NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2020

Penguins GM says there’s a “very, very good chance” he’ll trade Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry, plus the latest on the Blue Jackets and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

** UPDATE** LEAFS TO TRADE KAPANEN TO PENGUINS

TSN’s Darren Dreger and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Toronto Maple Leafs are working on a trade that would sent winger Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the details are announced, I’ll have an analysis of the deal in the News section.

MURRAY OR JARRY ON THE MOVE?

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cited The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admits his club likely cannot afford to retain Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights following this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

We know that there’s a very, very good chance that we’re going to have to move one of them,” said Rutherford. He also indicated he’s spoken with other NHL general managers, though he hasn’t reached the point where serious trade discussions have started. “There is already interest,” he said. “And it looks like we’re going to have to move one of them.”

Wegman reports the Penguins will have $12.4 million in salary-cap space this off-season. They also have six RFAs in addition to Murray and Jarry to re-sign, as well as decisions to be reached regarding UFAs Conor Sheary, Patrick Marleau, and Justin Schultz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe listed the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and Edmonton Oilers as possible trade partners.

Wild GM Bill Guerin indicated he wasn’t happy with his goaltending following his club’s qualifying-round elimination by the Vancouver Canucks. Cap Friendly indicates he’s got $65.7 million invested in 17 players next season, but he’ll have to find a trade partner for Devan Dubnyk ($4.33 million annual average value through 2020-21, 19-team trade list) or dump the more affordable Alex Stalock ($785K through 2020-21).

The Flames could be in the market if Cam Talbot departs via free agency. The Sabres need an experienced starter but we don’t know the intentions of new GM Kevyn Adams. The budget-conscious Hurricanes could stick with their affordable tandem of James Reimer and Petr Mrazek for another year. The Oilers definitely need help between the pipes, but their limited cap space ($70.4 million invested in 16 players) means they’ll have to shed salary to add a new goalie.

UPDATE ON THE BLUE JACKETS

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace weighed in on the Blues Jackets offseason needs. He feels they need another top-six center or an impact scorer like the departed Artemi Panarin. He wondered if they’ll draw from their blueline and/or goaltending depth, or shop RFA winger Josh Anderson, or use some prospects as assets to upgrade the offense.

Arace also makes the point that the Jackets must convince defenseman Seth Jones that they’re capable of going deep into the playoffs so he doesn’t depart via free agency in 2022. They must also manage their salary cap accordingly to make Jones one of the league’s highest-paid blueliners.

NHL.COM: Craig Merz reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to rebuild from within rather than through the free-agent market. “I don’t believe in the (free agent) signings to be the answer or recipe for success,” said Kekalainen. “We’ve done a good job building through drafting and having some depth.”

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes Josh Anderson will be used as a trade chip. He points out the Jackets are flush with middle-six wingers and Anderson’s game could be attractive to other clubs. His recovery timeline from shoulder surgery is Sept. 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have $76.2 million invested in 23 players for next season, with Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois slated for raises as restricted free agents. Kekalainen recently indicated Brandon Dubinsky’s chronic wrist injury could keep the forward on long-term injury reserve next season, freeing up $5.85 million if necessary.

Kekalainen will have to go shopping in the trade market if he won’t go the UFA route for scoring punch. Anderson seems the most likely to go as his name’s been in the rumor mill for months, but his shoulder injury could dampen his trade value. The Jackets GM could peddle a blueliner like David Savard or Ryan Murray, but they won’t fetch a scoring forward. Goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins played well this season, but their inexperience could also hurt their trade value.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau acknowledged hearing the calls for his trade from frustrated fans and pundits. However, he insists he wants to stay in Calgary, calling it his “second home.”  Meanwhile, pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot indicated he’s “very open” to re-signing with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames GM Brad Treliving defended Gaudreau and told Talbot during the pause in the schedule he’s interested in talking contract with him. However, Treliving also acknowledged there will have to be some changes following yet another early playoff exit. Whether those involve Gaudreau or Talbot remain to be seen, but we can expect both players will feature prominently in the Flames rumor mill in the coming weeks.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

Could the Rangers shop the first-overall pick? Are changes coming for the Penguins? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE RANGERS LISTEN TO OFFERS FOR FIRST-OVERALL PICK?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton will spend the coming weeks deciding if he’ll use the first-overall pick to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere or shop it for the No. 2 center his club badly needs.

