NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation and a look at possible goalie trade candidates this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked which club makes the most sense for the Buffalo Sabres to trade Jack Eichel to get the best return.

Assuming Eichel eventually gets healthy and returns to form, Duhatschek feels it’ll take a team willing to make a bold move in order for the Sabres to get full value for him. He rules out the Los Angeles Kings as too conservative and unwilling to part with prospect Quinton Byfield. Also ruled out are the Boston Bruins as there doesn’t appear to be a fit in salary or the player/draft choice combination heading the other way.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Duhatschek feels the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jarmo Kekalainen and the Minnesota Wild’s Bill Guerin are two general managers with the courage to wade into an Eichel deal. Both clubs need a genuine No. 1 center. He also considers the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks as long shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never with the Kings but I agree with Duhatschek’s take. Anze Kopitar is still their first-line center and the signing of Phillip Danault suggests they’re buying time until Byfield and Alex Turcotte are ready to join the roster on a full-time basis.

The Bruins certainly could use hometown boy Eichel but there just isn’t a fit there unless GM Don Sweeney gets very creative by bringing in a third team to pull off the swap. He could instead set his sights on a more affordable short-term option such as San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

I’ve also suggested the Blue Jackets as a destination. They have over $10 million in cap space, carry potentially two first-round picks in next year’s draft and have some promising players in their system (Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakhov, Liam Foudy) that could tempt the Sabres. Kekalainen has made bold moves in the past but I’m not sure he’s willing to pursue a big fish like Eichel.

The Wild’s cap space will shrink considerably once winger Kirill Kaprizov is under contract unless Guerin pulls a swerve and becomes willing to part with the young winger in a package for the Sabres’ center. While the Wild need a bonafide first-line center, I don’t think they’ll pursue Eichel.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving reportedly looked into an Eichel swap but it doesn’t appear things got too far. Unless Treliving intends on a dramatic roster shake-up this season I don’t see Calgary as a serious bidder. The Ducks have lots of cap space and promising youngsters such as Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale but GM Bob Murray probably won’t part with those guys.

Duhatschek was also asked which goaltenders could surface in the trade rumor mill by the Olympic break in February. He points out the Dallas Stars’ depth between the pipes could make them the first place to call, especially if Ben Bishop returns from knee surgery. He doesn’t see Jake Oettinger getting moved as he’s their future starter but Braden Holtby could be an affordable option.

Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo could also get moved. He and Elvis Merzlikins are unrestricted free agents next summer but Merzlikins is the better goalie. Others could include Detroit’s Thomas Greiss, Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Stars’ goalie situation shakes out. The uncertainty over Bishop’s career is why they brought in Holtby. They could go with him and Anton Khudobin as their tandem to start the season and send Oettinger down to the minors as he’s waiver-exempt. They could also put Khudobin on the trade block.

It’s expected the Blue Jackets will retain Merzlikins and move Korpisalo by the March trade deadline. It was assumed Korpisalo would get shopped this summer but that plan was shelved by the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks in July.

Greiss and Koskinen are UFAs this summer and could become rental players at the deadline. Quick, however, has another season on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. Given his age (35) and injury history, there might not be many takers for him.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 31, 2021

How will the Bruins cope without David Krejci? What’s going on with the Islanders and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HOW WILL THE BRUINS REPLACE KREJCI?

THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of David Krejci’s decision to finish his playing days in the Czech Republic, Fluto Shinzawa pondered how they could replace the 35-year-old second-line center.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

One option could be the trade market but Shinzawa rules out pursuing Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, citing their lack of cap space and Eichel’s health issues and hefty contract. Jake DeBrusk remains a trade asset but the dropoff in his performance last season makes him unlikely to fetch a second-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shinzawa reports the Bruins are about $1 million under the $81.5 million salary cap. While a trade is possible for a second-line center I wouldn’t be surprised if they start the season with Charlie Coyle replacing Krejci. And no, they’re not trading for Eichel.

Perhaps they’ll have an opportunity to add a short-term replacement before next year’s trade deadline. The pickings in the free-agent market are slim and none will suitably replace Krejci unless someone can find a fountain of youth for Joe Thornton or Eric Staal.

