NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2022

A look at the Panthers’ potential offseason plans plus the latest on the Islanders and Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PANTHERS?

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton previews the Florida Panthers’ potential offseason plans after being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The first will be deciding if Andrew Brunette becomes their full-time head coach or is replaced. Brunette took over on an interim basis in October after Joel Quenneville stepped down. He’s a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year after guiding the Panthers to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best record and their first playoff series victory since 1996 with their first round elimination of the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brunette’s done enough to earn the job full-time. However, general manager Bill Zito could be tempted into hiring a better-experienced bench boss like Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness or Paul Maurice. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

Shilton also felt the Panthers will have to replace Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot. They acquired the duo before this year’s trade deadline. Both are unrestricted free agents this summer and it’s unlikely they’ll re-sign long-term with the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will be an issue for the Panthers. According to Cap Friendly, they have $78.6 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23. That includes over $6.5 million in dead cap space due to the buyouts of Keith Yandle and Scott Darling.

In addition to Giroux and Chiarot, Joe Thornton and Mason Marchment are also eligible for UFA status in July. The 42-year-old Thornton is facing retirement and won’t be back. Marchment, however, blossomed into a reliable middle-six forward this season. The 27-year-old winger would be more affordable and worthwhile to retain.

Philly Hockey Now’s Sam Carchidi wonders what the future holds for Giroux. He was a great fit with the Panthers but will be expensive to sign. Carchidi pondered whether Giroux might return to the cap-strapped Flyers or perhaps return to his hometown of Ottawa and sign with the Senators.

The latter theory, by the way, was based on a rumor out of Ottawa that depended on whether Giroux won the Stanley Cup with the Panthers. It could also be applied to the Flyers. Both scenarios could be dashed if playing for a contender becomes the determining factor in where he decides to continue his NHL playing career.

Shilton expects Zito will spend the summer upgrading the Panthers’ blueline. She also believes it’ll be on whoever is their coach next season to improve their forwards’ defensive game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barry Trotz could certainly improve the Panthers’ team defense. Food for thought.

As for improving the defense corps, that could take dollar-for-dollar trades considering how little cap room Zito has to work with for next season. Maybe he tries to move forward Patric Hornqvist ($5.3 million cap hit) to a club that isn’t on his eight-team no-trade list. Perhaps Zito shops a forward lacking no-trade protection like Sam Bennett ($4.425 million) or Anthony Duclair ($3 million).

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked about the futures of New York Islanders forwards Oliver Wahlstrom, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey.

Kurz felt the Islanders still believe Wahlstrom can develop into a top-six forward despite his struggles this season. However, he sees Beauvillier as a possible trade chip to bring in a more consistent winger or a left-shot defenseman to pair with Noah Dobson.

Bailey, meanwhile, could still attract interest in the trade market though the winger’s $5 million salary-cap hit is a bit inflated. His contract has just two years remaining which makes it more palatable. Clubs with depth issues at forward, such as the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames, could use someone with Bailey’s experience and two-way skills.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wahlstrom won’t be going anywhere as the Isles will want to see if his performance improves under new head coach Lane Lambert. Beauvillier, 24, has shown the potential to be a more reliable top-six scorer. He’s under contract for two more years but teams could balk at his $4.125 million annual average value.

Bailey lacks no-trade protection but his age (32) and that $5 million cap hit could make him difficult to move. I don’t see him as a fit cap-wise with Flames, Oilers and Stars given the limited room they’ll have once they’re done signing their key free agents this summer. Still, there could be other clubs with the cap space seeking someone with his skills.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis recently reports Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson is interested in acquiring a first-round pick in this year’s draft. The Blackhawks’ 2022 first-rounder belongs to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of last summer’s Seth Jones trade.

The Blackhawks don’t have many players who could fetch a first-rounder. Someone will have to step up with a big offer for Davidson to consider shopping winger Alex DeBrincat. The only way Patrick Kane gets moves is if he requests a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roumeliotis suggested Connor Murphy as a “maybe” in that category. His long injury history, however, hurts his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

More conjecture on the Bruins’ offseason plans, the latest speculation linking the Senators to Kevin Fiala, and which troublesome contracts the Coyotes could target in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes finding a center and holding firm on Jake DeBrusk could be among the priorities of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, assuming he’s signed to a contract extension.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

The need for a center will become more urgent if captain Patrice Bergeron retires when his contract expires in July. There’s no one within their system who can step up and adequately replace him, plus they still haven’t fully addressed David Krejci’s departure last summer.

DeBrusk signed a two-year contract extension in March. While his play improved down the stretch and in the playoffs, he hasn’t withdrawn the trade request made in November. Shinzawa believes Sweeney won’t be quick to move DeBrusk if he still wants out.

