NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko plus recent speculation on possible Oilers trade targets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Amalie Benjamin reports the St. Louis Blues still need to find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year-old winger requested a trade through his agent on May 25 but the Blues have yet to find a suitable destination.

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

Benjamin speculates that could result in Tarasenko playing this season with the Blues. The optimal solution would be finding a new home for the unhappy winger. He has two years remaining on his contract and has had three surgeries on his right shoulder since the end of 2017-18.

STLTODAY.COM: Benjamin Hochman also reported on the ongoing uncertainty over Tarasenko’s status. The Blues have $3.5 million in cap space but they still must re-sign restricted free agent Robert Thomas.

Trading Tarasenko would provide additional cap flexibility but finding teams willing to take on that burden won’t be easy. His shoulder surgeries also raise questions about his performance that could adversely affect his trade value.

Hochman suggests Tarasenko could start this season with the Blues to prove his worth. More clubs could become interested if he’s healthy and can still score.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Hochman pointed out, Tarasenko isn’t happy over how the club handled his first two surgeries. The Blues could attempt to move him before training camp but a deal could be tough to find unless they’re willing to absorb part of his $7.5 million annual average value or include additional enticement in the deal.

It could come down to Tarasenko starting the season with the Blues and hope a strong start improves his value in the trade market. Still, finding a club with sufficient cap space to take on his contract won’t be easy early in the season.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently examined the Edmonton Oilers’ remaining roster needs and possible trade targets to address them. Goaltending depth and a shutdown defenseman are the priorities.

The Dallas Stars could move Anton Khudobin to clear up their logjam in the crease. Jaroslav Halak could be another option if the Vancouver Canucks fall out of the playoff chase. Mitchell suggested they could also pursue defenseman Colton Parayko if the Blues falter this season.

A left-handed defenseman and a right winger could also be on their wish list. Anaheim Ducks blueliner Hampus Lindholm could be a suitable playoff rental. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko’s contract would be difficult to fit into the Oilers’ payroll. Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is also expensive at $6.8 million but he’s in the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The goaltending could become an urgent issue if aging Mike Smith declines and Mikko Koskinen fails to pick up the slack. That could make them very interested in Khudobin if he’s available and if they’re not on his modified no-trade list. The Blues could be keen to re-sign Parayko unless he’s intent on testing the market next season. Even then, the Oilers could be hard-pressed to out-bid clubs carrying more tradeable assets.

Lindholm could be available this season if he doesn’t fit into the Ducks’ long-term plans. However, their asking price could be young assets that the Oilers can’t afford to part with. They’re unlikely to pursue Taransenko or Kessel given their limited cap space.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2021

Is there a date the Florida Panthers could consider trading Aleksander Barkov? What’s the latest on the Stars logjam between the pipes? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is entering the final year of his six-year contract. He asked Panthers general manager Bill Zito if there was a date when he’d have to consider trading the 25-year-old center.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Zito said there isn’t one, expressing confidence they’ll get a deal done. He expects an extension will “probably” come before the start of the upcoming season.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere. He reports contract extension talks have been ongoing for some time and are going well. It’s believed they’re close to a deal or have already reached an agreement.

Richards feels the reason why it hasn’t been done yet is there’s no rush. Barkov is still training in Finland but Richards believes the deal will be announced when he returns to South Florida to gear up for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams like to announce the re-signing of core players right away. Others, like the Panthers, prefer to wait until their players are in town to make the formal announcement.

The Panthers are a team on the rise with the potential to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for the next several seasons. Barkov is a crucial piece of those plans. He’s their franchise player who won his first Selke Trophy last season leading his club to their best performance in years.

Barkov will remain a Florida Panther. The only questions are for how long and for how much. I’m guessing an eight-year deal worth over $9 million annually.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heika was asked how the Dallas Stars will address their logjam in goal if Ben Bishop should return to action at some point this season. He remains sidelined recovering from surgery last fall.

