NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

Latest on the Islanders, Lightning and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.


NEWSDAY: The free-agent status of top-six forwards Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson are among Andrew Gross’ five things to watch for the New York Islanders this season. He believes they cannot allow those three to depart as UFAs without compensation as they did with John Tavares this summer. General manager Lou Lamoriello could face some tough decisions by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.

New York Islanders could face a tough decision with pending free agents such as Anders Lee. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player and team performance will determine the fates of those three. Of the trio, Nelson could be most likely to be shopped if he fails to impress as their second-line center. 

Big seasons from Lee and Eberle could land them new contracts with the islanders, but that will also depend upon how much they’re seeking. Lee is earning $3.75 million annually on his current contract and could look to double that, while Eberle is earning $6 million per season and could try to stay in that neighborhood. 


THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have tried to move a defenseman, telling teams they’re open to trading Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. It remains to be seen if a deal will be made. For now, they’ve sent promising Erik Cernak to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Both blueliners still hold depth value for the Lightning. Of the two, Smith thinks Koekkoek could be more open to a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Koekkoek is the most likely trade candidate, as he’s younger (24), lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $865K salary this season. That move might not happen right away but could take place later this season, especially if there’s a need to create more room on a crowded blueline. He could be an affordable blueline depth acquisition for a rival club as the season unfolds. 


THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough feels the Vancouver Canucks placing Sam Gagner on waivers could be a warning of more moves to come. He wonders if veterans Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler become trade candidates later this season. He acknowledges Edler has a no-trade clause but perhaps he’d waive it if he were told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t getting re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gagner clears waivers today they could send him down to their AHL affiliate or attempt to trade him. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $3.15 million, which could make clubs leery of claiming him. Even via trade, the Canucks could be asked to absorb part of that cap hit. 

Sutter will be a tough sell. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a $4.375-million cap hit through 2020-21 with a full no-trade clause this season. Edler, on the other hand, should attract plenty of interest near the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-trade. 


NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2018

Latest on Matt Duchene and Sebastian Aho plus the Lightning are open to moving a defenseman in your NHL rumor mill.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie giving his take on Matt Duchene’s status with the Ottawa Senators on Ottawa’s TSN 1200. Duchene is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. McKenzie doesn’t think there’s been serious discussions between the two sides over how this situation could shake out. He expects the 26-year-old center will let this season play itself out and see if there’s any improvement in terms of the atmosphere around the Senators.

Matt Duchene’s future with the Ottawa Senators remains murky. (Photo via NHL Images)

McKenzie feels it’s in Duchene’s best interest to play well in his contract year. He suggests there’s a difference in Duchene’s mindset compared to teammate and fellow pending UFA Mark stone, noting he played in a losing environment in Colorado and probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience in Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene and Stone haven’t ruled out re-signing with the Senators, but the latter seems more keen on doing so. Still, a lot depends on the club’s performance in 2018-19.

A repeat of last season’s collapse and the toxic environment that came from that could make Duchene and Stone unwilling to invest long-term with the Senators. If they’re both reluctant to re-sign before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, they could be playing elsewhere before then. 


THE NEWS & OBSERVER’s Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon considers re-signing forward Sebastian Aho to a long-term contract extension to be a “high priority.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor but I can speculate over how much Aho could get. He had 24 goals and 49 points as a rookie in 2016-17, finishing second in team scoring. Last season, he was the Hurricanes’ leading scorer with 29 goals and 65 points. The 21-year-old could reach 30 goals and 70 points this season. He’s going to get a big raise on his next contract.

Aho is now in the final season of his entry-level contract. His his camp could be keeping an eye on what forward William Nylander eventually gets when he ends his contract standoff with the Toronto Maple Leafs and perhaps use it as a comparable. They could also have Edmonton Oilers’ center Leon Drasaitl’s eight-year, $68-million deal in mind. 


THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports hearing the Tampa Bay Lightning are open to moving Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. “They’ve been calling other teams. One week until season opener, so should be interesting. The fact Cernak opened some eyes in camp gives TB another option.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek could be easier to move than Coburn. The former is a 24-year-old defenseman carrying a very affordable salary-cap hit ($865K) who’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. Coburn, on the other hand, is a 33-year-old blueliner with a $3.75-million cap hit and due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Lightning might prefer moving Coburn’s cap hit. As for a return, I don’t think new GM Julien BriseBois wants to take any significant salary back, preferring to leave cap space for possible moves later in the season. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2018

Thornton and Hertl re-signing with Sharks among latest notable signings. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks yesterday re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year, $5-million contract and forward Tomas Hertl to a four-year deal.

The Beard is back, as Joe Thornton signs a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Thornton’s deal doesn’t contain any bonuses. It’s a straightforward $5 million. His salary is a significant drop from last season’s $8 million ($6.75 million base plus bonuses) but unsurprising given his age (39), recent knee surgeries and his willingness to stay in San Jose.

