NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray remains on top of Frank Seravalli’s trade-bait board, followed by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Seravalli reports the Penguins are looking at an internal salary cap of $75 million. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to free up cap space to “dip a toe” into the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins have $75.3 million invested in 20 players following yesterday’s trade of Patric Hornqvist to Florida for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. If they trade Murray it could be for draft picks or prospects. They also have eight blueliners under NHL contracts. One of them could be moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is No. 10 on Seravalli’s list, but everything I’ve read and heard out of Pittsburgh suggests he’s staying put. He’s got an 18-team trade list but also carries a no-movement clause, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft. That could be a sticking point if the Penguins shop him.

Regarding Dumba, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger believes the Wild could set a high asking price. GM Bill Guerin would love to land a first- or second-line center but could be willing to accept a “softer deal” of a high first-round pick and a good young NHL roster player. He points out they can hold onto Dumba until their price is met.

Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets could also attempt to move out Alex Wennberg or Markus Nutivaara to clear space to re-sign Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The latter, of course, is the priority. The Jackets could shop Anderson if contract talks stall.

Ekman-Larsson is among several Coyotes (Phil Kessel at No 6 and Darcy Kuemper at No. 12) on Seravalli’s list who could become cost-cutting candidates, along with Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Ekman-Larsson, however, has a full no-movement clause and controls his fate. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reported Hjalmarsson currently doesn’t intend to waive his NMC.

Laine’s appearance on the trade-bait list prompted criticism suggesting TSN put him there as clickbait. Seravalli’s colleagues Dreger and Pierre LeBrun dispute this, with Dreger claiming Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is listening on Laine. However, he indicated there hasn’t been a lot of action, perhaps in part over economics going forward or the cost of re-signing him before he becomes arbitration-eligible next summer.

LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets has some interest in Laine while the Carolina Hurricanes had a brief conversation with the Jets that didn’t go far. The Montreal Canadiens could use a scorer like Laine but LeBrun said they currently don’t intend to get into the Laine sweepstakes.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, the Ottawa Senators two first-round picks, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are also among the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli has Palmieri on that list because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. So far, there’s no indication of what the Devils intend to do with him.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion could listen to offers on those picks. If he moves a first-rounder it’ll likely be the one he got from the Islanders (28th overall) in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. Fleury’s a goner if the Golden Knights re-sign Robin Lehner.

Wild winger Ryan Donato, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome also make the cut between spots 11 and 16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Donato ($1.9 million for one season) would be a cost-cutting candidate. So would Boychuk for the cap-strapped Isles, who has an eight-team trade list as well as an annual average value of $6 million.

LeBrun believes a club could be interested in acquiring Pietrangelo’s rights because re-signing him for eight years would give them a favorable annual average value. DeAngelo and Strome are both RFAs with arbitration rights. One of them could be traded if the Rangers can’t find a way to shed Henrik Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit for next season.

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, and Canadiens center Max Domi fill spots 17 through 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes acquired Skjei at the trade deadline and recently shipped out Joel Edmundson. They could use a scorer or an experienced starting goalie, but I suspect they’d find other options than moving Skjei.

The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. With Johnson carrying a full no-trade clause, Killorn and his 16-team no-trade list seem the most likely to go.

Domi is an RFA with arbitration rights who spent time on the fourth line during the playoffs. He could be moved for a scoring winger if the Habs are comfortable with young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson are in spots 21 through 25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could move Johnsson in a package deal for a defenseman or in a cost-cutting move to clear cap room to sign a blueliner in free agency. The rise of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi has some pundits wondering about Danault’s future, but I don’t believe the Habs intend to move him. He’s a UFA next summer but it’s best to keep him around in case Suzuki or Kotkaniemi struggle next season.

Montour is an RFA with arbitration rights and he could be moved for a forward. There was talk of the Oilers shopping Larsson for a top-six right winger but that’s died down of late.

Philadephia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak and Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton round out the list. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson are also there but this listing was published before they were traded for each other yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s struggles this season made him a frequent subject of trade chatter. Bozak could be shopped if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo. Hamilton is a UFA next summer but the Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with him.

In other trade-rumor nuggets, Seravalli believes it’s a poorly-kept secret the Vegas Golden Knights could pursue Pietrangelo via free agency but he wonders how they can afford him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They can’t unless they forget about re-signing Robin Lehner or find a way to shed a lot of salary. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. Even moving Fleury’s $7-million AAV won’t leave enough for Pietrangelo and Lehner, who could cost a combined $15 million to sign.

