NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2020

Updated unrestricted free agent rankings and how the current season shutdown could affect the UFA market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS/TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, and Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug are the top three on Matt Larkin’s and Frank Seravalli’s respective lists of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex PIetrangelo is among this year’s top unrestricted free agents (Photo via NHL Images).

Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Washington Capitals netminder Braden Holtby, and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen round out Larkin’s top-10.

Seravalli had Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom in fourth place (he was 11th on Larkin’s list), followed by Lehner, Hoffman, Dadonov, Toffoli, Holtby, and Barrie. Vatanen was 12th on his ranking.

Other noteworthy players to appear on both lists include Calgary Flames defensemen T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and Erik Gustafsson, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, Washington Capitals d-man Brenden Dillon and winger Ilya Kovalchuk, and Florida Panthers forward Erik Haula,

Larkin also included Nashville Predators wingers Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith, Bruins backup goalie Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Zdeno Chara, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz, Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dylan DeMelo, Capitals rearguard Radko Gudas, New York Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss, Toronto Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza, Vancouver Canucks d-man Chris Tanev, Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams, and Ottawa Senators defender Mark Borowiecki.

Seravalli’s ranking included Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Justin Braun, Hurricanes blueliner Joel Edmundson, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci, Blues rearguard Marco Scandella and Dallas Stars netminder Anton Khudobin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think most observers will agree where Pietrangelo, Hall, and Krug sit among this year’s top UFAs. I’m sure there will be considerable disagreement over where the others are ranked.

For example, I think Barrie’s struggles in Toronto this season could send his UFA stock tumbling. Remember, some observers (including yours truly) considered Jake Gardiner among last year’s top-10 free agents, and he wound up waiting until September to get a deal that was well below the $6 million annually he was projected to get.

It’s also safe to say some of these players, such as Chara, Crawford, and Williams, are likely to re-sign with their current clubs.

Seravalli reports the effects of the current league shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for this year’s free-agent market. One agent expects the players will have a hard time going backward financially, but that’s what’s going to happen because of the pandemic. Should the salary cap remain at $81.5 million next season, many free agents may have to accept significantly less than they expect.

One agent pointed out there won’t be much of a market for top UFA. Only bottom-feeding clubs will have the most money to spend, but they’re usually not attractive destinations for free-agent talent. Seravalli suggests players might accept short-term deals for less money in the hope of trying to cash in later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players will still try to get the best deals they can, but I concur most won’t find the lucrative offers they would’ve received in a normal year. I agree with Seravalli that many could accept one- or two-year deals for less money and try their luck again in a year or two, or opt for the security of term over dollars.

The UFA market could also be flooded with additional players if the league and the NHLPA agreed to implement compliance buyouts for this off-season as a means of helping cap-strapped clubs hit hard by the shutdown. That could also drive down prices for free-agent talent.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2018

Latest on the Boston Bruins plus updates on Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba in your NHL rumor mill.


THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont wonders what the Boston Bruins defense corps will look like next season with their recent addition of John Moore via free agency. He suggests Moore, being a left-hand shot, “all but eliminates him” from being Zdeno Chara’s partner on the top pairing, leaving Charlie McAvoy in that spot. If Moore moves to the second pairing with Brandon Carlo, that could bump high-salaried Torey Krug ($5.25 million annually) to the third pairing.

Could the addition of Jaroslav Halak eventually lead the Boston Bruins to consider trading Tuukka Rask? (Photo via NHL Images)

Rumors had Krug on the trade block this spring but Dupont points out the Bruins would miss his point production. If Krug stays put, Moore could drop to the third pairing, which was filled last season by Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. Dupont suggests perhaps moving McQuaid ($2.75-million cap hit), thus giving the Bruins around $5.75 million in cap space for 2018-19, giving the Bruins seven defenders (with Matt Grzelcyk) to work with.

NBC SPORTS: Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins’ addition of Jaroslav Halak as their new backup could provide some much-needed competition for starting goaltender Tuukka Rask. He speculates it could also open the door to the Bruins’ trading Rask for the right offer to shed the latter’s $7 million annual cap hit through 2020-21.

Haggerty pointed out Rask struggled in last spring’s playoffs, raising questions about his performance in big games. “So why not start to explore what Rask could yield in a hockey trade, and even pull the trigger if the price is right given that Halak is there as a proven starting goaltender?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what moves the Bruins’ make regarding their defense corps. One of those eight will have to be dealt or demoted. Certainly Chara, Moore, McAvoy and Carlo aren’t going anywhere and they recently re-signed Grzelcyk to a two-year deal worth $1.4 million annually. Krug, McQuaid or perhaps Miller could become fodder for trade speculation, perhaps during training camp or preseason in September. 

