NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2024

Can the Blue Jackets find a trade partner for Elvis Merzlikins? Did the Flyers try to acquire Bowen Byran from the Avalanche? What’s the latest on the Bruins and Canucks? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports learning that the Blue Jackets are seeking potential trade partners willing to acquire Elvis Merzlikins and the remainder of his contract.

The 29-year-old goaltender yesterday confirmed his agent spoke with Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen about a trade. He’s unhappy over what he considers his demotion since December from being the Jackets’ starting goalie to their third-stringer.

Merzlikins is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $5.4 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Hedger believes the Jackets might have to absorb part of that cap hit as well as package Merzlikins with a prospect or draft pick “in exchange for, essentially, nothing but completing an addition-by-subtraction move.”

Hedger thinks that not playing Merzlikins prevents him from damaging his trade value with a poor performance. However, it also prevents him from improving it.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (NHL Images).

Trading Merzlikins seems the most likely conclusion. They could attempt to buy out the remainder of his contract this summer but that’s at two-thirds of the remaining value of the contract over twice the remaining term. They could also put him on waivers and if he clears send him to their AHL affiliate, freeing up just $1.15 million of his $5.4 million cap hit.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Merzlikins hasn’t requested a trade but he and the club have reached a mutual decision to pursue a “new scenario” for him. Kekalainen, meanwhile, declined to comment that he’s seeking a trade for the netminder, adding that Merzlikins must play his way back into the starter’s job or they’ll find someone else.

This decision might’ve made sense at the end of last season when Merzlikins was statistically among the NHL’s worst goaltenders with a 4.23 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage. He’s been much better this season, sitting 14th in save percentage (.907) and 26th in goals-against average (3.25).

Nevertheless, Merlikins’ play this season and his contract will make it difficult to move him even though several NHL clubs could use help between the pipes. Kekalainen said he has not discussed Merzlikins’ “no-go” list with the goalie.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples suggested a deal in which the Oilers send Jack Campbell to the Blue Jackets for Merzlikins. He cited their near-identical AAVs as well as the fact that both goalies could use a change of scenery. From the Oilers’ point of view, he thinks it’s better to roll the dice on Merzlikins.

Staples also observed several clubs possess the cap space to acquire Merzlikins or a pressing need to upgrade in goal. However, they might not want his contract or currently have goaltenders who are better than the Jackets netminder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving any player with a significant cap hit and several years remaining on their contract is difficult to do during the regular season under a salary cap. Doing so in a season like this one with so many teams carrying so little cap space is a daunting challenge.

As Hedger pointed out, the Jackets’ best option could be retaining part of Merzlikins’ cap hit and packaging him with a draft pick or prospect.

A swap of Merzlikins for Campbell could work for the Oilers but I doubt the Blue Jackets would be warm to that idea The Oilers would get the better goalie while the Blue Jackets would be saddled with one whose confidence is so rattled that he hasn’t played his way back into the NHL.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying he believes the Flyers attempted to trade Cutter Gauthier to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Bowen Byram. However, Friedman doesn’t think the Avs were willing to go there, that it had to be more than just Gauthier for Byram.

The Flyers instead shipped Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I suspected the Ducks weren’t the only club the Flyers talked to regarding Gauthier. So what do you think, Avs fans? Did your team make the right decision? How about you, Flyers fans? Would you have preferred this deal instead of the one with the Ducks? Let us know in the comments section below.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss cited ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reporting that Bruins GM Don Sweeney is in the market for some depth at forward. She’s heard the Bruins are scouting “middle-six forwards, especially someone who could add a scoring punch.”

Goss conceded the Bruins could use more offense this season. However, he noted that many other contending clubs have better trade assets. Their prospect pool has improved but isn’t among the top 15. They also lack a first-round pick in 2024 and they don’t have second-rounders in 2024 or 2025.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t deter Sweeney from shopping around as any GM in his position would. Nevertheless, he could find it more difficult to bolster his roster this year compared to recent years when he has more cap space and depth in tradeable assets.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford would like to add another top-six forward to his roster.

