NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2021

Will Tomas Hertl re-sign with the Sharks? Could the Capitals trade Evgeny Kuznetsov? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Alex Didion cites an interview Tomas Hertl gave to a Czech media outlet in which the 27-year-old forward appears uncertain over his future with the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me, and if I’ll want to stay there,” Hertl said, indicating he’ll see how things unfold during this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently pointed out two variables that could determine whether this season becomes Hertl’s last in San Jose.

Money will be the first as Hertl could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually on his next contract. The Sharks only have $14 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. The other is whether he wants to stay. A recent report indicated he was believed among the players unhappy with teammate Evander Kane flouting team rules last season.

Gretz also wondered if Hertl will be keen to spend the remainder of his playing prime with a team that is probably years away from becoming a contender again.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren took note of the recent speculation over Hertl’s future. He believes the Senators could acquire the versatile forward with the right offer, drawing in part upon their well-stocked cupboard of prospects. He also notes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and Sharks GM Doug Wilson have a trade history, pointing to the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade.

USA TODAY‘S Vincent Z. Mercogliano believes Hertl would be a sensible trade target for the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Rangers have sufficient salary-cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects to make competitive bids for Hertl this season. That’s assuming, of course, the Sharks decide to shop him.

That move, however, probably doesn’t occur until later this season, likely near the trade deadline if the Sharks are out of playoff contention by that point. Hertl also has a three-team trade list, significantly narrowing potential destinations. He could agree to broaden that list depending on where Wilson would want to move him.

Hertl’s UFA status is also a point of concern. He’d have to be considered a playoff rental player this season. If the Senators and/or Rangers aren’t in contention it doesn’t make any sense for them to pursue a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked whether the Washington Capitals will trade Evgeny Kuznetsov. One reader claimed hearing talk of the 28-year-old center becoming a New York Ranger at the start of the season.

El-Bashir believes if Kuznetsov were to be traded it would’ve happened by now. His $7.8 million annual cap hit through 2024-25, 15-team no-trade clause, and the Capitals need to get a suitable replacement in return are key reasons working against it.

He does wonder if a team interested in Jack Eichel could shift their attention to Kuznetsov if and when the Buffalo Sabres captain is traded. Kuznetsov’s attitude and mindset during training camp could also be worth watching.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too many factors work against a Kuznetsov trade. His off-ice baggage also hurts his trade value. If he returns in the right frame of mind and plays well it will improve his stock but it could also entice the Capitals to retain him.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2021

Check out the latest on Tomas Hertl, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Kirill Kaprizov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD HERTL AND THE SHARKS PART COMPANY THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests it might be wise for Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks to wait a little while before engaging in contract discussions. The 27-year-old winger is entering the final season of a four-year, $22.5 million contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Kurz feels the direction of the Sharks could determine Hertl’s future in San Jose. This isn’t a “go-for-it” year as the club is attempting to remain competitive while restocking the roster with youth. Shopping Hertl and his expiring contract could help to accelerate that reset if general manager Doug Wilson seeks more draft picks and prospects.

Hertl could seek a deal comparable to the eight-year, $62 million deal Sean Couturier recently signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite his obvious talent, he’s also been sidelined by multiple knee injuries throughout his career. With the Sharks already carrying several hefty contracts, adding another could be risky.

Kurz indicates Multiple sources say he’s among the Sharks players unhappy over how the club handled Evander Kane’s poor conduct last season. Hertl might not want to stick around if the Sharks don’t improve their team culture but Kurz said there’s no sign he’s on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl’s popped up in internet speculation linking him to the Ottawa Senators but the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch was told there was nothing to that conjecture. Nevertheless, the versatile Sharks center could start appearing more frequently in this season’s rumor mill if his club is out of the playoff chase by this season’s NHL trade deadline.