It’s laughable to suggest Halak’s addition could give the Bruins a reason to trade Rask. Halak’s been plagued by injuries and inconsistency in recent years. Sure, he could help spark a little bit of competitiveness with Rask but he won’t steal away the starter’s job on a full-time basis. 


SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler cites The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reporting there was no contract progress between Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and winger Artemi Panarin during yesterday’s meeting between the two in Paris.

Previous reported indicated the Jackets would like to re-sign Panarin, an unrestricted free agent next July, to a long-term contract extension but the winger is reluctant to discuss a deal at this time. His agent, Dan Milstein, said his client is unsure if he wants to commit to a long-term stay in Columbus. He also confirm Kekalainen has been testing the trade market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen and Milstein reportedly both expect Panarin will be on the Jackets roster when the season opens in October. Nevertheless the winger will remain a fixture in this summer’s trade-rumor mill. The Jackets’ asking price is believed to be a good player who can help them immediately as well as assets that could help them for the future. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe wonders if the Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Jacob Trouba can reach an agreement on a new contract before his arbitration hearing on July 20. Though Trouba and his agent sought a trade two years ago, the blueliner’s situation has changed since then as he’s now taken on a more prominent role as a right-side defenseman alongside Josh Morrissey. He also sees the second-most ice time among the Jets on a nightly basis.

As a skilled all-around defenseman, re-signing Trouba will prove expensive. Wiebe wonders if a six-year, $36-million deal will be enticing for the 24-year-old blueliner. If this goes to arbitration, he speculates the Jets could point to Columbus’ Seth Jones (six years, $5.4-million annually) as a comparable. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it could cost closer to $7 million annually for the Jets to get Trouba signed to a long-term deal. There’s still time to get a new contract hammered out but the clock is ticking here with his arbitration hearing looming on Friday. If this goes to arbitration and Trouba gets less than he wants, it could stoke speculation that he’ll seek a trade.  


Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

The NHL free-agent market opens today at noon ET. Here’s a list of today’s notable signings, which will be updated throughout the day. 

Toronto Maple Leafs signed center John Tavares to a seven-year, $77-million contract

Toronto Maple Leafs sign John Tavares to a seven-year contract (Photo via NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers reportedly signed left wing James van Riemsdyk to a five-year, $35-million contract. 

Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension worth $6.75 million per season.

Arizona Coyotes officially announced the signing of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension worth $8.25 million AAV. They also re-signed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a two-year contract extension worth $5 million AAV, and signed free-agent winger Michael Grabner to a three-year deal worth $3.35 million per season. 

Vegas Golden Knights will sign center Paul Stastny to a three-year contract. The annual average value is $6.5 million. They’ve also signed defenseman Nick Holden to a two-year deal worth $2.2 million annually. 

Pittsburgh Penguins will reportedly sign defenseman Jack Johnson to a five-year, $16.25-million contract. They’ve also signed Matt Cullen to a one-year, $650K contract

St. Louis Blues expected to sign winger David Perron to a four-year deal worth $4 million per season. The Blues have also signed center Tyler Bozak to a three-year contract with an AAV of $5 million and goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, $1.75-million deal. 

Colorado Avalanche reportedly close to signing defenseman Ian Cole to a three-year contact worth an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.

Chicago Blackhawks sign goaltender Cam Ward to a one-year, $3-million contract with a full no-movement clause. They’ve also signed winger Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $1-million contract and defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year deal. 

Boston Bruins expected to sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million annually. They also signed winger Joakim Nordstrom to a two-year, $2 million deal and defenseman John Moore to a five-year contract worth an AAV of $2.75 million.

Columbus Blue Jackets sign center Riley Nash to a three-year contract worth $2.75-million per season. 

Buffalo Sabres will reportedly sign goaltender Carter Hutton to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

New York Islanders have an agreement in place to bring back defenseman Thomas Hickey on a four-year deal worth an AAV of $2.5 million. They also signed forward Leo Komarov to a four-year, $12-million contract.

Detroit Red Wings expected to sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a three-year deal worth around $3 million annually and forward Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $3-million contract. 

Edmonton Oilers will sign forward Kyle Brodziak to a two-year deal with an AAV of around $1 million and forward Tobias Rieder to a one-year, $2-million contract.  

Dallas Stars expected to sign forward Blake Comeau to a three-year deal worth $2.4 million per season. They’ve also re-signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a two-year deal worth $2.95-million annually. Roman Polak is reportedly heading to the Stars on a one-year contract worth $1.3 million.