Rutherford said he and his management team will still keep an eye on their defense but felt they’ve done a good job this season. He thinks adding a top-six forward would give his club a better chance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have been the busiest team in this season’s trade market, swinging four deals involving players thus far. Their most significant move was their Nov. 30 acquisition of defenseman Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a move to land a top-six forward before the March 8 trade deadline.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

The fallout from the Leafs re-signing William Nylander, an update on Oilers goalie Jack Campbell, and the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the work has just begun for Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving after signing William Nylander yesterday to an eight-year, $92 million contract extension.

On July 1, captain John Tavares and winger Mitch Marner will be eligible to sign contract extensions as they’ll both be in the final season of their current deals. Marner’s next contract will probably cost between $11.5 million annually and $13.25 million.

Treliving could also consider tweaking his roster by the March 8 trade deadline. Bolstering the defense remains a priority. He could also look at adding a depth forward.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran also noted that T.J. Brodie, Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Meanwhile, goaltender Ilya Samsonov continues to work on improving his game with the AHL Marlies.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates Nylander’s new contract could come up in contract negotiations between the Vancouver Canucks and Elias Pettersson. The difference, however, is Nylander was slated to become a UFA on July 1 whereas Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel could also benefit from Nylander’s new deal. They’re a little older but could make the case for seeking over $10 million annually on their new contracts.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost the Leafs more than Nylander’s $11.5 million and less than Auston Matthew’s $13.25 million AAV to get Marner under contract. He could come in between $12 million and $12.5 million on a long-term deal.

Tavares is playing well but the 33-year-old Leafs captain will have to accept a pay cut from his current $11 million AAV to stay in Toronto. How much of a cut will determine whether he has a future with the Leafs beyond July 1, 2025. It’ll have to go at least below $10 million for sure.

The Leafs can afford to re-sign Brodie, Bertuzzi and Domi but they won’t overpay to do so. It won’t be surprising if at least one of them ends up hitting the open market on July 1.

Pettersson is two years younger than Nylander and keeping pace with the Leafs winger in points. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with a similar contract given his value to the surging Canucks.

Reinhart and Guentzel could get over $10 million annually on their next contracts with the salary cap rising by $4.2 million for 2024-25. Whether they get them from their current clubs remains to be seen.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland intends to see if Jack Campbell can bounce back though there’s no real sign of it yet.

I’ll watch Jack Campbell, I’ll work the phones, I’ll watch our team and ultimately between now and the trade deadline, make some decisions with our staff as to what we think we need to do,” said Holland.

LeBrun speculates the Oilers GM could attempt to add a veteran goalie to be a 1B with Stuart Skinner or a more traditional backup. He thinks a goalie trade is possible but doesn’t see a likely scenario where they can move Campbell’s contract before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks it could cost the Oilers two first-round picks to convince a club to take on the remaining three years of Campbell’s contract. Unless the Oilers are willing to retain up to half of his $5 million average annual value, I don’t see him going anywhere by deadline day.


SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan believes roster changes are inevitable for the struggling Ottawa Senators. With their playoff hopes fading away, management must decide who stays and who goes.

Scanlan wonders what effect the years of losing could have on defenseman Thomas Chabot and team captain Brady Tkachuk. He wondered if the new front office is as devout to sticking with the mantra of building with youth as their predecessors.

General manager Steve Staios has publicly said he wants to add a veteran or two. However, there is a theory that he could also attempt to shake things up by moving one or two of the young core players.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes all eyes will be on Senators forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. Both are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Mendes also noted that Thomas Chabot’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. While it seems doubtful the Senators would trade their best defenseman, the new regime in charge isn’t beholden to anyone on this roster as they didn’t acquire any of them.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Staios is trying to juggle salary-cap space to make room for center Shane Pinto once he’s finished serving his 41-game suspension later this month. He’ll have to demote someone or make a cost-cutting trade.

Garrioch also reports Staios will find it difficult to add one or two veteran players at this time. Teams that have good character players prefer to keep them and those that are available come with a high asking price. A league executive also said those players prefer going to a playoff contender rather than Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated Staios and his front office team aren’t ready to move core players like Chabot, Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson and Jake Sanderson. We won’t see any of those guys being peddled by the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, Scanlan makes a good point about the effect that years of losing could have on some of those players, especially guys like Chabot and Tkachuk who’ve been there the longest. Perhaps one or two of them grow weary of this situation and request a trade in the offseason.

