Niklas Kronwall retires, Coyotes officially introduce Phil Kessel, the latest NHL CBA speculation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE DETROIT NEWS: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them with the Red Wings, defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement yesterday. He’ll stay with the team as a special advisor to general manager Steve Yzerman, who praised Kronwall as one of the best two-way blueliners of his era.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall retired after 15 NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall joined the Wings during their years as a league powerhouse, helping them reach two Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Cup in 2008. Known for his physical style of play, any player on the receiving end of his big hits were said to be “Kronwalled.” Yzerman already prepared for the possibility of Kronwall’s retirement, signing Patrik Nemeth this summer.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday formally introduced winger Phil Kessel to the Arizona media. Acquired earlier this summer in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kessel hopes to improve the Coyotes and grow their fan base.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes escrow is the key to securing an extension to the current NHL collective bargaining agreement. It could be attained if the league figures out a way to reduce escrow payments by the players by four-to-six percent.
One way would be freezing or limiting the rise of the salary cap. If revenue keeps rising (especially under a new U.S. TV deal and player tracking technology that would increase revenue from legalized gambling), that would reduce the escrow claw-backs from players’ salaries.
Campbell points out that would mean less spendable money in the system. It would affect players seeking new contracts and lead to more contract buyouts, cost-cutting trades, and demotions to the minors.
Campbell also cites a league source claiming the NHLPA’s five-percent escalator could be abolished. “And now it’s a matter of needing your revenues to grow at a greater rate than the growth in the upper limit. So you either freeze the upper limit, which would bring a more dramatic reduction in escrow, or you fix the upper limit for a number of years.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league and the PA address the escrow issue. The PA executive and other players will be meeting today in Chicago to review their current negotiations with the league and plan their next move. They have until Sept. 15 to exercise their early opt-out clause. However, there’s speculation that date could be extended up to Jan. 1 to allow more time to work out a three-year CBA extension to 2024-25.
YARDBARKER: The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly making progress with restricted free agent center Adrian Kempe. It’s expected he’ll sign a short-term bridge deal.
CBS SPORTS: Winger Stefan Noesen signed a professional tryout agreement with the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, former 2013 first-round pick Kerby Rychel signed a one-year contract with KHL club Neftekhimik.
FOXSPORTS OHIO: Former Columbus Blue Jacket Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre has joined the club’s broadcast team as an in-studio analyst.
THE SCORE: Barrie Colts head coach and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is stepping aside for health reasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club didn’t reveal any further details regarding Hawerchuk’s condition. Here’s hoping he gets well soon.
TSN: Rick Olcyzk joined the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. A former Toronto Maple Leafs scout, he also spent four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes as an assistant general manager alongside Seattle GM Ron Francis.
While focus is on @NHLPA and Sept. 15, a reminder NHL officials’ contract expired Aug. 31. Negotiations are continuing, however, and officials, who go to training camp Saturday, are optimistic they’ll have a new deal before the season starts.
Updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Jason Zucker plus a look at the notable players still available in the UFA market in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PULJUJARVI DOUBLES DOWN ON TRADE REQUEST
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Finnish newspaper Kaleva reporting Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi still wants to be traded. Unlike previous reports where Puljujarvi’s agent spoke for his client, this time it’s the winger personally making his intentions known. A restricted free agent, he said he’ll stay in Finland until he has a new contract.
‘I want a new start with some other team. Playing in North America is still my goal.” “I will stay on Oulu until I have a contract. I will find a place to play somewhere.’
Puljujarvi added he’s recovered from his recent hip surgery and feels much better. He’s hoping to be traded by the Oilers before training camp.
Jesse Puljujarvi still wants out of Edmonton (Photo via NHL Images).
Staples, however, doubts Puljujarvi doubling down on his trade request will changes things much. The Oilers would need a solid trade offer to move him. That’s still possible but increasingly unlikely given clubs are now locking in their rosters “and finding ways to get out of the cap trouble that may have forced a trade.”
Staples feels the best option is for the Oilers to simply allow Puljujarvi to spend this season playing in Europe and regaining his confidence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Puljujarvi isn’t re-signed or traded when training camp opens next month, he could be forced to swallow his pride and return to the Oilers if he wants to play in the NHL. If he thinks personally telling the press he wants a trade will force Holland to move him, he’s setting himself up for disappointment.
I don’t doubt Holland has looked into trade Puljujarvi but the youngster’s stock is probably so low right now that whatever offers the Oilers received doesn’t make moving him worthwhile. Holland won’t trade him for peanuts or for the sake of making a deal.
UPDATE ON ZUCKER
NHL.COM: Jesse Pierce reports Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker was told directly by team owner Craig Leipold that Paul Fenton was relieved of his duties as general manager. Zucker, 27, was the subject of trade rumors since the middle of last season as Fenton attempted to move him to Calgary and Pittsburgh since February.
“Names get floated out there all the time, and I’m glad the trades didn’t happen,” Zucker said. “It’s always something. If it happens once, it’s in the back of your mind for a bit; if it happens twice, it’s really in the back of your mind, and it was definitely something at the forefront of my life for the last while. But again, it’s hard for me to fault [Fenton] if he thought that’s what’s best for the organization.
“Whether you agree or disagree with it, he felt those were moves that would make the team better, and ultimately Craig disagreed and didn’t like what was happening and decided to go in another direction.”
Zucker added he’s unconcerned about having to prove himself to whoever becomes the next Wild general manager. However, he feels it’s up to him and his teammates “to prove to the GM who they are, why they should keep them, and why they should be centerpieces of the team and things of that’s sort.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Fenton out of the picture, I daresay Zucker won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He also now has a 10-team no-trade list, which could complicate attempts by the future GM to move him.
NOTABLE PLAYERS REMAINING IN NHL UFA MARKET
NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy recently recently looked at some of the noteworthy players still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
He expects veterans such as Joe Thornton, Justin Williams, and Nikla Kronwall will either return for another season with the clubs they played for in 2018-19 or retire. He also expects Patrick Marleau will sign with San Jose or hang up his skates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton and Marleau will likely get one-year, bonus-laden contracts with the San Jose Sharks. Williams is believed to be leaning toward another season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kronwall hasn’t reached a decision yet but Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman indicated his willingness to bring back the blueliner for one more season.
Professional tryout offer candidates include goaltender Cam Ward and Scott Darling and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Ben Lovejoy, and Marc Methot.
Age and/or injury have taken a toll on these players. They could indeed be forced to compete for jobs via tryout offers when training camps open next month. Methot is reportedly considering retirement.
Among the available forwards, Leahy lists (alphabetically) Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Patrick Maroon, Jason Pominville, and Tobia Rieder as the best of the bunch. The 26-year-old Rieder is the youngest and Leahy suggests he could be a “real bounce-back candidate” this season.
Jake Gardiner remains the best available defenseman. Ben Hutton, 26, is also available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leahy published this listing before the New York Rangers bought out Kevin Shattenkirk. Despite his struggles with the Rangers, I expect some team will have interest in him.
What changes are in store for the Detroit Red Wings under new GM Steve Yzerman? Which scorers could the Arizona Coyotes pursue this summer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE WINGS UNDER YZERMAN?
MLIVE.COM: Prior to yesterday’s press conference announcing Steve Yzerman was taking over as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Ansar Khan looked at what could be on Yzerman’s “to-do” list in the coming months. Decisions will have to be reached regarding pending unrestricted free agent Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek, and Luke Witkowski. Yzerman’s predecessor Ken Holland indicated a willingness to re-sign the Kronwall if the 38-year-old blueliner is willing to return for one more season.
Will Steve Yzerman make a big move in his first summer as GM of the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL.com)
Khan wondered if forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen become buyout candidates. “It would cost $9.1 million over eight years to buy out Abdelkader” while Nielsen “would cost $6.33 million over six years to buy out, with hefty cap hits of $3.8 million and $4.8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.” Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has one year remaining on his deal and Khan doubts he’ll be bought out.
Yzerman’s name might be a selling point if the Wings new GM goes shopping for experienced talent via this summer’s UFA market. Holland recently estimated the Wings could have between $15-$20 million in cap space, but Khan believes they must also ensure they leave sufficient long-term room for Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi when those youngsters become restricted free agents next summer.
THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Yzerman’s arrival buys the Wings some time to complete their roster rebuild. He noted Yzerman acknowledging there’s plenty of work to do and his call for Wings fans to be patient. He points to Yzerman’s tenure as Lightning GM when he wasn’t afraid of making bold moves (trading Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis), convinced current Bolts stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to accept below-market contracts and invested heavily in player development.
Niyo also suggested there are buyouts to consider, such as Ericsson or Trevor Daley, while others (Abdelkader, Nielsen, Darren Helm) could be too difficult to get out from under. While Yzerman’s cachet could help the Wings land some big fish in the free-agent pool, he doesn’t sound as though he’ll be going that route just yet, pointing to his remarks downplaying a pursuit of UFA talent while putting an emphasis on drafting and developing talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. I agree with Niyo that it’s unlikely he’ll be a major player in the UFA market, but I can see him exploring the trade market to see what’s available that might help his club.
As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have just over $71 million invested in 18 players, but they’ll get nearly $10 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season. They could get another $5.375 million if Mike Green’s ongoing liver ailment prevents him from continuing his playing career.
The Wings also hold three second-round picks and two fifth-round selections in this year’s draft plus two seconds and two thirds in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait. Yzerman could also dip into his club’s growing pool of young players and prospects but I don’t see him drawing too much from that well.
Yzerman could use the combination of his cap space and depth in draft picks to target a club facing a salary-cap crunch in need of shedding salary. He won’t be looking at aging expensive veterans like Edmonton’s Milan Lucic or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook but it wouldn’t be surprising if he targeted the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson or the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.
SOME POTENTIAL GOALSCORING TARGETS FOR THE COYOTES
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Arizona Coyotes need scoring and Richard Morin believes Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner would be a great fit. However, budget constraints likely mean the Coyotes can afford him, which could force GM John Chayka to get creative and find more affordable options. Morin suggested New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel as possible free-agent targets. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka returned to the offseason trade market, perhaps by targeting clubs looking to move salary.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan also looked at several scorers the Coyotes could target via trade or free agency. He notes Chayka pointed out his club needs scoring wingers and not centers, though Morgan believes they’d take on a first-line center if one became available. A right-shot, top-four defenseman would also help.
Chayka also indicated he would prefer adding players in the prime of their careers or just entering their prime. Expensive options such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner would be out of their price range.
Morgan also listed Lee, Nelson, Eberle, and Dzingel as possible UFA options. Others could include Nashville’s Wayne Simmonds, Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist or Washington’s Brett Connolly. Given the Coyotes’ budget constraints, Morgan rules out Chaya going the offer-sheet route.
Morgan also thinks Chayka could get creative in the trade market. He suggested perhaps the Coyotes GM could use his cap space to pry away one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards (Kapanen, Johnsson or William Nylander) by offering to take on the final year of winger Patrick Marleau’s contract ($6.25 million cap hit), though Marleau’s no-trade clause could complicate things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka’s been busy in the trade market since becoming the Coyotes GM in 2016. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were among his trade acquisitions. I expect he’ll go the trade route again to bring in a top-six winger, using his depth in promising youngsters and draft picks to target cap-strapped clubs.
Recaps of the final games of the 2018-19 season, first-round playoff matchups set, Nikita Kucherov wins Art Ross Trophy, Bob Cole signs off, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the league record for most wins in a season (62) by defeating the Boston Bruins 6-3. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied a goal and set up another to finish the season with 128 points, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and scoring the most points in one season by a Russian-born player. The Lightning will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov won the 2019 Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (Photo via NHL Images)
Montreal Canadiens center Ryan Poehling scored his first NHL goal, collected his first big-league hat trick, and tallied his first game-winning and shootout goals in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite Poehling’s four-goal debut, the Canadiens missed the playoffs with 96 points. The Leafs go on to face the Bruins in the opening round. This game was also the last for Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole. The 85-year-old is retiring following a 50-year career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Growing up in the 1970s, Danny Gallivan was my favorite hockey play-by-play man. After Gallivan’s retirement in 1984, Cole became the voice of Saturday night for me. So many great games, so many memories. For me, the best game he ever called was Game Five of the 1984 Patrick Division semi-final between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.
Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl reached the 50-goal plateau for the first time in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. His achievement was overshadowed by team captain Connor McDavid leaving the game with an injured left leg. X-rays revealed no broken bones but he’s slated for an MRI on Monday. The Flames, meanwhile, will face the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round.
Sidney Crosby reached 100 points for the sixth time in his career but his Pittsburgh Penguins were nipped 4-3 by the New York Rangers in overtime. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time. Ryan Strome scored the winning goal for the Rangers. The Penguins will face off against the New York Islanders in the first round.
The Islanders, meanwhile, got a 29-save shutout from Robin Lehner and two goals by Valtteri Filppula as they blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the league’s lowest goals-against average. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finished the season with 51 goals to win his eighth career Rocket Richard Trophy. He also set a record by leading the league in goals for the eighth time.
Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson set a franchise record for most goals in a season (34) as his club downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, whose first-round opponent will be the Dallas Stars. Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz, 39, is a free agent this summer and uncertain of what his NHL future might be.
Ben Bishop set a Dallas Stars record with the highest single-season save percentage (.934) and Tyler Seguin scored two goals to blank the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hopeful of returning behind the bench next season. He’s got a year remaining on his contract and there’s no indication the club is considering a coaching change.
Shootout goals by Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues will face off against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice as the Columbus Blue Jackets romped to a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand also had a three-point night for the Blue Jackets, who’ll face the Lightning in the opening round.
Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time as his club thumped the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t made up his mind yet if he’ll return for another season. The 38-year-old had one of his healthiest seasons in years, prompting speculation he might have one more season left in him.
Aleksander Barkov set a Florida Panthers record by reaching 96 points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Nathan Bastian scored two goals and Travis Zajac netted the game-winner.
Carolina Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as their club nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The Hurricanes’ opening-round opponent will be the Washington Capitals.
Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each tallied a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Jets will open the playoffs at home against the Blues.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a season-ending 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, who dropped seven of their final eight regular-season contests. The Golden Knights face off against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round.
Erik Karlsson returned to the San Jose Sharks lineup for the first time since Feb. 26 in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He was held pointless but skated over 22 minutes and finished the night with a plus-minus of plus-three.
The complete 2019 Stanley Cup playoff bracket can be found here.
Latest on Auston Matthews, Taylor Hall, Artemi Panarin, Derick Brassard, Brent Seabrook and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs will meet with Auston Matthews’ representatives regarding a contract extension for the 21-year-old center, who’s slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. While he’s eligible to receive an eight-year extension, that would be too expensive and force the breakup of the roster. Instead, they’re focusing on a five- or six-year deal.
Chris Johnston speculates it could be worth in the range of $11 million while a six-year one creeps closer to $12 million. A five-year contract also buys one of Matthew’s unrestricted free agent years while a six-year one buys two UFA years. Once the Matthews deal is settled, Nick Kypreos said the Leafs will shift their attention to Mitch Marner, who’s also due to become an RFA this summer.
Luke Fox reports Matthews is fine with whatever agreement the two sides reach. “There’s no secret there’s a cap. So, try to find something that works for both sides and obviously helps us out with that whole situation. I’ll leave it to them and just continue to play hockey, and once it’s done, it’s done. That’ll be it,” said Matthews.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes a simple way for the Leafs to avoid Matthews and Marner receiving offer sheets this summer is to re-sign them before July 1…He also said he’s told the Leafs wouldn’t trade Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson for Chicago Blackhawks veteran defenseman Duncan Keith…Simmons said the Leafs will attempt to include blueliner Nikita Zaitsev in every trade talk they have leading up to the trade deadline. He doesn’t believe they should move prospect defenseman Rasmus Sandin but said they’re getting some action on Timothy Liljegren, who looks like a future NHL defenseman, though not a star.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost a lot of money to re-sign Matthews. The Leafs are simply trying to make it as affordable as possible to free up an extra million or two to put toward other signings this summer. Sounds like something between $11-$12 million annually. Matthews doesn’t appear too concerned over how much he’ll get and for how long. Some thought he’d push for Connor McDavid money ($12.5 million) or more. This will push him close to McDavid.
Trading for Keith would be a great idea if he weren’t 35, signed through 2022-23, and if the Leafs weren’t faced with investing over $20 million on Matthews and Marner this summer. Good luck moving Zaitsev and his $4.5-million annual average value through 2023-24.
The New Jersey Devils aren’t moving Taylor Hall before the trade deadline. (Photo via NHL Images)
DEVILS, HALL, AND BOYLE
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports some teams decided to take stock of players with expiring contracts after it emerged the Columbus Blue Jackets wouldn’t be able to re-sign winger Artemi Panarin during this season. He said there were rumblings the New Jersey Devils might try to move Taylor Hall now as opposed to doing so this summer but Devils general manager Ray Shero said there’s “zero chance” he trades Hall before the trade deadline. Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports there’s increased interest in Devils forward Brian Boyle but the 34-year-old prefers staying put. He has an eight-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Devils are prepared to make Hall the highest-paid player in franchise history this summer. But if they feel he’s hesitant about re-signing, they could try shopping him in the offseason rather than suffer the same fate as the Blue Jackets with Panarin. I can also see them re-signing Boyle to an affordable deal.