Vancouver Canucks are expected to sign center Jay Beagle to a four-year contract worth $3 million annually and forward Antoine Roussel to a four-year deal worth $3.25 million per season. 

Calgary Flames expected to sign center Derek Ryan to a three-year deal worth an AAV of $3.125 million and center Austin Czarnik to a two-year deal worth $1.25-million annually. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. 

Montreal Canadiens are expected to announced the signing of center Tomas Plekanec to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $2.25 million plus bonuses. 

Minnesota Wild will reportedly sign defenseman Greg Pateryn to a three-year contract and signed goaltender Andrew Hammond. 


NHL Rumor Mill – February 12, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 12, 2018

Updates on the Oilers, Senators, Penguins and Islanders in your NHL rumor mill. 

The Boston Bruins reportedly have interest in Edmonton Oilers winger Patrick Maroon (Photo via NHL Images).


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports multiple sources claim the Boston Bruins have interest in Edmonton Oilers winger Patrick Maroon. Oilers VP of hockey operations Craig MacTavish scouted a recent Bruins-Sabres game while Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson Jr. has scouted the last two Oilers games.

Haggerty feels the 6’3″, 227-pound Maroon could provide the Bruins some veteran help and size on the wing while the Oilers are looking to stock up with young players and draft picks. The Bruins are willing to improve their roster but they don’t want to mess too much with their lineup. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples notes Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested the Oilers should look at trading forward Leon Draisaitl if they think they can get a big return. Kypreos’ colleague Elliotte Friedman disagreed, as does Staples, who believes whatever pieces the Oilers got back may or may not turn out, whereas Drasaitl is averaging 0.96 points per game. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins play the Oilers on Feb. 20, which could explain why the two clubs are scouting each other. The Bruins could be interested in Maroon but it’ll depend upon the Oilers’ asking price. Boston management has stated they don’t want to move their good young players or top prospects. 

As for Draisaitl, Kypreos seemed to be simply musing out loud over what moves the Oilers should make to improve going forward. Draisaitl’s not going anywhere unless he wants out of Edmonton and there’s no indication that’s the case. 


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is expected to ramp up efforts to make deals leading up to the Feb.26 NHL trade deadline. It’s believed Dorion won’t be moving Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone and Thomas Chabot. Inquiries about Colin White were rebuffed, center Matt Duchene isn’t going anywhere and it’ll take a significant offer to move Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

There is interest in forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, Ryan Dzingel and Derick Brassard, but Garrioch would be surprised if Brassard is moved given the difficulty in finding a center. It’s believed the Los Angeles Kings have circled back on their prior interest in Dion Phaneuf. Veteran blueliner Johnny Oduya could help a contender. Garrioch doesn’t feel it’s prudent to move blueliner Cody Ceci right now. 

Garrioch cites league sources saying the Tampa Bay Lightning have called about Karlsson and Ceci, but the Sens can’t decide on the latter until there’s a decision made over Karlsson’s future. St. Louis, New Jersey, Carolina, San Jose and Buffalo are thought to have interest in Hoffman, while Calgary, Vegas and San Jose were linked to Smith. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning may have inquired about Karlsson but GM Steve Yzerman isn’t feeling pressured to make a blockbuster move at the trade deadline. It doesn’t sound like he’s keen to overpay, pointing out such moves do not guarantee a Stanley Cup championship. Indeed, the Bolts are reportedly unwilling to part with youngsters Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev, two players some scribes feel must  be included in any offer for Karlsson or New York Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh.

If the Senators make a deal or two at the deadline, Hoffman or Smith could be the likely candidates. Both have regularly appeared in the rumor mill in recent weeks. Moving Phaneuf could mean picking up part of his $7-million annual cap hit or taking back a toxic contract. 


TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie lists Minnesota’s Matt Cullen, New York Rangers center David Desharnais, Edmonton’s Mark Letestu, Florida’s Jared McCann and Carolina’s Derek Ryan as five potential trade targets for the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Riley Sheahan has performed well of late, Bombulie still feels the Penguins need to bolster their depth at center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins third- and fourth-line center roles have been the subject of almost constant chatter in the Pittsburgh media. GM Jim Rutherford could look at bringing in one of the players on Bombulie’s list to center the fourth line. 

