NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

The NHL expansion draft begins at 8 pm ET tonight. Check out the latest on Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EXPANSION DRAFT SPECULATION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s an expectation the Seattle Kraken could make an 11th-hour pitch to the Montreal Canadiens to ask their price to not select Carey Price. LeBrun doubts Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will pay it since he and Price agreed the latter would be exposed in the draft.

Will the Seattle Kraken select Carey Price in the expansion draft? (NHL Images)

Price, meanwhile, is slated to be examined in New York on Thursday regarding hip and knee ailments. Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Francis has received the green light from Kraken ownership to select Price if they see fit despite the goalie’s health issues and expensive contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan examined Bergevin’s options to replace Price if he’s selected by the Kraken. Free-agent options could include Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, who began his NHL career in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn officially after 8 pm ET tonight if the Kraken snap-up Price. Doing so would free up $10.5 million in cap space for Bergevin to seek a short-term replacement. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports of rumors the Kraken could select St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and flip him to the Philadelphia Flyers for winger Jakub Voracek and a draft pick. Other reports they could target the  Washington Capitals for center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The New York Rangers have also been mentioned because of Tarasenko’s friendship with Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be very interesting to see if the Kraken would go that route with Tarasenko. They’ll have to get something worthwhile in the return to consider it.

Maybe they’d accept Voracek if they select James van Riemsdyk from the Flyers in the expansion draft. Despite Kuznetsov’s personal baggage, the Kraken could take the chance if they fail to land a quality center in the draft. Perhaps they could pry Pavel Kuchnevich and a draft pick or prospect from the Rangers.

Tarasenko isn’t the only player the Kraken could attempt to flip to another club soon after the draft. NBC Sports Adam Gretz also listed Calgary’s Mark Giordano, New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok, Anaheim’s Adam Henrique and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere as possible trade candidates if selected by the Kraken.

Pierre LeBrun also reported Gabriel Landeskog’s camp had a conversation with the Kraken on Sunday but there’s been nothing further since. Unless things change, he doubts the Kraken will sign the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Darren Dreger reports Francis has had a number of conversations with agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFAs Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson. They could be preliminary discussions. Francis’ window of exclusivity to negotiate with unprotected free agents expires at 10 am ET today.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are locked-in on Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger. He wondered if they’ll also attempt to add Frank Vatrano or if Driedger becomes their pick from the Panthers. They’re also interested in St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. Do they add him now or select Vince Dunn and add the winger later?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kraken don’t sign Landeskog, Driedger, Schwartz, Hamilton or Larsson today they can continue contract discussions with them. It just means they’ll be jockeying with other clubs interested in their services as the start of free agency (July 28) draws nearer.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited a recent report claiming the New Jersey Devils appear interested in moving P.K. Subban. They exposed him in the expansion draft but were also trying to find a taker for the former Norris Trophy winner. Lewis wondered if they can convince the Kraken to take on the final season of Subban’s contract. He carries a $9 million cap hit for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that will become one of those side deals we heard so much about leading up to today’s draft. It could take a significant sweetener to convince the Kraken to do that.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported the Minnesota Wild continues to have discussions with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Jack Eichel. However, the asking price for the 24-year-old center remains very high.

It’s believed Sabres GM Kevin Adams sought all futures from the Wild. That would mean top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy plus two first-round picks. Given Eichel’s $10 million annual average value, the Sabres would have to take back a significant salary from the Wild or find another club to act as a third-party broker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo doesn’t see a clear path for the Wild to acquire Eichel unless the Sabres lower their prices. He’s previously reported GM Bill Guerin is reluctant to burn through his cap space or deplete his prospect pipeline.

Speaking of Eichel, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames are out of the bidding, at least for now. The Wild and Rangers are listed as possibilities.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov received a significant offer from KHL club CSKA Moscow. Guerin is aware of it but he believes they can bridge the cap in contract talks with the 2021 Calder Trophy winner.

LeBrun also reports the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are among the teams believed interested in Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could lose defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the expansion draft. Canadiens captain Shea Weber could miss all of next season (and perhaps more) due to multiple lingering injuries.

Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes continue shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson but his $8.25 million annual cap hit is a tough sell. Perhaps interest will pick up if a team loses a good defenseman in the expansion draft.

