NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2022

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, the Sharks sign Tomas Hertl to a contract extension, Claude Giroux approaches his 1,000th career game as the trade deadline looms, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Victor Hedman scored two goals and Steven Stamkos collected three assists to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Seattle Kraken 4-1. Hedman reached the 60-point mark for the third time in his career. With 84 points, the Lightning are four back of the first-place Florida Panthers and three up on the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

The Calgary Flames rolled to a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Andrew Mangiapane reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career while Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists. Devils captain Nico Hischier collected two assists. With 81 points, the Flames hold a seven-point cushion over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored twice as his club doubled up the Boston Bruins 4-2. Jordan Greenway snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period while Cam Talbot made 24 saves for the win. The Wild (74 points) sit two points back of the second-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division while the Bruins (79 points) remain three points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron missed this game and will sit out their next contest as a precautionary measure to avoid infection arising from a previous injury.

A two-goal performance by Jack Roslovic carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Patrik Laine and Zach Werenski each collected two assists. Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot left the game with an upper-body injury and could miss several games as a result.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chabot isn’t the only Senators who could be sidelined for some time. Before the game, head coach D.J. Smith said he doesn’t know if goaltender Matt Murray will return this season. Murray suffered an upper-body injury during a March 5 game against the Arizona Coyotes.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks yesterday signed center Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. Cap Friendly indicates the total value is $65.1 million with an annual average value of $8, 137, 500. It also comes with a full no-movement clause in the first three seasons, a three-team trade list from 2025-26 to 2027-28, and a 15-team trade list in the final two years of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing takes a significant name off the trade board with the March 21 trade deadline only days away. Trade rumors linked Hertl to the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers.

Hertl and the Sharks are obviously pleased to have reached an agreement on a long-term contract. Sharks fans on social media also seem happy that Hertl’s staying put.

However, San Jose Hockey Now’s Sheng Peng raises concerns over the Sharks investing heavily in yet another aging star (Hertl turns 29 in November), especially one with a history of knee injuries. This deal could handcuff the Sharks as they attempt to restock their roster and try to return to the Stanley Cup contender form.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Claude Giroux is in a reflective mood as he prepares for his 1,000th career NHL game (all with the Flyers) with Monday’s trade deadline fast approaching. It’s anticipated Giroux will waive his no-movement clause to accept a trade to a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Giroux has agreed to waive his NMC and a deal could already be in place with another club. He and the Flyers wanted him to play his 1,000th game in Philadelphia. He could be traded on Friday but I wouldn’t be surprised if that move happens over the weekend.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s ankle injury may not be as serious as originally believed. He was supposed to be sidelined between 2-4 weeks but could return sooner than that. Chychrun is expected to hit the ice later this week to test the injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun is among the notable names in the trade market with the deadline approaching. The severity of his injury could determine whether potential suitors will continue to pursue a deal for him.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues center Tyler Bozak is expected to be sidelined for a month with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed forward Joe Snively to a two-year, $1.6 million contract extension.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2022

Are the Avs setting the table for a big move? Could Tyler Bertuzzi or Sean Monahan be moved before the trade deadline? What’s the latest on Ben Chiarot and Andrew Copp? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

AVALANCHE COULD HAVE A BIGGER DEAL IN STORE

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers speculates Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could be preparing for a bigger move after making two trades in as many days. On Monday, he shipped a draft pick and prospect to the Anaheim Ducks for Josh Manson. Yesterday, he sent Tyson Jost to the Minnesota Wild for the more affordable Nico Sturm.

Chambers believes Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl could be most enticing to the Avalanche if they can find sufficient salary-cap space to acquire them. Swapping Jost for Sturm gives them almost $3 million in projected trade deadline cap space. They could also garner additional flexibility by placing sidelined winger Gabriel Landeskog ($7 million annual cap hit) and defenseman Samuel Girard ($5 million) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic isn’t done dealing. I believe he’s in “go-for-it” mode this season with his club riding high in the standings, especially after they came up short in last year’s playoffs. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make a major move before Monday’s trade deadline.

BERTUZZI, MONAHAN LATEST DAILY FACEOFF TRADE TARGETS

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Detroit Red Wings winger Tyler Bertuzzi and Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan to his growing list of NHL trade targets as the March 21 deadline approaches. Bertuzzi debuts at No. 13 and Monahan at 15.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Seravalli said Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has told teams he’s “open for business”. Just about everyone other than rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond is believed to be available.

