NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2018

The holiday trade freeze is in effect but that doesn’t stop the NHL rumor mill. Check out the latest on the Rangers and Maple Leafs.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examines possible moves by the New York Rangers leading up to this season’s February trade deadline. Players on expiring contracts, such as Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, could attract interest from postseason contenders. O’Brien also doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Rangers bringing back Zuccarello as a free agent this summer on a short-term deal. He also suggests the Blueshirts could retain some of their salary (especially Hayes’) to facilitate a deal to a cap-strapped contender.

New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes remains the subject of trade speculation this season (Photo via NHL Images)

Rangers forwards Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov are signed through 2019-20 but O’Brien believes they could be attractive to playoff-contending teams. He also brought up the possibility of moving goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, though he admits that’s a far-fetched scenario.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t want to see the Rangers deviate from their rebuilding process that began last February by making deals simply to reach the playoffs this season. However, he also doesn’t want them to go into “starting all over” mode. He thinks they shouldn’t move Hayes unless his contract demands become unrealistic or an interested club offers up a young, first-pairing defenseman. “Both of these hypotheticals are unlikely.”

Brooks’ colleague Brett Cyrgalis notes Namestnikov’s improved play in recent weeks has improved his trade value but he’s also become valuable to the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Rangers go into sell mode in February, Zuccarello and Hayes are the most likely trade candidates. Hayes is on pace for a career-best 65-point performance and will attract lots of interest in the trade market. The longer he remains unsigned as the deadline approaches the more likely he’ll get shopped.

Kreider or Namestnikov could be moved but there’s less pressure to trade them. General manager Jeff Gorton will be patient with those two. As for Lundqvist, he has a full no-movement clause. As long as he wants to remain a Ranger, he’s not going anywhere. 


TSN: Craig Button suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs use their nearly $6 million in cap space this season to improve their Stanley Cup chances this season.

If they seek a defenseman, Button proposes Vancouver’s Alex Edler, Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall, and New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy. Edler has a big shot and can skate big minutes. Leafs coach Mike Babcock knows Kronwall from his coaching days with the Red Wings. Lovejoy has Stanley Cup experience.

Button also suggests Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, Carolina’s Michael Ferland, and Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis as options who could bring additional grit to the Leafs forward lines. Simmonds and Ferland can also contribute offensively.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t bring in a rental player or two as short-term fixes for his current roster weaknesses. Perhaps he’ll consider one of Button’s suggestions. Edler has a no-trade clause and could be unwilling to waive it. Kronwall has a modified no-trade clause and there’s talk he’ll retire as a Red Wing. Simmonds seems to have slow a step following offseason pelvic surgery. Ferland recently returned from a concussion. Lovejoy and Lewis also have injury histories. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 9, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 9, 2018

Game recaps, Ducks re-sign GM Murray, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COMTampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a four-point game (including two goals) to lead his club to a 7-1 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Lightning winger Ondrej Palat also scored twice. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov was pulled after giving up five goals on 23 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a four-point performance in a 7-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and rookie Oliver Kylington each collected two points in the Calgary Flames 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. With the win, the red-hot Flames (8-1-1 in their last 10) sit atop the Western Conference with 40 points. 

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-2, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Flyers captain Claude Giroux had a goal and three assists. Jack Eichel scored both Sabres goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres seemed to stop playing after the first period. They certainly left goaltender Linus Ullmark to pretty much fend for himself. 

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 22nd goal to extend his points streak to 11 games as his club blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Capitals netminder Braden Holtby turned aside 28 shots for the shutout. 

Goalie Craig Anderson kicked out 35 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored in overtime as the Ottawa Senators nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced center Matt Duchene will be sidelined for weeks by a groin injury and winger Bobby Ryan (concussion) is out indefinitely. The Penguins skated without winger Patric Hornqvist, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury unrelated to his recent concussion.

The Boston Bruins ended a three-game losing skid with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brad Marchand and Torey Krug each had three-point performances for the Bruins. Leafs forward Zach Hyman knocked Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy from the game with a late high hit, though he returned to the bench late in the third period.

The New York Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to edge the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall temporarily knocked Islanders captain Anders Lee from the game with a hard, questionable hit.

