NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2020

The latest on the Hurricanes and Leafs plus recent speculation about Zdeno Chara’s future in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will upgrade their goaltending and if they’ll sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Netminders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are unrestricted free agents next summer, as is Hamilton.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Gulitti noted Mrazek’s and Reimer’s contract status, pointing out questions linger over whether the Hurricanes need better goaltending to win the Stanley Cup. General manager Don Waddell said he’s “very comfortable” sticking with his goalie tandem through this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mrazek and Reimer weren’t bad last season plus their combined $6.25 million cap hit makes them very affordable for the Hurricanes. Nevertheless, neither goalie has really ever stood out as a starter.

The Hurricanes will stick with this duo for the upcoming season but could go shopping for help if one or both struggle before the trade deadline. Waddell could also be in the market for an upgrade next summer if Mrazek and Reimer fail to carry the club deep into the playoffs.

The Hurricanes would like to sign Hamilton before the start of the season to remove any questions about his future with the franchise. However, the flattened salary cap and economic impact of the coronavirus could affect those efforts. Waddell isn’t ruling out a long-term deal but isn’t ruling out a short-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Hamilton’s in the final year of a six-year, $34.5 million contract with an annual average value of $5.75 million. He could be receptive to a short-term deal but salary and no-trade protection could be the main issues. The Hamilton camp could seek a significant raise for their client, perhaps as high as $8 million annually if he has another Norris-worthy performance.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs lack a typical third-line center. While they have Joe Thornton and Alex Kerfoot, “Thornton can’t play 200-foot hockey anymore and can’t be counted on to play in the defensive zone. Kerfoot is a better winger than he is a centre.” Simmons feels the combination of the two will test head coach Sheldon Keefe’s ability to manage in-games throughout the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could also force Leafs GM Kyle Dubas to seek help before the trade deadline if it becomes a significant issue.

Simmons also wonders if the fact Zdeno Chara still hasn’t signed with the Boston Bruins is an indication the big defenseman is packing it in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps, though his agent recently said his client is waiting to see what the format for next season looks like. A shortened schedule with limited travel could be to the 43-year-old Chara’s liking.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2020

Some recent Leafs speculation and a look at Dougie Hamilton’s contract situation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what might happen if the Toronto Maple Leafs miss the playoffs or are eliminated in the opening round. He believes team president Brendan Shanahan, general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe should be granted one more shot in 2021-22. However, it could spell the end of the “Core Four” of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox noted Dubas has resisted breaking up that core, pointing out the moves made during this offseason doesn’t project a sense of hot-seat panic. Nevertheless, a shakeup could be in store if the Leafs make another early playoff exit or miss the postseason entirely.

Matthews, Tavares and Marner each earn over $10.8 million annually. Tavares has a full no-movement clause. It could be difficult moving one of them under a flattened cap for 2021-22, Nylander could be the more likely trade chip. His annual average value ($6.96 million) is more affordable and he lacks no-trade protection.

Fox believes the Leafs are done for the offseason. He doesn’t rule out professional tryout offers (PTO), noting Dubas said he’s open to anything. However, the club’s lack of cap space makes it unlikely they’ll sign another UFA or go the PTO route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are above the $81.5 million cap by just over $1 million according to Cap Friendly. They have no room for other additions unless Dubas acquires a player on permanent long-term injury reserve for additional salary-cap wiggle room or makes a cost-cutting trade.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes Dougie Hamilton’s next contract is among several big decisions facing the Carolina Hurricanes in 2021. GM Don Waddell is interested in negotiating a new deal with him before the start of the season.

O’Brien speculates Hamilton will want security after being traded twice. While the 27-year-old rearguard could find next year’s UFA market challenging, O’Brien notes high-end defensemen like Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug received lucrative deals this year. Even lesser blueliners like Chris Tanev, Dylan DeMelo and Joel Edmundson were among those receiving significant terms.

The Hurricanes must also re-sign rising star Andrei Svechnikov plus goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek will become UFAs next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s understandable that Waddell would be interested in signing Hamilton before this season opens. The puck-moving blueliner is in the final season of a six-year deal with an AAV of $5.75 million. Hamilton was in the running for the Norris Trophy last season until sidelined by a broken leg. Another Norris-worthy performance in 2020-21 could push his asking price to between $8 – $9 million annually.

