NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2022

Jakob Chychrun hopes the Coyotes trade him to a contender, the Blackhawks insist they have had no trade talks regarding Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, plus the latest on the Jets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CHYCHRUN WANTS TO BE TRADED TO A CONTENDER

ARIZONA SPORTS: Tom Kuebel reports Jakob Chychrun said he’s hoping the Coyotes will trade him to a playoff contender as the club prepares for another rebuilding season. The 24-year-old defenseman said he’s had constant communication with management. He also had lots of discussions with his family before making his trade request.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Chychrun made his remarks during a press conference yesterday. He’s been the subject of trade speculation for some time but it’s believed the Coyotes have set a high asking price.

Now in his seventh season with the Coyotes, Chychrun observed that he hasn’t yet had a really good shot at not only the playoffs but also the Stanley Cup. He believes management is on board with trying to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been plenty of speculation suggesting the Coyotes seek a return heavy on futures. That includes at least a first-round pick and either a top prospect or a good young NHL player as part of the deal.

This is the first time that Chychrun has publicly indicated his desire to be traded. Whether that puts pressure on general manager Bill Armstrong to find a suitable trade partner remains to be seen. Armstrong continues to remain patient waiting for the right return but no one has stepped forward yet with a suitable offer.

Chychrun’s comments will ensure he remains a fixture in this season’s rumor mill leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

NO TRADE TALKS REGARDING KANE AND TOEWS, SAYS BLACKHAWKS GM

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he’s had no trade discussions regarding Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The two long-time Blackhawks stars are due to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Kane, 33, has regularly surfaced in the off-season rumor mill. However, Davidson said there have been no conversations about moving him. He insists the focus is on Kane and Toews being part of the team right from the opening day of the regular season.

Davidson claims he hasn’t thought about trading either of them during this season. He also said the pair didn’t have any intentions of going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson also said if it comes to a trade of either player they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. In other words, it probably won’t happen early in the season but things could change as the schedule goes on.

There were reports claiming the Blackhawks were getting lots of calls about Kane from interested teams. However, there’s been nothing from Kane or Toews to suggest they want out. Davidson’s been consistent for weeks now that both players are looking forward to the season and seeing how things play out.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen weighed in on why the Jets didn’t trade Blake Wheeler despite off-season rumors suggesting he wouldn’t mind a change of scenery. He assumes it was because general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff sought too much in return for the 36-year-old winger or asked his trade partners to take on too much of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could also be a little of both. Wheeler remains an effective top-six winger who netted 60 points in 65 games last season. However, his production was streaky during that time plus he missed time due to injuries. Interested parties could be leery of giving up too much for an aging asset.

Wheeler has two years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $8.25 million. That’s a hefty cap hit for most teams to take on. They could prefer the Jets retain up to half of it. He also carries a five-time trade list which significantly reduces the number of potential trade partners.

Scott Billeck wonders how the Jets will address their logjam on defense.

Josh Morrissey, Brenden Dillon, Nate Schmidt and Dylan DeMelo are locks barring a trade given they all earn $3 million or more annually and the Jets won’t want to sit on that kind of money.

The Jets, however, must make room for Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola. That will ultimately depend on new head coach Rick Bowness to decide.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One way could be trading one of those higher-salaried defensemen. Perhaps DeMelo or Logan Stanley become the odd men out.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

Do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild process? What could be in store this summer for the Islanders and Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson reported Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson cleared up any ambiguity about a fast rebuild for his club. He didn’t put a timeline on it but suggested it could take at least three-to-five years.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews recently remarked they saw no reason the club couldn’t turn things around within a year or two. With a year remaining on their respective contracts, they have no choice but to go along with Davidson’s plans unless they agree to waive their no-movement clauses and ask to be traded.

Davidson believes Kane and Toews have a place in the club’s plans and made his expectations clear to both during their exit interviews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reported Davidson also said those conversations were healthy and productive and he’s pleased with how they went. It’s believed the Blackhawks GM intends to keep his two aging stars in the loop regarding the club’s direction.

Whether that silences the trade speculation about those two (especially Kane) that surfaced in the final weeks of the regular season remains to be seen.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined the New York Islanders’ offseason priorities.

Finding a high-end winger for first-line center Mathew Barzal topped his list. He advocated the cap-strapped Islanders pull off some “salary-cap gymnastics” to pursue Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Florida’s Claude Giroux if they become available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Isles with $70.2 million invested in 18 active players for 2022-23 with Noah Dobson as their only notable free agent to re-sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have to shed considerable salary to free up space to make a serious offer for Gaudreau, Forsberg or Giroux.

