NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2020

The Jets are reportedly trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Blackhawks, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Frank Seravalli cites sources claiming trade talks involving Dustin Byfuglien have increased in recent days. The big defenseman has been suspended without pay by the Winnipeg Jets since the start of the season. He has yet to resume skating after undergoing ankle surgery in late-October. There’s no guarantee he’ll be traded as his return to action this season remains a long shot.

Winnipeg Jets trying to trade Dustin Byfuglien before the upcoming trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).

Those close to Byfuglien wonders if he might be rejuvenated by reuniting with his old Chicago coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Dale Tallon with the Florida Panthers. Or perhaps the Minnesota native might consider the Wild an attractive destination. Byfuglien must be on a team’s reserved list by the Feb. 24 trade deadline to be eligible for the post-season.

Byfuglien is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $7.6 million. He had filed a grievance against the Jets with the NHLPA, but Seravalli said that became moot once the blueliner declined to continue the on-ice portion of his rehab in January. The Jets can still terminate Byfuglien’s contract after the trade deadline if unable to move him before then.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists the Panthers, Wild, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible trade destinations for Byfuglien.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is setting a high asking price for Byfuglien. He’ll want to get that cap hit off his books as soon as possible and use the savings to bolster his roster.

As Seravalli points out, if Cheveldayoff can’t find a trade partner, he can still use the cap savings from Byfuglien’s suspension before the trade deadline and terminate his contract afterward without incurring a penalty. Byfuglien was suspended for refusing to report to camp and underwent ankle surgery without consulting team doctors. That’s sufficient grounds for the Jets to terminate his contract.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck suggests Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Ottawa’s Vaclav Namestnikov, and Buffalo’s Conor Sheary as trade options for the Jets, but we don’t know if Cheveldayoff is targeting those players. Namestnikov and Sheary would be more affordable in terms of salary and return than Dumba and Manson. Billeck also suggested New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, but I don’t see that move happening.


THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark took note of the presence of Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin at two recent Colorado Avalanche games and the speculation linking the injury-plagued Avs to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. Looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning paid for Blake Coleman and the Vancouver Canucks for Tyler Toffoli, the asking price for Tatar could be costly. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said the recent rash of injuries won’t change the club’s trade-deadline plans, adding he might look for a depth goaltender.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Sakic also indicated there are certain players his club has been eyeing that would be impact players in the dressing room. He also said top prospects Bo Byram, Connor Timmins, Martin Kaut, and Alex Newhook aren’t going anywhere.

Dater believes Sakic seeks a player-for-player deal. He also suggested New York Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev, Chicago’s Robin Lehner, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, or Ottawa’s Craig Anderson as goalie trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin’s presence in Denver has certainly stoked speculation he and Sakic could be cooking up a deal. If Tatar is available, I’d assume Bergevin would want a good young player as part of the return.

Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves have been floated on the internet as trade candidates, but I don’t see Sakic weakening his defense by moving either guy. Tyson Jost also surfaced in the rumor mill, but the 21-year-old forward is seeing fourth-line duty as he struggles to play up to expectations as a former first-round (10th overall) draft pick. Sakic should have an easier time finding a decent backup goalie.


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report the Chicago Blackhawks have set high asking prices (first-round picks, prospects) for potential rentals like goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson. So far, no one’s biting. Any club interested in Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell could find the asking price too overwhelming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger suggested Gustafsson as a good fit for the Vegas Golden Knights. He believes the Blackhawks blueliner could be had for a reasonable price. That’s assuming the Hawks end up lowering their prices if their rental players haven’t moved when deadline day dawns.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He doubts the Senators will retain any of Pageau’s salary, and their asking price (first- or second-round pick, plus a prospect) would be too expensive for a rental player.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2020

Should the Canadiens re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk? Will the Leafs shop for a defenseman? Could Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich become available? What’s the latest on the Red Wings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jack Todd believes the Canadiens should re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, who’s tallied eight points in as many games since joining the club on a one-year, $700K contract earlier this month. Todd feels the 36-year-old winger could continue playing at a high level for the next two seasons. While acknowledging there’s risk in re-signing Kovalchuk, Todd feels it’s pointless to trade him for a draft pick when the Habs are already well-stocked in promising young players.

