NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

What’s next for the Canadiens after trading Shea Weber to the Golden Knights? Should the Flyers shop Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS FOLLOWING THE WEBER TRADE?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my thoughts on the Montreal Canadiens shipping Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov on June 16.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is still listening to trade offers for Jeff Petry. The 34-year-old defenseman has three more seasons on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million.

RDS.CA: Hughes was asked about Petry during his video conference announcing the Weber trade on Thursday evening. “There is no imminent transaction,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen before the draft.”

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

Hughes also said he’s had several calls from rival general managers expressing interest in Josh Anderson. While admitting he’s always willing to listen to offers, he has no plans to trade the 28-year-old winger. Anderson’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Canadiens still have over $80 million invested in 19 players for 2022-23 following the Weber trade with promising restricted free agents like Alexander Romanov and Rem Pitlick to sign. There’s little they can do to clear sufficient cap room to pursue big-ticket talent in this summer’s free-agent market.

Engels expects Petry will be traded but Hughes indicated he’s not going to part with futures to make it happen. Despite the interest in Anderson, there’s no urgency for the Canadiens GM to move him.

Hughes also indicated he likely won’t have clarity on Carey Price’s status until close to training camp or possibly afterward. He intends to proceed with his offseason business as though Price will be on his active roster.

Engels also speculated forwards Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin could be moved this offseason. If they’re not, the Canadiens will gain extra cap flexibility next summer when they become unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s apparent Hughes intends to move Petry. There’s been recent speculation linking the blueliner to several clubs, including the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether he ends up with those teams remains to be seen.

The Habs GM intends to be patient to find the right deal for Petry. Considering the moves he’s made thus far (Weber on Thursday, Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak before the trade deadline), the return must either fetch the Canadiens an affordable player who can help their roster or futures such as draft picks and prospects.

Anderson is the Canadiens’ best trade chip if Hughes is willing to move him. However, he’ll have to receive an offer that’s too good to refuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anderson’s still wearing a Habs jersey when the 2022-23 season begins.

Drouin and Byron could draw some interest but their respective injury histories could make them difficult to move. Then again, Hughes found a trade partner to take Weber’s hefty salary-cap hit off his hands. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him finding a taker for either guy.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently suggested the Canadiens look into acquiring Martin Necas if he no longer fits into the Carolina Hurricanes’ plans. The 23-year-old forward became the subject of trade speculation after a disappointing season amid rumors of a possible rift with Hurricanes’ coach Rod Brind’Amour. He’s completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might not be a bad idea to look into Necas’ availability. However, the Hurricanes have some cap issues of their own to deal with.

Cap Friendly indicates they have $19.4 million in cap room and key players such as Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter and Tony DeAngelo are in need of new contracts. They probably won’t want to take back much salary unless the return is an affordable replacement for one of those three.

SHOULD THE FLYERS TRADE PROVOROV OR KONECNY?

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Flyers’ reported signing of head coach John Tortorella, Sam Carchidi suggested it may be time for them to trade Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny. He believes they should use either guy to pursue high draft picks and rising young players to restock their prospect pipeline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carchidi did go on to say perhaps a coach like Tortorella could do a better job bringing out the best in players like Provorov and Konecny. I think that’s what the Flyers’ front office is counting on having gone out and hired “Torts”.

That doesn’t mean Provorov or Konecny wouldn’t be traded if the right offer was made in the coming weeks. However, it seems to me that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher still believes this club can turn things around with the right guidance behind the bench.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

More conjecture on the Bruins’ offseason plans, the latest speculation linking the Senators to Kevin Fiala, and which troublesome contracts the Coyotes could target in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes finding a center and holding firm on Jake DeBrusk could be among the priorities of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, assuming he’s signed to a contract extension.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

The need for a center will become more urgent if captain Patrice Bergeron retires when his contract expires in July. There’s no one within their system who can step up and adequately replace him, plus they still haven’t fully addressed David Krejci’s departure last summer.

DeBrusk signed a two-year contract extension in March. While his play improved down the stretch and in the playoffs, he hasn’t withdrawn the trade request made in November. Shinzawa believes Sweeney won’t be quick to move DeBrusk if he still wants out.

Shinzawa includes Bergeron among his list of Bruins he believes will depart this summer. He thinks the 36-year-old center is confirming to himself that it’s time to retire.