The Hurricanes have over $52 million invested in 12 players for 2020-21. Big raises for Hamilton and Svechnikov could use up a combined $15 million. Given the uncertainty over next season and another flattened salary cap, the Hurricanes might not spend to the ceiling for 2021-22. The longer Hamilton goes unsigned, the more his name will surface in the rumor mill during 2020-21.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2020

The latest on Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton and Sami Vatanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean believes the Bruins will ride out the 2020-21 season with goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. With both slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer, the Bruins could make their decision on their goaltending based on the performances of Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar in the minors.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

The Bruins could attempt to re-sign Rask or Halak for a year to allow more time for Swayman to break in. However, Bean wonders if Rask would be open to a one-year contract. He has hinted at retirement and at 34 his next deal would be a short one.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Bruins need Rask if they intend to remain a Cup contender for 2020-21, especially with two-thirds of their first line (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak) expected to miss the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. The loss of Torey Krug to free agency and Zdeno Chara’s uncertain future could also leave a dent on the left side of their blueline.

O’Brien pondered the possibility of moving Rask by the trade deadline if the Bruins slide in a big way and opt for a mini-reboot. Perhaps they could retain part of his salary to land some futures.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask’s future in Boston will depend largely upon his performance. If he keeps them among the NHL’s top clubs next season he could end up returning on a one- or two-year contract, though he might have to accept a pay cut from his current $7 million annual cap hit.

O’Brien’s speculation is also worth keeping in mind if he plays well but the Bruins decline. Cap Friendly indicates Rask lacks no-trade protection this season. They won’t lack for suitors if they decide to move him by the trade deadline.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Dougie Hamilton and the Carolina Hurricanes have yet to open contract extension talks. Nevertheless, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he hopes to sign the 27-year-old defenseman before the start of the season.

Hamilton is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Waddell noted the flattened salary cap for the next two seasons will affect things, though he’s not ruling out a long-term deal. However, he pointed out only a handful of this year’s UFA class received deals longer than three years.

Waddell also hasn’t ruled out bringing back Sami Vatanen. He indicated he spoke with the blueliner last week and feels there’s still a good fit for him with the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton surfaced in trade speculation earlier in the offseason. There’s a belief the rearguard could price himself out of Carolina if he has another season like 2019-20, where he was considered a Norris Trophy candidate until he was sidelined in January by a broken leg.

Waddell seemed to tip his hand by pointing out the low number of this year’s UFAs getting more than three-year deals. A big raise for Hamilton would also bite deeply into the Hurricanes cap space for 2021-22 when they have over $52 million invested in 12 players. Rising young star Andrei Svechnikov will be due for a big raise coming off his entry-level contract and goalie James Reimer and Petr Mrazek also become unrestricted free agents.

The Hurricanes also have just over $932K in cap space for 2020-21. That doesn’t leave much for Vatanen, though they could get some wiggle room by demoting a lesser-salaried depth player to the minors. Still, Vatanen would be looking at a significant pay cut to return to Carolina.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

A look at next year’s unrestricted free agent class in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently previewed the NHL’s 2021 unrestricted free agent class.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The notable forwards include Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar, Boston Bruins center David Krejci, and Avalanche winger Brandon Saad.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s already signaled his intent to re-sign with the Capitals. Unless Getzlaf feels he’d like one more shot at a Stanley Cup run, I can see him staying with the Ducks on a short-term deal. The Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins are discussing a long-term contract extension. I doubt the Avalanche part ways with Landeskog and I don’t see the Blues letting Schwartz depart after losing Alex Pietrangelo to free agency this year.

Hall could stay with the Sabres if he develops strong chemistry with Jack Eichel and the club significantly improves. Otherwise, he’ll test the market again. Tatar’s inconsistency means the coming season is likely his last in Montreal. The Bruins could let Krejci go unless he accepts a significant pay cut. Saad could be a one-year rental unless the Avs fail to re-sign Landeskog.

Noteworthy defensemen on O’Leary’s list include the Carolina Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Oilers’ Adam Larsson, and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Alec Martinez.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four could end up hitting the market next summer. Cap constraints could make it difficult for Hamilton, Larsson and Martinez to remain with their current clubs. Savard will turn 31 next October and the Jackets could be reluctant to invest too much in him for too long.

