NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

A look at some predicted destinations for the top remaining UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently predicted destinations for the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.

Would Mike Hoffman be a good fit with the Los Angeles Kings? (NHL Images)

Wegman last month predicted the Los Angeles Kings as a destination for winger Mike Hoffman, considering him a good fit alongside Anze Kopitar on their top line. He suggested a four-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: With Cap Friendly indicating the Kings have $13.6 million in cap space, they can easily afford Hoffman. However, I doubt general manager Rob Blake would bring a 30-year-old winger to a rebuilding roster on a multi-year deal.

Hoffman is reportedly willing to consider a one-year deal for between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. Maybe Blake would be interested in a one-year contract if he can get Hoffman at a lower rate and then flip him for futures at the trade deadline.

Wegman also suggested Anthony Duclair for the Kings. While his defensive game leaves something to be desire, his abilities could prove useful in offensive-zone starts and on the power play for a club that struggled to score last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 25-year-old Duclair could be a better fit with the younger Kings and much more affordable than Hoffman. His defensive play and streaky scoring, however, are areas of concern here.

Erik Haula could address the San Jose Sharks’ lack of bottom-six depth at center. He wouldn’t be overly expensive for the Sharks, who have $2.3 million in cap space. While injuries hampered him over the last two seasons, he tallied 29 goals and 26 assists in his last full campaign in 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula could be a good, affordable short-term investment as a third-line center in San Jose. Given his injury history and age (29), the Sharks probably wouldn’t invest beyond one year.

The Florida Panthers could use an experienced winger like Mikael Granlund to provide much-needed secondary scoring. He’s coming off a down performance last season with the Nashville Predators but averaged 63 points per campaign in the three previous seasons. He’d be guaranteed second-line minutes with the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Panthers could be trying to bring back Hoffman. Nevertheless, Granlund’s low production last season and the current economic situation would work in their favor here. A one-year deal for between $3.5 – $4 million might get it done.

Wegman suggests Andreas Athanasiou as a middle-six forward option for the Nashville Predators. The speedy 26-year-old winger didn’t play well last season with Detroit and Edmonton but he tallied 30 goals with the Red Wings in 2018-19.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think the Predators are playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping to land him for a lower price. If that’s not possible, maybe they’ll take a chance on Athanasiou or Duclair on a low-cost one-year contract.

Manitoba native Travis Hamonic could be a perfect fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The 30-year-old defenseman would play close to home and help improve the Jets’ porous blueline. While they’re listed as not having any cap space, they could get some wiggle room by placing center Bryan Little ($5.29 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic and the Jets could be waiting to see how things shake out with Little before reaching an agreement. Then again, maybe the Jets have no interest in him.

Wegman suggests Sami Vatanen could be the best veteran free-agent defense option available to the Philadelphia Flyers, who didn’t bring in a suitable replacement for recently retired Matt Niskanen. The 29-year-old Vatanen has played 21 minutes per game in recent years and would give the Flyers a third right-handed shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us, but I get the impression Erik Gustafsson will be his only UFA signing this year.










Will NHL Teams With Cap Space Target Their Cap-Strapped Rivals?

Will NHL Teams With Cap Space Target Their Cap-Strapped Rivals?

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 1, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 1, 2020

A look at seven teams that could weaponize their cap space plus an update on Mike Hoffman in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently listed the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Los Angeles Kings as seven teams that could use their cap space to target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Could the New Jersey Devils attempt to move P.K. Subban? (NHL Images)

All have $11.5 million or more in cap room. Some have already put that available cash to good use, as the Wings acquired defenseman Marc Staal while the Senators landed goaltender Matt Murray.

Dixon noted the rumors linking the Predators to unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman but felt if they were going to sign him it would’ve happened by now. He also wondered if the Devils would use their cap room to absorb a healthy chunk of P.K. Subban’s salary if it would land them a decent draft pick or prospect.

The Blue Jackets must re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’s a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. However, Dixon feels there could be enough space after he signs to perhaps make a bold move.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan mused over whether the Predators would weaponize their cap space. An obvious target is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, and Erik Cernak. Trade options could include Alex Killorn or Yanni Gourde. Vingan also suggested trying to sign one of those RFAs to an offer sheet.

Vingan also suggested the Predators target Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault. He also proposed taking a bad contract from the New York Islanders (such as Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd or Leo Komarov) for picks and prospects, then burying the veteran in the minors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those seven teams may have the cap space but that doesn’t mean they will target a club looking to dump salary. The Wings and Senators could wait until training camp to see if any teams get desperate to become cap compliant. For now, however, it seems like they’ve made their big moves.

Dixon made an interesting suggestion about the Devils picking up part of Subban’s $9 million annual salary-cap hit to facilitate a deal. At this stage, however, I believe they would prefer acquiring a player that can help them now rather than stocking up further on futures. That’s a move I can see them doing, provided they can drum up interest in Subban, whose stock has declined over the last couple of seasons.