Nick Foligno, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly and Craig Smith are among Shinzawa’s list of trade candidates, though he acknowledged a buyout seems more likely for Foligno. He also recommended trading star winger David Pastrnak if there’s any sense of uncertainty over whether he’ll sign a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could retire and go out while still among the league’s elite players (especially if he wins the Selke Trophy this year) would cap a fine Hall-of-Fame career. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns for another season to buy the Bruins some time to find a suitable replacement or at least bolster their depth at center.

Pastrnak becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. He loves playing in Boston and the Bruins obviously hope to retain him past 2023. However, Bergeron’s possible retirement and the club’s direction could leave him thinking carefully over his future. He’d be among the top players in the 2023 UFA market and would land a lucrative long-term deal. It’ll be interesting to see how his situation plays out.

There’s speculation the Bruins would welcome back Krejci if he felt like returning to the NHL next season. So far, however, there’s no indication he’s planning a comeback in Boston or anywhere else. As for DeBrusk, he said he hasn’t given much thought to his request but will spend some time considering it over the offseason before making a decision.

COULD THE SENATORS PURSUE FIALA?

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes examined the pros and cons of the Ottawa Senators pursuing Kevin Fiala if the Minnesota Wild put the 25-year-old wing on the trade block.

The asking price could be the Senators’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft plus an affordable center or backup goaltender. A downside would be Fiala’s next contract as he could come in between $7.5 million and $8 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan recently suggested Fiala would check a lot of boxes as a fit with the Senators, though he also pointed out his next contract will be expensive. He also suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny as another option, carrying three more years on his contract with a $5.5 million annual average value. He’s also familiar with Ottawa having played his junior hockey with the OHL’s 67s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the expense of Fiala’s next contract, he will draw lots of interest if the Wild decide to peddle him. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported several teams believe Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin will find a way to keep Fiala. If he can’t, Friedman mentioned the Senators, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings as potential trade destinations.

Konecny could be a viable alternative for the Senators if they’re in the market for a scoring winger and lose out on Fiala. He lacks no-trade protection and the Senators have promising young prospects that could tempt Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. That will depend on how much tinkering Fletcher intends to do with his roster this summer and whether he sees Konecny as a trade chip or part of the club’s long-term plans.

WHICH TOXIC CONTRACTS COULD THE COYOTES TARGET?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently looked at 31 NHL teams’ troublesome contracts the Arizona Coyotes could target in their quest to add more draft picks and prospects this summer. His suggested options include the Montreal Canadiens’ Shea Weber, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Petr Mrazek, San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc, New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey and the Philadelphia Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed many other notables, including the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Boston Bruins’ Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan, the Florida Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky and the San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Those players, however, have full or partial no-trade clauses and probably won’t waive them to go to the Coyotes.

Weber, Labanc, Bailey and van Riemsdyk, however, lack no-trade protection and would be prime cost-cutting candidates. Mrazek has a partial no-trade clause but might accept a trade to the Coyotes if he knows he doesn’t have a future with the Leafs.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

A look at some of the notable off-season issues facing the Canucks and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance took note of Vancouver Canucks hockey operations president Jim Rutherford’s willingness to play contract hardball with popular head coach Bruce Boudreau. Rutherford told a season-ending press conference yesterday that the team would like to bring the bench boss back on his current contract rather than on an extension. Boudreau’s current deal has an option for next season which he can opt out of by June 1.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau (NHL.com)

Drance suggested it was a risky move by Rutherford. He pointed out Boudreau’s coaching stock is sky-high right now following the fine work he did in reverse the Canucks’ sinking fortunes when he took over from Travis Green last December. The Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights are two possible destinations if Boudreau decides to leave.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out in this morning’s headlines update, Rutherford’s decision gives the impression he’d prefer to bring in a coach of his own choice. He inherited Boudreau, who was hired three days prior.

Rutherford said the Canucks want to bring Boudreau back and the latter has indicated he’d like to stay in Vancouver. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It’s now up to Boudreau.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that J.T. Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett said his client has made re-signing with Vancouver one of his goals. He wants to help the club go forward and would be happy to sign a contract extension this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. He’s a year away from UFA status and coming off a career-best 99-point season.