The Flames, meanwhile, would prefer not to move Monahan now while his trade value is at its lowest. However, there are teams said to be interested to see if the 27-year-old center can reboot his career with another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi is signed through next season with a $4.75 million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Monahan, meanwhile, carries a $6.375 million cap hit through next season and has a 10-team no-trade list.

The Wings and Flames don’t have to move either guy at the trade deadline but it doesn’t hurt to gauge the market. They could wait until the offseason when they’re likely to find more suitors with available cap space willing to make deals.

The Flames, however, could be under greater pressure to move Monahan. As Seravalli observes, they can’t afford to carry Monahan’s contract if they intend to sign Johnny Gaudreau to a long-term contract extension. Maybe they can find a suitable offer before Monday.

LATEST ON CHIAROT, COPP, AND MIDDLETON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports interest has intensified in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot since the Avalanche acquired Josh Manson. The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues are among the potential suitors. The Canadiens are interested in Calgary prospect Jakob Pelletier but LeBrun isn’t sure if the Flames will move him. The Hurricanes lack a first-round pick but maybe they can entice the Habs with a prospect or two while the Blues don’t want to pay the asking price of a first-round pick.

Darren Dreger said the Minnesota Wild also has an interest in Chiarot but they also don’t want to part with a first-rounder. Meanwhile, there’s discussions between the two clubs about prospect center Jack McBain, who has told the Wild he doesn’t intend to sign with them. The asking price is a second-round pick, which doesn’t worry the Canadiens provided they can get him signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are also rumored to be interested in the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov. It will take significant offers to acquire either guy, much more than what it could cost to land Chiarot. Maybe they can tempt the Canadiens with a couple of quality prospects if no other club meets the Habs’ asking price.

Dreger also believes the Winnipeg Jets will soon have to reach a decision whether they’ll retain or trade pending UFA forward Andrew Copp. He said the Avalanche, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are among those interested in the 27-year-old Jet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting situation for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. He risks losing Copp for nothing to free agent in July, but trading him now would signal to his roster that he’s giving up on reaching the playoffs. They’ve won four of their last five, by the way, and are just two points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

LeBrun also reports Jacob Middleton is garnering interest in the trade market. The 26-year-old San Jose Sharks defenseman is seeing top-four minutes alongside Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns and carries an affordable $725K cap hit. The asking price is a second-round pick plus another pick or prospect. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins have been linked to the physical left-side blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun indicates, Middleton’s a great story this season, going from signing an AHL contract with the Sharks to seeing significant minutes on their blueline. However, what’s working for him in San Jose might not work for him with another club. Interested teams should tread carefully here.

UPDATE ON THE LEAFS

TSN: Chris Johnston reports his sources indicated the Maple Leafs are looking for help in goal, on defense and on their forward lines. They’ll have to trade someone off their roster to make the dollars fit if they intend to make multiple additions before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NYI Hockey Now’s Stefen Rosner cites a source claiming New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov is on the Leafs’ shortlist. Whether they’re on Varlamov’s list of preferred trade destinations, however, is another matter.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 13, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 13, 2022

Will Marc-Andre Fleury waive his no-trade clause to join a winner? What’s the latest on Claude Giroux, Tomas Hertl and John Klingberg? Are the Canucks pursuing a Penguins defenseman? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM SATURDAY’S “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Marc-Andre Fleury’s 10-team no-trade list is “irrelevant”. He believes the Chicago Blackhawks goaltender could accept a trade to a club where he has a chance to win (like the Colorado Avalanche or Toronto Maple Leafs) if a deal can be made.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of mixed signals regarding Fleury. Some believe he’ll accept a trade to a Cup contender while others suggest he’s leaning toward finishing the season in Chicago. Maybe that offer will arrive before March 21 but his $7 million cap hit will be a stumbling block that could require some creativity to overcome.

I think the Avalanche will stick with their tandem of Darcy Kuemper and recently re-signed Pavel Francouz. I can’t see the Leafs adding Fleury without shipping out Petr Mrazek but I doubt they’ll find many takers given his woeful performance of late.

Jeff Marek said things are quiet regarding Claude Giroux. Teams have called the Philadelphia Flyers about their 34-year-old captain but Marek doesn’t believe there have been any big offers yet. On Thursday, Giroux will play his 1,000th game with the Flyers against the Nashville Predators. Friedman suggests keeping an eye on the Avalanche as injuries to Gabriel Landeskog and Samuel Girard could open up some salary-cap flexibility to do something.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog carries a $7 million cap hit and Girard $5 million. Putting one or both on long-term injury reserve would give the Avs plenty of wiggle room to take on someone like Giroux. Much will depend, however, on whether they’re out for the remainder of the regular season. Girard is reportedly out approximately four weeks, meaning he’ll be back before the season ends on April 29. Landeskog, however, could be sidelined until early May.