Will the New York Rangers keep the first-overall pick and select Alexis Lafreniere? (NHL.com)

The Rangers already have left-wingers Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, making it difficult for Lafreniere to be an immediate fit in their roster. Garrioch expects Gorton will find a place for the youngster unless he gets an offer too good to refuse. He believes the Ottawa Senators (with the third and fifth overall picks), Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators, Canadiens, and Red Wings lack the type of center the Rangers would want as part of the return. I think Gorton will listen to offers but he might not get one to his liking. He could also surprise us by taking Quinton Byfield instead of Lafreniere with that pick, but I believe he’ll stick with the time-honored adage that you take the best available player.

CHANGES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated changes are coming during his end-of-season press conference yesterday.

Team sources indicate there could be an assistant coach change at some point this week. Rutherford indicated no changes are coming to the roster core. He expressed disappointment in defenseman Justin Schultz’s performance, an indication perhaps the pending free agent won’t be re-signed.

The Penguins GM also spoke about goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. The pair are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Rutherford acknowledged it would be difficult to keep both. He also feels his roster needs to get younger.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Penguins are leaning toward keeping this year’s first-round pick (15th overall) and sending next season’s first-round selection to the Minnesota Wild. As per conditions in the Jeff Zucker trade last February, the Penguins have seven days following the lottery to reach a decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s comments should put to rest recent suggestions that Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang should hit the trade block. Unless he can free up salary-cap space, he’ll have to choose between Murray or Jarry. I expect he’ll take the younger, affordable option with Jarry.

It won’t be surprising if Schultz doesn’t return. He hasn’t been the same since fracturing his leg last season.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must decide if he’ll re-sign goaltender Frederik Andersen to a long-term deal given his recent history of giving up soft goals in the playoffs.

Do the Leafs really want to tie into Andersen for the long term? Can they afford to? Do people really think the Leafs will turn into Stanley Cup contenders if Dubas acquires Matt Murray?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To answer those questions in order: No, they shouldn’t. No, they can’t. No, they won’t. Andersen has a year left on his contract. Unless better options appear via the trade market or free agency (provided Dubas can free up sufficient cap space), best to ride it out with Andersen for one more year and see what becomes available during next season or next summer.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports his understanding of Dubas’ no-trade promise after re-signing William Nylander last season was that it was solely for the immediate aftermath of the agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Dubas promised Nylander, the young winger could soon find out that a general manager’s promises are easily broken for the good of the team or the GM’s ongoing employment.

Friedman also believes San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton could be on the Leafs’ radar, depending on what happens with Jason Spezza.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All due respect to Thornton, who’s had a wonderful career, but he’s well past his best-before date. Besides, the Leafs already had an aging former Sharks on their roster in Patrick Marleau and it cost them their 2020 first-round pick to get rid of the final year of his contract. They don’t need to repeat that mistake. Yes, I know, they could get Thornton to agree to a one-year, bonus-laden deal, but he’s not going to make the Leafs a better team next season. 

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones reports Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he’s got some decisions to make going forward after his club was eliminated from the qualifying round. Noting Holland spoke about the flat salary cap for next season, Jones speculates Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Smith, and James Neal might not be back.

Jones also thinks one of the Oilers’ top-four defensemen other than Ethan Bear could be shopped. He guesses Adam Larsson could be available in a “semi-major trade.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Holland could decide not to qualify the winger’s rights, making him a UFA. The Oilers GM could then attempt to sign him to a more affordable contract, or simply look for a better option elsewhere.

The 38-year-old Smith is no longer an effective NHL starting goalie. The Oilers need a better option to split the duties with the erratic Mikko Koskinen. Neal is signed through 2022-23 and his age (32), the cap hit ($5.27 million) and offensive inconsistency will be difficult to move. A buyout is possible here.

Larsson was acquired four years ago from New Jersey for Taylor Hall. Holland might have to bundle him with a draft pick or prospect or pick up part of his $4.16-million cap hit for next season. Larsson also has a modified no-trade clause.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

More Rangers speculation and what the Penguins will do with their free-agent goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers are in need of a first-pair defenseman. He feels Brendan Smith is not up to logging those minutes alongside Jacob Trouba. Brooks points out Trouba was still trying to adjust to his new club when paired with rookie Libor Hajek earlier this season. Perhaps they might be a better fit next season. Promising K’Andre Miller might be able to fill that role one day, but it would be expecting too much for him to step into that position next season.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players next season, with Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev becoming restricted free agents with arbitration rights in the off-season. They would get some cap relief by trading or buying out Henrik Lundqvist, but that won’t be enough to re-sign those four and acquire a top-pairing blueliner via trade or free agency.

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano examined the Rangers’ possible off-season moves. He noted they’ll have about $13.5 million to spend on re-signing their free agents and can’t afford to keep them all.

Strome and DeAngelo earned the right to seek multi-year contracts, but their play against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying-round series didn’t help their cause. To address their defensive issues. Mercogliano believes general manager Jeff Gorton will explore trade possibilities, with Strome, DeAngelo, and Georgiev as bait.

Regarding Henrik Lundqvist, if he’s unwilling to return as Igor Shesterkin’s backup next season or if the Blueshirt stick with Georgiev, Mercogliano speculates they could buy him out. Retirement is also possible but perhaps a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton has some big off-season decisions to make. Landing a top-pairing defenseman could involve shopping DeAngelo in a package deal. Still, acquiring that type of rearguard would eat up a lot of their cap room. Perhaps he’ll consider more affordable moves while waiting to see how things shake out next season with their younger players.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Starkey was asked about the long-term implication if the Penguins chose to re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry over Matt Murray regardless of the outcome of this postseason.

Starkey believes the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign both for even more than one season. They’re each slated to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It could come down to what each goalie seeks on his next contract. Murray’s performance in this year’s playoffs could also be a determining factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray appeared in the Penguins’ first three games of their qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s been out-played by the Canadiens’ Carey Price. If the Penguins are eliminated with Murray in net, that could have implications for his hopes of re-signing even a one-year deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

The latest on the Rangers, Red Wings, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes a strong postseason by Tony DeAngelo could increase his value when he negotiates his new contract and in the trade market. The Rangers defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the season’s end.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

Brooks feels the only path for a long-term deal for the young blueliner is moving him to the left side of the Rangers’ blueline. Trading DeAngelo would leave the Blueshirts scrambling to find an affordable veteran third-pairing, right-shot rearguard via free agency.

A strong playoff tournament by third-line center Filip Chytil could affect how the Rangers management approach contract talks with second-line center Ryan Strome, who’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Brooks would be shocked if they give Strome a long-term deal, especially when they’ll have to pay Mika Zibanejad $10 million annually to keep him off the UFA market in 2022. It would also keep Chytil relegated to the third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $67 million tied up in 15 players for next season, with DeAngelo, Strome, Jesper Fast, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev among their notable free agents. It could be a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap payroll unless they shed a salary, which explains in part the speculation suggesting they could buy out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports acquiring a goaltender is among this off-season’s top priorities for Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. He’s skeptical the rebuilding Wings can entice any of this summer’s notable UFA goalies unless they overpay.

Khan suggests Yzerman go shopping via the trade market. Possible options include Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, or Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khan suggests bringing one of them in as long-term or stop-gap measures. Yzerman could prefer the long term.

Murray, Jarry, and Georgiev are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. The Wings GM could swing a deal acquiring one of them after they’re signed to a new contract.

Allen is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Assuming Yzerman was interested, he could seek assurances Allen would re-sign before trying to acquire him.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Hailey Salvian recently examined which Ottawa Senators’ free agents are staying or going. She doesn’t see them keeping Craig Anderson, Mikkel Boedker, Scott Sabourin or Matthew Peca, and feels it’s 50-50 UFAs Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki are re-signed.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2020

The latest on Taylor Hall, Semyon Varlamov, Mikael Granlund, Evgeni Malkin, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman believes the Arizona Coyotes offered Taylor Hall a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $7.25 million. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Friedman doesn’t think that’s their final offer. He also feels situation means as much to Hall as anything. He noted rumors are linking the Coyotes to former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli but doesn’t see that happening while re-signing Hall is an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s market value before the pandemic was considered between $9 – $10 million annually. The Coyotes’ offer could reflect the new economic landscape even if it is an opening pitch. Assuming they’re willing to pay much more, Hall must believe the Coyotes are poised to become a perennial playoff club before agreeing to sign. He’s appeared in only one post-season round during his career.

Chiarelli traded Hall to New Jersey in 2016. That move didn’t sit well at the time with the winger.

Friedman wondered if the Edmonton Oilers can find room to squeeze Andreas Athanasiou into their tight cap space. The winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the off-season. Athanasiou’s performance in the upcoming tournament could determine his number.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is earning $3 million AAV on his current contract. Even if the winger plays well, Oilers GM Ken Holland could try to convince him to accept a one-year deal for the same AAV with the promise of a better deal after next season.

New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss is a UFA at season’s end while Semyon Varlamov still has term on his contract. If Greiss outplays Varlamov in the upcoming tournament, Friedman wonders if the Isles might attempt to re-sign him to a friendlier deal and try to trade Varlamov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but Varlamov is seen as a mentor for promising young Ilya Sorokin, who recently signed an entry-level deal with the Isles. Despite their cap constraints, I think the Isles intend to go with Varlamov and Sorokin as their tandem next season.