The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, the Blues’ Jordan Binnington, and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer are among next year’s best UFA goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Bruins re-signing Rask to a short-term deal provided he doesn’t opt for retirement at the end of 2020-21. Andersen is likely a goner after next season.

The Blues parted ways with Jake Allen this year by trading him to the Montreal Canadiens. Things will really have to go sideways for them to let Binnington walk next summer. Grubauer’s future in Colorado could depend upon his performance in the coming season, especially during the playoffs.










NHL Trade Market Returning to Life

NHL Trade Market Returning to Life










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2020

A look at the latest TSN “Trade Bait” board in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
TSN: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine is No. 5 on Frank Seravalli’s latest NHL ‘Trade Bait’ list. He believes Laine will be in play as the Jets explore options to address their depth on the blueline and at center. The 22-year-old sniper has a year left on his contract and will be due for a hefty raise next year over his $6.75-million annual average value.
Seravalli cautions Laine is not a lock to be traded, as the Jets could look at free agency to address their defensive needs. That could be challenging as few true standout players reach the market. He also suggested winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be a trade chip, listing him at No. 12.
The Carolina Hurricanes could be a trade partner with their depth in blueline talent. Seravalli considers Jaccob Slavin untouchable but placed Dougie Hamilton on the trade board (No. 20) because he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Ted Wyman and Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe aren’t keen on the notion of the Jets moving Laine or Ehlers. Wyman believes there isn’t a single center on Seravalli’s list worth trading for, suggesting the return for Laine should be massive. “Think Jack Eichel, if he wants out of Buffalo,” though Wyman acknowledged it would take more than Laine to pry Eichel away from the Sabres.
I wouldn’t fault Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for considering all his options, but you don’t move guys like Laine and Ehlers unless you’re doing a roster tear-down. I don’t believe Cheveldayoff is entertaining that option.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray tops Seravalli’s list, followed by Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s status has been well-documented. It’s expected he’ll be traded at some point in the offseason. Same for Anderson, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
“JvR” has struggled this season under Flyers coach Alain Vigneault and managed just one goal thus far in the playoffs. He lacks no-trade protection but the 31-year-old winger carries a $7 million annual salary-cap hit for three more years.
Ekman-Larsson recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Coyotes would like to test their captain’s trade value. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan reports the club’s offseason plans are uncertain at this point because they don’t have a general manager yet. Steve Sullivan is filling in on an interim basis.
Morgan also points out Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause and loves living in Arizona. Perhaps he might change his mind if the club decides on another rebuild. Morgan suggested the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs as two clubs that need blueline help.
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang round out the top-10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere, Domi and Fleury have also recently popped up in the rumor mill. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan suggests the Senators take a run at acquiring Domi and reuniting him with former Coyotes teammate Anthony Duclair. What say you, Senators fans?
In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak was asked about Palmieri’s future. The 29-year-old winger becomes a UFA after next season. He’s said he wants to stay in New Jersey but Masisak felt dollars and term will determine if he has a long-term future with the Devils.
Letang was briefly mentioned as a trade option following the Penguins’ elimination last month from the playoff qualifying round. GM Jim Rutherford, however, insists he’s keeping his veteran core intact, and that includes Letang.
Hurricanes winger Ryan Dzingel. Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, Lightning winger Alex Killorn and Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson join Ehlers in the 11 to 15 spots. Seravalli suggests Dunn could be moved if the Blues re-sign Alex Pietrangelo, while Killorn could be among the options for the Lightning to clear cap room because of his limited no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dzingel hasn’t been the same since getting traded by the Senators to the Blue Jackets at last season’s trade deadline. He has only 29 points this season after netting 56 with the Sens and Jackets in 2018-19.
Dunn could get moved if the Blues can’t free up sufficient cap space after re-signing Pietrangelo. The Lightning must re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev so Killorn seems most likely to go. Larsson’s been mentioned as a trade chip to bring in a top-six winger. Sportsnet’s Brian Burke suggested he’d be a good fit with the Leafs.
Penguins center Jared McCann, Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, and Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson join Hamilton in spots 16-20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann, Johnsson, and Andersen have turned up in recent media trade chatter. I don’t see the Leafs moving Andersen unless it’s for an upgrade between the pipes.