NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2022

The latest roundup of Penguins speculation plus a look at potential trade candidates on the Panthers and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski predicts the Penguins and pending free agent center Evgeni Malkin could meet “more than halfway” on a new contract that keeps him in Pittsburgh for two seasons at $7 million annually.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems reasonable, though Malkin would probably prefer three years to finish his career when teammate Sidney Crosby’s contract expires in 2024-25.

However, he expects UFA defenseman Kris Letang will get a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million somewhere else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has said he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh with Crosby and Malkin. If he’s seeking a big-money raise, however, this season will have been his last in a Penguins jersey.

Kingerski expects restricted free agent winger Kaspari Kapanen will be shopped, perhaps to add a bit of muscle to the Penguins’ lineup. He also believes they’ll let backup goalie Casey DeSmith depart via free agency and attempt to find a reliable backup. “No chance in hell it’s Marc-Andre Fleury,” said Kingerski. “None.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Kapanen or DeSmith return with the Penguins next season. They could decide not to qualify Kapanen’s rights if they can’t find anyone willing to acquire him via trade. Fleury returning to Pittsburgh to finish his career would be a great story but I don’t think we’re going to see it happen if general manager Ron Hextall has faith in Tristan Jarry as their starter.

Finding a suitable backup goalie won’t be easy. Kingerski’s colleague Dave Molinari points out that most of this summer’s cut-rate free agent netminders likely won’t be winning a Stanley Cup anytime soon. They include Louis Domingue, Nashville’s David Rittich and Buffalos’ Malcolm Subban.

Kingerski also looked at possible free-agent targets on right wing. He listed Vegas’ Reilly Smith, Toronto’s Ilya Mikheyev, Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter and Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin but suggests current Penguin Rickard Rakell would be a better fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A trade-deadline acquisition, Rakell fit in well with the Penguins and has expressed a willingness to return. Whether they can reach common ground on a deal remains to be seen. Much will depend on what happens with Malkin and Letang.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel looked at the Penguins’ potential options for Jason Zucker. The 30-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.5 million and has battled injuries in recent years.

The Penguins could attempt to move Zucker in a cost-cutting deal but his contract would be considered a negative trade asset around the league unless they throw in a prospect or draft pick. They could also try to swap him for a comparable veteran forward and hope the latter will be a better fit in Pittsburgh.

A contract buyout could be another option as it would shave $3.5 million from their books for next season. However, they could be prevented from doing so if he’s still considered injured when the buyout period rolls around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another option is that Hextall sticks with Zucker and considers other cost-cutting options. There’s been speculation suggesting he could shed some salary by shopping a defenseman such as John Marino or Marcus Pettersson.

POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES AMONG THE PANTHERS AND COYOTES

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards recently looked at potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the Florida Panthers this summer.

He noted there was some social media buzz suggesting the Panthers move Sergei Bobrovsky. However, the 32-year-old goaltender’s $10 million annual cap hit and full no-movement clause for the next two seasons make him a tough trade.

Players who could be easier to move include Patric Hornqvist (one season remaining at $5.3 million), Sam Bennett (two seasons at $4.4 million per) and Radko Gudas (one season, $2.5 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned in this business not to dismiss out of hand the possibility of a high-salaried veteran with full no-trade protection getting traded. Yes, Bobrovsky could be shopped this summer. However, finding a trade partner willing to take on his full cap hit for the next four years when the salary cap is only rising by $1 million this summer makes him difficult to move.

They could find some takers for Hornqvist or Gudas but Bennett would be the more enticing trade candidate. The 25-year-old is a versatile two-way forward coming off a career-best 28-goal, 49-point performance with a reputation for elevating his game in the postseason.

Those factors would also make Panthers GM Bill Zito reluctant to part with Bennett. He might not have much choice if he’s pressed to free up cap room for next season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Sam Graveline recently looked at some possible trade chips for the rebuilding Coyotes.

