NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2018

Latest on the Canucks, Canadiens, Penguins, and Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Citing the Vancouver Canucks efforts under general manager Jim Benning to pursue big-name talent, JD Burke believes they could target Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. He doesn’t consider Jacob Markstrom as the Canucks starting goalie when they turn the corner and there’s some concern over the development of promising Thatcher Demko.

Could the Vancouver Canucks target Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency next July? (Photo via NHL Images)

Burke acknowledged Bobrovsky will be expensive to sign, as rumors suggest he could seek over $10 million per season. Nevertheless, the Canucks could afford to sign him. “The Canucks will also be a more attractive option for Bobrovsky than many of their competitors, given that they currently employ the same goalie coach, Ian Clarke, that guided Bobrovsky to his two Vezinas. It’s also likely that Clarke will push for Bobrovsky, too.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks need stability between the pipes so it’ll be understandable if Benning and company decide to chase the NHL’s only active multiple Vezina Trophy winner via free agency. However, we’re still a long way from knowing for sure if Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets will part ways, let alone if he’ll consider the Canucks an attractive option should he hit the open market on July 1.  


SPORTSNET: Eric Engels looks at how the Montreal Canadiens could make room on their crowded blueline for captain Shea Weber, who’s expected to return to action next week. One could be placing Karl Alzner on waivers and sending him to their AHL affiliate. His hefty contract means he’ll pass unclaimed, though ownership might balk at having a player on a $23.1-million contract riding the buses in the minors.

Trading Jordie Benn is another, though he might thrive playing lesser minutes with the Habs once Weber returns. Oft-injured David Schlemko is another trade possibility but the Canadiens won’t get much in return. They also likely won’t get much for Xavier Ouellet and he might not pass unclaimed through waivers. They could send down Victor Mete for a few games as he’s waiver-exempt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Noah Juulsen currently sidelined the Canadiens can afford to carry eight defensemen once Weber returns to the lineup. Once Juulsen is ready to return, Engels speculates Alzner could be placed on waivers and demoted. Trading Benn doesn’t appear a palatable option and they’ll likely want to keep Mete on the roster. 


POST-GAZETTE.COM: Jason Mackey recently reported Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford isn’t ruling out any trade that could help his club but for now it’s up to the players on the current roster to find a way out of their recent slump. Rutherford said finding a good deal is difficult at this time of year. Mackey noted young forward Daniel Sprong has surfaced in trade speculation but feels if there was a decent deal to be had involving Sprong it would’ve happened by now.

Mackey lists Olli Maatta, Bryan Rust, Phil Kessel, Derick Brassard, and Jamie Oleksiak as those who could potentially go via trade. Of those, Maatta and Rust would be the most likely to go. Moving Kessel would send the wrong message, the Penguins still believe Brassard can help them, and Oleksiak is among their few sources of physicality.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will keep a close eye on the trade market but he won’t make a deal just for the sake of doing so. I don’t see Kessel, Brassard or Oleksiak going anywhere. Maatta or Rust seems the more likely trade options but there probably isn’t much of a market for either guy right now. 


THE ATHLETIC: Joe McDonald recently compiled a list of possible Boston Bruins’ trade candidates. The possibilities include Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Sean Kuraly, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril. Those under his “conceivable trades, but be careful” category include Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, Joakim Nordstrom, and Matt Grzelcyk. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those names will likely fetch at best a playoff rental player. Promising youngsters Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo have at times surfaced in recent Bruins trade speculation but McDonald feels they’re almost untouchable, pointing out the Bruins won’t part with those guys unless they’re getting a significant return.

Torey Krug is also in that category. McDonald notes the Bruins are a better club with Krug in the lineup but acknowledged he’s a young, valuable asset who would attract interest.

For now, Bruins GM Don Sweeney is staying patient with his roster, which has been banged up by injuries in the early going but remains in the thick of the playoff chase. He likely wants to see how they do once they get healthier before deciding if a trade or two is necessary.


NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2018

The latest on the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY:  Appearing yesterday on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Darren Dreger reported the Boston Bruins are seeking “an established player” to bolster their secondary scoring. He noted they’ve got the salary-cap space and depth in young players to make this move happen. He doesn’t believe they’ll shop winger Jake DeBrusk but they could part with a young player like Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen.