Seravalli also reports many are wondering if Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the trade value of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has a year remaining on his contract at $7 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney must find a suitable replacement for Rask if he’s going down that road, especially if he still feels the Bruins championship window remains open. Rask has a 15-team trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

A look at TSN’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak, and Edmonton Oilers winger Andreas Athanasiou top Frank Seravalli’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in the offseason, based on the financial or salary-cap implications facing each club.

Kessel is owed just $5.95 million in total real dollars through 2021-22. Despite the drop in his production this season, a re-energized Kessel could be helpful to a Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s $5-million signing bonus for 2020-21 has already been paid out, which explains why his actual salary will be so low. His full cap hit is $8 million but the Coyotes are only carrying $6.8 million because the Toronto Maple Leafs are picking up $1.2 million in retained salary as the condition for trading him to Pittsburgh in 2015.

That might make Kessel enticing for clubs seeking experienced scoring depth on right wing. However, he has a reputation as a high-maintenance player, which could hurt his trade value almost as much as this season’s sudden decline in his production.

Bozak could be a trade candidate in a retained salary transaction if the Blues decide to shed salary to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s list was published before last night’s report indicating contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo had broken off. While they still could attempt to move Bozak to give them some additional wiggle room, there won’t be as much urgency to do so if Pietrangelo departs.

Seravalli reports the Oilers are trying to trade Athanasiou before he’s due a $3 million qualifying offer on Oct. 7. However, teams think GM Ken Holland could let him walk, which would hurt Athanasiou’s trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples believes Holland is in a bind given he parted with two second-round draft picks to acquire Athanasiou. He’s not worth $3 million, and Staples thinks Holland believes he can find a better winger than Athanasiou at a lower price. If so, he might have to let him walk and try to replace those two draft picks via the trade market.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher and center Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist, and Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop fill spots four through seven on Seravalli’s list.

Stecher is a restricted free agent who could become a UFA if the Canucks opt not to qualify his rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but their pipeline of promising blueliners and salary-cap constraints could rule out a long-term commitment. Sutter, meanwhile, could be easier to move than Loui Eriksson if the Canucks are willing to retain a bit of his $4.375-million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could re-sign Stecher if they part ways with pending UFA blueliner Chris Tanev. Given GM Jim Benning’s failed efforts last year to move Eriksson, I agree that Sutter could become a trade candidate. He carries a 15-team no-trade clause, which will hamper those efforts.

Seravalli considers Hornqvist the odd man out for the Penguins as a third-line winger with a $5.3 million AAV, but noted the remaining three years on his contract could be an issue. He feels they might have to retain salary to make that work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I don’t see many clubs interested in picking up that full cap hit for the next three years. Another sticking point is Hornqvist’s full no-trade clause for 2020-21, though perhaps he might waive it for the right team.

Seravalli wonders where Bishop fits into the Stars’ plans, pointing out he seems to be injured when it matters most. He thinks they could find a taker for Bishop as he’s owed just $8 million in real cash over the remaining three years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That low actual salary could be enticing, but Bishop’s injury history also screams, “Buyer beware!” He also has a 10-team no-trade list, plus a no-movement clause over the remainder of his contract, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft unless he agrees to waive it.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad, and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky round out Seravalli’s list.

Johnson could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal, though he has a full no-trade clause. Saad could also be a cost-cutting casualty as the Blackhawks need to re-sign Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome plus find a starting goalie. A chronic wrist injury has likely ended Dubinsky’s career but his $5.85-million cap hit for next season could be attractive for clubs looking to use long-term injury reserve to manipulate their salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s NTC could rule him out as a trade candidate. Most of the speculation surrounding the Lightning suggests it could be Alex Killorn (who has a modified no-trade) who could be on the moves.

Saad has a year remaining on his contract and a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be attractive to rival clubs seeking a top-six winger, but The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus said in a recent mailbag segment he’s not convinced the Blackhawks could trade him. He felt they could find extra cap room by trading or buying out Olli Maatta and Zack Smith.

The Jackets could indeed attempt to move Dubinsky’s contract to a club either looking to use LTIR to go over the cap to add another player or by a budget club looking to reach the cap floor. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list but that shouldn’t be an issue if his playing days are over.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2020

Some players express reluctance about return-to-play plan, hub cities could be in Canada, negotiations continue toward new CBA, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston reports Frederik Andersen admitted he’s not fully confident yet about the resumption of the NHL season. The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender said he and his fellow players haven’t received enough information on the return-to-play plan as the league and the NHL Players’ Association continue to hash things out. Andersen said he still wants to play and remains hopeful of seeing something the players can vote on soon.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (Photo via NHL Images).

