Updates on Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, Joshua Ho-Sang, Jesse Puljujarvi, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman cited an NHL executive suggesting the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo should agree to a new contract unless one side doesn’t want to make it work. Pietrangelo is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s contract status could be a hot topic in this season’s NHL rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).
Friedman points out Pietrangelo turns 30 in January. His negotiations come at a time when teams are spending more on younger talent. Friedman also believes the Blues are “taking a big run” at re-signing pending UFA center Brayden Schenn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cost and term will be the big issues for Pietrangelo. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong could balk if his captain seeks a seven- or eight-year deal worth over $9 million annually. However, he could also be reluctant to let his top defenseman – the guy who led the Blues to its first-ever Stanley Cup championship – depart via free agency.
With over $67 million invested in 16 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly), it’ll be difficult to keep Pietrangelo and Schenn. Armstrong’s admitted he’ll have to get creative to re-sign both and leave enough for the rest of the roster. That could mean a cost-cutting trade or two before July 1.
If the Blues are out of playoff contention by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Armstrong could shop Pietrangelo and/or Schenn if there are no agreements on new contracts by that point. Nevertheless, I think he’ll be keen to keep both players in the fold.
Friedman also believes a break is coming between the New York Islanders and Joshua Ho-Sang. He cited Isles GM Lou Lamoriello saying the young winger worked hard to earn a roster spot in training camp but it didn’t work out. Ho-Sang passed unclaimed through waivers earlier this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some think Ho-Sang might improve with a new club. The fact he passed through waivers, however, indicates nobody else wants to give him that opportunity.
It’s been five years since the Islanders selected Ho-Sang in the first round (28th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. He’s had several opportunities under different coaches and management to crack their roster. The simple truth could be that he isn’t good enough to cut it at the NHL level.
Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated things are quiet on the Jesse Puljujarvi trade front. The young winger is currently playing in Finland waiting for the Oilers to honor his trade request. Holland hopes Puljujarvi’s performance overseas bolsters his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have until Dec. 1 to re-sign Puljujarvi or he’ll become ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season.
Friedman advises keeping an eye on the Arizona Coyotes goaltending. They re-signed Darcy Kuemper and claimed Eric Comrie off waivers this week. With Antti Raanta and Adin Hill also in the fold, perhaps GM John Chayka will use this goalie surplus to swing a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could depend on Raanta. Friedman notes he’s very good when healthy, but he’s struggled through injuries over the past two seasons. He was sidelined during training camp and was sent to their farm team on a two-week conditioning stint. If there’s concern over Raanta’s health, Chayka could need that surplus between the pipes.
Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils looked at Florida Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk. He also noted the Dallas Stars seek a “reasonably high pick (second- or third-rounder) or a prospect” for rearguard Julius Honka.
A look at several notable names on the waiver wire plus updates on Evander Kane, Brock Boeser, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: New York Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith, and Anaheim Ducks winger Daniel Sprong are among several notable name to hit the NHL waiver wire yesterday.
Others include veterans like Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn, and Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Click the above link for the complete list. These players will be demoted to their teams’ respective AHL farm clubs if unclaimed by noon ET today. A few, however, could be plucked off the waiver wire before then. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane could face a lengthy suspension for shoving an on-ice official during a preseason game (Photo via NHL Images)
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Evander Kane’s abuse of an official penalty carries an automatic 10-game suspension. “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will have to confirm and officially enforce the suspension,” write Dreger. The incident took place during a pre-season game between Kane’s San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPORTSNET: Brock Boeser has been cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion last week. The Vancouver Canucks winger was injured after being hit from behind by Ottawa Senators forward Chris Tierney during a pre-season game.
NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues received their 2019 Stanley Cup championship rings.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone announced the naming rights extension for Bridgestone Arena to 2030.
NHL.COM: The NHL announced a two-year marketing and promotional platform with the rock group Green Day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the league is taking the longview in this partnership.
Updates on Nicklas Backstrom, Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser plus the latest contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: Nicklas Backstrom hopes to remain with the Washington Capitals for the rest of his career. The 31-year-old center is entering his contract year and spent his entire NHL career to date with the Capitals. He and goaltender Braden Holtby are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer but the Capitals have limited salary-cap space for 2020-21.
