NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2022

What effect will J.T. Miller’s new contract have on Bo Horvat’s efforts to get a new deal with the Canucks? Could Miller still be shopped despite re-signing with the Canucks? How could it affect Conor Garland? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston pointed out that J.T. Miller’s new seven-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks raised some questions for the club.

Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

Among them was what Miller’s new deal means for Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old Canucks captain is in the final season of his contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Horvat can sign an extension now but Johnston wondered if the Canucks can afford to have him, Miller and Elias Pettersson as their top-three centers beyond this season. “If an extension doesn’t come soon, the trade watch will be on for Horvat,” he writes.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Prior to Miller’s re-signing, Rob Simpson anticipated Horvat could get between $6.25 million and $6.5 million annually on his next contract, perhaps a little lower if he agrees to an eight-year extension.

Following the news of Miller’s new contract, Simpson felt Horvat could get between $6.5 million and $7.25 million on a long-term extension. He speculated the Canucks captain will likely be signed in September or perhaps the Friday prior to the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend given management’s recent habit of re-signing a key player on the Friday before a holiday weekend.

Whatever Horvat gets will affect the other Canucks eligible for UFA or restricted free agent status next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks management has indicated they want to stock up on young, affordable talent. However, the recent signings of Miller and Brock Boeser show they also want to keep their roster core intact.

According to Cap Friendly, the Canucks have over $68 million invested in 14 players for 2023-24 with Horvat, Nils Hoglander and Travis Dermott among their notable free agents. Re-signing their captain will result in the Canucks making some cost-cutting decisions next summer.

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reported that Canucks president of hockey ops Jim Rutherford said that Miller’s new contract “will not impact Bo,” adding they would like to sign Horvat. We’ll find out soon enough if the two sides can work out an extension before the season opens next month. Otherwise, his name could start surfacing in media trade gossip.

Johnston also pointed out that the Canucks are over the $82.5 million salary cap with their current roster for the coming season. They would like to find another defenseman so something has to give.

Conor Garland’s energy and production could make him a valuable trade chip. Johnston suggests the asking price could be a late first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland was the subject of trade rumors midway through last season but those faded away as the Canucks made a push for a playoff spot. The 26-year-old winger would draw interest in the trade market but the Canucks might not have to go that route.

Cap Friendly indicates they’re sitting above the cap by over $2.7 million but could garner cap relief by placing Micheal Ferland and his $3.5 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve for the coming season. However, it won’t leave much room to add a right-side blueliner.

Perhaps Garland will be used as trade bait for that defenseman. It would have to be for one with an annual cap hit comparable to Garland’s $4.95 million.

Johnston also didn’t rule out the Canucks trading Miller if this season goes badly. He lacks a no-trade clause in his current contract. Some teams may have been hesitant about acquiring Miller but could be more interested now that he has a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could happen but I doubt it will. Canucks management sees Miller as a vital part of their core as they hope to push themselves into Stanley Cup contention over the next few years. A poor performance by the club this season probably won’t change that opinion.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2022

The Canucks sign J.T. Miller to a seven-year contract extension, the Jets ink Sam Gagner to a one-year deal, the Oilers add Ryan Murray on a one-year contract, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Canucks signed J.T. Miller on Friday to a seven-year, $56 million contract extension that goes into effect in 2023-24. The average annual value is $8 million and includes a no-movement clause throughout the deal, with a full no-trade clause for the first four years and a modified NTC over the final three.

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

Miller, 29, is in the final season of his current contract with an AAV of $5.25 million. He would’ve become an unrestricted free agent next July. As a result, he was the subject of media trade speculation for months amid reports that Canucks management wanted to retool around younger, more affordable talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller tallied a team-leading, career-best 99 points last season. If his production were to drop to between 70-80 points for the coming season, he still would’ve been in line for over $9 million annually if he had hit the open market next summer. His strong two-way game and ability to play center or left wing would’ve drawn plenty of suitors willing to pay big bucks for his services.

Miller’s agent, Brian Bartlett, said this deal came together very quickly after weeks of on-and-off negotiations. He indicated that his client wanted to stay in Vancouver and help the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. It was also Miller’s idea to accept less than market value.

Nevertheless, this is a hefty long-term investment by the Canucks on a talented player who will be 30 when this deal goes into effect. He should still provide solid value for them in the first half but that contract could become burdensome against their cap in the latter years when his performance will likely decline.

Miller’s new contract could also affect efforts to re-sign captain Bo Horvat, who is slated to become a UFA next summer. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $68 million invested in 14 players for 2023-24 with the cap expected to increase by just $1 million to $83.5 million. Horvat’s current AAV is $5.5 million and he could seek around $7.5 million annually, which would take a big bite out of their cap space.

