NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

Recent speculation on the Leafs, Senators, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS MOST LIKELY TO BE ON THE MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle consider Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci as the most likely not to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both defensemen are unrestricted free agents who underwhelmed during their one-season tenures with the Leafs. They also considered forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alex Kerfoot among the Leafs’ likely trade chips as the club seeks to shed salary and bolster their blueline depth.

Don’t expect to see Tyson Barrie with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of Leafs Nation will agree Barrie and Ceci won’t be back. It just didn’t work out for either guy.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot frequently surfaced as trade candidates through this season. General manager Kyle Dubas didn’t have to move them during this campaign but could have no choice during the off-season.

The Leafs have over $76 million invested in 16 players. They desperately need to bolster their defense. Dubas surprised most observers with his slick moves last summer to free up sufficient cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Unless he’s got another trick or two up his sleeve, Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be shopped for a top-four defenseman.

COULD THE SENATORS WEAPONIZE THEIR CAP SPACE?

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes a flat or reduced salary cap for next season could work in favor of the rebuilding Senators as cap-strapped clubs attempt to shed salary in the off-season. The Sens only have around $41.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll. They don’t need any more draft picks, but Warren believes they should listen if some promising prospects are packaged into the deal.

NBC SPORTS: Scott Charles believes the Senators should look for short-term players that other clubs no longer have the patience for, such as the New York Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang. Charles points out Anthony Duclair turned into a successful reclamation project for the Sens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators also have 13 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including three in the first round, four in the second, and two in the third. They also hold three second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Their first-rounders are off the table, but GM Pierre Dorion could offer up a couple of those other picks to take on a toxic short-term contract that’s packaged with prospects or young NHL-ready players, or perhaps a player who could accelerate the rebuild. He can even afford to acquire someone like Ho-Sang on an affordable contract that can be easily buried in the minors if that player doesn’t work out.

WILL THE SHARKS MAKE A BIG MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: During a recent interview long-time San Jose Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky told Brodie Brazil he believes the club needs to make a big change or two, partly for salary-cap reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to see why Rusanowsky feels this way. Despite spending to the cap ceiling to ice a star-studded roster, the Sharks were among this season’s worst clubs.

Making a big cost-cutting change, however, won’t be easy. The Sharks have over $66.6 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21. Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Brent Burns, and Martin Jones all have three-team trade lists, while Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have full no-movement clauses.

Timo Meier ($6 million annually through 2022-23) lacks no-trade protection, but GM Doug Wilson could be reluctant to peddle the 23-year-old winger. Winger Tomas Hertl ($5.625 million AAV through 2021-22) also lacks no-trade protection for this season, but his long injury history could scare off potential suitors.










NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2020

Game recaps, Predators GM David Poile reaches a historic milestone, Tomas Hertl out of the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene gave the Nashville Predators a 6-5 win over the New Jersey Devils. Forsberg also scored twice in regulation, while Devils forward Pavel Zacha scored two goals and collected an assist. The Predators (55 points) are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The win was the 1,507th of Predators GM David Poile’s career, moving him past Glen Sather into first place for most victories for an NHL general manager.

Filip Forsberg scored twice as the Nashville Predators downed the New Jersey Devils 6-5 (Photo via NHL Images)

Al Iafallo’s hat trick lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 overtime victory over the slumping Arizona Coyotes, who’ve won three of their last 10 games. The Coyotes (58 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee collision with Kings forward Dustin Brown.

The Montreal Canadiens kept their fading playoff hopes alive by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Winger Brendan Gallagher marked his return to the roster following a six-game absence by tallying the game-winning goal. Sabres captain Jack Eichel netted his 30th of the season. The Habs sit eight points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Coyotes, they acknowledged reports of employing illegal tactics recruiting tactics but declined to comment on any potential investigation. Some CHL teams accused the club of putting draft-eligible players through physical testing, which isn’t allowed before the annual NHL combine in June. They could face fines of $250K or more.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Bad news for the struggling San Jose Sharks, as winger Tomas Hertl is out for the season after suffering torn knee ligaments during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Sharks sinking toward the bottom of the Western standings, Hertl’s injury could be the final nail in the coffin for this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins announced winger David Backes won’t be reporting to the AHL affiliate in Providence after recently clearing waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Backes simply won’t be playing for a while as the Bruins consider their options. He won’t be suspended, he’s not retiring, and his contract won’t be terminated. I’ll have more on his situation in the rumors section.

