NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

How will the Capitals replace Henrik Lundqvist? Will the Blues go the free-agent route to replace retired Alexander Steen? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir wonders how the Washington Capitals will replace Henrik Lundqvist as a heart condition has sidelined the 38-year-old goaltender for this season.

Could Ryan Miller be an option for the Washington Capitals to replace Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images).

Among the options is signing an unrestricted free agent. Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard are available. It’s believed Miller prefers to remain out west with his family but El-Bashir wonders if he’d be tempted by the opportunity to play for a contender during a shortened season.

The Capitals could go the trade route or bring in Vitek Vanecek or Pheonix Copley to back up Ilya Samsonov.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen believes the Capitals’ limited cap space makes it difficult to trade for a goaltender. In addition to Miller and Howard, he listed Craig Anderson and Cory Schneider as UFA options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller prefers staying in California and could sign a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. If that’s not possible, maybe he’d consider joining the Capitals.

Anderson is 39 and it appears his NHL days are over. Schneider is believed to have an agreement with the New York Islanders to be officially announced once they’ve signed Mathew Barzal.

Howard is keen for a bounce-back season following a poor 2019-20 performance with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. He could be the Capitals’ best bet if they cannot find a suitable replacement for Lundqvist via trade or from within.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Alexander Steen’s retirement due to a back injury will provide the St. Louis Blues with salary-cap flexibility. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.2 million but will get some wiggle room by placing Steen and his $5.75 million cap hit for this season on long-term injury reserve. They will use part of it to sign restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn, who might cost approximately $2.5 million.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin suggests the Blues could also use that cap relief to add a scoring winger. His suggested free-agent options include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also suggested Hoffman, Granlund and Athanasiou, as well as forward Erik Haula as UFA targets for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could get additional cap relief by placing sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. However, he’s expected to return later this season, prompting Rutherford to speculate they probably won’t “borrow” from his $7.5 million cap hit.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Maybe he’d accept a lower price to play for a contender but I think he’ll try to stick to his guns. Granlund, Athanasiou and Haula could be more affordable options.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2020

The latest on Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Hoffman in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson noted TSN’s report earlier this week claiming the Vegas Golden Knights were looking into shopping winger Max Pacioretty. He examined their options if they decide to go that route.

Vegas Golden Knights owners Bill Foley denied a report claiming his club was shopping Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Emerson cited TSN’s speculation the Golden Knights could use the cap flexibility from moving Pacioretty to perhaps sign a more affordable player such as Mike Hoffman or Erik Haula. Replacing Pacioretty with Hoffman would make sense offensively but Emerson wondered if a better positional player like Haula (a former Golden Knight) might be a better idea.

Haula would be a more affordable option than Hoffman, and the savings could be put toward perhaps adding another player such as Anthony Duclair. However, Emerson feels the Golden Knights would have a bigger target in mind if they traded away Pacioretty.

They could attempt to sign New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal to an offer sheet but that seems unlikely, especially if the compensation to the Isles becomes four first-round picks. Emerson proposed going the trade route, suggesting the Nashville Predators (Viktor Arvidsson or Filip Forsberg) or New York Rangers (Ryan Strome or Pavel Buchnevich) as possible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley recently dismissed the notion of trading Pacioretty. Given the dire dearth of real trade rumors, however, it won’t stop folks from speculating about what they could get in return by shopping him.

The Predators could attempt to shake things up and they have the cap space to take on Pacioretty’s contract. However, I don’t believe Nashville general manager David Poile would take on a 32-year-old winger carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons, and I don’t see him parting with Arvidsson or Forsberg.

Strome ($4.5 million AAV) and Buchnevich ($3.25 million) surfaced in trade speculation earlier this year but GM Jeff Gorton probably prefers starting the season with those two in his lineup and see how the season unfolds.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited two NHL sources claiming the Los Angeles Kings are interested in attempting to land the player they thought they had two years ago. The Kings tried to acquire Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Draft but the deal fell through and the winger was subsequently shipped to Vegas.

Murphy also reported the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Winnipeg Jets were mentioned by sources as potential suitors for Pacioretty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings’ situation changed since the summer of 2018. They weren’t invested in a full rebuild back then. GM Rob Blake has since put his focus on stocking his roster with promising youth. I don’t see Pacioretty as a fit there.

The Devils have lots of cap space and could use a winger like Pacioretty but they might not be on his list of preferred destinations. The Isles lack the cap space and still need to sign Mathew Barzal. The Sabres made their big offseason acquisition by signing Taylor Hall.