For now, Tarasenko and Kubalik appear to be the only notable Senators certain to be on the move by the deadline. We’ll see if that changes in the coming weeks.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

The latest Oilers’ speculation, the Flyers are willing to wheel and deal, an update on Patrick Kane and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston said the Edmonton Oilers are exploring their options to save their season. That includes external discussions with other clubs but it will be difficult to find a club as desperate as they are or to avoid a bad trade by overpaying for help.

Johnston believes the Oilers are looking internally as well and that could include bringing back Jack Campbell from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. He had a shutout earlier this week.

Johnston’s colleague Ryan Rishaug expressed his belief that all assets other than Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and their 2024 first-round pick are in play as the Oilers try to find a fix for their problems.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Rishaug acknowledged finding a true goalie fix or a major upgrade on defense is tough to achieve right now. He instead suggested adding a player like the Minnesota Wild’s Pat Maroon as he would bring championship experience, positive energy and physicality to the lineup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also noted the Oilers’ concern about making a bad trade as well as the possibility of recalling Campbell if he’s rediscovered his game. He also cited an NHL general manager saying if the Oilers want to include their first-round pick in a trade they had better put top-of-the-draft protection on it.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Caleb Kerney noted there was some speculation linking the Oilers to Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek. It was based on Mrazek having played for Oilers general manager Ken Holland when they were with the Detroit Red Wings.

Kerney doesn’t think Mrazek would be a fit for the Oilers. He pointed out that the 31-year-old goaltender’s best years are behind him plus he’s frequently sidelined by injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a bad place right now. They’re not dealing from a position of strength so they’re going to get squeezed by rival clubs as they try to find a suitable goaltender.

It will be difficult to land any kind of upgrade for their roster without giving up that first-round pick as part of the deal. If they are willing to move it but make it top-10 protected, that could be a deal breaker for most clubs.

The harsh truth is recalling Campbell could be their only solution. They could sign free-agent Jaroslav Halak but at this stage of his career, he’s best suited for backup work. Even then, there’s no certainty that he’d be able to help them. The Lightning placed Matt Tomkins on waivers but he didn’t do enough in his few appearances this season to suggest that he’d be an improvement over Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

I don’t think the Blackhawks are looking at moving Mrazek. If they are, the Oilers could be on his 10-team no-trade list.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in becoming a wheeler or a dealer as they look to build a strong foundation for the future. They’re willing to listen on every position (but not every player). He believes they could entertain offers on defensemen Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman pointed out that Walker has “really impressed in Philadelphia.” He thinks there will be plenty of interest if the Flyers don’t extend him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report will further stoke speculation over the future of Flyers goalie Carter Hart. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer and has surfaced of late as a possible trade target for the struggling Oilers. Flyers GM Daniel Briere has previously said he’ll listen on anybody (including Hart) but that doesn’t mean he’s rushing to move him.


TSN: Darren Dreger speculates that Patrick Kane could reach a decision on where he’ll sign sometime next week. He felt it was a bit of a stretch suggesting that the 35-year-old free-agent winger could decide this week given that he and his family would be celebrating American Thanksgiving.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman ran down the list of potential destinations for Kane. Along with the usual ones (Toronto, Dallas, Florida, Buffalo, Detroit), he also thinks the Colorado Avalanche have made a pitch plus rumors continue to swirl about the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Friedman also suggested that Kane might prefer an Eastern Conference club as he wouldn’t have to travel as much as he would in the Western Conference.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka wondered if there was the possibility of a team with salary-cap space like the Sharks signing Kane to a “somewhat richer contract” (agreed to by Kane and a contending team), and then flipping him to that contender while retaining part of his annual cap hit in exchange for an asset.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said no. Such a series of transactions would constitute salary-cap circumvention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane has the right to take his time to reach a decision over where he’ll play this season. Still, more than a few fans will be glad to see this ongoing media guessing game come to an end.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman observed the Columbus Blue Jackets are going through the same kind of difficulties this season as the Oilers. He noted that Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson expects his veteran players to be much, much better. Friedman thinks the Jackets could ask some of their veterans if they’d prefer playing somewhere else if things don’t turn around soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those veterans include Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. Both have been big disappointments thus far. They carry some form of no-trade protection on their contracts but could be willing to waive them for the right destinations. Then again, their hefty contracts would be difficult to move this season.