Nicklas Backstrom hopes to finish his career with the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $62 million invested in 15 players for ’20-’21. Unless they shed salary they cannot afford to re-sign both players. It’s assumed they’ll retain Backstrom and let Holtby depart via free agency next July.
SPORTSNET: Player agent Don Meehan, who represents Matthew Tkachuk, said they made what they consider a fair offer to the Calgary Flames in early June. He said negotiations are ongoing and he doesn’t anticipate a contract standoff dragging on into the regular season. The Flames have around $7.7 million in salary-cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost more than $7.7 million annually to re-sign Tkachuk. Recent speculation suggests the Flames could attempt to trade winger Michael Frolik ($4.3 million) to free up sufficient cap room.
SPORTSNET’s Iain MacIntyre tweets Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is expected to speak to the media today about his new three-year contract extension. He’ll have nothing new to report on the contract talks with Brock Boeser. “Everyone in NHL seems to be waiting for someone else’s RFA to set market,” writes MacIntyre.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Boeser camp seeks a multi-year deal worth $7 million annually.
THE ATHLETIC’s Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Brendan Perlini continue to discuss a new contract. Powers cites a source claiming both sides are hopeful of getting a deal done “over the next week or so.”
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a one-year, one-way contract worth $850K. General manager Joe Sakic considers Nichushkin a big, young winger who will add depth to the Avs roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former Dallas Stars first-round draft pick, Nichushkin struggled to reach expectations following a serious knee injury in his sophomore season. This could be his last chance to continue his NHL career.
Updates on the Rangers and Avalanche, plus six young players who could benefit from a change of scenery, in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE RANGERS TRADE KREIDER NOW?
NBC SPORTS: With the New York Rangers pressed for salary-cap space, Adam Gretz makes the case for the club to consider trading Chris Kreider as soon as possible. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and his performance could decline this season. Gretz acknowledged Kreider still has value to the Rangers roster but feels the winger would be more valuable as a trade chip.
Should the New York Rangers trade Chris Kreider now? (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers are over $900K above the $81.5-million salary cap, with Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, and Anthony DeAngelo to re-sign. They can exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the season opens in October. It’s apparent they’ll have to do something to get under the ceiling before then.
Trading Kreider could be the easiest way to address that problem. He’s carrying an annual cap hit of $4.625 million with an 11-team no-trade list and will draw interest from clubs seeking scoring depth. Rangers management could prefer trading him rather than have questions over his future in New York dogging the team throughout the season. His trade value could be at its highest right now.
It’s also possible the Rangers retain Kreider and look toward other options to free up salary. They could try to trade or buy out Kevin Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith, or shop center Vladislav Namestnikov.
AVALANCHE UNLIKELY TO GO THE OFFER-SHEET ROUTE
THE DENVER POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Chambers said he doesn’t expect the Colorado Avalanche to present an offer sheet to Toronto’s Mitch Marner or Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point. He believes they’re focused on re-signing their restricted free agents like Mikko Rantanen and others.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $16 million in cap space, the Avalanche are perfectly positioned to sign another club’s restricted free agent star to a big offer sheet. But as Chambers points out, Rantanen will likely cost between $8 to $10-million annually to re-sign. That will take a big bite out of that cap space.
I daresay general manager Joe Sakic wants to keep as much long-term space available as possible. Over the next two seasons, Gabe Landeskog, Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer, and Samuel Girard will be due for new contracts.
SIX YOUNG PLAYERS WHO COULD BENEFIT FROM A TRADE
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Calgary’s Sam Bennett, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi, and the New York Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang are among Jared Clinton’s list of six young players who could use a change of scenery. Dallas’ Julius Honka, Columbus’ Sonny Milano, and Carolina’s Julien Gauthier round out the listing of promising youngsters struggling to play up to expectations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At least one of those players could end up with new teams this season. The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck believes Honka could be a good fit with the Jets as a cheap right-shot defenseman. Puljujarvi’s agent requested a trade but Oilers GM Ken Holland said he’ll move the winger only if he finds a return that benefits his club.
Ho-Sang’s struggled to crack the Islanders roster. Clinton suggests they should move him if they don’t intend to use the young winger. Milano, meanwhile, is sliding down the Jackets’ depth chart and doesn’t seem to fit into their long-term plans. Gauthier also risks the same fate with the Hurricanes.
