Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 24, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 24, 2021

​Check out the latest on Jack Eichel and Vitali Kravtsov plus updates on the Coyotes in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Jack Eichel could consider filing a grievance through the NHL Players Association to force a resolution to his standoff with the Buffalo Sabres. He speculates that could happen within the next couple of weeks if he’s not traded before then.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s been sidelined since March with a herniated disc in his neck. He wants to undergo artificial disc replacement surgery but Sabres doctors prefer neck fusion. The NHL CBA gives the team the final say on medical treatment. The 24-year-old center requested a trade but this stalemate has complicated efforts to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The subject of a grievance was raised by Friedman and others last week. Most observers doubt that move will go Eichel’s way because the CBA gives the Sabres’ the last word on his medical treatment.

Jeff Marek reports New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury seeks a top prospect in exchange for unhappy winger Vitali Kravtsov, who recently returned home to Russia awaiting a trade. Marek said Drury isn’t budging from that asking price right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Rangers off to a terrific start, Drury can set that price because he’s under no pressure to move Kravtsov right now. That might change if injuries start depleting the Rangers’ depth. Ryan Strome (COVID protocol) and Kaapo Kakko (upper-body injury) are currently out of the lineup but that hasn’t adversely affected the club’s performance.

Drury could also set that price knowing no one will pay it. That could force Kravtsov to have a change of heart and return to the Rangers.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently took note of the Arizona Coyotes using Phil Kessel on their top power-play unit instead of defenseman Jakob Chychrun. They could be showcasing the 34-year-old winger for a trade but could also be trying to get him up to speed after missing all of training camp and preseason play with an injured foot. Morgan also observed 15 scouts who attended the Coyotes’ recent game against the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel will be moved at some point before the March 21 trade deadline. A free agent next July, he doesn’t fit into their long-term plans and he wants a change of scenery. Trading him early in the season, however, will be difficult.

The Coyotes carry $6.8 million of his $8 million cap hit. Even with $5 million of his actual $6 million salary for this season paid out in a signing bonus, few clubs have sufficient room to add his cap hit at this point in the season.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports Coyotes center Barrett Hayton also came up in trade speculation this week. The fifth-overall selection in the 2018 draft, Hayton is currently playing for the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate in Tucson.

Hayton’s agent Pat Morris shot down rumors his client asked for a trade. Marek said it looks like he’ll be staying with the Coyotes as head coach Andre Tourigny thinks highly of him. Tourigny made Hayton the captain of Team Canada at the 2020 World Juniors.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

Growing speculation over Marc Bergevin’s future as Canadiens general manager plus updates on Vitali Kravtsov and Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THIS SEASON BE MARC BERGEVIN’S LAST AS CANADIENS GM?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Marc Bergevin said in a “perfect world” he’d like to remain general manager of the Canadiens beyond this season during an impromptu press conference. He’s in the final year of his contract. The lack of details regarding an extension is generating speculation over his future.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL.com).

Stu Cowan believes Bergevin’s answer makes it look like money and/or term are the sticking points in his talks with Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson. “It also makes it look like he won’t be back in Montreal next year,” said Cowan.

A recent report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggested Bergevin could join the Los Angeles Kings next summer. Despite his apparent lame-duck status, Bergevin insists he remains in charge and as always will run significant decisions by Molson. The club has declined to comment on his contract status.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas noted Bergevin doesn’t intend to shake up his struggling roster simply for the sake of doing so. “I don’t feel the need. It has nothing to do with cap space, it has to do with the group we have,” he said. The Habs GM felt they have some “pretty good hockey players that aren’t playing up to their potential.”

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently noted there are rumors claiming Molson has tabbed Patrick Roy as a potential replacement for Bergevin. He also pointed out Bergevin reportedly had a chance to re-sign with the Canadiens this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were reports this summer of Molson tabling a contract offer to Bergevin but negotiations didn’t get too far after that. The Canadiens 0-4-0 start only fueled the conjecture over Bergevin’s future and the possibility he could be replaced. His recent comments, however, should put to rest talk that he was growing weary of life in the Montreal fishbowl.

Bergevin’s future will remain a hot topic if the Canadiens continue to struggle this season. Even if they right the ship and become a playoff contender, questions about his future (and speculation over his potential successor) will continue to surface in the media.

LATEST ON VITALI KRAVTSOV AND DYLAN STROME

THE ATHLETIC: On Tuesday, Arthur Staple reported Vitali Kravtsov remains in Russia, unwilling to return to North America unless the New York Rangers trade him, according to two league sources. The cause of the dispute is said to be Kravtsov butting heads with Rangers GM Chris Drury since their time with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford two years ago.

Staple said sources indicate a few NHL teams have inquired about Kravtsov, more to get an understanding of the situation than to inquire about the Rangers’ asking price. A move doesn’t appear imminent.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the real reason Kravtsov wants out isn’t because of his relationship with Drury. Instead, he believes he won’t crack the roster because of the Rangers’ forward depth.

Brooks reports a handful of teams have expressed “lukewarm interest” in Kravtsov but there aren’t any offers on the table. The Rangers, meanwhile, were contacted by the Chicago Blackhawks about Dylan Strome (younger brother of Blueshirts center Ryan Strome) but Brooks doesn’t link that to Kravtsov’s situation.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos reported as many as 15 teams have inquired about Kravtsov. Among them are the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of the winger’s reason for wanting out of New York, it doesn’t appear a trade is coming in the near future. However, that could change with one phone call by an interested club.

The asking price for Kravtsov could be a second-round pick. He also carries an affordable $925K cap hit for this season. That would in part explain the interest from teams with limited cap space (Flames, Jets) and rebuilding clubs like the Senators.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the struggling Blackhawks aren’t doing themselves or Dylan Strome any favors by keeping him out of the lineup. He felt it could also hurt his trade value, though his exclusion from the lineup could be to avoid an injury while trade discussions are taking place.

Pope said the Anaheim Ducks have long had an interest in Strome as a young playmaker who could help their rebuild. The Senators were linked to the 23-year-old center, while the Canadiens, Rangers and Minnesota Wild all need help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keeping Strome on the sidelines to avoid an injury that could derail trade talks makes sense. However, interested parties could prefer scouting his performance in game action before committing to a deal.

We know the Rangers made an inquiry thanks to Larry Brooks’ aforementioned report. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators kicked tires on Strome this summer but he felt they’ve since moved on. No indication thus far if the Ducks, Canadiens and Wild are seriously pursuing Strome.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Travis Hamonic, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO CONTRACT TERMINATION FOR EVANDER KANE

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the San Jose Sharks cannot terminate Evander Kane’s contract due to his 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He cites two sources as saying the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) doesn’t allow them to do so.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he doesn’t believe the league sought to terminate the contract and the NHL Players Association would have fought it.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston and Friedman wondered what happens with Kane once his suspension ends in late November. They agree that a trade is pretty much unlikely right now.

Will he be welcomed back by his teammates or has his behavior since last season irreparable damaged their relationship? If so, will management bury him in the minors or tell him to just stay home? That’s something they’ll have to sort out with Kane once he serves his suspension.

UPDATE ON TRAVIS HAMONIC

TSN: Pierre LeBrun noted the void Travis Hamonic’s absence leaves on the Vancouver Canucks blueline. The 31-year-old defenseman is currently on what the club is calling a temporary leave of absence for personal reasons. They currently intend to stick with the rearguards they have while remaining hopeful Hamonic will return at some point this season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Canucks placed Hamonic on a leave of absence because a suspension is a road no one is willing to travel. He cites sources saying there’s more to this situation than meets the eye, which is why the club is remaining patient

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change, however, if there’s no change in Hamonic’s status and his absence becomes an ongoing issue on the ice.

RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

Elliotte Friedman cites Al Morganti stirring things up last week by suggesting Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux would be happy to play for the Ottawa Senators. There were rumors about the two clubs talking this summer but Friedman looked into it and got multiple denials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of Giroux moving this season, Morganti said the only place he could see him willingly go to was Ottawa, where he resides in the offseason. He was only referring to a hypothetical situation where the Flyers shop Giroux if they’re unable to re-sign him before the March 21 trade deadline. As I noted yesterday, that will depend on whether the Flyers are sellers by that point, if Giroux is willing to waive his full no-movement clause to facilitate a trade, and if the Senators are in a position to acquire a big-name player as a playoff rental.

Keep an eye on the Anaheim Ducks over the course of this season. Ryan Getzlaf, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell are all unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Friedman doesn’t get the sense contract extensions are close in any case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf has a full no-movement clause in his one-year contract. However, he said last season he’d accept a trade if the return would help the Ducks. The others lack his full no-trade protection.