LATEST ON THE KOTKANIEMI OFFER SHEET DRAMA

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean doubts the Montreal Canadiens will match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed on Saturday with the Carolina Hurricanes. He believes the Canadiens already have a strategy and a really good idea of what they intend to do but will keep the Hurricanes waiting until the last minute.

Renaud Lavoie concurred with Jean while Felix Seguin considers that offer way too much for a player like Kotkaniemi. It feels it would be unreasonable for the Canadiens to match it.

Lavoie feels this is a difficult decision for the Canadiens but also wonders how nervous the Hurricanes front office feels. He said the Canes offer was a joke and believes they were 100 percent certain the Habs would match it.

Jean, meanwhile, believes Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and his staff are still considering their options. They need to see what kind of return they could get for the compensatory draft picks (the Hurricanes’ first and third-rounders in next year’s draft) if they don’t match the offer.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examined the Canadiens’ options. Among them is using that compensatory package to acquire a replacement for Kotkaniemi via the trade market.

O’Brien cited recent speculation floated by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Eric Engels suggesting Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak as a possible target. He also proposed hanging onto to those picks and use them to select some quality talent in what’s expected to be a deep draft next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Bergevin is exploring all his options, including swapping those Hurricanes picks for a potential immediate upgrade over Kotkaniemi. I think he’s also trying to make the Canes sweat a little by waiting until the last minute to make his decision.

Bergevin could also keep those picks and sign a short-term replacement like Eric Staal or Tyler Bozak to fill in this season as a third-line center. The Habs GM could also decide to match the offer though it would blow his salary-cap structure to pieces for this season and next when Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans are restricted free agents.

Lavoie’s comment about the Hurricanes is interesting. Most of the coverage of their side of this story played up the revenge angle for the Aho offer sheet two years ago or praising the clever scamps in their PR department for trolling the Canadiens on Twitter when this signing was announced.

Some reports speculated Kotkaniemi signed this offer sheet with the understanding he would ink a longer-term deal with the Hurricanes next summer for an annual average value lower than $6.1 million. But what if that’s not the case? What if the Canes believed the Habs would match and it doesn’t happen?

It would be an interesting twist. We’ll just have to wait until the end of this week to see how this all plays out.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the KHL season is underway in Russia with no indication Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov will sign a one-year deal with CSKA Moscow as rumored earlier this summer. He played with them for several years before joining the Wild last season. In recent days, CSKA Moscov indicated they don’t intend to bring Kaprizov back.

The Wild continue to hope that’s the case as they continue contract discussions with the Kaprizov camp. The Wild have come down from their desire to sign the 2021 Calder Trophy winner to a seven- or eight-year deal while the 24-year-old winger is willing to consider a deal longer than three years.

There’s no indication a deal between the two sides is close. Russo speculates the two sides could hammer out an agreement for five years with an annual average value of around $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The KHL contract threat seems to be Kaprizov’s agent attempt to use what little leverage he has to extract a shorter-term deal from the Wild. Most observers dismissed it as a bluff.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Could the Canadiens target the Sabres Jack Eichel or the Coyotes’ Christian Dvorak if they don’t match Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet? Which centers could the Penguins target if the need arises this season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE CANADIENS BE SHOPPING FOR KOTKANIEMI’S REPLACEMENT?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the Carolina Hurricanes signing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet on Saturday. Friedman said the Hurricanes had discussed the possibility of a trade for Kotkaniemi with the Canadiens but couldn’t work out a deal. He thinks the Hurricanes informed the Canadiens of their intention to sign Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet, probably within 24 hours of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet took most observers by surprise. Some suggested Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was caught off-guard, chiding him for not signing Kotkaniemi when he had the chance to avoid this situation.

Based on Friedman’s reporting, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Habs GM still didn’t seem fully convinced Kotkaniemi was fully prepared for second-line center duty. He was using his leverage to attempt to sign the youngster to a two-year bridge deal worth around $2.5 million annually.