TVA SPORTS: Pat Brisson, Kovalchuk’s agent, said it’s too early to talk about a new contract for his client. He said Kovalchuk is very happy playing in Montreal.

Will the Canadiens re-sign or trade Ilya Kovalchuk? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the excitement some Montreal observers are feeling about Kovalchuk’s performance thus far. If he continues playing well, regardless of where the Habs are in the standings, perhaps general manager Marc Bergevin will consider re-signing him. However, he could also receive a tempting offer from a rival club before the trade deadline.

As we saw with Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov, Bergevin has shown reluctance to re-sign 30-something stars. If he decides to keep Kovalchuk, he doesn’t have to lock him up to an expensive long-term deal. Given the winger’s age, he could make it a one-year, bonus-laden contract. Of course, that depends on how much interest there is in Kovalchuk heading into this summer’s free-agent market. 


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has to have a defenseman of some caliber in his sights, even if Rasmus Sandin proves himself as an NHL regular. Acquiring a blueliner would also have to make sense for the cap-strapped Leafs.

Rental players include New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson. However, Dubas has shown he’s willing to add a player who’s not on an expiring contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  If Dubas pursues a blueliner, it’ll likely be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal. There’s a growing sense it’ll cost the Leafs a good, young forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot to bring in a decent top-four defenseman.

The Leafs have been linked to Dillon. The Athletic’s Michael Russo wondered if they’d have any interest in Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, who’s signed through 2020-21 with an AAV of over $4.1 million.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich hasn’t generated much offense of late. He’s managed just one goal and three assists in his last 13 games, and two goals and four assists over the last 23 contests.

Brooks speculates Buchnevich “is certainly to be a topic of conversation in the executive suite as Feb. 24 approaches,” regardless of where the Rangers sit in the standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks pointed out Buchnevich has battled flu-like symptoms for the past week, but that doesn’t account for the decline in his production since late November. The 24-year-old winger tallied 21 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season and 43 points as a sophomore in 2017-18.

Buchnevich is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $3.25-million annual average salary. He would attract interest if the Blueshirts shop him at the trade deadline.


DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked what Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will do at the Feb. 24 trade deadline. She notes Yzerman’s intention to add more picks to the eight he already holds in the 2020 NHL Draft but could be hard-pressed doing so. Struggling pending UFAs such as Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Jimmy Howard will have limited value in the trade market

Andreas Athanasiou scored 30 goals last season, but the decline in his production this season has tarnished his trade value. St. James feels it’s pointless to move the 25-year-old Athanasiou unless the return boosts the rebuild. The Pittsburgh Penguins might consider him after losing Jake Guentzel to shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is probably Yzerman’s best trade chip. I don’t see him shopping a young core player like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, or Filip Hronek, and Robby Fabbri has fit in well after being acquired from St. Louis earlier in the season.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens and Sharks plus updates on Jeff Carter and Erik Gustafsson in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports the Montreal Canadiens are very pleased with the performance of Ilya Kovalchuk. Earlier this month, they signed the veteran winger to a one-year, prorated $700K contract. He’s got eight points in as many games, including four goals. As the Canadiens get healthier coming out of the upcoming All-Star break and with the Feb. 24 trade deadline getting close, Johnston believes Kovalchuk could become a trade asset that lands the Habs a draft pick.

Will the Montreal Canadiens shop Ilya Kovalchuk for a draft pick at the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Earlier in the week, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels observed Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin faces some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. If leading scorer Tomas Tatar’s value in the trade market is high, Engels suggests Bergevin should explore the winger’s value in the trade market. He also feels the same about defenseman Jeff Petry, but acknowledged it would take a significant offer to tempt Bergevin as youngers blueliners Cale Fleury and Josh Brooks are at least a couple of years away from becoming top-four blueliners.

If the Canadiens can’t find a suitable return for Kovalchuk, Engels proposes attempting to re-sign the veteran winger.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie believes the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. He feels they should move Kovalchuk if he can fetch a second-round selection. He also thinks a team willing to do a “problem swap” could come calling about Max Domi. Lajoie lists Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, and Brett Kulak as other trade candidates.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jonathan Bernier also ponders what the Habs could get for Kovalchuk in the trade market. He reminds us that the New Jersey Devils traded Brian Boyle last season to the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick. In 2017, the Detroit Red Wings sent winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for a third-round and Dylan McIlrath, while the Colorado Avalanche got a conditional fourth from the LA Kings for Jarome Iginla.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s thriving thus far in Montreal. If the Canadiens somehow surge back into the playoff chase in a month, they could hang onto him for the remainder of the season. If not, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest they could get a second- or a third-round in return if he maintains his point-per-game pace.