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant personally called winger Vitali Kravtsov hoping to convince him to return. The young winger is back in Russia but several teams say they’ve been told he wants to play somewhere in the NHL where he’ll get a fresh start. He indicated the Rangers seek a high price for the 2018 first-rounder but there’s definite interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate as to what that high price might be. TSN’s Chris Johnston last week speculated it could be a return comparable to what the Rangers got from the Los Angeles Kings (second-round pick) in the Lias Andersson trade. Andersson was another first-round pick who didn’t pan out for the Blueshirts.

The Ottawa Senators will ask real value for Erik Brannstrom from teams calling about him. The 21-year-old defenseman still hasn’t landed a full-time roster spot but the Senators recognize his talent.

Friedman also touched on the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain salary in a Jack Eichel trade and how much Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg is seeking on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman spoke about those during Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast and were duly noted in last Sunday’s NHL Rumor Roundup.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2021

Check out the latest on Phil Kessel, Dylan Strome and Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GOPHXN.COM: Craig Morgan reports it’s no secret Phil Kessel wants to be traded. He also indicated the Arizona Coyotes are “working feverishly to grant his wish.”

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Kessel missed all of the preseason but was “largely unnoticeable” during the Coyotes’ season-opening loss to Columbus. Head coach Andre Tourigny noted the 34-year-old winger was behind his teammates in that game because of his absence from the preseason with an injured foot. “Phil’s track record speaks for itself,” he said, indicating his staff intends to give him some slack as he adjusts to their new system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once Kessel gets his game up to speed he should have good value in the trade market closer to the March 21 trade deadline. Most teams currently can’t afford to take on the $6.8 million of his $8 million salary-cap hit that the Coyotes carry unless they’re willing to retain a healthy chunk of it to facilitate a trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus believes Dylan Strome won’t be with the Chicago Blackhawks for much longer. He’s now their 14th forward and they can’t send him to the minors because they know he won’t clear waivers.

The 24-year-old center can’t seem to crack the lineup with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Johnson in the way. Head coach Jeremy Colliton lacks faith in his defensive game to put him in a bottom-six role.

Blackhawks management is listening to trade offers for Strome, which they’ve been doing since last season’s trade deadline. Lazerus, however, believes they should retain him as insurance in case something happens with Toews or Dach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot could also depend on the Blackhawks’ performance through the early going. They could hang onto Strome if they continue playing as poorly as they did through their first three games, inserting him into the lineup to shake things up. If they turn things around while he remains a healthy scratch, that could make it easier for management to ship him out.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov has returned to Russia after refusing to report to their AHL affiliate in Hartford last week. It appears the Rangers are seeking a trade for the 21-year-old forward, who was also unhappy over where he’s been playing in the lineup during his brief tenure with the Blueshirts. Head coach Gerard Gallant said general manager Chris Drury is in regular contact with Kravtsov’s agent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Kravtsov accepted the assignment to Hartford he’d be back in the Rangers’ lineup now because of the recent injury to second-line right wing Kaapo Kakko. Speculation suggests the Rangers could seek a second-round pick for him in the trade market. 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Islanders could be in the market for a defenseman this season, the Blackhawks could try to shed salary and an update on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN: Emily Kaplan last night reported there was “serious optimism” last Thursday that a Jack Eichel trade was imminent but things fell quiet. She said there are five teams still interested in the Buffalo Sabres center that can fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary-cap payrolls.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Maybe that means moving some contracts or whatever,” said Kaplan. She also said those teams have agreed to allow Eichel to have the disc replacement surgery he seeks.

The preferred option is he’s traded, gets the procedure done and returns to action in three-to-four months. The other, which nobody wants, is he files a grievance but he might not have a case because of the CBA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication from Kaplan as to who those five clubs might be. As per Cap Friendly, teams with lots of cap space and sufficient assets in prospects and promising young talent to acquire Eichel could include the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators. The Arizona Coyotes could also be a fit if they shed a bit of salary. Those clubs could use an established first-line center but that doesn’t mean they’re all in the hunt for Eichel.

TSN:  Pierre LeBrun believes the Ducks could be one of the destinations for Eichel, as they could make do with his absence from the lineup during his recovery. He also thinks the St. Louis Blues could be lurking though they want to be a contender this year.

