thumped the Anaheim Ducks 8-3. Dylan Strome had a hat trick plus an assist while Alex DeBrincat had a goal and three assists. Anaheim goalie John Gibson got the hook after giving up five goals in 13 shots in the first period. With 63 points, the Ducks remain four points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Arizona Coyotes tallied seven or more goals for the second straight game in a 9-2 dubbing of the Detroit Red Wings. Fresh off a seven-point performance in his previous game, Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz tallied two goals and added two assists in this contest while teammates Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller and Nick Ritchie each had three-point nights. The Coyotes have won three straight games for the first time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes winger Phil Kessel skated in the opening shift to keep his NHL Ironman streak alive at 956 games, then flew back to Arizona on a flight chartered by team owner Alex Meruelo to attend the birth of his child. Meanwhile, Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana scored in his season debut following a long recovery from shoulder surgery.

Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair tied his career-high of 23 goals to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Aleksander Barkov collected two assists as the Panthers move into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes with 83 points, though the Hurricanes sit atop the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist as the Penguins sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points.

The Colorado Avalanche (87 points) failed to widen their lead over the Hurricanes and Panthers in the overall standings after falling 5-3 to the New Jersey Devils, who overcame a 3-0 deficit for the win. Jesper Bratt collected three assists for the Devils. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar extended his points streak to 13 games with a goal and an assist. Devils head coach Lindy Ruff moved into sixth place on the all-time wins list among NHL bench bosses with 776. He’s 12 wins behind Hall-of-Famer Al Arbour.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele scored and set up three others to lead his club to a 7-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Paul Stastny scored twice for the Jets, who had lost six of their last eight games. With 60 points, they’re seven points out of the final Western wild-card berth. The Lightning (80 points) remain three behind the Hurricanes and Panthers in the Eastern Conference.

The Minnesota Wild got two goals by Kevin Fiala and a three-point performance by Marcus Foligno to down the New York Rangers 5-2. Cam Talbot made 23 saves for the win as the Wild (69 points) moved within two points of the second-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. The Rangers (77 points) hold second place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand over the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild winger Jordan Greenway collected an assist as he returned to the lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Blues, they suffered their fourth straight loss by falling 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators, who snapped a five-game losing skid. Tim Stutzle and Josh Norris led the way with a goal and two assists each while Brady Tkachuk scored his 19th goal of the season.

Two goals by Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 2-1. John Klingberg tallied for the Stars to snap his 25-game goal-scoring drought. The Predators (68 points) moved one ahead of the Stars into the first Western wild-card spot.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made a career-high 47 saves to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Justin Braun and Oskar Lindblom were the goal scorers for the Flyers while Evgenii Dadonov replied for the Golden Knights, who sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken signed forward Jared McCann to a five-year, $25 million contract extension. McCann, 25, is their leading scorer with 21 goals and 33 points and is the first player in franchise history to re-sign with the club.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the ice yesterday by taking part in an optional skate. He’s been sidelined by a concussion and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Antoine Roussel has been sidelined for six weeks with a lower-body injury.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Justin Danforth to a two-year, $1.95 million contract extension. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks claimed defenseman Andrej Sustr off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2022

Mason Marchment has a 6-point night in a big Panthers win, more changes to NHL COVID protocols, the 3 stars of the week revealed, the wild re-sign Jordan Greenway and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers winger Mason Marchment scored two goals and set up four others in a six-point performance as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-4. Teammates Anton Lundell collected five assists while Sam Reinhart tallied a hat trick and chipped in an assist. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets while Elvis Merzlikins was pulled after giving up seven goals on 25 shots. The Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with 69 points.

Florida Panthers winger Mason Marchment (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets received bad news yesterday as defenseman Jake Bean is expected to be sidelined for four weeks with a groin injury. Bean already tallied career highs with four goals and 15 points this season.