The Montreal Canadiens continue to discuss a contract extension with goaltender Sam Montembeault. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Friedman doesn’t see the Canadiens waiting until the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montembeault has been linked to the Oilers as a possible trade target. However, he’s putting up decent stats with the rebuilding Canadiens, who must sort out who will tend their net in the coming years. With Jake Allen aging and Cayden Primeau yet to establish himself as an NHL goalie, I think they’ll get Montembeault signed to a new deal.

Friedman said the injury-depleted Avalanche are looking for scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why he thinks they’ve made a pitch to Patrick Kane.

If the Calgary Flames decide to trade some of their pending UFAs, interested clubs will want to know if they can negotiate with those players beforehand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the type of returns the Flames would get for those players.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

Leafs winger William Nylander’s performance is pushing up the cost of his next contract, a look at the goalie market for the Oilers plus an update on the Avalanche in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Travis Yost believes William Nylander’s torrid scoring pace will raise the cost of his next contract if he maintains his production throughout this season. He pointed out that the 27-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs winger had closed the gap with teammates such as Mitch Marner, including outperforming them in the playoffs.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman observing that the difference between Leafs management and the Nylander camp over the summer was thought to be around $1 million per season in the $8 million to $9 million range. “I just do not think that’s realistic anymore,” said Friedman. Hornby noted that talks are continuing between the two sides.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran wondered if Nylander has priced himself out of Toronto. “Looks like the supposed $10-million-a-year ask over the summer might have been a bargain,” he writes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun spoke to team executives in rival front offices across the NHL to get their views on what they felt would be a fair contract extension for Nylander. The numbers came in with an average annual value between $8.5 million to $12.25 million on a seven or eight-year contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the AAV is below $10 million on his next contract if he maintains his current level of performance throughout this season.

Nylander is the Leafs’ leading scorer thus far and among this season’s league leaders. He’s on pace to reach 100 points for the first time after two seasons between 80 and 87 points. He’s earned far less than teammates Marner and Auston Matthews. His summer asking price indicates that he wants fair market value.

I think Nylander’s asking price is now between $11 million and $12 million. Maybe he accepts a little less if he wants to stay in Toronto but I doubt that number goes below $10 million. If the Leafs won’t pay up, plenty of other clubs will line up to do so if he hits the open market on July 1.


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the Edmonton Oilers’ salary-cap constraints mean they must find a way to shed the contract of struggling goalie Jack Campbell to free up cap dollars for an upgrade between the pipes.

Mitchell believes it’ll cost the Oilers at least three good prospects/draft picks being bundled with Campbell as sweeteners. He wondered if they could find a team that would accept their 2024 first-round pick, top prospect Xavier Bourgault and a “more established asset” such as Philip Broberg or the sidelined Dylan Holloway packaged with Campbell.

Mitchell then looked around at possible options in the trade market. They include Montreal’s Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen, St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington, Calgary’s Dan Vladar and Detroit’s James Reimer. He felt Vladar was the right choice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a very bad state with their goaltending right now. I concur with Mitchell regarding what it would cost them to entice a rival team into taking Campbell off their hands. That club could then buy him out next summer if he doesn’t improve over the remainder of this season.

Nevertheless, I still think moving out Campbell’s contract is very difficult with so many teams pressed for cap space this season. The Oilers have no leverage which other clubs will attempt to exploit.

Mitchell mentioned Montembeault and Allen because of recent reports indicating the Oilers had scouted the Canadiens goalies. Binnington’s come up because of rumored concerns in St. Louis over his performance in recent years (though he’s playing better this season) as well as the difficulty of carrying his $6 million AAV. Like the Canadiens, the Red Wings are carrying three goalies which is why Reimer got mentioned. Meanwhile, the Flames could be willing to move Vladar to bring up promising Dustin Wolf.

Binnington, however, has a full no-trade clause while Allen carries a seven-team no-trade list for this season. Given the Oilers’ struggles this season, the attraction of playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl might not be enough of a selling point to convince either guy to come to Edmonton.

The Red Wings and Canadiens could have the room to take on Campbell’s contract but I don’t think they’re keen to do so even if they got a package of sweeteners in the deal. The Flames, meanwhile, lack the cap space plus I don’t see them and the Oilers making a deal unless a third team gets into the mix. Indeed, it could take a three-team deal to spread Campbell’s cap hit around to make this happen.