Gaudreau could seek $10 million annually if he hits the open market while Forsberg could come in around $8 million. Giroux is 34 and would be more affordable but a lot could depend on how well the Panthers do in this postseason.

Kurz also suggested the Isles need to sort out their goalie tandem. Semyon Varlamov made it clear he was happy not being moved at the March trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if he’s willing to take a back seat next season to Ilya Sorokin.

If not, perhaps the Isles should attempt to trade Varlamov and the remaining year on his contract this summer. He carries a $5 million cap hit plus a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of teams calling the Islanders about Varlamov. Given general manager Lou Lamoriello’s secretive nature, we have no idea if those calls were seriously entertained or even took place.

Moving Varlamov and his cap hit would make it easier for Lamoriello to pursue a top-six winger for Barzal’s line. Sorokin has proven himself as an NHL starter but he and Varlamov work well together as a tandem. Lamoriello could be reluctant to break that up for next season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis intends to see more goal-scoring for his club in the offseason via free agency. He’ll be looking for someone who can play in their top-six or top-nine. Francis also mentioned he could seek a blueline upgrade, especially for someone who is offensively inclined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken has the cap space to invest in a scoring winger or a puck-moving defenseman this summer if they’re willing to spend toward the cap. They have $59.6 million committed to 14 players next season with no expensive core players to re-sign.

Francis was able to woo Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz to Seattle in last summer’s UFA market. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him landing another notable free-agent player.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2022

The latest Blackhawks speculation includes the Capitals having an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury plus the latest Claude Giroux, Ben Chiarot, Jakub Chychrun and J.T. Miller in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports a league source told him anyone on the Chicago Blackhawks could be had in the trade market. That doesn’t mean they’re shopping players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat. However, they would do so if Toews or Kane asked to be moved and would at least listen if someone came calling about DeBrincat.

Powers considers Toews, Kane and Seth Jones to be pretty much untouchable. It would take significant offers to pry players such as DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Lukas Reichel and Brandon Hagel away from the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks could end up giving a first-round pick in 2022 or 2023 to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the conditions for acquiring Jones. However, Powers doesn’t see them giving away a player they covet simply to fill a draft spot.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Powers believes Marc-Andre Fleury will have the best trade value for the Blackhawks, followed by winger Dominik Kubalik and defenseman Calvin de Haan. Fleury and de Haan are unrestricted free agents. Kubalik is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but the $4 million it’ll take to qualify his rights could dampen his value in the trade market.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell told Frank Seravalli and Ryan S. Clark that she believes there’s a greater than 50 percent chance the Capitals could have a new goaltender by the trade deadline. She thinks they’re among the teams interested in Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any trade involving Toews, Kane or DeBrincat takes place in the offseason. Swinging the kind of deal it would take to move any of those players takes time and assets that interested clubs probably don’t have right now. That’s assuming Toews or Kane are willing to be traded or that a rival club can make an offer substantial enough to convince the Hawks to part with DeBrincat.

Fleury’s been linked to the Capitals several times in recent weeks as concern mounts over the status of their goaltending. They have just over $2 million in projected deadline cap space but that still won’t be enough to take on Fleury without the Blackhawks retaining some of the remainder of his $7 million cap hit or the Capitals freeing up some cap room. That’s assuming they’re not on his 10-team no-trade list.

SUGGESTED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR GIROUX AND CHIAROT

SPORTSNET: During their recent “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed possible trade destinations for Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.

Friedman considers the Colorado Avalanche a good fit for Giroux if he wants to chase a Stanley Cup provided they can make the cap dollars fit. Marek also suggested the Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski as another fit for the Avs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche seems to be linked to everybody, don’t they? I don’t rule out the possibility of general manager Joe Sakic making a move by the March 21 trade deadline. However, the Avalanche are pressed for cap space, requiring some creativity on Sakic’s part to take on the remainder of Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit for this season if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause to join the Avs.

As for Pavelski, he’s expressed his desire to stay with Dallas. While the Stars could shop unhappy defenseman John Klingberg before the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised if they retain Pavelski if the two sides feel they can get a deal done before he becomes a UFA in July.