Bennett’s been a fixture in the trade rumor mill over the last two years. Flames GM Brad Treliving has been reluctant to trade the versatile forward. However, the cost of re-signing Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich could make Bennett a cost-cutting candidate.
Updates on Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and more in the NHL rumor mill.
SENATORS TRADE WATCH CONTINUES
OTTAWA SUN: With the Senators sitting out forwards Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel from last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, Bruce Garrioch believes the trio could be on the verge of getting moved before Monday’s trade deadline. The Senators have yet to get the three pending free agents under contract. He said it’s believed Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager Pierre Dorion wanted to get Stone and Dzingel signed by yesterday because they reached the point where they didn’t want to risk injury to either guy if they’re to be moved by deadline day.
It’s believed the Winnipeg Jets are the front-runners for Stone though the St. Louis Blues are also expected to call. The Calgary Flames could also be interested but they want an opportunity to sign him to an extension.
Regarding Duchene, Garrioch reports the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets are linked to the Senators center. The Boston Bruins have “genuine interest” in Dzingel. Garrioch’s colleague Ken Warren believes the Blue Jackets could also come calling for Dzingel.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Predators “have lusted after Duchene for some time.” He thinks the Flames, Blues Jackets, and New York Islanders have looked at him and speculates the Montreal Canadiens might have been in on Duchene if they felt they could re-sign him. He believes the Predators would be looking at a “sign-and-trade” scenario.
However, Friedman subsequently reported hearing the Predators interest in Duchene may have cooled a bit. Even if the Sens center is off the Predators’ board, Friedman feels they’ll still make a significant move before the deadline, suggesting targets like the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes or Columbus’ Artemi Panarin.
WGR 500: Brayton Wilson cited TSN’s Darren Dreger listing the Predators, Islanders and Blue Jackets as serious contenders for Duchene. He also noted some believe the Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks could also interested but others aren’t sure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford considers speculation tying the Blues to notable trade candidates like Stone, Panarin or Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds as wishful thinking. He said Blues GM Doug Armstrong is only interested in hockey trades, not rentals. Bruins GM Don Sweeney hinted he might be done dealing after acquiring Charlie Coyle from Minnesota, though that doesn’t mean he won’t keep an eye on the market for an affordable second-line scorer.
If Duchene, Stone and/or Dzingel aren’t interested in sign-and-trade/trade-and-sign scenarios it could affect how much interest the Senators received in them, as well as the potential returns. That could take the Predators and Flames out of the equation. I don’t see the Sabres going after Duchene as a rental as their playoff hopes are fading. The Senators’ asking price could be too high for the Sharks.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds is attracting growing interest in the trade market (Photo via NHL Images)
NBC SPORTS: John Boruk cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noting interest in Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds has intensified of late but the Flyers are focused on trying to stay in the playoff chase. With the Flyers falling to the Montreal Canadiens last night, Boruk wonders if GM Chuck Fletcher moving closer to making a trade. He wonders if Simmonds might interest the Arizona Coyotes, who’ve clawed their way back into the Western Conference playoff chase.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks the market on Simmonds has come to a halt as teams wait to see what the Ottawa Senators do with Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel. He suggests the San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, and Calgary Flames would love to steal a guy like Simmonds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There may be growing interest in Simmonds but I don’t see him moving until the Senators situation is sorted out. Teams that lose out on Duchene, Stone, and Dzingel could come calling.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Bruins, Blue Jackets and Jets could have interest in New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He also suggests Hayes could be an option for the Predators if they pass on Matt Duchene. He wonders if the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs might kick tires on Rangers defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Appearing on the NHL Network, Friedman linked Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello to the Flames and Dallas Stars. Regarding trade speculation about winger Chris Kreider, Friedman said the Rangers have set a high asking price because he’s signed through next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I consider Hayes and Zuccarello as fallback options for clubs that lose out in the Duchene/Stone bidding or drop out because of the high asking prices. McQuaid will be attractive to clubs seeking veteran depth and toughness on their blueline. Unless someone’s willing to overpay for Kreider, he’s not going anywhere.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun believes New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello could be busy leading up to the deadline. Dreger claims he’s going to go as hard as he can to pursue Matt Duchene, though LeBrun feels Lamoriello would want to know that he can sign the center. LeBrun doubts the Blue Jackets would trade Artemi Panarin to a club in their own division like the Islanders.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Lamoriello is in on Duchene and Panarin. He also thinks Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk could be his “Plan C”, though Kovalchuk controls his fate with his no-movement clause.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites The Athletic’s Arthur Staple reporting Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang is open to a trade. “They’re a good team this year. For me, obviously I want to play in the NHL, that’s my main focus. For them, if they need to trade me for pieces to go further in the playoffs, improve the great team they have, then I’m all for it.” Ho-Sang’s spent most of this season in the minors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one knows what the always-secretive Lamoriello has in store leading up to the trade deadline. Based on his trade history, however, one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that he’ll pursue a notable player.