SPORTSNET (via NHL WATCHER): During his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said Artturi Lehkonen’s injury is pretty significant. He added the Colorado Avalanche are in the market to add some depth scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on who they might pursue and what they’re willing to offer. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the coming days.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2023

Anze Kopitar reaches a milestone goal as his Kings extend their road wins streak, a four-point night for the Senators’ Tim Stutzle, and the Wild make two trades. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored his 400th career goal as his club beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 to extend their season-opening road win streak to seven games. Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each had a goal and an assist while Cam Talbot made 37 saves as the Kings improved to 8-2-2. William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights (11-2-1) as they’ve lost two straight but remain on top of the overall standings with 23 points.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings are road warriors but they’ve won only once (1-2-2) on home ice. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights were without center Chandler Stephenson as he is sidelined with an upper-body injury. He’s expected to miss one more game.

The Ottawa Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. Tim Stutzle had a goal and three assists, Claude Giroux and Dominik Kubalik each tallied twice and Mathieu Joseph collected three assists for the 5-6-0 Senators. William Nylander had a goal and an assist to extend his season-opening points streak to 13 games but his Leafs dropped to 6-5-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators were short three regular defensemen for this game with Thomas Chabot, Artem Zub and Erik Brannstrom sidelined. However, it was the Leafs who struggled defensively in this contest.

An overtime goal by Sam Reinhart lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. Reinhart, Aleksander Barkov, Evan Rodrigues and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers improved to 7-4-1. Anthony Mantha tallied two goals for the 5-4-2 Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Capitals, they placed center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) on long-term injury reserve. He’s taken time away from the team and isn’t expected to return to action this season.


STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild made two trades on Wednesday. They shipped defenseman Calen Addison to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for winger Adam Raska and a fifth-round pick in the 2026 NHL Draft. They also acquired defenseman Zach Bogosian from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a 2025 seventh-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bogosian is in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $850K while Addison is on a one-year deal worth $825K.

The Wild wanted an experienced physical presence on their blueline. They traded away Addison to free up room and salary-cap dollars to take on the 33-year-old Bogosian, who appeared in just four games this season with the Lightning. Raska is a 22-year-old winger with eight games of NHL experience who is likely heading to the Wild’s AHL affiliate.

Addison could use a fresh start after struggling with the Wild over the past two years. The 23-year-old blueliner should get plenty of opportunities to get his NHL career back on track in San Jose.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken winger Jordan Eberle suffered a deep cut from a skate blade to the upper part of his leg during practice on Wednesday. General manager Ron Francis said Eberle appeared to avoid serious injury but was taken to a hospital for an MRI to determine if there was any tendon damage. The Kraken have called up Shane Wright as an emergency replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis believes Eberle “dodged a bullet” but they won’t know for certain until they get the results of the MRI. An update on his condition could be released today.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick joined starter Igor Shesterkin on the “day-to-day” list. They’ve recalled netminders Louis Domingue and Dylan Garland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are being cautious with Shesterkin and Quick, who have experienced “soreness” from recent play. Shesterkin participated in an optional practice on Wednesday so he could be ready for their matchup tonight with the Wild.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the four-game suspension of Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Bruins, forward Morgan Geekie is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Derek Forbort (undisclosed) remains questionable for Thursday’s contest with the New York Islanders.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell cleared waivers yesterday and has been sent to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. The Oilers are expected to recall netminder Calvin Pickard.

DAILY FACEOFF: Colorado Avalanche forward Ross Colton was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for crosschecking New Jersey Devils winger Timo Meier on Tuesday.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott is expected to miss some time with an undisclosed injury.

CBS SPORTS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob MacDonald could be out for at least a week with an undisclosed injury.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed forward Andreas Johnsson on waivers to terminate his contract. Johnsson, 28, is expected to return to his native Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnsson tallied a career-best 20 goals and 43 points with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018-19 but never regained those heights again.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2023

What next for the Oilers after placing Jack Campbell on waivers? Are the Canucks planning any big moves? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston believes the Oilers hope that Jack Campbell will regain his form playing for their AHL affiliate and return at some point to help them at the NHL level. In the meantime, they’re recalling Calvin Pickard, who makes considerably less than Campbell’s $5 million cap hit, allowing them to accrue more cap space for potential wheeling and dealing later in the season.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Pierre LeBrun points out the difficulty the Oilers face in finding a goalie upgrade via the trade market. General manager Ken Holland isn’t dealing from a position of strength here. Any attempt at an upgrade would mean overpaying for a replacement for Campbell, who would also have to be traded in a separate deal.