Friedman reports San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl’s name is not out there in the trade market. The Sharks are continuing contract negotiations with the 28-year-old Hertl. Friedman said he’s been told Hertl isn’t available at this point in time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract term is believed to be the main area of concern in the Hertl talks. The Sharks could start fielding trade inquiries by the end of this week if they’re no closer to an agreement.

Marek believes it’s time to take John Klingberg off the trade board. The 29-year-old Dallas Stars defenseman was the subject of trade chatter. It’s believed the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs that looked at him. However, with Miro Heiskanen sidelined by mononucleosis, he’s become more valuable to the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with a healthy Heiskanen, the Stars weren’t likely to trade Klingberg. They’re jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference and need all hands on deck.

Friedman also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins John Marino is among the young defensemen on the Vancouver Canucks’ radar. He’d doubtful the Canucks can land him as the Penguins think highly of Marino and it’s difficult to find a trade match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks hockey ops president Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin know Marino from their days in Penguins management. I’d see the odd report lately linking Marino to the Canucks but I didn’t put much stock in it for the same reasons as Friedman.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2022

Check out the latest on Shea Weber, Jakob Chychrun, Tomas Hertl, Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov and P.K. Subban plus updates on the Ducks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON WEBER, CHYCHRUN, HERTL AND HAGEL

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports several capologists responded to his recent musting about whether it would make sense for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Shea Weber’s contract from the Montreal Canadiens. The capologists don’t believe the Wild would do it as it would prevent them from accruing cap space, robbing them of flexibility. They also pointed out that a team cannot acquire a player on long-term injury reserve without activating him first, something few teams (like the Wild) can afford to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Weber’s LTIR contract would only be suitable for low-spending teams looking for a creative way to reach the salary-cap floor, not for those bumping against the cap ceiling seeking a way to exceed it.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports eight teams are “seriously” pursuing Jakob Chychrun. Based on the Arizona Coyotes’ high asking price for the 23-year-old defenseman, it could come down to the March 21 trade deadline. The primary suitors include the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ asking price is reportedly a first-round draft pick, a top prospect and a good young NHL player. Bear in mind some of these clubs (Blues, Hurricanes, Panthers) have limited salary-cap space so they’ll have to send some salary back to the Coyotes or make a separate cost-cutting deal to make the dollars work.

Chychrun is also signed through 2024-25 so there’s no rush on the Coyotes’ part to move him at the trade deadline. They can wait until the offseason if they don’t get any suitable offers over the next couple of weeks.

Pierre LeBrun reports teams have been calling the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl but they’re still trying to sign the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. However, he speculates they could attempt to move him if there’s no progress in contract talks seven days from now. Teams have also called about penalty-killing defenseman Jake Middleton.

Dreger also reports there’s lots of interest in Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Hagel given his play and affordable contract. However, there’s no guarantee he’ll be moved as he could have a place in the Blackhawks rebuild. Dreger said the asking price could be a first-round pick and something else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers put the likelihood of Hagel getting moved at the trade deadline at one percent.

LATEST ON THE DUCKS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek is willing to test the trade market on pending unrestricted free agents such as Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell and Nic Deslauriers. It doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be traded as there’s a little more wiggle room with Lindholm. Winger Max Comtois could also be available after struggling through this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli moved Lindholm to No. 2 on his trade targets list. The Florida Panthers are believed among several teams said to be interested in the 28-year-old Ducks defenseman.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Ducks have opened contract talks with Lindholm but not yet with Manson. Some believe management wants to see how negotiations go with Lindholm and if they fall through they could try to sign Manson before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much could also depend on where the Ducks are in the standings. They’re currently four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Verbeek could be more inclined to become a seller if they don’t gain ground before the trade deadline. Nevertheless, he’s indicated he doesn’t want to lose those guys to free agency for nothing, so he could move them regardless of where his club sits in the playoff race.

RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” COLUMN

SPORTSNET: Rumors suggesting sidelined Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram wanted a fresh start elsewhere have been denied.

There’s increased interest in New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit and a no-trade clause that covers half the league. Friedman doesn’t see the Edmonton Oilers as a destination.

