NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

Check out the latest on the Golden Knights, Bruins, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ GOALTENDING

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports the salary cap remaining frozen at $81.5 million for next season makes it tougher for the Vegas Golden Knights to re-sign Robin Lehner. Acquired at the trade deadline, the 28-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Can the Vegas Golden Knights afford to re-sign Robin Lehner? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Golden Knights have over $74.6 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21. Lehner will be seeking security after spending the past three seasons on one-year contracts. He could command around $6 million annually on the open market.

If Lehner departs, the Golden Knights must find a backup goalie for Marc-Andre Fleury. It could be recently re-signed Oscar Dansk, an affordable free agent, or perhaps trading for a promising netminder like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger last week suggested the Golden Knights pursue goalies in the trade market who could be left exposed by their current clubs in next summer’s NHL expansion draft. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen were among his proposed targets.

Andersen won’t be available next season but Murray and Raanta could be. Murray is a restricted free agent so his next contract will take up a big chunk of the Golden Knights’ payroll, meaning they’ll have to send salary the other way. Same goes for Raanta, but the Coyotes wouldn’t want salary back if they’re moving him to clear cap room to re-sign Taylor Hall.

The Golden Knights might prefer more affordable options. Trading for a young, affordable goalie like Georgiev might be the best move.

NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNT FOR DEBRUSK?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports the agent for Jake DeBrusk brushed aside talk of his client accepting a hometown discount. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent who’s average 20 goals and 40 points in each of his first three NHL campaigns.

DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, said they’re not considering taking less than market value at this stage. He also pointed to his client’s performance in big games during the playoffs, noting he’s been a top-six winger almost from the moment he first stepped on NHL ice.

During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston Zoom last week, Edmonton Oilers analyst Bob Stauffer suggested DeBrusk was worth between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. That gives Bruins management leverage to ink him to an affordable bridge deal if necessary. Much will depend on whether they can re-sign defenseman Torey Krug and the cost of keeping him off the UFA market at season’s end.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked about Brandon Montour‘s future with the Sabres. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent who could cost $5 million annually to re-sign. Given their abundance of right-shot defensemen and their need for help on their forward line, Lysowski feels Montour has enough value to fetch a good return via trade.

Asked about whether Rasmus Ristolainen might be traded, Lysowski noted the coaching staff spoke highly of the blueliner. With head coach Ralph Krueger considering Ristolainen a core player, he probably won’t be moved.

Lysowski also doesn’t see the Sabres shopping their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft. He also suggests they sign a UFA goalie to a short-term contract and attempt to find a team that will take the final year of Carter Hutton’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors because of his difficulties in adjusting to Krueger’s defensive system. He was acquired by now-former general manager Jason Botterill, so I don’t think new GM Kevyn Adams would have any qualms about shopping him for a second-line scoring forward.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2020

Several teams begin Phase 2 training, current and former players of color form Hockey Diversity Alliance, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL BEGINS PHASE TWO TRAINING PERIOD

NHL.COM: Several NHL clubs began limited voluntary small-group workouts on Monday at their team facilities as part of Phase 2 of the league’s return-to-play plan. The Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights opened their facilities yesterday.

A handful of Oilers take part in small-group training on Monday (Photo via Edmonton Oilers).

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are expected to have players on the ice today, while the Arizona Coyotes will open their training facilities on Thursday.

TSN: 16 teams are hoping to open their facilities this week for small-group training. The Montreal Canadiens are expected to open their doors on Thursday. The Vancouver Canucks, however, have no plans to reopen their facility for the foreseeable future. With only three Canucks in Vancouver with their own access to ice, it’s easier for them to continue working out on their own.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche won’t open their facilities until Wednesday or Thursday.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Bell MTS Place will remain closed for the time being as almost all of the Jets are currently at their off-season homes throughout North America and Europe.

SPORTSNET: The Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets are among the clubs expected to open later this week. The Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, and St. Louis Blues are among those that will wait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because the small-group training is voluntary, the teams aren’t obligated to reopen their training facilities unless requested by the players. With many players at their off-season homes and the ongoing travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, their preference is to continue working out at their current locations.