As for a coaching change, LeBrun and Darren Dreger agree that Holland likely doesn’t want to replace head coach Jay Woodcroft just yet. If things continue to go sideways they could consider promoting assistant coach Glen Gulutzan.

Dreger also noted that owner Daryl Katz and his advisors are very involved in seeking solutions for what currently ails the Oilers. Among the questions being asked is whether it’s time to start peddling draft picks and prospects and try to shake up the current roster core right now.

Following the news yesterday of Campbell going on waivers before assignment to the AHL, TSN’s Oilers reporter Ryan Rishaug expressed his belief that there was no trade imminent to bring in a replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ limited salary cap space and that of most teams around the league leaves them with few options to improve their goaltending. The fact they’re demoting Campbell in the hope that he’ll regain his confidence and improve his performance speaks volumes to the difficulties they’re facing in addressing that glaring issue.

Replacing Woodcroft as head coach won’t make the goaltending any better. If anyone on the Oilers coaching staff should be feeling the heat it is Dustin Schwartz, who’s been their goalie whisperer since 2014.

THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun also pondered what missing the playoffs could mean for the Oilers’ hopes of signing Leon Draisaitl to a contract extension after this season. He’s got one year remaining on his current deal.

Emptying the cupboard to save the season could help the Oilers keep Draisaitl in the fold. However, it might be best to retain those assets in case he decides to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Draisaitl goes when his contract expires in 2025, does Connor McDavid follow suit in 2026?

Yes, the Oilers hired McDavid’s former agent Jeff Jackson as their CEO of hockey operations this summer. However, that might not be enough to deter the Oilers captain from moving on if this club is still spinning its wheels by 2026 and Draisaitl is no longer on the roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Gerry Moddejonge noted that there are just as many alarm bells ringing over the Oilers’ struggling offense and defense as there have been over their goaltending. He wonders who else on the current roster could be next to get moved.

Moddejonge believes that the only real option to shake things up is a trade and not a one-for-one deal. It would have to be someone (other than Connor McDavid) agreeing to waive their no-trade clause to bring in two or three pieces in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moddejonge suggested everyone except McDavid should be on the table. Those with no-trade/no-movement clauses include Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse and Campbell.

Good luck convincing any of them to waive their clauses or find a suitable trade partner this early in a season with a flattened salary cap. It’s not impossible but it’s still damn difficult to pull off.

Moves of that magnitude tend to occur in the offseason when teams have more cap space and willingness to swing major trades.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered what would happen if the Oilers contacted the Bruins about Linus Ullmark.

ESPN host John Buccigross recently suggested the Oilers offer up Draisaitl and Warren Foegele in exchange for Ullmark, winger Jake DeBrusk, rookie Matthew Poitras, prospect Fabian Lysell and the Oilers’ 2026 first-round pick. However, Murphy doesn’t see that deal happening, in part because the Oilers are likely on Ullmark’s 16-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Off to another strong start, the Bruins are under no pressure to make that kind of move at this stage in the season. Not that they wouldn’t be interested in Draisaitl but the cost of his contract and what they’d have to give up to get him right now doesn’t suit their immediate needs. Besides, it’s a moot point if the Oilers are on Ullmark’s no-trade list.


THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently addressed a question from one of his readers regarding speculation that the Vancouver Canucks could be planning to add “a big piece” to their roster.

Johnston cited sources claiming that the Canucks would like to add another forward. However, it won’t be an easy swap to make. They’d also love to add another defenseman to their blueline.

The Canucks have tried to move Tyler Myers’ contract but they may be stuck with it until it expires at the end of this season. They’ve also looked into moving forwards Conor Garland and Anthony Beauvillier but both are struggling to score which hurts their value in the trade market. Unlike Myers, they lack no-trade protection which could help efforts to move them later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ hot start to the season alleviates pressure to make a big early-season move. Nevertheless, they’ll likely continue to monitor the trade market and gauge interest in Myers, Garland and Beauvillier as the season continues.