Cap Friendly indicates Hertl’s new deal is worth an annual average value of $5.625 million, a big raise over his previous salary of $3 million annually. It’s a shorter term than perhaps he would’ve preferred, but given his injury history, it’s understandable why the Sharks were reluctant to invest in a lengthier deal.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey scolds Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for suggesting the reason the Columbus Blue Jackets, former team of new Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson, scratched the blueliner was for reasons other than on-ice performance.

Rutherford’s remarks, and those of Johnson expressing his happiness over joining a team with a winning culture, prompted angry rebuttals from Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella and GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Johnson claimed he meant no offense by his comments and apologized to the Jackets organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Starkey also chided Tortorella for not being the bigger man in this situation and ignoring those remarks. If anything, this back-and-forth will only stoke the ongoing rivalry between the two clubs. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers owner James Dolan denied reports claiming he’s looking to sell the club and his other sports franchises.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was granted a dismissal of his misdemeanor domestic abuse conviction, potentially paving the way for his return to the NHL. He can now request a reinstatement hearing with league commissioner Gary Bettman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if Bettman grants Voynov’s reinstatement, the blueliner could have a difficult time landing with a new NHL club. While some general managers could be interested in his on-ice skills, the baggage from his domestic assault conviction could be a potential public-relations nightmare. 

THE TENNESSEAN: The head district attorney handling a criminal charge of domestic assault leveled at Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has recused herself because of her upcoming wedding to Gerry Helper, the team’s senior vice president and senior adviser.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday signed UFA winger Carter Rowney to a three-year deal worth $3.4 million.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed forward J.T. Brown to a two-year, $1.375-million deal. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, $865K contract.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders signed forward Tom Kuhnhackl to a one-year, $650K deal.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators signed forward Zac Rinaldo to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level. 


Latest on the Bruins and Lightning – August 1, 2017

Latest on the Bruins and Lightning – August 1, 2017

Boston Bruins still talking contract with David Pastrnak.

Update on David Pastrnak’s contract talks and the latest Lightning speculation in your NHL rumor mill. 

BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admits his contract negotiations with right winger David Pastrnak haven’t progressed as far as he would prefer. Still, he notes plenty of time and opportunity exists to work out a new deal. Pastrnak, 21, is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights.

Dupont points out the young winger is free to sign an offer sheet from a rival club. Such offers, however, rarely occur, in part because rival GMs fear retribution when they must re-sign their own RFAs. The Bruins can also match any offer for Pastrnak. It appears the winger’s camp seeks a long-term contract (five years or more) worth $6 million annually. 

If Pastrnak is unable to reach agreement with the Bruins on a new contract, his options are limited. He can either sit out the season or sign a contract with a KHL team. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Pastrnak will be holding out or heading to the KHL. As Sweeney observes, plenty of time exists to get him under contract. Wouldn’t surprise me if this stretches into September and the start of training camp.

Pastrnak joins Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat among this summer’s notable RFAs who could be considered tempting targets for offer sheets. But as Dupont points out, that gambit is rare nowadays. I doubt any of them will receive an offer from another club. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: In a recent mailbag segment, Lightning beat writer Joe Smith speculated on the possibility of the club moving a defenseman before the start of the regular season to clear up their logjam on the blueline. Bolts GM Steve Yzerman suggested he can carry eight defensemen but Smith doesn’t think that’s an ideal situation. He suggests Andrej Sustr could become a trade candidate.  Slater Koekkoek, who is waiver-eligible this season, could be another option. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the recent focus on the status of the Montreal Canadiens’ blueline, perhaps they’ll be a trade partner for the Lightning. 

Smith was asked if there’s a possibility the Lightning might sign unrestricted free agent right wing Jaromir Jagr. He said he’s been told they’re not interested in pursuing the 45-year-old Jagr. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2017

Washington Capitals sign winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year deal.

Collection of recent signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Alexander Radulov inking a five-year contract with the Dallas Stars dominated yesterday’s free-agent signings. Here’s a look at several others. 

Two former New Jersey Devils landed with new teams yesterday. WGR 550 reports the Buffalo Sabres signed center Jacob Josefson to a one-year contract ($700K). CSN MIDATLANTIC reports the Washington Capitals signed winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed defenseman Xavier Ouellet to a two-year deal worth $1.25 million per season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-sign defenseman Mike Reilly to a two-year, $1.45 million contract. 

NBC SPORTS: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed blueliner Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, $800K deal. 

PUCK DADDY Greg Wyshynski reports Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan had no plans to buy out Brooks Orpik’s contract. 

CSN BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks hired Rob Zettler as an assistant coach. 

TSN: Former Colorado Avalanche center Mikhail Grigorenko has reportedly signed a three-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow.