NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

The NHL finds no evidence Evander Kane bet on games, several players remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated as training camps open plus the latest contract signings, injury updates & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NO EVIDENCE KANE BET ON GAMES, SAYS NHL

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL announced Wednesday it found no evidence San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on league games. The accusation was leveled by Kane’s estranged wife Anna several weeks ago, prompting the league’s investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

However, the NHL is now investigating “additional unrelated allegations involving potential wrongdoing by Mr. Kane” linked to a domestic violence restraining order filed by Anna on Tuesday. The Sharks released a statement yesterday indicating the 30-year-old winger has agreed not to participate in training camp until further notice.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith will miss the opening week of training camp. He’ll be in quarantine until Oct. 1 after traveling to the United States to get a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player in training camp. If he remains that way for the coming season, he’ll need a 14-day quarantine to participate in road games in the United States. He will be suspended without pay during that period which won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Archibald could miss 30-plus games and forfeit $600k in wages.

Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to be sidelined for the entire season due to a heart condition (myocarditis) related to his bout with COVID-19 last November. Holland said there are no plans at this time to seek another veteran goalie.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said winger Tyler Bertuzzi is the only player on his team to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be unable to travel to Canada under current border restrictions which require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players traveling into the country. He could forfeit $400K of his salary based on those Canadian road games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland and Yzerman indicated they aren’t going to force anyone to get vaccinated. The league’s COVID restrictions and the prospect of lost wages, however, could eventually convince Archibald and Bertuzzi to change their minds. Their stance has the potential to create a rift among teammates who could consider them a risk to their health and safety.

Most NHL players are well-conditioned athletes with good odds of avoiding the worst serious symptoms of COVID-19. Stalock’s situation, however, should serve as a warning that they’re not totally immune.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is not yet fully vaccinated but will be when the season opens next month. “I had a couple of medical things that I had to take care of but I’ll be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic was reportedly not in training camp and his absence isn’t injury-related. That led to speculation his absence was related to the league’s COVID protocols but GM Jim Benning said he’ll be in camp.

Benning also acknowledged winger Justin Bailey has tested positive for COVID-19 before crossing the Canada – US border. He’ll have to wait another 10 days before he can join his teammates in Vancouver.

Speaking of the Canucks, they signed winger Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout offer.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen has changed his mind and agreed to be vaccinated.

TSN: More than a dozen infectious disease and critical care doctors are calling on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to drop plans to stage games in full-capacity arenas this season. The province of Alberta is reeling through an unprecedented medical crisis amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Oilers issued a statement indicating fans will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Rogers Place. They will also insist fans wear masks when not eating or drinking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames have a mandatory vaccine policy in place for fans attending their games this season.

NOTABLE CONTRACT SIGNINGS

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million contract. The annual average value is $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair signing for both sides. Dahlin gets a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract while the Sabres commit to a short-term bridge deal. His signing leaves Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk as the only remaining notable restricted free agents.

THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petersen is the heir apparent to long-time Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick. He took over the starter’s role last season, appearing in 35 games to Quick’s 22. The latter is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Logan O’Connor to a three-year, $3.15 million contract extension.

INJURY UPDATES

GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is sidelined two-three weeks with a foot injury suffered during offseason training.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss the first part of the upcoming season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Cal Foote will be sidelined by a hand injury for the entire training camp and preseason as well as the first two-to-four weeks of the regular season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve named Peter Chiarelli as their vice-president of hockey operations while Ken Hitchcock rejoins the club as a coaching consultant.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers confirmed their arena will be called the FLA Live Arena for this season. The club is looking for a new naming rights partner for 2022.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

The Wild sign Kirill Kaprizov, the Blues Jackets re-up Elvis Merzlikins and the Blues ink Robert Thomas. Check out the details of these signings plus the latest PTO contracts and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night. The annual average value of the deal is $9 million. This comes on the eve of the Wild opening training camp today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report adds Kaprizov is in North America, will travel to Minnesota today and will be in training camp tomorrow. The 24-year-old winger’s one NHL season has raised questions over whether he’s worth that type of contract.