Meanwhile, there’s no progress in contract talks between the Coyotes and winger Conor Garland. Several clubs are keeping an eye on the restricted free agent’s situation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, updates on contracts talks for Gabriel Landeskog and Kirill Kaprizov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price will be in goal on Monday evening when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens are on the verge of elimination in part because Price has struggled in this series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Price acknowledged he had to improve but Ducharme didn’t throw his starter under the bus. “You can talk about one guy but it’s about all of us. We have to be better in front of him,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme’s correct in his assessment of the Canadiens in this series. Yes, Price hasn’t played to the same level as he did in the first three rounds, but his teammates also haven’t performed well. If they don’t turn it around in Game 4, the Lightning will win their second straight championship.

The Lightning have been the better team in this series. They’ve done a masterful job cashing in on Montreal’s mistakes, forcing turnovers, matching the Canadiens’ physical game and shutting down their offensive game.

Even if the Habs manage to win Game 4, they’ll be delaying the inevitable because they cannot match the Lightning’s depth of talent. History is also against them as only one team (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has ever rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup.

ESPN.COM: The Canadian government did not grant additional exemptions for family members of the Lightning to cross the border and avoid the 14-day quarantine for a possible Stanley Cup celebration in Game 4.

The league and the NHLPA had spoken with the government about this as recently as last week. However, the PA warned the players it was unlikely the request would be approved.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh reports contract talks between Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche are expected to pick up soon. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Both sides are interested in negotiating a new contract but the salary cap could complicate things.

Contract talks between the Avs and pending UFA goaltender Philipp Grubauer have yet to pick up steam. Preliminary discussions have started between the club and Cale Makar. The restricted free agent blueliner could be targeted for an offer sheet but the Avs are prepared to match any offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, just because a team could try to sign Makar to an offer sheet doesn’t mean he’ll do so. It’s a waste of time to try if he’s not interested.

NHL.COM: Contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kirill Kaprizov are expected to resume this week. General manager Bill Guerin remains confident the 2021 Calder Trophy winner wants to continue playing for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hangup here is the Wild wants to sign Kaprizov to a long-term deal while the 24-year-old prefers a shorter contract to take him up to the earliest date for his UFA eligibility. A compromise could see Kaprizov ink a four-year deal.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could have over $27 million in cap space after they’ve signed their restricted free agents. Despite that much cap room, however, they’re not expected to be a major player in the UFA market because top players won’t be attracted to signing with the rebuilding Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen believes Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades.

NHL.COM: Prospect Matthew Beniers indicated he’s leaning toward returning to the University of Michigan next season. He and Michigan teammate Owen Power are projected to be the top two prospects in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Power has also said he was considering a return to Michigan next season. It’ll be interesting to see if their decisions affect their selection in the draft. Some rebuilding clubs could prefer prospects ready to join their system right away.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks promoted Todd Harvey as their new director of amateur scouting.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2021

Connor McDavid wins both MVP awards as the remainder of the major individual player awards are announced, the First and Second Team All-Stars revealed, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the NHLPA membership. It’s the second time he’s won the Hart and the third time he’s taken home the Lindsay Award.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

McDavid became just the second player in NHL history to receive 100 percent of the first-place votes for the Hart. The last player to do so was Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top blueliner. He’s the first Ranger to do so since Brian Leetch in 1996-97.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took home his first Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder. He’s the first goalie in Golden Knights history to win the Vezina.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. He’s the first player in Wild history to win this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all the winners for their well-deserved honors during an unusual season.

The NHL’s First All-Star Team for 2020-21 includes Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, defensemen Adam Fox of the Rangers and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Oilers center Connor McDavid, Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner and Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand.

The Second All-Star Team features Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Victor Hedman of the Lightning and Dougie Hamilton of the Carolina Hurricanes, Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau.