Bergevin also had plenty of advance warning of Carolina’s interest in Kotkaniemi. While the Hurricanes’ PR team played up the revenge angle on Twitter to great amusement on social media, that seems to be merely a secondary factor. Why engage in trade talks if they intended to do the offer sheet all along? And why inform the Habs of their plan and provide Bergevin an opportunity to get Kotkaniemi under contract?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels speculates Bergevin could target Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Habs GM will have some extra draft capital with the first- and third-round picks he’d get from the Hurricanes as compensation. The Coyotes showed a willingness over the past month to collect as many high-end picks as possible.

Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (NHL Images).

Dvorak, 25, would be a good fit. The 6-foot, 200-pound two-way center has averaged a half-point per game and carries a cost-effect annual cap hit of $4.45 million over the next four seasons.

Engels also wonders if Bergevin could use those picks as part of a package deal for Jack Eichel. They’d have to live with the risk of the 24-year-old center becoming the first player to have an artificial disc-replacement procedure before he played his first game with them. Bergevin could also attempt the offer-sheet route with Elias Pettersson but doubts he’ll target the Vancouver Canucks center.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault also thinks Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will be working the phones to find a suitable, affordable replacement. He speculates he’ll target teams that have to reduce payroll before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has seven days to match the Hurricanes offer for Kotkaniemi. If he has no intention of matching he’s already calling around looking to package those compensatory picks for a replacement or an upgrade.

Dvorak reportedly drew considerable interest around the league but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Maybe he’d be swayed if Bergevin offered up a first and a third. PuckPedia shows the Habs currently have two picks in the third, fourth and seventh rounds of next year’s draft. Bergevin could include one or two of those along with the compensation from the Hurricanes or add a prospect or two to sweeten the pot.

Much has been made of Bergevin’s cozy relationship with Eichel’s new agent, Pat Brisson. However, the Sabres are still reportedly seeking four assets comparable to first-round picks. Unless that asking price is lowered, I don’t see the Habs getting into the bidding for the Sabres captain.

Bergevin could attempt to sign Pettersson to an offer sheet but I don’t think the young Canuck is interested. As Engels points out, the expensive price to do so would be difficult to squeeze within the Canadiens’ salary-cap limits.

COULD THE PENGUINS TARGET A RENTAL CENTER?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently examined four possible rental centers for the Penguins if Evgeni Malkin should be sidelined by knee surgery longer than expected. That could create a problem with the Penguins lacking depth at center beyond their top four. The club was also wracked with injuries last season plus Malkin and Jeff Carter are unrestricted free agents next summer.

The first is San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl. Kingerski speculates he could be had for a similar cost the Carolina Hurricanes paid for Vincent Trocheck, which was two bottom-six forwards and a promising prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Sharks intend to move Hertl or he intends to test the market. There could be mutual interest in working out an extension. If the Sharks do shop him I suspect they’ll seek a better return than what the Florida Panthers got for Trocheck.

Other options include Columbus’ Max Domi, Dallas’ Joe Pavelski if the Stars are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, or swapping defenseman Marcus Pettersson’s bad contract for the Minnesota Wild’s Victor Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski acknowledged Domi is sidelined by shoulder surgery until December. He also pointed out the Blue Jackets’ own lack of depth at center. Pavelski has a three-team trade list and could prefer staying out west.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2021

Could the Ducks end up moving players like John Gibson and Josh Manson this season? Could the Senators seek another center? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked about the speculation linking the Anaheim Ducks to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. He believes Ducks general manager Bob Murray had some level of talks with the Sabres but doubts he would part with Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale as part of the return. The Sabres asking price of four top assets for an injured player is another obstacle. Waiting could drive that price down.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s ongoing issues with the Sabres over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck and his hefty contract are also significant sticking points in any trade discussions. Murray would be wise not to part with Zegras or Drysdale if he’s planning to rebuild.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Stephens believes Ducks goaltender John Gibson has been frustrated by the club’s lack of progress over the past three seasons. It’s impossible to know, however, if Gibson will request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson would draw plenty of interest in the trade market if he did ask to be moved or if Murray decided to shop him for a return of young assets. The 28-year-old’s contract could be a stumbling block. His annual average salary is $6.4 million through 2026-27 and he now has a 10-team no-trade list.