The Wild, however, had no choice. Kaprizov may have a short body of work but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, becoming the most exciting offensive star they’ve had since Marian Gaborik was in his heyday 15 years ago. Cap Friendly indicates they’re also facing a short-term cap crunch over the next three seasons. They needed certainty over how much he’ll cost them per season, especially when the salary cap begins rising again.

Kaprizov now faces the pressure of justifying that hefty raise and building on his promising NHL debut. If he does, the Wild should remain a legitimate playoff contender despite their upcoming salary-cap issues. If not, things could get ugly very quickly for him and for general manager Bill Guerin.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing cements Merzlikins as the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender. It also means Joonas Korpisalo could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent unless he’s moved before the March trade deadline if the Jackets are out of playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues inked center Robert Thomas to a two-year, $5.6 million contract with an annual average value of $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the same deal teammate Jordan Kyrou recently signed but there was speculation Thomas would get less than that because of his struggles last season. The signing pushes the Blues above the cap by around $1.3 million but it’s expected they’ll offset that by placing sidelined forward Oskar Sundqvist (knee injury) and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Blues must become cap compliant when Sundqvist returns to action. That could come about via demoting or trading a lower-salaried player or perhaps they’ll find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko by then.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old winger played for the Wings last season.

TSN: Alexander Galchenyuk signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old forward last played for the Coyotes in 2018-19.

NHL.COM’s Brian Compton tweets the New York Islanders signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a PTO, inked goaltender Cory Schneider to a two-way contract and signed Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle.

Freelancer Ken Campbell reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith is still quarantining after receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s expected to miss the first week of training camp.

TSN: The Philadelphia Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes underwent abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks and defenseman Samuel Morin will be out six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery. Forward Wade Allison is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll feel Hayes’ absence for the opening weeks of this season. His spot as second-line center could be filled by Morgan Frost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have barred forward Zac Rinaldo from attending training camp due to his unvaccinated status. He’s on a one-year, two-way contract and has been vocal in his stance against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. He’ll instead attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate in Cleveland later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinaldo can forget about getting called up by the Jackets. The club is taking a firm stance on ensuring all its players are fully vaccinated, operating under the NHL’s COVID protocols for this season.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury suffered on April 29 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll miss the start of training camp and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

SPORTSNET: After 42 years in broadcasting, Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has retired. He called his first game on radio in 1979 and become the main play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on HniC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hughson and his family for a happy retirement.










Blackhawks Trade Keith To The Oilers

Blackhawks Trade Keith To The Oilers

The Chicago Blackhawks traded defenseman Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Caleb Jones and a third-round pick. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported there was no salary retention by the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks trade Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski reports the third-rounder is a conditional pick. The Oilers lack a third-rounder in this year’s draft.

Keith became one of the best players in Blackhawks history during his 16 seasons in Chicago, helping them win three Stanley Cups. He also took home two Norris Trophies as the league’s top defenseman (2010, 2014) and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2015.

His decision to accept a trade to Edmonton was a personal one. He approached the Blackhawks about a trade several weeks ago to be closer to his son in Penticton, BC.

Turning 38 on July 16, Keith has two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $5.538 million. His actual salary over that period is $3.6 million.

Keith’s best seasons are behind him. Nevertheless, Oilers general manager Ken Holland believes his experience and leadership will benefit his club and help them get over the playoff hump. Keith will likely slot into their blueline on the left side of their second pairing.

Holland’s critics are already raging against this trade on social media, considering it a waste of cap space. Keith’s defenders, meanwhile, believe he still has enough left in the tank to improve on a better club after spending the past two seasons paired with lesser blueliners on the Blackhawks.

This move also suggests Oscar Klefbom won’t be returning with the Oilers next season. He missed this season with a shoulder injury that finally required surgery in March. His future remains in doubt as his agent cannot foretell when his client will be ready to resume his playing career. He has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.167 million.

