NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

Are the Panthers thinking of pursuing Pierre-Luc Dubois? Should the Sabres target Marc-Andre Fleury? Who could be the odd-man-out on the Avalanche blueline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE PANTHERS PURSUE DUBOIS?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports there’s a theory that the reason Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito efforts to get Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause was to set up for a deal to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Could the Florida Panthers attempt to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).

As the former assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Zito helped draft Dubois third overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting that’s also the reason behind the recent Aleksander Barkov rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Zito was trying to move Yandle I don’t believe the Jackets would’ve been interested even if the Panthers absorbed part of his $6.35 million annual average value. The Jackets’ defense corps is pretty much set, which is why they could send Markus Nutivaara to the Panthers in the offseason in a cost-cutting move. Yandle would have to be moved in a separate deal to another club to free up the cap space for Dubois’ $5 million AAV.

I don’t doubt Zito would love to acquire Dubois but I don’t see him moving Barkov to do so. If anything, I think he would envision Barkov remaining as the Panthers’ first-line center with Dubois centering the second line.

SHOULD THE SABRES TARGET FLEURY?

Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting the Buffalo Sabres should target Marc-Andre Fleury. “What the BLEEP are the Sabres waiting for? Get Fleury!”, the scout said. Murphy believes the Vegas Golden Knights are ready to move the 36-year-old goaltender. The Sabres could use an upgrade between the pipes but an NHL management source isn’t sure Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has looked into it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are seven million reasons why the Sabres haven’t acquired Fleury. That’s his annual average value for this season and next. He also has a modified no-trade clause and could be unwilling to accept a trade to Buffalo. Cap Friendly, meanwhile, shows the Sabres only have a projected $1.2 million in cap room right now. Fleury is an expense they can’t afford. 

COULD THE AVALANCHE MOVE A DEFENSEMAN?

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers and Mark Kiszla discussed what the Colorado Avalanche could do to address their blue-line logjam. The Avs already possess considerable depth in talented young defensemen in Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Conor Timmins and Bowen Byram, plus they have veterans Erik Johnson and Ian Cole.

Chambers suspects Cole could sit if the young blueliners continue to impress. Kiszla wonders if GM Joe Sakic could use one of those rearguards as trade bait. Johnson’s contract ($6 million AAV, no-movement and modified no-trade clause) would be difficult to move. Chambers suggests Girard would be the most tradeable. Losing his $5 million AAV over the next seven seasons would free up cap room to add a forward or a goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche GM Joe Sakic might at some point consider using one of his defensemen as trade bait to address a roster issue before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Johnson’s contract all but ensures he won’t be going anywhere. Cale Makar is untouchable and I don’t think Sakic will move Byram or Timmins. Toews is also likely to stay put after signing a four-year deal following his acquisition from the New York Islanders last fall.

Girard, Cole and Graves could become trade candidates. However, there’s no certainty Sakic will shop any of the defensemen this season. We’ll just have to see how things unfold.

Johnson’s no-movement clause means they can’t put him on their taxi squad this season without his permission. I can see them shuttling Byram and Timmins in and out of the taxi squad in the short term. Cole is a UFA this summer but the Avs could prefer hanging onto him for this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

Game recaps plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, J.T. Miller, Erik Johnson, Jason Spezza and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their first win over the season by edging the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the season, moving to within one career goal of tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Eetu Luostarinen, Patric Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists while teammate Keith Yandle tallied his 100th career goal in his 867th consecutive NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Yandle last week amidst speculation he could become a healthy scratch, snapping his Ironman streak. It remains to be seen how things unfold for the veteran blueliner and the Panthers.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine left practice yesterday with an apparent injury above his left hip. Head coach Paul Maurice shed little light on Laine’s status, adding he’ll see how the winger is doing on Monday. Laine is slated to travel with the team to Toronto.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes placed captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson on injured reserve. He’s slated to miss their next three games. Ekman-Larsson suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks following a hit from Sharks’ winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after missing the club’s first three games in coronavirus quarantine as a high-risk contact of teammate Jordie Benn.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram will join their teammates after completing COVID-19 quarantine. Johnson missed all of training camp and the Avs’ first test games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Byram was in quarantine after traveling from Canada following the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed center Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to their taxi squad. Spezza indicated he’ll retire immediately if claimed by another club. Dell, meanwhile, could be targeted by a club with goalie issues like the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn their fate by noon ET today.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Friday with an undisclosed ailment. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Matheson was injured during Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve following a hit to the head suffered during Friday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Bortuzzo was struck by the shoulder of Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Kase suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.










Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

The Lightning still needs to make a cost-cutting trade despite Nikita Kucherov heading to LTIR, talk of Coyotes center Derek Stepan possibly heading to the Senators, and the latest on the Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LIGHTNING COULD STILL NEED A COST-CUTTING TRADE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark reports losing cornerstone winger Nikita Kucherov for the regular season to hip surgery helps the Tampa Bay Lightning address their need to become salary-cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Bolts still have to sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli and were trying to shop winger Tyler Johnson in a cost-cutting deal. Placing Kucherov and his $9.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve could free up sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli without having to move Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to trade Tyler Johnson earlier in the offseason (NHL Images).

