NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Maple Leafs and the Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons doesn’t believe Kyle Dubas should be fired, but feels the Maple Leafs general manager could be looking for work in a year if he hasn’t reversed the club’s fortunes by then.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Simmons feels Dubas has to strengthen the Leafs after turning over almost half the roster last summer, weakening their depth in the process. The top of the roster wasn’t productive enough, the bottom of the roster not good enough, and the team defense was taken advantage of physically during puck battles.

Simmons called on Dubas to make bold changes via trades or free agency. He wondered if the Leafs GM will come back with goaltender Frederik Andersen next season or look for someone like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, who Dubas knows from their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. He also noted there are desperate teams with salary-cap issues, roster issues, disappointed owners, or those like Pittsburgh and Nashville that have somehow lost their way.

TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk also wondered what Dubas has in store for the Leafs. He notes that fans and pundits are calling on the Leafs GM to trade William Nylander, or Mitch Marner, or Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson. While Dubas could stubbornly stick to his plan, Feschuk suggests he needs to adjust it, pointing out the Leafs had this season’s sixth-worst goals-against per game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bloom is definitely off the Dubas rose. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to improve the Leafs this off-season.

Dubas isn’t afraid to make bold moves (signing Tavares and acquiring Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, and Cody Ceci). The problem is those decisions failed to address the Leafs’ glaring weaknesses. He must get it right this off-season or the calls for his dismissal will grow.

The Leafs GM has limited salary-cap space to work with, carrying over $76.9 million invested in 17 players. He and his capologist were able to free up sufficient cap space last summer to re-sign Marner, but they’ll have to get more creative this year to address the club’s issues. Fixing those problems could mean moving one of the Leafs’ top forwards, or one or two of their more affordable secondary scorers.

WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin knows his club is a long way from being a Stanley Cup contender. “There definitely have to be changes,” he said. “We haven’t had success here. Things need to get better. That’s just the way it is.”

Guerin indicated he’ll attempt to land a true first-line center, indicating that will likely come via free agency or the draft. “Teams don’t trade No. 1 centers. They just don’t,” he said. The Wild GM also indicated he was unhappy with his goaltending this season and didn’t rule out looking outside the organization for help.

Guerin will meet with pending UFA Mikko Koivu and intends to get started on contract extension talks with players such as Kevin Fiala. Jonas Brodin, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek. He also said contract buyouts are a last resort, but Mizutani speculates Victor Rask could be a buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin took his time evaluating his roster until midseason when he traded Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh and replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason. He’ll start putting a bigger stamp on this team through the offseason.

Several good goalies are available in this summer’s UFA market, but Guerin might stick with his current netminders next season to buy time for promising Kaapo Kahkonen. The current tandem (Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock) are under contract for next season, meaning one of them will have to be moved to acquire another netminder.

There aren’t any No.1 centers available in this year’s UFA market. Guerin could draft a promising center this year but that prospect won’t address that need next season. If he can’t find help in the trade market, he could try the offer sheet route. With over $65 million invested in 17 players, that’s probably not a wise course of action.

Rask has an annual average value of $4 million through 2021-22. Mizutani pointed out a buyout will leave the Wild with over $1.33 million in dead cap space through 2023-24.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

Brendan Shanahan and Bill Guerin remain optimistic the season will resume, the latest on Chris Kreider, the league rejects the Blue Jackets’ signing Mikhail Grigorenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan believes the sidelined NHL 2019-20 season could resume at some point in the coming months. He indicated there’s plenty of determination between team owners and players to return to action, but he also stressed it would be determined by having health care services becoming better prepared to cope with and contain the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, Shanahan feels the NHL has more flexibility to resume its schedule than most people realize. “I don’t really believe stories of these crazy neutral sites. I still always think if we’re going to do this it’s going to be in a hockey market. A market where the infrastructure for putting on hockey and hockey games is available.” Shanahan doubts the season would resume with fans in attendance, but feels there would be an appetite for games on television.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin also believes the season will resume in empty arenas later this year. “The bottom line is, we’re not doing anything unless it’s safe for everybody. And if it is, I think we will, and I think it would be the right thing to do. It’ll be a little unusual, a little unorthodox, but that’s OK. If we just wrap our arms around it and accept it, it will be fine. Once we start playing hockey, you play hockey.”