The Stars also have Anton Khudobin and Braden Holtby under one-way contracts while promising Jake Oettinger is on a two-way deal that doesn’t require waivers. If Bishop returns, Khubodin or Holtby could be traded. For now, they don’t appear interested in moving a goalie before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop missing all last season recovering from surgery factored into their decision to sign Holtby. They want to ensure they’ve got sufficient depth if he can’t return and if Khudobin or Oettinger struggle this season. Sitting $4.9 million over the cap, they’ll get some relief if necessary by placing Bishop’s $4.916 million annual cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

Unless Oettinger outperforms Khudobin and Holtby in training camp and preseason, he’s likely headed back to the farm to start the season.

NHL.COM: David Satriano believes the Stars could seek another veteran forward this season rather than relying on young players in their system.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

Could the Coyotes shop Phil Kessel, Christian Dvorak or Clayton Keller? Should the Oilers attempt to acquire Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes it’s a given the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes will trade Phil Kessel at some point. The 33-year-old winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and a re-signing appears unlikely.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Kessel’s trade status seems to change daily. He felt the club might be content retaining the winger this season with an eye on shopping him near the trade deadline. However, multiple sources claim Kessel’s representatives have approached Coyotes general manager Bob Armstrong requesting a trade before this season begins.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Honoring that request won’t be easy. Kessel would like to play for the Vegas Golden Knights but a source said they’re not interested in acquiring him. The Coyotes might have to remain patient as there isn’t much interest in the veteran winger around the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel also carries a $6.8 million cap hit and an eight-team trade list along with a no-movement clause that prevents him from being demoted to the minors. Unless the Coyotes are willing to pick up half of his cap hit his best chance of getting traded could be the February trade deadline.

Morgan also observed the considerable interest around the league in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old has become a hot commodity because of his two-way play and affordable contract. However, it’s not a certainty Armstrong will trade Dvorak. Morgan suggests it would take a significant offer of either a couple of prospects or a prospect and a first-round pick.

The Boston Bruins expressed interest in Dvorak and could use another center after David Krejci’s departure. Other teams linked to the Coyotes center include the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak’s situation could be worth monitoring through training camp and leading up to the start of this season in mid-October. That’s when teams will evaluate their rosters and determine if they need to turn to the trade market for help. One of them could make an offer for Dvorak too good for Armstrong to pass up.

Gretz also suggested the Coyotes consider shopping Clayton Keller. Under contract for seven more seasons at $7.15 million annually, the 23-year-old forward is in theory one of the players they should build around. However, if they weren’t going to keep a key player like Conor Garland, what’s the point of holding onto Keller at this point?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz believes no one should be kept out of trade discussions with the rebuild underway. However, Morgan hasn’t mentioned Keller as a trade candidate. Neither did Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest podcast. Perhaps Armstrong sees Keller as one of a small core of players to build around.

COULD THE OILERS PURSUE KHUDOBIN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples wondered if the Oilers should make a pitch for Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin. The Stars need to move out a goalie and the Oilers need one.

The Stars have a crowded crease with Khudobin, Ben Bishop, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Bishop, however, could be sidelined for the upcoming season with a knee injury. It was assumed they’d start this season with Khudobin and Oettinger but the addition of Holtby raised questions about their intentions in goal and whether one of them could be used as a trade chip.

Staples believes the Oilers would have to find someone to take Mikko Koskinen off their hands before acquiring Khudobin. That could include adding a sweetener in the deal with Koskinen. It also depends on whether the Oilers are on Khudobin’s four-team no-trade list.

The Stars’ plan could be to put Bishop on long-term injury reserve, demote Oettinger to the minors (he’s waiver-exempt this season) and start with Khudobin and Holtby. However, if they can move Khudobin it would free up cap space to sign a forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That seems to be the game Stars GM Jim Nill is playing. Bishop’s career could be in jeopardy but for now, he faces an uncertain future regarding this season. Adding Holtby gives them the opportunity to shop Khudobin and go with a Holtby-Oettinger tandem. If there’s no immediate market for Khudobin, they send Oettinger to the minors until a new home for the 35-year-old veteran netminder and his $3.33 million cap hit is found.