BRASSARD AND PANARIN
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos believes center Derick Brassard shouldn’t get too comfortable with the Florida Panthers after being dealt by the Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s a feeling he could be moved and there’s speculation the Columbus Blue Jackets might be interested.
Kypreos wonders if that might involve “a bigger picture” with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky but Elliotte Friedman feels that’s speculation and pursuing those guys would be free-agent moves. He adds there’s a ton of interest in Panarin but teams that are interested don’t expect they’ll be allowed to discuss a contract extension with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brassard bundled in a package deal (with at least a good young forward and a first-round pick) for Panarin would certainly be a bold move by the Panthers, but why part with assets for a guy you could sign this summer via free agency? Yes, I know, it would give them time to hammer out an agreement on a new contract, but there’s still the risk he could test the market. You’ve also got to figure the Blue Jackets would want a good young forward as part of the return, too. If Brassard returns to Columbus, it’ll likely be for a draft pick.
BLACKHAWKS ASK SEABROOK TO WAIVE NO-TRADE.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Chicago Blackhawks management has approached defenseman Brent Seabrook about waiving his no-trade clause. Seabrook has said no to that request but the club will still test the trade market to see if there’s interest in the veteran blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hands up everyone who wants to take on a fading 33-year-old defenseman signed through 2023-24 with an annual salary-cap hit of $6.875 million? Anyone? Anyone?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should avoid a scenario in which they swap pending UFA center Kevin Hayes for Columbus’ pending UFA winger Artemi Panarin. He feels Hayes will likely be moved by the trade deadline for a stockpile of future assets and not someone who could depart via free agency in July. Brooks speculates the Florida Panthers are the one non-contender with a vested interest in obtaining Panarin and using the remainder of the season to woo him into signing a contract extension.
Brooks also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins have been monitoring Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello, though they’re not overflowing with prospects to exchange for a rental player. He wonders if the Blueshirts might trade Hayes and Zuccarello before the trade deadline and perhaps attempt to bring them back this summer as free agents.
Brooks recently wondered if there might be a market for Rangers blueliner Marc Staal. While teams aren’t beating down the door to inquire about “a rather immobile 32-year-old defenseman” with two full seasons at $5.7 million per season but noted some serious contenders are always in the market for blueline depth. Staal would have to waive his no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see a Hayes-for-Panarin swap going down. If, as expected, Hayes gets traded it’ll be for young assets that could help the Rangers within the next couple of years. The Penguins could dangle young goalie Tristan Jarry for Zuccarello but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s possible Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is done dealing but he could still have once more trick up his sleeve. I also don’t see a market for Staal.
JETS EXPECTED TO BE BUYERS
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is expected to be a buyer at the trade deadline and will likely target a forward. While a center remains a priority, a high-end winger like Ottawa’s Mark Stone (provided he’s available) could also prove tempting. With their window of opportunity now at its widest before the inevitable salary-cap crunch, Cheveldayoff could look long and hard at his options. Wiebe expects Cheveldayoff will be careful with cost and won’t mortgage the future, though the Jets’ first-round pick in this year’s draft could be in play.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets are actively shopping little-used Nic Petan but are rejecting offers for young forward Jack Roslovic.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos said Hayes is still linked to the Winnipeg Jets
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes could be a more realistic option for the Jets than Stone or Matt Duchene, as the Senators will set a high price for either guy. With a growing number of quality players potentially available leading up to the deadline, Cheveldayoff should be able to find a suitable trade target that’s within his price range, especially if he’s willing to part with his first-round pick.
TEAMS SEEKING FIRST-ROUNDERS FOR KEY RENTALS
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports it’s become a buyer’s market, with the sellers seeking first-round picks. The Los Angeles Kings seek a first-round pick for Tyler Toffoli, as do the Ottawa Senators for Ryan Dzingel, and the Carolina Hurricanes for Micheal Ferland. Kypreos believes the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Nashville Predators have their first-rounders in play.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos speculates the Nashville Predators could be in the market for one or two forwards with Auston Watson now suspended indefinitely as he receives treatment under the league’s substance abuse program.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Darren Dreger appeared on Buffalo’s WGR 550 on Friday and was asked if the Boston Bruins will do anything before the trade deadline. Dreger believes they will try to add a center or a right wing. He suggested Ottawa’s Matt Duchene (if he’s available) or Ryan Dzingel or Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli as possible options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve also been linked to Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds and Carolina’s Micheal Ferland.
