NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).

He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?

Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.

Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.

Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about how things stand with new contracts for Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He anticipates new deals for both could be announced later this summer.

Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.

Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Matthew Tkachuk, Pavel Buchnevich, Reilly Smith and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SERAVALLI UPDATES NHL TRADE TARGETS LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added some new names to his NHL summer trade targets list.

Debuting at No. 3 is Vladimir Tarasenko. Seravalli reported last month the 29-year-old St. Louis Blues winger provided the club with a list of preferred trade destinations. It’s a mutual parting of the ways. After two botched shoulder surgeries, Tarasenko is now fully healthy after a third surgery conducted by doctors outside the Blues’ organization.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas wondered if the Blues might package their 2021 first-round pick (16th overall) with Tarasenko. He believes the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and possibly the New York Islanders might have an interest in the former 30-goal scorer. He also pondered the possibility of the Blues bundling that first-round with defenseman Vince Dunn and another sweetener to the Calgary Flames for winger (and St. Louis native) Matthew Tkachuk.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple cites two sources claiming Tarasenko would be open to a trade to the Islanders. He also said the winger’s list of teams he’s willing to be traded to is “double digits.” Find room to absorb Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value won’t be easy for the cap-strapped Islanders.

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

It won’t be as easy as trading winger Jordan Eberle and another player, as Eberle has three more years left on his contract. Acquiring Tarasenko post-expansion if Nick Leddy is traded or selected by the Seattle Kraken would make more sense. A package of Tarasenko and Vince Dunn to the Islanders would also be difficult as there would be a lot of moving parts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko will draw interest in the trade market. However, a limited number of clubs can comfortably afford his cap hit and have sufficient assets to interest the Blues. I’m not suggesting it won’t take place but finding the right fit could take time.

As for the Blues acquiring Tkachuk, reports out of Calgary denied rumors he wanted a trade to St. Louis. It could take more than Dunn, a first and another sweetener to pry him away from the Flames.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith checks in at No. 6. Seravalli believes the 30-year-old winger could be shopped to improve the Golden Knights’ depth at center. He has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas will be seeking someone to center one of their top-two lines and improve their power play. Finding such a forward won’t be easy. Those willing to part with one could prefer Alex Tuch rather than Smith in return.

New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich is No. 8. Sources claim Blueshirts GM Chris Drury is talking about the possibility of moving the 26-year-old winger. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a career-best 20-goal, 48-point performance in 54 games. Seravalli anticipates he’d get more than $4.54 million via arbitration, which would also take him up to UFA status next summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports it’s uncertain if Drury is shopping Buchnevich or if teams are making inquiries. The Rangers have over $22 million in projected cap space and will get more when they buy out Tony DeAngelo.

However, Drury must spend that cap room wisely because he must ensure he has sufficient space over the next couple of years to re-sign Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko and Igor Shesterkin. Carpiniello also suggested the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres but dismissed the notion of swapping Buchnevich for Vladimir Tarasenko. They also have two promising wingers in Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drury is willing to examine all his options with Buchnevich. Moving him now while his value is high could fetch a solid return for the Rangers. The deal would also make room for Kakko and Kravtsov to move up on right wing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nate Schmidt comes in at No. 12. The Canucks denied a report claiming the 29-year-old blueliner wanted out of Vancouver, but Seravalli notes his first season with the Canucks didn’t go well.

Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is No. 15. If not for a season-ending back injury, Seravalli believes there would’ve been plenty of suitors for the 26-year-old. His back surgery in April and his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could scare off possible suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently said the Leafs had an interest in Bertuzzi before his back injury. Perhaps they’ll revisit that option if they lose Zach Hyman to free agency.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot is No. 20. It’s believed the Seattle Kraken could select Kerfoot if he’s left exposed in the expansion draft. Seravalli wonders if the Leafs will try to trade him elsewhere before the expansion draft.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

What would be a fair return for Mitch Marner if the Leafs shopped him in the trade market? Should the Jets shop Kyle Connor for a defenseman? What moves should the Oilers make this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest Toronto Maple Leafs mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if the club could win a Mitch Marner trade. While acknowledging the front office’s belief in the 24-year-old playmaker, Fox believes general manager Kyle Dubas would want a return that fits with his bet-on-young skill vision that helps the club now. He also doesn’t foresee Marner requesting a trade.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

He doubted Dubas would accept someone like Columbus’ Patrik Laine or Seth Jones or Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in return. However, he could listen if the Buffalo Sabres offered up center Jack Eichel.

John Tavares’ injury highlights the Leafs lack of center depth. Fox suggests shifting Tavares to the wing as he ages and his foot speed slows.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also said Eichel’s neck injury would be a huge caveat, adding they shouldn’t make that move unless certain he’s fully recovered.

Eichel for Marner straight up would work in terms of player value and cap dollars. Nevertheless, I doubt it’s a move we’ll see take place between these two long-standing rivals.