Having lost Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov to free agency, the Panthers could be looking at adding a scorer like Pacioretty, but I wonder how keen they’d be to take on his cap hit. The Jackets are putting their focus on getting Pierre-Luc Dubois under contract. The Jets’ priority is shoring up their blueline once they put Bryan Little on LTIR.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also took note of Foley denying the Pacioretty trade rumor but the Golden Knights owner admitted in the same interview his club needed to shed cap space. O’Brien proposed winger Jonathan Marchessault as the more likely trade candidate as he’s younger by two years and carries a more affordable cap hit at $5 million annually.

While acknowledging the Golden Knights could be exploring their options in the trade market, O’Brien doesn’t expect they’ll move either player. The club is in win-now mode and has a better chance of doing so with both forwards in the lineup. He suggests a smaller trade or two could alleviate their cap issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Golden Knights are nearly $975K over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could get cap relief by trading or demoting a lower-salaried player.

Management might prefer shipping out a higher-salaried player to have more cap wiggle room for the coming season. But as O’Brien points out, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup this season are better with Pacioretty and Marchessault in the lineup.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie recently asked a panel of guests if Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin might be tempted to sign Mike Hoffman to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Hoffman’s spat with former teammate Erik Karlsson during their final season with the Ottawa Senators raise concerns over the winger’s behavior, but he wasn’t a problem with the Florida Panthers. Signing Hoffman, however, would mean moving out Tomas Tatar and Brett Kulak to clear sufficient cap room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could Bergevin make a pitch for Hoffman? Sure, anything’s possible. Will he? No. The Canadiens GM made his big offseason moves by shipping Max Domi to Columbus for Josh Anderson and signing Tyler Toffoli to a four-year contract. Hoffman won’t be signing with the Habs.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

A look at some predicted destinations for the top remaining UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently predicted destinations for the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.

Would Mike Hoffman be a good fit with the Los Angeles Kings? (NHL Images)

Wegman last month predicted the Los Angeles Kings as a destination for winger Mike Hoffman, considering him a good fit alongside Anze Kopitar on their top line. He suggested a four-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: With Cap Friendly indicating the Kings have $13.6 million in cap space, they can easily afford Hoffman. However, I doubt general manager Rob Blake would bring a 30-year-old winger to a rebuilding roster on a multi-year deal.

Hoffman is reportedly willing to consider a one-year deal for between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. Maybe Blake would be interested in a one-year contract if he can get Hoffman at a lower rate and then flip him for futures at the trade deadline.

Wegman also suggested Anthony Duclair for the Kings. While his defensive game leaves something to be desire, his abilities could prove useful in offensive-zone starts and on the power play for a club that struggled to score last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 25-year-old Duclair could be a better fit with the younger Kings and much more affordable than Hoffman. His defensive play and streaky scoring, however, are areas of concern here.

Erik Haula could address the San Jose Sharks’ lack of bottom-six depth at center. He wouldn’t be overly expensive for the Sharks, who have $2.3 million in cap space. While injuries hampered him over the last two seasons, he tallied 29 goals and 26 assists in his last full campaign in 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula could be a good, affordable short-term investment as a third-line center in San Jose. Given his injury history and age (29), the Sharks probably wouldn’t invest beyond one year.

The Florida Panthers could use an experienced winger like Mikael Granlund to provide much-needed secondary scoring. He’s coming off a down performance last season with the Nashville Predators but averaged 63 points per campaign in the three previous seasons. He’d be guaranteed second-line minutes with the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Panthers could be trying to bring back Hoffman. Nevertheless, Granlund’s low production last season and the current economic situation would work in their favor here. A one-year deal for between $3.5 – $4 million might get it done.

Wegman suggests Andreas Athanasiou as a middle-six forward option for the Nashville Predators. The speedy 26-year-old winger didn’t play well last season with Detroit and Edmonton but he tallied 30 goals with the Red Wings in 2018-19.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think the Predators are playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping to land him for a lower price. If that’s not possible, maybe they’ll take a chance on Athanasiou or Duclair on a low-cost one-year contract.

Manitoba native Travis Hamonic could be a perfect fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The 30-year-old defenseman would play close to home and help improve the Jets’ porous blueline. While they’re listed as not having any cap space, they could get some wiggle room by placing center Bryan Little ($5.29 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic and the Jets could be waiting to see how things shake out with Little before reaching an agreement. Then again, maybe the Jets have no interest in him.

Wegman suggests Sami Vatanen could be the best veteran free-agent defense option available to the Philadelphia Flyers, who didn’t bring in a suitable replacement for recently retired Matt Niskanen. The 29-year-old Vatanen has played 21 minutes per game in recent years and would give the Flyers a third right-handed shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us, but I get the impression Erik Gustafsson will be his only UFA signing this year.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

The latest Bruins speculation plus some free-agent options available to the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean examined what’s left for the Bruins to do during this offseason. They must sign winger Jake DeBrusk, determine if defenseman Zdeno Chara will return and fill a need for depth among their middle-six forwards.