Domi’s name has surfaced a couple of times in recent speculation. While there’s been some grumbling in the Montreal media over his temper, consistency, and supposedly selfish play, the 24-year-old reached a career-high 72 points last season and is on pace for a respectable 55 points. I’m not convinced that he’s in any danger of getting traded.

Tatar, meanwhile, has another year remaining on his contract. Bergevin doesn’t have to shop the 29-year-old winger this season, but it might not hurt to gauge his value in the trade market.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wonders if LA Kings center and former Flyer Jeff Carter might be available at the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Carter is under contract through 2021-22 with an annual average salary of over $5.2 million. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-goal scorer who’s on pace for 23 goals this season.

Hall’s colleague John Clark said the Flyers discussed the possibility of trading for Carter. While he has fond memories of his years in Philadelphia, Carter said he doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. “I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter surfaced in the rumor mill midway through last season. A report claimed he could retire if traded, but he denied it. Carter lacks no-trade protection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rebuilding Kings looked into moving him.

Nevertheless, his age and annual average value are significant stumbling blocks. An interested club might insist on the Kings picking up a healthy portion of his salary-cap hit. Given the Flyers’ limited cap space, they can’t afford his full AAV.


THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently reported the Chicago Blackhawks have spoken with other clubs about Erik Gustafsson. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He and Hawks GM Stan Bowman declined to comment regarding a possible contract extension.

A league source believes they’re checking the market value and could circle back before the trade deadline. They were asking mostly about prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Powers that how the Blackhawks fare in the coming weeks will also determine what happens with Gustafsson. If they climb back into the playoff picture, they could hang onto the blueliner for a run at the postseason.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s word San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is embarrassed the first-round pick he gave up as part of the deal for Erik Karlsson could turn into a lottery selection. As a result, he’ll try to get a first-rounder back before the trade deadline. He’ll have to sweeten the pot because none of his pending UFAs (including Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson) will fetch a first-rounder.

Garrioch speculates teams could call about Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns. He also claims New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is sniffing around for a defenseman and should give Wilson a call.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s reportedly let it be known he’s not interested in moving a core player. Of course, that could change if someone were to make a significant offer, but I doubt that type of deal takes place before the deadline.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2020

The latest on the Leafs and Blackhawks, plus an update on Chris Kreider in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin McGran was asked if he sees a scenario whereby the Toronto Maple Leafs make a move before the trade deadline for a backup goaltender or a stay-at-home defenseman. Given the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space, McGran believes any trade will have to be dollar-for-dollar.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos speculates the Leafs’ recent call-up of Mason Marchment might suggest they’ll look for toughness before the trade deadline. However, there’s an argument to be made for the Leafs to build on their strength by adding another skilled player. Traikos acknowledges the Leafs aren’t built for grinding opponents down physically, but it can do so with offense.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel believes the emergence of winger Pierre Engvall provides an option for Leafs management to move another forward for help on the blueline. Perhaps Andreas Johnsson, Kaspari Kapanen or someone else gets moved before the trade deadline or in the off-season. Engvall’s a restricted free agent after this season. Siegel suggests the Leafs re-sign him to a two- to a four-year deal that trades a lower salary-cap hit for extra security.

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs shop a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for defensive help? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conventional wisdom suggests the Leafs won’t get far in playoff hockey where the game tends to be more physical than during the regular season. That certainly proved the case in their last two postseason appearances.

While there can be a debate over skill versus toughness, I believe the Leafs’ biggest need remains a reliable backup for starter Frederik Andersen. If he struggles or becomes sidelined over the remainder of the season or in the playoffs, the Leafs are screwed. Given their limited salary-cap space, addressing that need or others means dollar-in, dollar-out, and that could mean giving up a good, affordable forward like Johnsson or Kapanen.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Lazerus was asked if the Chicago Blackhawks might weaponize their newfound available cap space to acquire an asset. He thinks it would be poetic for the Blackhawks, who spent years shedding players due to limited cap space, to take advantage of a desperate club’s salary-cap constraints and take on some bad money for a sweetener or two.

