NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

How will the Islanders find cap space to sign Mathew Barzal? How will the Blue Jackets replace sidelined Gustav Nyquist? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.

ISLES MUST SHED SALARY TO SIGN BARZAL

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the Islanders have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space with center Mathew Barzal still to sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello will also find it challenging to bring back unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene and to add goaltender Cory Schneider.

Don’t expect the New York Islanders to buy out Jordan Eberle to alleviate their cap crunch (NHL Images).

Pulock filing for arbitration provides the Isles with a second buyout window that opens for 24 hours on Friday. However, they can only buy out a player earning an annual average value of over $4 million, ruling out Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey as options.

Lamoriello could attempt another cost-cutting trade. It’ll be difficult to find takers for Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) or Andrew Ladd ($5 million AAV) in this economic climate.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin indicates buying out Boychuk or Ladd won’t provide much immediate relief. The way their salaries are structured, a Boychuk buyout would give the Isles $833K in savings for 2020-21 while Ladd’s would be over $666K.

Larkin wondered if Lamoriello could place a player like Ladd on long-term injury reserve. Failing that, he’ll have to dump another salary via trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple also weighed in on the Islanders’ options. He indicates Martin, Greene and Schneider already have agreed-upon deals with the club but they’re being kept off the books for now in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.

Lamoriello could take a drastic step like buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy but Staple doubts he’ll go that far. He also doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually from the Isles unless Lamoriello can find a taker for Boychuk and at least one other contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple believes Lamoriello will have to get creative given how the trade market has dried up and the complications of going the LTIR route. He has a well-earned reputation for creativity when it comes to finding wiggle room under the cap, but this situation will still be a significant challenge.

Leddy has surfaced as a trade candidate. He’s under 30, doesn’t have a long injury history like Boychuk and Ladd, lacks no-trade protection and carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. With Devon Toews shipped to Colorado last month in a cost-cutting deal, it’s unlikely Lamoriello parts with Leddy now.

He could try to move Komarov ($3 million AAV through 2021-22, seven-team no-trade list) and Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, lacks no-trade protection. Both could be easier to move than Boychuk and Ladd, though it will still be challenging drumming up interest for either guy.

HOW WILL THE JACKETS REPLACE NYQUIST?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might pursue Mike Hoffman now that winger Gustav Nyquist is sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Losing Nyquist is a big blow for the low-scoring Jackets, who still haven’t suitably replaced the offense lost when Artemi Panarin departed via free agency to the New York Rangers last year.

Larkin acknowledged adding Hoffman won’t make the Jackets a Stanley Cup contender, but it would provide a much-needed injection of offense. He’s the type of player who can score given the opportunity at five-on-five or on the power play, which he’ll certainly get with the Jackets.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t a big fan of free agency. Instead, he’s expected to continue to play the waiting game with the handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs in the hope one of them will be willing to trade away a quality player on the cheap.

Portzline also examined internal options for the Jackets. They could slide Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner into left wing on the second line. Nyquist’s absence could also create an opportunity for rookie Liam Foudy to skate on the third line with Mikko Koivu and either Foligno or Jenner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets still have to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. With over $12 million in cap space, however, they’ve got sufficient room to do that and to find a suitable short-term replacement for Nyquist.

Hoffman is the best choice in the UFA market. He’d prefer a long-term contract but recent reports indicated he’d accept a one-year deal worth $6 million. That’s probably too rich for Kekalainen’s blood. He could be keeping an eye on the Lightning to see if he can land Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.

As with his efforts to sign Dubois, Kekalainen can afford to remain patient. He might not move on finding Nyquist’s replacement until training camp, which could be at least two months away.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2020

Another look at the top remaining UFAs, including suggested destinations for Mike Hoffman, plus the latest on the Islanders and Jets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TOP REMAINING UFAs

THE SCORE: listed a roundup of the best available players by position. The top wingers include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund, and Andreas Athanasiou. Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene top the listing of defensemen, while Erik Haula and Carl Soderberg are among the best remaining centers. Goaltenders include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

Unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some decent depth remains among the wingers and defensemen, but not so much among the centers. All the goaltenders are past their best-before dates.