Regarding Chiarot, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames have an interest in the Canadiens blueliner. He also wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs might pursue him, pointing out they were interested in Chiarot before he signed with Montreal but couldn’t make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Avalanche, the Leafs also carry limited cap space, though absorbing the remainder of Chiarot’s $3.5 million cap hit wouldn’t be as challenging as it would for the Avs to take on the more expensive Giroux. GM Kyle Dubas has shown the ability to swing deals with a tight payroll in the past so we shouldn’t reject that possibility out of hand.

The Canadiens’ rumored ask for Chiarot is a first-round pick. Don’t forget that Dubas parted with his 2021 first-rounder last year for Nick Foligno. Will he part with another first-rounder for another rental player this year? Stay tuned…

LATEST ON JAKOB CHYCHRUN AND J.T. MILLER

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple weighed in on a recent report by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman reporting the New York Rangers made a trade offer to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Jakob Chychrun centered around Vitali Kravtsov. The 23-year-old winger is playing in Russia this season awaiting a trade by the Rangers.

Unless there are more pieces to a deal for Chychrun, it won’t address the Rangers’ need for more scoring punch on the wings. Adding Chychrun, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, could complicate things when left-side defenseman K’Andre Miller becomes a restricted free agent in 2023.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan believes we should be careful about the rumors regarding what’s being offered to the Coyotes for Chychrun, especially when it gets too specific about the Coyotes’ asking price. He doubts GM Bill Armstrong will get into specifics about what he’s seeking for Chychrun. He’s not going to limit his asking price as that would close off alternatives.

Morgan also dismisses reports that those trade talks are heating up when the trade deadline is two months away, calling it a “media-driven narrative”. He reminds us that agents and league executives love to stir the pot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sensible take by Morgan. One need only look at the trade market where we’ve seen just one trade so far this month compared to four in December and three in November to see just how quiet things are right now. General managers and agents are probably talking, and some could be dropping tidbits to their media pals to drive to generate some activity, but moves involving notable players appear weeks away.

Business should start to pick up as we go through February and intensify once the calendar flips to March. Whether Chychrun gets moved over the next two months remains to be seen. Armstrong doesn’t have to move him by the trade deadline. He can afford to wait until the offseason to get the deal he likes.

SPORTSNET 650: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli believes the Vancouver Canucks could get more than a first-round pick and a highly-touted prospect if they were to trade J.T. Miller. He felt the New York Rangers has expressed some interest in Miller, as well as the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Canucks making any significant roster moves until they’ve hired a new general manager, which should take place within the next couple of weeks. I also doubt they’ll move a core player like Miller if they’re still in the playoff hunt by the March 21 trade deadline. They’re also unlikely to be in a big hurry to move him since he’s still got a year left on his contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

The fallout from the NHL’s withdrawal from the 2020 Winter Olympics, questions over the league’s plans to address the current COVID outbreak among its teams, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NOTE: The NHL expanded its annual holiday break to begin on Dec. 22 and ending on Dec. 26.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr believes it’s a “real shame” NHL players will miss out on another Winter Olympics. However, he acknowledged the inevitability of Wednesday’s decision to withdraw from the Games due to the COVID-19 outbreaks around the NHL and the “profound disruption” to the league’s schedule.

While the decision was out of the players’ control, Fehr said they were devastated and frustrated by the news. He declined to say whether current or former players would still attempt to participate in the Olympics. There’s also no indication whether the Bejing Games would be postponed to 2023.

NBC SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are among the notable NHLers to lament the league’s decision to withdraw from the Games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports the decision caused some internal strife with the NHLPA ranks. A player agent told Murphy the players he spoke to were “ticked off”. Murphy also cited Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck telling the Winnipeg media he believed the league’s COVID protocols were “a little overkill”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players who are “ticked off” are likely in a minority. This wasn’t the NHL yanking the rug from beneath their Olympic aspirations for spite or a change of heart. The recent COVID wave and its effect upon the league’s schedule is the culprit.

This decision was based on the effect this wave could have on hockey-related revenue. Two weeks ago, league commissioner Gary Bettman projected revenue for 2021-22 could reach $5 billion, an increase over the initial projection of $4.8 billion earlier in the fall.

Rising COVID numbers around the league, however, threaten those projections. With 48 postponed games to be made up (and possibly more if the outbreaks are sufficiently contained), the league also risked being unable to complete a full 82-game schedule on time. Going to the Olympics would eat up three valuable weeks in February that can be put toward staging those postponed games.

Shortening the schedule isn’t an option here, especially for the players. They still have to repay the owners for the overage of their share of the HRR they collected last season. That’s because the salary cap was set artificially high to ensure teams could maintain their rosters. However, it didn’t reflect actual revenue.

