NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2022

Check out the latest on Shea Weber and Jeff Petry plus a look at which players have skated in their final games with the Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico cited TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming the Canadiens came close to shipping the contract of sidelined defenseman Shea Weber before the March trade deadline to the Arizona Coyotes. However, Coyotes management grew impatient over the amount of time it took to sort out the insurance issues and opted instead to acquire Bryan Little’s contract from the Winnipeg Jets.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber (NHL Images).

Dreger feels it’s only a matter of time until Weber’s contract is shipped to the Coyotes or perhaps to another club interested in acquiring long-term injury reserve relief.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some readers have wondered why a team like the Coyotes would be interested in acquiring the contract of a player on permanent long-term injury reserve. In the case of a budget team like the Coyotes, they must spend to reach the salary-cap floor but want to keep their actual payroll as low as possible. Weber’s $7.857 million cap hit over the next four seasons would allow them to do so.

At the other end, there could be a handful of teams pressed against next season’s $82.5 million cap ceiling looking for an LTIR player to allow them to legally exceed the cap by up to the sidelined player’s annual cap hit. The downside to this is they cannot accrue cap space over the course of the season that can be put toward acquiring players by the trade deadline.

D’Amico also believes Jeff Petry’s improved performance after Martin St. Louis took over as coach should make it easier for the Canadiens to trade him in the off-season. RDS analyst Marc Denis thinks the Habs would still have to include a draft pick as a sweetener in the deal to make the 34-year-old defenseman more enticing in the trade market.

However, D’Amico pointed to Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes claiming he’d had conversations about Petry with several teams leading up to the trade deadline. Hughes indicated he came close to moving the veteran blueliner but the deal failed to materialize. Interest in Petry should pick up in the offseason, enabling the Canadiens to move him without bundling a draft pick or prospect in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry’s age and $6.25 million annual average value through 2024-25 remain sticking points. Hughes might have to work quickly to find a suitable trade partner willing to take the blueliner’s full contract off his hands without adding a sweetener before teams start spending their available cap space.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes Hughes won’t be able to make any significant moves until he’s got more clarity about Carey Price’s status for next season. If the 34-year-old goaltender requires more surgery on his knee and misses part or most of next season, the Canadiens GM can place Price and his $10.5 million cap hit on LTIR.

Hughes will have to use the savings to bring in a goaltender. Backup Jake Allen struggles under a heavy workload while Samuel Montembault and Cayden Primeau aren’t up to filling the starter’s job on a full-time basis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We should learn more about Price’s status before the draft in July. If he’s going to miss substantial time again, Hughes will have to go shopping for a replacement.

Hickey suggested several options via the free-agent market. The St. Louis Blues’ Ville Husso, Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell are among those who could be available this summer, but the Habs will have competition for their services.

WHO HAS PLAYED THEIR FINAL GAMES WITH THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps looked at several players who have probably skated in their final games with the Golden Knights.

Reilly Smith is among the few remaining original Golden Knights. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. A consistent performer coming off a multi-year deal worth $5 million per season, the 31-year-old winger probably won’t be back unless he agrees to a pay cut.

The Golden Knights had a deal in place at the March trade deadline to ship winger Evgenii Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks. However, it was overturned by the league when it was discovered his no-trade list was still valid and the Ducks were on it. He could be shopped this summer as a cost-cutting move.

Mattias Janmark, Laurent Brossoit and Nolan Patrick could also be cut loose this summer. Like Smith, Janmark is eligible for UFA status this summer. Brossoit and Patrick each have a year remaining on their contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Golden Knights sitting at just over $83 million invested in 18 active players next season. Somebody’s gotta go if they hope to be cap compliant and ice a full 23-man roster when the season opens in October. Dadonov and his $5 million cap hit still make him their most-likely salary-dump candidate.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor, a look at this summer’s free-agent goaltending market plus a possible conundrum between the pipes for the Canadiens.

WILL THIS SUMMER’S TOP UFA GOALIES STAY PUT OR TEST THE MARKET?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun considers the Minnesota Wild’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper, St. Louis Blues’ Ville Husso and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell as the top tier of UFA goalies this summer. All four could improve their value with solid performances in the upcoming playoffs.