LATEST ISLANDERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple weighs in on the seeming inactivity of the New York Islanders since the start of free agency on Wednesday. He believes general manager Lou Lamoriello is keeping silent about his signings because he doesn’t want anyone in the league to know where the Isles are with their salary-cap space. He believes Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri have been signed, perhaps Casey Cizikas and maybe Travis Zajac but doesn’t know when we’ll know for sure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello employed the same tactic last fall with Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Cory Schneider. No surprise he’s doing it again.

Staple took note of a report by colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating the Islanders are believed in the mix for St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He doubts Anthony Beauvillier would be part of that deal, suggesting Josh Bailey as the likely trade candidate given the Isles left him exposed in the expansion draft. Perhaps Bailey packaged with a high draft pick and/or another asset might be enough to clear cap space to acquire Tarasenko (if the Blues pick up part of his $7.5 million cap hit) and leave enough to acquire a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple also mused about the Isles pursuing Seattle’s Vince Dunn, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler or Hampus Lindholm as a replacement for the departed Nick Leddy on their blueline.

Dunn, a restricted free agent, hasn’t been signed yet by the Kraken but I think that’s only a matter of time. The Predators are committed to re-signing Ekholm. Lindholm might be available but the Isles would have to part with a suitable package that fits the Ducks’ rebuilding scheme. Fowler, meanwhile, has a four-team trade list and the Isles might not be on it.

OILERS ATTEMPTING TO ACQUIRE KORPISALO?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports of rumors that have the Oilers offering up goaltender Mikko Koskinen (along with a first-round pick and/or prospect Dmitri Samorukov) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for netminder Joonas Korpisalo.

It’s hard to imagine how such a deal makes sense, as Korpisalo isn’t obviously a better goalie than Koskinen,” writes Staples. He believes the Oilers are better off with Mike Smith, Koskinen and Alex Stalock as their goalies to start the season and shop for a goalie if Koskinen and Stalock fail to cut it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couldn’t have said it better myself.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

Are the Oilers making progress in Nugent-Hopkins’ contract talks? Will they trade or buy out Mikko Koskinen or James Neal? Could Oscar Klefbom be exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Oilers general manager Jim Matheson faces a long to-do list this summer. Topping that list is signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay but Matheson wondered if Holland will go higher than $6 million per season or $5.5 million and over five years. He also feels the Oilers see him now as a top-six left-winger rather than a center and want to pay him as such.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson’s colleague David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming Nugent-Hopkins contract talks haven’t gone well and his status remains uncertain. They were apparently close to a deal before the season began but things fell apart at the last minute.

Plenty of time for the two sides to work things out. I’d get concerned, however, if they haven’t gotten any closer when the calendar flips to July. Nugent-Hopkins will draw plenty of interest around the league if he goes to market on July 28. Someone will pay him what he wants.

The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old goaltender Mike Smith. As for Mikko Koskinen, Matheson believes his return is less than 50-50. They might not buy out Koskinen but Matheson wondered if they’d absorb part of the goalie’s $4.5 million cap hit to facilitate a trade or include a player or draft pick to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples noted Friedman said buying out Koskinen was a possibility. He also cited NHL insider Brian Lawton telling Oilers Now show host Bob Stauffer the Oilers shouldn’t bring Koskinen back. However, Staples suggests finding a suitable replacement this summer won’t be easy.

Koskinen, 32, struggled at times this season and wasn’t a reliable backup for Smith. He has just one year left on his contract. I think Holland will try to trade him, even if it means eating some of his salary. Failing that, he’ll probably go the buyout route at a cap hit of $1.5 million for 2021-22 and 2022-23 as per Cap Friendly.

Turning to the blueline, Matheson wondered if Holland will leave Oscar Klefbom unprotected in the expansion draft. He’d be taking a chance on the Kraken being scared off by the defenseman’s season-long absence with a shoulder injury.

Pending UFA blueliner Tyson Barrie is looking at a long-term deal and will see what’s out there. Matheson expected Holland will re-sign Adam Larsson, perhaps around the same $4.1 million range of his current deal. The question is whether it’s three or four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign Darnell Nurse to a contract extension. He’s slated to become a UFA next summer but contact talks can begin this summer. If Klefbom is selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft it’ll free up $4.1 million from their cap payroll, giving Holland extra room to sign Nurse or make other moves.

Matheson considers it likely Holland will buy out veteran winger James Neal. Doing so would free up $3.83 million in each of the next two seasons to target an unrestricted free agent winger such as Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Toronto’s Zach Hyman. If Neal is bought out, Matheson sees him returning to Pittsburgh where he had his best seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector believes Holland should buy out Neal, considering him dead cap space already at $5.75 million annually and barely playing. It would count as $1.92 million over the next four years against the Oilers cap.

He also suggests Holland should explore trading Neal, absorbing half his salary for the final two years of his contract to make it work. However, he feels there would have to be something else included in the deal.

A trade is possible. A buyout is more likely. And no, he won’t be returning to Pittsburgh even if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin like him. He’s a fading star who won’t address the Penguins’ need for a better starting goalie and more skilled toughness in their lineup.

Matheson also suggested St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Vegas Golden Knights versatile forward Mattias Janmark and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth as possible free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland would have better luck landing Janmark and/or Nemeth than Schwartz. The Blues hope to re-sign him. Failing that, he’ll draw considerable interest in the free-agent market. The Oilers might not win a bidding war for his services.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2021

Are the Penguins facing a roster shakeup? What next for the Panthers following another early postseason exit? What could be in store for the Oilers this offseason? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PENGUINS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan wonders if the Pittsburgh Penguins will face a roster shakeup following their first-round elimination by the New York Islanders. Veteran core players Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have a year remaining on their respective contracts, with Malkin carrying a no-movement clause.

The Penguins risk losing a young depth forward such as Zach Aston-Reese, Jared McCann or possibly Kasperi Kapanen to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel also wonders about the futures of Malkin and Letang, as well as that of head coach Mike Sullivan.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Based on comments earlier this season by Brian Burke, the Penguins president of hockey operations, Vensel speculates they could try to bolster their goaltending while also adding some size and toughness to the lineup. The shaky performance of Tristan Jarry could send the Penguins into this summer’s trade and free-agent markets in search of help between the pipes.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille believes Jarry’s goaltending cost the Penguins the series. He wonders if they’ll move around some money to pursue a free agent such as Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark or look to the trade market for help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t need to blow up the roster but changes are necessary after three consecutive early postseason exits. Burke and general manager Ron Hextall will likely retool rather than rebuild, bringing in younger players to support their aging stars.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby isn’t in favor of breaking up the core. His opinion could carry some weight with Burke and Hextall but the final decisions rest with those two.

Crosby isn’t going anywhere and Malkin won’t be traded unless he requests it. The Penguins could shop Letang but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns. He also has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. He also carries a $7.25 million cap hit next season.

Goaltending is their weakness. Jarry was supposed to be an improvement over the departed Matt Murray but he couldn’t handle the pressure as a starter. Finding a suitably experienced starter will be top of the list, followed by adding more size and toughness.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PANTHERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan speculates the Florida Panthers could lose a good roster player to the Kraken in the expansion draft. It could be a forward such as Patric Hornqvist or Mason Marchment, a blueliner like Gustav Forsling, Radko Gudas or Markus Nuutivaara, or pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Dave Hyde pondered what promising goalie Spencer Knight’s performance in the final two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning means for Sergei Bobrovsky’s future in Florida. He wondered if general manager Bill Zito will try to move Bobrovsky this summer if someone is willing to take on the veteran netminder’s hefty contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers drafting Knight in the 2019 draft and signing Bobrovsky days later was a topic of recent amusement for some folks on social media. They conveniently overlook the fact that it was former Panthers GM Dale Tallon who made those moves. Zito was left with a headache.

Bobrovksky’s inconsistent play since joining the Panthers, his full no-movement clause and $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 makes him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season. As per Cap Friendly, a buyout will be an expensive long-term headache.

MORE OILERS SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doesn’t expect Oilers GM Ken Holland to go on a massive spending spree this summer to bolster his roster. While Holland will have $28 million in cap space, a portion will be spent on trying to re-sign pending UFAs Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie.