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is recovering well from a foot fracture (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics will consider Shanahan’s and Guerin’s comments as wishful thinking. Perhaps it is, but it reflects the genuine desire among the league and the NHL Players’ Association to complete the season, award the Stanley Cup, and recoup some of their lost revenue. The course of the coronavirus, however, remains the determining factor.

ESPN.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider said his recovery from a foot fracture is going well. He anticipates he’ll be ready to return to the lineup if the NHL season resumes this summer.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blues Jackets signing Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $1.2- million contract yesterday was rejected by the NHL Central Registry. The Jackets issued a statement indicating it was due to a misunderstanding over the window for filing contracts. “We have been in contact with the league and Dan Milstein, Grigorenko’s agent, and the contract will be re-filed on July 1.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grigorenko finished his contract with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow and is considered an unrestricted free agent. However, the Jackets cannot officially sign him until July 1, which is when the league’s free-agent period begins. That date could change depending on whether the league resumes its season this summer. Grigorenko could sign with another NHL club, but I think he’ll stick with the Jackets as they refile in July or later this summer.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford indicated everyone in his club’s various hockey operations departments have been regularly discussing contingency plans for the remainder of the season, including the draft and free agency. He said they’ve been talking four or five days a week.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have held calls with their players to review the season and looking ahead. “We had 15, 20 minutes per guy, talking,” said head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s not exit meetings because I still believe that we’re going to play in the next couple months, I’m trying to be optimistic. But I think it’s important that you stay connected with the team. I know it’s a little harder to do that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I suspect every club is doing the same as the Penguins and Coyotes. Talking to their players while the hockey ops map out its plans for resuming the season and the off-season.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators hired Anthony LeBlanc as their president of business operations. The former Blackberry executive served as president, chief executive officer and alternate governor of the Arizona Coyotes from 2013 to 2017. LeBlanc replaced Jim Little, who was fired six weeks ago after less than two months on the job followed a heated disagreement with team owner Eugene Melnyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck ot LeBlanc in his new job. He’s gonna need it.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2019

Which players should the Kings trade this season? Are there changes in store for the Wild? What next for Jesse Puljujarvi? The latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

A LOOK AT SEVERAL KINGS TRADE CANDIDATES

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper wondered if Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake might be too patient with his rebuild. He feels the longer Blake waits, the more likely he’ll be dealing from a position of weakness. He suggested forwards Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Alec Martinez as the Kings’ best trade candidates.

Alec Martinez could be the LA Kings’ best trade chip this season (Photo via NHL Images).

Carter was rumored to have threatened retirement last season if the Kings attempted to trade him. A rival GM said Carter didn’t have much asset value. (Spector’s note: In an earlier version, I wrote Carter has a no-movement clause. He lacks no-trade protection. My apologies for the error)

The same goes for Toffoli, who could fetch a second-round pick and second-tier prospect. Martinez has been steady this season and would be attractive to rival clubs.

Cooper doesn’t expect winger Ilya Kovalchuk, goalie Jonathan Quick or forward Trevor Lewis to attract much interest. Kovalchuk has a no-movement clause and is in decline. Quick’s numbers have tanked plus he carries a $5.8-million annual salary-cap hit. An NHL scout said every team has a player like Lewis, meaning he has little-to-no trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli could be traded unless he and the Kings hammer out a contract extension before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He’s a two-way forward and a former 30-goal scorer. However, his performance has declined since last season. He won’t bring in much of a return unless his play improves.

Carter is 34 and his best years are well behind him. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $5.275 million. The Kings would have to pick up a hefty chunk of that cap hit. That might not be enough to tempt other clubs.

