NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2019

Five players who could be traded this summer and a brief note on Mitch Marner in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

THE SCORE: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris are among Josh Wegman’s list of five NHL players who could still be traded this summer. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker, and Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev round out the list.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains a hot topic in the NHL’s summer rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

The Sabres’ acquisitions of right-side blueliners Brandon Montour, Colin Miller, and Henri Jokiharju is stoking the Ristolainen trade speculation. Wegman suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Edmonton Oilers as possible trade destinations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs and Lightning cannot afford Ristolainen’s $5.4-million cap hit. The Leafs must re-sign Mitch Marner while the Bolts need to re-up Brayden Point. Cap Friendly indicates the Stars are bumping against the $81.5 million cap and recently added right-side rearguard Andrej Sekera.

The Jets could use Ristolainen to replace the departed Jacob Trouba but they’ve also got to re-sign Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Andrew Copp, among others. They’d have to move a significant salary (Nikolaj Ehlers?) to make it work. Some observers suggest the Oilers offer up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Ristolainen but that move would deplete their secondary scoring. 

The Predators addition of Matt Duchene makes Turris, who’s earning an annual average value of $6 million, an expensive third-line center. His contract could prove difficult to move. Possible fits are the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres and Jackets have the cap space to take on Turris’ contract. Whether they want to is another matter. Turris could have a bounce-back performance but there might not be anyone in the trade market willing to take that risk right now. 

The Rangers need to free up cap space to re-sign Jacob Trouba (among others). Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues could be destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers decide to part ways with Kreider they could prefer doing so this summer. Otherwise, the uncertainty over his status will be an unnecessary distraction throughout the season. The Avs can afford him but I think general manager Joe Sakic is done making additions and is now focused on re-signing his remaining RFAs, including Mikko Rantanen.

The Bruins are trying to re-sign defenseman Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. With around $8 million in cap room, they can’t afford Kreider unless they shed a salaried player. If they can find a taker for David Backes, perhaps this could work. The Blues, meanwhile, seem focused on trying to keep their championship roster intact. 

Wegman notes Wild GM Paul Fenton made failed attempts to trade Zucker to the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s unclear what direction Fenton is taking with the Wild and what he wants in return for Zucker. Wegman suggests the Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, and San Jose Sharks as possible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were reportedly going to ship winger Michael Frolik and a draft pick to the Wild while Phil Kessel was supposed to be going to Minnesota from the Penguins. Fenton seems to be shaking up the younger players who were considered part of the Wild’s core. Last season, he shipped out Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund. It appears the Wild GM intends to retain Zucker for now but I think he remains open to offers.

The Avs and Devils can afford Zucker’s $5.5-million AAV but I believe they’ve already made their moves to boost their forward lines. The Sharks have over $4.6 million remaining in cap space and are expected to bring back Joe Thornton and perhaps Patrick Marleau for a last hurrah. That leaves no room for Zucker unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap.

The cap-strapped Golden Knights can’t afford Gusev’s demand for a two-year, $4-million per season contract. The Sabres, Devils, and Blues are possible fits. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev is a KHL star but he’s never played in the NHL. His contract asking price could explain why the Golden Knights haven’t moved him yet. They’re reportedly seeking a second-round pick and another pick or a prospect in return. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 12, 2019

A list of five potential summer trade candidates plus updates on Loui Eriksson and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

FIVE POTENTIAL SUMMER TRADE CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker and New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider are among five players Jared Clinton believes could be summer trade targets. Calgary Flames defensemen Travis Hamonic or Michael Stone could also be shopped, as well as Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson and Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev. 

Could the Minnesota Wild trade Jason Zucker before the start of next season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Given the Wild’s two previous attempts to trade Zucker this year, Clinton doubts they’re done trying to move him. Limited salary-cap space explains why Kreider, Erikkson, Hamonic and Stone are on this list.