Could the Los Angeles Kings consider moving Jeff Carter? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dreger also noted some talk out of Boston linking Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy to Toronto’s William Nylander but felt it was merely speculation. He thinks the Los Angeles Kings could be a fit for the Bruins and wondered about the availability of veteran center Jeff Carter.

SPORTSNET: John Shannon recently reported the Bruins believe they have too many of the same type of player among their secondary scorers.  A trade involving one of their redundant forwards could be made to bring in a young scorer.

Shannon also believes more changes are coming for the Kings in the wake of their recent coaching change. However, he said the club is going to wait until the value of some of their trade candidates improves. Those who’ve come up in the rumor mill of late include forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins trade one of their young players it won’t be DeBrusk or McAvoy. Heinen or Bjork appears the more likely trade candidates. Regarding the Nylander talk, Dreger was referring to the Boston’s Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, but Dupont was merely pointing out how much it might cost the Bruins to land the Leafs winger.

A Bruins-Kings swap might be possible. The Kings need to get younger and faster and Carter could be an intriguing option for the Bruins. Cap Friendly indicates he lacks no-trade protection but his $5.275-million annual average value through 2021-22 would take up a big chunk of the Bruins’ cap space. They might prefer a more affordable short-term option. The Kings could also be reluctant to move Carter, preferring instead to move someone like Pearson. 


TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently included New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider among his list of five NHL players who could be moved. Toronto’s William Nylander, Ottawa’s Matt Duchene, Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, and Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli were the others on his list. Regarding Kreider, Traikos noted he has a year left on his contract, “but with the Rangers in rebuild mode now might be the time to move him for a younger prospect.” He believes Kreider could attract a lot of takers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ve already seen plenty of speculation about the others listed by Traikos but not as much about Kreider. Most of the Rangers’ trade speculation is focused on pending unrestricted free agents Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello.

If the Blueshirts were mired at the bottom of the standings, perhaps they might give some consideration to moving Kreider for a promising youngster. However, the Rangers are red-hot of late, unbeaten in their last seven games (6-0-1) and sit second in the Metropolitan Division, with Kreider their leading goal scorer (eight in 18 games) and sitting second in points with 13.

If the Rangers remain in playoff contention leading up to the trade deadline in February, they’ll probably retain Kreider and perhaps attempt to re-sign him next summer. 


NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2018

Could William Nylander fit with the Hurricanes or Flyers? What’s the latest on the Bruins and Rangers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During a recent appearance on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Pierre LeBrun was asked about the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs landing defenseman Brett Pesce if they were to trade William Nylander to the Carolina Hurricanes. He said it’s his understanding the Hurricanes would consider it. However, he reminds us we still don’t know if the Leafs intend to trade Nylander. It’s also one thing for the Hurricanes to be among the clubs believed monitoring Nylanders’ status but it’s another to say they can sign him.

Could the Carolina Hurricanes consider trading Brett Pesce to Toronto for William Nylander? (Photo via NHL Images)

During this week’s “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been mentioned much regarding Nylander but he thinks they have the pieces to interest the Leafs. “So who have we mentioned. We’ve mentioned – if Toronto gets to this point – we’ve mentioned Los Angeles, we’ve mentioned Minnesota, Carolina definitely – they’re all over the place there – but I really do believe that a stealth team that has what Toronto would want would be the Flyers.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting note from LeBrun regarding Pesce. The Hurricanes value him highly but one can’t blame them for at least considering the possibility of moving him for a skilled top-six forward like Nylander. Pesce would probably be the Leafs’ asking price. The 23-year-old is a mobile blueliner with good size (6’3, 200 pounds), a right-handed shot and (stick tap to Cap Friendly) carries an affordable $4.025-million salary-cap hit through 2023-24. 