Stephens believes the Ducks have fielded offers for Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Adam Henrique or attempted to move some of them. A deal that would’ve sent Manson to the Winnipeg Jets was reportedly scuttled by Manson, who has a 12-team no-trade list. It’s believed teams were offering a first-round pick or a top prospect for Manson or Rakell, but the Ducks want both pieces.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on Manson, Lindholm and Rakell this season. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. The trio could draw plenty of attention as the trade deadline approaches. Manson is the only one of the three with no-trade protection.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger believes the Ottawa Senators still need some veteran depth at center for the coming season. The departures of Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan leave the club thin at center. Promising Shane Pinto could help but he’d be another young center on the roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators are believed to be in the market for a top-six winger or another center in order to move another forward to the wing. He mentioned New York Rangers center Ryan Strome and Chicago Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome as possible trade targets but dismissed internet rumors linking the Sens to San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

The Senators are linked to several notable centers, the Hurricanes could be looking for another top-six forward, and the Jets are eyeing a former Red Wing. Details in this edition of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are still trying to add a center or winger via trade or free agency. Defenseman Erik Brannstrom could be used as a trade chip to add a winger or another center in order to move someone to the wing.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

The Senators kicked tires on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel but the asking price and contract are expensive. Internet rumors claim they’ve had talks with the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome could be a good fit if they acquire Eichel. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Dylan Strome and the Senators are mildly interested. The Sens would like to move center Logan Brown as it hasn’t worked out for the two sides. They’d prefer to get a player in return rather than a future asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks could shop Hertl if he intends to test the market next summer. A rebuilding club like the Senators could seek assurances he’ll re-sign with them. Unless you’re a playoff contender interested in Hertl as a rental player it makes little sense for the Senators to waste assets on a player who could depart as a free agent soon afterward.

A deal for Dylan Strome seems possible. Earlier this month, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times speculated Strome could be a cost-cutting candidate to free up cap space for new contracts for Brandon Hagel and Alex Nylander. They’re already over the cap by $2.1 million. With Brent Seabrook off their books, they can only draw upon the $3.9 million of Andrew Shaw as long-term injury reserve cap relief.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was asked if the Carolina Hurricanes still need another top-six forward. She believes they do, adding they seem to be looking for one.

They’ve been linked to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Even if they can’t land him, she still thinks they’ll make a trade of some sort, pointing out they’ll still have some cap space left after signing Andrei Svechnikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $12 million remaining. Assuming they spend up to $7 million on Svechnikov, there’s enough wiggle room to add another top-six forward. That depends, of course, on ownership’s willingness to spend toward the ceiling and which forward they target.

Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value is a lot to take on. They’ll have to ship out a salary in that deal, swing a separate cost-cutting move or convince the Blues to pick up part of his cap hit.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2021

Should the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel or Matthew Tkachuk? What the latest speculation on the Flames and Sharks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RANGERS

ESPN: Emily Kaplan believes the New York Rangers will be mentioned as front-runners for Jack Eichel if the Buffalo Sabres shop their captain in the offseason. His agents are the same ones who represented Rangers general manager Chris Drury during his playing days.

They could find a way to fit Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 into their cap payroll. However, Kaplan feels a bigger priority is figuring out how to re-sign center Mika Zibanejad.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello doesn’t believe it would be worth the cost for the Rangers to acquire a center like Eichel when he’s not much better than Zibanejad right now. Pursuing an upgrade over second-line center Ryan Strome would be a better option. He recommends targeting an “Aleksander Barkov type” – slated for unrestricted free agent status next summer and possibly available at next season’s trade deadline.