SPORTSNET: listed the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as potential destinations for Mike Hoffman. Those clubs are in need of scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Hoffman the best player remaining in the market and activity in the free-agent market slowed to a crawl by the flattened salary cap, the latest guessing game among fans and pundits is figuring out where the 30-year-old winger could go. He reportedly seeks a one-year deal worth $6 million.

Hoffman’s agent recently said up to 13 teams have expressed an interest in his client, with five or six of those serious. The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings have also been suggested, plus there’s been the odd speculation about Hoffman rejoining the Florida Panthers or Ottawa Senators.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND JETS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple listed Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey and perhaps Leo Komarov as potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the New York Islanders. A sticking point is teams could be asking for the Isles 2021 first-round pick. Staple wondered if general manager Lou Lamoriello could be comfortable including that pick. He has an extra second-round pick in 2022, or he could use his second-round picks to trade for a first-round pick.

Trade partners would be clubs with plenty of salary-cap space such as the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, or New Jersey Devils. What complicates things is there are a half-dozen clubs over the cap that must shed salary, plus four others (including the Islanders) that are close to the ceiling.

Staple isn’t concerned about Isles center Mathew Barzal becoming an offer-sheet target as there aren’t many clubs with sufficient cap space to blow him away with a big offer. He considers it unlikely Barzal would sign with Detroit or New Jersey. Nashville would be squeezed for cap space in 2021-22 with two goalies to sign while joining the New York Rangers would “ignite a true war”. Staple also points out it’s difficult to see teams making big offer sheets when they’re furloughing or laying off employees.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello’s biggest concern is freeing up cap space to re-sign Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Barzal could sign an offer sheet but I have my doubts. Lamoriello has indicated he’d match any offer. With Cap Friendly indicating the Isles have $8.9 million in cap space plus they can exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, it’s unlikely Barzal will be signed away.

A rival club could do it just to complicate matters for the Isles by matching but that doesn’t seem likely, especially given the tight economic situation everyone is facing right now.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe speculates it’s still possible Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could package restricted free agents like Sami Niku and Jack Roslovic that brings in someone like the Florida Panthers’ MacKenzie Weegar or one of the left-shot defensemen the Carolina Hurricanes have in abundance. They could also circle back on a UFA like Ben Hutton to see if their asking price is more reasonable.

With 21 players already under contract for next season, the Jets will have limited salary cap space even after they place Bryan Little on LTIR. Wiebe doesn’t expect a big-name move by the Jets to address their defense unless they make a blockbuster trade involving winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll have to be one helluva defenseman coming to the Jets to make Cheveldayoff part with Laine. The Jets GM could be comfortable starting the season with his current blueline and see how things develop leading up to the trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2020

Check out the recent speculation on the Penguins, Islanders, and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TIGHT BUDGETS LEAVE PENGUINS, ISLANDERS FACING DIFFICULT DECISIONS

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mike DeFabo recently reported the flat salary cap for 2020-21 ($81.5 million) will leave the Penguins facing some hard choices in the off-season. They have over $68 million invested in next season’s payroll.

All of their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen are under contract for ’20-’21. Unless general manager Jim Rutherford creates some cap room via trade, they won’t have enough to re-sign all their key free agents.

How much will it cost the Pittsburgh Penguins to re-sign goaltender Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Topping the list are restricted free agent goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. It could take a deal comparable to Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins (two years, $4 million annual average value) to re-sign Jarry. Murray’s playoff record and inconsistent regular-season play could be worth something like the $5.1 million Jimmy Howard makes with Detroit and $6.4 million like Anaheim’s John Gibson. Keeping Murray and Jarry could mean trading a skater.