Sources indicated the Wild would like to keep Fleury despite their limited salary-cap space for 2022-23 but there’ve been no discussions yet. LeBrun said the Blues aren’t giving up on struggling starter Jordan Binnington and believed Husso will be heading to free agency in July.

There haven’t been many contract discussions between Avalanche management and Kuemper’s camp. The Avs offered a one-year extension last summer but it was rejected by his agent.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Campbell had a strong start to this season but struggled and was sidelined in the second half. His agent said it was status quo on the contract front.

Teams that could be in the market for a starter this summer could include the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs and Avs could also seek help in goal if their respective starters hit the open market in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury, Kuemper, Husso and Campbell will draw considerable interest if they hit the UFA market on July 13. It will be interesting to see how their value is affected by their performances in the 2022 playoffs and whether they stay with their current clubs or test the market.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS’ GOALTENDING SITUATION

THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun pondered whether Carey Price wants to continue his playing career and if it would be with the Montreal Canadiens. If he wants to join a Cup contender, the Canadiens would have to absorb part of his $10.5 million cap hit to make it happen.

LeBrun also wondered if clubs come calling for Jake Allen. The Canadiens backup has a year left on his contract with an affordable $2.875 million cap hit. He was playing well until suffering a season-ending groin injury.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also weighed in on the potential offseason goalie conundrum facing the Canadiens. He cited RDS’ Francois Gagnon indicating it’s a complex question given the 34-year-old Price’s contract, injury history and stated intent to play in Montreal for the long term. He also holds a full no-movement clause.

Should Price agree to accept a trade, D’Amico believes they’ll need to find a long-term replacement. UFA options could include Ville Husso or Darcy Kuemper.

LeBrun’s fellow TSN insider, Darren Dreger, said Allen was a much sought-after asset leading up to last month’s trade deadline. D’Amico pointed to the improved play of Samuel Montembeault, suggesting the Canadiens could opt for a more affordable backup and put Allen on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s age, hefty contract, NMC and his long list of injuries make him seemingly untradeable but it could be folly to assume it won’t happen. That being said, the Canadiens would have to retain between $4 million and $5.25 million of his cap hit to make his contract palatable to interested parties. His movement clause would also complicate matters by limiting potential trade suitors.

Allen would be much easier for the Canadiens to trade. However, that depends on whether management sees the 25-year-old Montembeault as a reliable backup for Price, who has a good working relationship with Allen.

Montembeault is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $750K contract. He would be an affordable re-signing for the Habs at a cap rate lower than Allen’s.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at five pending unrestricted free agents who could turn strong postseason performances into big paydays this summer.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy believes Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell and Ilya Mikheyev, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues, Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky and New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp could cash in big this summer if they have strong performances in the upcoming 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While regular-season performance is often the benchmark in contract negotiations, a strong postseason effort is also a determining factor in what the final deal looks like.

With an annual cap hit of $1.65 million, Campbell is already underpaid as a bona fide NHL starter. While there’ve been some health concerns, the 29-year-old goaltender could earn a considerable raise if he backstops the Maple Leafs on a deep playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell is going to earn a significant pay increase. How much he gets (and whether he gets it from the Leafs) could depend on his performance in the 2022 playoffs. Winning their first series since 2004 could earn him $6 million annually on a long-term contract. If he backstops the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967, he could push for $8 million annually, forcing the cap-strapped club to choose between slashing payroll to retain him or watch him get signed by another club.

Mikheyev ($1.645 million) has shown promise as a potential top-six winger this season. However, he’ll have to carry that over into the postseason. He’s played in 12 NHL playoff games but has yet to register a point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $73.6 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23. If the Leafs can sign Campbell to an affordable cap hit (under $5 million annually), they’ll have enough to ink Mikheyev to a decent raise ($3 million?) on his next contract. That would mean shedding salary elsewhere to free up cap room to fill out the remainder of the lineup. Otherwise, Mikheyev will have to seek his raise in this summer’s open market.

Rodrigues is enjoying a career-best with 18 goals and 42 points in 75 games. However, he’s yet to put together consecutive productive campaigns. The 28-year-old forward also has limited playoff action, appearing in just two postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rodrigues is on a one-year, $1 million contract. His biggest annual average value was $2 million on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2019-20. As Kennedy points out, he could cash in on the open market this summer as a middle-six winger with a solid playoff performance.