The New York Rangers blew a two-goal lead but downed the Florida Panthers 5-4 on a shootout goal by Kevin Hayes, snapping a three-game losing streak. Jonathan Huberdeau had a three-point outing for the Panthers. 

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 29 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Vega Golden Knights. Nikita Scherbak, claimed off waivers by the Kings earlier in the week, scored his first goal of the season.

Rookie Lukas Radil’s first NHL goal turned into the game-winner as the San Jose Sharks downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. 

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks signed general manager Bob Murray to a two-year contract extension. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for any whispers that Murray might be replaced if the Ducks fail to reach the playoffs this season. He’s their longest-serving general manager, currently in his 11th year. During his tenure, they’ve reached the playoffs in all but two seasons.

Despite a plethora of injuries and a lack of scoring punch, the Ducks overcame a poor start to move into third place in the Pacific Division. Murray has attempted to address the offense by claiming Pontus Aberg off waivers and trading for Daniel Sprong. 

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Xavier Ouellet cleared waivers and was sent to their AHL affiliate in Laval. 


NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2018

Latest on the Blackhawks, Devils, Red Wings and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson recently looked at which Ottawa Senators could hit the trade block this season. He considers defenseman Chris Wideman “most likely to go”. He also thinks Cody Ceci could be gone at the trade deadline as his salary-arbitration hearing last summer was said to be “particularly acidic.” Center Tom Pyatt could also be shopped.

Stevenson considers forwards Mikkel Boedker, Magnus Paajarvi, and Mac McCormick “dependable but expendable”. He also noted the Senators recently attempted to move forward Zack Smith and they could try again.

While Matt Duchene is mentioned as a potential trade candidate, the Ottawa Senators are trying to re-sign him. (Photo via NHL Images)

Pending unrestricted free agents Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel could also hit the block if unsigned before the trade deadline. Stevenson guesses the Senators could put the emphasis on re-signing Stone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the latest report from TSN is anything to go by, Duchene could be staying put. Bob McKenzie yesterday said it appears talks between the two sides are progressing, though they still have work to do to get it done. He speculates it could be an eight-year extension worth between $8-$9 million per season.

If they get Duchene re-signed soon, they will definitely put their focus in January on keeping Stone in the fold. They could also put try to retain Dzingel.

As for Ceci, he’ll become an RFA with arbitration rights again next summer. If the relationship between the two sides has deteriorated, they could peddle him at the NHL Draft in June. 


THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman considers forward Gustav Nyquist as the Detroit Red Wings’ most likely trade option this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July and it makes sense for the Wings to try to get something in return for him. Bultman thinks he could be appealing to most playoff contenders but cautions the Wings are unlikely to get a significant return.

He also considered pending UFAs Jimmy Howard and Nick Jensen as possible trade options. Forwards Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou fall under the “not likely but not impossible” category.

Craig Custance doesn’t expect the Red Wings to move veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. The long-time Wing said he hasn’t thought about a trade. Custance notes Kronwall still has some no-trade protection in which the Wings would request a 10-team trade list from him but a source said Wings management haven’t asked for that list.

Given this is probably the oft-injured Kronwall’s final NHL campaign, he won’t fetch much of a return. “There’s no reason for them to trade him,” said an NHL source. “I think that would have to be something he’d have to want and I can’t see that as a scenario. He’s valuable for them.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Kronwall asks for a trade, I don’t see the Wings moving him. He’ll finish his career as a Red Wing and retire. I concur with Bultman that Nyquist is the Wings’ most likely trade candidate this season. It also sounds as though the Wings and Howard could be interested in working out a short-term contract so he’s probably no longer a trade possibility this season. 


CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Assuming the Blackhawks become sellers this season, Jimmy Greenfield suggests center Nick Schmaltz could become an intriguing trade possibility. Schmaltz is a restricted free agent next summer and has just two goals in 20 games this season after potting 21 as a sophomore in 2017-18. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has some cap space to work with next season but Greenfield believes he’s not in a position to give Schmaltz a big raise unless he deserves one.