Still, the Canucks were willing to spend to keep their best player in the fold. The move signals to their fans that they believe they’re a playoff contender heading into the coming season and beyond. If Miller can help them become Cup contenders, it will be money well spent.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed free agent Sam Gagner to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable depth move by the Jets. The 33-year-old Gagner can play at center or right wing and still has solid two-way skills. He’s coming off a respectable 31-point performance last season with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $750K deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray’s NHL career has been frequently hampered by injuries. The most recent was a fractured hand last season while playing with the Colorado Avalanche. Still, he should be a decent cost-effective depth addition on the Oilers’ third pairing.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are bringing back Jimmy Vesey on a professional tryout contract. He began his NHL career with the Blueshirts in 2016-17 and spent three seasons with them before moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues are bringing Tyler Pitlick to training camp later this month on a professional tryout offer. The well-traveled forward has played for the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens over the past four seasons.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2022

What’s the latest on J.T. Miller’s contract extension talks with the Canucks? Could a couple of Metro Division teams become his potential trade destinations? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Dhaliwal and Thomas Drance recently provided an update on contract extension talks between the Vancouver Canucks and J.T. Miller. The 29-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

The two sides discussed a contract extension earlier in the offseason but a big gap remains. Miller’s agent said there’s a good chance contract talks could be cut off if a deal isn’t in place by the start of the regular season.

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

Canucks management wants to retain Miller but they have to maintain salary-cap discipline. It appears both sides are in “wait-and-see” mode for the time being.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson reported the New York Islanders were among a handful of clubs reportedly interested in Miller during the 2022 NHL Draft last month in Montreal. Simpson cited four NHL general managers claiming at least two Metropolitan Division teams are interested in the Canucks center.

Simpson subsequently suggested the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes as potential trade destinations for Miller.

Miller could skate on the wing for the Devils alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier but still take faceoffs. He also suggested Devils defenseman Damon Severson as part of the return to bolster the Canucks right-side blueline depth.

As for the Hurricanes, Simpson suggested a return of a first-rounder, 23-year-old forward Martin Necas and potentially defenseman Brett Pesce or Ethan Bear.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner believes now is the time for the Islanders to acquire Miller. He thinks it’s risky for the Canucks to hang onto him during the season and risk losing him to injury. If he struggles this season, it would hurt his trade value.

The Islanders failed to bring in a scoring forward this summer to bolster their offense. Adding Miller now would give him time to adjust to his new teammates, providing the Isles with the scorer they need to contend for the Stanley Cup.

Rosner believes a deal for Miller will cost the Islanders a first-round pick and a right-side, right-shot defenseman. He suggested including Scott Mayfield but he wouldn’t fit the Canucks need for a young defenseman. They would have to include a sweetener such as Samuel Bolduc.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could surprise us by moving Miller before training camp opens if they know there’s no way they can afford to re-sign him. Nevertheless, they don’t appear to be in any hurry to make that move. I doubt we’ll see Miller heading to a new club before training camp unless a rival club makes an offer along the lines of Simpson’s suggested return from the Hurricanes.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, I don’t see them pitching that offer of a first, Necas and Pesce or Bear. They made two significant additions already in Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty and recently signed Paul Stastny in part to offset Pacioretty’s absence with a torn Achilles.

The Devils added Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula to their forward lines this summer and I don’t believe they’ll part with Severson despite his UFA status next July. They’ll likely stick with their current roster and see how the season unfolds. Their biggest weakness remains between the pipes. Unless Vitek Vanecek or Mackenzie Blackwood steps up this season, they’ll likely be in the market for a goalie later this season.

As for the Islanders, I don’t think they can afford Miller now unless they’re willing to part with Noah Dobson, who would perfectly fit the Canucks need for a young right-shot defenseman. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumored deal the two clubs were discussing at the draft fell apart because the Canucks wanted Dobson.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 21, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 21, 2022

What’s the latest on J.T. Miller? Are the Canucks looking at adding a forward via free agency? Will Evgenii Dadonov become a trade chip at the 2023 deadline for the Canadiens? Are the Bruins shopping Craig Smith? Find out in this edition of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

SEKERES AND PRICE: CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal believes Nazem Kadri’s new contract with the Calgary Flames should be great news for Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller and his agent. Kadri signed a seven-year deal last week with the Flames worth an average annual value of $7 million. Miller, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

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

Dhaliwal believes Kadri did Miller a favor. He pointed out Miller is young and suggests he’s comparable to New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad ($8.5 million AAV). He thinks there’s no way the Canucks center will accept seven years at $7 million annually, especially if he has another 99-point performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller might not reach the heights of 99 points again. However, if he stays healthy this coming season and at least reaches 80 points, he’ll be in the range of Zibanejad money. If he exceeds 90 points again, he could get $9 million annually on his next contract.

This season could be Miller’s last in Vancouver. He and Canucks management have said they’d like to get a deal done but both sides have also suggested that it might not happen.