Kennedy believes Burakovsky could price himself out of the Avalanche’s market if he has another strong postseason outing as he did in 2020 with 17 points in 15 games. The 27-year-old winger is enjoying a career-high performance this season with 20 goals and 53 points in 70 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky’s annual cap hit is $4.9 million. The Avs have almost $56 million invested in 13 players with Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri also slated to become UFAs this summer and superstar Nathan MacKinnon due for a major raise after next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s skating with another club next season.

Copp is a consistent, versatile middle-six forward with a current cap hit of $3.64 million. He’s played a solid two-way game in the postseason but he’s managed just 12 points in 34 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Kennedy that Copp’s going to get paid. A strong postseason effort with the Rangers will certainly help him in the UFA market.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at some potential offseason goalie targets for the Oilers while Ilya Samsonov faces an uncertain future with the Capitals.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently suggested the Oilers could be among the teams interested in Ville Husso if the St. Louis Blues goaltender tests this summer’s free-agent market. Husso, 27, has outplayed Jordan Binnington this season for the Blues’ starting goalie job.

THE ATHLETIC: Husso was also on Allan Mitchell’s recent list of possible UFA goaltending targets for the Oilers this summer. Other options could include the Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso (NHL Images).

Mitchell believes all three will be expensive. He wondered if Oilers general manager would be able to sign Husso for less than $4.5 million annually over three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are expected to let Mikko Koskinen walk via free agency this summer. Aging veteran Mike Smith is signed through next season with a $2.2 million cap hit.

Husso would be the most affordable of the three UFA goalies listed by Mitchell. However, his value in the free-agent market could rise significantly if a growing number of clubs were to consider him a more cost-effective option than Kuemper and Campbell. He’s also only been in the NHL for two seasons and that could make some suitors leery of investing in him.

The Blues could try to re-sign Husso and part ways with Binnington, whose performance has been in decline since backstopping the club to the Stanley Cup three years ago. However, he’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6 million and a full no-trade clause. A buyout would stretch through 2031-32.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir wrote he doesn’t see the Washington Capitals going into next season with their current tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. The former is fumbling his opportunity to seize the starter’s job while the latter has inspired much confidence.

He believes the Capitals will have to settle on one of them and bring in a veteran capable of being a starter to pair with Vanecek. Samsonov could be shipped to a club that might see the 6-foot 3, 200-pound former first-round pick as an enticing reclamation project. He’d heard rumors before the trade deadline linking Samsonov to the Montreal Canadiens but couldn’t confirm them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov’s promising rookie performance in 2019-20 emboldened the Capitals to part ways with long-time starter Braden Holtby. However, he struggled to make the starter’s job his own and wound up sharing time with Vanecek, who has looked the better of the two since last season.

I also heard those rumors tying Samsonov to the Canadiens but they didn’t last long. Maybe the Canadiens were considering shopping Jake Allen before the trade deadline and saw Samsonov as a possible short-term backup replacement. Maybe there was nothing to this rumor at all. It’ll be interesting to see if it resurfaces in the offseason.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2022

The Panthers stage a four-goal third-period comeback, Kirill Kaprizov sets a Wild franchise record, Keith Yandle’s Ironman streak comes to an end and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Down 6-2 to the New Jersey Devils entering the third period, the Florida Panthers scored four unanswered goals and emerged with a 7-6 victory on Gustav Forsling’s overtime goal. Forsling and Aleksander Barkov each scored twice. Spencer Knight got the win as he replaced goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the third period. Yegor Sharangovich tallied a hat trick for the Devils. The Panthers became the second team to reach 100 points this season and hold a two-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist in his club’s 3-1 win over the Hurricanes to set a new franchise single-season record of 85 points (and counting). Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 37 shots as the Wild have a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division with 89 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild rookie Matt Boldy missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He has 27 points in 35 games this season.