CBS SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues recalled forward Troy Brouwer.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Tyler Motte (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers placed Kris Russell and Joakim Nygard on injured reserve.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2020

The Pacific Division wins the All-Star Game, David Pastrnak named tournament MVP, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Vancouver’s Elias Petterson scored twice and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl tallied the game-winner as the Pacific Division edged the Atlantic Division 5-4 to win the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. The Pacific Division all-stars received a check for USD 1 million for winning the tournament.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak is the MVP of the 2020 NHL All-Star Game (Photo via NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak was named tournament MVP through a fan vote on social media.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Despite scoring five goals, including the tournament winner, Tomas Hertl was left off the tournament MVP ballot. The Sharks winger was unperturbed, “I’m happy we won and we won the prize, so it’s exciting,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I watched the ASG because it’s my job, but it was such a farce that I was more absorbed in following social media comments about the game. While the ASG still matters as a locally-staged event, this glorified pond-hockey contest tends to be a national TV ratings dud in the U.S. and Canada. Los Angeles Times’ hockey writer Helene Elliott put it best:

 

Bob Duff, meanwhile, pitched several suggestions on how to improve the NHL ASG format. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs recalled Jake Muzzin and Trevor Moore from their conditioning stints with the Marlies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin should provide a welcome boost to a defense that became porous during his absence.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: A source claims the Dallas Stars are a “highly considered” candidate to play games in China next season. Their opponent, as well as dates and locations, are unclear. It’s also uncertain if the NHL will stage games in China in 2020-21.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2020

Results from the All-Star Game skills competition, the all-decade team, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal upset Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid for the title of the fastest skater at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game skills competition. Barzal’s time was 13.175 seconds.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal won the fastest skater contest during the 2020 NHL All-Star Game skills competition (Photo via NHL Images).

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber won the hardest shot competition at 106.5 mph. St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington delighted the hometown crowd by winning the save streak with 10. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin won the accuracy shooting in 9.505 seconds, while Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane won the shooting stars with 22 points.

In the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game, Canada edged the United States 2-1 in an exciting, fast-paced contest. Melodie Daoust and Rebecca Johnston scored for Canada while Hilary Knight countered for the U.S.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl brought some levity to the save streak challenge by wearing a Justin Bieber mask when it was his turn to shoot on Jordan Binnington. Bieber and Binnington have a bet on for a breakaway challenge in which the winner donates $10K to the charity of their choice.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane highlight the NHL’s all-decade First-Team All-Star roster for 2010 to 2019. Defensemen Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were also selected to the first team.

The Second Team consists of Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlson, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

SPORTSNET: The NHL and the NHL alone will decide if it participates in the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to commissioner Gary Bettman during his state of the league address. He also indicated puck and player tracking will be up and running for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the league will continue spotlighting the world’s best women’s players, and it’s expected the NHLPA will soon resume collective bargaining discussions.

Bettman also confirmed the 2021 NHL All-Star Game will be hosted by the Florida Panthers.

Wayne Gretzky is rooting for Alex Ovechkin to break his goal-scoring record. He believes the Capitals captain has “a real, legitimate chance” to surpass his record of 894 career goals. With 692 goals, Ovechkin is 202 goals away. “I’m a big believer that records are made to be broken,” Gretzky told NHL.com. He also feels Ovechkin breaking his goal-scoring record would be good for the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many of Gretzky’s records, such as most assists and points, might never be broken. The goal-scoring record was once considered unassailable. That Ovechkin even has a reasonable shot at reaching it is generating a level of excitement and interest that will surely grow the close he gets to it.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 19, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens and Sharks plus updates on Jeff Carter and Erik Gustafsson in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP KOVALCHUK, DOMI OR TATAR?