Under Bettman’s recent projection, the players would pay that share back in two years’ time. Shortening the season to accommodate Olympic participation would see those HRR projections fall short, meaning it would take another year for the players to pay that money back. That also means continued marginal increases in the salary cap until such time as that debt to the owners has been repaid.

The players may be disappointed in not getting a shot at Olympic gold in February but they care more about their paychecks.

The NHL’s withdrawal from the Olympics also meant a change of management and coaching for Canada and the United States. St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has stepped down as GM of Team Canada while Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin did the same for Team USA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong hands the reins over to Hockey Canada to find suitable staff to ice a Canadian team of amateurs and former NHL players at the Beijing Games. USA Hockey will also be finding replacements for Guerin and his staff.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHLPA have discussed the potential reimplementation of the taxi squad and adoption of salary-cap exemptions for COVID-related roster issues for the remainder of this season.

Brooks believes ESPN is the reason why the 2022 All-Star Game remains a go in February. He also thinks the league and the PA will have to consider whether there will come a time to allow asymptomatic players who have tested positive to continue playing.

TSN: The NHL could consider rescheduling some of the Montreal Canadiens home games in January to later in the season if they cannot play in front of fans in their home arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The province of Quebec has banned fans from indoor sporting events until the end of January. The Canadiens would lose considerable revenue without fans at those games, in turn affecting the league’s hockey-related revenue for this season.

SPORTSNET: has a daily updated COVID tracker of all NHL teams. Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane were the latest notable players to enter COVID protocol.

TSN: Salim Valji wonders if there’s a glimmer of hope of keeping the Calgary Flames arena deal alive. According to Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek, the club’s ownership walked away from its partnership with the city of Calgary over a projected $9.7 million increase in the projected cost of the $600 million project. However, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation CEO John Bean claimed there were $19 million in additional infrastructure costs that he said were introduced after their July 2021 agreement, with the city seeking an additional $10 million in funding from CSEC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valji indicated Mayor Gondek said the city wasn’t closing the door on the deal. “We’re simply waiting for them to come back and say they found the money,” she said. By the sound of things, CSEC isn’t going to come up with it.

Still, this could be simply public posturing by Flames ownership to put the squeeze on the city. Perhaps league commissioner Bettman will get involved to sort things out if this drags on.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2021

Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Patrick Kane? Is it time for the Bruins to move on from Patrice Bergeron? Will the Blackhawks find a market for Marc-Andre Fleury? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks asks if the Rangers should attempt to acquire Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane if they could get a third team involved to make the salary-cap dollars work. Kane, 33, has a year remaining on his contract with a $10.5 million annual cap hit.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Would you get Kane if it cost you Kaapo Kakko (but not Alexis Lafreniere), Nils Lundkvist (or Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson but not Braden Schneider), Vitali Kravtsov (but not Will Cuyelle or Brennan Othmann) and a 2022 first-rounder?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting flight of fancy by Brooks, who envisions Kane being on a “Super Line” with old teammate Artemi Panarin and center Ryan Strome through next season to bring the Stanley Cup to Broadway for the first time since 1994. He reminds us that former Rangers general managers Emile Francis, Neil Smith and Glen Sather used to make blockbuster deals like this in pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks, however, have yet to name a full-time replacement for departed GM Stan Bowman. Moving Kane, who has a full no-movement clause, might not be something they’re willing to consider leading up to the March trade deadline. Besides, a deal of that magnitude might have to take place in the offseason when teams have more cap dollars to work with and a willingness to spend.

So what do you think, dear readers? Should the Rangers go all-in and try to pry Kane away from the Blackhawks on deadline day? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty cites NHL analyst Mike Milbury suggesting the Bruins need to move on from captain Patrice Bergeron during a recent appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show”.

Milbury believes they should consider shopping aging assets like Bergeron (and perhaps even Brad Marchand) and rebuild their bare prospect cupboard if they’re not going to push into the playoffs this season.

Bergeron is due to become a UFA next summer. If he wants to go anywhere, Milbury believes it’ll be to a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Bruins front office intends to peddle Bergeron or Marchand or any of their core players this season even if they should be in danger of missing the playoffs by the March trade deadline. They’ll let Bergeron decide what he wants to do once his contract expires.