The NHL’s All-Rookie Team for 2020-21 features Hurricanes netminder Alex Nedeljkovic, defensemen K’Andre Miller of the Rangers and Ty Smith of the New Jersey Devils, and forwards Kirill Kaprizov of the Wild, Josh Norris of the Ottawa Senators and Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000.00 for slashing Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens are asking the Quebec government to allow 50 percent capacity (10,500 fans) for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Alex Killorn is questionable for Game 2 tonight after leaving Game 1 in the third period with a suspected leg injury.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have named Don Granato as their head coach, signing him to a three-year contract. Granato took over on an interim basis midway through this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres showed obvious improvement after Granato replaced Ralph Krueger. It’ll be interesting to see how the players respond to his coaching over the course of a full 82-game schedule. This club’s constant changes behind the bench in recent years have contributed to their ongoing mediocrity.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers have hired former NHL player Tuomo Ruutu as an assistant coach. Ruutu spent the past two seasons with the New York Rangers and was their assistant director of player development last season.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets will hire Sylvain Lefebvre as an assistant coach. He’s spent the past nine seasons coaching in the AHL.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have reportedly done extensive vetting of Ottawa 67s head coach Andre Tourigny. They’re seeking a new bench boss after parting ways with Rick Tocchet last month.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Wayne Simmonds to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $900K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A two-year deal seems a little long for a player who didn’t have as big an impact as hoped when he joined the Leafs this season. Part of the reason was a broken wrist he suffered in February. If Simmonds doesn’t work out they can bury the full value of his contract in the minors.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed goaltender Jonas Johansson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche backup Pavel Francouz is under contract for next season with a $2 million cap hit. He missed the entire season with to a lower-body injury that required surgery in April. Francouz is expected to be healthy for next season but Johansson will be insurance should he become sidelined again.

TORONTO STAR: TSN’s Ray Ferraro and Sportsnet’s Cassie Campbell-Pascall have joined ESPN’s NHL broadcasting team. Both will continue at their current networks while doing their new ESPN gigs.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have officially announced their AHL affiliation deal with Abbotsford, BC. The new deal is for five years with options for renewal that could run as long as 20 years.

PORTLAND PRESS-HERALD: The Maine Mariners are expected to announce today that they will become the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to remain with the Vegas Golden Knights, Alec Martinez played through injury, Canadiens coach Ducharme should return during Stanley Cup Final and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to end his playing career with the Vegas Golden Knights and hopes Robin Lehner does too. He said he’s developed a good relationship with Lehner and is proud of what they accomplished this season. The duo combined to win the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed (124) during this season.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Lehner also said he and Fleury have grown closer, adding it’s been a privilege to play alongside him. Fleury is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury surfaced again as a cost-cutting trade candidate following the Golden Knights’ playoff elimination. He has a 10-team no-trade clause, giving the club some flexibility if they wish to shed his $7 million cap hit. Lehner, meanwhile, just completed the first season of a five-year contract.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said he played through a broken foot for over a month. He still averaged over 22 minutes per game and has a playoffs-leading 72 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. That performance will boost his stock in the free-agent market. It could also earn him a new contract with the Golden Knights if they can free up sufficient cap room to re-sign him.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme expected to return for Game 3 of his club’s Stanley Cup Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ducharme’s been in self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test before Game 3 of the semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some wonder if Ducharme’s return behind the bench could upset the coaching dynamic since the Canadiens advanced to the Final under assistant coach Luke Richardson. They forget it was his coaching that got the Habs to the semifinal in the first place. He’s been in regular contact with his coaching staff and players through videoconferencing between games.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin denied a report claiming contract talks with winger Kirill Kaprizov have gone cold. He said both sides continue working toward a new deal.

TSN: Former Chicago Blackhawks associate coach John Torchetti confirmed a meeting took place during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to discuss the alleged sexual assault of two of their players. One of those players recently filed a lawsuit against the team alleging he and a team were sexually assaulted by then-video coach Bradley Aldrich.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final if it goes that far. He’ll be in Rhode Island as his son is getting married the following day.

CBS PITTSBURGH: Former Penguins forward Beau Bennett announced his retirement. A first-round pick of the Penguins in 2010 (20th overall), he spent four seasons (2012-13 to 2015-16) with the organization followed by one with the New Jersey Devils and another with the St. Louis Blues. In 200 NHL games, Bennett tallied 20 goals and 64 points and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bennett in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.

The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.

The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.

BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.

Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.

Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.

Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.

The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.

I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.










NHL Betting: Kirill Kaprizov Poised To Take Home Calder Trophy

NHL Betting: Kirill Kaprizov Poised To Take Home Calder Trophy