NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

Vladimir Tarasenko requests a trade, looking ahead to the offseason for the Lightning and Canadiens, plus updates on Duncan Keith and Taylor Hall in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TARASENKO WANTS OUT OF ST. LOUIS

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues and the club is working on moving him. The 29-year-old winger made the request earlier in the offseason.

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

Sources said Tarasenko was unhappy over how the Blues’ medical staff handled two of his three shoulder surgeries and he no longer trusts the club. His third surgery was performed by doctors outside the organization, who discovered the ligament damage wasn’t sufficiently addressed during the previous two operations. He also felt the club waiting too long to conduct further testing when he complained about discomfort in his shoulder prior to joining the club for last summer’s playoffs in Edmonton.

Rutherford cites several unnamed NHL general managers saying Blues GM Doug Armstrong has been quietly shopping Tarasenko. The winger has a no-trade clause but sources say he provided Blues management with a list of 10 trade destinations.

Tarasenko has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but an actual salary for 2021-22 of $9.5 million. It drops to $5.5 million for 2022-23.

It’s believed Tarasenko wants to be traded to a contender. Rutherford said the New York Islanders and New York Rangers have been mentioned as possible fits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were rumors in recent weeks suggesting Tarasenko was unhappy with the Blues. One linked him to the Calgary Flames for St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk but that was firmly denied by the Flames.

Tarasenko’s contract and his shoulder surgeries could make it tough for Armstrong to find suitable trade partners. As per Cap Friendly, the Islanders have just $5.76 million in cap space with restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin to re-sign, as well as unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas and Travis Zajac to replace or re-sign.

The Rangers have over $23 million with Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil as their notable free agents. They can afford Tarasenko but must leave sufficient cap room available to re-sign or replace Mika Zibanejad before his UFA eligibility next summer. They could also have their sights elsewhere as rumors link them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING AND CANADIENS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap constraints will force management into cost-cutting offseason trades. They’re currently sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $5 million.

The expansion draft could provide an opportunity if general manager Julien BriseBois is willing to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken. He could try again to trade Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual average value through 2023-24) but might have to buy out the winger if he can’t find any takers.

BriseBois will have to move some players under contract if he hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. Trade candidates could include Johnson, winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV through 2022-23), Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million through next season) or Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million through 2024-25).

Greg Wyshynski pointed out the Montreal Canadiens have over $10 million in cap space with Joel Armia, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal, Michael Frolik, Corey Perry, Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill slated to become unrestricted free agents. He wonders how many could be brought back.

Wyshynski also noted the Canadiens could lose a good player via the expansion draft. Jake Evans, Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen and perhaps Jonathan Drouin could be left unprotected. He wondered if they’ll cut a side deal with the Kraken to ensure they don’t take someone the Habs want to retain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are at greater risk of losing a couple of good players than the Canadiens. They must shed at least $10 million to have enough to fill out the rest of their roster and still be cap compliant when next season begins.

BriseBois has a well-earned reputation for cap management. He caught a break this season when Nikita Kucherov underwent hip surgery sidelining him throughout the regular season. That allowed the Bolts GM to place the high-priced ($9.5 million AAV) winger on long-term injury reserve, providing some welcome cap relief enabling him to keep his roster almost intact.

Unless another expensive player ends up on LTIR before next season, BriseBois will have to get creative to address his cap issues. Johnson, Killorn, Palat and Gourde have no-trade protection clauses in their contracts.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, could attempt to re-sign Danault, Armia and perhaps Perry. The rest will be cut loose. Danault reportedly turned down a six-year, $30 million offer earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see if that offer remains on the table.

LATEST ON KEITH AND HALL

TSN: Darren Dreger reports trade discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks regarding Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. He said there’s mutual interest in getting a deal done.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wants to do right by Keith but he’s seeking a quality return. Dreger wonders which young defenseman from the Oilers needs to be included to make this happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caleb Jones has frequently come up in trade speculation. There’s also talk the Blackhawks could absorb part of Keith’s $5.538 million cap hit for the next two seasons.

Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins are engaged in contract extension talks with Taylor Hall’s camp. There’s outside interest in the 29-year-old left winger from other clubs, including the Toronto Maple Leafs if they’re unable to re-sign Zach Hyman. However, Hall’s preference is to stay in Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers feel Hyman could get up to $6 million annually on the open market. If the Leafs can’t afford Hyman they probably can’t afford Hall. Then again, the latter is a more naturally talented winger than the hardworking Hyman. Perhaps they’d feel the Bruins winger would be worth it. We’ll see.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 4, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 4, 2021

Some recent Seth Jones speculation plus updates on the Islanders, Rangers and Red Wings in Sunday’s roundup of NHL rumors.

LATEST ON SETH JONES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has heard from “just about every GM in the league” regarding Seth Jones. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are believed the front-runners to land the prized defenseman.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Portzline brought up the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018 as a possible comparable. While Jones is a better all-around defenseman, Karlsson had a more impressive career at that point with two Norris Trophies on his resume. He anticipates the Jackets will get a smaller return for Jones than what the Senators got for Karlsson.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now cited a league source claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs interested in Jones from the beginning. He also believes Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could be up to something.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Jones could also be interested in going to a team where he can play a leadership role. He could get that opportunity on teams like the Blackhawks, Kings and Flyers where there could be a turnover in veteran leadership in the next couple of years as contracts expire.

The Leafs could’ve kicked tires on Jones. I doubt they have sufficient cap room to sign him to a long-term contract extension or sufficient resources to outbid the clubs listed by Portzline.

With plenty of cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects, the Red Wings have the assets to make a competitive bid for Jones. However, they could also be on the blueliner’s 10-team no-trade list. The Wings could certainly use someone like Jones but he might not be keen to join a team still in the midst of a rebuild.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, RANGERS AND RED WINGS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently proposed the Islanders need to land a reliable scoring winger for Mathew Barzal’s line. He believes they need someone “more dynamic and reliable than (Jordan) Eberle,” who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. They could leave him exposed in the upcoming expansion draft but there’s no certainty the Seattle Kraken will take him.

He also wondered if they might move defenseman Nick Leddy. That would free up $5.5 million of cap space to find an upper-echelon talent to skate alongside Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need more scoring punch up front. They were 21st overall during the regular season. Eberle had four goals and 11 points in 19 playoff games this year but at 31 he doesn’t have many productive years left. As Brooks pointed out, they must improve the quality of talent on Barzal’s right side.

The Islanders could also try to move Eberle and/or Leddy simply to free up cap room to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier. Perhaps they cut a deal with the Kraken to take one or the other. Maybe they get shopped to other clubs this summer.

Brooks doesn’t think the Rangers have room on their roster to add an unrestricted free agent such as Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Toronto’s Zach Hyman because of their depth on left wing. To address the club’s deficiencies, he feels GM Chris Drury can’t add players without subtracting in two-for-one or three-for-one deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the Rangers are being linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in the rumor mill. They have the depth in young assets to bundle into solid trade offers for an established young center or power forward. We’ll find out over the coming weeks if Drury will make that kind of move.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could use their plentiful cap space this summer to acquire good contracts or players that have to be moved by cap-strapped teams. He thinks Yzerman will call the St. Louis Blues about Vince Dunn. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild could also shop a defenseman to cut costs or because they can’t protect them in the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman also has 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the first round, three in the second and two in each of the following three rounds. He could draw upon them as bait for clubs looking to moving a blueliner leading up to the draft weekend (July 23-24).










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

Nikita Kucherov denies he was injured in the semifinals, Joel Armia in COVID protocol again, Jean-Gabriel Pageau faces surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov denied suffering an injury during Game 6 of the semifinal series against the New York Islanders. He left the game early following a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and didn’t return. He was back in the lineup for the Lightning’s series-clinching win in Game 7. “There was no injury, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said during yesterday’s media conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov left that game in obvious pain and didn’t return. Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t sure if his leading scorer would return for Game 7. So yes, he suffered an injury, though it wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of the lineup for the final game of that series. He logged the fourth-most ice time among Lightning forwards in Game 7.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia missed practice on Sunday and didn’t travel with the team to Tampa Bay after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The club will release more details on Armia’s status today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia was placed on the COVID protocol list back in March and missed eight games.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he was not aware of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by a former player during his tenure as the club’s director of pro personnel.