Don’t count out the St. Louis Blues as a suitor for the Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux, who’s been linked to the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are bumping against the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling. They’ll have to get creative to take on the remainder of Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit.

No evidence the Winnipeg Jets have pivoted and tried to re-sign Andrew Copp. The Boston Bruins and the Avalanche are believed among the interested parties.

It will be tough for the New Jersey Devils to move P.K. Subban’s $9 million cap hit. However, his actual cash to him is $2 million. With most of that already paid out, Friedman wondered if it would make sense for the Devils to terminate his contract and let him sign elsewhere for similar money. He said he hasn’t run that idea by the league yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be interesting to learn the league’s response. I daresay it would be considered salary cap circumvention rather than Subban violating the terms of his deal, which is the reason behind the San Jose Sharks terminating Evander Kane’s contract earlier this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2022

The Devils could shop P.K. Subban at the trade deadline, updates on Shea Weber, Tomas Hertl and Jake DeBrusk plus the latest on the Islanders, Capitals and Jets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD SHOP SUBBAN

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said he’s informed P.K. Subban the club doesn’t intend to sign him to a contract extension. The 32-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Fitzgerald also told Subban he could move him before the March 21 trade deadline if he receives an offer that makes sense for the Devils.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images)

Fitzgerald also stressed the value of Damon Severson to the Devils. He said he hasn’t spoken to anyone about the 27-year-old defenseman, who has a year remaining on his contract. However, he stressed it would take “a really good package” that helps the Devils now and in the future to pry away Severson. He also didn’t rule out making a splash in this summer’s free-agent market.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau suggests Fitzgerald could retain some of the remainder of Subban’s $9 million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade but that would require a team offering up top assets such as prospects or draft picks.

Subban isn’t the all-star defenseman he once was. Proteau suggested the Dallas Stars or Los Angeles Kings as offseason destinations for the veteran rearguard, though the decline in his performance in recent years will affect his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban has barely come up at all in trade chatter this season. That could change as we get closer to the trade deadline and if injuries strike the blueline of a playoff contender.

Subban’s actual salary for this season is $8 million, of which $6 million was paid by the Devils at the start of the season as a signing bonus. Nevertheless, the Devils will have to retain a big chunk of his remaining cap hit to improve his trade value.

LATEST ON WEBER, HERTL AND DEBRUSK

THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin believes the Arizona Coyotes would be a good trade partner for the Montreal Canadiens to shed the contract of Shea Weber. The 36-year-old defenseman’s career could be finished due to injuries, leaving him on long-term injury reserve.

The Coyotes have only 10 players under contract next season at a total cap hit of $37.17 million. They’ll need to add over $23 million to their payroll but could prefer remaining a budget team next season. Godin believes the Canadiens would have to add a valuable asset to convince the Coyotes to go for it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have 12 picks in this year’s draft, with two in the first round, three in the second, two in the fourth and two in the seventh round. They’ll likely add more should they ship out some players as expected by the trade deadline. The Habs could package a couple of decent picks with Weber to tempt the Coyotes.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites reports indicating the Sharks are trying hard to sign Tomas Hertl to a contract extension. The 28-year-old pending UFA center hasn’t been placed on the trade block yet, but that could change if there’s no progress toward a deal as deadline day draws near.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman recently examined the pros and cons of the Los Angeles Kings potentially trading for Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk. While she believes DeBrusk to the Kings would make sense on some levels, they’re not facing any genuine urgency to make a splash at this year’s trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings are currently in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. They could make an addition by the deadline but GM Rob Blake could stick with his current roster for the rest of the season. He might prefer retaining assets for this summer’s trade market when better long-term options could be available.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, CAPITALS AND JETS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently reported pending New York Islanders UFAs such as Cal Clutterbuck, Zach Parise, Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara could be gone by the trade deadline. However, the Isles still have seven players 30-or-older under contract beyond this season.

Semyon Varlamov is signed through next season, Josh Bailey and Matt Martin each have two seasons left while Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri have three years left, Anders Lee has four years to go and Casey Cizikas has five years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Isles GM Lou Lamoriello does make some cost-cutting moves by the trade deadline they’ll likely involve those aging UFAs. Some of the others could be peddled in the offseason if he feels the club needs to add more youth into the lineup.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir reports Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan remains interested in adding a rental goaltender provided he’s a significant upgrade over the current tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. The top option is the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury but other clubs are also interested in him plus he has a 10-team no-trade list.