The Jackets could go after another forward once they re-sign Dubois but I think shipping Josh Anderson to Montreal for Max Domi has addressed that issue. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might prefer leaving some cap space available for later in the season.

Panthers GM Bill Zito could also be operating under a cap ceiling lower than the league’s $81.5 million, which would explain why he hasn’t made a big splash yet. Kings GM Rob Blake could make another move or two but so far seems content building up his roster from within.

The Predators reportedly have a serious interest in Hoffman. Maybe general manager David Poile is considering other options, but he could be playing the waiting game in the hope the veteran winger lowers his asking price. And speaking of Hoffman…

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the offers Hoffman has received thus far are “bargain city.” However, his agent claims his client is willing to wait for the deal he believes he deserves.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports the Boston Bruins are among a half-dozen teams interested in Hoffman. He also cited LeBrun’s report, noting the winger’s received one-year offers between $3.5 million and $4.5 million. Haggerty said it sounds like the Predators, Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers are also interested in Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect Hoffman will put pen to paper with one of those clubs until around the start of training camp. Time will tell if he gets a one-year, $6 million deal or settles for less.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine and Mike Hoffman plus updates on the Bruins and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON LAINE

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck notes TSN’s reporting Patrik Laine’s agents suggesting a trade for their client might be mutually beneficial for Laine and the Jets, comparing it to Jacob Trouba’s agent requesting a trade back in 2016. He was traded in 2019 to the New York Rangers.

Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Billeck wonders how it reached this point with Laine, pointing out the Jets’ difficulty of retaining some of their stars. He suggests the blame lies not with the city or other issues but within the organization. He also wondered how that could affect the morale of Laine’s teammates if he’s the latest star to head out the door.

Billeck feels the club has failed to provide Laine with a center to play with. He feels there’s no reason Laine can’t be the top-line left wing while Kyle Connor plays with Nikolaj Ehlers on the second line.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also cites Laine’s probable disappointment in not getting first-line minutes. He wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was dangling the winger in the trade pond to see what offers he might attract to address the Jets’ roster needs.

He doubts any public attempt by Laine’s agents to force the issue will work with Cheveldayoff, pointing out it years before Trouba and Evander Kane were dealt after making trade requests.

Wiebe doesn’t believe the Jets would trade Laine for just pennies on the dollar. He listed seven teams (Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets) that could have the assets to acquire the young sniper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe’s proposals include such notables as Florida’s Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, Carolina’s Brett Pesce and Martin Necas, Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, the Islanders Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock, and Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Some of those, like Huberdeau, could be part of a one-for-one swap. The rest would have to be the centerpiece of a larger package.

Laine’s agents can suggest a trade but that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff will do it. The return has to make sense for the Jets. Hanging over this, of course, is Laine’s contract. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll demand a significant raise over his $6.75-million annual average value.

Perhaps this situation gets resolved by moving Laine to the first line and dropping Connor down to the second line with Ehlers and Paul Stastny. He lights it up next season, the Jets reward him with a lucrative long-term deal and everyone’s happy. Another option is Laine goes to arbitration next summer, ensuring he’ll be leaving Winnipeg when he reaches UFA eligibility at 25. Or Cheveldayoff gets a trade offer too good to pass up in the coming weeks.

What’s certain is we haven’t heard the last of Laine in offseason trade chatter.

POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR HOFFMAN

THE SCORE: Matt Teague and Brandon Maron list the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Mike Hoffman. The 30-year-old winger remains the best available player in this year’s UFA market. He’s reportedly willing to accept a one-year contract worth around $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators, Bruins and Blue Jackets have been linked to him in recent trade speculation. The Preds have the cap space to meet his salary demand. The Bruins have over $12 million available but must also re-sign Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk and Zdeno Chara. The Jackets must re-sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois before they commit dollars to another forward.

The Kings have over $13 million in cap space and recently acquired Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks. GM Rob Blake, however, seems intent on maintaining his rebuilding program. Adding an expensive, short-term veteran doesn’t seem to fit into that plan. As for the Panthers, they could circle back to Hoffman now that Evgenii Dadonov has departed for Ottawa.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens look at six possible replacements for Ryan Miller if he doesn’t return as the Anaheim Ducks backup. He suggested Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, Michael Hutchinson, Garret Sparks, Adin Hill and Pheonix Copley.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty cites a couple of sources saying the Bruins could consider former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as a cheap insurance option in case youngsters like Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril show they aren’t ready for prime time










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2020

Joe Thornton signs with the Maple Leafs, the Flames avoid arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane, the Kings sign Quinton Byfield to an entry-level contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Joe Thornton is joining the Maple Leafs following 15 seasons with the San Jose Sharks. The unrestricted free agent center signed a one-year, $700K contract with the Leafs.

