NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2019

Another listing of the top remaining UFAs, plus the latest on the Canadiens, Flames, Sharks, and Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


TSN: Marcus Johansson, Jake Gardiner, Ben Hutton, Micheal Ferland, and Ryan Dzingel are among the notable players remaining in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As usual, with all the top names off the board, the UFA signings have slowed considerably. Many of the remaining noteworthy talents could end up with contracts worth much less than they hoped for when the market opened on July 1. 


TSN: With the Carolina Hurricanes matching the Montreal Canadiens’ offer sheet for Sebastian Aho, there’s speculation over what the Habs will do next.

Could the Montreal Canadiens try signing Tampa Bay Lighting center Brayden Point to an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Athletic’s Sean Gordon proposes signing defenseman Jake Gardiner to boost their blueline. He also believes they should pursue Vegas Golden Knights winger Nikita Gusev or Minnesota Wild right wing Jason Zucker. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren wonders if they’ll try to sign Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point to an offer sheet. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis also considered the Canadiens’ options going forward. Jake Gardiner and Ben Hutton are the best defensemen remaining in the UFA market. His suggested trade options include Gusev, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider or Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Canadiens initially considered tendering an offer sheet to Point before turning to Aho. The Athletic’s Joe Smith doubts the Habs will revisit Point. He’s made it clear he wants to stay with the Lightning, who have sufficient cap room to match.

The Canadiens’ priority should be landing a top-four, left-side defenseman. The pickings are slim in the UFA market. Gardiner could be expensive and his recent back injury is a concern. Hutton had an up-and-down tenure with the Canucks. Ben Chiarot could be a decent, affordable addition. He netted a career-best 20 points with the Winnipeg Jets and was among their leaders in hits and blocked shots.

Last month, there were rumors the Canadiens had interest in Gostisbehere and the New York Islanders’ Nick Leddy. I’m not convinced the Flyers will part with “Ghost Bear” but the Isles could listen on Leddy. 

**UPDATE** The Canadiens sign Chiarot to a three-year, $10.5-million contract. 


THE ATHLETIC: Darren Haynes reports the Calgary Flames have a busy summer ahead. They have six restricted free agents to re-sign, including Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and David Rittich. Haynes estimates the cost could push the Flames’ salary-cap payroll to $87 million. He suggests a trade of either T.J. Brodie, Michael Frolik or Travis Hamonic could help to address the issue. So could buying out Michael Stone’s contract. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Chelena Goldman notes the San Jose Sharks also face a salary-cap crunch. They have just over $6.3 million remaining to sign Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc, and Dylan Gambrell. Cap casualties could include forward Melker Karlsson, goaltender Aaron Dell, or defenseman Brenden Dillon. Of the three, Karlsson could be the most likely to go. 

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vegas Golden Knights risk giving up a gem of a player in KHL forward Nikita Gusev. It was reported earlier this week the two sides are far apart in contract talks. Golden Knights president George McPhee acknowledged the possibility of trading Gusev, who’s drawn comparisons to Artemi Panarin. Rather than move Gusev, O’Brien suggests freeing up cap room to sign him. He recommends moving Cody Eakins, Ryan Reaves or Nick Holden. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All the players mentioned above have surfaced in trade speculation since this spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brodie or Frolik are playing elsewhere when spring training opens in September. I agree with Goldman that Karlsson seems the most likely trade candidate for the Sharks. Dell’s value is at rock bottom and the Sharks already moved a defenseman (Justin Braun). I also concur with O’Brien that the Golden Knights could regret trading Gusev. Better to move Eakins, Reaves, or Holden if it’ll free up room to keep him. 

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2019

Check out the latest on Artemi Panarin, Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee, Patrick Marleau, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the New York Rangers will pursue left winger Artemi Panarin via free agency on July 1. However, they don’t intend to get into a bidding war for his services. A source told Brooks that if they offer a seven-year deal for between $11 – $11.25 million annually, they won’t go higher to increase or match other bids. The Florida Panthers and New York Islanders could also be suitors for Panarin, as well as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Can the Rangers afford Artemi Panarin? (Photo via NHL Images)

Brooks also reports the Rangers won’t sign support players for anything beyond two years. They’re also said to be interested in bringing Brian Boyle back to New York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be very interesting to see how much Panarin gets on the open market. There’s talk it could be over $12 million annually on a seven-year deal. That’ll price him out of most markets this summer. The Panthers are the favorites to sign him and Bobrovsky on July 1.