Fox was also asked which players the Leafs should add to address the lack of killer instinct team president Brendan Shanahan felt his club still needs. He wondered if Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf or Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would accept a Joe Thornton deal, or if Colorado’s Brandon Saad would come more cheaply than Zach Hyman.

His other suggested options include Minnesota’s Nick Bonino, Vegas’ Mattias Janmark and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. He also proposed it would be great to see what a healthy Nick Foligno could do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas will have to engage in more salary-cap gymnastics given his club’s limited cap space to address that need. I think Getzlaf re-signs with Anaheim or retires. Stastny might be a possibility. Saad could cost more than Hyman.

The Wild could re-sign Bonino if he’s willing to accept a pay cut from his current $4.1 million cap hit. If not, he could be a good option for the Leafs. Janmark and Oleksiak could also be worthwhile cost-effective additions.

Foligno could also help if he’s fully healthy but that depends on whether he sees a future in Toronto or if they feel they should look toward younger alternatives.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma wondered if the Vancouver Canucks would be interested in Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs aren’t expected to protect the 26-year-old center in next month’s expansion draft. They need to clear cap space if they hope to re-sign Zach Hyman. The Leafs can’t afford to take back salary but perhaps they’d accept a draft pick or prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma noted the Canucks pursue Kerfoot four years ago as a college free agent before he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He could be an affordable option to bolster the Canucks’ depth at center.

SHOULD THE JETS SHOP CONNOR FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to pay the price to acquire some high-end defensive talent if they wish to be more than playoff also-rans. Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot all departed since the Jets marched to the 2018 Western Conference Final.

McIntyre doubts we’ll see any significant off-season activity out of Winnipeg based on their history. However, he wonders at what point general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be forced to consider moving a core player to balance a lineup that isn’t good enough.

Other than goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and perhaps winger Nikolaj Ehlers, McIntyre doesn’t believe there should be an untouchable on the Jets roster. He proposed shopping winger Kyle Connor, who struggled in the Montreal series after center Mark Scheifele was suspended. The Jets’ crop of promising young skaters like Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Cole Perfetti could give them the freedom to use Connor as trade bait to address their blueline issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff has occasionally made a big move during his tenure as Jets GM, the latest being his swap of Patrick Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. For the most part, however, he tends to be patient, sometimes to a fault.

The Jets GM could surprise us with a major offseason move. Like McIntyre, however, I don’t expect him to shop a core player like Connor this summer. He could instead look for affordable options via trade or free agency while preparing to promote promising youngsters like Ville Heinola or Dylan Samberg into the lineup.

THE LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Kevin Allen’s three main offseason proposals for the Oilers. They include pursuing a younger goalie like Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo or the New York Islanders Semyon Varlamov via trade, or Frederik Andersen or Linus Ullmark via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old Mike Smith for another season but could shop Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders aren’t in a hurry in shop Varlamov but inquiring with the Jackets about Merzlikins or Korpisalo makes sense. It wouldn’t hurt to kick tires on Andersen or Ullmark.

Allen also suggested the Oilers try to come up with enough assets to bundle with James Neal to get a rebuilding club with cap space (Detroit Red Wings) to take the winger off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Holland will consider that option. The assets in that package, however, could be more than he’s willing to part with. A contract buyout remains possible for Neal if he isn’t moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Allen also recommended re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson and then calling the New York Rangers about Tony DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are working on the first two. DeAngelo’s character issues are a red flag but there could be clubs interested in the puck-moving defenseman. If the Oilers were interested, they could wait until he’s bought out of his current contract and then sign him as a free agent.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2021

Could the Maple Leafs pursue Nick Foligno? What’s the latest on the Jets, Capitals and Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE LEAFS AFFORD NICK FOLIGNO?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of recent speculation claiming the Maple Leafs are seeking a forward, preferably one who can play among their top six. He said Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets has popped up of late, but the Leafs have next to no salary-cap space.

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno (NHL Images).

Simmons believes it would take moving “other assets and money” like Alex Kerfoot, maybe a young defenseman such as Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren or a young sniper like Nick Robertson or maybe an early draft pick to get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just over $130K in projected trade-deadline cap space. Foligno, the Blue Jackets’ captain, carries a $5.5 million annual average value with $2.9 million remaining to be paid out as of today. An unrestricted free agent this summer, he also carries a 10-team no-trade list.

The Blue Jackets could consider trading Foligno if they fall further out of playoff contention leading up to the April 12 trade deadline but they’ll want a decent return. As Simmons points out, it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move by the Leafs to get it done and they’ll have to include a promising player or a decent draft pick. They might have to consider more affordable options.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS AND PENGUINS

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: In a recent mailbag segment, J.J. Regan was asked if he anticipated the Capitals making any moves at the trade deadline. He thinks they’ll look but their usage of long-term injury reserve to exceed the cap means they cannot bank cap space to put toward trade-deadline acquisitions.

Regan felt the Capitals must boost their depth at center and in goal. He suggested Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes would be good targets, especially Raanta as he’s a free agent this summer. However, the Coyotes would have to absorb a fair bit of his $4.25 million annual average value.

