Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.

They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.

Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.

If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.

Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.

The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.

TIDBITS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” SATURDAY SEGMENT

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.

The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.

Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.

Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

The Devils are open to trading their 2022 first-round pick plus a look at the Sabres’ roster needs in the NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD PEDDLE THEIR 2022 FIRST ROUNDER

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicating his willingness to put his 2022 first-round pick into play in this summer’s trade market. The Devils currently hold the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

Fitzgerald said he’d be open to using that pick to acquire a player “that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for.” The Devils GM believes it is time for his young team to start contending for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald’s comments have already prompted some observers to muse over what type of player the Devils would want in exchange for that pick. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson recently examined the pros and cons of the Canucks’ offering up J.T. Miller if they’re unable to sign him to a contract extension.

Simpson is merely spitballing here as there’s no indication Miller is on the trade block. Nevertheless, you get the idea of the type of player it could take to pry that first-rounder away from the Devils, especially if they win the draft lottery. Fitzgerald would probably prefer someone with more than a year of term remaining on their contract.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

Speaking of the Devils, THE ATHLETIC’s Shayna Goldman believes Pavel Zacha is the most likely of their current roster to be traded in the offseason. The 25-year-old spent most of this season on the wing but prefers playing center. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who isn’t worth much more than his current $2.25 million annual average value.

Goldman also believes the Devils face a big decision regarding Mackenzie Blackwood. Injuries have hampered his development as a starting goaltender over the past two seasons. They must determine if there’s still room for improvement or if he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. She suggested it could depend if a UFA goaltender like St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper is willing to sign with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s name popped up around midseason linking him to the Canucks. Its’ believed they’ll be seeking affordable talent in the early-to-mid twenties. We’ll find out at some point this summer if there’s a potential fit for him in Vancouver.

Goaltending was the Devils’ undoing this season. Blackwood cannot be faulted for his injury history and his struggles attempting to regain his form upon his return to action. Nevertheless, this franchise needs an upgrade between the pipes to have a fighting chance of becoming a playoff contention next season. It’s up to Fitzgerald to address that issue, be it shipping out Blackwood or putting him in a backup role to an established starter.

WHAT ARE THE SABRES’ OFFSEASON NEEDS?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently examined what roster issues the Buffalo Sabres should address during the offseason.

Goaltending is their most pressing need. Craig Anderson, 40, will take a month or two to decide if he wants to return or retire. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look at all his options. Vogl speculated they could sign a second-tier unrestricted free agent such as Braden Holtby, Casey DeSmith or Martin Jones.

They could also acquire a goalie with a year left on his contract to serve as a bridge to young netminders such as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo. Options could include the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta, Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Adams must also improve his defense corps. Vogl believes they should add a right-handed shot to their heavy left-shot blueline but Adams stressed the importance of finding the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams might have better luck signing one of those second-tier UFA goalies. The Sabres could be part of Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade list, Raanta has a long injury history, the Wild could stick with Talbot ($3.666 million) if they’re unable to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and the Kings’ could allow the 36-year-old Quick to finish his career in Los Angeles.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

A look at some of the notable off-season issues facing the Canucks and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance took note of Vancouver Canucks hockey operations president Jim Rutherford’s willingness to play contract hardball with popular head coach Bruce Boudreau. Rutherford told a season-ending press conference yesterday that the team would like to bring the bench boss back on his current contract rather than on an extension. Boudreau’s current deal has an option for next season which he can opt out of by June 1.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau (NHL.com)

Drance suggested it was a risky move by Rutherford. He pointed out Boudreau’s coaching stock is sky-high right now following the fine work he did in reverse the Canucks’ sinking fortunes when he took over from Travis Green last December. The Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights are two possible destinations if Boudreau decides to leave.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out in this morning’s headlines update, Rutherford’s decision gives the impression he’d prefer to bring in a coach of his own choice. He inherited Boudreau, who was hired three days prior.

Rutherford said the Canucks want to bring Boudreau back and the latter has indicated he’d like to stay in Vancouver. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It’s now up to Boudreau.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that J.T. Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett said his client has made re-signing with Vancouver one of his goals. He wants to help the club go forward and would be happy to sign a contract extension this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. He’s a year away from UFA status and coming off a career-best 99-point season.