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports sources claimed several teams remain interested in acquiring Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel. However, his unwillingness to expand his eight-team trade list is creating bad feelings within the Penguins organization and affecting their off-season plans.

 Kessel’s off-ice behavior, which includes regularly visiting a Pittsburgh casino, is influencing some younger teammates like Jake Guentzel. He’s also had run-ins with head coach Mike Sullivan. Some also blame Kessel for adversely affecting Evgeni Malkin’s performance. However, Kessel’s supporters among management and the roster believe he’s being unfairly targeted for the Penguins’ problems.

General manager Jim Rutherford is said to be seeking a hockey trade for Kessel, which includes not taking back a lot of salary in return. That could also affect Rutherford’s efforts to move the winger. The Pens GM has received a couple of offers for defenseman Kris Letang but ownership doesn’t want to part with him or Malkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sources for this piece appear to be front-office types unhappy with Kessel’s refusal to expand his list of trade destinations. Perhaps they’re hoping this provides additional “motivation” for the winger to reconsider. That tactic, however, could backfire.

If Kessel sticks to his guns, and he has every right to do so under his contract, this situation becomes more toxic. It could also make it harder to move Kessel. The Penguins will seem desperate, reducing whatever leverage they could’ve had. It could also make potential suitors fearful of Kessel being a “bad influence” upon their rosters.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Ali Thanawalla cited The Athletic’s Craig Custance reporting the number of teams interested in Joe Pavelski is at “double-digits”. Pavelski met with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning this week. The Minnesota Wild are also rumored to be among the suitors.

Custance’s colleague Kevin Kurz took to Twitter yesterday saying there’s an “overwhelming sense” Pavelski won’t be returning with the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks signing Erik Karlsson may have spelled the end of Pavelski’s tenure in San Jose. He wants a lucrative deal which they can’t afford now. This could be, as Kurz put it, the end of an era for the Sharks. 

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Patrick Marleau would like to return to the Sharks. The 39-year-old winger believes he has one good season left and would like it to be in San Jose, where he spent 19 of his 21 NHL seasons.


TSN: In his updated list of this summer’s top UFAs, Frank Seravalli believes New York Islanders captain Anders Lee will be moving on via free agency. He believes the shift in the market means Lee stands to make more than what the Isles expected.

Citing what Mark Stone got with the Vegas Golden Knights (eight years, $9.5 million per season), Seravalli suggests Lee could get at least $7.5 million annually, perhaps more.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports out of New York suggested term, not dollars, was the issue. Lee wanted a seven-year deal from the Isles but they would only go as far as five years for the 29-year-old winger. Given their meeting with Artemi Panarin this week, it seems Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is preparing to find a replacement for Lee. 


TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said he’s continuing to have “good dialogue” with Mitch Marner’s representative. He praised the pending restricted free agent and hopes to keep working toward an agreement. He’s also expressed interest in bringing back UFA defenseman Ron Hainsey. Meanwhile, the Leafs lack of blueline depth could mean Nikita Zaitsev stays put despite his trade request.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers are still working hard trying to trade goaltender James Reimer. They’d prefer moving him rather than buying him out. “Reimer has two seasons left on his current contract at a $3.4 million cap hit.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The buyout period ends at 5 pm ET on Sunday, June 30. My guess is the Panthers could be forced to go that route. Teams seeking backup goalies could prefer more affordable options via the UFA market. 





NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2019

The Sabres re-sign Jeff Skinner, Ivan Barbashev receives a one-game suspension and Patrick Marleau puts his Toronto home up for sale. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres last night reached an agreement with Jeff Skinner on an eight-year, $72-million contract extension. The 27-year-old left winger was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. His new deal is worth an annual average value of $9 million. 

The Buffalo Sabres re-signed Jeff Skinner to an eight-year contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly provides the full details of Skinner’s new contract. He’s earned $10 million annually in actual salary through all but the final two seasons of this deal. In 2021 and 2023, he’ll receive $7.5 million in signing bonuses. It also comes with a full no-movement clause throughout.