Ho-Sang, who’s struggled to crack the Isles roster, could become a trade chip if Lamoriello decides to go after someone like Duchene or Panarin. The Kovalchuk rumors are based on his previous association with Lamoriello during their time with the New Jersey Devils, but that doesn’t mean the Isles GM is keen to renew that relationship.
HOFFMAN ASKED FOR NO-TRADE LIST
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing the Florida Panthers asked winger Mike Hoffman to submit a 10-team no-trade list. ” Doesn’t mean he will be traded but obviously teams are calling so Panthers need to be ready,” said LeBrun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have been linked to Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Make of this what you will. Hoffman was acquired by the Panthers last summer in a three-team deal with the Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks.
Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 31-save shutout performance in a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brayden Point scored twice for the Lightning. Earlier in the day, Vasilevskiy was named as the replacement for Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov picked up his 70th point of the season, becoming the fastest player to reach that number since Jaromir Jagr in 1999.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov is the fastest player to reach 70 points in 20 years. (Photo via NHL Images)
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask picked up his 250th career NHL victory by blanking the Minnesota Wid 4-0. Teammates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Wild recalled forward Joel Eriksson Ek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask is now two wins away from tying Hall of Famer Tiny Thompson for the most career victories by a Bruins goaltender.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson extended his points streak to 14 games as his club thumped the Edmonton Oilers 7-2. Karlsson collected three assists while forwards Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi each scored two goals.
Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 7-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, who’ve dropped seven of their last eight games. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba each had a goal and two assists for the Jets while Gabriel Landeskog scored twice for the Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they don’t snap out of their current funk soon, they’ll tumble out of playoff contention.
T.J. Oshie scored twice, including his 200th career goal, as the Washington Capitals downed the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. The Flyers tied an NHL single-season record by starting a seventh goalie as Mike McKenna made 21 saves in a losing cause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ two-plus decades of failing to find or retain – hello there, Sergei Bobrovsky – a reliable starting goaltender has come home to roost in a big way this season. Addressing this issue must be the top priority of new general manager Chuck Fletcher.
Buffalo Sabres rookies C.J. Smith and Lawrence Pilut scored their first career NHL goals in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner tallied his 29th goal of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner sits one goal behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the league goal-scoring lead. He needs nine more goals to break his career high of 37.
The Carolina Hurricanes held off the New York Islanders 4-3 to pick up their fifth straight win while snapping the Isles’ six-game winning streak. Brock Nelson scored twice for the Islanders, who re-activated Valtteri Filppula off injured reserve and demoted winger Joshua Ho-Sang. With the loss, the Isles slipped one point out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang continues to struggle to earn a full-time roster spot with the Islanders. I consider him a prime trade candidate, either at the deadline on Feb. 25 or during the offseason.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 36 saves to pick up his eighth consecutive win as his club defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1. Sidney Crosby tallied his 20th of the season and Bryan Rust scored twice, including one of two shorthanded goals for the Penguins.
Antti Niemi kicked out 30 shots as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2, handing the latter their eighth loss in their last nine games. Tomas Tatar had two assists for the Canadiens while Andreas Athanasiou tallied twice for the Wings. Earlier in the day, Canadiens defenseman David Schlemko cleared waivers and was demoted to their AHL affiliate in Laval.
Tyler Seguin scored twice and set up another as the Dallas Stars downed the St. Louis Blues 3-1. Blues forward Alex Steen is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of January with an injured left shoulder.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their seventh straight victory by beating the New York Rangers 4-2. Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault snapped a seven-game goalless drought.
SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks placed center Elias Pettersson (knee sprain) on injured reserve. He’s expected to return in time for the All-Star Game in San Jose later this month.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz will miss the remainder of this season with a lower-body injury.