SEVEN CURRENT AND FORMER NHL PLAYERS FORM HOCKEY DIVERSITY ALLIANCE

THE SCORE: Seven current and former black NHL players formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance. San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane and former player Akim Aliu will co-head the group. The executive committee includes Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Minnesota Wild blueliner Matt Dumba, Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, former NHLer and current AHL player Chris Stewart, and former player Joel Ward.

The alliance will be an independent group seeking to eliminate racism and intolerance in hockey. It hopes to work closely with the NHL to bring about change.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said dialogue continues with the league and the Canadian government regarding the latter’s border quarantine issue. Daly said Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver remain among the league’s 10 options for two host cities for this summer’s 24-team return-to-play tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons reported it appeared those three cities were out as potential hubs. He claimed Las Vegas is almost certainly to be named as one of the host cities, with Los Angeles or Chicago as the other. 

Pierre LeBrun reports the league and the NHL Players’ Association are hoping to open training camps in mid-July as part of Phase 3.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and his wife Brandi have launched an auction to benefit Black Lives Matter DC and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

THE SCORE: Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Carter Hutton revealed an ongoing vision issue plagued him during 2019-20. However, he doesn’t blame it for his poor performance at times.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland (concussion) has been cleared to resume skating. Teammate Josh Leivo (fractured knee cap) is unlikely to be ready in time for training camp in July.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named Xavier A. Gutierrez as their new team president, CEO and alternate governor. He’s the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Kent Somers reports Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo hinted he could have a new arena deal in place by the end of this year. Somers, however, remains skeptical.

If Meruelo has received a couple of “extremely attractive” offers from the East Valley, why hasn’t he taken them? What’s he waiting for? And what city or tribe is in position to make such an offer? Much less in the most difficult year (we hope) that most of us will experience?

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, may be interested in purchasing MLB’s New York Mets.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2019

The Senators re-sign Thomas Chabot, Patrik Laine tries to smooth some ruffled feathers with the Jets, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Dylan Larkin, Jake Allen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday re-signed defenseman Thomas Chabot to an eight-year, $64-million contract extension. The annual average value is $8 million. 

The Ottawa Senators re-signed defenseman Thomas Chabot to an eight-year contract extension (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the details of the deal, including a 10-team modified no-trade clause in the final four seasons of the contract. In a 2018-19 season filled with turmoil for the Senators, Chabot established himself as a talented young puck-moving defenseman, tallying 55 points in 70 games. His emergence as a top-pairing rearguard eased the sting of Erik Karlsson’s departure.

In locking up Chabot to a long-term deal, the Senators are committing themselves to the young talent on their roster, having recently re-signed center Colin White to six-year extension. It’s also a potential bargain for the Senators. Should the 22-year-old blueliner continue his impressive development, he’ll be worth much more than $8 million annually in a few years. 

CBC.CA: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk was forced to go to court to get his company’s private jet back from an aviation company that was holding it due to an unpaid debt. Court documents revealed Flightpath Charter Airways claimed it was owed $693,524.19 for the operation, maintenance and storage of the jet. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the same day as the good news about Chabot’s long-term contract extension, we’re reminded of the ongoing follies of the Senators’ owner and why the club’s fans remain nervous over its future under Melnyk’s control. 

WINNIPEG SUN:  Jets winger Patrik Laine reached out to teammate Bryan Little to apologize over remarks he made to a Finnish media outlet that seemed to disparage the veteran center. Little said the apology was unnecessary but he appreciates Laine making the gesture. The 21-year-old winger is currently embroiled in a contract impasse with the Jets and is practicing with the Swiss club SC Bern.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby leads all NHL players in eBay merchandise sales. He also had the top-selling NHL Shop jersey last season. 

WGR 550: An injured hand will force Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour to miss the remainder of the preseason. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should this injury threaten to keep Montour out of the lineup for the start of the season it could put a damper on the trade rumors swirling about Rasmus Ristolainen. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: A nagging foot injury has kept Red Wings center Dylan Larkin out of preseason play thus far but he’s hoping to see some action soon. Wings coach Jeff Blashill considers the injury a minor one but will give Larkin plenty of time to fully recover. 