As for the Flyers, NBC Sports’ John Boruk is skeptical about their chances of landing Nylander. If the Leafs want a defenseman, Boruk dismisses the notion of the Flyers parting with Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim and doubts they’ll move promising Philippe Myers. “If I’m Hextall, (Robert) Hagg may be the only defenseman I’d be willing to part with in a deal for Nylander and it would likely take a little bit more on the Flyers’ end to facilitate a trade.” He also questions if the Flyers could re-sign Nylander and where he would fit among their top-six forwards.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Toronto’s TSN 1050 yesterday, Darren Dreger noted the Boston Bruins have some good young players, such as Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork, who are “kind of similar to one another” that they might be willing to move for an experienced forward. “Maybe, maybe there’s a fit, maybe there’s a piece in Los Angeles that makes sense to Boston, and L.A. gets a cheaper, younger player, as an example. And I use L.A. just for sake of discussion here. I’m not suggesting that there’s any trade dialogue happening between those clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are in need of secondary scoring and recent media speculation suggests they either want a second-line winger or a third-line center. The Kings could soon be in the market for younger, more affordable forwards and Heinen or Bjork could be interesting to them.

Jeff Carter, who lacks a no-trade clause in his contract, checks the box in terms of top-six experience. However, he’s also 33, missed most of last season to injury and carries a $5.27-million AAV through 2021-22. The Bruins would probably have more interest in younger, more affordable options like Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson. 

During this week’s “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman spoke about the possibility of the New York Rangers shopping pending free agent veterans Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. Co-host Jeff Marek asked about moving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Friedman believes he’d be more difficult to trade because he’s still got term on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected Zuccarello and Hayes will be traded by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, if not sooner than that. Shattenkirk is in the second season of a four-year deal with an annual average value of $6.65-million per season. He also carries a 10-team no-trade list. Not saying he can’t be dealt but as Friedman observed he’ll be tougher to move. 


NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2018

Updates on the Leafs, Hurricanes, Bruins, Ducks, and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.


TSN: While the Toronto Maple Leafs insist they’re not shopping restricted free agent William Nylander, Pierre LeBrun reports teams are keeping track of the contract impasse. He speculates the Leafs might change their minds if this standoff drags into November and the Dec. 1 deadline to sign Nylander approaches.

LeBrun suggests the Carolina Hurricanes could be a team worth watching because of their prior interest in Nylander and their defensive depth. LeBrun believes Hurricanes blueliner Brett Pesce would be of interest to the Leafs, as he’s a top-four defenseman on a six-year contract with a cap-friendly contract worth over $4 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with Pesce, preferring instead to offer up Justin Faulk, who’s been linked to the Leafs for some time in the rumor mill. LeBrun recently reported Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas contacted the Hurricanes this summer about Faulk but it was a brief conversation and Nylander wasn’t brought up. 

A strong season for Kasperi Kapanen could result in a hefty raise for the Toronto Maple Leafs winger. (Photo via NHL Images)

Darren Dreger addressed Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen’s strong start to this season skating alongside Auston Matthews and the possible effect upon his next contract. Kapanen is in the final year of his entry-level deal and Dreger speculates he could be looking at $5-million per season if he reaches 40, 50 or 60 points this season. It could mean the Leafs face shedding someone in a cost-cutting move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That move doesn’t have to happen this season but it certainly must take place next summer. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have over $49 million invested in 11 players for 2019-20, with forwards Kapanen, Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner to re-sign, as well as defensemen Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner to re-sign or replace.

By my conservative estimates, Matthews could get around $12 million per season, Marner at least $8 million, and Nylander between $4 million to $8 million depending on the length of the deal and how much the Leafs are willing to pay. If Kapanen becomes a $5 million per season player, the Leafs simply won’t have enough cap-payroll space to fill out the remainder of their roster. Matthews and Marner won’t be going anywhere, meaning the choice could come down to Nylander or Kapanen. 

Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins could be in the market for an experienced forward, preferably a center, and might dangle one of their young players as trade bait. He said Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen are “potentially out there”. Dreger added he’s not saying those players are being shopped “but maybe there’s a team that has experienced forwards that they want to swap out with a younger more inexpensive player.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinen showed promise in his debut last season with 47 points but he’s scoreless through four games this season and was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings last Saturday. Bjork has two points in four games and seems to be regaining his form after being sidelined by shoulder surgery last February. The Bruins aren’t under any pressure to make a move right now and will likely remain patient but could keep an eye on the trade market in the coming weeks.

Bob McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion and agent Pat Brisson met yesterday. “The obvious point of discussion there was preliminary talks about Matt Duchene’s future.” He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer and can sign an extension at any time.

McKenzie reports the chilly contract standoff between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent Nick Ritchie shows signs of thawing. It’s expected the young forward could get a three-year deal in the coming days, provided there are no further hiccups in negotiations.