He was also asked if the Capitals could package Evgeny Kuznetsov and something to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel but dismissed that idea. The only scenario he sees the Capitals trading Kuznetsov is if they’re engaging in a roster rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL insider Bob McKenzie last week indicated the Capitals might like to add an experienced goaltender. It’ll have to be someone affordable.

As for Kuemper and Raanta, they’re not available unless the Coyotes fall out of playoff contention. Of the two, Raanta is more likely to be traded given his contract status.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe recently examined which members of the Pittsburgh Penguins are most likely to move at the trade deadline. He listed defenseman Marcus Pettersson and forward Colton Sceviour in his “I Smell A Trade” Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe acknowledged big changes could be coming for the Penguins under new general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke. They could involve long-time core veterans Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang but Yohe doubts either guy will be moved at the trade deadline.

Hextall and Burke both recently indicated they’d like to add more toughness to their lineup. Pettersson and Sceviour could be the trade chips used to bring in more muscle by deadline day.

UPDATE ON THE JETS

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe was asked by a reader if Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would entertain moving Paul Stastny before the trade deadline while his stock is high. He doesn’t believe Cheveldayoff will consider doing that, citing Stastny’s value to the Jets in terms of leadership and ability to connect with his teammates. He wouldn’t be surprised if Stastny signed a one-year contract extension.

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates recently examined several potential trade targets for the Jets. He considers Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard as the best fit in terms of age, skill set and a right-handed shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny was a perfect fit with the Jets during his previous short tenure with them. That chemistry hasn’t worn off despite his age and the decline in his skills. His versatility and leadership have given them a boost this season.

Mattias Ekholm has been linked to the Jets in recent trade speculation but I agree with Ates that Savard would be a better fit on their blueline. Whether Cheveldayoff pursues him remains to be seen.










Jackets Re-Sign Bjorkstrand, Predators Sign Kunin In Latest NHL Moves

Jackets Re-Sign Bjorkstrand, Predators Sign Kunin In Latest NHL Moves

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 6, 2021

The NHL announces sponsors for its realigned divisions, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Kerfoot and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has partnered with four sponsors for its realigned divisions for the upcoming 2020-21 season. They will be known as the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division, and the MassMutual NHL East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or, as I and most hockey fans will refer to them, the North, West, Central and East Divisions.

This news will surely raise hackles among hockey purists already upset over ad logos appearing this season on the players’ helmets. But, as The Athletic’s Scott Burnside indicates, this move is necessary to offset some of the lost revenue this season from the absence of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This could be simply a one-time thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the practice of division sponsors continues when things (hopefully) return to normal next season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy yesterday said David Pastrnak was making progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. The original prognosis for the winger was mid-February but Cassidy suggested it could be a little earlier than that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A late January or early February return for Pastrnak seems possible. The sooner the high-scoring winger returns to the Bruins first line, the better their chances of maintaining their status as a Stanley Cup contender this season.

NHL.COM: Dougie Hamilton wants to remain with the Carolina Hurricanes and hopes the two sides can work out a new contract. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hamilton said he’ll leave the negotiations to his agent and focus on the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has indicated a willingness to sign Hamilton to a contract extension. The blueliner’s asking price and the Hurricanes’ inclination to meet it will determine if he has a future in Carolina.

Hamilton was considered a serious contender for the Norris Trophy last season until sidelined by a broken leg last January. Another Norris-worth performance could price him out of the Hurricanes’ comfort zone.

CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot was banged up in training camp yesterday and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Winger Alex Tuch took a maintenance day yesterday as a precautionary measure after experiencing soreness following the first day of on-ice drills on Monday.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders have reportedly signed free-agent winger Matt Martin to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.5 million. He’ll be 36 when this contract expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal ensures Martin could retire as an Islander, though he could be selected by Seattle in this summer’s expansion draft if left unprotected. The checking-line winger is considered one of the Isles’ glue guys, the type of hard-working player who brings the team together.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley missed practice yesterday. He’s been declared “unfit to practice” and listed as day-to-day.

THE SCORE: Former Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill was hired by the Seattle Kraken as an assistant general manager to GM Ron Francis. Former Chicago Blackhawks executive Norm McIver was hired as the Kraken’s director of player personnel.

NHLPA: Colin Wilson officially announced his retirement yesterday following 11 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. He scored 113 goals and 286 points in 632 regular-season games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wilson and his family in their future endeavors.

Congratulations to Team USA for their 2-0 victory over Team Canada to win the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championships. It’s the fourth straight time in as many meetings that Team USA has defeated Canada in the gold-medal game.

Florida Panthers’ goalie prospect Spencer Knight made 34 saves for the shutout. Anaheim Ducks prospect center Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist while Los Angeles Kings prospect center Alex Turcotte also tallied for the Americans. Zegras led the tournament with 18 points and was named tournament MVP.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russia may be Canada’s oldest hockey rival but the United States is the biggest rival and has been for some time.