Meanwhile, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels reported five anonymous players voiced their unhappiness and frustration with being kept in the dark about the return-to-play negotiations.

One of them estimated up to 75 percent of the NHLPA membership didn’t want to play this summer, citing health and injury concerns. Another considered the PA calls with players a joke, claiming they’re only focused on the financial side. Despite those issues, one of them believes the players will likely vote to approve whatever is presented to them, suggesting the playoff bonus money will be higher than ever if they play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen isn’t the only player to go on the record claiming they still don’t know the details of the return-to-play plan. Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price recently indicated he wasn’t prepared to vote for the deal until more details had been sorted out, though he returned to Montreal earlier this week to participate in Phase 2 practice sessions. Several others also said the same.

The Athletic also recently published a report citing several anonymous players and agents expressing unease over playing in a hub city environment, with one agent suggesting up to 40 percent of the players were on the fence. The PA leadership could have a difficult job selling the merits of the plan to a membership expressing growing concern over the details. 

Nevertheless, the players still control the fate of this season. If they vote for it despite their concerns they’ll have to accept the consequences.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports it appears the NHL won’t reveal the two hub cities for the playoff tournament until the return-to-play plan and the CBA extension are agreed to pending player approval. He also thinks there’s a good chance both hubs could be in Edmonton and Toronto as Las Vegas seems to be falling out of the running. Chicago is also considered in the mix while Los Angeles is now out.

McKenzie also expected critical negotiations between the league and the PA to continue through last night. If all goes well, a vote by the players could take place by the end of this week.

**UPDATE** McKenzie reports the hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto barring any last-minute complications. 

ESCROW A STICKING POINT IN CBA TALKS

TSN/NEW YORK POST/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Frank Seravalli, Larry Brooks, and Ken Campbell report the players could end up paying back their share of lost revenue to the owners for many years if a flat salary cap and a cap on escrow payments over the next two or three seasons becomes part of the CBA extension.

Seravalli points out the players could end up owing $325 million entering 2020-21 because of this season’s reduced revenue. If next season’s revenue is half of the projected $5 billion the league was anticipating for this season, an additional $600-$700 billion could be added to what the players already owe. It would take the following years under a flat cap (assuming revenue returns to normal) for the players to pay that back through escrow sometime during 2023-24.

Unrestricted and restricted free agents during that period could feel the effects, especially those coming off entry-level contracts. Brooks believes it will strangle contending clubs that historically spend toward the cap, forcing contract buyouts (though not amnesty buyouts as sources told Brooks), more arbitration hearings, and flooding the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always with the NHL CBA, the devil is in the details and we don’t know what those are yet.  Nevertheless, the escrow issue could prove the determining factor in the players’ vote on the return-to-play plan.

If a CBA extension creates those aforementioned issues, it would affect how teams have built and maintained their rosters, resulting in a considerable amount of player movement. It could also set the table for another lengthy labor war down the road when the extension expires in 2026.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports participation in the Winter Olympics is part of the proposed CBA extension. The players would participate in at least the 2022 Beijing Games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a major concession from the league. If I were a player, however, I’d be suspicious about what I might have to give up in return.

**UPDATE*** TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports a long night of negotiations appears to have resulted in agreements on most issues regarding return-to-play and CBA extension. A couple of issues could be finalized today. However, nothing is official until both sides ratify a tentative agreement 

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The players with signing bonuses in their contracts paid out on July 1 are expected to receive them as planned, though some might be pushed to next week. That’s an expenditure of over $300 million.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes winger Phil Kessel admitted he’d been nursing injuries for most of this season. That could account for his decline in production, though he didn’t use that as an excuse. Kessel added he’s looking forward to a bounce-back performance.

THE SCORE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane believes the NHL doesn’t do enough to market its minority players.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: The Carolina Hurricanes have parted ways with Rick Dudley, who was their VP of hockey operations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation he could be headed to the Buffalo Sabres, who gutted their front-office staff last month.










The NHL’s Buyout Barometer – Pacific Division (Part I)

The NHL’s Buyout Barometer – Pacific Division (Part I)

 










The Best and Worst NHL Trades of 2019

The Best and Worst NHL Trades of 2019

 










At Long Last, Arizona Coyotes Are For Real – And Getting Better

At Long Last, Arizona Coyotes Are For Real – And Getting Better