The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)
The latest on Duncan Keith, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, plus updates on the Flyers and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KEITH NOT APPROACHED ABOUT WAIVING HIS NMC
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports Duncan Keith has not been approached by Chicago Blackhawks management about waiving his no-movement clause. The 36-year-old defenseman indicates he wants to stay with the Blackhawks. Lazerus believes Keith will stay put as long as the club keeps aiming to reach the playoffs. He feels the veteran blueliner doesn’t want to be part of a lengthy rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazerus observed Keith has surfaced in trade speculation linking him to Florida, Toronto, Edmonton, and Carolina. His name also popped up briefly in last season’s rumor mill. Unless the Hawks change management and start tearing down the roster, Keith will stay in Chicago.
COULD THE SHARKS CONSIDER MOVING BURNS OR VLASIC?
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes Brenden Dillon is the most likely member of the San Jose Sharks defense corps to be moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Nevertheless, Witt wonders if there could be a market for Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Either player could fetch a significant haul for the Sharks. Witt suggests Vlasic might be a good fit with his hometown club, the Montreal Canadiens, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have the salary-cap space to absorb Burns’ expensive contract. Vlasic has a no-movement clause while Burns has a modified no-trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Witt is just spitballing here. Burns or Vlasic would bring a nice return, but unless either guy askes for a trade, they’re not going anywhere. Burns’ modified no-trade is a three-team trade list, which is almost as ironclad as a no-movement, especially if that list includes California rivals like the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings.
COULD THE FLYERS GO BARGAIN-HUNTING AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will target players at the top of the trade market before the upcoming deadline. A lack of salary-cap space and the Flyers’ slim Stanley Cup odds makes it unlikely they’ll part with young assets for a notable rental player.
If they do pursue some depth at the deadline, it’ll likely be on their forward lines. Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be a good fit, but O’Connor doubts they’ll part with a first-round pick to get him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us with a dollar-for-dollar swap, perhaps by dangling defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, but the latter’s struggles this season probably hurt his trade value. If Fletcher attempts to improve his club, it’ll be through the bargain bin. They’ve got just over $2 million in projected trade deadline salary-cap space.
STARS GM KEEPING HIS OPTIONS OPEN
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars GM Jim Nill intends to keep his options open leading up to the trade deadline. He’ll look for offensive help without mortgaging his future, and doesn’t rule out a player-for-player hockey trade. The Stars lack trade currency in the form of prospects, draft picks, and salary-cap space. Pursuing a rental player might not be the best option.
DeFranks suggests New Jersey Devils winger Blake Coleman could be an affordable option. He carries a cost-effective $1.8-million annual average value through 2020-21. However, what makes Coleman enticing to the Stars also makes him attractive to other clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting third in the Central Division with 71 points, the Stars are nine points ahead of the fourth-place Winnipeg Jets, who sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are also one point behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche and three back of the Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.
In other words, Nill isn’t under pressure to make a big splash. While he could make a depth move, he could stand pat if there’s nothing suitable in the trade market.
Check out the latest on the Wild, Penguins, Leafs, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS STILL INTERESTED IN ZUCKER
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Pittsburgh Penguins remain interested in Jason Zucker. However, they must find a way to make his contract ($5.5 million annually for the next three seasons) work. He also has a 10-team no-trade clause. Russo believes Zucker’s hometown Vegas Golden Knights are on his “yes list.”
Russo also speculates defenseman Jonas Brodin (signed through 2020-21, $4.16-million annual average value) would be attractive to clubs seeking a top-four defenseman. Those would include Carolina, Toronto, Florida, and Vegas. The Hurricanes have serious interest, but Russo wonders if Dougie Hamilton’s recent injury could make them change course.
The Wild also possesses an attractive right-shot blueliner in Matt Dumba. His production and defensive play have declined this season. There’s a risk in trading him, as the 25-year-old could regain his form. His poor play this season could also affect his trade value.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports the Penguins continue to pursue Zucker. However, the Wild aren’t ready to concede anything just yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild fail to climb back into the playoff chase by mid-February, first-year general manager Bill Guerin will become a seller. He won’t just ship out guys like Zucker, Brodin or Dumba for pennies on the dollar, but if he gets a solid offer for one them, I believe he’ll pull the trigger. There are others he could shop, but those three offer the best chance for a return that helps the Wild now and over the long term.
The Penguins made a failed attempt to land Zucker last spring. What could work in the Wild’s favor this time is Guerin joined them last summer from the Penguins’ front office. He’s well aware of Pittsburgh’s best young players and prospects. You can bet a couple of those could be in the asking price.
And no, I don’t see Mikko Koivu waiving his no-movement clause. Eric Staal could be moved if a team that’s not on his 10-team no-trade list comes calling, but I think Guerin would approach Staal to get his blessing.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there’s a sense around the league the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs move winger Kasperi Kapanen is in a big deal that makes them significantly better. He also thinks the Leafs have been asked about pending UFA defensemen Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin.
Friedman doesn’t see the Leafs becoming sellers, so the only way something happens there is is they want to give one of their younger blueliners more permanent minutes. It also sounds like there are some contract discussions between the Leafs and Muzzin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Kapanen won’t be used as trade bait for a backup goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. If the 23-year-old winger can fetch them a reasonably priced top-four defenseman, preferably one with term remaining on his contract, I believe GM Kyle Dubas will take that deal.
No surprise they want to keep Muzzin. He’s their best defensive blueliner. With over $68 million invested in 12 players, they have sufficient room to re-sign Muzzin, but it won’t leave much space to fill out the rest of the roster unless they shed salary.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
Nothing’s happening with the Chicago Blackhawks as long as they remain in the playoff chase. Should that change before the trade deadline, Friedman wonders if Florida Panthers head coach (and former Blackhawks bench boss) Joel Quenneville would ask to approach Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith on the virtues of playing in southeast Florida.
Speaking of the Blackhawks, goaltender Robin Lehner still wants to be paid fairly for his services. The pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t say for sure if a long-term deal is a priority, but Friedman feels he won’t take a lesser annual average salary to get a longer-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Friedman that the Blackhawks won’t become sellers if they remain in the postseason hunt. If they do test the trade market, I still don’t see Keith or Lehner going anywhere. Keith has a full no-movement clause and there’s no hint that he wants out. Lehner, meanwhile, is out-playing long-time Hawks starter Corey Crawford. I think Chicago GM Stan Bowman intends to re-sign Lehner.
New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac wants to stay put. His agent claims something was offered to his client earlier this season, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause at that time. His camp will see about the future after the season. Friedman guesses the offer came from the New York Islanders,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. He’s spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Devils. Maybe he’ll consider a trade during the off-season if the right club come calling.
Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville returns to Chicago, Artemi Panarin to miss the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville made a triumphant return to Chicago as his club edged the Blackhawks 4-3. Quenneville, who coached the Hawks from 2008-09 to 2018-19, was honored by the club during the game. The Panthers’ victory was powered by Frank Vatrano’s hat trick, giving them six straight wins. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Patrick Kane for reaching 1,000 career points. Earlier in the day, eyebrows were raised when Blackhawks’ stars Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith had a physical altercation during practice. Toews downplayed the incident as “just some friendly wrestling.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers (61 points) maintain their hold on third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Blackhawks (54 points) remain three points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Justin Williams scored two goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Teuvo Teravainen collected three points while Andrei Svechnikov had two assists. The slumping Jets have dropped three in a row.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams doesn’t look rusty after taking over half the season off. His return seems to have provided an extra spark for the Hurricanes. The Jets, meanwhile, are three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.
The New York Islanders doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Thomas Greiss made 40 saves and Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists. Isles center Mathew Barzal was benched during the third period by coach Barry Trotz for not playing within the team framework. Rangers all-star winger Artemi Panarin missed this game with an upper-body injury. He’ll be replaced at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star game by teammate Chris Kreider.
Third-period goals by Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Brian Elliott had a 19-save shutout as the Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0. The Flyers have won four of their last five contests.
SUN-SENTINEL: The 2021 NHL All-Star Game will reportedly be hosted by the Florida Panthers.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha could miss the remainder of the season with an injured rib cage and shoulder. His last game was Dec. 21 against Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 24 points in 29 games, Mantha was on his way to eclipsing last season’s 25-goal, 48-point performance in 67 games. His absence is among the reasons behind the Wings’ struggles this season.
CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee on a conditioning stint.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Brandon Manning received a five-game suspension by the AHL for uttering a racial slur during a recent game.
Sonny Milano missed #CBJ practice because of a court appearance in NYC for assault charges stemming from last summer.
After showing proof of community service plus paying the victim’s medical bills, the case against Milano & #Avs F A.J. Greer has been dismissed.
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 21, 2020
P.K. Subban slammed for his poor play, Predators coach Peter Laviolette denies abuse allegations, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Corey Crawford made 29 saves for his 250th career win backstopping the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Hawks rookie Kirby Dach tallied the winner in the fifth round of the shootout. The Blackhawks played without Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw, as they were placed on injured reserve earlier in the day. The Devils have dropped four straight games. Speaking of the Devils, the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis implies P.K. Subban is putting marketing himself over hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s declining production in 2018-19 can be attributed to injuries, but that’s not the issue this season. As Cyrgalis suggests, his busy off-ice schedule could have something to do with it. One could argue Subban’s play is suffering because the Devils are a lousy club, but he’s supposed to be a superstar who can elevate any team’s performance.
Cyrgalis also suggests the low return the Nashville Predators received (“two middling prospects and two second-round draft picks”) from the Devils last summer was indicative of Subban’s declining value. In reality, that trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Predators, freeing up cap dollars to sign Matt Duchene. That’s why the Devils didn’t have to give up very much to get Subban. Nevertheless, his play this season certainly hasn’t bolstered his stock.
The Penguins spoiled Phil Kessel’s return to Pittsburgh by blanking Kessel and his Arizona Coyotes’ teammates 2-0. Tristan Jarry kicked out 33 shots for his second straight shutout.
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist as his Edmonton Oilers edged the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Draisaitl (53 points) holds a one-point lead over teammate Connor McDavid atop the league scoring race. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen turned aside 35 shots. With the Coyotes falling to the Penguins, the Oilers regained first place in the Pacific Division.
Washington Capitals winger Jakub Vrana tallied the game-winning goal and collected an assist in a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf collected two points in a losing cause. The league-leading Capitals have won six in a row.
A late goal by Nate Thompson lifted the Montreal Canadiens over the New York Rangers 2-1. Habs goalie Carey Price made 29 saves for the win. The Canadiens played without center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who suffered a concussion in Thursday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette denied allegations of abusive behavior leveled at him by former player Daniel Carcillo when they were with the Philadelphia Flyers. “First was a suggestion by (Carcillo) that I used my position of power inside of a locker room to bully or … challenge players to go out there and fight,” Laviolette said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Laviolette also responded to a video clip making the rounds on social media showing him apparently punching forward Ville Leino in the back of the head during a game in 2011.
“I had called a timeout. I was trying to get my team motivated and I went to punch my fist into my hand. I nicked the back of his helmet. By no means was it meant as any physical abuse nor have I ever had any physical abuse with a player. … If people really thought I was punching somebody in the back of the head, then that would have come forward a long time ago.”
Leino defended Laviolette, saying he didn’t believe the coach intentionally struck him. “There are a lot of emotions in the game. Coaches get fired up and thing happen,” Leino told ESPN. “I don’t think Peter tried to hit me, and it looks worse than it was.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Flyers Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell also defended Laviolette, as did current Predators forward Austin Watson. While time will tell if Carcillo’s accusation against Laviolette holds up, that video clip inspired a rush to judgment on social media before all the facts were in. And speaking of rushing to judgment…
SPORTSNET: Nikita Zaitsev’s agent released a statement disputing claims by his ex-wife that he’s taken their children and she doesn’t know about their whereabouts.
“The story that is being circulated online by the ex-wife of my client Nikita Zaitsev is not accurate,” Dan Milstein wrote. “Nikita’s children are safe and with his parents, at his parents’ home in Moscow, where they normally reside. Nikita’s ex-wife knows where the children are and that they are safe. Law enforcement considers this to be a private matter. We ask that you please respect the family’s privacy.”
CBS SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets placed defenseman Zach Werenski (shoulder) on injured reserve.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is on IR with a lower-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed Andreas Johnsson (leg) on IR until at least Christmas.
The Devils fire head coach John Hynes, the Canadiens snap a lengthy losing skid, changes could be coming for NHL coaches, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Hours before their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes, replacing him on an interim basis with Alain Nasreddine. The move, however, could prevent the Devils from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault tallied a natural hat trick in the third period for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Devils’ poor performance thus far, it’s not surprising Hynes was fired. He deserves his fair share of the blame, but can’t be faulted for the lousy goaltending, weak secondary scoring, and lack of defensive depth. Nevertheless, the club’s lack of effort in his final two games was indicative that he’d lost the players.
