NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2020

Some recent speculation on the Bruins, Wild and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently pondered moves by the Boston Bruins if they should struggle during the 2020-21 season. He points to their weakness on the left side of their blueline as well as the possibility of star forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak missing the start of the schedule recovering from offseason surgeries.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images)

O’Brien feels management won’t need to blow things up but they could consider moving a handful of veterans at the trade deadline. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak and center David Krejci are unrestricted free agents next summer. Perhaps the Bruins could get something of value for one of them. He also wondered if they might try to move a supporting cast member like Charlie Coyle or Jake DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins perform in a shortened season without Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on the blueline and their two leading scorers possibly sidelined for the opening weeks. General manager Don Sweeney could consider selling a couple of veterans at the trade deadline if his club is struggling to stay in playoff contention by then. For now, of course, it’s all hypothetical.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if defenseman Zdeno Chara would return for another season. He predicted Chara wouldn’t return, speculating the big blueliner would reject relegation to a third-pairing role. Haggerty has the feeling the Bruins are ready to move on to a younger, more mobile defense corps.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL.com’s Amelie Benjamin, who covered her fair share of Bruins games with the Boston Globe, believes Chara will return for another season, though she acknowledged it’s not a certainty. Chara’s agent said his client was waiting to see what the format for the 2020-21 season would look like before deciding where he’ll play.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Minnesota Wild would trade defenseman Matt Dumba before the season is over. He notes the club intends to start the season with Dumba as part of their top-four blueliners.

Gulitti suggested the Wild might not be able to protect the 26-year-old Dumba in next summer’s expansion draft with Jonas Brodin recently signing a seven-year contract extension while Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon each have five years remaining on their deals. The Wild could try to move him before the trade deadline or wait until the offseason and do so before the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba, who has three years left on his contract, is the only one of those four lacking no-movement protection in the 2021 expansion draft. The Wild could protect all four but they’d have to expose an extra forward. General manager Bill Guerin could swing a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Dumba isn’t selected in that draft.

Guerin could see Dumba as a trade chip to bring in a first-line center. He could try to move the blueliner for the right offer before the expansion draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins recently reported hearing something needs to give on the Oilers’ roster before the club returns to play. However, he doesn’t expect it to happen until the middle of January when training camp might be underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rather cryptic take by Leavins. Is he referring to their goaltending? Perhaps a short-term replacement for Oscar Klefbom if (when) he’s placed on long-term injury reserve as he recovers from treatment for his injured shoulder? An additional scoring winger? What say you, Oilers fans?










NHL Playoffs: Lightning Take Series Stranglehold with 3-1 Win Over The Bruins

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Take Series Stranglehold with 3-1 Win Over The Bruins










2020 NHL Playoffs: Bruins Need Halak To Be Better Against Lightning

2020 NHL Playoffs: Bruins Need Halak To Be Better Against Lightning

 










NHL Playoffs: Expect Fireworks in Bruins-Lightning Series

NHL Playoffs: Expect Fireworks in Bruins-Lightning Series

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2020

Details on the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft next month before a potential resumption of the schedule, the Bruins re-sign Jaroslav Halak, an update on Brent Seabrook and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL’S PROPOSED PLAN FOR THE 2020 DRAFT

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL issued a position paper Friday on the possibility of staging the draft next month. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly authored the report. Despite earlier pushback against a June draft before the resumption of the season, there’s a sense of resignation among the teams that this will happen.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (Photo via NHL.com).

Daly indicated the league needs a month to prepare. It’s rumored the target date is June 5, meaning a decision will have to be reached by next week. Daly also said the broadcast networks are on board with the plan.

If the draft isn’t moved up, the best-case scenario would be a short window following awarding the Stanley Cup in September and before the start of 2020-21. The worst-case scenario is canceling the remainder of this season, after which the draft lottery and the draft itself would be held at an uncertain time before next season.

Regarding conditional trades, the league would propose solutions, such as both teams reforming the terms of the deal or accepting the league’s proposals. Team point percentage would be used to determine the order of selection, as well as changing the draft lottery format for this year only by picking just one winner and limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots.

Friedman and Chris Johnston detailed potential lottery outcomes under that scenario. “Detroit would pick no lower than second. Ottawa (with San Jose’s top selection), could do no worse than three and four. New Jersey, Buffalo, Montreal, and Chicago couldn’t jump above two, three, four, and five, respectively.” A June draft would prevent teams from trading players they’ll need if the season resumes.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun took to Twitter reporting the league reviewed 15 trades involving conditional picks with playoff implications and would be ready to suggest solutions to each trade or have both teams agree to reform the terms of the trade that would be acceptable to both parties.

The league memo acknowledged most NHL general managers would prefer maintaining the status quo, meaning holding the draft after the season. The league will decide either way next week. There is a Board of Governors’ conference call slated for Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Bettman and Daly first floated this idea last month, LeBrun was the first to say this would be something the teams should prepare for because it was likely going to happen. Unless the board of governors rejects this plan, or the league decides to scrap the season, we’ll see a modified virtual NHL draft sometime next month.