Critics of Sabres general manager Jason Botterill quickly took to social media saying he overpaid to keep Skinner in the fold. They point to the decline in his goal production over the final two months of this season as a cause for concern.

Botterill, however, had little choice. Skinner established strong offensive chemistry with Sabres captain Jack Eichel. Letting him walk via free agency would’ve sent the wrong message to Eichel and his teammates, as well as the Sabres’ long-suffering fans.

Yes, this could end up being an expensive mistake by Botterill. But if Skinner continues to produce on Eichel’s line and helps turn the Sabres into a playoff contender, it’ll be considered as money well spent. 

STLTODAY: St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev will miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. He received a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Marcus Johansson during Game 5. Blues GM Doug Armstrong called the punishment “excessive”. 

THE ATHLETIC: Thanks to the solid defense in front of Jordan Binnington, the Boston Bruins are struggling to cash in offensively on the Blues goaltender. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins fail to address this issue in Game 6 on Sunday they can forget about returning to Boston for Game 7. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Patrick Marleau put his Toronto home up for sale. Recent trade rumors have him linked to the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau is coming off a down season and carries a $6.25-million annual cap hit through 2019-20. Still, he could be moved to a budget club if the Leafs bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect or perhaps a young NHL-ready player.

It could take until early-July for a potential Marleau deal to go down. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll receive $3 million of his $4.25-million actual salary as a signing bonus on July 1. Interested clubs will likely prefer the Leafs pay that bonus. 

LAUSANNE HC: signed forward Josh Jooris to a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jooris spent five NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, and Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent this season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2019

Check out the latest on the Bruins and Blues on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

BOSTON HERALD: Trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson are paying dividends for the Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coyle is fifth among their postseason scoring leaders with eight goals and 15 points. Johansson, meanwhile, has four goals and 11 points. 

Charlie Coyle (above) and Marcus Johansson are trade-deadline acquisition paying dividends for the Boston Bruins (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansson is a UFA this summer. He could be just a playoff rental for the Bruins, who have over $68 million (stick tap to Cap Friendly) invested in 19 players. Defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are restricted free agents due for significant pay raises.

Coyle is assured of returning with the Bruins as he has a year remaining on his contract. Given his postseason play, it’s unlikely they’ll move him in the offseason. 

NBC SPORTS: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is ok after making a painful shot block in the third period of Game 3. The blueliner was visibly in pain and left the game with just two minutes remaining in the third period. 

STLTODAY.COM: After being the least-penalized team through three rounds, the St. Louis Blues are awash in penalties in the Cup Final. They’re averaging 11.3 minutes per game against Boston compared to 6.8 minutes per game against their earlier playoff opponents. Blues coach Craig Berube is frustrated and befuddled by the spike in penalties against his team, adding he didn’t agree with some of the calls. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube noted his players are allowing frustration and emotion to creep into their play, especially when play is stopped. The Bruins are also very good at drawing penalties so the Blues must ensure they don’t rise to the bait. Not easy to do when emotions are running high. Given the Bruins lethal power play, which went four-for-four in Game 3, the Blues must play with more discipline in this series. 

TSN: Blues center Robert Thomas and defenseman Vince Dunn skated with their teammates during practice yesterday. Thomas has an unspecified injury while Dunn is recovering from concussion symptoms. Their status for Game 4 remains uncertain. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2019

Capitals take 2-0 series lead over Hurricanes, Predators, Bruins, and Avalanche tie their respective series, Nikita Kucherov receives a one-game suspension, an update on Connor McDavid, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brooks Orpik’s overtime goal gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series. Orpik became the oldest defenseman in NHL history to score an overtime playoff goal. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie each collected two points for the Capitals.

Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland was ejected during the second period for a hit to the head of Capitals forward Nic Dowd. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s elbow to the head of Kuznetsov will be reviewed by the league’s department of player safety but it’s unclear if it’ll merit a suspension.

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik is the oldest blueliner in NHL history to score a playoff overtime goal (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals haven’t had an easy time of it with the Hurricanes, who overcame an early 2-0 deficit to force the extra period. They lack the Capitals depth in experienced talent but they’re a plucky hardworking bunch with a bright future.