It came out recently,” said Bergevin. “There was a meeting that I’ve heard was done in Chicago. I was not part of any meeting and I was not part of any decision based on that. I was not aware of what was going on at the time. You can go on the record with that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin was not among the Blackhawks senior front office personnel listed by TSN to have attended that meeting to address the allegations. A former Blackhawks marketing official recently said the alleged sexual assault of two players was an open secret among the staff within and outside the organization.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports a league source claims New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal with multiple injuries during the semifinal series against Tampa Bay. One of them will likely require surgery.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders captain Anders Lee said he’s ahead of his initial recovery timeline and expects to join his teammates for the start of training camp in September. He underwent season-ending knee surgery in March.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2021

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, we examine the latest speculation linking the Wild and Ducks to Jack Eichel and take an early look at the Islanders’ potential offseason plans.

THE LATEST JACK EICHEL SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild had initial trade talks with the Buffalo Sabres regarding superstar center Jack Eichel. Despite this season’s improvement, the Wild’s depth at center drops sharply behind Joel Eriksson Ek.

Nick Bonino and Nick Bjugstad are unrestricted free agents. Victor Rask and Nico Sturm are a year away from UFA eligibility. Marco Rossi, their 2020 first-round pick (ninth overall) was sidelined this season battling COVID-19.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s health remains a concern as he could face offseason surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. The Sabres are believed to be seeking futures in return. Russo feels a package from the Wild would have to include Rossi and Matthew Boldy plus other prospects or multiple first-round picks.

He doesn’t see general manager Bill Guerin blowing a hole in his prospect pool. The Sabres would have to take back a salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Kevin Fiala to make the dollars work for the Wild.

Meanwhile, Eric Stephens examined the pros and cons of the Anaheim Ducks potentially acquiring Eichel.

The Ducks could use a first-line, marketable star in his prime like Eichel. The downside, however, is he’s an expensive player with an ongoing injury concern and questions about his leadership ability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are several NHL teams where Eichel could be a good fit. The best destinations appear to be teams that are carrying lots of cap space and tradeable assets (draft picks, prospects, young NHL-ready players) in need of a first-line center. However, Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years, the ongoing worries about his neck injury and the Sabres’ expensive asking price is narrowing that field.

I felt the Blue Jackets would be a prime candidate but a recent report by The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline suggests otherwise. The Wild are coming off a promising season based largely on their young talent. They’ll want to keep that prospect pipeline flowing for a few more years. If they go shopping for a center, perhaps Eichel’s teammate Sam Reinhart would be a more affordable option.

The Ducks could have a potential star in Trevor Zegras. They could end up with another as they carry the third-overall pick in this year’s draft.

Pursuing Eichel would be worthwhile if the Ducks were on the cusp of playoff contention but that’s not where they are right now. Their best course in this rebuild is avoiding unnecessary shortcuts.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined possible moves by the New York Islanders as they enter the offseason.

Defenseman Nick Leddy, gritty winger Matt Martin and 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows could be exposed in next month’s expansion draft. Kaplan speculates Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello could try to entice the Seattle Kraken to take Andrew Ladd off their hands with a side deal.

Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to retain unrestricted free agent forwards Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas. They also have to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are likely to tweak their roster this summer rather than make a big trade or UFA signing. Getting the Kraken to take Ladd and the remaining two years ($5.5 million annually) of his contract could require a substantial sweetener.

The Isles will also get some cap relief by placing permanently sidelined defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($6.5 million) on long-term injury reserve. However, the new contracts for Beauvillier, Pelech and Sorokin could also force Lamoriello to make a cost-cutting deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2021

The Lightning return to the Stanley Cup Final, the Cup Final schedule is released, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final. The defending champions beat the New York Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 of their semifinal series. Yanni Gourde scored shorthanded in the second period while goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in an 18-save shutout. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov turned aside 30 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning pose with Prince of Wales Trophy (NHL.com).

Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Erik Cernak returned from injuries for this contest. The Bolts also defied superstition for the second straight year by touching the Prince of Wales Trophy, traditionally awarded to the Eastern Conference champion.