Could the New York Rangers pursue Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk in this summer’s trade market? (NHL Images).

Adding a tough forward comparable to the Tkachuk brothers in Calgary and Ottawa or Washington’s Tom Wilson should be the Rangers’ priority. It could mean sacrificing a top-six forward or two to address that need.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk would be a perfect fit for the Rangers. It would take a “massive bounty” to pry Tkachuk away.

Brooks considers Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere and perhaps Ryan Lindgren as untouchable. The Rangers would be reluctant to part with Kaapo Kakko and K’Andre Miller but they’ll have to trade someone they don’t want to sacrifice to land a transformational top-six forward. A package containing a permutation of Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist and future first-rounders probably won’t get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading for Eichel would be a bold move for the Rangers and one team CEO James Dolan would probably approve. However, his cap hit would be expensive while meeting the Sabres’ asking price could hurt the Rangers’ overall roster depth. It’ll also make it very difficult to re-sign Zibanejad.

Tkachuk would provide that physical boost among the Rangers’ top-six. That being said, the factors that make him attractive to the Blueshirts also make him valuable to the Flames.

Finding a Barkov-type by next year’s trade deadline won’t be easy. Barkov himself could be re-signed by the Panthers this summer following their strong performance this season. Sean Couturier would be the best fit but I don’t see the Philadelphia Flyers parting ways with him.

Patrice Bergeron falls into that category but he’ll turn 36 in July and should finish his career as a Bruin. Nazem Kadri could also fall into that category but the Avs won’t move him if they’re still among the Cup contenders.

FLAMES

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson includes the status of winger Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano among the five key questions facing the Flames this offseason.

Some are convinced the 27-year-old Gaudreau could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent. Trading one of their leading scorers, however, would also force the Flames to go shopping for his replacement.

The Flames could have little choice but to leave Giordano exposed in this summer’s expansion draft. The team captain turns 38 later this year and has a year remaining on his contract. Gilbertson wonders if they should swing a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to convince them to take another player.

GM Brad Treliving will be on the hot seat after seven seasons and five head coaches. However, his future could be tied to recently-hired head coach Darryl Sutter. They both have two years left on their contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’ve been growing calls among Calgary fans and pundits to move Gaudreau. This team needs a shakeup after two disappointing seasons. Trading Gaudreau could be part of that plan unless there are talks afoot about a contract extension. If they trade him they must find someone via trade or free agency to replace his production.

As for Giordano, the Kraken could be reluctant to select an aging defenseman who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see how the Flames handle this situation.

SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson acknowledged his club’s depth in goal and finding a third-lie center must be addressed. He said he’s willing to explore all options. That could include talks with teams to make players available, either with the Seattle Kraken or other clubs in a different position than the Sharks at the expansion draft.

Kurz speculates the Sharks could buy out the remaining three years of goalie Martin Jones’ contract. That would save the Sharks $3.8 million next season, $3.3 million in 2022-23 and $2.8 million in 2023-24 before getting dinged with $1.67 million annually against their cap over the final three years of the six-year buyout period.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White believes Tomas Hertl’s future with the Sharks should also be among their priorities. The 27-year-old forward is eligible next summer for UFA status. He recommends re-signing him this summer or trading him by the draft. He also feels they should consider exposing high-salaried players such as Jones, Evander Kane and Brent Burns in the hope the Kraken selects one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a well-deserved reputation as a savvy wheeler-dealer. However, this offseason could be the biggest test of his long career as the Sharks GM. They’ve got too many aging players carrying hefty contracts that could prove too difficult to move without absorbing some salary and/or packaging them with sweeteners (draft picks, prospects) they can’t afford to give up.

Judging by Wilson’s comments, he’s mapped out his plans for the offseason and seems confident that he has sufficient options to address his needs. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out what they are and if he can pull it off. His job could depend on it.