An overtime tally by Craig Smith enabled the Nashville Predators to edge the Dallas Stars 2-1, squaring their series at a game apiece. Rocco Grimaldi also scored for the Predators while Jamie Benn netted the Stars’ only goal. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop made 40 saves. The Predators skated without center Brian Boyle (illness) and lost winger Wayne Simmonds after he took a shot off his left knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was outstanding in this game and deserved a better fate. This performance is but one reason why I believe he should win the Vezina Trophy this season. No word yet on Simmonds’ status for Game 3. 

Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist and Tuukka Rask kicked out 30 shots as the Boston Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 to tie their series 1-1. The physical contest took a toll on both clubs.

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug left the game in the second period following a hit by Leafs blueliner Jake Muzzin. Leafs center Nazem Kadri, meanwhile, will have a hearing today with the department of player safety and faces a suspension following a match penalty for cross-checking the head of Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk.  Bruins winger Marcus Johansson missed the game with the flu.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins ratcheted up the physical play in this one and effectively neutralized the Leafs speed. Kadri was obviously still angry over a knee-on-knee collision with DeBrusk in the second period and allowed his emotions to once again boil over, just like in last year’s series between these two clubs. That time, he got a three-game suspension. He could get more for his latest infraction. 

The Colorado Avalanche evened their series with the Calgary Flames as Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal gave them a 3-2 victory in Game 2. Mikko Rantanen collected two assists while Philipp Grubauer made 35 saves for the Avalanche. The Flames’ Sam Bennett also had two assists.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov received a one-game suspension for boarding Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara in Game 2 of their opening-round series.

Speaking of the Lightning, defenseman Anton Stralman (upper-body injury) is uncertain when he’ll return to the lineup.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann (upper-body injury) expects to be in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the New York Islanders. The Isles hold a 2-0 lead in that series.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers center Connor McDavid has a small ligament tear in his left knee and will begin rehab almost immediately. He’s expected to be good to go for training camp in September.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2019

Game recaps plus the latest on Ben Bishop, Mats Zuccarello, Paul Byron and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak scored a hat trick and set up two other goals to lead the Boston Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers. The Bruins (103 points) sit five up on the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins roster depth was also bolstered by the return of defenseman Torey Krug and Marcus Johansson from injuries. 

David Pastrnak’s three-goal, five-point performance powered the Boston Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers kept their wild-card hopes alive by edging the Leafs 5-4 on a shootout goal by Sean Couturier. Carter Hart made 38 saves for the Flyers while Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist for the Leafs. The Flyers (82 points) sit eight points behind the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the second wild-card spot. Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin made his season debut after being sidelined by a knee injury

Speaking of the Flyers, forward Jori Lehtera was reportedly sentenced to four months of conditional imprisonment in his native Finland for obtaining and possessing cocaine. The Flyers placed Lehtera on waivers in early-February and he last played for their AHL affiliate on March 1. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Lehtera’s play already narrowed his chances of landing with another NHL team after this season. This news likely slams that door. Here’s hoping he can get his life back on track.

The Dallas Stars (86 points) maintained their three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference by nipping the Calgary Flames 2-1. It was a costly win for the Stars, as starting goalie Ben Bishop was once again sidelined with a lower-body injury. Bishop is listed as day-to-day and the club intends to call up a goaltender for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. 

Stars winger Mats Zuccarello required a couple of stitches over his right eye following a collision with teammate Joel L’Esperance during morning practice yesterday. Zuccarello was otherwise unharmed as he continues his recovery from a broken arm. 

The Avalanche, meanwhile, defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon collected two points and Tyson Barrie set a franchise record for most goals (73) by a defenseman. The Avs (83 points) hold a two-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card spot. 

THE SCORE: Agent JP Barry, who represents Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron, is questioning the unwritten rules about players settling scores by fighting. Byron suffered a concussion during a fight with Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar on Tuesday. Weegar missed two weeks with a concussion in January following a hit by Byron, who received a three-game suspension. Barry pointed out Byron gave up five inches and 50 pounds to Weegar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  If Byron had a history of dirty play, was unrepentant over that hit on Weegar and received no supplemental discipline by the league, one could argue he got what he deserved. But that’s not the case. Hockey’s a rough game but that fight served no purpose at all.

CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers winger Brad Malone was placed on waivers yesterday for the purpose of demoting him to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks re-signed defenseman Carl Dahlstrom to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $850K.