The Colorado Avalanche are on the verge of becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth after downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Devon Toews snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Avalanche hold a four-point lead over the Panthers for first overall in the league standings with 104 points. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had two points while Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 shots. Jake Guentzel had two assists for the Penguins (92 points), who sit one point back of the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri missed this game with an upper-body injury and could be sidelined for some time. He’s expected to be back for the playoffs which begin on May 2.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the club is optimistic over the status of winger Jason Zucker as they await further updates on his condition. Zucker’s been sidelined since Thursday after suffering an apparent leg injury against the Wild.

Tyler Seguin collected three assists and Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist as the Dallas Stars held off the San Jose Sharks 5-4 to regain the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 81 points. Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson also each had two-point performances for the Stars. Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup after being sidelined for five weeks by a broken leg.

Los Angeles Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. With the win, the Kings (86 points) moved within three points of the first-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for the Jets (76 points), who slip five points behind the Stars in the race for the final Western wild-card berth.

Speaking of the Flames, they dropped a 6-4 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Justin Faulk had a goal and two assists while teammates Brayden Schenn, Robert Thomas and Brandon Saad each had two points for the Blues (86 points), who sit three points back of the second-place Wild in the Central Division. Johnny Gaudreau scored his 32nd goal of the season for the Flames, who announced before the game that center Sean Monahan will undergo season-ending surgery on his left hip. Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington also missed this game as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same procedure Monahan had done on his right hip last year. His performance seemed to suffer in the aftermath of that first surgery, making him the topic of trade speculation. He has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.375 million.

Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 51st goal of the season, Morgan Rielly a goal and two assists while Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting each collected two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell made 29 saves as he returned to action after missing 10 games with a rib injury. The Leafs are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 93 points but hold second place in the Atlantic Division with 44 wins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle was a healthy scratch, bringing his NHL-record consecutive game streak to an end at 989. Flyers coach Mike Yeo faced criticism for benching Yandle given the club is eliminated from the playoffs and the blueliner only needed 11 more games to extend his record to 1,000 games.

Yeo explained it was part of the club’s decision to evaluate younger players for next season. Yandle took the decision in stride, saying management had spoken to him about the club’s plans over the final weeks of the regular season.

The Lightning, meanwhile, fell to the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on a shootout goal by Nick Suzuki. Jake Allen made 37 saves for the Canadiens as they got the win in Martin St. Louis’ first game as head coach against his former club in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists for the Lightning.

Boston Bruins center Erik Haula scored twice in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists for the Bruins (91 points) as they opened a seven-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

In other news, the NHL department of player safety suspended Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Ritchie for one game for slashing Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2021

Check out the latest on Tuukka Rask, Jack Campbell and Filip Forsberg in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Chris Johnston reports goaltender Tuukka Rask has been working out at the Boston Bruins training facility. He remains without a contract as he works toward returning from offseason hip surgery. His agent told Johnston his goal is to get healthy and return to play as soon as possible, perhaps by January.

Former Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Rask could be an option for teams seeking help between the pipes. However, Johnston believes the 34-year-old free agent hopes to return with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston said Rask had been a little non-committal about his playing future. Back in August, however, he indicated his willingness to return to the Bruins for less money this season. I believe their game plan is to sign Rask to a cheap, prorated one-year deal. They’ll then send Jeremy Swayman back to their AHL affiliate as he’s waiver-exempt for this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated about how much it’ll cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to sign Jack Campbell to a contract extension. The 29-year-old goaltender is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. He’s earning $1.65 million annually on his current contract.

Contract talks between the two sides have yet to begin. When they do, LeBrun suggested the annual average value could be somewhere between $4 million and $5 million on a four-to-five year deal if he has another solid season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems about right, though if Campbell were to become a Vezina Trophy finalist that number gets pushed to $6 million annually.

LeBrun also reported contract talks between the Nashville Predators and Filip Forsberg are expected to start soon. The 27-year-old winger is completing a six-year deal with a $6 million AAV. LeBrun speculates the Forsberg camp could seek an eight-year extension and wondered if either side will use the eight-year, $56 million extension signed by Gabriel Landeskog this summer with the Colorado Avalanche as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also acknowledged Forsberg and his agent are unlikely to accept anything less than the $8 million AAV currently earned by teammates Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. However, I don’t think Predators GM David Poile is keen to have a third $8 million forward on the roster. Unless Duchene or Johansen are moved (and I don’t see that happening), Forsberg could end up hitting the open market next summer.