NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

A look at off-season questions for several teams eliminated during the qualifying round, plus the latest on the Ottawa Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen examined one big off-season question for each club eliminated during the qualifying round. Among the noteworthy:

What kind of return could Kaspari Kapanen fetch for the Toronto Maple Leafs? (NHL Images)

Regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boylen asked what kind of defenseman they’ll add. Given the flat cap and the free-agent pool would be difficult to wade into, Boylen suggested the trade market could be their best option. He wonders if Kaspari Kapanen or Alex Kerfoot become trade bait, and what type of return they might fetch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen or Kerfoot at best could bring a second-pairing right-side defenseman. They won’t bring in a top-pairing guy unless they’re packaged with a first-round pick and/or a top prospect, and they’ll have to target a team in need of shedding salary.

Whoever becomes the Florida Panthers’ next general manager has a lot of work to do. The defense is a problem area, plus they have to decide what to do with free agent wingers Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. Boylen wonders if they’ll be replaced by rookies if ownership decides to cut payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are a mess with the Panthers. We can’t really get a bead on their intentions until they’ve hired a new GM.

The Winnipeg Jets need more size on their blueline. Boylen wonders if GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will try to address that issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have over $65 million invested in next year’s payroll and all their core players under contract. There’s room to make an addition or two, but a bigger move would require shipping out a notable player as part of the return. However, he could get more cap flexibility if sidelined center Bryan Little is placed on LTIR next season.

Boylen noted Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin was dissatisfied with his goaltending. He mused about whether Guerin will promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen or explore the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s current goalie tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock is under contract for next season. One of them would have to be moved to make room for Kahkonen or someone else. Dubnyk ($4.333 million AAV for 2020-21) has a 19-team list of preferred trade destinations, but his performance this season remains a stumbling block. Stalock’s cap hit ($785K annually through 2021-22) could be the easiest to move. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators owner Eugene Melnyk rejected rumors suggesting his club might offer up the third- and fifth overall picks to the New York Rangers for the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, calling the notion “nonsensical.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers would probably reject that offer anyway. It could take a significant pitch to pry that pick away from them.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Coyotes, and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).

Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.

He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.

Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.

Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.

A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE OPTIONS

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.

Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.

Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.

Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.

Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.

ATHANASIOU STRUGGLING TO FIT ON OILERS LINES

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2020

A look at the five teams affected the most by a flat salary cap in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Arizona Coyotes as the five clubs that will be most affected by a flat salary cap in 2020-21.

The Lightning has 15 players signed for next season with $5.33 million in projected cap space. That won’t be enough to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Larkin suggests Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn as trade candidates. Gourde has a no-trade clause but Larkin thinks he could waive it for a fresh start elsewhere after seeing a reduced role this season. Larkin’s no-trade clause becomes a partial listing of 16 no-trade destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) considers Killorn the top trade candidate, in part because of the flexibility his modified no-trade provides the Lightning. He also suggests Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) might be willing to waive his no-trade clause if it’s for a destination where he’d have a top-six center role. Cedric Paquette ($1.65 million through next season) could also be a trade option.

I think there will be more interest in Killorn, who’s more affordable ($4.45 million annual average value through 2022-23) than Gourde ($5.16 million AAV through 2024-25) and has a better reputation as a two-way forward. There’s no certainty Johnson would agree to be moved and his lengthy contract could be a deal-breaker for some clubs during these uncertain times.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen could become an off-season trade candidate (Photo via NHL Images).

The Blues have 20 players under contract for next season with a little over $2 million in cap space and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign. Larkin speculates they’ll attempt to move out goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million AAV through 2020-21) and suggests keeping an eye on winger Jaden Schwartz ($5.35 million AAV through ’20-’21, 15-team no-trade list).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon wonders how other teams will view Allen’s cap hit. Center Tyler Bozak has come up in recent trade speculation, but Gordon considers Bozak’s $5 million AAV a luxury few teams can afford.

Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford considers moving Schwartz far-fetched while the Blues’ championship window remains open. They could buy out the final season of Alexander Steen’s contract ($5.75 million AAV) but they’ll only get $2.4 million in cap relief for next season.

If the Blues intend to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn, significant cost-cutting is in order. Any way you slice it, however, it means parting with a couple of meaningful players.