The Oilers’ situation could be more complicated. Koskinen’s $4.5 million cap hit, inconsistent play and 15-team no-trade list make him difficult to move unless the Oilers are willing to retain salary or package him with a quality prospect or draft pick. Even then, there’s no certainty they can land Khudobin or any other suitable replacement at this point. The Oilers could be starting this season with Koskinen backing up Smith again.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and Jack Eichel plus updates on the Stars and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE HURRICANES, DEVILS, ISLANDERS INTERESTED IN TARASENKO?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford speculates the St. Louis Blues’ signing left winger Brandon Saad yesterday might spark a trade of Vladimir Tarasenko. The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have an interest in the 29-year-old right winger, and there are signs the New York Islanders could get back into the mix.

Could the St. Louis Blues be closer to trading Vladimir Tarasenko? (NHL Images)

Having signed Saad for less than expected, perhaps Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will be more willing to retain part of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit. That could be enticing for the Islanders, who have $17.6 million in cap space but must also re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Beauvillier, 24, has also been mentioned as a trade candidate. The Islanders remain on Tarasenko’s list of preferred destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been quiet on the Islanders’ front. As usual, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to tip his hand as to his plans for his RFAs or for UFAs Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, though there’s plenty of conjecture suggesting he intends to re-sign them or already has them under contract but hasn’t officially announced them yet. There’s also talk he’s signing Zach Parise.

If the Isles are in the mix for Tarasenko the Blues must retain some salary and/or take back a contract as part of the return. Parting with an RFA like Beauvillier would also work but we don’t know if Armstrong has any interest in him.

The Hurricanes have almost $14 million in cap space but they must re-sign RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Owner Tom Dundon could prefer keeping the payroll as far below the $81.5 million cap as possible. With over $22 million in cap room and five more roster spots to fill, the Devils are best positioned to swing a deal for Tarasenko. However, they could be on his no-trade list.

THE LATEST ON EICHEL

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams feels no pressure to trade Jack Eichel. He explained he’ll make that move if he gets an offer that makes sense for his club but won’t ship out the 24-year-old center simply for the sake of doing so.

However, Vogl points out Eichel wants out and his agents’ only discussions with Adams center on trade requests. He feels Eichel can’t show up in training camp as captain as it would damage the fresh start with a young core. The Sabres GM still believes there’s a market for his captain.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Mika Zibanejad would accept a six-year contract extension from the Rangers worth between $9 million and $9.5 million annually. “Wouldn’t that be enough to put an end to the Jack Eichel narrative as relates to the Rangers?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Adams is going to publicly say he feels no pressure to move Eichel. He’s not going to admit that it could get difficult to move the unhappy center with the NHL Draft and the start of free agency behind them.

While Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years and the Sabres’ high asking price are sticking points, his neck injury remains the main issue. If he was healthy, he’d probably be with another team (like the Rangers?) by now. But interested parties are understandably reluctant to part with assets for a player who might not be able to participate in a full schedule next season.

Still, it’s not too late for the Sabres to trade Eichel, or the Blues to move Tarasenko. Three years ago, the Ottawa Senators traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks and the Montreal Canadiens shipped Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights just before training camp opened in September. The Eichel and Tarasenko trade situations could be resolved in the same time frame.

COULD THE STARS SHOP A GOALTENDER?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars signing Braden Holtby on Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $2 million raised questions about their overcrowded crease that already features Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Stars GM Jim Nill said Bishop’s status for next season remains uncertain as he continues to recover from last fall’s knee surgery. The Stars could send Oettinger back to the AHL as he remains waiver-exempt but that might not be best for potentially the best healthy goalie in the organization. DeFranks speculates they could also shop Khudobin, who’s under contract for two more seasons at $3.33 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill told DeFranks his club would wait to figure out their situation before opting to move one of their surplus goalies. Bishop’s career could be over if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to the rigors of NHL action.