The Blackhawks shedding Keith’s full cap hit is a significant move by GM Stan Bowman. Jones’ $850K cap hit for this season is a pittance by comparison. While the 24-year-old is best suited for third-pairing duty, his low cap hit will free up considerable payroll room for Bowman to make a more significant addition this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones has been linked to the Blackhawks in trade rumors for several weeks. Perhaps the addition of his young brother could entice Jones to accept a trade to Chicago and sign a contract extension with the Blackhawks.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Duncan Keith, Jakub Voracek, Seth Jones, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported several sources denied a story suggesting Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel had backed away from disk replacement surgery and would undergo a fusion instead.

He speculates an Eichel trade could happen after the July 21 expansion draft. Possible destinations could include the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights, with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and perhaps the Los Angeles Kings on the periphery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Rangers and Kings have plenty of promising assets and the cap space to swing a deal for Eichel. Whether they’re willing to pay the hefty price in terms of his expensive contract and the return to the Sabres (an equivalent of four first-rounders) is another story. The ongoing uncertainty over his neck injury remains a serious sticking point for every potential suitor.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported last month the Wild had preliminary talks with the Sabres. He indicated general manager Bill Guerin could be reluctant to mortgage his club’s future. Guerin also has to get Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala under contract.

Cap space isn’t an issue for the Bruins but their focus is on adding a top-four, left-side defenseman. They’re in talks with pending UFA winger Taylor Hall and could bring back Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals for one more run at the Stanley Cup. They also don’t have enough tradeable assets to meet the Sabres’ high asking price.

Absorbing Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit would be a problem for the Flames and Golden Knights. Like the Bruins, they lack sufficient depth in promising assets to outbid the others on Friedman’s list.

I’m not saying Eichel won’t be traded or won’t end up on one of those teams. I’m merely pointing out that it’s going to take considerable work to pull it off, especially if the Sabres are reluctant to lower their asking price or absorb a portion of his salary.

KEITH TRADE BETWEEN BLACKHAWKS AND OILERS FALLING APART?

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers are reaching a point of “Does it happen or not” regarding a Duncan Keith trade. The Oilers have rejected most of what the Blackhawks sought in return, which may have include Ethan Bear and/or Ryan McLeod.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks don’t want to retain any portion of Keith’s $5.53 million annual cap hit. The Oilers’ interest has waned and they’ve pulled back on the assets they were willing to send to Chicago in return. Seravalli believes Caleb Jones was part of it. He also said the Oilers have tabled a “take it or leave it” offer and there’s only a certain price they’ll pay if the Blackhawks won’t retain salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Oilers general manager Ken Holland is taking a firm approach here. He’s under no pressure to acquire Keith. The Oilers could use a second-pairing left-side defenseman but they can find more affordable options if the Hawks won’t retain salary. There’s also no indication the Hawks will take on someone like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen for the purpose of buying them out. If the Blackhawks won’t bend, this deal falls apart.

MORE NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

The Philadelphia Flyers and Jakub Voracek have discussed that it might be time for a change. The 31-year-old winger was told he’ll be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.

If the Seattle Kraken doesn’t select him, the Flyers will look elsewhere. Voracek has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million. There’s also a chance they can’t move him via trade and he stays put.

Friedman also reported the Seth Jones-to-Philadelphia trade discussions are off for now. They can’t get the commitment they want from the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek’s still an effective top-six winger. He lacks no-trade protection but his cap hit will dampen his trade value unless the Flyers pick up part of it or take back an equivalent salary. Perhaps a three-team deal can be made involving draft picks to spread that cap hit around.

If Jones is unwilling to sign an extension with an acquiring team it could kill his value in the trade market. Teams are definitely interested but they don’t want to part with assets on a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will qualify the rights of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic over concerns of what he might get via arbitration. Same thing with winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hurricanes don’t qualify their rights they become unrestricted free agents on July 28. They would lose both players to other teams for nothing, though they’d probably try to trade them before then. Nedeljkovic was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and would draw considerable attention in the UFA market.

Friedman took note of Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acknowledging how tough the past year was for him mentally and his intention to honor the final year of his contract. He wondered if Bergevin might move into a President of Hockey Operations role with the Canadiens after next season while Scott Mellanby or Martin Lapointe takes over as GM.