The Golden Knights are reportedly shopping Gusev as they cannot afford to re-sign him. Clinton’s colleague Steven Ellis suggested the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Columbus Blue Jackets as potential destinations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Zucker trade chatter has cooled since a deal that would’ve sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in late-May fell through. There’s some speculation Wild general manager Paul Fenton isn’t as keen to move Zucker as he once was. However, one can’t dismiss the possibility of a trade before next season begins.

The asking price for Gusev is said to be a second-round pick and either a later-round pick or a prospect. Getting a potential scorer for that low price has some observers wondering why he hasn’t been traded yet. I’m guessing it’s his demand for a two-yearl deal worth $4 million annually. A lot of teams have used up their cap space for this summer or face significant re-signings next summer.

Kreider’s future with the Rangers could depend on how much they spend to re-sign defenseman Jacob Trouba. The Blueshirts have around $8 million in cap space and Trouba’s new contract could eat up most of that cap space. That won’t leave much to re-sign restricted free agents Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, and Anthony DeAngelo. 

Hamonic’s or Stone’s futures in Calgary depend upon the cost of re-signing power forward Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames must also re-sign Sam Bennett and David Rittich, who have arbitration hearings coming up.

As for Loui Eriksson…

ERIKSSON’S FUTURE IN VANCOUVER REMAINS UNCERTAIN

TSN: Agent J.P. Barry, who represents Canucks winger Loui Eriksson, said his client’s future in Vancouver remains uncertain. They met last month with Canucks GM Jim Benning, discussing Eriksson’s comments about friction with head coach Travis Green and what’s next for the winger. While Barry downplayed Eriksson’s remarks, he admitted both sides have looked into trade options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks must shed salary to free up cap space to re-sign Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin. Trading away Eriksson and his $6-million AAV is the best option but also the most difficult. He’s 33, his performance is in decline, and he’s signed through 2021-22.

Eriksson’s got a no-trade clause but I daresay he’ll waive it to go to any NHL city at this point. Nevertheless, those other factors account for why the Canucks are having difficulty drumming up interest in him. 

STARS SHOPPING HONKA

SPORTSDAY: Matthew DeFranks reports the Dallas Stars are trying to trade defenseman Julius Honka. With their addition of Andrej Sekera, the Stars have a glut on the blueline.

Honka, a first-round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, has struggled to crack the Stars’ lineup. He was a healthy scratch for the final 35 games of the regular season and all 13 postseason contests. DeFranks speculates Honka’s value could rise as teams with limited cap space seek a young, affordable blueliner. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2019

The Canucks and Sabres could have more moves in store, plus an update on Nikita Gusev in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

IS A BIG MOVE COMING FOR THE SABRES?

THE BUFFALO NEWS:  After the Sabres shipped Alexander Nylander to Chicago for Henri Jokiharju, Mike Harrington believes general manager Jason Botterill could have a bigger move in store. He speculates it could involve defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s been a frequent subject of media trade chatter. Harrington suggests it could even be a multi-player deal. 

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also believes the Sabres aren’t done dealing this summer. Given their depth on defense, Botterill could peddle Ristolainen for a top-six forward. One rumored suggestion is dangling him to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Nikolaj Ehlers, or perhaps a package of young forward Jack Roslovic and veteran Mathieu Perreault. O’Brien also wondered if the Edmonton Oilers would be open to a Ristolainen-for-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins swap. 

Are the Buffalo Sabres setting the table for a Rasmus Ristolainen trade? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Botterill seems to be setting the table for a bigger move involving Ristolainen. Whether that goes down this summer or during the regular season remains to be seen.

Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got nine defensemen. Jokiharju is listed as a non-roster defenseman but it’s safe to assume he’ll be part of their lineup when the season begins. Zach Bogosian could miss the start of the season recovering from surgery, but I doubt that’ll prevent Botterill from pulling the trigger on the right deal. 

Ehlers for Ristolainen could be a good move for the Jets. He’d replace the departed Jacob Trouba and his cap hit is cheaper than Ehlers. So far, however, there’s no indication out of Winnipeg that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is shopping Ehlers or seeking a replacement for Trouba.

Nugent-Hopkins has frequently popped up in Oilers trade conjecture for several years. However, I don’t think GM Ken Holland intends to move him. While it would bolster Edmonton’s defense it would hurt their scoring depth.

CANUCKS FACE COST-CUTTING MOVE

VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston reports the Vancouver Canucks signing Micheal Ferland yesterday leaves them pressed for salary-cap space. Forwards Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin are restricted free agents in need of new contracts. Johnston suggests center Brandon Sutter or winger Loui Eriksson could become trade candidates. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton also believes the Canucks face a cost-cutting move after signing Ferland. They have around $5.1 million in salary-cap space. Unless Boeser accepts “an extraordinarily team-friendly bridge deal,” they’ll have to clear sufficient cap room for his new contract.

Clinton considers Eriksson the best choice but his $6-million annual average value could be difficult to move. Defenseman Chris Tanev has frequently surfaced in trade speculation but Clinton feels moving him could weaken their playoff chances next season. He also suggests Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, or Tanner Pearson as possible trade options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Boeser will be taking any team-friendly bridge deals. As one of the Canucks’ top forwards he’ll want to be paid as such. Even if Canucks GM Jim Benning can get him signed to around $5 million it’ll leave them no wiggle room to sign Goldobin or to make other moves during the regular season. I believe Benning will try to ship out a salaried player to make room for Boeser’s new contract.

Eriksson would be the best choice but that’s not going to be easy at this point in the offseason. There are clubs with sufficient cap room to take his contract off the Canucks’ hands but the remaining three years on his deal could be a deal breaker. Even including a sweetener won’t be enough unless the Canucks agree to pick up a big chunk of that cap hit.

Sutter’s popped up in recent trade speculation but he’s also a tough sell. Whlle his cap hit is lower ($4.375 million) and the term one year shorter than Eriksson’s, his injury history is cause for concern. Tanev ($4.45 million) is a UFA next summer and he’s also dealt with injuries in recent years. The pair also carry modified no-trade clauses. So does Beagle, who’s signed through 2021-22.

Roussel, meanwhile, is out until December recovering from knee surgery. Pearson netted nine goals and 12 points in 19 games after being acquired from Pittsburgh last season. Benning could be reluctant to part with him. 

GOLDEN KNIGHTS NOT SEEKING MUCH FOR GUSEV

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger recently reported sources claim the Vegas Golden Knights seek a second-round draft pick and either a later-round pick or a lower-tier prospect for winger Nikita Gusev. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are pressed for salary-cap space. They’re reportedly offering Gusev a two-year deal worth $2 million annually while the winger’s camp seeks $4 million. HIs asking price could explain why Vegas hasn’t moved him yet. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2019

An updated list of the best remaining UFAs, the latest Sabres speculation and possible destinations for Nikita Gusev in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

UPDATED NHL UFA LISTING

THE SCORE: Center Joe Thornton, defenseman Jake Gardiner, right wing Justin Williams, and left wing Ryan Dzingel are the notable names remaining in the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market. Others include wingers Patrick Maroon and Micheal Ferland. 

Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner is still awaiting a new contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim and will deplete throughout the summer. Thornton is expected to play one more season with the Sharks. Gardiner was reportedly hoping to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs but that no longer seems possible. Williams will either return with the Carolina Hurricanes or retire.

Dzingel enjoyed a career-best 56-point performance last season but his declining play down the stretch and the postseason is a concern. He also reportedly sought $5 million annually on a five-year contract from the Ottawa Senators before he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Maroon is believed seeking a better deal than the one-year, $1.75-millon contract he inked last summer with the St. Louis Blues. Several teams are said to be interested in Ferland but there’s no indication he’s close to a new deal.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Following the Sabres’ signing Marcus Johansson on Saturday, Lance Lysowski suggested they could trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolanen for scoring help. With over $6.6 million in salary-cap space, he points out general manager Jason Botterill has the cap flexibility to shore up the offense. 

Lysowski also listed Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov, and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers among several suggested trade targets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski didn’t say the Sabres are pursuing those players he listed or that they’ll use Ristolanen to get one of them. Of those mentioned, Botterill won’t waste a solid trade chip like that on Turris or Anisimov. It could take Ristolanen to land Ehlers. 

The rumblings over Ristolainen’s future could persist throughout the summer but Botterill isn’t under pressure to trade the 24-year-old defenseman. If there’s no suitable deal available he’ll retain Ristolainen and see how the coming season plays out. 

DESTINATIONS FOR GUSEV

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis recently listed the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Columbus Blue Jackets among five possible trade destinations for Vegas Golden Knights winger Nikita Gusev. The Ottawa Senators and  Edmonton Oilers round out his list. 

The Golden Knights and Gusev are said to be $2 million per season apart on a new contract. Lacking salary-cap space, the Golden Knights are reportedly listening to offers for Gusev, whose skills have been compared to those of Artemi Panarin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things have gone quiet on the Gusev front since last week’s report claiming Vegas was shopping him. The Golden Knights could be taking their time evaluating offers before pulling the trigger. Gusev could end up going to one of Ellis’ proposed destinations or perhaps another club could jump into the bidding. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2019

Another listing of the top remaining UFAs, plus the latest on the Canadiens, Flames, Sharks, and Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

TOP REMAINING UFAs

TSN: Marcus Johansson, Jake Gardiner, Ben Hutton, Micheal Ferland, and Ryan Dzingel are among the notable players remaining in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As usual, with all the top names off the board, the UFA signings have slowed considerably. Many of the remaining noteworthy talents could end up with contracts worth much less than they hoped for when the market opened on July 1. 

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TSN: With the Carolina Hurricanes matching the Montreal Canadiens’ offer sheet for Sebastian Aho, there’s speculation over what the Habs will do next.

Could the Montreal Canadiens try signing Tampa Bay Lighting center Brayden Point to an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Athletic’s Sean Gordon proposes signing defenseman Jake Gardiner to boost their blueline. He also believes they should pursue Vegas Golden Knights winger Nikita Gusev or Minnesota Wild right wing Jason Zucker. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren wonders if they’ll try to sign Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point to an offer sheet. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis also considered the Canadiens’ options going forward. Jake Gardiner and Ben Hutton are the best defensemen remaining in the UFA market. His suggested trade options include Gusev, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider or Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Canadiens initially considered tendering an offer sheet to Point before turning to Aho. The Athletic’s Joe Smith doubts the Habs will revisit Point. He’s made it clear he wants to stay with the Lightning, who have sufficient cap room to match.

The Canadiens’ priority should be landing a top-four, left-side defenseman. The pickings are slim in the UFA market. Gardiner could be expensive and his recent back injury is a concern. Hutton had an up-and-down tenure with the Canucks. Ben Chiarot could be a decent, affordable addition. He netted a career-best 20 points with the Winnipeg Jets and was among their leaders in hits and blocked shots.

Last month, there were rumors the Canadiens had interest in Gostisbehere and the New York Islanders’ Nick Leddy. I’m not convinced the Flyers will part with “Ghost Bear” but the Isles could listen on Leddy. 

**UPDATE** The Canadiens sign Chiarot to a three-year, $10.5-million contract. 

COULD THE FLAMES, SHARKS, AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS MAKE COST-CUTTING TRADES?

THE ATHLETIC: Darren Haynes reports the Calgary Flames have a busy summer ahead. They have six restricted free agents to re-sign, including Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and David Rittich. Haynes estimates the cost could push the Flames’ salary-cap payroll to $87 million. He suggests a trade of either T.J. Brodie, Michael Frolik or Travis Hamonic could help to address the issue. So could buying out Michael Stone’s contract. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Chelena Goldman notes the San Jose Sharks also face a salary-cap crunch. They have just over $6.3 million remaining to sign Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc, and Dylan Gambrell. Cap casualties could include forward Melker Karlsson, goaltender Aaron Dell, or defenseman Brenden Dillon. Of the three, Karlsson could be the most likely to go. 

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vegas Golden Knights risk giving up a gem of a player in KHL forward Nikita Gusev. It was reported earlier this week the two sides are far apart in contract talks. Golden Knights president George McPhee acknowledged the possibility of trading Gusev, who’s drawn comparisons to Artemi Panarin. Rather than move Gusev, O’Brien suggests freeing up cap room to sign him. He recommends moving Cody Eakins, Ryan Reaves or Nick Holden. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All the players mentioned above have surfaced in trade speculation since this spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brodie or Frolik are playing elsewhere when spring training opens in September. I agree with Goldman that Karlsson seems the most likely trade candidate for the Sharks. Dell’s value is at rock bottom and the Sharks already moved a defenseman (Justin Braun). I also concur with O’Brien that the Golden Knights could regret trading Gusev. Better to move Eakins, Reaves, or Holden if it’ll free up room to keep him. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2019

A look at the top remaining UFAs plus updates on the Penguins, Golden Knights, Predators, Oilers, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WHAT’S LEFT IN THE UFA MARKET?

SPORTSNET: Joe Thornton and Jake Gardiner are the notables among Luke Fox’s list of the notable remaining unrestricted free agents. Others include wingers Michael Ferland and Ryan Dzingel and defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

Jake Gardiner remains among the few notable players still available in the NHL UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m expecting Thornton will sign a one-year, bonus-laden contract with the Sharks. Fox noted the Montreal Canadiens had interest in Gardiner. However, they’re in a holding pattern awaiting the Carolina Hurricanes’ response to their signing Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet.

Fox also said there’s some buzz suggesting the Calgary Flames would like to bring back Ferland. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said he’s still seeking improvement on the right side of his forward lines. We’ll see if there’s a fit there.

COULD THE PREDATORS SHOP TURRIS?

OTTAWA SUN: After the Nashville Predators signed Matt Duchene yesterday, Bruce Garrioch speculates the Nashville Predators could try again to trade Kyle Turris. He said they attempted to move the 29-year-old center during the draft. Garrioch acknowledges moving Turris’ $6-million annual salary-cap hit won’t be easy. However, he believes there are teams in the Eastern Conference that might need help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not at $6 million per season. If the Predators want to trade Turris they could be forced to absorb part of his cap hit or include a good young player, a high draft pick, or a top prospect in the deal. 

PENGUINS MUST SHED MORE SALARY

TRIBLIVE.COM: After the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Branden Tanev to a six-year, $21-million contract, Jonathan Bombulie believes they must shed more salary. They have only $2.3 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agents Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger to re-sign. Bombulie speculates a forward like Nick Bjugstad or Bryan Rust could become a cap casualty. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rust’s name recently surfaced in Penguins’ trade rumors. The Penguins acquired Bjugstad last season and could be reluctant to part with him. 

GOLDEN KNIGHTS SHOPPING GUSEV

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger reports sources claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are shopping the rights of winger Nikita Gusev. The Golden Knights hoped to sign the KHL winger to a contract but the two sides remain far apart. With limited salary cap space, they could be forced to move him. 

LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson believes this will come down to how the Golden Knights view Gusev. If they feel he’ll become a top-six forward, they’ll sign him and clear cap space by moving another player like Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves or Nick Holden. Otherwise, they might be better off shopping him for high draft picks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev is a highly skilled forward in his playing prime who could quickly become an NHL scorer. If his asking price is too high (Granger said they’re about $2 million apart) for Vegas, trading him appears their only suitable option. 

OILERS SEEKING A 20-GOAL WINGER

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports Oilers GM Ken Holland remains in the market for a 20-goal winger for his second line. He wasn’t keen to pay what many of the UFA wingers received yesterday during the opening day of the free-agent market. Holland also said he spoke with teams regarding winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who recently requested a trade. However, he hasn’t seen anything yet that makes sense for the Oilers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space. Unless Holland swings a hockey trade that sees some salary heading out, he’ll be limited to bargain hunting in the UFA market. 

LIGHTNING TO MOVE DOMINGUE

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s signing Curtis McElhinney means backup Louis Domingue is on his way out. GM Julien BriseBois said they’re working on trading Domingue sooner rather than later. Domingue has a year left on his contract with a $1.1 million cap hit.