Shinzawa includes Bergeron among his list of Bruins he believes will depart this summer. He thinks the 36-year-old center is confirming to himself that it’s time to retire.

Nick Foligno, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly and Craig Smith are among Shinzawa’s list of trade candidates, though he acknowledged a buyout seems more likely for Foligno. He also recommended trading star winger David Pastrnak if there’s any sense of uncertainty over whether he’ll sign a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could retire and go out while still among the league’s elite players (especially if he wins the Selke Trophy this year) would cap a fine Hall-of-Fame career. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns for another season to buy the Bruins some time to find a suitable replacement or at least bolster their depth at center.

Pastrnak becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. He loves playing in Boston and the Bruins obviously hope to retain him past 2023. However, Bergeron’s possible retirement and the club’s direction could leave him thinking carefully over his future. He’d be among the top players in the 2023 UFA market and would land a lucrative long-term deal. It’ll be interesting to see how his situation plays out.

There’s speculation the Bruins would welcome back Krejci if he felt like returning to the NHL next season. So far, however, there’s no indication he’s planning a comeback in Boston or anywhere else. As for DeBrusk, he said he hasn’t given much thought to his request but will spend some time considering it over the offseason before making a decision.

COULD THE SENATORS PURSUE FIALA?

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes examined the pros and cons of the Ottawa Senators pursuing Kevin Fiala if the Minnesota Wild put the 25-year-old wing on the trade block.

The asking price could be the Senators’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft plus an affordable center or backup goaltender. A downside would be Fiala’s next contract as he could come in between $7.5 million and $8 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan recently suggested Fiala would check a lot of boxes as a fit with the Senators, though he also pointed out his next contract will be expensive. He also suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny as another option, carrying three more years on his contract with a $5.5 million annual average value. He’s also familiar with Ottawa having played his junior hockey with the OHL’s 67s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the expense of Fiala’s next contract, he will draw lots of interest if the Wild decide to peddle him. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported several teams believe Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin will find a way to keep Fiala. If he can’t, Friedman mentioned the Senators, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings as potential trade destinations.

Konecny could be a viable alternative for the Senators if they’re in the market for a scoring winger and lose out on Fiala. He lacks no-trade protection and the Senators have promising young prospects that could tempt Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. That will depend on how much tinkering Fletcher intends to do with his roster this summer and whether he sees Konecny as a trade chip or part of the club’s long-term plans.

WHICH TOXIC CONTRACTS COULD THE COYOTES TARGET?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently looked at 31 NHL teams’ troublesome contracts the Arizona Coyotes could target in their quest to add more draft picks and prospects this summer. His suggested options include the Montreal Canadiens’ Shea Weber, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Petr Mrazek, San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc, New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey and the Philadelphia Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed many other notables, including the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Boston Bruins’ Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan, the Florida Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky and the San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Those players, however, have full or partial no-trade clauses and probably won’t waive them to go to the Coyotes.

Weber, Labanc, Bailey and van Riemsdyk, however, lack no-trade protection and would be prime cost-cutting candidates. Mrazek has a partial no-trade clause but might accept a trade to the Coyotes if he knows he doesn’t have a future with the Leafs.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 2, 2022

Could the Islanders make a couple of offseason cost-cutting moves? Were the Bruins close to moving Jeremy Swayman at the trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner believes the New York Islanders will have to move out a couple of contracts in the offseason if they intend to add some high-end talent for next season.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

One of them would have to be winger Josh Bailey, who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. Another could be goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who also carries a $5 million cap hit and has a year left on his deal. However, it sounds like the Isles want to keep Varlamov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey, 32, lacks no-trade protection but the decline in his production over the last couple of seasons could make him difficult to move. The 33-year-old Varlamov garnered interest leading up to the trade deadline but the Isles opted to retain him. His 16-team no-trade list is also a significant sticking point.

Rosner recently suggested inconsistent winger Anthony Beauvillier could become a trade candidate if he doesn’t step up his play over the remainder of this season. Like Bailey, the 24-year-old Beauvillier lacks no-trade protection and is signed through 2023-24 but carries a slightly more affordable cap hit of $4.15 million.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported a rumor linking Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman to the Arizona Coyotes leading up to the trade deadline. The Bruins wanted to acquire defenseman Jakob Chychrun but Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong insisted the 23-year-old Swayman be part of the return. Bruins GM Don Sweeney wouldn’t budge with Armstrong or other Gms interested in Swayman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising Sweeney didn’t move Swayman. They still see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders and Swayman’s outperformed Linus Ullmark this season. He’s on a two-way contract through 2022-23 at an affordable $925K so I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere for a while.