Canadiens center Phillip Danault confirmed turning down a long-term extension prior to this season. Friedman believes the two sides were $500K to $750K per season apart. Bergevin indicated he hopes Danault remains with the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The statuses of Bergevin and Danault will be the hot topics for the Montreal media in the coming weeks. Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens increase their previous six-year, $30 million offer or if Danault will test the market.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had an interest in Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi until the 26-year-old left winger suffered a season-ending injury. Pending UFA winger Zach Hyman probably won’t be back with the Leafs. The Red Wings could be among Hyman’s suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs will revisit that interest in Bertuzzi if he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. He is a restricted free agent who exceeded 45 points in consecutive seasons prior to this year. He’ll be costly to the Leafs in terms of salary and return to the Wings if the latter intends to part with him.

Teams are showing interest in Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. He’s under contract for four more years with an AAV of $4.45 million.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Los Angeles Kings attempted to land a winger such as Colorado’s Brandon Saad or St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings were in the market for two top-six wingers in the trade market, preferably in their late-20s with some term left on their contracts. Saad and Schwartz are in the right age group but they’re due to become UFAs by July 28. The Kings might be interested but perhaps on deals for no more than four years.

The Blues could go after Gabriel Landeskog if he hits the open market and they trade Vladimir Tarasenko. Friedman thinks Landeskog will stay with the Colorado Avalanche.

There will be plenty of interest in Tampa Bay Lightning UFA forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021

Vladimir Tarasenko requests a trade, looking ahead to the offseason for the Lightning and Canadiens, plus updates on Duncan Keith and Taylor Hall in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TARASENKO WANTS OUT OF ST. LOUIS

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues and the club is working on moving him. The 29-year-old winger made the request earlier in the offseason.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Sources said Tarasenko was unhappy over how the Blues’ medical staff handled two of his three shoulder surgeries and he no longer trusts the club. His third surgery was performed by doctors outside the organization, who discovered the ligament damage wasn’t sufficiently addressed during the previous two operations. He also felt the club waiting too long to conduct further testing when he complained about discomfort in his shoulder prior to joining the club for last summer’s playoffs in Edmonton.

Rutherford cites several unnamed NHL general managers saying Blues GM Doug Armstrong has been quietly shopping Tarasenko. The winger has a no-trade clause but sources say he provided Blues management with a list of 10 trade destinations.

Tarasenko has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but an actual salary for 2021-22 of $9.5 million. It drops to $5.5 million for 2022-23.

It’s believed Tarasenko wants to be traded to a contender. Rutherford said the New York Islanders and New York Rangers have been mentioned as possible fits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were rumors in recent weeks suggesting Tarasenko was unhappy with the Blues. One linked him to the Calgary Flames for St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk but that was firmly denied by the Flames.

Tarasenko’s contract and his shoulder surgeries could make it tough for Armstrong to find suitable trade partners. As per Cap Friendly, the Islanders have just $5.76 million in cap space with restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin to re-sign, as well as unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas and Travis Zajac to replace or re-sign.

The Rangers have over $23 million with Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil as their notable free agents. They can afford Tarasenko but must leave sufficient cap room available to re-sign or replace Mika Zibanejad before his UFA eligibility next summer. They could also have their sights elsewhere as rumors link them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING AND CANADIENS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap constraints will force management into cost-cutting offseason trades. They’re currently sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $5 million.

The expansion draft could provide an opportunity if general manager Julien BriseBois is willing to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken. He could try again to trade Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual average value through 2023-24) but might have to buy out the winger if he can’t find any takers.

BriseBois will have to move some players under contract if he hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. Trade candidates could include Johnson, winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV through 2022-23), Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million through next season) or Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million through 2024-25).

Greg Wyshynski pointed out the Montreal Canadiens have over $10 million in cap space with Joel Armia, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal, Michael Frolik, Corey Perry, Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill slated to become unrestricted free agents. He wonders how many could be brought back.

Wyshynski also noted the Canadiens could lose a good player via the expansion draft. Jake Evans, Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen and perhaps Jonathan Drouin could be left unprotected. He wondered if they’ll cut a side deal with the Kraken to ensure they don’t take someone the Habs want to retain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are at greater risk of losing a couple of good players than the Canadiens. They must shed at least $10 million to have enough to fill out the rest of their roster and still be cap compliant when next season begins.