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz’s season has hampered by injury. Letting him walk could open a big hole on the blueline. It’s uncertain if the reacquisition of UFA winger Conor Sheary was for the short or long term. DeFabo also wondered if trade deadline pickup Patrick Marleau would be willing to return for the minimum salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than trade a skater, Rutherford could trade Murray or Jarry and call up Casey DeSmith as a full-time backup next season. Schultz indicated he’d like to stay, but he might have to take a pay cut from his $5.5 million to do so.

Marleau could return to San Jose for one more year or retire if he wins the Cup in the upcoming tournament. I think Rutherford wants to re-sign Sheary but that will depend upon what happens with the goaltenders and Schultz.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arthur Staple recently examined the New York Islanders’ options with limited cap room for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple’s column appeared before the Isles signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $73.3 million invested in 19 players.

Staple speculates their UFAs (Matt Martin, Derick Brassard, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, and Thomas Greiss) might not return next season. The focus will be on re-signing RFAs Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews.

Going the trade route would mean shopping defenseman Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey. Staple doubts oft-injured Johnny Boychuk will attract must interest.

Forwards Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov could also be trade options, but the Isles might have to package either guy with next year’s first-round pick or a top prospect. Komarov also seems the most likely buyout candidate. Staple also doesn’t rule out Ladd and Komarov starting next season on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has demonstrated his salary-cap creativity in the past to free up sufficient room to address his roster needs. Given the number of clubs with limited cap room for next season, he’ll have to strike fast in the trade market to dump a salary or two. Of the trade candidates listed by Staple, Leddy might attract the most interest, but his $5.5 million cap hit through 2021-22 could be a sticking point.

WILL THE KINGS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FLAT CAP?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman recently reported Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake said back in April his club had flexibility under the flat cap, but he thought the big cap year for his club was a year away. However, he did say they were in a position to look at some things.

The Kings have over $60.7 million invested in their payroll for ’20-’21. Dillman suggested signing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev or Florida Panthers versatile forward Erik Haula if they test the UFA market at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is expected to resist the temptation of pursuing a big-ticket UFA this year. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t consider adding a veteran or two at a reasonable price. Someone like Tanev or Haula on a short-term deal could provide some experienced depth as the Kings develop their promising youngsters.

Tanev’s performance has declined a bit in recent years. Haula looks like he still hasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him most of last season.










The NHL Buyout Barometer – Metropolitan Division (Part I)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Metropolitan Division (Part I)

 










Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

The NHL free-agent market opens today at noon ET. Here’s a list of today’s notable signings, which will be updated throughout the day. 

Toronto Maple Leafs signed center John Tavares to a seven-year, $77-million contract

Toronto Maple Leafs sign John Tavares to a seven-year contract (Photo via NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers reportedly signed left wing James van Riemsdyk to a five-year, $35-million contract. 

Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension worth $6.75 million per season.

Arizona Coyotes officially announced the signing of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension worth $8.25 million AAV. They also re-signed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a two-year contract extension worth $5 million AAV, and signed free-agent winger Michael Grabner to a three-year deal worth $3.35 million per season. 

Vegas Golden Knights will sign center Paul Stastny to a three-year contract. The annual average value is $6.5 million. They’ve also signed defenseman Nick Holden to a two-year deal worth $2.2 million annually. 

Pittsburgh Penguins will reportedly sign defenseman Jack Johnson to a five-year, $16.25-million contract. They’ve also signed Matt Cullen to a one-year, $650K contract

St. Louis Blues expected to sign winger David Perron to a four-year deal worth $4 million per season. The Blues have also signed center Tyler Bozak to a three-year contract with an AAV of $5 million and goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, $1.75-million deal. 

Colorado Avalanche reportedly close to signing defenseman Ian Cole to a three-year contact worth an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.

Chicago Blackhawks sign goaltender Cam Ward to a one-year, $3-million contract with a full no-movement clause. They’ve also signed winger Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $1-million contract and defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year deal. 

