NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

Breaking down some potential moves to watch as the 2020-21 season inches closer in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon examined five lingering issues that must be addressed before the project Jan. 13 start to the 2020-21 NHL season.

The respective salary-cap crunches facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights and New York Islanders dominated the list.

The Lightning sits just above the $81.5 million salary cap and must sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli. Dixon observed some trade speculation arose earlier this fall suggesting Steven Stamkos could become a trade candidate. However, the captain’s full no-trade clause and the limited number of teams that could afford his $8.25 million annual average value pretty much rules out trading him. Winger Alex Killorn (16-team no-trade list, $4.5 million AAV) remains a possible cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s recent signing of defenseman Mikhail Sergachev prompted conjecture they could have a cost-cutting deal in hand but it has yet to materialize.

They also attempted to shed salary by putting winger Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) on waivers in early October but couldn’t find any takers. He also has a full no-trade but reportedly submitted a list of eight or nine potential destinations to Lightning management.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights are also just above the salary cap, prompting rumors they could be shopping a high-salaried player such as Max Pacioretty, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Fleury won’t be traded while team owner Bill Foley recently dismissed the Pacioretty rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights could move an expensive veteran. Then again, they could also trade or demote a lower-salaried depth player to become cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Islanders still haven’t signed RFA center Mathew Barzal. They will get some cap relief by placing defenseman Johnny Boychuk (eye injury) and his $6 million AAV on long-term injury reserve. Dixon took note of GM Lou Lamoriello’s failed attempt at this year’s trade deadline to ship winger Andrew Ladd to Minnesota for Zach Parise. He wondered if Lamoriello might try to package Ladd with a sweetener to a rebuilding team with the cap space to take on the winger’s $5.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but it could take one heckuva sweetener to convince a rebuilding team to acquire Ladd. While Dixon cited the 35-year-old winger’s experience and leadership, age and injuries have significantly affected his performance.

Dixon also noted the trade rumors swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine and the Arizona Coyotes’ attempt to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move Laine, whose agent suggested earlier this fall it might be beneficial for both sides if his client was moved to a team where he’d get first-line minutes. The winger has a year remaining on his contract and becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. That doesn’t mean GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t trade Laine but he’ll seek a significant return, such as perhaps a top-pairing defenseman.

Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. However, attempts to move him fell through before his self-imposed deadline of Oct. 9.

The Coyotes captain insisted he’s happy in Arizona and wasn’t upset by the club exploring trade options. Nevertheless, this could resurface if the Bruins or Canucks make a pitch to the Coyotes’ liking, provided he’d be willing to waive his clause before the season begins.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

Check out some recent speculation on the Red Wings, Bruins and  Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan listing several players the Red Wings could be interested in before the start of this season.

Could the Detroit Red Wings acquire Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson? (NHL Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty are Kulfan’s suggested trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Red Wings’ trading Dmytro Timashov to the New York Islanders yesterday, general manager Steve Yzerman could make another addition to his roster before the season begins. 

A swap between the Wings and Lightning has potential. The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. The Wings have plenty of cap space and general manager Steve Yzerman knows Killorn, Johnson and Gourde from his days as Lightning GM.

Killorn, however, has a modified no-trade list while Johnson and Gourde have full no-trade protection. If the Wings aren’t on their lists of preferred destinations they won’t be going to Detroit.

Pacioretty, meanwhile, has a 10-team no-trade list which could include the Wings. Besides, Yzerman might not be keen to invest in a 32-year-old winger carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons.

Unrestricted free agent targets could include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen, Andy Greene and former Red Wing Andreas Athanasiou.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract worth between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. I don’t think Yzerman will go that high for him. Granlund or Duclair might be affordable options, with Granlund perhaps the better choice depending on his asking price.

Vatanen could be a good addition to the Wings’ defense corps on a reasonable short-term contract. Greene is believed to have a deal with the Islanders that will be made official once they get Mathew Barzal under contract. I doubt Yzerman will bring Athanasiou back to Detroit given his disappointing performance during his contract year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked about the possibility of the Bruins bringing in a player on a professional tryout offer during training camp. He suggested former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as one option. UFA like Anthony Duclair and Mikael Granlund could become PTO candidates but Haggerty feels they’ll eventually sign guaranteed contracts rather than tryouts for training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll likely be aging veterans like Alzner, Ron Hainsey, goaltenders such as Jimmy Howard and Craig Anderson, and forwards like Justin Abdelkader and Michael Grabner could end up signing professional tryout options with the Bruins and other clubs.

Asked if the Bruins are done making moves, Haggerty speculates a trade is more likely than a free-agent signing. If they go the trade route, it’ll be for a top-four defenseman to plug the gap on the left side of their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty noted the Bruins’ efforts to acquire Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson before the blueliner’s Oct. 9 deadline brought that attempt to an end. GM Don Sweeney could attempt a trade for a left-side defender but it probably won’t be a move for someone like Ekman-Larsson at this stage.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined what could be a crucial season for the Calgary Flames. With two years remaining on the contracts of winger Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, he feels the Flames are reaching a pivotal moment.

Another disappointing playoff performance could put pressure on general manager Brad Treliving to shake things up. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels blowing things up could make things worse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The majority of Flames fans (and some Calgary pundits) were calling for change over the summer when the club was bounced from the first round of the 2020 playoffs. Defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic departed via free agency but general manager Brad Treliving ignored the cries for Gaudreau to be shopped following a disappointing postseason effort.

The Flames will face increased pressure this season to shake their recent reputation as a playoff underachiever. Another early exit could prompt a shakeup of the roster core.










NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 7, 2020

Could the Predators have another move in store before the season begins? Will the Senators be buyers or sellers this season? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked if Nashville Predators general manager David Poile was done wheeling and dealing. He believes there’s no sense of urgency among NHL GMs to make moves until we know when the season will begin.

Back in October, Poile didn’t rule out making more moves. Vingan points out the Predators have nearly $13 million in cap space, though some of that will be used to sign restricted free agent Luke Kunin. He feels it would make sense to target cap-strapped clubs for a return that could address the Predators’ second-line needs.

Could the Nashville Predators attempt to acquire Alex Killorn from the Tampa Bay Lightning? (NHL Images)

Vingan and colleague Joe Smith bandied about the notion of the Predators acquiring winger Alex Killorn from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. Vingan believes Killorn would be a good fit on the Predators’ second line.

Smith feels getting back a package of futures (draft picks and/or prospects) would be crucial for the Lightning. That would include a 2021 second-round pick to replace the one traded away and something to bolster their defense prospects.

The Lightning might have to consider moving someone like Ondrej Palat if they can’t find any takers for Killorn or Tyler Johnson. Vingan believes the Predators would be very interested if Palat became available.

Vingan also acknowledged the Predators’ rumored interest in UFA winger Mike Hoffman. He’s willing to sign a one-year deal which is better than Killorn’s three-year contract. However, Vingan is uncertain if Hoffman fits into the Predators’ plans.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Getz recommends Poile go the offer sheet route by targeting Lightning center Anthony Cirelli. He points out the Preds have the cap space and the assets for compensatory draft picks to make a competitive offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe Poile has made his offseason moves and could bank his cap space to put toward trades if necessary during the regular season. However, the need to bolster their secondary scoring could see the Preds GM make a move or two before the season opens sometime in January or February.

Poile could be playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping to sign the UFA winger to an affordable one-year deal. Failing that, he could look at cost-effective short-term help like Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Duclair.

Killorn or Palat are possibilities if Poile goes the trade route. It’ll depend on what the Lightning want in return. He could also look at other clubs that are trying to dump salary before the season begins.

Cirelli could get an offer sheet from a club like the Predators but if that was going to happen it would’ve been made by now. Remember, the player must be interested in signing an offer sheet. It doesn’t seem like the Cirelli camp is entertaining that notion.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators owner Eugene Melnyk believes his rebuilding club has turned the corner and the pieces are now in place to contend. He indicates the Senators’ days as trade deadline sellers are over.

We’ll be a team that’s active at the trade deadline and not as sellers, but as buyers, just like we used to be”, said Melnyk. “If you look at my track record on spending on players, we were already right up there. We were never at the top, but we were always right up there or around the center. Now, we’re going to stay somewhere in the center, depending on where it’s at. Our budgets are always somewhere around $70 million, which is in the center.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect the Senators to be buyers if they’re not in playoff contention. If Melnyk’s comments are anything to go by, however, they won’t be selling off veterans as they have over the past three years.

If they are contenders, they must invest wisely if they’re going to be buyers. Don’t just go for rentals but try to add players who can help them beyond just one season.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

Questions about Vladimir Tarasenko’s future with the St. Louis Blues and possible moves by the New Jersey Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: In his weekly live chat with Blues fans, Jim Thomas was asked if the St. Louis Blues might expose high-salaried veterans like Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron in next year’s expansion draft or risk losing younger, cheaper players. Thomas doesn’t see that happening. He pointed out Perron is playing better in terms of production than he ever has, plus they’d hate to make the wrong decision with Tarasenko and see him regain his form with the Kraken.

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

 THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if the Blues might try to trade the injury-prone Tarasenko. Given the winger’s three shoulder surgeries, Rutherford doubted the Blues would get a good return. He felt there’s a better chance of Tarasenko helping the club upon his return from his latest surgery than a team offering a player or players who can contribute.

Rutherford was also asked if the Blues might make any more moves. While general manager Doug Armstrong hasn’t ruled out another signing, Rutherford would be surprised if it happened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s recent shoulder injuries seem to have some Blues fans concerned about his performance over the remaining three years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million, which could prove costly for the Blues if he cannot regain his 30-goal form.

Trading Taranseko won’t be easy if the Blues decide one day to part with him. In addition to his injury history and annual cap hit, the 28-year-old winger also has a full no-trade clause. That wouldn’t prevent him from being exposed in next year’s expansion draft but I’ll be shocked if Armstrong left him unprotected.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils might attempt to acquire players from cap-strapped clubs, or pursue free agent Mike Hoffman on a one-year contract, or if they’d go the offer-sheet route.

Masisak noted the Devils have over $17 million in salary-cap space, though new contracts for restricted free agents Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt could whittle that down to around $10 million. He feels Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn could be a good fit but isn’t sure if Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald will want to tie up too much future cap space given the current economic uncertainty.

Signing a UFA like Hoffman, Mikael Granlund or Anthony Duclair to a short-term deal is possible. However, those players could be reluctant to join a team that isn’t a clear contender and risk getting moved at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald could make a move to further boost his roster before the season begins (next month?). I don’t expect a blockbuster move but perhaps he can get into the bidding for one of those UFA forwards on a cost-effective deal. Those players could be reluctant to join a non-contender on a short-term deal. With so few teams carrying sufficient cap space, however, they might not have much choice if Fitzgerald shows interest in one of them.










Updates on the Lightning and Predators in NHL Rumor Roundup

Updates on the Lightning and Predators in NHL Rumor Roundup