Friedman wondered if Mikael Granlund can ramp up his value in the upcoming tournament. The Nashville Predators winger is a UFA at season’s end and is a talented player during a time of fiscal tightness.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund struggled after joining the Predators in a trade with Minnesota late last season. However, his play improved once John Hynes took over as head coach in January. A solid performance in the playoff tournament could bolster his free-agent value.

The Florida Panthers are expected to cut payroll next season. Friedman notes wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are due to become unrestricted free agents in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their tournament play could determine whether they get re-signed by the Panthers. Even then, they might only attempt to keep one of them. How much they’re seeking on their next contracts will also be a factor.

Friedman will also be watching the goaltending situations in Pittsburgh and Calgary. Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents. GM Jim Rutherford hinted there are ways to move around some money to re-sign both goalies. Meanwhile, the play of Flames netminders David Rittich and Cam Talbot will determine whether management tries something bold between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has proven he can make moves to free up sufficient cap room to acquire or retain key players and keep his Penguins among the Stanley Cup contenders. It’ll be interesting to see what he does under a flat cap this time around.

Rittich has yet to establish himself as a reliable NHL starter. Talbot is a UFA at the end of this season and could seek a starter’s role elsewhere if the Flames remain committed to Rittich.

Rutherford was also asked if there will be any trade rumors involving Evgeni Malkin this summer. “Only if somebody makes them up,” he replied.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ok, folks, let’s see your best Malkin trade rumor in the comments section. They can’t be any worse than some we’ve seen over the years.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2020

Check out the recent speculation on the Penguins, Islanders, and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TIGHT BUDGETS LEAVE PENGUINS, ISLANDERS FACING DIFFICULT DECISIONS

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mike DeFabo recently reported the flat salary cap for 2020-21 ($81.5 million) will leave the Penguins facing some hard choices in the off-season. They have over $68 million invested in next season’s payroll.

All of their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen are under contract for ’20-’21. Unless general manager Jim Rutherford creates some cap room via trade, they won’t have enough to re-sign all their key free agents.

How much will it cost the Pittsburgh Penguins to re-sign goaltender Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Topping the list are restricted free agent goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. It could take a deal comparable to Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins (two years, $4 million annual average value) to re-sign Jarry. Murray’s playoff record and inconsistent regular-season play could be worth something like the $5.1 million Jimmy Howard makes with Detroit and $6.4 million like Anaheim’s John Gibson. Keeping Murray and Jarry could mean trading a skater.

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz’s season has hampered by injury. Letting him walk could open a big hole on the blueline. It’s uncertain if the reacquisition of UFA winger Conor Sheary was for the short or long term. DeFabo also wondered if trade deadline pickup Patrick Marleau would be willing to return for the minimum salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than trade a skater, Rutherford could trade Murray or Jarry and call up Casey DeSmith as a full-time backup next season. Schultz indicated he’d like to stay, but he might have to take a pay cut from his $5.5 million to do so.

Marleau could return to San Jose for one more year or retire if he wins the Cup in the upcoming tournament. I think Rutherford wants to re-sign Sheary but that will depend upon what happens with the goaltenders and Schultz.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arthur Staple recently examined the New York Islanders’ options with limited cap room for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple’s column appeared before the Isles signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $73.3 million invested in 19 players.

Staple speculates their UFAs (Matt Martin, Derick Brassard, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, and Thomas Greiss) might not return next season. The focus will be on re-signing RFAs Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews.

Going the trade route would mean shopping defenseman Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey. Staple doubts oft-injured Johnny Boychuk will attract must interest.

Forwards Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov could also be trade options, but the Isles might have to package either guy with next year’s first-round pick or a top prospect. Komarov also seems the most likely buyout candidate. Staple also doesn’t rule out Ladd and Komarov starting next season on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has demonstrated his salary-cap creativity in the past to free up sufficient room to address his roster needs. Given the number of clubs with limited cap room for next season, he’ll have to strike fast in the trade market to dump a salary or two. Of the trade candidates listed by Staple, Leddy might attract the most interest, but his $5.5 million cap hit through 2021-22 could be a sticking point.

WILL THE KINGS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FLAT CAP?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman recently reported Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake said back in April his club had flexibility under the flat cap, but he thought the big cap year for his club was a year away. However, he did say they were in a position to look at some things.

The Kings have over $60.7 million invested in their payroll for ’20-’21. Dillman suggested signing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev or Florida Panthers versatile forward Erik Haula if they test the UFA market at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is expected to resist the temptation of pursuing a big-ticket UFA this year. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t consider adding a veteran or two at a reasonable price. Someone like Tanev or Haula on a short-term deal could provide some experienced depth as the Kings develop their promising youngsters.

Tanev’s performance has declined a bit in recent years. Haula looks like he still hasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him most of last season.