STLTODAY.COM: After receiving off-season assurances he wouldn’t be traded, Jake Allen is focusing on regaining his role as the Blues’ starting goaltender. He was supplanted midway through last season by Jordan Binnington, who backstopped the Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings’ recent signing of defenseman Ben Hutton to a one-year contract was prompted by injuries to blueliners Derek Forbort and Paul LaDue. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils named Jake Reynolds as their new team president. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2019

Latest CBA news, updates on Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen, the Kings signed Ben Hutton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s encouraged by the collective bargaining discussions with the NHL Players Association. He’s hopeful of securing labor peace beyond the 2022 expiration of the current agreement and isn’t ruling out an extension. Bettman also expressed his happiness that the players opted not to reopen the CBA, which would’ve moved up the expiration timeline to Sept. 15, 2020.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports negotiations are ongoing. If all goes well, he speculated a tentative CBA extension could be in place within the next two months. He also reports Bettman dismissed the notion that the league might lack the urgency to push ahead with CBA talks now that the players declined to exercise its early opt-out. He also waved off the idea that he’s thinking about his legacy and didn’t want another work stoppage clouding his final years as commissioner.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports sources saying the NHLPA executive leadership favored reopening the CBA but they lacked sufficient support among the membership to do so, especially among the influential veterans in the 30-33 age bracket. The players were concerned taking the early opt-out would make the current amicable negotiations more contentious.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is please by the NHLPA’s decision not to re-open the CBA (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also reported the team owners haven’t been part of the negotiations with the players, who felt continuing talks directly with Bettman and league VP Bill Daly remains the best path. He also said the league’s desire for labor peace is very real, more so than at any point in his coverage of the league over the past 25 years.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine raised eyebrows when he appeared to complain to a Finnish reporter that he’d be a top-line player on other clubs. He spent most of last season on the Jets’ second line with center Bryan Little. “There are top lines and then there is our line. But I play with the guys I’m told to play,” he said. The 21-year-old restricted free agent remains mired in a contract impasse with the Jets and is practicing with SC Bern in Switzerland.

THE SCORE: Jets captain Blake Wheeler said he didn’t have an issue with Laine’s remarks. “I would say those are all good things. You want guys that are hungry for more and not content with where he’s at,” said Wheeler, who praised the youngster’s skills and his contributions to the Jets’ power play.

Meanwhile, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen is joining Laine with SC Bern. Like Laine, he’s yet to sign a new contract with his NHL club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s latest comments fueled speculation over his future with the Jets. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings signed former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan took part in his first training-camp practice with the club. Traded to Chicago by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, de Haan has been recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and a nagging groin injury.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Speaking of the Hurricanes, they signed defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. With blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, the move provides additional depth to the Hurricanes’ blue line.

THE SCORE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen will consult a specialist for a second opinion regarding his ongoing headache issues.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2019

The latest on Brock Boeser, Mikko Rantanen, Brandon Carlo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOESER

THE PROVINCE: Ed Willes believes the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make it any easier for the Vancouver Canucks to re-sign Brock Boeser with their expensive re-signing of Mitch Marner on Friday.

While Marner had more points (94) than Boeser (56 points in 69 games) last season, the latter’s average production (.42 goals per game, .41 assists and .81 points) is comparable to the former’s .28 goals per game, .65 assists and .93 points. If the Canucks are offering Boeser $7 million annually, Willes suggests Marner’s contract could push that figure even higher.

Mitch Marner’s new contract could affect the Vancouver Canucks efforts to re-sign Brock Boeser (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks limited salary-cap space also complicates things. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $4.1 million, well below what Boeser could be seeking. They’ll have to make a cost-cutting move or two to fit Boeser within their cap payroll.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers speculates it could cost the Colorado Avalanche around $10.5 million per season to re-sign Mikko Rantanen. The 22-year-old winger is currently skating in his native Finland awaiting a new contract. Chambers also noted Marner’s new contract could be used as a comparable. Rantanen’s coming off a career-high performance of 31 goals and 87 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unlike the Canucks, the Avalanche have plenty of salary-cap space (over $15.6 million) to re-sign Rantanen. Avs general manager Joe Sakic probably hopes to get the winger under contract for less than $10.5 million to squeeze out enough long-term cap room for other signings down the road.