The Blackhawks have 18 players inked for next season with $7.35 million in projected cap space. Larkin believes they could get much-needed cap relief if Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) and Andrew Shaw ($3.9 million AAV through 2021-22) go on long-term injury reserve for next season. Seabrook however, is attempting to return for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin and The Athletic’s Scott Powers point out the Blackhawks lack sufficient cap space to re-sign goalie Corey Crawford and forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Powers suggests they could buy out defenseman Olli Maatta ($4.083 million AAV through 2021-22) and center Zack Smith ($3.25 million through 2020-21). The combined savings (over $5.5 million) along with Shaw potentially remaining on LTIR would free up valuable cap room to re-sign those key players.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 16 players signed for next season with $4.59 million in projected cap room. With Tyson Barrie expected to depart via free agency, Larkin believes they won’t have enough space to bring in one or two impactful right-shot defensemen. GM Kyle Dubas could attempt to shop a mid-tier forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a blueliner. He also wonders if Dubas might attempt to acquire more LTIR contracts with David Clarkson and Nathan Horton coming off the books in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran points out the cost of re-signing Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev could eat up most or all of that cap space. He also anticipates one of those mid-tier forwards could be shopped, including Zach Hyman among them. Unless the CBA extension prohibits clubs from acquiring the contracts of players on permanent LTIR, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dubas goes to that well again to gain some wiggle room.

The Arizona Coyotes have 16 players signed with just $1.51 million available, though they’ll gain some cap relief with Marian Hossa ($5.75 million) on permanent LTIR. They need more than that if they hope to re-sign pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. Larkin suggests packaging center Derek Stepan ($6.5 million through next season) with a sweetener to free up more room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take one helluva sweetener to tempt a rival club with more cap space into taking Stepan’s contract.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Josh Anderson. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, Anderson missed all but 26 games to injury this season. A big winger with scoring ability, he frequently appeared in trade chatter this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I overlooked Anderson in my original post. My apologies. Anyway, his future with the Jackets could depend upon his contract negotiations in the off-season, and how much interest he garners in the trade market. 

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

Potential playoff formats are under consideration, plans for the 2020 Draft remain uncertain and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST NHL SCHEDULE AND DRAFT NEWS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL/NHLPA “Return to Play” committee discussed returning with 16, 20, or 24-team playoff formats. Of the three, the 24-team format appears to be garnering some traction. That format would see non-playoff clubs like Montreal and Chicago getting postseason berths. “But again, let me stress. Nothing is decided. These are just the conversations that are being had between both sides this week,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger suggests a “play-in” format that trims those 24 teams down to the traditional 16 playoff clubs, rather than playing out the remainder of the regular season. This format would allow the league to get through the process quickly in case there’s a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. “If the NHL once again has to shut down in September, maybe October, maybe drift into November, there’s a built-in break, and then they reset and get going on the 2020-21 season again as late as December,” he said.

Frank Seravalli said the cost of COVID-19 testing and sterilizing dressing rooms and the rest of the facility could reach tens of millions of dollars. “So far, to this point, the NHL has determined that the juice would be worth the squeeze but we’ll see as these continue to add up,” said Seravalli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA had considered resuming the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and the playoffs. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports one reason they’re exploring other options is it would avoid bringing back teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs and having them play a month’s worth of meaningless games.

He also said it would reduce how long players would have to spend in hub cities, especially those that go deep into the postseason. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently said he and his fellow players with families aren’t keen to spend up to four months separated from their families. “Nobody with kids is going to want to be away for three or four months at a time. I think that’s a lot to ask out of guys.” Dubnyk missed part of this season to be with his wife while she was dealing with a serious medical condition, so he has an additional reason not to be away from his family for a long period.

Brooks added going directly to a playoff tournament would allow for a draft lottery in which the seven clubs that don’t make the playoff cut could be eligible for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.

While I understand the league’s desire to recoup some of its losses by completing the regular season, returning immediately with a postseason format makes the most sense. Nevertheless, we still await a final decision. With the pandemic still ongoing, cancellation of the season and playoffs remains a real possibility.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports debate continues over the format of the 2020 NHL Draft. It appeared an early-June draft was a foregone conclusion, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said everything is still on the table.

June 5 was believed the target date, though options later in the month are also under consideration. Some NHL teams are uncomfortable with staging the draft before resuming the season, while some general managers aren’t happy over being prevented from making trades involving active players while the schedule is paused.

TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s among the majority of GMs who prefer staging the draft after the season is completed. “I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman believes no decision this week would mean the date to stage the draft would be pushed later than the June 5-6 timeframe originally proposed by the league. The fact there hasn’t been a decision yet suggests the league may have encountered more pushback from team owners and general managers or perhaps unforeseen issues arose that require more time to address.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman cites an Angus Reid poll indicating one-quarter of hardcore Canadian sports fans polled indicate they wouldn’t attend a sports event in October or November until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. “Another 40% said they would have to do some deliberating before making up their minds and 35% said they would attend with no reservations.” Wyman suggests this underlines the difficulty for pro sports in returning to normal following the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL revenue will likely feel the effects of this pandemic beyond 2020. That could take a toll on the salary cap for 2021-22. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price reached out to give support to two boys who lost their parents during last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

THE SCORE: The New Jersey Devils interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach John Stevens for their head-coaching job.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot’s family rink gives him a training advantage over his fellow players during their self-quarantine period.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes Brendan Leipsic’s recent offensive comments on Instagram could cost the winger his NHL career.

SPORTSNET: The Kontinental Hockey League will not name a champion after stopping its season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.