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.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2018

Latest on Mitch Marner’s contract situation, Brian Dumoulin and David Schlemko injured, Al Montoya on waivers, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE SCORE: Darren Ferris, the agent for Mitch Marner, said Friday he’s had some productive discussions regarding a contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, if an agreement isn’t reached by the start of the season, they’ll renew talks next summer. Marner is in the final season of his entry-level contract. 

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner willing to wait until next summer to talk contract. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs are waiting to see how much it costs to get restricted free agent William Nylander under contract before sending proposals to Marner and Auston Matthews, who’s also in the final year of his ELC. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin suffered an upper-body injury during Friday’s preseason game against the New Jersey Devils. Head coach Mike Sullivan hopes to have more information on Dumoulin’s status later today. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed goaltender Al Montoya on waivers yesterday for the purpose of assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are opting to go with inexperienced Mikko Koskinen as Cam Talbot’s backup. While Koskinen’s preseason numbers (10 goals on 69 shots, .885 save percentage) haven’t been good, he has a no-movement clause preventing his demotion. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Bad news for oft-sidelined Canadiens defenseman David Schlemko, as he’ll miss about six weeks because of an injured knee. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils claimed forward Jean-Sebastien Dea off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2018

Jets and Capitals net thrilling Game 3 victories, Senators retaining their coaching staff and Hurricanes hire new senior VP of hockey ops. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Nashville Predators 7-4 in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Jets erupted for four unanswered second-period goals, including two by Dustin Byfuglien. Predators forward Filip Forsberg tied the game in the third but the Jets replied with three more goals (two by Blake Wheeler) for the win. Paul Stastny also collected three points for Winnipeg. Game 4 is slated for Thursday night with the Jets leading the series 2-1.

Blake Wheeler tallied the game-winning goal in the Winnipeg Jets’ 7-4 victory in Game 3 against the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images)

Alex Ovechkin scored with 67 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of their second-round match-up. Washington leads the series two games to one. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected three assists while Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins.

For the second straight game, Capitals winger Tom Wilson had another controversial hit on a Penguins player, leaving forward Zach Aston-Reese with a broken jaw and a concussion. In Game 2, Wilson knocked Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin out of the contest, though he returned to play in Game 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Odd-man rushes are killing the Penguins while sloppy defensive play has been the Predators’ undoing. As for Wilson, it remains to be seen if he’ll face any supplemental discipline. No penalty was called for his hit on Aston-Reese. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE BOSTON GLOBE: Undersized forwards Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson came up big for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Game 2 win over the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is looking for a better forecheck and puck possession from his secondary forwards. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL/THE MERCURY NEWS: The Vegas Golden Knights jokingly refer to themselves as the “Golden Misfits” to create a sense of camaraderie. As for their second-round opponent, the San Jose Sharks will be without winger Joonas Donskoi (lower-body injury) for Game 3 tonight. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That “Golden Misfits” nickname provides some insight into why the Vegas players bonded so quickly into a strong team during their inaugural season. Left exposed by their former clubs in last year’s expansion draft, they have an “us against the world” mentality. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday announced head coach Guy Boucher and his staff will return next season. The club’s struggles in 2017-18 prompted some speculation of possible coaching changes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After this season’s difficulties, Boucher and company must change their system if they wish to remain with the Sens beyond 2018-19.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes named Rick Dudley as their senior vice-president of hockey operations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good hire by the Hurricanes, as Dudley has decades of front-office experience. This move should help to muffle the questions being raised of late over the club’s inability to find a new general manager. 

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers reached an agreement with KHL goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a one-year, $2.5-million contract. The deal will be officially signed on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koskinen will spend next season backing up Cam Talbot. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Russ Brandon resigned yesterday as managing partner and president of the Pegula sports empire, which includes the Buffalo Sabres.