The Calgary Flames did their due diligence on Eichel this summer. LeBrun also suggested the San Jose Sharks as he wondered what could happen with winger Evander Kane. If Kane ends up coming off their books they would suddenly have $7 million in cap space.

LeBrun points out pulling off an Eichel trade remains tricky based on the conditions that would be tied to his health following his surgery. His long recovery would also be another complicating factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $12.9 million in cap space, the Ducks are best-suited of the clubs mentioned by LeBrun to absorb his full contract. They also have depth in promising young players and prospects to draw upon for trade bait though I doubt they’ll want to part with Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Mason McTavish.

The Blues are already in LTIR country and aren’t a fit unless they can move Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 million cap hit. The Flames are pressed against the $81.5 million cap so it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out to pull that off. That might mean moving Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan or Matthew Tkachuk to the Sabres or another club in a separate deal to make the dollars fit.

If Kane ends up suspended by the league as a result of one or both investigations he’s currently under it might be grounds for the Sharks to terminate his contract. I don’t see how they can trade him given his off-ice issues. Otherwise, they’re also not a fit for Eichel.

THE ATHLETIC: Earlier this week, Arthur Staple speculated the New York Islanders’ decision not to sign Erik Gustafsson suggests general manager Lou Lamoriello could prefer waiting until later in the season to invest assets in acquiring a defenseman. He believed Lamoriello looked into the status of Anaheim Ducks blueliner Hampus Lindholm, who’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. He might’ve also inquired about Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple published this before Ekholm signed his contract extension with the Predators, taking him out of this season’s trade market. He also noted the Isles have their first-round pick in next year’s draft and not much else to offer up as trade bait. However, he felt Lamoriello’s “willing to throw in for help” while the Isles might be best positioned to win the Stanley Cup this season.

DAILY FACEOFF’s Frank Seravalli took to Twitter yesterday reporting the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Andrew Shaw’s contract. He’s on permanent LTIR with an annual average value of $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: PuckPedia explained trading Shaw’s contract would allow the Blackhawks to become salary-cap compliant once sidelined Caleb Jones returns to action. It would also allow them to accrue cap space later in the season plus save some cash.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2021

An update on Vladimir Tarasenko, the Bruins could be close to re-signing Charlie McAvoy, Blackhawks GM addresses the Dylan Strome trade speculation, and more on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli advises keeping an eye on Vladimir Tarasenko’s start with the St. Louis Blues. While both sides are playing nice and saying the right things, the 29-year-old winger “still strongly desires a trade”, said Seravalli.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Tarasenko has let it be known he’s fully recovered from the surgeries on his right shoulder. Whether he can regain his 30-goal form is another matter. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million. If he gets off to a hot start, Seravalli believes a trade could materialize.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of the Anaheim Ducks acquiring Tarasenko, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens cited the winger’s health and contract as significant sticking points. He also pointed out the Blues won’t be moving him for pennies on the dollar. Those issues are likely shared by general managers with a potential interest in the winger’s services but leery about making the investment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins president Cam Neely suggested a new contract for Charlie McAvoy could be in the works. He said management has been working closely with the 23-year-old defenseman’s representatives in recent days. He’s hopeful of a new deal “in short order”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty believes it’ll be a long-term deal comparable to those in the $9 million per season range signed this summer by several top young defensemen. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be an eight-year contract with a hefty salary though not one in double-digits. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun cautions nothing is imminent as there’s still some work to be done by both sides.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman attempted to downplay trade rumors swirling about Dylan Strome. He struggled to find a regular spot among their forward lines and was a healthy scratch for their season-opening loss last night to the Colorado Avalanche. Roumeliotis believes it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks try to give the 24-year-old center a fresh start with another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistency and injuries hampered Strome over the past two seasons. He’s proved he can play well when skating alongside talented wingers. Perhaps a club seeking depth at center will take a chance on him. He signed through this season with an annual average value of $3 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reported a source informed him Vitali Kravtsov’s demotion by the New York Rangers to their AHL affiliate in Hartford had nothing to do with him being waiver-exempt. Instead, it was based on his mediocre performance during training camp, the lower-body injury that cost him part of camp and preseason play, and the belief of GM Chris Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant that the winger needed more developmental time.

Kravtsov has been suspended by the Rangers for his unwillingness to report to the minors and his agent has been given permission to speak to other clubs about a trade. Carpiniello also indicated the young winger at times butted heads with Drury during 2019-20 in Hartford.