NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

Are the Panthers close to announcing a new contract for Aleksander Barkov? Are there other moves the Islanders and Avalanche could make? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: With Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov getting new contracts last week, George Richards wondered if Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov could be next to sign a lucrative long-term extension.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Richards reports the Panthers are expected to announce a new contract for Barkov in the coming weeks, perhaps before training camp opens on Sep. 22. It’s believed he’ll get more than the $7.75 million per season that Couturier and Svechnikov will receive. The 25-year-old Panthers star is earning $5.9 million annually on his current deal which expires next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is the Panthers’ top player and among the best two-way forwards in the league. I don’t see them letting him go to market next summer. Richards expects it’ll be an eight-year maximum deal. He could pull in over $10 million per season.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple looked at what other moves could be in store for the New York Islanders after officially announcing new contracts yesterday for Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.

The Isles didn’t announce a contract for Zach Parise but the winger will be joining them this season. Staple speculates he’ll get a one-year deal for the league minimum with performance bonuses on a plus-35 deal that could earn him over $2 million for the season.

Staple points out general manager Lou Lamoriello still hasn’t replaced Nick Leddy on the left side of the Islanders’ blueline. The Seattle Kraken has a surplus of left-handed defensemen but there hasn’t been much discussion between the two clubs. He doubts the Columbus Blue Jackets will part with Vladislav Gavrikov and it would take a decent-sized offer to pry Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, the Islanders are $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. That will increase once they officially announce Parise’s contract.

They’ll address that overage by placing permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on LTIR. However, it still won’t leave much room to add a defenseman unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or one or two players get demoted.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche might add a free agent or two to their bottom-six forwards. He believes they could offer someone like Tyler Bozak a cheap one-year contract or a tryout offer but they aren’t desperate to add someone before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baugh’s column was published before the Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a professional tryout offer yesterday. They could do the same for a UFA forward like Bozak though there’s no certainty they will. GM Joe Sakic could see how things unfold in training camp before seeing if he needs another veteran for his bottom-six.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2021

The Islanders sign five free agents, Colton Parayko inks a lengthy contract extension with the Blues, Jack Johnson gets a tryout with the Avalanche, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: After weeks of speculation, the New York Islanders yesterday officially announced the signings of unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas and of restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier.

Anthony Beauvillier was among four players signed to new contracts by the New York Islanders on Sep. 1. (NHL Images)

Palmieri received a four-year, $20 million contract, Beauvillier agreed to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.15 million while Sorokin accepted a three-year, $12 million agreement. Details of Cizikas’ contract (six years, $15 million) were leaked to the media the day prior.

The Islanders haven’t officially announced a contract for Zach Parise but the former Minnesota Wild winger confirmed he agreed to terms earlier this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Islanders sitting over $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll address that issue for the coming season by placing permanently sidelined defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million annual cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

The annual cap hits of these deals are reasonable. The term of Cizikas’ contract is unusually long for a 30-year-old checking-line center even if he is among the league’s best in that role. As I suggested yesterday, the longer term was probably what it took for the Isles to get him to accept a $2.5 million AAV.

It’ll be interesting to see what Parise’s contract will look like. There’s conjecture it’ll be a one-year deal for between $750K to $1.5 million because of the buyout dollars he’ll be getting from the Wild.

These signings will likely put the kibosh on rumors linking the Isles to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. However, there are other needs general manager Lou Lamoriello could still attempt to address before the season opens next month. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed Colton Parayko to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension. The 28-year-old defenseman will receive an annual average value of $6.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a major investment in Parayko though the annual cap hit is just $1 million more than his current one. A back injury affected his play last season but the 6’6, 230-pounder is a solid all-around blueliner when healthy. The report indicates he’s fully recovered and ready for the coming season.

Having lost Alex Pietrangelo to the Vegas Golden Knights via free agency last fall, the Blues didn’t want to run that risk with Parayko, who was eligible for UFA status next summer. GM Doug Armstrong said he saw what some defensemen were getting this summer and decided to get him under contract now. A wise decision on Armstrong’s part considering the big rearguard could’ve received offers worth around $9 million on the open market next July.

THE DENVER POST: Jack Johnson will attend the upcoming Colorado Avalanche training camp on a professional tryout offer. He played 13 games with the New York Rangers last season until sidelined by core muscle surgery. The 34-year-old defenseman was bought out last fall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report suggests Johnson will be a long shot to crack the Avs defense corps. However, a solid training camp and preseason with the Avs could help him land a contract with another club.

TSN: The Seattle Kraken signed unrestricted free agent forward Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $850K contract.