The Lightning will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning defeated the Islanders at their own game in this contest. They played a suffocating defense that stymied their opponent’s offense. The defending champions’ depth made the difference against a team that pushed them to the limit.

It was a disappointing finish for the Islanders. but they served notice that last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Final was no fluke. They could remain among next season’s Cup contenders depending on what moves management makes this summer. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill update.

The NHL released the full schedule for the 2021 Stanley Cup Final between the Lightning and Canadiens. Game 1 begins on Monday in Tampa Bay. Game 2 will be on June 30. There will be a two-day break between Game 3 (July 2) and Game 4 (July 5). Game 7 if necessary will be on July 11.

TSN: A lawyer representing a former player who alleges he and a teammate were sexually assaulted by the Chicago Blackhawks’ former video coach in 2010 has made a request for 31 requests for documents from the club related to the allegations. The player claims the Blackhawks covered up the incident instead of reporting it to the police.

The Blackhawks have filed a motion requesting the case be dismissed because it wasn’t filed within a limitation period. The club also said the former player’s complaint should’ve been made via a worker’s compensation claim. They have publicly declined to comment due to the ongoing lawsuit.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Trent Frederic to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.05 million.

WINNIPEG SUN: Pascal Vincent, head coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, is leaving that position to become an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Ryan Hardy as their Senior Director of Minor League Operations. He takes over as the GM of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2021

The Islanders force Game 7 against the Lightning, Patrice Bergeron wins the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: There will be a Game 7 in the semifinal series between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime goal gave the Isles a 3-2 victory in Game 6, tying their best-of-seven series at three games apiece. Game 7 is Friday evening in Tampa Bay.

New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier (NHL Images).

The Lightning took a 2-0 lead on goals by Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli. Point extended his goal streak to nine straight games and leads all postseason scorers with 14 goals.

Jordan Eberle got the Isles to within one in the second period. Scott Mayfield tied it at 11:16 of the third, setting the stage for Beauvillier’s overtime heroics. Mathew Barzal collected assists on the Eberle and Mayfield goals.

It was a costly loss for the Lightning as leading scorer Nikita Kucherov left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check by Mayfield. It happened in full view of the officials but no call was made. Bolts defenseman Erik Cernak missed this game with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That missed penalty call (the latest in a long string during this postseason) was the only blight on what was otherwise an entertaining Game 6 between these two clubs. If that becomes the final game played at Nassau Coliseum it was a helluva way to go out.

It was a solid response by the Islanders after being thumped 8-0 in Game 5. It appeared they were on their way out after falling behind 2-0 but they showed a lot of character and determination battling back for the win.

Not to take anything away from the Islanders’ performance but the Lightning felt the absence of their leading scorer and best shutdown defenseman in this game. No word as of this morning whether Kucherov and Cernak will be back for Game 7.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is this year’s winner of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed John Sedgwick, their VP of hockey operations and legal affairs, to a three-year contract extension, sparking speculation general manager Marc Bergevin could get a similar extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has a year remaining on his current contract. I daresay an extension is likely after the Canadiens’ surprising run to the semifinal this spring. It’ll become a certainty if they eliminate the Vegas Golden Knights tonight and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a former team marketing official with the Chicago Blackhawks said the alleged sexual assault of two former Blackhawks players by a former video coach in 2010 was an open secret among staff both within and outside the club’s hockey department. One of those players has filed a lawsuit against the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have declined to comment because of the ongoing lawsuit. The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the allegations over how the club handled the sex abuse complaints could cast a stain on its championship legacy from 2010 to 2015. Former team president John McDonough and current general manager Stan Bowman are among the club officials linked to this purported incident.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Speaking of the Blackhawks, their Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Pat Foley will be retiring at the end of 2021-22 after 39 seasons in the job.

OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators defenseman Chris Phillips has resigned as the executive director of the Senators Community Foundation.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson announced his retirement yesterday. In 12 NHL seasons with the Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, he tallied 30 goals and 138 points in 629 games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, scoring the overtime time in Game 2 of the Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gunnarsson and his family in their future endeavors.