CARLO

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney offered no timetable for when Brandon Carlo will be reporting to training camp. The 22-year-old defenseman is the Bruins’ only remaining restricted free agent after Charlie McAvoy re-signed yesterday.

The Bruins have a little more than $3.2 million in salary-cap space but Sweeney feels he can get the blueliner under contract without making another move. He could also place Kevan Miller and/or John Moore on long-term injury reserve if they’re not ready to start the season.

HUTTON

TSN: Former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton “has received multiple offers and he’s currently weighing all of his options, which reportedly include the Kings, Rangers, Red Wings and Wild.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With training camps now underway, Hutton might not want to take too much longer weighing his options. Those clubs could decide to look elsewhere if he doesn’t soon reach a decision. 

BOYLE

TSN also reported veteran center Brian Boyle has attracted interest from four or five clubs. However, all have been in a holding pattern trying to clear sufficient salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Scott Burnside recently reported the logjam of unsigned restricted free agents has also prevented Boyle from landing a contract with a new team. Perhaps the recent signings will make improve his chances.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2019

The latest on Taylor Hall and Jake Gardiner in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL HALL STAY WITH THE DEVILS?

NBC SPORTS: Scott Billeck wonders if the New Jersey Devils’ busy off-season will entice Taylor Hall to stay beyond this season. The 27-year-old left wing is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Billeck cited a June report by The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta suggesting Hall had no interest in re-signing with the Devils.

Will Taylor Hall re-sign with the New Jersey Devils? (Photo via NHL Images)

Since then, the Devils selected promising center Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, traded for superstar defenseman P.K. Subban, signed winger Wayne Simmonds, and dealt for promising forward Nikita Gusev. It remains to be seen, however, if those moves convince Hall to stay.

Billeck also suggested general manager Ray Shero might not be done tinkering. The Devils have roughly $8 million in salary-cap space. Billeck mused over the possibility of signing a UFA such as Pat Maroon or Ben Hutton.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: If Hall decides to test the market next summer, Kurt Leavins pondered the possibility of a return to the Edmonton Oilers. He points out the people who traded him to New Jersey are gone now.

Leavins said Hall always like playing in Edmonton and has heard the sting from the trade is largely behind him. There’s also the allure of playing alongside Connor McDavid. However, the Oilers would have to shed a significant salary to make the dollars fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s impending UFA status will hang over him and the Devils throughout this season. The longer he goes unsigned, the more speculation will grow over where he could end up by next July. A healthy season could lead to another MVP-worthy performance, making him perhaps the biggest name in next summer’s free-agent market.

Hall and Shero are playing things cool regarding contract talks. Both sides insist there’s plenty of time to reach a decision. Nevertheless, another poor performance by the Devils could push him into the UFA market. Even if they significantly improve, there’s no guarantee he’ll stay put. The opportunity to earn big bucks and perhaps play for a Cup contender could prove tempting.

As for a Hall reunion with the Oilers, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Sure, it’s possible, but Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have over $57 million invested in just 10 players for 2020-21. That won’t be enough to sign Hall to a deal worth over $10 million annually. While Hall may have enjoyed playing in Edmonton, I think he’ll look elsewhere if he tests the market.

UPDATE ON JAKE GARDINER

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports former Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner declines to comment about his current status.

“Whatever is happening with the undeclared free agent Jake Gardiner, he’s not saying. He’s not commenting. He won’t even take a question. He did, however, ask how my summer was going when we spoke. So there is that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner’s ongoing availability in the UFA market sparked speculation he’s got a “handshake agreement” with a club before training camps open in mid-September. Some believe he’s hoping to return to the Leafs once they get Mitch Marner under contract.

That seems like a long shot, though Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has proven capable this summer of freeing up sufficient cap space to address his roster’s needs. Regardless, I expect Gardiner will be under contract with an NHL club before training camp ends.