NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2023

Changes are coming for the Canucks plus the latest on Erik Karlsson, John Klingberg, Jakob Chychrun and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CHANGES IN STORE FOR CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE/THE ATHLETIC: Ben Kuzma and Harman Dayal. reports Jim Rutherford, the Vancouver Canucks president of hockey, indicated big changes are coming for the roster during a press conference on Monday to address the state of the franchise.

We have to do major surgery,” said Rutherford. He declined to call it a rebuild but felt it would be a retooling.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s toeing the company line with that comment. Team owner Francesco Aquilini is reportedly dead set against rebuilding the roster.

He indicated that the club is stuck right now with contracts that they can’t move. “Until we move those out, or until they expire, it’s going to be hard to make changes. He also warned that some of the changes won’t be popular.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma believes that last comment refers to team captain Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and has become the subject of trade rumors after reportedly rejecting the Canucks’ contract offer earlier in the season.

Rutherford said the Canucks offer to Horvat was fair up to what he’s done in 2022-23 but it’s under market value for his performance this season. The center is on pace to score over 50 goals for the first time in his career.

It’s believed the Canucks can’t or won’t exceed J.T. Miller’s seven-year, $56 million contract in their dealings with Horvat. He could end up shopped by the March 3 trade deadline if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on a new deal.

Kuzma and Dayal both believe overpaying for Horvat will make it difficult to re-sign pending UFA winger Andrei Kuzmenko. Rutherford said they’ve recently opened contract talks with the 26-year-old winger.

Canucks fans hoping for Rutherford to trade Miller and re-sign Horvat are going to be disappointed. Rutherford pointed out the value of retaining players such as Miller. He also wasn’t concerned about how his contract could affect the Canucks over the long term because of the anticipated rise in the salary cap in the near future, which he believes could reach $90 million to $95 million. In the short term, however, Dayal pointed out that Miller’s deal is already having an impact on the Canucks because it’s hampering their efforts to re-sign Horvat.

Dayal also reported that Rutherford is willing to consider buying out contracts if they can’t move them via trade. While they can provide some short-term relief, Dayal noted that they come at a future cost, pointing out that a buyout of Oliver Ekman-Larsson would leave dead cap space on the Canucks’ books until 2031. I think Rutherford could be looking at someone with a year or two left on their contract like defenseman Tyler Myers.

Kuzma also wondered what Rutherford’s plans are for Brock Boeser. The winger’s agent has permission to speak with other clubs but his lack of production and league-wide salary-cap problems make it difficult to move Boeser’s $6.65 million cap hit.

Rutherford didn’t address Boeser’s situation but made a general statement that a player’s performance dictates his trade value. Even then, Rutherford indicated that a contract could still be tough to move if an interested club lacks the cap space to acquire him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford might have an easier time moving Boeser if he agreed to retain part of his cap hit. However, that’s a scenario he reportedly doesn’t want to do. It’s my belief the earliest Boeser gets moved is in the offseason when clubs have more cap room to work with and a greater willingness to make significant trades.

Talking about his trade plans, Rutherford said that he won’t necessarily seek draft picks in return. Instead, he prefers bringing in young players from other clubs that didn’t work out with their entry-level contracts and giving them a second chance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma speculates the Canucks could target someone like the New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere. Dayal, however, is skeptical whether that’s a workable strategy, suggesting recent reclamation projects like Ethan Bear, Travis Dermott, Jack Studnicka and Riley Stillman haven’t done much to improve the club.

Rutherford didn’t say much about the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau as rumors swirl that he could be replaced by Rick Tocchet. He admitted he’s spoken with some potential coaching candidates going back a couple of months. “All I can say is Bruce is our coach right now,” said Rutherford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hardly a ringing endorsement or a vote of confidence for Boudreau by Rutherford. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman observed, it appears Boudreau will remain the Canucks coach until they’ve found a suitable replacement.

RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks had “legit conversations” about Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. However, he doesn’t think it got to the point where it got to Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Friedman means that it didn’t reach the point where the Sharks felt talks reached the stage where Karlsson would have to be asked to waive his no-movement clause to go to Edmonton.

Friedman also said he felt last summer that there was a high probability of Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg ending up with the Oilers. The blueliner was interested in Edmonton at the time but the salary-cap pieces couldn’t fit. Friedman no longer expects Klingberg will join the Oilers but expects he’ll be moved by the March 3 trade deadline.

Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is only interested in a trade that will improve his club or provide him assets that he can use in another deal. Friedman isn’t sure Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun would make sense for the Wild as a potential replacement for Matt Dumba given their salary-cap concerns after this season.

The Ottawa Senators are considering rental defensemen. It would give them an opportunity to evaluate someone they’d like to re-sign plus they want to finish as strong as possible for their players and their fans.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2023

Is it time for the Canucks to become sellers? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TIME TO SELL FOR THE CANUCKS?

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes it’s time for Vancouver Canucks management to start identifying its trade chips that can be used to rebuild the slumping club. They appear headed toward missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

Johnston believes the Canucks have missed their opportunity to re-sign Bo Horvat. His stellar performance this season combined with his $5.5 million cap hit makes him the most coveted player in this season’s trade market. It’s believed the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils are interested in the Canucks captain.

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

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche definitely need a second-line center and I don’t doubt that they’d have interest in Horvat. I wonder, however, if they can afford to pay what is likely to be an expensive asking price to get him.

The Devils, meanwhile, already have two young stars at center in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. There’s no room there for Horvat unless the Devils intend to shift Hughes to the wing.

Johnston wonders if there’s any chance of the Canucks trading J.T. Miller, whose new contract with its $8 million average annual value doesn’t begin until 2023-24. He lacks no-trade protection on his current deal.

The cost certainty of Miller’s upcoming new deal could make him enticing to clubs that were nervous about acquiring him last year before he signed that extension. However, he’s struggling to replicate last season’s 99-point performance, which could hurt his market value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those who said the Canucks should’ve signed Horvat before Miller have been vindicated this season. It’s looking more and more like management made a mistake, though it’s easy to judge in hindsight.

Miller had a career-best performance in 2021-22 while Horvat, a reliable 50-60 point two-way center, gave no indication he would be on pace for a 50-goal performance in his contract year. The stalemate in his contract talks seems to have given him additional motivation this season. He’s going to get a big payday, probably more than what Miller got, but it won’t be coming from the Canucks.

Some believe the Canucks should trade Miller and use the savings to re-sign Horvat. While I don’t rule out that possibility, that ship may have sailed.

Brock Boeser has just three points in the 11 games since the Canucks gave his agent permission to speak with other teams. It would improve his trade value if he could pick up his production. He’s carrying a $6.65 million annual cap hit on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s contract is why I expect he’ll be moved in the offseason instead of by the March 3 trade deadline. Unless they’re willing to retain salary or take back a significant contract in return, there aren’t a lot of teams that can afford to absorb Boeser’s cap hit.

Johnston wondered if New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere is on the trade block. He cited sources saying the Canucks are interested in the 2020 first-overall pick. One NHL observer suggested the Rangers would want size and “win-now assets” in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have recently reported that the Rangers still believe in Lafreniere and don’t want to give up on the struggling 21-year-old winger. Still, that belief could be tested if a rival club made a substantial offer.

THE PANTHERS WILL SOON FACE A COST-CUTTING MOVE

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes the Florida Panthers will soon have to make a cost-cutting trade. Winger Anthony Duclair is expected to return to their lineup soon and the cap-strapped club will have to shed some salary to make room for him. Patric Hornqvist is also sidelined indefinitely with a concussion so they haven’t been forced to deal with the issue of Duclair’s return just yet as both are on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli doesn’t expect Duclair to be the one who gets traded when he and Hornqvist are ready to return to action. The Panthers would find it difficult to move the aging Hornqvist, who carries a $5.3 million cap hit this season.