In a subsequent Q&A with his readers. Greenfield was asked about Schmaltz’s trade status. He feels Bowman will have to think long and hard about trading Schmaltz or letting him depart as a free agent. While the Blackhawks are thin at forward and don’t have any dynamic prospects ready for the NHL, Greenfield suggests this is starting to feel similar to when they traded Ryan Hartman at last season’s trade deadline. ” If the Hawks are out of the playoff picture Schmaltz could be their most valuable trade chip.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Schmaltz is in the final season of his entry-level contract so the only way he departs as a free agent is if the Blackhawks opt not to tender a qualifying offer. That’s not going to happen. The Hawks could trade Schmaltz but I think Bowman will hang onto him and sign him to an affordable short-term bridge deal if his current offensive struggles persist. 


THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak examines two options for the New Jersey Devils if they’re in playoff contention or fall out of the postseason chase. Under the first option, Marcus Johansson, Mirco Mueller, Stefan Noesen, John Quenneville, Michael McLeod, and future draft picks could be used as bait to bolster their roster for the playoffs. Under the second option, Johansson and Ben Lovejoy could be shopped. Pending UFA goaltender Keith Kinkaid could also be a fascinating trade asset, though the Devils might wish to keep him.

Masisak also looked at potential trade targets for the Devils. Those with term still on their contracts could include Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi, Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, and Alec Martinez,  Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou, Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski, Anaheim’s Brandon Montour and Dallas’ Julius Honka.

Pending UFA targets could include Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, and Ottawa’s Matt Duchene. He also suggests trying to bring back Adam Henrique from the Ducks.

NJ.COM: Abbey Mastracco expects the Devils will stay the course for now. While the Devils have all their picks in the first three rounds of the next three drafts (except for their third-rounder in 2019), they’re valuable to their efforts to build from within. They also lack depth in NHL-ready prospects that would net a big return. Still, she doesn’t rule out that they could be looking for an upgrade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils raised hopes by reaching the playoffs in 2017-18 but they’re currently mired in a lengthy slump that threatens to derail their postseason chances this season. GM Ray Shero was able to turn Adam Larsson into Taylor Hall, so maybe he can pull off another steal.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2018

Capitals’ Tom Wilson facing another suspension, plus updates on Dustin Brown, Scott Darling, Cory Schneider and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CSN WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Tom Wilson was ejected from Sunday’s preseason game against the St. Louis Blues for an illegal hit to the head of Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist, leaving the latter motionless on the ice. Wilson received a five-minute major penalty and a match penalty while Sundqvist had to be helped from the ice.

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson faces an in-person hearing with the league for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blue forward Oskar Sundqvist. (Photo via NHL Images)

NHL.COM’s Tom Gulitti reports Blues coach Mike Yeo said Sundqvist’s status was “not good”, adding he had a couple of upper-body injuries and could be sidelined for a while.

SPORTSNET: Wilson has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety. This means Wilson could face a suspension of six-or-more games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson is a repeated offender, fined twice and suspended a total of four regular-season games, two preseason games and three playoff games for separate incidents since 2015. He could face a lengthy suspension for that hit on Sundqvist. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings winger Dustin Brown is sidelined indefinitely with a broken finger.

YAHOO SPORTS: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling left Sunday’s preseason game against the Nashville Predators with a lower-body injury. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said there’s some concern over Darling’s injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darling was looking forward to a bounce-back season after struggling through most of 2017-18. This could be a potential setback for the Hurricanes’ starter. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils revealed veteran goaltender Cory Schneider won’t play in the club’s season opener on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. Schneider underwent hip surgery during the offseason. He’s practiced regularly with his teammates but didn’t take part in any preseason games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider remains optimistic about returning to action soon. His first game could come in mid-October. 

CBS SPORTS: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is questionable for Thursday’s season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He tweaked a previous injury but no details have been disclosed. 