Miller is in line for a substantial raise over his $5.25 million annual cap hit. Whether a suitable agreement can be found with a Canucks management looking to bring in younger and affordable talent should ensure the 29-year-old center remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is hoping to replicate his 2019 offseason success this summer. Back then, Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault as head coach, acquired and signed center Kevin Hayes, swapped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen and acquired Justin Braun to bolster the blueline. He also traded down in the first round of the 2019 draft to select Cam York and used an extra second-round pick to select promising Bobby Brink.

Following that blueliner, O’Connor believes Fletcher will attempt one big acquisition, more of a traditional hockey trade (player-for-player) and a smaller buy using B-tier assets. He’ll also need to hire a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Connor also speculates that Fletcher will look toward a healthy Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier and the improvement of key players between 23 and 26 already on the roster. He’ll also look to the incoming prospects (like Brink) to further improve their depth.

One big problem for Fletcher is the Flyers’ limited cap space for 2022-23. O’Connor pointed out they have about $8.9 million to address their roster issues. He anticipates that will shrink to $5 million once they re-sign restricted free agents like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost and Zack MacEwen.

That’s prompted recent speculation suggesting defenseman Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million through 2024-25) or winger Travis Konecny ($5.5 million) could become trade bait. One of them could be swapped for a player with a comparable salary or shed in a cost-cutting deal to free up cap space to pursue free-agent talent.

Whatever Fletcher does this summer, he has to avoid repeating his miscues of the last two offseasons. His moves must at least turn the Flyers back into playoff contenders again. Otherwise, he could find himself unemployed by this time next year.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at what the offseason might hold for stars such as Patrick Kane, J.T. Miller, Filip Forsberg and Vladimir Tarasenko.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked whether several notable stars would still be with their respective teams when the puck drops next season.

Rosen believes Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat will remain with the Chicago Blackhawks. He doesn’t see Kane or Toews being moved unless they ask to be traded. Of the two, Kane could be the easiest to move because he’s still their best player and would fetch the best return. DeBrincat, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old elite scorer worth building around.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews and Kane also carry identical $10.5 million cap hits with full no-movement clauses through next season. While there would be interest in Kane if the Blackhawks were to shop him, they’ll have to retain a healthy chunk of his cap hit to facilitate a trade.

I agree that DeBrincat is a player the Blackhawks should retain but I also felt the same thing about Brandon Hagel. Chicago general manager Kyle Davidson would listen if a club make a big pitch for DeBrincat.

The Nashville Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Rosen believes the two sides will work out an agreement on a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll likely cost the Predators around $8.5 million annually to keep Forsberg in the fold. With Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene each earning $8 million annually, I’m not sure how comfortable Predators general manager David Poile would be in having another $8 million-plus forward on the roster.

Rosen suspects the Vancouver Canucks could trade forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser because of their contract statuses. Miller is a year away from UFA eligibility while Boeser is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and is two years from UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Vancouver seem to suggest the Canucks will attempt to sign Miller to a contract extension this summer while attempting to shop Boeser. It’s possible, however, that Miller also hits the trade block if he proves too expensive to retain.

It doesn’t appear that Vladimir Tarasenko has rescinded last summer’s trade request from the St. Louis Blues. He’s also a year away from UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko was reportedly unhappy over the treatment he received for his shoulder injuries by the Blues’ medical staff and management’s handling of the situation. To his credit, he hasn’t allowed this to affect his performance or his relationship with his teammates.

Nevertheless, if Tarasenko still wants out, I expect the Blues will have an easier time finding trade partners this summer. He’s been healthy this season, with 65 points in as many games, and has only a year left on his contract. While the cap hit is $7.5 million, his actual salary for next season is $5.5 million.

Rosen also expects Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg and New York Rangers center Ryan Strome to test this summer’s free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg is likely a goner from Dallas after he publicly complained about his stalled contract negotiations with Stars management in January. As for Strome, it’ll depend on how much he seeks on his next contract and for how long.

Rosen doesn’t understand why the Arizona Coyotes should move Jakob Chychrun. The 23-year-old defenseman is signed for three more seasons and should be a big part of their rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be because Chychrun could fetch a significant return but I also wonder if the blueliner is growing unhappy with his role or the direction of the Coyotes. If so, that could explain why GM Bill Armstrong will continue to entertain trade offers this summer.