Some observers have suggested they could be forced to peddle Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett to free up sufficient room for Duclair. It’ll be interesting to see how they address this situation.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2022

What clubs could potentially become trade destinations for Canucks center Bo Horvat and Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR BO HORVAT

THE PROVINCE: With Bo Horvat’s contract talks at an impasse, Patrick Johnston listed the Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets as potential trade destinations for the Vancouver Canucks captain.

Horvat is in the final season of his six-year contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million and lacks no-trade protection. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Recent reports claim he rejected an eight-year contract offer worth well below the $8 million baseline considered for top-line centers.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

The Flyers desperately need a first-line center. Winger Travis Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov are believed to be on the trade block. However, it’s unknown if Horvat would want to sign with the struggling Flyers.

Horvat has been the focus of the Avalanche’s attention for some time. They’d have to part with defenseman Bowen Byram to make the deal work.

A scout told Johnston that the Panthers love Horvat’s two-way game. Johnston wondered if there was a way the Canucks could get defenseman Aaron Ekblad in return.

Horvat would look good centering Blue Jackets wingers Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau. The retooling club might be willing to part with a blue-chip prospect as part of the return.

SPORTSNET: (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman also discussed possible destinations for Horvat. They agree the Avalanche makes the most sense and appears the obvious choice.

Horvat would make a lot of sense for the Blue Jackets but Friedman thinks they’d risk losing him to free agency next summer. Marek also suggested the Flyers as an option and the Boston Bruins if Patrice Bergeron opts for retirement at season’s end.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY INSIDER: Rob Simpson prefers the Canucks trade J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser. He argues it would free up $14.6 million in cap space to put toward re-signing Horvat and Andrei Kuzmenko plus they could start working on a contract extension for Elias Pettersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect any comment from Horvat on his contract talks or a possible trade. He issued a statement yesterday acknowledging the situation but indicated he’s focused on helping the Canucks win this season and won’t have anything further to say about his future for the remainder of the season.

As to where he could go, I agree with Marek and Friedman that the Avalanche seems to be the obvious choice. They’ve been lacking a reliable second-line center since Nazem Kadri’s departure last summer via free agency. They currently have $5.6 million in projected cap space though that could shrink once Gabriel Landeskog comes off LTIR. They’ll probably have to part with a good young defenseman like Byram or perhaps Samuel Girard to get him.

I don’t see struggling clubs like the Flyers or Blue Jackets pursuing Horvat unless they’re certain of re-signing him before July. The Panthers need to bolster their blueline, not add another center. And no, they won’t part with Ekblad.

Simpson’s suggestion of trading Miller and re-sign Horvat makes sense but I don’t think that’s the direction the Canucks will take. They could move Miller before his new contract with his no-trade protection kicks in but they seem committed to keeping him.

WHERE WILL JESSE PULJUJARVI END UP?

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman suggested the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets as possible destinations for Jesse Puljujarvi. It’s been reported that the Oilers and Puljujarvi’s camp are working toward a trade. He has just one goal this season and carries a one-year contract with a cap hit of $3 million.

The Ducks are a rebuilding club with plenty of cap space to absorb Puljujarvi’s contract plus they’re loaded with draft picks.

Puljujarvi and Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho are friends and former linemates. The Oilers would have to take something back in the deal as the Hurricanes are pressed for cap space.

As for the Jets, they can afford Puljujarvi’s cap hit and are in need of a right wing with Nikolaj Ehlers and Mason Appleton currently sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks seem a great fit but general manager Pat Verbeek wants players who will fit into his rebuilding plans. He might not be inclined to waste a draft pick on a reclamation project with an expiring contract like Puljujarvi. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could feel the same way. As for the Hurricanes, I don’t see a fit there, especially with Max Pacioretty due to come off LTIR in February.