Miller is in line for a substantial raise over his $5.25 million annual cap hit. Whether a suitable agreement can be found with a Canucks management looking to bring in younger and affordable talent should ensure the 29-year-old center remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is hoping to replicate his 2019 offseason success this summer. Back then, Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault as head coach, acquired and signed center Kevin Hayes, swapped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen and acquired Justin Braun to bolster the blueline. He also traded down in the first round of the 2019 draft to select Cam York and used an extra second-round pick to select promising Bobby Brink.

Following that blueliner, O’Connor believes Fletcher will attempt one big acquisition, more of a traditional hockey trade (player-for-player) and a smaller buy using B-tier assets. He’ll also need to hire a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Connor also speculates that Fletcher will look toward a healthy Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier and the improvement of key players between 23 and 26 already on the roster. He’ll also look to the incoming prospects (like Brink) to further improve their depth.

One big problem for Fletcher is the Flyers’ limited cap space for 2022-23. O’Connor pointed out they have about $8.9 million to address their roster issues. He anticipates that will shrink to $5 million once they re-sign restricted free agents like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost and Zack MacEwen.

That’s prompted recent speculation suggesting defenseman Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million through 2024-25) or winger Travis Konecny ($5.5 million) could become trade bait. One of them could be swapped for a player with a comparable salary or shed in a cost-cutting deal to free up cap space to pursue free-agent talent.

Whatever Fletcher does this summer, he has to avoid repeating his miscues of the last two offseasons. His moves must at least turn the Flyers back into playoff contenders again. Otherwise, he could find himself unemployed by this time next year.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

A look at five players on non-postseason contenders with something to play for down the stretch in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DAILY FACEOFF: Phil Kessel and Travis Konecny are two of the five players on non-playoff clubs that Matt Larkin believes still have something to play for over the remaining weeks of this regular season.

Kessel sits second on the all-time consecutive games-played list with 971. He won’t catch Keith Yandle’s record of 989 but he could reach 982 by season’s end if he stays in the lineup.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s pursuit of the NHL Ironman record isn’t a rumor, but it could play a part in his efforts to find a new club after this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and the Coyotes aren’t expected to bring him back.

Kessel’s best seasons are behind him but the 34-year-old right winger sits third on the low-scoring Coyotes with 44 points and is their leader with 37 assists. Those are respectable numbers and could make him enticing as an affordable short-term free-agent signing by a playoff contender this summer.

Konecny, meanwhile, has struggled over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s difficult to judge the 25-year-old winger’s performance when the entire club has underachieved. Larkin’s colleague Frank Seravalli reported Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had spoken with other clubs about Konecny. While no deals materialized before the trade deadline, the groundwork may be laid for an offseason move. His performance over the remainder of this season could determine his fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s contract could also become a factor in whether he’s traded this summer. He carries an annual average value of $5.5 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor recently suggested he could become a trade candidate if Fletcher decides to shake up the roster core this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic’s inconsistent play this season saw him become the subject of trade rumors. A restricted free agent this summer, the final weeks of this season could give him an opportunity to show the Jackets that he’s worth retaining. Larkin speculates he could accept the Jackets’ qualifying offer in the hope of improving his value next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic had six points in 10 games leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. He had a four-point performance Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings (including a hat trick) but that’s accounted for most of the six points he’s had in the 10 games since deadline day.

Dylan Strome’s erratic production frequently surfaced in trade chatter this season. However, the 25-year-old center has 22 points in his last 17 games since being moved to the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat at the start of March. If he continues playing well with those two it could earn him a multi-year extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Blackhawks could also try to trade Strome this summer while his value is up.

Larkin also wondered what the future could hold for Erik Brannstrom as the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman attempts to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. A solid effort down the stretch could earn him a bridge deal with the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin observed Thomas Chabot’s season-ending hand injury has opened the door for Brannstrom. He’s been paired with Artem Zub and is seeing regular top-four minutes. However, the addition of top prospect Jake Sanderson could make Brannstrom’s future in Ottawa an uncertain one.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some potential offseason trade candidates for the Flyers plus the latest on Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to offload James van Riemsdyk in order to shed some salary this summer. He noted the club needs to free up cap space to make additions in the offseason, pointing out the 32-year-old winger is a $7 million player whose production has regressed.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).