Topping the list is defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who’s been the subject of trade speculation for most of this season. GM Bill Armstrong could seek a return of multiple draft picks and a top prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong reportedly set a high asking price for Chychrun during this season. He’s not expected to lower it during this offseason.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere’s trade value may have improved following his 14-goal, 51-point performance this season. He’s set to become a UFA next summer. Restricted free agent forward Lawson Crouse could also have some trade value after reaching 20 goals this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s solid bounce-back performance was among the few bright spots for the offensively anemic Coyotes this season. Contenders seeking a puck-moving blueliner could come calling. Unless Crouse’s contract demands are unreasonable I expect the Coyotes will re-sign him.










Are The Florida Panthers For Real?

Are The Florida Panthers For Real?

 










List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

8:30 pm ET: St. Louis Blues sign Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.

7 pm ET: Toronto Maple Leafs sign T.J. Brodie to a four-year contract ($5 million AAV).

4 pm to 5 pm ET: Calgary Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million contract.

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3 pm to 4 pm ET: Anaheim Ducks sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year contract ($3.9 million AAV)

Washington Capitals sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8 million contract.

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2 pm to 3 pm ET: Florida Panthers sign Alexander Wennberg to a one-year $2.25 million contract.

New York Rangers sign Jack Johnson to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Nashville Predators sign Mark Borowiecki to a two-year, $4-million contract.

In other contract news, the Ottawa Senators sign Matt Murray to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. The Senators acquired Murray, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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1 pm to 2 pm ET: Vancouver Canucks sign Braden Holtby to a two-year deal ($4.3 million AAV)

Minnesota Wild sign goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Anton Khudobin to a three-year contract ($3.5 million AAV)

Edmonton Oilers sign center Kyle Turris to a two-year contract ($1.65 million AAV)

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12 pm to 1 pm ET:  Washington Capitals sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a full no-movement clause.

Detroit Red Wings sign winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Winger Pat Maroon (two years, $900K AAV) and defenseman Luke Schenn (one year, $800K) are returning with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Florida Panthers sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year contract ($2.5 million AAV).

In other news, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract with a $5 million annual cap hit and a full no-trade clause.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain with the Arizona Coyotes. His deadline to be traded to either Boston or Vancouver came and went without a deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

Some suggested free-agent targets for the Sharks plus a rumor linking Peter Chiarelli to the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently listed several potential free agents that he could see the San Jose Sharks pursuing in the off-season.

Goaltending targets could include the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, or the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot. Of the three, Talbot could be more affordable.

Could the San Jose Sharks pursue Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli in the free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Forward options include Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, and Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund. The Washington Capitals’ Radko Gudas and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo were among his defense targets.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million, the Sharks have over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2020-21. Nevertheless, Kurz doesn’t expect them to sit idly by in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending depth could be the priority given starter Martin Jones’ struggles and backup Aaron Dell’s expected departure via free agency. Talbot might be the cheapest option on Kurz’s list but he could also be looking for a starter’s job. If he can’t find that role, he could be amenable to another short-term backup role.

While the changing economic landscape could affect this year’s free-agent market, I doubt the Sharks could afford Toffoli or Dadonov. Granlund is a possibility as his stock declined following his trade to the Predators last year, though his play improved when John Hynes took over as head coach in January. Gudas or DeMelo could be more affordable options to shore up the blueline depth.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a well-earned reputation for making bold moves. He could surprise us this summer, though it’ll mean shedding some salary if he intends to make a splash in the UFA market.

CHIARELLI TO THE COYOTES?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites colleague Jim Matheson and The Athletic’s Scott Burnside reporting speculation linking former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to the Arizona Coyotes as a possible replacement for now-former GM John Chayka.

Staples points out such a move would reunite Chiarelli with winger Taylor Hall, who was traded by Chiarelli to the New Jersey Devils in 2016. The only way he sees the Coyotes bringing in Chiarelli is if they have no chance of keeping Hall off the free-agent market in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup in 2011 as GM of the Bruins. On the other hand, his tenure with the Oilers was considered disastrous.