KRONWALL WANTS TO REMAIN A RED WING
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports Detroit Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall has informed the team he has no interest in being traded. He has a limited no-trade clause but it’s believed GM Ken Holland will respect Kronwall’s wishes unless he gets an offer too good to refuse and could then take it to Kronwall. Kypreos said there’s also talk of a possible contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Kronwall will still be a Red Wing after 3 PM ET on Feb. 25.
The Oilers’ re-signing Mikko Koskinen could see Cam Talbot hit the trade block, plus updates on the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CHANGES COMING FOR THE OILERS?
EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson believes the Oilers re-signing goaltender Mikko Koskinen leaves fellow netminder Cam Talbot’s future in limbo. Talbot’s performance slipped following a stellar 2016-17 campaign leading to the Oilers signing Koskinen last summer. If the Oilers fall out of playoff contention leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline, Matheson believes they’ll shop Talbot, who has a 10-team trade list. Possible destinations include
Goalie Cam Talbot’s days appear numbered with the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).
Talbot is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there could be openings in Florida, New Jersey, St. Louis, Columbus, and Ottawa. His potential departure will mean the Oilers will have to pursue a backup via trade or free agency. Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry could become a trade target while Brian Elliott and Cam Ward could be available in the UFA market.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 yesterday, Elliotte Freidman speculated over what other moves Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli might have up his sleeve. Besides re-signing Koskinen yesterday, Chiarelli also placed forwards Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers.
Friedman wondered if Chiarelli is trying to clear some salary-cap room to make a move. Rattie’s entire salary ($800K) won’t count against the Oilers’ cap if he heads to the minors, while they would save $1.05 million if Spooner ($4 million) is demoted.
Friedman said he’d heard some rumors they might be interested in Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but “somebody threw cold water on that to me today.” He also doesn’t see them parting with young assets for a rental player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ moves yesterday stoked criticism of general manager Peter Chiarelli and calls for his firing by unhappy fans. However, re-signing Koskinen to a three-year deal and placing Rattie and Spooner on waivers suggests he’s not in danger of losing his job…yet. That could change if the Oilers collapse in the standings in the coming weeks.
Talbot’s days are numbered now in Edmonton. The Koskinen contract indicates he won’t be re-signed this summer. Chiarelli could see if there’s a market for him before the trade deadline and call up veteran backup Al Montoya from the Oilers’ AHL affiliate.
I agree with Friedman that the Rattie and Spooner moves could indicate Chiarelli is trying to free up cap space to perhaps acquire a player, one who is either signed through next season or a potential restricted free agent this summer. Burakovsky would fit that profile but reports out of Washington claim the Capitals aren’t ready to give up on him.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS
TSN: Darren Dreger said he doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent losses are increasing the sense of urgency for general manager Kyle Dubas to make a trade. Citing the William Nylander signing, he pointed out Dubas is a patient GM.
Noting the calls for the Leafs to add a right-side defenseman, Dreger pointed out the market for a top blueliner is very expensive right now. While St. Louis Blues rearguards Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko surfaced in trade speculation earlier this season, the Blues’ recent improvement suggests they might want to add, not subtract.
Last week, Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie said the Leafs’ 2019 first-round pick could be in play. He also suggested a young forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would have to be part of the deal for a good defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs aren’t in danger of falling out of a playoff spot, though that could change in the coming weeks if the losses keep mounting. Still, Dubas has time to examine the market and try to find the right fit. With the All-Star break coming up, he could use that period for some face-to-face discussions with some rival GMs.
UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS
DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa recently reported Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall would feel duty bound to listen if GM Ken Holland approached him about a trade. The 38-year-old has a modified no-trade clause, giving him some control. He expressed his surprise about a couple of recent reports suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in him.
Krupa’s colleague Ted Kulfan reported on defenseman Nick Jensen’s improvement this season following a shaky training camp and being scratched from the season opener. The 28-year-old is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and could be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. With Kronwall likely to retire at season’s end, Kulfan feels Jensen would be a low-cost, dependable option for the Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall has hinted this season could be his last and his preference to retire as a Red Wing. Still, if a rival club made a reasonable pitch, Holland could ask him to waive his no-trade. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kronwall finishes this season in Detroit. Jensen has surfaced as a possible trade option but Holland could consider him worth retaining on a reasonable contract.