Nugent-Bowman also suggested rebuilding clubs like the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators as possible fits for Puljujarvi. He believes it would be a low-risk move with a chance of a decent reward for those clubs. Whether any of them share that view remains to be seen.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico reports the Canadiens kicked tires on Puljujarvi during the offseason before settling on acquiring Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames. D’Amico suggested the Oilers winger could be an attractive bottom-six option for the Habs to evaluate through the end of this season and into 2023-25. The Oilers would probably have to include another asset in the deal given the winger’s recent comments questioning his place in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens could revisit their previous interest in Puljujarvi. Then again, they passed on him last summer and his performance this season seems to justify that decision.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2022

Could the Canucks attempt to move J.T. Miller or Tanner Pearson this season? Will the Bruins trade Mike Reilly? Are the Devils in the market for a goaltender? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE CANUCKS SHOP MILLER OR PEARSON?

VANCOUVER CANUCKS INSIDER: Rob Simpson mused over the possibility of the Canucks shopping J.T. Miller if this season continues to go south and the franchise opts to shake up its core.

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

Miller signed a seven-year contract extension in September that begins next season and carries a full no-movement clause until 2026-27. However, he’s in the final season of his current deal which lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simpson acknowledged the notion of trading Miller is hypothetical and unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, we can’t dismiss the possibility. Miller’s contract extension could make him more enticing for contenders looking for more than a playoff rental at the March 3 trade deadline.

Simpson believes Canucks winger Tanner Pearson is the most likely to be moved depending on his health. He suggested teams might be interested in Pearson’s Stanley Cup experience.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 30-year-old Pearson is signed through 2023-25 with an average annual value of $3.25 million. He’s currently sidelined for four-to-six weeks recovering from hand surgery. Pearson is an inconsistent scorer but he could draw interest from contenders seeking an affordable and experienced depth winger.

ARE THE BRUINS SHOPPING MIKE REILLY?

NHL.com contributor Mark Divver reported Boston Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly didn’t play for their AHL affiliate in Providence last night and isn’t expected to do so on Sunday. “Word is he’s hoping for a trade,” writes Divver. “No idea whether there is something in the works or not.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reilly cleared waivers and was sent down to Providence due to Charlie McAvoy’s return to the Bruins lineup on Thursday. It’s unusual that he’s not playing if he isn’t injured or sick. Perhaps they’re holding him out of the lineup as the parent club works on a trade.

DEVILS CONSIDERING THEIR OPTIONS IN NET.

NJ.COM’s Ryan Novozinsky reported New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is willing to explore all his options regarding his injury-plagued goaltenders. “We’ll explore anything and everything,” said Fitzgerald. “If it makes sense for us to keep from overworking certain goalies or if we prefer to keep our (young goalies) in the AHL.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Fitzgerald is in talks with the Dallas Stars? They had to keep Anton Khudobin buried in the AHL while Jake Oettinger was sidelined because they couldn’t afford to call him up. He’s in the final season of his contract and carries a $3.33 million cap hit but lacks no-trade protection. The Devils, however, have limited cap space ($1.2 million) so they might have to consider a more affordable option.

Then again, perhaps they’ll go with Jonathan Bernier if he is ready to return to action. He’s been recovering from hip surgery but has been recently spotted practicing with the Devils.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2022

Game recaps, the league finds no evidence to support anonymous allegations against Ian Cole, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had his second straight three-point game to lead his Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tristan Jarry got the win with a 34-save performance while Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter each had two points for the Penguins. Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each had two points.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was also the second straight game that the Penguins scored six goals.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov turned aside 26 shots and Justin Holl snapped a 2-2 tie to nip the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Samsonov got the start when Matt Murray suffered an adductor injury that will sideline him for four weeks. The Leafs recalled Erik Kallgren as Samsonov’s backup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It didn’t take long for Murray to be sidelined again, bringing into question the decision by general manager Kyle Dubas to acquire the oft-injured netminder this summer. The Leafs had better pray Samsonov remains healthy and plays well given their limited cap space and lack of depth in quality goalies within their system.