Oettinger is their goalie of the future coming off a solid NHL debut (11-8-7, 2.36 GAA, .911 SP) last season. Khudobin could be the odd man out here. There will be teams on the lookout for a goalie during training camp.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators could still try to add a center and a winger through a trade. They’re still in the mix for New York Rangers center Ryan Strome. They kicked tires on Jack Eichel but his contract and the asking price make that prohibitive. They could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait. Victor Mete or Erik Brannstrom could become trade candidates if GM Pierre Dorion decides to go that route.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2021

What does the future hold for Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? What players could the Blackhawks target via free agency? How will the Stars address their goaltending logjam? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE OILERS RE-SIGN NUGENT-HOPKINS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wonders what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ next contract will look like and whether it’ll be with the Edmonton Oilers. The versatile 28-year-old forward is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off a seven-year deal worth an annual average value of $6 million.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Derek Van Diest wondered if Nugent-Hopkins has played his last game with the Oilers. He claims he’s not thinking about free agency right now, adding his goal is to stay in Edmonton. Nugent-Hopkins was the third-highest paid Oilers behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes a new contract for Nugent-Hopkins with the Oilers could get tricky. Oilers general manager Ken Holland must be careful not to offer too much money or term, assuming he brings Nugent-Hopkins back. There were reports of progress in contract talks at various points in the season but nothing got done.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Senators should give Nugent-Hopkins a long look if he hits the open market on July 28. He could be a good fit centering the Senators’ second line alongside winger Tim Stuetzle if they could sign him within a $5 million to $5.5 million range per season on a long-term contract.

Has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played his final game with the Edmonton Oilers? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins’ contract status is the Oilers’ biggest priority this offseason. He could see if he can get a better deal via free agency if the Oilers offer a deal similar to this current salary or less. If that happens, Holland will be scrambling to find a suitable replacement via free agency or the trade market.

The Senators could approach Nugent-Hopkins if he becomes available. If they’re unwilling to come up over Warren’s suggested range, however, they won’t be among the suitors for long.

The flattened salary cap will affect Nugent-Hopkins’ efforts to land a more lucrative contract. Nevertheless, don’t rule out the ability of general managers with lots of cap space to overpay for talent when the free-agent auction fever hits.

POSSIBLE FREE-AGENT TARGETS FOR THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson recently examined some of the Blackhawks’ biggest needs for next season. They require a top defenseman, more consistent scoring threats, and more size in front of the net.

The Blackhawks could still have over $10.8 million in long-term injury salary relief from Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw for next season, though GM Stan Bowman has hinted certain factors could affect that. Nevertheless, Thompson believes they should have sufficient cap space after re-signing affordable young RFAs such as Adam Gaudette, Pius Suter and Brandon Hagel.

Thompson wondered if the Blackhawks would be in the market for a defenseman like Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton or Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie, or forwards such as Toronto’s Zach Hyman or Florida’s Alexander Wennberg. More affordable options could include Arizona’s Michael Bunting, Boston’s Mike Reilly, Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Detroit’s Luke Glendening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman could pursue a big-ticket UFA but I think he’ll seek more affordable veteran options to augment the younger players he’s bringing into the roster. Much of what he’ll do, of course, will depend upon how much cap space he’ll have to work with.

Cap Friendly indicates the Hawks have over $76 million invested in 23 players for 2021-22. Placing Seabrook and/or Shaw on LTIR will help but those factors Bowman alluded to could complicate things. The Blackhawks GM could attempt to get around that by shopping their contracts to teams seeking cap relief or those attempting to stay near the $60.2 million cap floor next season.