Rick Westhead reports the Chicago Blackhawks have resolved a lawsuit by an Illinois man claiming the club inappropriately used facial recognition software to obtain and store his biometric data. The plaintiff has decided to withdraw the suit.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau remembers the victims of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash that took place on Sep. 7, 2011. Among those who perished were coaches Brad McCrimmon, Igor Koralev and Alexander Karpovtsev and former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since that tragic day. Writing out their names today, it’s still difficult to acknowledge they’re no longer with us.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2021

The Blackhawks sign Connor Murphy to a new contract, the Islanders reportedly ink Casey Cizikas to a new deal, Evander Kane puts his San Jose home on the market, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks yesterday signed Connor Murphy to a four-year contract extension. The 28-year-old defenseman will earn an annual average value of $4.4 million through 2025-26.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy gets a slight pay bump from the $3.85 million AAV of his current deal that expires at the end of this season. He should fill the second-pairing right-side role on the Blackhawks blueline with Seth Jones holding the first-pairing spot on their rebuilt defense corps. He’s also expected to take on more of a leadership role.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple tweeted Casey Cizikas appears to have a new contract with the New York Islanders. He’s heard it’s a six-year deal at around $2.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The term of Cizikas’ new deal seems excessive for a 30-year-old checking line forward but it’s an affordable annual average value. The length of the deal was likely what it took to get Cizikas to accept that annual cap hit.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello still hasn’t officially announced Cizikas’ new deal but it’s the first indication that one of the club’s unrestricted free agents has been signed. The secretive Lamoriello reportedly doesn’t want his rivals to know how much salary-cap space he actually has.

Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac also remain unsigned but speculation persists they’re also under contract with the Islanders. The same goes for former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise, who’s been linked to the Isles in the offseason rumor mill.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Embattled San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane is selling his San Jose home for almost $3.2 million. Kane filed for bankruptcy in January and is going through a messy divorce from his estranged wife Anna, who accused him of gambling on Sharks’ games. Those allegations are under investigation by the NHL.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted former NHL forward Patrick Sharp is returning to his roots as a coaching advisor with the University of Vermont’s Men’s Hockey Team. Sharp played for them from 2000 to 2002.

TORONTO SUN: A recent survey named the Maple Leafs’ Carlton the Bear as the NHL’s top mascot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sun greeted this news with derision. “Were the voters four years old?”, they asked, calling the Leafs mascot “bland and uninspiring.”

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2021

An update on the trade status of Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and the effect of the Kotkaniemi offer sheet on the Canadiens and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford provided an update on the trade status of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He believes the Carolina Hurricanes remain interested as they need scoring help, especially on the power play. The New York Rangers could also be among the suitors.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Asked if the New York Islanders are still in the mix, Rutherford believes they are, though you never know with general manager Lou Lamoriello. Some around the league believe he’s signed a few free agents this summer such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri, However, he hasn’t announced those deals so no one knows how much cap space he actually has for the coming season.

The odds are 50-50 that Tarasenko returns with the Blues this season but Rutherford feels he’ll be moved. He believes the relationship between Tarasenko and the club isn’t reparable and feels comfortable guaranteeing the winger will be traded.

Rutherford also didn’t dismiss the possibility of shipping Tarasenko in a package deal to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. He believes the Blues expressed interest in the Sabres center but it never became serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford published his mailbag before news broke of the Hurricanes signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet. If the Montreal Canadiens don’t match it, the Canes will be out of the Tarasenko sweepstakes. And no, they won’t flip Kotkaniemi to St. Louis in a package deal for Tarasenko. By signing that offer sheet, Kotkaniemi cannot be traded this season.

The Rangers could acquire Tarasenko as short-term depth until young right wingers Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov are better prepared to become full-time top-six forwards. However, they don’t appear in any hurry to make that move.

Given concerns about the Blues defense corps, they could seek a defenseman as part of the return. Rutherford heard the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield mentioned in recent speculation but that doesn’t mean the Isles will part with him. Lamoriello also has to sign Anthony Beauvillier and Ilya Sorokin. If he’s already signed UFAs like Parise and Palmieri, he probably won’t have enough room to acquire Tarasenko and have enough for Beauvillier and Sorokin.

Tarasenko to Buffalo for Eichel would be a blockbuster deal but I don’t see it happening. The 29-year-old Tarasenko has just two years left on his contract and would probably hit the open market in 2023. The Sabres will want a return that best fits into their long-term plans.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggests the Carolina Hurricanes’ signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi could affect the Jack Eichel trade market. If the Montreal Canadiens don’t match it, they’ll receive the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in next year’s NHL Draft.

With the Canadiens potentially having two firsts and two third-rounders next year, Kingerski wonders if offering up two firsts and a prospect could land them Eichel. He also took note of Eichel hiring Pat Brisson last week as his new agent, pointing out he and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin are close.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I observed in today’s morning coffee headlines, the Canadiens’ salary-cap constraints means they’ll likely have to part with a salaried player as part of a deal for Eichel even if they placed Shea Weber and Paul Byron on long-term injury reserve this season.