Finding takers for van Riemsdyk won’t be easy. The Flyers could be forced to add a sweetener to make him more enticing in the trade market. It might be easier if they retain half of his salary though it means only saving $3.5 million. A contract buyout won’t clear the full $7 million from their books next season.

Cam Atkinson could be a sell-high trade option given his bounce-back performance this season. However, O’Connor senses the Flyers could prefer retaining him. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim could also be cost-cutting options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk has one year left on his contract. So does the 26-year-old Sanheim at $4.675 million. Konecny, 25, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.5 million while the 25-year-old Provorov carries a $6.75 million AAV for three more seasons.

As O’Connor observed, those younger players would have more trade value than van Riemsdyk. Depending on this summer’s trade market, those guys probably won’t have to be packaged with someone else or have salary retained to move them.

That’s not to suggest van Riemsdyk can’t be moved this summer. He lacks no-trade protection and will carry an actual salary of $4 million next season after the Flyers pay his $1 million signing bonus. A club seeking to reach the cap floor next season could have an interest in him, provided the Flyers include a draft pick or a prospect in the deal.

SPORTSNET: In his recent “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported the Nashville Predators were among the teams interested in Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Predators will revisit their interest in Kessel this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? The 34-year-old winger should prove to be an affordable signing at this stage in his career.

Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres would like to bring back 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson for 2022-23. The club is willing to wait on his timetable and see how he feels after this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2021

Check out the latest Flyers and Bruins speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLYERS COULD SOON FACE SOME TOUGH DECISIONS.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi believes it could be time for Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher to make some tough decisions if his club falls out of playoff contention. They’re mired in a lengthy losing skid and losing ground in the postseason race.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

One of those decisions could involve shopping captain Claude Giroux. The 34-year-old Flyers forward is their leading scorer and still has something left in the tank. He’s also slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Carchidi believes Giroux could fetch a solid return if shopped before the March 21 trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox also speculated on some of those difficult decisions facing Fletcher. He wondered if Giroux would agree to waive his no-movement clause. Fox noted Elliotte Friedman mentioning Giroux on the Jeff Marek Show. “I’ve wondered about him going to Ottawa before,” said Friedman, who also pondered the possibility of the Flyers perhaps shaking up their core again after having done so in the offseason.

Fox felt any number of options could be on the table for the Flyers, including shopping winger Travis Konecny. While that would be a bold move, he also felt it would be a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher recently spoke about being patient with the lineup but I think he’ll soon reach the stage where he’ll have to do something to shake this club out of its doldrums. That could include replacing Alain Vigneault as head coach in hope of saving the season.

If that doesn’t work or if Fletcher doesn’t go that route, trades will be in the offing at some point if the club fails to reverse its fortunes. He could sit down with Giroux to determine where his captain sees his future and if it’s with a rebuilding club.

THE LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes it could take some time before Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney pulls the trigger on a Jake DeBrusk trade. The Bruins still need him in the lineup with Brad Marchand serving a three-game suspension plus their farm team in Providence is going through a COVID outbreak. He also pointed out Sweeney’s reputation for carefully considering trade offers and playing hardball for as long as he can.

Shinzawa also pointed out one of Sweeney’s preferences is clearing salary-cap space for Tuukka Rask. The play of current goalie tandem Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark has been the club’s other weakness besides its offensive production.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma took note of recent speculation linking the Vancouver Canucks to DeBrusk. He pointed to the Canucks’ limited cap space as a sticking point, suggesting it might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal to take on DeBrusk’s $3.675 million cap hit.

One option could be shopping Tanner Pearson, who’s in the first season of a three-year, $9.75 million contract. However, he has a no-trade clause for this season.

NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy believes the Bruins are keeping their crease warm for Tuukka Rask when he’s finally ready to return to action from offseason hip surgery. He’s currently training five days a week and could be ready in early January. Rask is an unrestricted free agent but has made no secret of his wish to sign with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask has also indicated he’s willing to accept an affordable one-year deal with the Bruins. Still, it would be worthwhile to clear sufficient cap space to sign him. However, it could also complicate efforts to swap DeBrusk for another middle-six forward.

DeBrusk has been linked to around a dozen teams. Most of those mentioned, like the Canucks, are cap-strapped clubs. Sweeney might have to focus on those with cap space to make a deal happen.