Mackenzie Blackwood has been injured for most of this season. Rosen doesn’t see the New Jersey Devils trading him because his value isn’t that high. He thinks Blackwood could be a 1A or 1B goalie depending on who they bring in during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries have hampered Blackwood’s development. Rosen noted he’s signed through next season. I agree with him that Blackwood will be back with the Devils next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, more trade chatter about Canadiens goalie Carey Price plus more speculation about Bruce Boudreau’s future as coach of the Canucks.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico wondered if the Canadiens would trade Carey Price if the 34-year-old goaltender returned to play this season and proved healthy enough to continue his career. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman making that speculation during a recent “32 Thoughts” podcast, suggesting there’s a chance Price could be playing elsewhere next season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

D’Amico observed Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes saying Price’s return this season depends on his health. The veteran netminder remains sidelined recovering from knee surgery last July. During a January press conference, Price was adamant about remaining with the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have 13 games remaining in their schedule, with their final game on April 29. That doesn’t leave much time for Price to return to game shape and be in suitable condition to play a few games before the end of this season. If he hasn’t returned to full practice with his teammates by mid-month, he probably won’t be getting in any games before the end of this month.

D’Amico noted Price waived his no-movement clause during last summer’s Seattle Expansion Draft. He did so in order for the Canadiens to protect Jake Allen in last summer’s expansion draft. He and then-Habs general manager Marc Bergevin correctly assumed the Kraken didn’t want to be saddled with his $10.5 million annual average value through 2025-26.

Price could waive his NMC for the right club this summer but moving him won’t be easy. It’s unlikely a potential suitor would agree to take on his full cap hit unless the Canadiens took back a toxic contract or two to balance it out.

The more likely scenario would see the Canadiens retaining 50 percent of his cap hit to facilitate a trade. Even a three-team deal spreading the cap hit around would still involve the Habs retaining half of his salary given that’s been the benchmark for similar recent deals.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes Vancouver Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau’s ability to get the most out of veterans such as J.T. Miller and youngster stars like Elias Pettersson “should be applauded and rewarded”. The Canucks have an option year on Boudreau’s contract but he also has the option to walk away.

Kuzma pointed out that Miller has come to appreciate Boudreau. If the Canucks intend on extending Miller’s contract, it would make sense to keep their head coach in the fold.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller is enjoying a career-best 82-point performance this season. He might be more inclined to remain a Canuck beyond 2022-23 if Boudreau stays on as their bench boss.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

How much could it cost for the Canucks to re-sign J.T. Miller? How will Alex Goligoski’s new contract affect the Wild’s salary-cap payroll for 2022-23? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma suggested it could cost the Vancouver Canucks an annual average value of $8 million over five or six years to sign J.T. Miller to a contract extension. He considers that to be the going rate and term against comparable players such as the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Miller, 29, has one year remaining on his current contract with a $5.25 million cap hit. Kuzma believes the Canucks cannot allow their catalyst on and off the ice to test the 2023 free-agent market.

Doing so, however, will require some creativity by Canucks management to free up sufficient cap space for 2023. Winger Brock Boeser is a restricted free agent this summer who is due a $7.5 million qualifying offer while captain Bo Horvat is also slated to become a UFA in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That creativity could involve shopping Boeser this summer if they cannot reach an agreement on a new contract. It could also involve trading players signed beyond 2023-24 such as Conor Garland ($4.95 million AAV) or Tanner Pearson (3.25 million).

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a two-year contract extension worth $2 million per season leaves the club with less salary-cap wiggle room for next season.

The Wild’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last year will eat up a big chunk of their cap space for 2022-23. They now have six defensemen under contract for next season with promising Calen Addison waiting in the wings.

Goligoski’s signing prompted O’Brien to wonder if blueliner Matt Dumba’s days with the Wild could be numbered. He also speculated they could be forced to trade the rights of winger Kevin Fiala, who is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. In addition, O’Brien pondered whether recent additions Marc-Andre Fleury and Jacob Middleton will be playoff rentals or if the Wild will try to bring them back this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild will be a team to monitor during this summer. The additions of Fleury and Middleton could be general manager Bill Guerin going for it this season because he knows cap constraints could hamper the Wild’s progress in 2022-23. That could also involve moving parting ways with Fiala and with Dumba, who is slated to become a UFA following next season.