Boston Bruins expected to sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million annually. They also signed winger Joakim Nordstrom to a two-year, $2 million deal and defenseman John Moore to a five-year contract worth an AAV of $2.75 million.

Columbus Blue Jackets sign center Riley Nash to a three-year contract worth $2.75-million per season. 

Buffalo Sabres will reportedly sign goaltender Carter Hutton to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

New York Islanders have an agreement in place to bring back defenseman Thomas Hickey on a four-year deal worth an AAV of $2.5 million. They also signed forward Leo Komarov to a four-year, $12-million contract.

Detroit Red Wings expected to sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a three-year deal worth around $3 million annually and forward Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $3-million contract. 

Edmonton Oilers will sign forward Kyle Brodziak to a two-year deal with an AAV of around $1 million and forward Tobias Rieder to a one-year, $2-million contract.  

Dallas Stars expected to sign forward Blake Comeau to a three-year deal worth $2.4 million per season. They’ve also re-signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a two-year deal worth $2.95-million annually. Roman Polak is reportedly heading to the Stars on a one-year contract worth $1.3 million.

Vancouver Canucks are expected to sign center Jay Beagle to a four-year contract worth $3 million annually and forward Antoine Roussel to a four-year deal worth $3.25 million per season. 

Calgary Flames expected to sign center Derek Ryan to a three-year deal worth an AAV of $3.125 million and center Austin Czarnik to a two-year deal worth $1.25-million annually. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. 

Montreal Canadiens are expected to announced the signing of center Tomas Plekanec to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $2.25 million plus bonuses. 

Minnesota Wild will reportedly sign defenseman Greg Pateryn to a three-year contract and signed goaltender Andrew Hammond. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2017

Game recaps plus updates on Jaden Schwartz, Marc-Andre Fleury and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko’s overtime goal gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Earlier in the day, the Blues learned Tarasenko’s linemate Jaden Schwartz will be sidelined at least six weeks with an injured right ankle suffered during Saturday’s game against Detroit, while defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is day-to-day after taking a puck to the foot during that game. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues successfully adjusted to early-season injuries to key players such as Alex Steen and Jay Bouwmeester. However, they’ll face a bigger challenge coping to the loss of one of their top scorers and their best defenseman, though the latter could return to action soon. 

The Minnesota Wild blew a 3-0 lead but went on to defeat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on an overtime goal by Nino Niederreiter. Eric Staal scored twice for the Wild, who’ve won four of their last five games, while Brent Burns also tallied two goals in a losing cause for the Sharks.

A three-goal third period carried the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected two assists in this game. The Coyotes have lost four straight. 

Curtis McElhinney turned in a 41-save performance and Zach Hyman scored the only goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the Edmonton Oilers 1-0. The Leafs were playing without young superstar center Auston Matthews, who was shaken up following a collision with teammate Morgan Reilly during Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be available during the Leafs three-game road trip this week.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights yesterday activated goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury off injured reserve. He missed 25 games to a concussion and is expected to start Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Fleury’s lengthy absence, the Golden Knights managed to cope with a revolving door of goalies, several of whom were also sidelined at times by injury. Should Fleury remain healthy for the rest of the season and quickly regain his form he’ll give Vegas invaluable veteran stability in the crease. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets could be without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (lower-body injury) when they face off tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. 

 CBS SPORTS: New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey was placed on IR with an upper-body injury. 

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: With forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg returning to action, the Anaheim Ducks placed forward Jared Boll on waivers. 

TSN: Ottawa Senators forward Alex Burrows was fined $5,000.00 for roughing after striking San Jose Sharks blueliner Dylan DeMelo in the face with his stick. DeMelo was fortunate to avoid a serious eye injury. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers intend to retire No. 37 in honor of founder and former owner H. Wayne Huizenga.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders and New York City FC unveiled their competing bids for the Belmont Park redevelopment plan. The Isles want to turn it into a year-round sports center.