BriseBois has a well-earned reputation for cap management. He caught a break this season when Nikita Kucherov underwent hip surgery sidelining him throughout the regular season. That allowed the Bolts GM to place the high-priced ($9.5 million AAV) winger on long-term injury reserve, providing some welcome cap relief enabling him to keep his roster almost intact.

Unless another expensive player ends up on LTIR before next season, BriseBois will have to get creative to address his cap issues. Johnson, Killorn, Palat and Gourde have no-trade protection clauses in their contracts.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, could attempt to re-sign Danault, Armia and perhaps Perry. The rest will be cut loose. Danault reportedly turned down a six-year, $30 million offer earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see if that offer remains on the table.

LATEST ON KEITH AND HALL

TSN: Darren Dreger reports trade discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks regarding Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. He said there’s mutual interest in getting a deal done.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wants to do right by Keith but he’s seeking a quality return. Dreger wonders which young defenseman from the Oilers needs to be included to make this happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caleb Jones has frequently come up in trade speculation. There’s also talk the Blackhawks could absorb part of Keith’s $5.538 million cap hit for the next two seasons.

Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins are engaged in contract extension talks with Taylor Hall’s camp. There’s outside interest in the 29-year-old left winger from other clubs, including the Toronto Maple Leafs if they’re unable to re-sign Zach Hyman. However, Hall’s preference is to stay in Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers feel Hyman could get up to $6 million annually on the open market. If the Leafs can’t afford Hyman they probably can’t afford Hall. Then again, the latter is a more naturally talented winger than the hardworking Hyman. Perhaps they’d feel the Bruins winger would be worth it. We’ll see.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2021

Could the Golden Knights move a goaltender to free up cap space to fix their power play? What’s the latest on Duncan Keith? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reported Golden Knights owner Bill Foley will be meeting with his club’s front office and pro scouting staff in the coming weeks to draw up their plan for the offseason. He singled out the club’s power play as a key area to address.

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

The Golden Knights’ play with the man advantage has plagued them since last year’s postseason. Their power-play was held scoreless in 15 attempts during their semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens and was 4-for-43 in this year’s playoffs.

With the second-most salary-cap space allotted to goaltending ($12 million), the Golden Knights must also decide whether to keep Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. Foley advocated during last offseason to retain Fleury and has expressed his wish for the veteran netminder to finish his career with Vegas. Fleury, 36, won the Vezina Trophy this season. He and 29-year-old Lehner also won the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals-against.

Foley said he likes both goaltenders but indicated they’ll have to see how things evolve in the coming weeks.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden believes the Pittsburgh Penguins should attempt to acquire Robin Lehner from the Golden Knights if Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights could face a difficult decision with their goaltenders. They could be forced to move one of them to free up salary-cap space to bring in additional scoring punch for their power play.

Fleury and Lehner would draw plenty of interest in the trade market. Perhaps the Penguins could be among them but their limited cap space means shedding salary to make room for one or the other. 

Fleury has a year left on his contract but carries a $7 million cap hit. Lehner’s is $5 million annually but has four more years on his deal. However, their modified no-trade clauses will limit the potential destinations. Fleury has a 10-team no-trade list while Lehner’s is eight teams for the coming season. If Vegas trades one they’ll have to find a suitable (and affordable) replacement via trade or free agency.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers’ pursuit of Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could be complicated by the upcoming expansion draft.

With the Oilers expected to protect seven forwards and three blueliners, perhaps it means any possible deal for Keith takes place following the July 21 expansion draft. In that case, however, it could mean the Blackhawks risk losing Riley Stillman to the Seattle Kraken if Keith won’t waive his no-movement clause for the draft.

Given Keith’s age (37), Matheson suggested the Oilers would be better off in an ideal world trying to sign 28-year-old Dallas Stars blueliner Jamie Oleksiak via free agency. However, Oleksiak could command $4 million per season. Oilers GM Ken Holland would likely be bidding against eight-to-10 other teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson raises an interesting point regarding the Keith-to-Edmonton trade speculation. As he pointed out, the Oilers could send the Blackhawk a defenseman in return for Keith that can be exposed in the expansion draft to protect Stillman.