Weber is expected to miss the entire season but Byron is expected to return to the lineup in January. Unless the Sabres retain part of Eichel’s $10 million cap hit (and I doubt they will), I don’t see how the Habs can fit his contract into their payroll without shedding additional salary.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock acknowledged the salary-cap issues facing the Hurricanes if they successfully sign away Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens. He speculates one way to address it is by placing defenseman Jake Gardiner and his $4.050 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

However, the Hurricanes would have to be over the cap by $4 million to take full advantage of it. That would require another move or signing, and Gardiner would have to fail his training-camp physical or be willing, essentially, to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly provides complete details of how LTIR works and PuckPedia has a shorter version.

Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet pushed the Canes over the $81.5 million cap by $1.523 million. The Hurricanes could attempt to trade Gardiner to shed his full salary if he doesn’t fail his medical, place him on waivers or demote him to clear some cap room. Demotion, however, won’t clear his full cap hit from their books.

How the Hurricanes clear cap space remains hypothetical until the Canadiens reach their decision whether to match the offer within the seven-day window. GM Don Waddell could already have something else up his sleeve to address that issue. Stay tuned.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2021

Could the Blues have an interest in an Islanders defenseman? Could the Devils use another forward? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield has surfaced as a possible trade target for the St. Louis Blues. A St. Louis native, the 28-year-old Mayfield could be a fit on the right side of the Blues’ third defense pairing.

New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (NHL Images).

Rutherford noted the Islanders were among the teams tied to the Vladimir Tarasenko trade rumors. He wondered if a potential swap for the left wing might bring Mayfield home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible but I don’t think the Isles intend to trade another defenseman. NHL.com’s Brian Compton believes they still need to replace Nick Leddy after trading him last month to the Detroit Red Wings in a cost-cutting move.

Compton also acknowledged the Isles could use another scorer, which would explain why they’ve been linked to Tarasenko. Mayfield on his own won’t get it done but he could be part of a package offer including a quality draft pick and/or prospect. However, I don’t see them moving him before addressing Leddy’s absence.

NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale believes the New Jersey Devils still need forward depth. They recently signed Tomas Tatar. Promising Alexander Holtz could bolster their production but he’ll need time to adjust to the NHL pace. He feels they’ll need another veteran forward to provide support for Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Tarasenko, would Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald consider taking him on? The 29-year-old winger is signed through 2022-23 and is said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go just about anywhere. He could provide a big boost to their production if he’s fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries.

Cap Friendly indicates the club has over $12 million in cap space, more than enough room to absorb the winger’s $7.5 million annual cap. They’ve also got plenty of promising young assets within their system to draw upon for trade bait.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2021

NHLPA strongly encourages players to get vaccinated, Jack Roslovic out to prove he can be a top-six center, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: NHL players are being strongly encouraged by the NHL Players Association to get vaccinated for COVID-19, warning about the potential loss of pay if they don’t.

Unvaccinated players who contract the coronavirus during this season or cannot play due to local health regulations face hefty fines and could have their pay withheld by their teams. It’s also unlikely they’ll receive an exemption to travel to Canada for games.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said over 85 percent of players are vaccinated. The league isn’t expected to mandate its players to receive the vaccine but will instead abide by government and public health guidelines. Daly indicated discussions with the PA over health protocols are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA want to prevent a repeat of last season when COVID outbreaks among several clubs. Those incidents resulted in rescheduling games as teams that were sidelined ended up playing through more compressed timetables once they were medically cleared to return to action.

Most players probably won’t need much encouragement to avoid face that again. The possible withholding of salary (which the teams are allowed to do) could provide sufficient enticement for the stragglers to get vaccinated.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Jack Roslovic is out to prove himself as a top-six center with the Blues Jackets. While his offensive ability was solid last season, his defense and faceoff skills needed work. Roslovic is hopeful his work ethic, new assistant coach Paul Vincent (who worked with him during their tenures with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose) and new head coach Brad Larsen’s system will help him improve.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks avoided arbitration with Jason Dickinson, signing him to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $2.65 million. The 26-year-old forward was acquired last month from the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have over $10.6 million in cap space with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to re-sign. It’s speculated it could cost between $12 million and $14 million to sign those two. The Canucks could get $3.35 million in cap relief if Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) is placed on long-term injury reserve.

TSN: The New York Islanders signed Aatu Raty to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old forward was the second-round pick (52nd overall ) by the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raty was projected to be a first-round selection but his struggles last season sent his value tumbling. Some observers feel he could be the steal of this year’s draft. His performance in a recent summer tournament suggests he’s playing like he’s got something to prove.

WXYZ.COM: The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Sebastian Cossa to an entry-level contract. He was the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning anthem singer Sonya Bryson-Kirksey has been released from hospital following a nearly month-long battle with COVID-19 that at one point landed her in intensive care.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bryson-Kirksey in her ongoing recovery.