Matheson considers Larsson the cheapest and most likely to be re-signed. Nugent-Hopkins will be the most expensive while Barrie could be departing after a year in Edmonton because he’ll want a long-term deal.

Holland said he intends to bring back goaltender Mike Smith for another season. Matheson wonders if Mikko Koskinen will be traded, perhaps packaged with a draft pick or prospect to a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets for one of their young goalies.

Buyouts are also possible. Matheson believes James Neal to be the most likely candidate. Holland didn’t rule out trading a prospect such as Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg or Dylan Holloway for immediate help but he said he’s not doing that for a one-year player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could try to convince Nugent-Hopkins to accept slightly less than his current $6 million annual average value. If RNH signs elsewhere, Holland will use the savings to bring in a replacement via trade or free agency.

I like Matheson’s suggestion of packaging Koskinen to the Blue Jackets for Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo. Koskinen’s 15-team no-trade list, however, could be a sticking point if he doesn’t want to go to Columbus. Even then, the Jackets could get better offers for one of those goalies.










What’s Next For The Edmonton Oilers?

What’s Next For The Edmonton Oilers?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2019

Game recaps, Oilers re-sign Koskinen, Hurricanes re-up Teravainen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, giving head coach Peter Laviolette his 600th career NHL victory. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves, Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist, and Victor Arvidsson tallied his 10th goal of the month. 

Los Angeles Kings goaltender picked up his 302nd career victory in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images).

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 33 saves for his 302nd career victory in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Quick moved past Mike Richter into fourth place for American-born goalies on the all-time wins list. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli scored a goal and added an assist. 

Mikko Koivu tallied his 200th career goal and Eric Staal had a two-point night as the Minnesota Wild doubled up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Following the game, the Golden Knights traded little-used defenseman Brad Hunt and a sixth-round pick in 2019 to the Wild in exchange for the Wild’s fifth-rounder.

The Florida Panthers picked up their third straight win by beating the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Frank Vatrano had a goal and four assists while Aleksander Barkov collected three assists. The Sharks were playing without defenseman Erik Karlsson as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Karlsson will also miss the Sharks next game as well. 

HEADLINES

New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane were named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending January 20. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed winger Teuvo Teravainen to a five-year, $27-million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teravainen, 24, has steadily developed into a reliable offensive forward for the Hurricanes. He enjoyed a career-best performance (23 goals, 64 points) last season and could exceed those totals (10 goals, 39 points in 48 games) this season.

Skating alongside center Sebastian Aho, Tervainen sits second among Hurricanes scorers in assists (29), points (39) and power-play points (12). He’s earned this raise as he’s become one of the Hurricanes’ core players. It’s a reasonable contract for a young player whose best seasons could still be ahead of him. 

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5-million contract extension. The annual salary-cap hit is $4.5 million. In 27 games, the 30-year-old Koskinen has a record of 14-10-1, with a 2.78 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and three shutouts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Oilers fans are upset over this move and calling for general manager Peter Chiarelli to be fired. Despite Koskinen’s stats, he has been inconsistent at times this season. Nevertheless, he’s outperformed former starter Cam Talbot, whose days in Edmonton are likely numbered now. Koskinen’s contract isn’t outrageous and could provide some affordable stability between the pipes for the Oilers, though I also expect they could be in the market for a promising young netminder this summer. 

TSN.CA: The Oilers also placed forwards Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves could free up some salary-cap space for perhaps an upcoming addition via trade. We’ll see…

TORONTO SUN: Jake Gardiner (back spasms) could return to the Maple Leafs blueline for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goalie Craig Anderson is fed up with players crashing the crease and is calling on the league to crack down. Anderson recently returned to action after missing 11 games with a concussion. 

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets have hired NHL Hall-of-Famer Martin St. Louis as a special teams consultant.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former NHL player and coach George “Red” Sullivan passed away Saturday at his home in Peterborough, Ontario. He was 89.  Sullivan played for the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers from 1949-50 to 1960-61, tallying 107 goals and 346 points in 556 games. He coached the Rangers for four seasons (1962-63 to 1965-66), was the first coach in Pittsburgh Penguins history (1967-68 to 1968-69) and was the Washington Capitals’ bench boss as a midseason replacement in 1974-75.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sullivan’s family, friends, and former teammates.