They’ll try to re-sign him, of course, but that might not be a slam dunk. Much will depend on what type of deal he’ll want and the direction of the Bruins in the coming years. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes his career as a Bruin.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Blackhawks interim general manager Kyle Davidson and his staff are still evaluating their club and haven’t yet decided on their plan for the team. That includes goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

After talking with some league sources, Kaplan believes the Blackhawks could be open to any trade proposals for Fleury. However, the 36-year-old goaltender has a 10-team no-trade clause. There are also family considerations after he moved them to Chicago following his trade last summer by the Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s also uncertain what the market for Fleury will be. They were only able to get a second-round pick for Robin Lehner two years ago because the goalie market was more limited than they thought. Kaplan said two sources speculated Fleury could be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury got off to a rocky start with the Blackhawks but since early November he’s regained the form that garnered him the Vezina Trophy last season. He was 6-2-0 heading into last night’s game against Montreal with a 1.74 GAA and .944 SP during that period. He picked up a 2-0 shutout against the Canadiens for his 500th career win.

The Blackhawks could get at least a first-round pick for Fleury if he maintains his current level of performance. There should be some playoff contenders keen to bolster their goaltending leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. Whether the Oilers will be among them remains to be seen. That could depend upon Mike Smith’s health over the course of the season.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

A look at the top potential trade targets now that Jack Eichel’s off the market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin examined several possible trade targets now that Jack Eichel is finally off the trade market.

Kennedy kicked things off by suggesting Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel as the most obvious choice. He also wondered what the market would be for defenseman Kris Letang if the Pittsburgh Penguins decide the postseason isn’t in the cards for them this season. Despite his injury history and age, the 34-year-old remains a solid offensive blueliner who could fetch a decent return should the Penguins decide to rebuild.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is going to be traded at some point between now and the March 21 trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer who doesn’t fit into the rebuilding Coyotes’ plans and he wants a chance to earn a new contract by playing with a playoff contender this season. He’s being paid only $1 million in actual salary but his $6.8 million cap hit likely means cap-strapped suitors could wait until closer to the trade deadline.

Like Kessel, Letang is a UFA next summer. While his name briefly surfaced in trade speculation over the past couple of years, he has indicated his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. He won’t be going anywhere if management feels the same way.

Kennedy noted that Letang has a modified no-trade clause allowing him to be moved to 18 teams. He’s also earning $7.25 million in cap hit and actual salary, meaning he would be a more likely trade candidate near the deadline if he and the Penguins decide it’s time to move on.

Larkin suggests center Tomas Hertl as a trade candidate if the San Jose Sharks slide out of playoff contention. Another one could be Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, prompting Larkin to wonder if the Calgary Flames might attempt to reacquire their former captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl could be the most desirable trade target depending on what the market looks like after the calendar flips to 2022. The 28-year-old center hopes to soon discuss a new contract with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson but there’s no certainty they’ll reach an agreement on an extension before the trade deadline.

The Kraken making Giordano their captain suggests they’re confident of signing the 38-year-old defenseman to a contract extension. If that doesn’t work out, they could consider moving him before deadline day. Maybe the Flames would try to bring him back as a rental but that will depend on what their needs are as the trade deadline approaches.

Returning to the Penguins, Larkin noted Evgeni Malkin is also in the final year of his contract. The 35-year-old center is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Once he returns to the lineup the club will have a better idea of how the standings might shake out. Malkin could be a player they could get a lot for in the trade market if they decide it’s time to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s in the same boat as Letang. He’s also hinted that he’d like to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He has a full no-movement clause and is earning $9.5 million in cap hit and actual salary. He would generate plenty of interest if the Penguins shop him but moving that contract won’t be easy.

Larkin also mentioned Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as a trade candidate. He suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a club that might want to kick tires on Fleury or current free agent Tuukka Rask.

Staying with the Blackhawks, Larkin raised the possibility of Patrick Kane as a trade chip, noting he’s got a year remaining on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. He acknowledged that would make it difficult to move the 32-year-old winger but he would be appealing as a two-year rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has popped up in recent weeks as a potential trade chip for the Blackhawks later in the season. His $7 million cap hit ($6 million in actual salary) and 10-team no-trade clause would make it difficult for a team with little or no cap space (like the Oilers) to acquire him.

As for Kane, I don’t see the Blackhawks having that conversation with him until the offseason unless he asks to be moved before the deadline. The Hawks need a long-overdue rebuild. Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews could be shopped if they don’t want to be part of it. They both carry identical contracts with full no-movement clauses, which is why I believe any attempt by the Blackhawks to move either guy will have to wait until next summer.