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers placed forward Pontus Aberg on waivers and released defenseman Jakub Jerabek. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2018

Updates on Wayne Simmonds, Niklas Kronwall, Scottie Upshall and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Having recovered from offseason pelvic surgery, Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds expects a strong bounce-back performance in 2018-19. He’s got additional motivation, as he’s heading into his contract year and will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. The Flyers could take a wait-and-see approach this season before deciding if they’ll re-sign him.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds will be motivated for a strong performance in 2018-19 (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds loves being a Flyer, the club wants to keep him and the Philadelphia fans love him. If he regains his physical 30-goal style in 2018-19, the Flyers will do all they can to keep him in the fold. A return to form will put Simmonds in line for a hefty raise over his current $3.975-million annual cap. 

NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said the upcoming season could be his last in the NHL. The 37-year-old blueliner is feeling the effects of age and the physical toll of his 874 career NHL games, all spent in Detroit. Kronwall is in the final season of his seven-year contract and admits there’s been no extension talks thus far. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a significant resurgence in Kronwall’s performance, this season is likely his last. He carries a modified no-trade clause listing 10 clubs he can be traded to, but he doesn’t sound as though he’s keen on the thought of playing elsewhere. 

NBC SPORTS: New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner is facing a make-or-break campaign in 2018-19. He’s struggled to establish himself as a starter and is now on his third NHL club in five years. He signed a one-year contract with the Isles last month as an unrestricted free agent. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed forward Scottie Upshall to a professional tryout offer. 

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins forward Anders Bjork is ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery. He’s expected to suit up in a rookie tournament early next month. 


Latest on the Panthers and Red Wings – April 4, 2017

Latest on the Panthers and Red Wings – April 4, 2017

Will the Florida Panthers bring back Jaromir Jagr for another season?

Another look at what the offseason could hold for the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Craig Davis recently noted there are several issues the Florida Panthers must address in the offseason following this disappointing campaign. Apart from possible shakeups behind the bench and in the front office, Davis wondered if 45-year-old veteran winger Jaromir Jagr will return? If not, who replaces him on their top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau? He also wondered how they’ll shore up a defense that generated offense from the blueline but struggled to keep the puck out of their own zone. 

Davis’ colleague Harvey Fialkov last night reported Jagr, a pending unrestricted free agent,  hopes to return with the Panthers. “I love it here, any minute I was here,” Jagr continued. “The organization was so good to me. They gave me a chance. They traded for me. They gave me a great opportunity. I love it. I play with very good and talented players the last few years here. I love it. I love it here and nothing has changed.”  Panthers general manager and interim coach Tom Rowe and president of hockey operations Dale Tallon will discuss Jagr’s future after this season ends. 

MIAMI HERALD: George Richards reports Rowe would like to return as head coach on a full-time basis next season. However, “numerous sources” say Rowe’s tenure as coach will end after this season. “With three years remaining and the trust and friendship of ownership, Rowe will be offered a position within the front office,” writes Richards. However, it’s unclear who will take over the GM’s role. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that Rowe might not be returning to what was previously his full-time role as general manager. He took over that job last summer when Tallon was kicked upstairs into hockey ops, but he gave up those duties to Tallon and two others when he took over as interim coach.

The club’s disappointing performance this season after winning the Atlantic Division crown a year ago, as well as the hasty early-season firing of former coach Gerard Gallant, may be casting some doubt over Rowe’s management abilities. Whoever takes over as general manager will have to not only decide if they’re bringing back Jagr on another one-year contract but also how they’ll bolster their porous blueline. 

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen recently offered up a five-step plan to get the Detroit Red Wings back on track. Finding a premium defenseman is the top priority. Kevin Shattenkirk is the best bet via free agency but Allen doubts he’ll sign with the Wings. He suggests pursuing one via trade, though that could prove an expensive undertaking.

Allen also recommends shedding the salaries of some aging or disappoint veterans, such as Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million per season), Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million) or Gustav Nyquist to provide salary-cap flexibility. He also advocates adding another scorer, perhaps bringing back Thomas Vanek via free agency on a short-term deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Red Wings GM Ken Holland could target teams that risk losing a quality defenseman via the June expansion draft, such as the Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild, in the trade market. It’ll be very difficult to move the contracts of players such as Kronwall, Abdelkader or Nyquist unless Holland either picks up part of their annual cap hit or agrees to bundle a top prospect into the deal. Vanek expressed interest in returning to the Wings, but maybe Holland will look at younger options via trade or free agency.