NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Leafs still shopping for a forward, plus updates on Dougie Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the trade speculation swirling about Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doubts the 24-year-old center is moved by the April 12 trade deadline. He points out a number of teams cannot afford to take on his $10 million annual average value right now.

Could the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings try to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres? (NHL Images)

Friedman thinks the Rangers could do it anytime they wanted but called some of the proposals out there “kinda crazy.” If the Sabres decide to trade Eichel it’ll be in the summer when teams have more salary-cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Craig Custance cited an NHL executive who believes Eichel will eventually wind up a Ranger. Another, however, felt the Los Angeles Kings would be a better match because they have the type of promising high-centers (Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte) the Rangers lack to offer up as trade bait.

Kings general manager Rob Blake has stuck to the mantra of the patient rebuild and it looks like it’s starting to pay off. He could be tempted to accelerate the process by acquiring Eichel. However, I wonder how keen he’d be to add another $10 million player to his roster with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty already on the books.

Speaking of the Rangers, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes it would be almost impossible for them to get into the bidding for Eichel and his $10 million AAV without first moving center Mika Zibanejad, who has a no-movement clause. Given Zibanejad’s struggles this season, finding a trade partner willing to gamble on him won’t be easy even if he agreed to waive his NMC.

LEAFS STILL SEEK A FORWARD

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs still want to bolster their forward lines before the April 12 trade deadline. Some speculation linked the Leafs to Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund. Dreger thinks there could be a fit if the Predators agree to retain some of Granlund’s salary. The Leafs have the prospects and draft picks to make something happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just over $130K of trade-deadline cap space. Granlund has over $2.1 million remaining of his $3.75 million salary for this season. No chance of a deal there unless the Preds absorb a considerable chunk of his salary or take back a contract of equal or greater value.

HURRICANES UNLIKELY TO MOVE HAMILTON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Carolina Hurricanes and pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton have gone quiet since last month. The Hamilton camp could prefer a deal comparable to what Alex Pietrangelo received from the Vegas Golden Knights while the Hurricanes prefer something similar to what Torey Krug got with the St. Louis Blues. LeBrun doesn’t believe they’ll trade Hamilton, preferring to deal with this before the UFA market opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun points out, the Hurricanes are all-in this year. Hamilton’s contract discussions will be set aside until the season is over.

UPDATE ON DEANGELO

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo has told the club he’s willing to accept being loaned to an American Hockey League team. He’s not welcome with their AHL affiliate in Hartford but the Rangers are willing to facilitate sending him to another club. Servalli believes it’ll take another NHL team stepping up to make that happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several NHL teams were rumored to have an interest in DeAngelo earlier this season. However, that has dried up as his personal baggage made him too toxic. It’ll be interesting to see if one of those interest parties might give him an opportunity to skate below the media radar with their AHL farm team.

OTHER RUMORS OF NOTE

Seravalli reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski could be added to the TSN NHL Trade Bait board. He’s a pending UFA playing top-pairing minutes but there hasn’t been any contract extension talks between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski has an eight-team no-trade list and a $5.45 million AAV. The latter could prove the more significant sticking point in any trade discussions.

Friedman reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the market for centers…The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers are eyeing defensemen but both must monitor their expansion draft protection lists…Teams seeking goalie depth might ask the Sabres about Jonas Johansson…The LA Kings hope to re-sign pending UFA forward Alex Iafallo.










Ovechkin Tops NHL’s 2021 UFA Class

Ovechkin Tops NHL’s 2021 UFA Class

 










Some Early NHL Norris Trophy Odds

Some Early NHL Norris Trophy Odds

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021

Some noteworthy pending unrestricted free agents to watch this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently looked at several high-profile pending UFAs to watch during this upcoming season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

LeBrun reported Alex Ovechkin didn’t seem too concerned about his contract situation with the Washington Capitals when training camp opened last week. The long-time Capitals superstar noted there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin sounds like he wants to stay with the Capitals and they want to keep their franchise player. The question, of course, is how much and for how long.

LeBrun noted contract talks between the two sides were shelved during the summer. His colleague Frank Seravalli last week indicated Ovechkin’s pre-pandemic asking price was $12.5 million annually.

Taylor Hall surprised the NHL world last fall by signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Playing alongside Sabres superstar Jack Eichel this season could boost his value as he seeks a long-term deal this summer. LeBrun thinks Hall could stick with the Sabres if he and Eichel develop solid chemistry and the club improves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Sabres with $45.6 million invested in 10 players for 2021-22. They’ll have plenty of room to keep Hall in the fold. However, that depends on how much he’ll seek on his next contract and how well the Sabres perform this season.

LeBrun wondered what the future holds for Tuukka Rask with the Boston Bruins. While the goaltender’s agent said his client is happy living and playing in Boston, offseason rumors had Bruins general manager Don Sweeney taking calls about Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney may have been listening to calls on Rask but that doesn’t mean he was keen to move him. The Bruins don’t have anyone in their system to replace Rask after this season.

They could seek a replacement via free agency but the options could be limited to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Nashville’s aging Pekka Rinne, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Arizona’s injury-prone Antti Raanta and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer. Unless the Bruins find a better choice via the trade market, they could have little choice but to sign Rask, especially if he plays well this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton’s representatives have had preliminary contract discussions. LeBrun speculates the Hamilton camp could seek something comparable to Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo’s $8.8 million annual average value. The Hurricanes could counter with some similar to St. Louis’ Torey Krug’s $6.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton was considered a contender for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman until suffering a season-ending leg injury last January. If an agreement isn’t reached between the two sides soon, a healthy, Norris-worthy performance by Hamilton this season could push his asking price into Pietrangelo’s range or higher.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 6, 2021

The NHL announces sponsors for its realigned divisions, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Kerfoot and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has partnered with four sponsors for its realigned divisions for the upcoming 2020-21 season. They will be known as the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division, and the MassMutual NHL East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or, as I and most hockey fans will refer to them, the North, West, Central and East Divisions.