Long-time San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an affordable move by the Leafs bringing years of experience to their third-line center position and considerable leadership to the lineup. However, I remain skeptical that adding a past-his-prime Thornton moves the Leafs significantly closer toward Stanley Cup contention. I remain concerned about their blueline depth and the speed on their checking lines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Many Sharks players, including Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane, reacted with sadness over Thornton’s departure while praising his leadership and expressing their best wishes to their former teammate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many Sharks fans shared similar sentiments following the news of Thornton signing with the Leafs. He and Patrick Marleau are the two greatest players in Sharks’ history. Thornton spent the bulk of his playing prime in San Jose and was instrumental in turning them into a long-time Western Conference powerhouse. He was beloved by Sharks fans and his contributions won’t be forgotten by them or the franchise.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane as the winger signed a two-year contract worth $2.425 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair deal for Mangiapane following a 17-goal, 32-point performance in 68 games as an NHL sophomore in 2019-20. He’ll be in line for a significant raise if he can build last season’s effort.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The King signed Quinton Byfield to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old Sudbury Wolves center became the highest-selected black player in NHL history as the Kings picked him second overall in this year’s NHL draft.

TSN: cites a report by The Athletic’s Arthur Staple indicating the New York Islanders are working toward a new contract with Matt Martin. The 31-year-old winger became an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. While several teams have contacted Martin, he prefers returning to the Isles.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Center Nolan Patrick has accepted the Flyers’ qualifying offer. He missed all of last season with a migraine disorder.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick is once again battling a rare heart condition called amyloidosis which nearly killed him six years ago. He’s confident that early detection this time around improves his chances of overcoming the ailment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Odjick for a speedy and full recovery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

The 2020 NHL Draft completes its second and final day, Taylor Hall is heading to free agency, the Blue Jackets re-sign Max Domi, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2020 NHL Draft is now history following a marathon second day in which it took over seven hours to complete rounds two through seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the results for each round by clicking the above link to the NHL draft tracker. As for how long it took to go through yesterday’s rounds, the general managers and their staffs were drafting from home instead of at an arena in a host city as is usually done. That gave them a lot more time to evaluate which prospects they intended to select and to move up or down the draft order by swapping picks with other clubs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said Taylor Hall is heading to tomorrow’s unrestricted free agent market.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall is heading to free agency on Friday (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes gave up three prospects and two draft picks (including a first in this year’s draft) to acquire Hall in a trade with New Jersey last December. Hall played well for the Coyotes, with 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but his addition did little to significantly improve his new club. Their limited cap space made it almost impossible to re-sign him. His departure could ease the pressure from Armstrong to move captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a cost-cutting trade before the defenseman’s Friday deadline.

THE SCORE: One day after being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with his new club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a sensible signing by the Jackets. Domi gets a raise over two-year, $6.3-million of his previous deal. The Jackets get a reasonable period of time to evaluate their new center’s performance to determine if he’ll be worth a longer-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Jackets with just $1.725 million in cap space with first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to re-sign. However, Dubois’ coming off his entry-level contract and could get an affordable bridge contract. The Jackets could also place Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve as a chronic wrist ailment has likely ended his playing days, providing more cap space for DuBois’ next contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed center Kyle Turris on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had four years and $24 million remaining on his deal. The buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Predators’ salary cap through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris’ contract turned into a costly mistake for Predators GM David Poile. Desperate to free up cap space, he had little choice but to buy out that deal following unsuccessful attempts to trade the 31-year-old center.

THE SCORE: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed forward Chandler Stephenson to a four-year, $11 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephenson fit in well with the Golden Knights after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals last December. However, his new contract pushes Vegas’ cap payroll over the $81.5 million cap by $2.8 million. They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but that will complicate any plans to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. A cost-cutting trade or two will be necessary before the start of next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have decided to let winger Anthony Duclair become an unrestricted free agent after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Duclair was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by yesterday’s 5 pm deadline. GM Pierre Dorion declined to go into details but said Duclair chose to represent himself in contract talks. He added the club offered the winger a substantial raise over his previous salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A puzzling development. Duclair made $1.65 million on a one-year deal last season. Dorion didn’t shut the door on the winger possibly returning to Ottawa. Maybe the Senators were concerned Duclair would get more via arbitration.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract. DeMelo was slated to become a UFA on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Jets. DeMelo joined the Jets before the February trade deadline and quickly adapted to his new team.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ long contract standoff with Jesse Puljujarvi is over, re-signing the 22-year-old winger to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.175 million. Puljujarvi spent all of last season playing in Finland hoping to force a trade by the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded center Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Andersson was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 draft but struggled to crack the Rangers lineup and spent the second half of last season playing in Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The stock of both young forwards really dropped over the past two years. There was even speculation at one point last season suggesting the two could be swapped for each other in a trade. Both players need a reset if they hope to salvage their NHL careers.

CBC: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur has undergone a second surgery to address a recurrence of lung cancer just two months following quadruple bypass surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy and complete recovery.