The Coyotes must choose Chayka’s replacement very carefully. This is a team dogged for years by ownership instability and mismanagement. They’ve been building in recent years toward playoff contention with promising young talent. Putting the wrong person in the GM’s chair could send them spiraling again, raising questions about their long-term future in Arizona at risk.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Washington Capitals

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Washington Capitals

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2020

Potential progress being made toward a 24-team playoff format, Eugene Melnyk hopes the 2020 draft will be held in June and the latest on Ryan Miller in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL-NHLPA PROGRESSING TOWARD 24-TEAM FORMAT

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports sources claimed the NHL-NHLPA Return to Play committee made progress over the weekend toward a 24-team playoff format if the league resumes action this summer. He cautions more work needs to be done and it’s difficult to determine if a decision will be reached this week. Discussions are expected to continue in the coming days. LeBrun also reports the NHL Board of Governors will have a conference call slated for 3 pm ET today.

LeBrun indicated the potential format wouldn’t jump straight into playoff action, but would instead see some games leading up to the postseason. Several NHL players aren’t on board with this concept but it appears more of them would support that format. The committee also has to determine the timeline for when the self-isolation period is lifted to enable players to return to NHL facilities for small group workouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas could be among the players against this idea. He reportedly believes the NHL should simply cancel the season. Gudas isn’t on the Return to Play committee, but I daresay his concerns are shared by some of his peers. He’ll get an opportunity to express his views to his NHLPA player rep, who’ll cast a vote on his teammates’ behalf on whether to resume the season. 

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is the latest team owner to state his belief the league will return to action soon. However, this proposed return-to-play plan is drawing criticism from several pundits. The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox dismisses the notion of summertime hockey, suggesting the league is running out of time to reach a decision. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson doesn’t see the sense of a 24-team playoff, though The Hockey New’s Ken Campbell points out the league can recoup more of its lost revenue with that format.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (Photo via NHL.com).

Addressing the logistics of a 24-team format in four hub cities with many players cut off from their families while undergoing regular COVID-19 testing will be challenging. Gudas, Cox, and Matheson raise valid points that are likely shared by many hockey fans.

The NHL might not be able to pull this off. Nevertheless, they’re going to try. We’ll find out soon enough if they can do it. 

LATEST ON THE 2020 NHL DRAFT

LeBrun also believes the 2020 NHL Draft will also be a topic of discussion among the Board of Governors today. He feels there’s been too much opposition to staging the draft before resuming the season. However, it doesn’t require official approval from the governors. The final decision rests with Commissioner Gary Bettman.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk hopes the league stages the draft lottery and the draft next month. “I just hope that we can have some events happen in June to keep people interested. And if that’s just a draft lottery, that would be great. If it’s a draft as a draft lottery that’s even better,” Melnyk said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk has good reason for wanting the lottery and the draft to be held next month. The Senators have three picks in the first round of this year’s draft, including two that would be second and third overall based on the current standings. That third-overall pick belonged to the San Jose Sharks.

Under the league’s proposed one-time change to this year’s draft lottery, the Senators would drop no lower than one place if a low-seeded club other than themselves or the Detroit Red Wings win the lottery. If they or the Sharks win, they’ll have the first and third overall selections.

The Senators wouldn’t be part of the proposed 24-team playoff format. Holding the lottery and the draft next month would give their fans something to get excited about for this summer and looking ahead to next season. 

THE SCORE: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller hopes to keep playing hockey next season, but acknowledged this pandemic could also force his retirement. “I mean the desire is there, but there’s going to be a lot of factors. First of all, we’re all going to have to address this new normal. What that means for sports and life – and wrapped up in that is family and how family is going to need to be taken care of during this time,” Miller said. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Where Miller is at this stage in his NHL career will also be a determining factor. The 39-year-old goalie is already in the twilight of his career. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he can’t sign with a California-based club, he could be forced to hang up his pads.