Auston Matthews netted a hat trick during the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 comeback win over the New Jersey Devils. The Leafs overcame a 4-2 deficit with four unanswered third-period goals. Mitch Marner extended his goal streak to six games with a goal and two assists while Leafs goalie Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots. They remain in third place in the Atlantic Division with 59 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin missed this game with a concussion and is expected to remain sidelined for the remainder of this week. Devils coach Lindy Ruff missed this game and will miss the rematch tonight due to the recent passing of his father. My condolences to Ruff and his family.

An overtime goal by Tim Stutzle lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. Goaltender Matt Murray picked up the win with a 37-save performance while Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot each had two points. The Oilers (47 points) sit one point behind the Calgary Flames in the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for his first win since Dec. 30 in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brock Boeser tallied his 12th goal of the season as the Canucks (46 points) sit two points back of the Flames.

The Detroit Red Wings nipped the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Jordan Oesterle scored in overtime while Dylan Larkin netted his 23rd of the season. Rickard Rakell replied for the Ducks, who sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 55 points.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The league and the NHL Players Association yesterday announced an update on their COVID-19 protocols. Among the notable changes is the removal of “enhanced measures” as they revert back to start-of-season protocols, removal of daily testing for fully-vaccinated individuals, removal of the requirement to test close contacts, and updated recommendations for the type of masks and steps to reduce community exposure.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen, and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 30.

DAILY FACEOFF: The skills competition for the upcoming 2022 NHL All-Star weekend in Las Vegas will feature events on the Las Vegas Strip and in the Belaggio Fountains.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Jordan Greenway to a three-year, $9 million contract extension. The 24-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a nice little pay bump for Greenway from the $2.1 million annual average value of his current deal. This also fits comfortably within the Wild’s salary-cap payroll for 2022-23. Cap Friendly indicates the Wild have $69.4 million invested in 13 players next season with Kevin Fiala, Alex Goligoski, and Kaapo Kahkonen among their notable free agents.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Danton Heinen is listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

GOPHNX.COM: Arizona Coyotes center Johan Larsson could be facing surgery for a nagging groin injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Former Blackhawks Marian Hossa, Ed Olcyzk and Patrick Sharp will be part of the advisory committee that will select the club’s next general manager.

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs head coach Mike Nykoluk passed away at age 87. He spent 17 seasons as a player in the AHL but briefly played for the Leafs in 1956-57. He was their head coach from 1980 to 1984. As an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was part of their Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. He was also an assistant coach with the New York Rangers before joining the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nykoluk’s family, friends and to the Leafs, Flyers and Rangers organizations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2022

The Rangers move into first place in the overall standings, the three stars of the week are announced, the latest COVID protocols updates, the Flames new arena deal is dead and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers (48 points) moved into first place in the overall standings by dropping the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, Adam Fox collected two assists, Chris Kreider tallied his 20th goal of the season and Alexandar Georgiev picked up the win with 33 saves. The Oilers (38 points) have only two wins in their last 12 games and are clinging to the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (NHL Images).

Last night’s game between the Ottawa Senators and Seattle Kraken was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns affecting the Senators. Thomas Chabot, Zach Sanford and Chris Tierney entered COVID protocol yesterday, bringing the total number of Senators players in protocol to eight.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski and Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart were among those who also entered COVID protocol yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The total number of players going on or coming off the protocol list changes daily. For example, 10 Dallas Stars players (including Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Esa Lindell, Jason Robertson and Ryan Suter) were removed from the list yesterday.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and assistant coach Dean Chynoweth missed practice yesterday after submitting positive rapid COVID-19 tests. Both are asymptomatic and are awaiting the results of their PCR tests.