Martinez might draw the best return. The 32-year-old carries an affordable $4 million AAV through 2020-21 and lacks no-trade protection. I expect he’ll draw plenty of attention in the trade market once the calendar flips to January.

LATEST ON THE WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild first-year GM Bill Guerin isn’t ready to give up on this season. He’s encouraged by what he’s seen from their recent West Coast road trip and thinks they could be heading in the right direction. He didn’t rule out making a move to help his club if the opportunity arises. However, he also didn’t rule out a roster rebuild if things don’t improve as the season progresses.

Guerin’s biggest need is a game-breaker, something the Wild’s been lacking since Marian Gaborik left town. He acknowledged it’s nearly impossible landing that player via trade as historically they tend to come through the draft. He was also non-committal over the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau. His contract expires at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have recovered somewhat from an awful start to this season. However, they’ve still got a lot of ground to cover to get back into the playoff chase. Time remains on their side but they cannot afford any more long winless skids. Once we get to mid-January, I expect we’ll have a better idea of what Guerin has in store for the Wild.

PULJUJARVI TO STAY IN FINLAND THIS SEASON

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes it’s a good idea Jesse Puljujarvi will play out this season in Finland. The 21-year-old winger is coming off major surgery and a bad season with the Edmonton Oilers that damaged his confidence.

A restricted free agent, Puljujarvi opted to return to Finland while awaiting a trade by the Oilers. He could still be moved but that seems less likely now. A strong season in Finland could improve his trade value next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with Puljujarvi off to a good start in Finland, he was unlikely to fetch a decent return right now. Better to wait and see how things unfold over the remainder of the season and attempt to move him next summer.










Middling Wild’s Awful Start to NHL Season Could Be a Turning Point

Middling Wild’s Awful Start to NHL Season Could Be a Turning Point

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2019

Patrick Maroon signs with the Lightning, plus updates on Taylor Hall, Bruce Boudreau, and Lars Eller in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/STLTODAY.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed former St. Louis Blues winger Patrick Maroon to a one-year, $900K contract. Maroon, 31, joined the Blues last summer on a one-year contract, helping his hometown club win its first Stanley Cup.

Former St. Louis Blues winger Pat Maroon signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

“He brings size and physicality to our group as well as significant playoff experience,” Lightning vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois said. “We expect Pat to be a great addition to the roster.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation earlier this summer suggesting it could cost over $2 million annually on a two-year deal to sign Maroon. The Lightning got him for considerably less. With no state tax in Florida, that $900K will go further for Maroon than it would’ve in St. Louis.

Maroon also joins a Cup contender in the Lightning. Despite their early playoff exit following a dominant performance last season, the Bolts lead the pack for this season’s Cup favorites. Maroon’s size and experience could help them win the big mug next spring.

THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall expects to be fully recovered from last February’s arthroscopic knee surgery when training camp opens next month.

“I haven’t had any issues with the knee so far since I’ve been skating, and it’s been a really good process, so hopefully that can continue into (training) camp,” said Hall. He only skated in 33 games last season after winning the Hart Trophy in 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Hall will be crucial to the Devils’ playoff hopes this season. If he returns to form and new additions P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes also play well, the Devils could be a serious playoff contender.

NHL.COM: Don’t expect Bill Guerin, the Minnesota Wild’s new general manager, to make a coaching change before the upcoming season. Guerin said he has “full confidence” in current Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.

“I talked to (coach) Bruce (Boudreau) for a while (Thursday) morning, and he’s got training camp under control, so next week we’re just going to dive in and just go over and see what everybody’s got,” said Guerin. He claimed he and Boudreau had a “great conversation”, assuring the Wild bench boss that he was behind him 100 percent.

NBC SPORTS: Despite aggravating a lower-body injury at this spring’s World Championships, Washington Capitals center Lars Eller claims he’s good to go for training camp next month. “I’m over that,” Eller told NBC Sports Washington. “Taken good care of that and it’s not an issue right now.”