MacLellan could also pursue an affordable upgrade for his middle-six forwards such as Seattle’s Calle Jarnkrok or Marcus Johansson. He hasn’t ruled out making an aggressive pitch for someone like Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux or San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, but that won’t be easy given their limited cap space. MacLellan has no intention of parting with a top prospect like Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre and prefers to retain his high draft picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan won’t have much luck landing Fleury, Giroux or Hertl if he won’t part with a top prospect or a first as part of the return.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jeff Hamilton reports the Jets could become sellers if they keep losing ground in the Western Conference playoff race. Most of the Jets trade rumors of late are about pending UFAs such as Andrew Copp and Paul Stastny.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL Watcher cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussing Copp during his 32 Thoughts podcast on Monday. He believes the Jets forward will be coveted if he hits the trade block, suggesting the Colorado Avalanche as a possible destination.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 6, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 6, 2022

Check out the latest on the Canadiens plus updates on Claude Giroux, Tomas Hertl, Hampus Lindholm and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens are trying to move Shea Weber’s contract. The 36-year-old defenseman has been sidelined this season amid speculation his playing career may be over because of injuries. He has four years remaining on his deal worth an annual average value of nearly $7.9 million but only $6 million in total actual cash. They could attempt to move him to a cap-strapped team seeking long-term injury room or a club hoping to reach the cap floor that doesn’t want to spend very much over the next couple of seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vegas Golden Knights could be a club that could be interested in Weber’s LTIR space. They have $82.3 million already committed to next season’s payroll. Teams that could use Weber’s contract to reach the cap floor after next season could include the Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico cites a well-placed NHL source claiming the Canadiens and Dallas Stars are engaged in trade discussions. The Stars have been linked to Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry in the rumor mill. They’re believed to be exploring trade options for pending free-agent blueliner John Klingberg as well as how to replace the right-shot rearguard.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still don’t see the Stars shipping out Klingberg while they’re still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase. That could change if they slide out of contention over the next week or two. If they’re reportedly unwilling to invest over $7 million annually on the 29-year-old Klingberg on a long-term deal over concerns his performance will decline, it’s puzzling why they would consider adding a 34-year-old blueliner carrying $6.26 million annually for three more seasons.

LATEST ON GIROUX

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and his staff were scouting their AHL farm team’s recent game against the Charlotte Checkers, who are the farm team of the Florida Panthers. Marek mentioned speculation linking Flyers captain Claude Giroux to the Panthers, suggesting the Flyers staff were scouting winger Owen Tippett.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers general manager Bill Zito was believed seeking a top-four defenseman. Perhaps he’d consider instead adding a versatile two-way forward like Giroux if efforts to land a quality blueliner don’t pan out. I expect he’ll make a significant move before March 21.

UPDATES ON SOME NOTABLE PENDING FREE AGENTS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the San Jose Sharks are taking a real run at trying to sign Tomas Hertl to a contract extension…The Anaheim Ducks are leery on term for Hampus Lindholm…Things are quieter regarding Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau…The Vancouver Canucks have been testing the trade market on some of their notable players. They’re also evaluating what it could cost to re-sign those due for new contracts. What could be the tipping point is if the Canucks can get a young defenseman out of this.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lindholm cap could seek a seven or eight-year deal while the Ducks could be considering something around five years. Term is also said to be important to Hertl.

Predators GM David Poile recently denied a report claiming he was shopping Forsberg, insisting he’s trying to sign him before the March 21 trade deadline. Assuming the Flames and Gaudreau haven’t reached an agreement by the trade deadline, I don’t see them trading him. He’s been invaluable to their improvement this season.

The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Canucks priority is to carve out salary-cap space to improve their roster this offseason and beyond. They’re also seeking draft picks, prospects and younger players between 20-25 at multiple positions.

They indicated the Canucks inquired about Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun but didn’t call back once they heard what the asking price would be. There’s also speculation linking them to Colorado Avalanche blueliner Bowen Byram.

Drance and Dhaliwal also reported winger Nils Hoglander was garnering interest around the league, with the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild said to be interested. However, the team sees the 21-year-old Hoglander as the type of young player they need more of going forward.

DUCKS SHOPPING COMTOIS?

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports Ducks winger Maxime Comtois is starting to be heard in the rumor mill. He’s been hampered this season by injury and COVID-19. Comtois was the Ducks’ leading scorer last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Ducks GM Pat Verbeek packages Comtois with one of his pending UFAs by the deadline in hope of landing a bigger return including a promising young player or a high draft pick?