The Montreal Canadiens snapped their eight-game winless skid by doubling up the New York Islanders 4-2. Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist for the Habs, who commemorated their 110th anniversary by honoring 11 former captains in a pre-game ceremony. Among the notables were Hall-of-Famers Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Guy Carbonneau. Saku Koivu, the captain from 1999 to 2009, received the biggest cheer.
Four first-period goals powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Antoine Roussel scored on his first shift in his season debut after being sidelined eight months by a knee injury. Before the game, former Canucks winger Alex Burrows’ name was added to the club’s ring of honor.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned in a 24-save shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci tallied both goals in the third period. The Bruins have won eight straight games.
Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 44 shots in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Wild are unbeaten in their last 10 games (7-0-3).
Five third-period goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers collected three assists while Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere each had a goal and an assist. Before the game, the Leafs placed Nick Shore on waivers, recalled defenseman Martin Marincin, and announced Trevor Moore (shoulder injury) is weeks away from returning to the lineup.
A three-point performance by Carl Soderberg helped the Arizona Coyotes defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the win.
Nikita Kucherov scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Nashville Predators 3-2. Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had two points on the night. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist for the Predators. Nashville center Ryan Johansen was ejected from a game for elbowing Lightning center Brayden Point in the face.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their seventh win in their last nine contests by downing the Dallas Stars 5-1. Jets winger Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will be sidelined for two months with an upper-body injury.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected three points while teammates Jakub Vrana and Garnet Hathaway each scored twice in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
TSN: Former NHL player Akim Aliu believes big changes are coming to the NHL after meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman and other officials at the league’s office in Toronto yesterday. Aliu’s claims that Bill Peters made racist remarks to him a decade ago led to the latter’s stepping down last week as Calgary Flames head coach.
Frank Seravalli reports some of the topics discussed at the meeting include “comprehensive harassment and discrimination policy, whistleblower and retaliation protection for players, encouraging more diversity and inclusion and breaking the culture of silence.”
The NHL Coaches’ Association released a statement yesterday affirming there is no room for abusive behavior by coaches at any level. They are working with the league and the NHL Players Association to ensure respectful working environments for everyone.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Sean Avery spoke out in support of Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, who was placed on leave as the club investigates allegations of abuse against him. Avery recently said Crawford kicked him during a game but defended the coach’s actions. “He had every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved Crow.” He went on to call Crawford his second-favorite NHL coach.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators players Dylan DeMelo and Mark Borowiecki claim they had a good relationship with Crawford during his tenure with the club. Former Senator and Canucks Alex Burrows praised Crawford for helping him become an NHL player.
Another former Canuck, Harold Druken, accused Crawford of physical and verbal abuse when he broke into the league. “I can’t believe he’s still coaching, I wouldn’t let him coach my dog,” said Druken.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Todd McLellan believes players and coaches do their best not to cross the line between right and wrong. However, he acknowledged the changes in the game and society means that line has also changed. He believes it’s important to build trust and treat his players with respect, and expecting it in return.
“The line between pushing a player — I’m not talking physical — but getting the player to maximize his physical talents and to get a team to pull together and go further into their toolbox than they ever have, is delicate,” McLellan said. “Sometimes feelings are hurt. There’s never an intention behind it, but there are feelings that get hurt.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no place in the league, or anywhere else. for racism, which was what resulted in Peters’ downfall. There’s no place for physical abuse, which is what he was also accused of by two other former NHLers.
Crawford, Mike Babcock, and Darryl Sutter weren’t accused of racism, but emerging stories of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward their players have made headlines in recent days. Those tactics may have been effective but it appears they sometimes went too far. Some players shrugged it off or accepted it as part of the game, but others felt tormented by those actions.
Just because many former players tolerated unnecessary abuse by a few coaches doesn’t mean today’s players have to. A coach can motivate and improve their players without resorting to bullying, humiliation or threats.
CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could miss at least two more games with a nagging groin injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will be sidelined “longer term” with an undisclosed injury.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Matt Stajan announced his retirement. Stajan played 14 seasons and 1,003 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. He spent last season playing in Germany for EHC Red Bull Munchen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s wishing Stajan and his family all the best in his future endeavors.