The Los Angeles Kings tamed the Minnesota Wild 7-6 on a third-period goal by Adrian Kempe, who finished the night with two goals and an assist. Anze Kopitar collected three assists while Kevin Fiala notched three points against his former team. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after he gave up four goals on 14 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild overcame a 3-0 deficit and had tied the game at six before Kempe’s game-winning tally. It was a sloppy defensive contest for both clubs. Zuccarello didn’t mince words about his team’s performance. “Sometimes we play defense like we’re a f**king junior team. It’s the whole team. We have to sharpen up,” he said.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals while Pavel Buchnevich and Brayden Schenn each had two points as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist for the Jackets, who have dropped three straight to start the season.

The Calgary Flames got a three-point performance from defenseman Michael Stone and two points from Nazem Kadri as they held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Connor McDavid scored a goal and Leon Draisaitl had two assists for the Oilers.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 37 shots for the win. Devils captain Nico Hischier returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a hamstring injury during preseason play.

The Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 5-1. Roope Hintz had two goals and an assist, Jason Robertson a goal and two assists while netminder Jake Oettinger kicked out 29 shots.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault tallied twice and Adin Hill made 31 saves to beat the Seattle Kraken 5-2. The Golden Knights have won three straight. Andre Burakovsky had two assists for the Kraken.

Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer scored twice and set up another in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno and Pavel Zacha each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Brandon Carlo in the first period to a possible head/concussion injury following a hit by Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien. Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins left the game with an upper-body injury.

Defensemen Robin Salo and Scott Mayfield each scored twice and Anders Lee collected three assists as the New York Islanders crushed the Anaheim Ducks 7-1. Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom each had two points. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck returned from injured reserve but Sebastian Aho went on IR with an upper-body injury.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Travis Konecny scored the game-winner and assisted on Scott Laughton’s game-tying goal while Carter Hart made 28 saves for the win. Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are 2-0-0 while the Canucks have lost their first two games. Canucks star J.T. Miller is frustrated by his performance, acknowledging he’s been on the ice for all eight goals scored against his team thus far. Speaking of the Flyers, they placed winger Owen Tippett on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Three unanswered second-period goals by Conor Sheary, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie lifted the Washington Capitals over the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Oshie finished with two points. Nick Suzuki scored for the Canadiens, who remain scoreless in 10 power-play opportunities thus far this season.

The Florida Panthers held off the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist while Aleksander Barkov chipped in two assists. Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

Two second-period goals by Sam Lafferty helped the Chicago Blackhawks overcome a 2-0 deficit to down the San Jose Sharks 5-2. The Sharks have dropped four straight games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sharks honored former general manager Doug Wilson, who stepped away from the role last season for health reasons.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The league announced Saturday it had concluded its investigation into anonymous allegations of sexual assault on social media made against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole, finding no evidence to substantiate the allegations.

The league conducted two interviews with Cole as well as interviews with NHL club personnel and other individuals with potentially pertinent information. It conducted a detailed review of online and social media, public data, court records and law enforcement checks, as well as attempted to contact the source of the allegations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaction to this report on social media has been mixed, with some claiming the league didn’t go far enough with its investigation, expressing skepticism over the findings or insisting they turn this over to the police. That’s understandable given Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted by a former Chicago Blackhawks video coach were so poorly handled.

However, I don’t see this as sweeping it under the table. The league took the allegation seriously and suspended Cole with pay while conducting what appears to have been a thorough investigation.

I’m not saying the anonymous source shouldn’t be listened to or believed but if they’re unwilling to speak to the league or the police then there’s not really much else that can be done. Cole, meanwhile, will be reinstated but this incident has tarnished his personal life and reputation.

THE ATHLETIC’S Peter Baugh reports there’s still no timeline for Gabriel Landeskog’s return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets head coach Rick Bowness hopes to return behind the bench on Wednesday. He’s currently sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

SPORTSNET: The Washington Capitals are reportedly poised to sign free-agent winger Sonny Milano to a one-year, $750K contract.










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.