NEWSDAY: Brian Heyman suggests forward Brock Nelson and goaltender Jaroslav Halak as two players the New York Islanders could move at the trade deadline. While Nelson is playing well of late, Heyman feels he’s not part of their young core and could be a useful trade chip if the Isles wish to improve their goaltending or defense. He thinks the Isles should consider moving Halak in a package deal for his replacement. Given the way Thomas Greiss has played, Heyman thinks they might trade a middling draft pick for a new backup goalie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles carry two picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft. They could dangle one or two of them as trade bait but GM Garth Snow seems reluctant to do that. If so, he’ll have to move a good roster player in order to improve his defense and goaltending. That could make Nelson a worthwhile candidate. Unless they tumble further out of wild-card contention over the next two weeks, I don’t think they’ll move Halak. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2018

Game recaps, Pittsburgh welcomes back former Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins spoiled the homecoming of their former goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury by edging the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4. Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby each had two points against their old teammate. Fleury received a warm welcome from Pittsburgh fans, who gave him a lengthy, noisy ovation.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask extended his personal points streak to 21 games (19-0-2) as his club downed the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. With the win, the Bruins are now just three points behind the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored his 200th career goal in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo via NHL Images).

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom’s 200th career goal was also the game winner as his club edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin each collected two points in this game.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their seventh victory in their last ten games as they thumped the St. Louis Blues 6-2. Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves while teammates Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker each tallied a goal and added an assist. Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. A further update on his condition is expected today. 

Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Jets took over top spot in the Central Division while extending their home points streak to 10 games.

Ottawa Senators forward Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists to lead his team to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Senators forward Alex Burrows could be in some hot water with the league for appearing to strike Devils winger Taylor Hall in the head several times with his knee while the pair were tussling on the ice. The Sens were playing without winger Bobby Ryan, who is sidelined at least three weeks with an injured finger.

Three goals by Dougie Hamilton, Michael Stone and Sean Monahan gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau each picked up two points.

Ondrej Kase scored a goal and set up Adam Henrique’s overtime winner as the Anaheim Ducks edged the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart each had two points for the Sabres.

Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves and Tyson Jost picked up two points to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Jordan Weal’s overtime goal gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Florida Panthers got two goals from Aleksander Barkov to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1. Panthers goalie Harri Sateri, named the NHL’s second star for the week ending Feb. 4, picked up his fourth straight win.

OTTAWA SUN: Good news for the Senators as two-way forward Mark Stone is hoping to re-sign a long-term extension with the club. Stone is a restricted free agent this summer. 

NEWSDAY: With the New York Islanders’ skaters struggling of late, goaltender Jaroslav Halak’s improved play is keeping his team afloat in the playoff race. 

TSN: 42 years after Toronto Maple Leafs Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler’s record-setting 10-point game, the jersey he wore in that game has resurfaced. 

TIME: Former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Galisano is refusing to pay his local taxes “after taking a stand over the amount of goose poo left on the lawn of his upstate New York property.”


NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2017

Could Josh Anderson’s contract standoff with the Columbus Blue Jackets lead to a trade?

Updates on the Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Penguins and Islanders in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his recent “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Frediman expressed surprise that Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson remains without a contract. It’s believed the Jackets seek a three-year deal to protect against Anderson’s upcoming salary arbitration eligibility but the two sides aren’t close to agreement on value. It’s thought the Colorado Avalanche sought Anderson as part of a return for center Matt Duchene but the Jackets refused.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets may have rejected including Anderson in a package deal for Duchene, but if this situation drags on, I wonder if they might reconsider. As the standoff continues, Anderson’s representatives have contacted Hockey Canada about the 2018 Winter Olympics. If he remains unsigned, he could be eligible to play for Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey team. 

Friedman speculates the longer it takes the Detroit Red Wings to re-sign winger Andreas Athanasiou, the more a trade between the Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins could be contingent on signing him. It’s believed the Penguins are eyeing Red Wings center Riley Sheahan and Friedman wonders if Pens defenseman Derrick Pouliot might be part of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey reports Pens general manager Jim Rutherford’s been impressed by centers “Teddy Blueger, Adam Johnson and Greg McKegg, along with potential fourth-line pivot, Jay McClement” during training camp thus far. Rutherford isn’t ruling out trading for a center perhaps it’s not the certainty it appeared to be a couple of weeks ago. 

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently suggested New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak could be a viable option for contenders seeking depth between the pipes. He feels the Isles have incentive to give Halak a chance for a fresh start this season, either to improve his trade value or if current starter Thomas Greiss struggles or becomes sidelined. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Halak needs a strong bounce-back performance to be enticing to other clubs seeking goaltending help. He played very well during last fall’s World Cup of Hockey but his play subsequently fell off during last season and wound up banished to the minors for a time.