NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2019

A look at 10 supposedly untradeable contracts in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Noting the recent Milan Lucic trade, Ken Campbell feels no NHL contract is truly “untradeable” anymore. Nevertheless, he provides a list of 10 players with seemingly unmoveable deals. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, Campbell isn’t saying the following contracts can’t be traded. It would be difficult to move them, but a bit of creativity and a willing trade partner could make it happen. He also looked at contracts with four-or-more seasons remaining. That’s why Loui Eriksson isn’t on this list. 

Is Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris’ contract really untradeable? (Photo via NHL Images)

Nashville’s Kyle Turris, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, and Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo come in at 10 through eight on Campbell’s list. Turris has five years remaining on his contract worth $6-million annually. He lacks no-trade protection. Abdelkader, 32, has four years left with an annual average value of $4.25-million. Okposo has four years remaining ($6 million AAV) and has battled injuries and concussion-related illness in recent years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris could be the easiest to move if the Predators picked up part of his cap hit or took back a toxic contract in return. The 29-year-old center had a rough 2018-19 but played well for Canada at this year’s World Championships. He could be poised for a bounce-back performance, which could also make him enticing if the Preds want to move him. Abdelkader’s declining play and Okposo’s injury history are significant sticking points.

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz and Minnesota’s Zach Parise and Ryan Suter fill positions seven through five. Schmaltz is starting a seven-year deal worth an AAV of $5.85 million and suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2018-19. Parise and Suter are aging veterans with six seasons remaining on their identical $98-million contracts with full no-movement clauses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Including Schmaltz on this list could be premature. While Campbell notes he’s had only one good NHL season thus far, he did tally 14 points in 17 games with Arizona before his injury. With a strong recovery, he could quickly regain his offensive form and become a solid addition for the Coyotes. Parise and Suter, on the other hand, are now past their prime and age and injuries could take their toll. Parise turns 35 on July 28, Suter on Jan. 21.

The New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes, and Chicago’s Brent Seabrook fill spots four through two. Ladd was frequently sidelined by injuries, has a full no-trade clause this season and four years remaining on his deal with an AAV of $5.5 million. Hayes inked a seven-year, $49-million contract that Campbell doesn’t believe will age well. Seabrook has five years left ($6.875 million AAV) with a full no-movement clause to 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladd’s injury history could be a killer here unless he becomes a permanent long-term injury reserve candidate. As we’ve seen, those contracts can be desirable for cap-strapped clubs. I agree with Campbell that Hayes’ deal could become burdensome during its latter years. Seabrook’s name surfaced in trade speculation last season but came to nothing. Moving his contract remains a daunting challenge.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber topped Campbell’s list. The 34-year-old has seven years left on his deal worth over $7.9 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber’s contract was traded once before. It could be moved again. He’s still an effective top-pairing defenseman, making him valuable in the trade market. He also lacks no-trade protection.

The threat of salary-cap recapture is there if he retires, but it’s the Nashville Predators on the hook for the bulk of it, especially the latter years. If you’re a Predators fan, pray he doesn’t call it quits before 2025-26.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2019

The Flyers re-sign Kevin Hayes and acquire Justin Braun, the Lightning re-sign Braydon Coburn, plus updates on Joe Thornton, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

TSN/SPORTSNET: Bob McKenzie and John Shannon report the Philadelphia Flyers re-signed forward Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50-million contract. The annual average value is $7.14 million. Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets earlier this month, Hayes was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

Kevin Hayes reportedly inked a seven-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay more than a few NHL general managers are cursing Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher for this one. Fletcher gave up very little (a fifth-round pick) to acquire Hayes but gave up way too much re-signing him. The 27-year-old is a versatile forward who’s tallied over 40 points in four of the past five seasons, but he’s not worth over $7 million per season. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA/BAY AREA: The Flyers also acquired defenseman Justin Braun from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 third rounder. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher continues to bolster his blueline, having shipped Radko Gudas to Washington last Friday for Matt Niskanen. Braun, 32, is an experienced shutdown defenseman. He and Niskanen bring experience and leadership to a young Flyers defense corps. With the Braun addition and Hayes signing, Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $60 million invested in 16 players. 

The Sharks, meanwhile, free up over $3 million in salary-cap space. Those savings could be put toward re-signing captain Joe Pavelski.