This news will surely raise hackles among hockey purists already upset over ad logos appearing this season on the players’ helmets. But, as The Athletic’s Scott Burnside indicates, this move is necessary to offset some of the lost revenue this season from the absence of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This could be simply a one-time thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the practice of division sponsors continues when things (hopefully) return to normal next season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy yesterday said David Pastrnak was making progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. The original prognosis for the winger was mid-February but Cassidy suggested it could be a little earlier than that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A late January or early February return for Pastrnak seems possible. The sooner the high-scoring winger returns to the Bruins first line, the better their chances of maintaining their status as a Stanley Cup contender this season.

NHL.COM: Dougie Hamilton wants to remain with the Carolina Hurricanes and hopes the two sides can work out a new contract. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hamilton said he’ll leave the negotiations to his agent and focus on the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has indicated a willingness to sign Hamilton to a contract extension. The blueliner’s asking price and the Hurricanes’ inclination to meet it will determine if he has a future in Carolina.

Hamilton was considered a serious contender for the Norris Trophy last season until sidelined by a broken leg last January. Another Norris-worth performance could price him out of the Hurricanes’ comfort zone.

CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot was banged up in training camp yesterday and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Winger Alex Tuch took a maintenance day yesterday as a precautionary measure after experiencing soreness following the first day of on-ice drills on Monday.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders have reportedly signed free-agent winger Matt Martin to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.5 million. He’ll be 36 when this contract expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal ensures Martin could retire as an Islander, though he could be selected by Seattle in this summer’s expansion draft if left unprotected. The checking-line winger is considered one of the Isles’ glue guys, the type of hard-working player who brings the team together.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley missed practice yesterday. He’s been declared “unfit to practice” and listed as day-to-day.

THE SCORE: Former Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill was hired by the Seattle Kraken as an assistant general manager to GM Ron Francis. Former Chicago Blackhawks executive Norm McIver was hired as the Kraken’s director of player personnel.

NHLPA: Colin Wilson officially announced his retirement yesterday following 11 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. He scored 113 goals and 286 points in 632 regular-season games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wilson and his family in their future endeavors.

Congratulations to Team USA for their 2-0 victory over Team Canada to win the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championships. It’s the fourth straight time in as many meetings that Team USA has defeated Canada in the gold-medal game.

Florida Panthers’ goalie prospect Spencer Knight made 34 saves for the shutout. Anaheim Ducks prospect center Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist while Los Angeles Kings prospect center Alex Turcotte also tallied for the Americans. Zegras led the tournament with 18 points and was named tournament MVP.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russia may be Canada’s oldest hockey rival but the United States is the biggest rival and has been for some time.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2020

A look at some bold predictions for 2021 in the NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Over the weekend, Luke Fox made some bold NHL predictions for 2021. Some of them involved possible trades and free-agent moves.

Will Alex Ovechkin re-sign with the Washington Capitals? (NHL Images)

Fox believes Alex Ovechkin will reach a four-year contract extension with the Washington Capitals, perhaps accepting a slight pay cut to stay with the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals fail to reach an agreement on a new contract before his current deal expires next summer.

Taylor Hall “explodes offensively” skating alongside Jack Eichel this season with the Buffalo Sabres. However, Fox predicts Hall will chase his Stanley Cup dreams elsewhere as the Sabres’ poor goaltending turns them once again into an also-ran.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I disagree with that prediction. However, that could change if the Sabres actually reach the playoffs.

Fox expects the Winnipeg Jets will trade Patrik Laine at some point in 2021. He’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights and the Jets don’t have enough dollars to keep Laine in the fold.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been plenty of Laine trade speculation since early September, with his agent at one point suggesting it would be mutually beneficial for both sides if the young sniper was moved. If that comes to pass, the issue for Jets management is finding a suitable return. They could use a proven right-side, top-pairing defenseman.

Fox suggests the Ottawa Senators should expose recently-acquired goalie Matt Murray in next summer’s expansion draft and protect emerging netminder Filip Gustavsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is they’ll expose Marcus Hogberg in the draft unless Murray plays poorly this season.

Dougie Hamilton could be leaving the Carolina Hurricanes via trade or in next summer’s UFA market. He’s due for a significant raise but there’s no indication the two sides are close to agreement on an extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon Hamilton’s asking price and where the Hurricanes are in the standings by the April 12 trade deadline.

Tyson Barrie could be reinvigorated with the Edmonton Oilers and earn a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Adam Larsson comes off the Oilers’ books next summer, freeing up sufficient cap space for Barrie. A solid performance could keep him in Edmonton beyond this season.

Fox also predicts Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault could get squeezed out by young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, forcing him to seek work elsewhere via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out that possibility. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi played very well during last summer’s playoffs. If those performances carry over into this season, Danault could see third-line duty with the Habs. He doesn’t see himself in that role and I doubt he’d be willing to accept it on a permanent basis to stay in Montreal.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson could expand his list of preferred trade destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston and Vancouver were the only clubs on Ekman-Larsson’s preferred trade destination list. The Coyotes couldn’t swing a deal before his deadline of Oct.9. The Coyotes captain maintains he loves living and playing in Arizona. We’ll see if management tries again to shop him following this season.