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports the Montreal Canadiens are very pleased with the performance of Ilya Kovalchuk. Earlier this month, they signed the veteran winger to a one-year, prorated $700K contract. He’s got eight points in as many games, including four goals. As the Canadiens get healthier coming out of the upcoming All-Star break and with the Feb. 24 trade deadline getting close, Johnston believes Kovalchuk could become a trade asset that lands the Habs a draft pick.

Will the Montreal Canadiens shop Ilya Kovalchuk for a draft pick at the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Earlier in the week, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels observed Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin faces some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. If leading scorer Tomas Tatar’s value in the trade market is high, Engels suggests Bergevin should explore the winger’s value in the trade market. He also feels the same about defenseman Jeff Petry, but acknowledged it would take a significant offer to tempt Bergevin as youngers blueliners Cale Fleury and Josh Brooks are at least a couple of years away from becoming top-four blueliners.

If the Canadiens can’t find a suitable return for Kovalchuk, Engels proposes attempting to re-sign the veteran winger.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie believes the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. He feels they should move Kovalchuk if he can fetch a second-round selection. He also thinks a team willing to do a “problem swap” could come calling about Max Domi. Lajoie lists Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, and Brett Kulak as other trade candidates.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jonathan Bernier also ponders what the Habs could get for Kovalchuk in the trade market. He reminds us that the New Jersey Devils traded Brian Boyle last season to the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick. In 2017, the Detroit Red Wings sent winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for a third-round and Dylan McIlrath, while the Colorado Avalanche got a conditional fourth from the LA Kings for Jarome Iginla.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s thriving thus far in Montreal. If the Canadiens somehow surge back into the playoff chase in a month, they could hang onto him for the remainder of the season. If not, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest they could get a second- or a third-round in return if he maintains his point-per-game pace.

Domi’s name has surfaced a couple of times in recent speculation. While there’s been some grumbling in the Montreal media over his temper, consistency, and supposedly selfish play, the 24-year-old reached a career-high 72 points last season and is on pace for a respectable 55 points. I’m not convinced that he’s in any danger of getting traded.

Tatar, meanwhile, has another year remaining on his contract. Bergevin doesn’t have to shop the 29-year-old winger this season, but it might not hurt to gauge his value in the trade market.

COULD CARTER HIT THE TRADE BLOCK?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wonders if LA Kings center and former Flyer Jeff Carter might be available at the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Carter is under contract through 2021-22 with an annual average salary of over $5.2 million. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-goal scorer who’s on pace for 23 goals this season.

Hall’s colleague John Clark said the Flyers discussed the possibility of trading for Carter. While he has fond memories of his years in Philadelphia, Carter said he doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. “I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter surfaced in the rumor mill midway through last season. A report claimed he could retire if traded, but he denied it. Carter lacks no-trade protection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rebuilding Kings looked into moving him.

Nevertheless, his age and annual average value are significant stumbling blocks. An interested club might insist on the Kings picking up a healthy portion of his salary-cap hit. Given the Flyers’ limited cap space, they can’t afford his full AAV.

BLACKHAWKS LISTENING ON GUSTAFSSON?

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently reported the Chicago Blackhawks have spoken with other clubs about Erik Gustafsson. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He and Hawks GM Stan Bowman declined to comment regarding a possible contract extension.

A league source believes they’re checking the market value and could circle back before the trade deadline. They were asking mostly about prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Powers that how the Blackhawks fare in the coming weeks will also determine what happens with Gustafsson. If they climb back into the playoff picture, they could hang onto the blueliner for a run at the postseason.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s word San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is embarrassed the first-round pick he gave up as part of the deal for Erik Karlsson could turn into a lottery selection. As a result, he’ll try to get a first-rounder back before the trade deadline. He’ll have to sweeten the pot because none of his pending UFAs (including Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson) will fetch a first-rounder.

Garrioch speculates teams could call about Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns. He also claims New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is sniffing around for a defenseman and should give Wilson a call.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s reportedly let it be known he’s not interested in moving a core player. Of course, that could change if someone were to make a significant offer, but I doubt that type of deal takes place before the deadline.