Speaking of the Sharks, Joe Thornton expressed his desire to return with the club next season. Like Pavelski, Thornton is slated to become a UFA. “I’m a Shark,” he said. “There’s one team, and it’s here.”

ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a two-year, $3.4-million contract extension. He was slated to become a UFA on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Lightning. Coburn was a reliable presence on the Bolts blueline this season. The 34-year-old is taking a significant pay cut from his previous $3.7-million per season. As his career winds down, the Lightning is his best chance to win a Stanley Cup. 

TSN: David Clarkson submitted his 16-team no-trade list to the Vegas Golden Knights, who hope to shop his contract this week. All but retired due to injury, Clarkson has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $5.25 million. The cap-strapped Golden Knight must free up salary-cap room to re-sign free agents such as William Karlsson. 

NEW YORK POST:  Goaltender Robin Lehner remains hopeful of re-signing with the New York Islanders. An unrestricted free agent on July 1, Lehner is up for the Vezina and Masterton trophies at tonight’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the mutual willingness on both sides to get a deal done, I expect Lehner to be re-signed before his UFA eligibility date.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko suffered a shoulder injury during his club’s Stanley Cup run. It’s unclear if it’s the same shoulder that required surgery last year. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Forward Charles Hudon rejected the Canadiens’ qualifying offer. The club still retains his NHL rights. 

TSN: Trent Yawney joins the Los Angeles Kings’ coaching staff. 

SPORTSNET: The NHL salary cap for next season could be lower than projected. Elliotte Friedman believes the league and the PA will agree to tighten the cap for the next two seasons as they work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. A new US television agreement in 2021 could also factor into this decision. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap was projected to reach $83 million. There’s now talk it could be around $82 million. That will affect the efforts of cap-strapped clubs to retain key players this summer. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 16, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 16, 2019

Latest on Jacob Trouba, Kevin Hayes, James Neal, Nikita Zaitsev, and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the New York Rangers and New York Islanders are among up to a dozen clubs aggressively pursuing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. He also said the New Jersey Devils were in the hunt. He cites sources claiming the Jets haven’t given Trouba’s agent permission yet to speak with other clubs. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer and a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

The New York Rangers and New York Islanders are reportedly interested in Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (Photo via NHL Images).

Compared to the Isles and Devils, Brooks feels the Rangers could lack the expendable depth in prospects and young talent the Jets could command for Trouba. Facing a potential salary-cap crunch this summer, the Jets are believed seeking “a first-rounder and a pair of legitimate prospects or young NHLers in return.” Brooks also believes the cost of re-signing Trouba could be a seven-year deal worth up to $7.5-million annually.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in Trouba but it’s hard to see a match. He wonders if shipping Trouba to the Philadelphia Flyers for Shayne Gostisbehere would make any sense, though he notes Gostisbehere isn’t a right-handed shot.  He also noted Trouba has a home in Florida but isn’t sure the Panthers want to pay the price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s an expectation Trouba will be traded by the end of the NHL Draft next weekend, if not sooner. Some fans don’t believe he’s worth a hefty return or the big contract. He’s a 25-year-old top-pairing defenseman coming off a career-high 50-point performance. The Jets will get a big return if they trade him and he will get an expensive new contract wherever he plays. The question is, which team gets him?

It’s not surprising to see the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Flyers, and Panthers linked to Trouba. He’s also been tied to the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. The only certainty is he won’t be traded to a Canadian franchise. When his agent requested a trade during their contract standoff in 2016, the preferred destinations were American. 


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites a source claiming there’s mutual interest between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes. The Flyers hold his exclusive negotiating rights until the UFA interview period opens on June 23. However, a source close to Hayes claims it’s unlikely he’ll sign with the Flyers.

The same source said the Bruins were close to acquiring him before the Rangers shipped him to Winnipeg at the trade deadline. Murphy feels pursuing Hayes would make sense if the Bruins decide to trade center David Krejci this summer.