CANUCKS ARMY: Mike Gould also cited Dhaliwal reporting the Canucks have an interest in unrestricted free agents Evan Rodrigues and Calvin de Haan.

Dhaliwal pointed out Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin knows Rodrigues and his agent well from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also suggested that concerns over Tucker Poolman’s health (concussion symptoms) could be behind their interest in de Haan.

CANADIENS COULD SHOP DADONOV AT THE 2023 TRADE DEADLINE

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico believes the Canadiens have an opportunity to turn Evgenii Dadonov into a valuable trade chip this season. The Habs acquired the 33-year-old winger earlier this summer from the Vegas Golden Knights.

Following the acquisition, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes didn’t rule out the possibility of trading Dadonov if the right offer came along. The winger carries a $5 million cap hit for the coming season and is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

D’Amico believes putting Dadonov in situations where he can use his offensive skills at even strength and on the power-play could benefit the Canadiens’ young forwards. It would also boost his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dadonov could fit so well on the rebuilding Canadiens that the two sides agree to an affordable short-term deal. However, I agree with D’Amico that he’s likely to become a valuable trade chip for them later this season, fetching perhaps a second-round pick from a playoff contender.

BRUINS SHOPPING CRAIG SMITH?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited an informed NHL source claiming Bruins forward Craig Smith has been on the trade market since the offseason started. He also said they had recent in-depth trade discussions with another club, to the point where the Bruins got a trade offer for the 32-year-old winger.

The Bruins sit $2.2 million above the $82.5 million salary cap. They need to shed some salary but GM Don Sweeney could also achieve that by placing a sidelined player such as Charlie McAvoy, Brad Marchand or Matt Grzelcyk on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on which club is the interested party though I’ve read someone suggesting the Nashville Predators want to bring Smith back. He’s slated to become a UFA next summer and carries a $3.1 million cap hit.

Sweeney doesn’t have to move Smith or anyone else right now. He’s allowed to be over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason. Placing McAvoy or Marchand on LTIR to start the season will also temporarily address that cap issue but he’ll have to dump some salary to become cap compliant when the sidelined player comes off LTIR.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2022

What now for the Islanders and Avalanche after missing out on Nazem Kadri? Where could P.K. Subban end up? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHAT WILL THE ISLES & AVS DO AFTER LOSING OUT ON KADRI?

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears reports the Islanders are left with a lot of maybes after Nazem Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames yesterday. Media gossip linked the 31-year-old former Colorado Avalanche center to the Islanders but general manager Lou Lamoriello had been silent about the rumors and his efforts to bolster his club’s offense.

Maybe things will turn around with the roster as is and a season unimpeded by the long road trip and COVID-19 outbreak that affected the Islanders at the start of last season,” writes Sears. “Maybe Anthony Beauvillier or Oliver Wahlstrom will take the next step forward. Maybe new head coach Lane Lambert will unlock something (former coach Barry Trotz) couldn’t in this team.”.

Sears believes Sonny Milano is the most viable free agent that the Islanders could add but he’d probably end up on their third line. There are no obvious trade candidates at this time that Lamoriello could target.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz noted Lamoriello and Lambert have spoken about their belief in the Islanders’ core. However, it was apparent last season that they were going to need a few pieces if they intend to contend this season. Signing someone like Sonny Milano won’t make anyone change their view of the Isles’ lineup the way Kadri would have.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner wonders if Lamoriello will revisit his interest in J.T. Miller. The Isles GM was reportedly interested in the 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center during the 2022 NHL Draft last month. Free agent winger Phil Kessel could be a temporary, last resort option as he does provide offense.

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

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there was a lack of effort on Lamoriello’s part to bolster his scoring. He was rumored to be pursuing Kadri and apparently attempted to sign Johnny Gaudreau last month before he accept a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Lamoriello reportedly attempted to acquire Miller before the first round of the draft but for whatever reason, the deal fell through. He could try again but I don’t think the Canucks are keen to move the versatile two-way forward until perhaps close to the 2023 trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then. At that point, the Isles will face plenty of competition for his services, driving up the asking price beyond Lamoriello’s comfort zone.

The bottom line here is Lamoriello struck out in the trade and free agent markets. Kessel or Milano would be affordable short-term options but won’t move the dial much offensively for the Islanders.

I think the Islanders still have a good team. They’ve got a strong goalie tandem in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov plus what looks like a solid top-four defense in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov. Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee are proven scoring talents, while Beauvillier and Wahlstrom could step up this season.

Nevertheless, the offense remains an area of concern, one that Lamoriello will have to address at some point this season if the Isles are to be more than a playoff contender.

THE DENVER POST: Sean Keeler reports Nazem Kadri’s departure to Calgary leaves a big gap at their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill.