Will Zdeno Chara return to the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space ($7.35 million per PuckPedia) and DeBrusk’s streaky scoring, Bean believes the 22-year-old restricted free agent should receive a short-term deal worth somewhere in the range of $4 million annually.

Nothing much has happened with Chara, but if the unrestricted free agent wanted to leave, Bean thinks he would’ve done so by now. He feels the Bruins could use him as a third-pairing, left-side defenseman.

Bean believes the Bruins need additional left-wing depth. Possible options could include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula or Andreas Athanasiou. He doubts they have sufficient cap space for Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins intend to sign DeBrusk on that short-term deal suggested by Bean. It’ll likely happen by the time training camp opens, which could be around mid-December if the NHL begins its 2020-21 schedule on Jan. 1.

Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the schedule forward for ’20-’21 looks like before deciding if he’ll return for another season. I concur with Bean that if the 43-year-old rearguard was signing with another club he would’ve done so by now, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’d get a better offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe his preference is playing for the Bruins.

The Bruins could go the free-agent route to address their need for another left winger. Unless they make a cost-cutting trade, however, they can’t afford Hoffman. They might have to go into the bargain bin.

They could also go the trade route to address that need. Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports prospect defenseman Urho Vaakanainen could be a trade candidate.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the free-agent options available to Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen if he wants to bring in additional depth.

The Jackets could use a short-term replacement for Gustav Nyquist, who’s sidelined for five months recovering from shoulder surgery. Options include Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and former Blue Jackets Derick Brassard and Anthony Duclair. However, Hedger believes Kekalainen could instead look at promoting a promising young player.

Hedger feels the Jackets’ blueline depth took a bit of a hit when Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara were traded in cost-cutting deals. He suggests Sami Vatanen would be a good fit on the right side of the third pairing.

Kekalainen might need an experienced goalie if he decides to trade Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for additional cap space. Options could include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets popgun offense was a concern before Nyquist was sidelined. Kekalainen could go the UFA route or promote from within, but I’ve also read reports suggesting he could instead target a cap-strapped rival in the trade market.

Kekalainen could look to within his system to address his need on the third pairing but I wouldn’t rule out making an affordable short-term free-agent signing. Vatanen might be the best option but might not be cost-effective.

If Kekalainen trades Merzlikins or Korpisalo I believe he’ll promote Matiss Kivlenieks rather than add an aging UFA netminder.










When Will The NHL Offseason Trade and Free-Agent Activity Resume?

When Will The NHL Offseason Trade and Free-Agent Activity Resume?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

Recent speculation on Noah Hanifin, Eric Haula, Jimmy Howard and Corey Perry in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW (subscription required): Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Calgary Flames might shop left-side defenseman Noah Hanifin to bring in a right-side defenseman and to shed some cap space. The sources he spoke with believe Hanifin isn’t been shopped but didn’t rule out Flames general manager Brad Treliving listening to a “hockey trade” offer.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

The Flames have over $1 million in cap space, with Hanifin having four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.95 million. Murphy suggests the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets as teams that could initiate calls.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins might have to part with Brandon Carlo ($2.5 million), the Red Wings with Filip Hronek ($714K), the Sabres with Brandon Montour ($3.85 million), and the Blue Jackets with David Savard ($4.25 million).

The Bruins would have to find a suitable right-side replacement if they swap Carlo for Hanifin. I don’t see the Wings trading away the promising Hronek. Savard is a UFA next summer and won’t provide much cap savings this season for the Flames. Montour is also slated to become UFA after 2020-21 and the Flames could prefer someone with more term left on their contract.

The Dallas Stars suffered a double-whammy with goaltender Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin sidelined for five months following recent surgeries. Murphy cites an NHL source claiming they’ve circled back to free-agent center Erik Haula. He also wondered if they might consider adding free-agent goaltender Jimmy Howard, pointing out Stars GM Jim Nill’s ties to Howard during their time with the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could put Bishop and Seguin on long-term injury reserve to make an affordable signing or two to offset their absences on a short-term basis. It could depend, however, on when the 2020-21 season begins. Bishop and Seguin could be good to go if the season opens in March.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked about the possibility of Corey Perry returning with the Stars. He believes the 35-year-old winger would have to take a pay cut on the $1.5 million in base salary and $1.75 million in bonuses that he was paid last season. He cited recent rumors linking Perry to the Ottawa Senators and noted the Stars want to inject some youth into their forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve believed Perry could return to the Stars for another season. I’m not so sure now after reading DeFranks’ take. They have the cap space to sign him but he might be reluctant to accept a pay cut. We’ll see.