SPORTSNET: Friedman wonders if the Philadelphia Flyers are willing to pay between $6.5 million to $7 million annually to sign Kevin Hayes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci has a full no-movement clause until July 1, when it reverts to a modified no-trade where he provides a list of half of the teams in the league he would accept being traded to. If the Bruins trade Krejci I can see them pursuing Hayes. However, I doubt Krejci will be on the move. I expect GM Don Sweeney will try to keep his core intact for one more push for the Cup next season.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs asking price for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is another blueliner or a return that will help them land one. He also believes there’s plenty of options if they decide to move center Nazem Kadri, though the Winnipeg Jets are on his no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zaitsev’s contract ($4.5 million annually through 2023-24) is a sticking point. Kadri would attract interest but the Leafs could be reluctant to move him despite his costly postseason penalties.

The Buffalo Sabres talked to the New York Rangers regarding forward Jimmy Vesey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s interesting. The Sabres acquired Vesey’s rights from the Nashville Predators three years ago in hopes of re-signing him but he opted to join the Rangers instead. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $2.275 million and will become a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. 

The Calgary Flames tested the trade market on James Neal. He believes they kicked around the notion of swapping Neal for Milan Lucic but decided against it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Neal trade speculation seems to have faded almost as quickly as it surfaced. There’s either not much of a market for his services or the Flames could be hoping for a bounce-back performance next season. 

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon acknowledged his club’s need to address their goals-against issue. A decision on goaltender Roberto Luongo is expected before the upcoming NHL Draft.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Minnesota Wild pursue New York Islanders winger Anders Lee or San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be more surprised if those two are available in the UFA market. If the Sharks re-sign Karlsson to a rumored eight-year, $88-million deal, that could make it difficult to re-sign Pavelski. 

Friedman predicted Dion Phaneuf and Andrew MacDonald would be bought out. Others to watch include Carolina’s Scott Darling, Anaheim’s Corey Perry, and Dallas’ Valeri Nichushkin.




NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2019

The latest on the Bruins and Blues ahead of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE ATHLETIC: Boston Bruins forward David Backes will be a healthy scratch from tonight’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Backes was also scratched from Game 6. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will go with the same lineup from that game. 

Boston Bruins forward David Backes will be a healthy scratch from tonight’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be difficult for a veteran like Backes to watch this game, the biggest of his career, from the press box. Nevertheless, Cassidy’s got to go with the lineup that was successful in Game 6.

If the Bruins win tonight, Backes is assured of getting his name on the Stanley Cup. He played in 15 playoff games, including four in the Final. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (upper-body injury) skated in a non-contact jersey in practice yesterday. It’s unlikely he’ll be in the lineup for Game 7. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube won’t say if forward Robert Thomas will return to the lineup for Game 7. He missed four games of the Final with a wrist injury before returning to the lineup for Game 6.

Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Bozak missed practice yesterday but Berube said they’ll be in the lineup tonight. 

NBC SPORTS:  Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was upset at Boston’s TD Garden staff yesterday for not having the ice ready in time for the club’s practice. “Do your ****ing jobs!”, he yelled at one point. To which one of the staff replied, “Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?” Armstrong later apologized to the crew. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like the pressure of this series is taking an emotional toll on everyone involved. 

TSN: Pending unrestricted free agent center Kevin Hayes visited the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday and met with general manager Chuck Fletcher. Hayes was acquired last week from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. Fletcher hopes to re-sign him before the UFA market opens on July 1. 

CBS SPORTS: The Minnesota Wild re-signed defenseman Matt Bartkowski to a one-year, two-way contract. He spent all of this season with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Keith Gretzky will remain with the Oilers as their assistant general manager in charge of their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Gretzky was interim GM after the Oilers fired Peter Chiarelli in January. Ken Holland took over that job last month.

SPORTSDAY: Former LA Kings coach John Stevens is joining the Dallas Stars’ coaching staff. 

NHL.COM: The NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee released a statement revealing recommendations for several potential rule changes. Among them are changes to video review and coach’s challenge and for players to leave the ice if their helmet comes off during play. The recommendations require the approval of the NHLPA’s executive board and the NHL board of governors. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2019

The latest on the Bruins and Blues, Flyers hope to re-sign Kevin Hayes, the Coyotes could have a new owner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins’ poise and leadership made the difference in their Game 6 Stanley Cup Final victory over the St. Louis Blues. It could make the difference again in the seventh and deciding game tomorrow night in Boston.