Pickings are slim in the free-agent market. They include 36 -year-old former Avalanche center Paul Stastny. They might have to look to within and see if J.T. Compher or Alex Newhook can fill that role.

WHERE COULD SUBBAN LAND VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens recently listed the Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres as three possible destinations for P.K. Subban. The 33-year-old defenseman could be an affordable short-term addition for clubs in need of an experienced, puck-moving right-shot blueliner.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng examines the pros and cons of whether Subban would be a good fit with the Sharks. While he’s no longer an effective top-four rearguard, he could have a role on the third pairing and would provide them with a right-handed shot from the point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban had a decent performance last season with the New Jersey Devils. He should end up with an NHL club on an affordable one-year deal before training camps open in mid-September.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2022

Speculation persists linking the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun to the Senators plus the latest on J.T. Miller and Rasmus Sandin in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

MORE RUMORS LINKING CHYCHRUN TO THE SENATORS

THE WALLY AND METHOT SHOW: Brent Wallace reported earlier this week that he’s been told the Ottawa Senators remain in pursuit of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. “There have been talks this week,” tweeted Wallace, who indicated the Coyotes’ asking price remains “two 1st round picks and a high-end prospect plus Arizona would also take (Nikita) Zaitsev.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

TSN’s Shawn Simpson reported the Coyotes asking price for Chychrun was huge at the trade deadline and at the draft. He’s sure other teams are interested in the 24-year-old Coyotes blueliner but everyone knows “Ottawa wants the player, and the player would prefer the Sens.” Simpson believes the Senators should offer nothing more than “a top D prospect, a 1st and a 2nd.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s worth remembering why the Coyotes are setting such a high asking price.

There’s plenty of interest in Chychrun despite his injury history. Teams look at what he’s capable of when healthy, as well as his youth and reasonable $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25, and see him as a good fit.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is rebuilding his roster. He’s got a valuable trade chip in Chychrun but he’s under no pressure to move the blueliner. Chychrun has three more seasons on his contract at an affordable cap hit. There’s no indication he’s requested a trade. Even if he did, he still must go out and perform to the best of his ability with the Coyotes until a club steps up to meet Armstrong’s price.

The Coyotes’ asking for Zaitsev is to replace Chychrun on the blueline and on their cap payroll. That’s assuming, of course, that they aren’t on his 10-team no-trade list. Trading Chychrun would put them under this season’s $61 million cap minimum.

Zaitsev has a $4.5 million average annual value through 2023-24, though in actual salary he’ll earn $2.5 million this season as the Senators already paid his $2 million signing bonus for this season. That’s much more palatable for the Coyotes.

As for those draft picks, the Coyotes possess nine picks between rounds two and four in 2024 and four second-rounders in 2025. However, they have just one first-round pick in each of the next three rounds and just one extra third-rounder in 2023. Armstrong would prefer a couple of extra firsts.

It’s possible Chychrun gets traded before the coming season begins in October. The Senators could be his destination. But unless Armstrong lowers his price or a team steps up to meet the current one, don’t be surprised if Chychrun’s suiting up with the Coyotes on opening night.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported player agent Brian Bartlett isn’t concerned about how big a story it could be for client J.T. Miller to report to Vancouver Canucks training camp without a contract extension. He claims the 29-year-old center is looking forward to camp next month and doesn’t believe his client’s contract will be a distraction.

The two sides haven’t discussed a new contract since the draft in Montreal last month. The Canucks haven’t given Bartlett permission to speak with other teams about an extension. He indicated he hasn’t spoken to Miller about cutting off contract talks with the Canucks once the regular season begins but doesn’t rule out the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Based on comments made to the media earlier this summer by Miller and Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, it doesn’t appear that the two sides will reach an agreement before the season begins. While Miller would like to stay and management wants to keep him, both sides seem resigned that this season will be his last in Vancouver.

Dhaliwal also reported agent Darren Ferris has been granted permission by the Canucks to talk to other teams about a trade for client Michael DiPietro. A source told Dhaliwal there is interest in the 23-year-old goaltender and there is a deal that could make sense for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could that interested club be the Vegas Golden Knights? They could be in the market for an affordable goaltender after losing Robin Lehner for the coming season due to hip surgery.

UPDATE ON SANDIN

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports contract talks aren’t going anywhere between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Rasmus Sandin. Agent Lewis Gross said he can’t answer why talks are at a standstill for his client.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas declined to comment other than to indicate via text that negotiating contracts through the media “do not create resolutions to private matters.” Fox indicates factors such as money, term and Sandin’s role with the Leafs are in play here. It’s believed the Leafs have offered him a deal similar to teammate Timothy Liljegren’s two-year, $2.8 million bridge contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also pointed out the Leafs have limited salary-cap space right now. They’ll have to create some cap space if they hope to get Sandin under contract before the start of the coming season.