However, Lightning general Julien BriseBois said he will seek opportunities to free up more cap room. He indicates he still doesn’t have sufficient maneuverability and is speaking with a couple of teams. BriseBois revealed he had been working with a team after the playoffs on a deal for Johnson that would’ve involved a third club taking on part of the winger’s $5 million cap hit but it proved too expensive to be feasible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.89 million. Contract talks continue with the Cirelli camp. Placing Kucherov on LTIR will leave the Lightning with less than $3 million to lock up Cirelli. He has no leverage coming off his entry-level contract but his agent can justifiably argue that his client is worth more than that.

Perhaps BriseBois will still try to move Johnson or maybe Alex Killorn and his $4.45 million cap hit. Maybe he’ll consider another option. Whatever he’s got in mind will have to not only ensure sufficient room to sign Cirelli but also enough for other moves as required over the course of the season.

STEPAN TO THE SENATORS?

TSN 1200’s Shawn Simpson tweeted he’s hearing the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators are discussing a deal involving Coyotes center Derek Stepan. He has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million but his actual salary is $5 million.

The Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren points out Stepan’s actual salary for this season consists of a $3 million signing bonus. The Coyotes lack picks in the first and third rounds of the 2021 NHL draft. The Senators have three second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan also lacks no-trade protection so the Coyotes can peddle him to any NHL club without his permission. The Senators would only be on the hook for $2 million of his actual salary if this goes through. He’d provide some welcome experience and leadership to their checking lines.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

TSN: Salim Valji reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving recently said discussions about player movement have picked up as teams prepare for the start of the season on Jan. 13. He expects we’ll see some trade activity in the weeks leading up to the season opener.

The Flames only have around $223K in salary-cap space. Treliving expects his current roster is the one he’ll go to training camp with but indicated he continues having discussions with other teams looking for opportunities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving will probably evaluate his roster during training camp to determine any pressing needs to be addressed before Jan. 13. Given his limited cap space, he could be looking at dollar-for-dollar moves.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

Check out some recent speculation on the Red Wings, Bruins and  Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan listing several players the Red Wings could be interested in before the start of this season.

Could the Detroit Red Wings acquire Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson? (NHL Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty are Kulfan’s suggested trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Red Wings’ trading Dmytro Timashov to the New York Islanders yesterday, general manager Steve Yzerman could make another addition to his roster before the season begins. 

A swap between the Wings and Lightning has potential. The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. The Wings have plenty of cap space and general manager Steve Yzerman knows Killorn, Johnson and Gourde from his days as Lightning GM.

Killorn, however, has a modified no-trade list while Johnson and Gourde have full no-trade protection. If the Wings aren’t on their lists of preferred destinations they won’t be going to Detroit.

Pacioretty, meanwhile, has a 10-team no-trade list which could include the Wings. Besides, Yzerman might not be keen to invest in a 32-year-old winger carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons.

Unrestricted free agent targets could include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen, Andy Greene and former Red Wing Andreas Athanasiou.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract worth between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. I don’t think Yzerman will go that high for him. Granlund or Duclair might be affordable options, with Granlund perhaps the better choice depending on his asking price.

Vatanen could be a good addition to the Wings’ defense corps on a reasonable short-term contract. Greene is believed to have a deal with the Islanders that will be made official once they get Mathew Barzal under contract. I doubt Yzerman will bring Athanasiou back to Detroit given his disappointing performance during his contract year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked about the possibility of the Bruins bringing in a player on a professional tryout offer during training camp. He suggested former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as one option. UFA like Anthony Duclair and Mikael Granlund could become PTO candidates but Haggerty feels they’ll eventually sign guaranteed contracts rather than tryouts for training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll likely be aging veterans like Alzner, Ron Hainsey, goaltenders such as Jimmy Howard and Craig Anderson, and forwards like Justin Abdelkader and Michael Grabner could end up signing professional tryout options with the Bruins and other clubs.

Asked if the Bruins are done making moves, Haggerty speculates a trade is more likely than a free-agent signing. If they go the trade route, it’ll be for a top-four defenseman to plug the gap on the left side of their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty noted the Bruins’ efforts to acquire Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson before the blueliner’s Oct. 9 deadline brought that attempt to an end. GM Don Sweeney could attempt a trade for a left-side defender but it probably won’t be a move for someone like Ekman-Larsson at this stage.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined what could be a crucial season for the Calgary Flames. With two years remaining on the contracts of winger Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, he feels the Flames are reaching a pivotal moment.

Another disappointing playoff performance could put pressure on general manager Brad Treliving to shake things up. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels blowing things up could make things worse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The majority of Flames fans (and some Calgary pundits) were calling for change over the summer when the club was bounced from the first round of the 2020 playoffs. Defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic departed via free agency but general manager Brad Treliving ignored the cries for Gaudreau to be shopped following a disappointing postseason effort.

The Flames will face increased pressure this season to shake their recent reputation as a playoff underachiever. Another early exit could prompt a shakeup of the roster core.










NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life