STARS HAVE OPTIONS TO ADDRESS CROWDED CREASE

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks examined several options facing the Dallas Stars to address their crowded goal crease. They currently carry three goaltenders in Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger. Khudobin and Oettinger were their regular tandem this season while Bishop recovered from knee surgery that sidelined him the entire season.

One option is the Seattle Kraken select Khudobin in the expansion draft. Bishop has a no-movement clause and there’s no indication he’ll waive it to be exposed in the draft. Oettinger is exempt from the expansion draft.

Sending Oettinger back to the AHL next season is another option as he’s waiver-exempt until he plays 24 more NHL games. They could also trade or waive Khudobin, carry all three goalies next season, or return with the Khudobin-Oettinger tandem if Bishop isn’t ready to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oettinger is the Stars’ future starter and outplayed Khudobin this season. GM Jim Nill could prefer the youngster as Bishop’s backup for next season.

Nill could attempt to trade Khudobin before the July 21 expansion draft rather than lose him to the Kraken for nothing. While he backstopped the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, his struggles this season could hurt his value in the trade market. It could also make the Kraken think twice about selecting him unless Nill offers up an incentive like a draft pick or prospect in a side deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 19, 2021

The latest on Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, Kyle Palmieri and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Taylor Hall is considering all his options, which include signing a new contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The 29-year-old left-winger is seeking stability either with an extension from the Sabres or a trade to a club that will extend him.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give Hall credit for wanting to stick with the struggling Sabres. Whether he stays in Buffalo beyond this season depends on how much he’s asking for and for how long, and the willingness of Sabres ownership to make that investment. They probably regret that hefty eight-year deal they gave Jeff Skinner two years ago and don’t want to risk repeating that mistake.

Hall will certainly generate interest among playoff contenders if the Sabres shop him before the April 12 trade deadline. Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston believes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins could be potential destinations.

Of those clubs, the Islanders and the Panthers would have sufficient cap space to take the remainder of his $8 million cap hit without having to shed salary. The Isles recently placed left winger Anders Lee and his $7 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve while the Panthers have over $16 million in trade deadline cap space. The Avs have around $8 million in LTIR space but that could quickly evaporate if Erik Johnson and Pavel Francouz return before season’s end.

Frank Seravalli reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill remains focused on his club reaching the playoffs. They’ve got plenty of games in hand and are awaiting the return of center Tyler Seguin and goalie Ben Bishop from offseason surgeries. Both are three-to-five weeks away. If they remain close enough to playoff contention by the deadline they could become buyers. If they drop out of the playoff race by then they could entertain calls on pending UFAs like Jamie Oleksiak and Andrew Cogliano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars (25 points in 26 games) are eight points behind the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division. They have five games in hand on the Blackhawks but if they don’t start stringing some wins together soon they’re not going to make it.

If the Stars become sellers maybe they’ll consider moving backup Anton Khudobin. The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf points out Jake Oettinger is playing well and gaining more starts of late. He suggests shopping Khudobin at the trade deadline and get the best value they can rather than risk losing him to the Seattle Kraken for nothing. Oettinger, of course, is exempt from the expansion draft. Whether Nill makes that move remains to be seen.

Speaking of teams hoping to remain in playoff contention, Pierre LeBrun reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are also chasing the Blackhawks in the Central. He said teams are calling the Jackets about captain Nick Foligno. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list but the Jackets hope to keep him on board for a playoff run. LeBrun said the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs are the teams to watch regarding Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following last night’s action the Jackets (31 points) are just two behind the Blackhawks, who’ve dropped three in a row. Foligno won’t be going anywhere if they remain in contention or overtake the Blackhawks.

LeBrun also reports the New Jersey Devils are expected to speak with winger Kyle Palmieri soon. He’s slated to become a UFA this summer and there will be considerable interest in the right-winger if he ends up on the block before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation earlier this year suggesting Palmieri and the Devils might come to an agreement but there have been no updates or any solid info indicating they could be close to a deal. His situation will be closely watched as there will be playoff contenders interested in his services by deadline day.