Meanwhile, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he doesn’t expect many more Canadian franchises will have games postponed due to attendance issues because the league is running out of time to make up games already postponed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the seven Canadian franchises had asked for their home games in January to be rescheduled for later in the season when attendance restrictions in their respective provinces are lifted when the Omicron COVID variant fades. Those clubs will see a significant reduction in their hockey-related revenue (HRR) under the current capacity limitations which will have an adverse effect upon the league’s overall revenue, in turn affecting the salary cap down the road.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues center Jordan Kyrou, New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau are the league’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 2.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis recently started skating after being sidelined for weeks with a lower-body injury. However, there’s still no timetable for his return to action. Acquired last summer from the Nashville Predators, the 31-year-old Ellis appeared in just four games and hasn’t played since Nov. 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis’ absence is one reason why the Flyers are struggling to stay in the hunt for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is nursing a lower-body injury suffered during Saturday’s Winter Classic. Winger Jordan Greenway entered COVID protocol.

CBC SPORTS: The City of Calgary’s deal with the owners of the Calgary Flames for a new downtown arena is officially terminated due to “unresolved issues.” It’s estimated the two sides had already spent between $20 million and $25 million on the $600 million project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This doesn’t mean the Flames will be relocating to another city. The club’s ownership group indicated it intends to remain in the Saddledome. However, they’ll be looking at investing millions in updating and upgrading the building.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars hired former Buffalo Sabres assistant general manager Steve Greeley as their new director of hockey strategy/scouting and development.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2021

Could the struggling Canucks trade J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser? Are the Wild interested in one of them? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS ARMY: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating tension is really high among the Vancouver Canucks organization. “Everybody’s looking around at everybody else and saying, ‘okay, we’re waiting for something to happen.’ Is it going to be an executive? Is it going to be a coach or is it going to be a player? Who’s it going to be,” he said.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Friedman also observed there are agents calling the Canucks trying to figure out who’s getting moved if anyone. He also said he’s heard from a couple of teams that saying they can tell the Canucks are trying to be careful to avoid making a move that could hurt them for decades.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the Minnesota Wild have contacted the Canucks expressing interest in J.T. Miller. He speculates the Wild would likely dangle winger Kevin Fiala, who’s on an expiring contract and has managed just three goals this season despite 58 shots.

Fiala could regain his scoring touch with a change of scenery but Kuzma believes the Wild must sweeten the deal if they hope to land Miller. He suggested big winger Jordan Greenway but felt he’d be better suited to a fourth-line role rather than skating alongside Elias Pettersson. He’s also on an expiring contract worth $2.1 million this season, which could be difficult for the cap-strapped Canucks to absorb.

Kuzma thinks a logical ask by the Canucks in any trade would be a high draft pick. They shipped their 2022 second-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason. Kuzma wondered if Fiala and a second-rounder would be enough for Miller or would it take another pick to close the deal. He also suggested the Wild could be just fishing in hope of landing a player who can help them get out of a tough division and make noise in the playoffs.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson reports NHL executives will tell you Brock Boeser has been “out there” since the offseason but the trade talk has heated up in recent days. Simpson wondered if that knowledge might be contributing to the 24-year-old winger’s woeful production of late.

Simpson noted Canucks general manager Jim Benning didn’t rule out the possibility of trades during his media availability last week. It appears there’s interest in Boeser but it won’t be easy finding a trade partner with sufficient cap space and a glut of defensemen. He also cited a source saying Elias Pettersson wouldn’t be happy if Boeser was traded. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are a hot mess and show no sign of significant improvement. Team owner Francesco Aquilini met with Benning last week but apparently, no changes were in the offing as Aquilini intended to remain patient.

The takeaway from that suggests Benning and head coach Travis Green are safe for now. That could mean a shakeup trade could be coming if the Canucks’ fortunes don’t improve soon.

Fiala is a scoring winger but consistency has long been an issue with his production. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. His $5.1 million cap hit this season is comparable to Miller’s $5.25 million and would be a little more affordable than Boeser’s $5.875 million. Greenway is also an RFA with arbitration rights next summer.

If Miller or Boeser are available I would expect Benning will be getting some interest from clubs other than the Wild. Given his uneven trade record, however, Canucks fans will be understandably nervous about his ability to land a solid return for either guy.