NHL headquarters want to hold the draft in June to drum up fan interest before resuming the season in July. Part of the fun of the draft for hockey fans is the possibility of established NHL players getting traded. Without that buzz, I’m not sure how long casual NHL fans will stick with following this year’s draft beyond the opening round.

LATEST ON THE NHL’S PLANS TO RESUME THE SEASON

NHL.COM: Daly indicated coronavirus testing is a key part of any plan agreed upon by the league and the NHL Players’ Association to resume the season. “We’re going to need to have access to testing, and we’re going to make it a point that we’re not accessing testing, even in a private way, if testing availability is an issue in the community,” he said. The actual protocol testing has yet to be determined.

The deputy commissioner said several NHL clubs have offered to host games if the league decides to play in centralized locations. He admitted Edmonton is among those in the mix.

He also indicated this situation could provide an opportunity for the league and the PA to resume negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. “While we’re not there substantively yet because we have a lot of other things we’re working on, I think there’s a willingness and an interest on both sides to pursue that.”

Daly said the league has told the players it understands their concerns about the possibility of long family separations if teams play in centralized locations. “We understand the importance of kind of family interaction, and we’ll find a way to accommodate that,” he said.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites sources claiming the league could be pivoting away from its centralized locations plan and is investigating the possibility of resuming games in its teams’ home cities after the players expressed their concerns about lengthy family separations.

“(This) would create an entire new set of issues for the league and union to confront and solve, most notable of which would be travel considerations and the means with which to test players and attendant personnel who live in disparate locations under divergent coronavirus-related government policies,” wrote Brooks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best plan to resume the season remains four regionalized host cities in areas where COVID-19 cases are low and suitable testing protocols are in place. Trying to reopen the season in all 31 cities will be too difficult to pull off right now. 

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year, $2.25-million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Bruins want to keep their roster intact as much as possible for another shot at the Stanley Cup next season. The 34-year-old Halak has formed a solid goaltending tandem with starter Tuukka Rask. Without any suitable replacements within their pipeline, it made sense to keep him around for another season on an affordable deal.

The Bruins have over $63.5 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Defensemen Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller are their notable unrestricted free agents, while their restricted free agents include Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook claims he’s feeling great after recovering from surgeries on both hips and his right shoulder earlier this season. He said he’s looking forward to skating again.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Ben Harpur to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS: St. Louis Blues broadcaster John Kelly is donating plasma in hopes his antibodies will help other battling COVID-19. He contracted the illness in March but has been symptom-free for over five weeks.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Bruins, Golden Knights, and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH BRUINS COULD BE ON THE MOVE FOLLOWING THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Joe McDonald believes Torey Krug should be among the Boston Bruins’ untouchables, but the 29-year-old defenseman unrestricted free agent status at season’s end creates uncertainty over his future in Boston. Krug expressed his desire to remain a Bruin, but McDonald believes he’ll have to accept a hometown discount. Krug recently said there have been no contract discussions because nobody knows what the financial implications will be for the league.

McDonald also believes pending UFAs Jaroslav Halak and Kevan Miller could be on the move. John Moore‘s spot on the blueline is up in the air because of the Bruins’ growing blueline depth. UFA center Joakim Nordstrom could also be a goner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug’s future with the Bruins will remain a hot topic in the rumor mill until the NHL and NHLPA work out next season’s salary cap. That hometown discount could be around $6.5 million annually, but Krug would get more on the open market. That, of course, is assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million.

Could the Vegas Golden Knights try to re-sign Robin Lehner? (Photo via NHL Images)

This year’s UFA class could find it difficult getting hefty pay raises in the off-season. Nevertheless, clubs with plenty of salary-cap space could be willing to pay big bucks for a top free agent like Krug.

COULD A CHANGE BE COMING IN THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ NET?

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently mused over the plight of the Vegas Golden Knights’ goaltending. They acquired Robin Lehner at the trade deadline, prompting O’Brien to wonder if they could try to keep him following this season. “Doing so would require some juggling, possibly including trying to convince MAF (Marc-Andre Fleury) to accept a trade … but it’s something the Golden Knights should at least consider.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien’s not the first pundit to speculate about the Golden Knights re-signing Lehner and shopping Fleury. If that scenario isn’t possible, they could dip into the UFA market for a more affordable, short-term backup option for Fleury. Halak, Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, and Cam Talbot are among those potentially available.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES FREE AGENTS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sara Civian speculates the Carolina Hurricanes could part ways with recently-acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen. Their acquisition of Brady Skjei could mean Joel Edmundson won’t be back, but she doesn’t rule out the Canes re-signing blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen was meant to be a rental player with Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce sidelined in late-February. I doubt he’s part of their plans beyond this season. I don’t see Edmundson returning unless he accepts less money on a short-term deal or van Riemsdyk tests the market.