It remains to be seen if Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman stands pat at this year’s deadline or attempt to bolster his roster for a run at the playoffs. Much will depend upon what unfolds over the next several weeks. They’ll also face decisions over pending UFAs like Corey Crawford and Erik Gustafsson. Crawford’s modified no-trade clause would limit efforts to move him.

Lazerus doesn’t see the Blackhawks trading defenseman Connor Murphy. Andrew Shaw’s recent concussion injury takes him off the trade table. Lazerus acknowledged recent reports indicating interest from rival clubs in winger Brandon Saad, but he believes it would take a significant offer to move him.

Scott Powers reports a league source claims the Blackhawks have attempted to shore up their defensive depth since the start of the season. Those efforts have been unsuccessful because rival clubs want prospects the Hawks aren’t willing to give up. Their newfound salary-cap space makes it possible to add a blueliner, but it’s complicated because they’ll only want to take on a rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan out for the season, the Blackhawks have an additional $10 million to work with if they want to add a player. The problem, however, is they have limited tradeable assets and don’t want to move their few promising prospects.

The Hawks would have better luck as sellers if they decide to move Crawford or Gustafsson. If they fail to gain ground in the standings over the next month, they could attempt to use their available cap space to take on another club’s toxic salary for this season if they can also get a quality draft pick or prospect as part of the return.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Kreider’s limited no-trade clause likely means he won’t be accepting a trade to a Canadian team. Brooks believes that’s why the Montreal Canadiens decided to sign winger Ilya Kovalchuk.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2019

The next potential trade-rental targets and updates on teams that aren’t interested in Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Ellliote Friedman looked at potential playoff rental targets now that Taylor Hall’s off the market.

With Taylor Hall off the block, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider could be a hot target in the trade market. (Photo via NHL Images)

He considers New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider and Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau as obvious targets, based on the past behavior of those clubs with their previous notable unrestricted free agents. Both clubs attempted to negotiate with their former UFAs right up to last season’s trade deadline before moving them. Friedman expects the same for Kreider and Pageau. He also speculates there could be a bit of interest in Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

Friedman expects the Los Angeles Kings will shop pending UFAs such as Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis. The Buffalo Sabres have two UFA blueliners in Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella, who’ve been healthy scratches at times this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider and Toffoli seem likely to be dealt by the deadline, but I’m not so certain about Pageau. The rebuilding Senators are showing improvement and Pageau’s been a part of that. The Senators might have to overpay a bit to keep him, but I can see Pageau staying in Ottawa.

Bogosian requested a trade and I expect the Sabres will try to accommodate his wishes. They could retain Scandella if they’re still in the playoff hunt by the deadline.

Several pending UFAs are on clubs that are trying to win this season, which eliminates the possibility they’ll be shopped this season. They include Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, Boston’s Torey Krug, and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. He expects those teams will deal with the fallout after the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Unless those clubs completely collapse over the next two months, I don’t expect any of those players to be shopped. And in the case of Backstrom, I think the Caps intend to re-sign him no matter what.

The same goes for Toronto’s Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson and Erik Haula, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Washington’s Radko Gudas, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, and Arizona’s Carl Soderberg.

Friedman also points out several clubs trying to win that could shuffle the deck. He thinks that could affect Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic, Florida’s Mike Hoffman, and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund is probably the one in that list most likely to be shopped. He’s struggled to adjust with the Predators since being acquired from Minnesota last season. This could be a case of a player simply not being the right fit with a particular team. Granlund could regain his scoring touch with another club.

Vancouver could be worth watching. Friedman believes there could be interest in pending UFAs Josh Leivo, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom. However, the Canucks could stick with those three if they’re still in the playoff chase by February.

There could be a market for defenseman Erik Gustafsson if he doesn’t re-sign with the Chicago Blackhawks before the trade deadline. Depending on where the San Jose Sharks are in the standings, Justin Braun could also be available.

While the New Jersey Devils were in the process of trading Taylor Hall, Friedman said a team contacted them expressing interest in defenseman Sami Vatanen. Someone reported the St. Louis Blues offered up Vince Dunn as part of a pitch for Hall, but Friedman would’ve been surprised if they had. He also thinks Wayne Simmonds might prefer staying with the Devils, as he didn’t enjoy his experience last season as a rental player.






Potential Western Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL’s 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze

Potential Western Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL’s 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze