NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2019

The latest salary-cap speculation, plus updates on Taylor Hall, Ilya Kovalchuk, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman declined to project next season’s salary cap, but Elliotte Friedman reports some clubs have the impression it could reach between $84-$85 million. Based on concerns over a lockout, he points out many players structured their contracts with low cash payouts for 2020-21. That means a lower escrow clawback, which could prompt the NHLPA to use their annual escalator clause to raise the cap ceiling by up to five percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After several years of seeing annual cap projections coming in lower than anticipated, I think the clubs will make a conservative estimate for their cap payrolls next season. If it comes in higher than expected, they’ll have more flexibility to add or retain talent.

Could the New York Islanders get into the bidding for New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall? (Photo via NHL Images)

Friedman believes the New York Islanders could use a scorer. “But I’m not expecting Lou Lamoriello to tell me how he feels about Taylor Hall.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are on my list of realistic bidders for the New Jersey Devils winger. Lamoriello never tips his hand and rival GMs know not to leak trade discussions at the risk of him shutting down negotiations. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s looked into the Devils’ asking price.

Speaking of Hall, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reports the Montreal Canadiens aren’t interested in acquiring Hall. He claims the fact the Devils don’t want to give Hall a six- to eight-year deal raises a red flag. Acquiring Hall this season would be a waste of assets for the Habs. He’d improve their scoring, but not their defensive depth, and that’s their biggest concern right now.

Friedman believes the Los Angeles Kings could attempt to work out some sort of contract termination for Ilya Kovalchuk once his final bonus is paid on Dec. 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings reportedly looked into trading the 36-year-old winger without success. Maybe they’ll have better luck after Sunday but I doubt it. He’s been a healthy scratch for a month now.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t sharing details on his contract talks with Alex Pietrangelo. He said they prefer keeping negotiations in-house. “I know it’s a long time until June 30, 2020.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo could depart next summer via free agency, but the Blues won’t trade him before the Feb. 24 deadline. They’re attempting to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, and Pietrangelo will play a key role in that quest.

Friedman has his doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will upgrade their backup goaltending. He claims they’re not enamored with what’s available in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev have come up in media speculation, but I don’t believe either guy is available. Looks like the Leafs are stuck with what they’ve got for the time being.

Jarry’s played very well backing up starter Matt Murray. Given the latter’s injury history, they probably won’t part with Jarry or Casey DeSmith this season. Despite all the fuss over Georgiev becoming waiver-eligible soon, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton doesn’t sound like he’s keen to part with him.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman said a rival GM claimed they learned they could easily trade winger Kasperi Kapanen during their previous losing skid. However, they don’t want to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is proving adept at juggling his limited salary-cap space. At some point, however, he could face making a cost-cutting deal to address a roster need, such as their backup goaltending. That could force him into making a difficult decision about Kapanen or another salaried roster player.

Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were testing the market on winger Alex Galchenyuk. He believes the Buffalo Sabres looking into it. “There were rumblings about Ottawa, but a few sources pooh-poohed that,” said Friedman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have had recent success with reclamation projects, such as Anthony Duclair. While it’s tempting to suggest Galchenyuk’s inconsistency scared them off, perhaps they’re simply unwilling to acquire a player slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes had interest in Dallas Stars free-agent defenseman Julius Honka before Dec. 1. He wonders what the summer might bring for Honka, who needs a fresh start.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2019

Mikko Koivu plays the hero in a milestone game, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl reach 50 points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu celebrated his 1,000th career NHL game by scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars. He also collected an assist for his 700th career point. The Wild are 6-0-3 in their last 10 games.

Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu collected his 700th point in his 1,000th career game (Photo via NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid (two assists) and Leon Draisaitl (two goals) became the first players to reach 50 points this season in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid sits atop the NHL scoring race with 51 points, with Draisaitl right behind him. Oilers defenseman Matt Benning left the game after being hit in the head by a puck.

David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 25th goal as the Boston Bruins downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. The Habs are now winless in eight games.

HEADLINES

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are the NHL’s three stars for November 2019. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar was named rookie of the month.

THE SCORE: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi and Stars defenseman Julius Honka are ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. The two restricted free agents were still unsigned by yesterday’s 5 pm ET deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were reportedly working on trading Honka’s rights before yesterday’s deadline. I expect their rights will be traded in the off-season.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will miss the next four weeks with a shoulder injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Brian Dumoulin will be sidelined at least eight weeks following surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur underwent surgery on Thursday to remove a lobe from one of his lungs. Lafleur was coming off quadruple bypass surgery in late September. The procedure went well and he’s under observation in the hospital before returning home to continue his recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy convalescence.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019

The latest on the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, plus updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS WON’T TRADE PRICE

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey observes a growing chorus among Canadiens fans who feel the struggling club should cut their losses and trade Carey Price. He feels that option disappeared when the goaltender signed his eight-year, $84-million contract. It would be tough shopping Price when he’s playing well, but no one’s interested in a struggling goalie with six years left on his contract and a $10.5-million annual average value.

Don’t expect the struggling Montreal Canadiens to put Carey Price on the trade block (Photo via NHL Images)

Hickey suggests general manager Marc Bergevin could help by bringing in a top-flight defenseman. The Habs carry over $8 million in salary-cap space, but that would mean parting with some of the prospects Bergevin has been reluctant to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s no-movement clause is another deal breaker. Even if he agreed to waive it, the Habs would have to  absorb a significant chunk of his cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.

Bolstering the blueline should be Bergevin’s priority. The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping a surplus defenseman. The Anaheim Ducks could also consider moving a rearguard. Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie have surfaced in recent trade speculation.

Those clubs seek a forward, preferably a scorer, in return. They could attempt to squeeze Bergevin into parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi as part of the asking price.

Given the bad blood between Bergevin and Hurricanes management over his attempt to sign away Sebastian Aho, it’s doubtful a deal could be made between those two clubs. Brodie’s recent health scare probably sent his trade value plummeting, while Gustafsson isn’t the shutdown rearguard the Habs need.

UPDATES ON PULJUJARVI AND HONKA

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman recently spoke with Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland over the possibility of trading winger Jesse Puljujarvi. The 21-year-old restricted free agent is playing in Finland awaiting a trade. If he’s not re-signed by 5 pm ET on Dec.1, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Holland indicated he’d spoken with a few teams in recent days, but he’s not optimistic a deal can be done before tomorrow’s deadline. He confirmed he’ll want a young player for Puljujarvi, or maybe a younger player/prospect and a draft pick. “I’m not looking to trade him for somebody who’s old,” said Holland.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka is maintaining a positive outlook as the Dec. 1 signing deadline approaches. Like Puljujarvi, Honka is a restricted free agent playing in Finland while waiting for a trade to another NHL club.

Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s still talking to teams, but he hasn’t liked the offers he’s received that far. Honka, meanwhile, is focused on improving his game in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players could be re-signed and traded to new clubs before tomorrow’s deadline. However, it doesn’t sound like either guy will be skating in the NHL this season. I expect they’ll be shopped by their respective teams next summer, probably during the 2020 NHL Draft weekend in June.

LEAFS NEED A BACKUP GOALTENDER

TORONTO SUN: After watching Michael Hutchinson drop his sixth straight game, Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must go shopping for a backup goaltender. “What he needs to do now is to find another option, a way to open salary-cap space, a way to alter his payroll, a way to find a backup goaltender who is both capable and ridiculously inexpensive,” said Simmons. “And around the league, nobody is about to do the Leafs any favors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Toronto-based pundits suggested Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry as a trade target for the Leafs. He’s young (24) and carries an affordable $675K salary. The Penguins, however, aren’t in any hurry to part with Jarry, who’s done a good job spelling off Pittsburgh starter Matt Murray.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2019

A review of TSN’s first trade-bait board of the season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin, and Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi top Frank Seravalli’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season. Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka and Calgary Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic fill out the top-five spots.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider tops TSN’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season (Photo via NHL Images).

Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. With the Rangers still feeling its rebuilding pains, Seravalli wondered if the speedy winger might be a good fit with the St. Louis Blues now that Vladimir Tarasenko’s sidelined for five months.

Marincin could be moved as the Leafs clear salary-cap space for Zach Hyman’s return. Seravalli said Oilers general manager Ken Holland will be in Finland to check on Puljujarvi’s progress. The winger will be taking part in the Karjala Cup next weekend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Rangers get an enticing offer I believe they’ll hang onto Kreider until February. The trade deadline is Feb. 24 and that means more suitors and better offers. Marincin could end up getting waived.

Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Holland can take his time and evaluate offers for the 21-year-old winger. If Puljujarvi isn’t re-signed by Dec. 1, he’ll be ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. Nevertheless, Holland could be content to let him play the season in Finland and try again to re-sign or trade him next summer.

Honka’s status is similar to Puljujarvi’s, except there might not be as much interest in the young blueliner. Seravalli wonders if the Flames uneven start might prompt GM Brad Treliving to shake things up. He also suggests Hamonic, an unrestricted free agent next summer, could finish the season in Calgary if the Flames get back on track.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray, Leafs winger Nic Petan, Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou, New York Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick fill spots six to 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s currently sidelined three-to-four weeks with a broken hand. The Leafs are reportedly trying to trade Petan. Given their need to make room for Hyman, they could be forced to put him on waivers if not takers are found in the trade market.

Athanasiou’s slow start and restricted free agent status next summer are behind the chatter about his future with the Wings. However, reports out of Detroit indicate they’re optimistic he’ll snap out of his scoring funk soon. The Islanders are trying to move Ho-Sang but so far there are no takers.

Quick’s poor start has prompted trade conjecture. His hefty contract, declining performance and injury history makes him a tough sell.

Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Samuel Morin, Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic, and New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall round out the bottom five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Hamonic, Brodie’s a UFA next summer. Despite the Flames’ recent struggles, I doubt either blueliner hits the trade block this fall. That could change, however, if they’re still struggling in the New Year.

The Predators reportedly tried moving Turris during the summer. Signed through 2023-24 with a $6-million annual salary, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Morin’s struggled to crack the Flyers lineup. He might benefit from a change of scenery.

Roslovic frequently surfaces in the rumor mill as trade bait for a defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s shown no interest so far in making that move.

Hall is the biggest name potentially available in next summer’s UFA market. With the Devils stumbling from the gate there are growing questions over his future in New Jersey. As long as he remains unsigned he’ll be a fixture in this season’s rumor mill.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2019

The latest Bruins and Stars speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if the Boston Bruins should package defenseman Urho Vaakanainen for a scoring winger. With Zdeno Chara aging, he believes they’ll need Vaakanainen on the left side of their blue line. The young blueliner could be scratching the surface of his ability.

Could the Boston Bruins consider shopping Torey Krug for a scoring winger? (Photo via NHL Images)

Haggerty mused over the possibility of the Bruins evaluating Vaakanainen, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk during this season in consideration of perhaps shopping Torey Krug for a scorer before the trade deadline. The blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Haggerty also speculates the Bruins could find a way to move on from winger Danton Heinen if another young player outperforms him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney isn’t in any rush to make a big move for a winger. He will take his time evaluating his roster before going that route if necessary before the trade deadline. It could cost them a promising young player to address their secondary scoring but they could get a more affordable option closer to the trade deadline. 

Contract extension talks are reportedly underway with Kruf. Should the rearguard remain unsigned by the trade deadline, I think Sweeney hangs onto him for the playoffs as an “own rental”. 

SHOULD THE STARS CONSIDER AN EARLY TRADE?

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heikawas asked if the Dallas Stars need to consider an early trade to address their early-season struggles. He feels they just need more time to see where they’re at. “Unless something disastrous happens, my guess is they wouldn’t even consider a move until after Halloween'” he said.

Asked if they could use their long-term injury reserve space to add a Brian Boyle-type player, Heika replied they might be best served by adding a bigger contract later in the season. He cited as an example their addition of Mats Zuccarello before last season’s trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are 1-3-1 in their opening five games of this season. Their sputtering start is troubling but they have plenty of time to turn things around. I don’t see them making any significant moves right now.

We know they’re trying to trade defenseman Julius Honka. On his own, however, he’ll only attract at best a middle-round draft pick. Perhaps they can package him with another player if they need to make a bigger move after Halloween. They have until Dec. 1 to sign Honka or trade him to a club that signs him. Otherwise, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the rest of this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2019

Game recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine scored twice and collected two assists as the Winnipeg Jets tamed the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Jets captain Blake Wheeler tallied two points, including his 700th career point. The Wild have dropped three straights games.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine is tied for the NHL scoring lead (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is off to a sizzling start to this season, tied with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (10 points) for the league scoring lead. After his messy contract standoff, the young Jets winger is playing like he’s got something to prove.

Patrick Marleau scored two goals in his return with the San Jose Sharks as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Teammate Brent Burns notched his 200th career NHL goal. The win snapped the Sharks four-game losing skid. Andrew Shaw tallied twice for the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks’ defense is still struggling. They must improve in their own end to build a winning record.

Brayden Point scored twice and set up another in his season debut as the Tampa Bay Lightning struck for a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bolts forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had four points. Auston Matthews tallied two points for the Leafs while Frederik Andersen was pulled after giving up seven goals on 28 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning led 4-3 after the first period and pulled away as the game went on. Toronto’s defense is already an early cause for concern this season.

Connor McDavid’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Leon Draisaitl’s shootout winner as the Edmonton Oilers nipped the New Jersey Devils 4-3. The Oilers are unbeaten in their first four games of the season while the Devils remain winless through four. Devils defenseman Andy Green missed the game with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils poor start is among this season’s early surprises. The off-season additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes plus a healthy Taylor Hall were supposed to turn them into playoff contenders. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around but their fans will get restless if it doesn’t happen soon.

Sidney Crosby scored and set up another as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Penguins goalie Matt Murray kicked out 31 shots. Patric Hornqvist rejoined the lineup for this game after leaving the previous one with an unspecified injury.

Colorado Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist as the Avs rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit. The Avs are unbeaten in their first three games.

David Perron scored twice, including the game-winner, as the St. Louis Blues beat the Ottawa Senators 6-4, handing the latter their third straight defeat. Ryan O’Reilly scored and set up three others for the Blues.

The Nashville Predators overcame 4-2 and 5-4 deficits to squeak past the Washington Capitals 6-5. Nick Bonino and Mattias Ekholm scored within 28 seconds of each other with the game-tying and winning goals. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for the Capitals.

David Rittich kicked out 34 shots and Johnny Gaudreau scored the shootout winner as the Calgary Flames overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Dallas Stars 3-2. Rittich also stopped Stars winger Alexander Radulov’s penalty shot in overtime.

The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the Montreal Canadiens’ home opener by doubling up the Habs 4-2. Anthony Mantha tallied his sixth goal of the season while goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their first win of the season by dropping the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Conor Garland scored two goals and Darcy Kuemper made 36 saves. Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook will undergo surgery today to repair a core muscle injury. He’s expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars restricted free agent Julius Honka signed with JYP in Finland’s Liiga. The deal comes with an out-clause should he sign an NHL contract before Dec. 1. The Stars still retain Honka’s NHL rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka has requested a trade but the Stars haven’t yet found a deal to their liking. If he’s not re-signed by Dec. 1 he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the rest of the season.