STLTODAY.COM: Struggling special teams play continues to haunt the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final. They’ve been outscored 7-1 by the Bruins in power-play goals and 1-0 in shorthanded goals. The Blues are 1-for-18 on the power play while the Bruins are seven-for-21 with the man advantage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues lose this series their special-team play will be a big reason for their downfall. The play of Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask is a significant factor behind those numbers. Despite the Blues PP generating 34 shots-on-goal in this series, only one has eluded Rask.

The Philadelphia Flyers remain hopeful of signing recently-acquired center Kevin Hayes (Photo via NHL Images).

 COURIER-POST ONLINE/SPORTSNET: Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher remains hopeful of re-signing Kevin Hayes to a new contract. The Flyers last week acquired the 27-year-old center from the Winnipeg Jets.

Hayes is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. While nothing’s close yet, Fletcher said he’s had preliminary discussions with the center and his representatives.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes could opt to test the UFA market. If so, it didn’t cost the Flyers much to acquire him. They only gave up a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft to the Jets in that deal. 

AZCENTRAL.COM: Billionaire entrepreneur Alex Meruelo is reportedly close to purchasing a majority share of the Arizona Coyotes. The potential ownership change will need the blessing of the NHL’s Board of Governors. This sale is expected to be on their agenda at their next meeting on June 19. If approved, the sale could be completed at some point this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If approved, it’ll be interesting to see what effect the new majority owner could have upon the Coyotes’ off-season roster plans. 

NBC SPORTS: The Edmonton Oilers restructured their front office, promoting Bob Nicholson as their chairman. They also hired Tom Anselmi as president, business operations and chief operating officer.

THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings goaltender development coach Dusty Imoo will be joining KHL team Kunlun Red Star in China. Imoo had a hand in salvaging the careers of Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Sean Avery was in Manhattan court Monday for allegedly hitting a car with his scooter.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2019

The Blues tied the 2019 Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece, the Jets trade Kevin Hayes to the Flyers and more CBA updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, including the game-winner, as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the Boston Bruins 4-2 in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. The series is tied at two games apiece heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Thursday. O’Reilly’s teammates Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo each collected two points.

St.. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice as his club won Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images).

Blues defenseman Vince Dunn returned to action after being sidelined by concussion symptoms since Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. St. Louis center Oskar Sundqvist also returned after serving a one-game suspension for boarding Bruins blueliner Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2. 

The Bruins blueline suffered a significant blow when captain Zdeno Chara left the game in the second period after being struck in the mouth by a puck. He returned to the bench in the third period wearing a full face mask but didn’t play. His status for Game 5 is uncertain. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Blues showed a remarkable ability to bounce back from a lopsided defeat. Veterans like O’Reilly, Pietrangelo, Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko led the way in what was a very entertaining contest.

While the Blues dominated most of this game, the Bruins also demonstrated they’re still a dangerous club when outplayed. They tied the game twice and kept the outcome in doubt until O’Reilly’s winning goal in the third.

Chara’s absence hurt Boston’s blueline. With Grzelcyk already sidelined, losing Chara would further deplete their defense corps for Game 5 if both are unable to play. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers last night acquired center Kevin Hayes from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A versatile two-way forward, Hayes had a career-best 55 point splits between the Jets and New York Rangers this season. Acquired by the Jets at the trade deadline, the 27-year-old center struggled in Winnipeg and couldn’t address their need for a reliable second-line center.

He’s an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but it’s apparent the Flyers hope to sign him before then. Flyers coach Alain Vigneault probably had a hand in this move. Hayes played for Vigneault during their tenure with the Rangers. 

EDMONTON 630 CHED: Sportsnet’s John Shannon is confident the NHL can avoid another lockout with the NHLPA. He points out how both sides are doing well under the current collective bargaining agreement. The team owners are very happy with the current CBA and Shannon believes only tweaks are necessary.

Because Shannon doubts we’ll see another work stoppage, he doesn’t see compliance buyouts being part of the next CBA. He also suggested contracts terms could be shortened to five years. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shannon’s remarks are the latest in a series of optimistic reports regarding ongoing CBA negotiations between the league and the PA. Both sides can exercise their early opt-out in September but we could instead see a new agreement by then. If the league were to agree to reduce the percentage of escrow clawbacks, I can see the players agreeing to a five-year cap on their contract.