NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

The fallout from the Leafs re-signing William Nylander, an update on Oilers goalie Jack Campbell, and the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

FALLOUT FROM THE NYLANDER SIGNING

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the work has just begun for Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving after signing William Nylander yesterday to an eight-year, $92 million contract extension.

On July 1, captain John Tavares and winger Mitch Marner will be eligible to sign contract extensions as they’ll both be in the final season of their current deals. Marner’s next contract will probably cost between $11.5 million annually and $13.25 million.

Treliving could also consider tweaking his roster by the March 8 trade deadline. Bolstering the defense remains a priority. He could also look at adding a depth forward.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran also noted that T.J. Brodie, Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Meanwhile, goaltender Ilya Samsonov continues to work on improving his game with the AHL Marlies.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates Nylander’s new contract could come up in contract negotiations between the Vancouver Canucks and Elias Pettersson. The difference, however, is Nylander was slated to become a UFA on July 1 whereas Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel could also benefit from Nylander’s new deal. They’re a little older but could make the case for seeking over $10 million annually on their new contracts.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost the Leafs more than Nylander’s $11.5 million and less than Auston Matthew’s $13.25 million AAV to get Marner under contract. He could come in between $12 million and $12.5 million on a long-term deal.

Tavares is playing well but the 33-year-old Leafs captain will have to accept a pay cut from his current $11 million AAV to stay in Toronto. How much of a cut will determine whether he has a future with the Leafs beyond July 1, 2025. It’ll have to go at least below $10 million for sure.

The Leafs can afford to re-sign Brodie, Bertuzzi and Domi but they won’t overpay to do so. It won’t be surprising if at least one of them ends up hitting the open market on July 1.

Pettersson is two years younger than Nylander and keeping pace with the Leafs winger in points. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with a similar contract given his value to the surging Canucks.

Reinhart and Guentzel could get over $10 million annually on their next contracts with the salary cap rising by $4.2 million for 2024-25. Whether they get them from their current clubs remains to be seen.

WILL THE OILERS TRY TO MOVE CAMPBELL?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland intends to see if Jack Campbell can bounce back though there’s no real sign of it yet.

I’ll watch Jack Campbell, I’ll work the phones, I’ll watch our team and ultimately between now and the trade deadline, make some decisions with our staff as to what we think we need to do,” said Holland.

LeBrun speculates the Oilers GM could attempt to add a veteran goalie to be a 1B with Stuart Skinner or a more traditional backup. He thinks a goalie trade is possible but doesn’t see a likely scenario where they can move Campbell’s contract before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks it could cost the Oilers two first-round picks to convince a club to take on the remaining three years of Campbell’s contract. Unless the Oilers are willing to retain up to half of his $5 million average annual value, I don’t see him going anywhere by deadline day.

LATEST ON THE SENATORS

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan believes roster changes are inevitable for the struggling Ottawa Senators. With their playoff hopes fading away, management must decide who stays and who goes.

Scanlan wonders what effect the years of losing could have on defenseman Thomas Chabot and team captain Brady Tkachuk. He wondered if the new front office is as devout to sticking with the mantra of building with youth as their predecessors.

General manager Steve Staios has publicly said he wants to add a veteran or two. However, there is a theory that he could also attempt to shake things up by moving one or two of the young core players.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes all eyes will be on Senators forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. Both are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Mendes also noted that Thomas Chabot’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. While it seems doubtful the Senators would trade their best defenseman, the new regime in charge isn’t beholden to anyone on this roster as they didn’t acquire any of them.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Staios is trying to juggle salary-cap space to make room for center Shane Pinto once he’s finished serving his 41-game suspension later this month. He’ll have to demote someone or make a cost-cutting trade.

Garrioch also reports Staios will find it difficult to add one or two veteran players at this time. Teams that have good character players prefer to keep them and those that are available come with a high asking price. A league executive also said those players prefer going to a playoff contender rather than Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated Staios and his front office team aren’t ready to move core players like Chabot, Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson and Jake Sanderson. We won’t see any of those guys being peddled by the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, Scanlan makes a good point about the effect that years of losing could have on some of those players, especially guys like Chabot and Tkachuk who’ve been there the longest. Perhaps one or two of them grow weary of this situation and request a trade in the offseason.

For now, Tarasenko and Kubalik appear to be the only notable Senators certain to be on the move by the deadline. We’ll see if that changes in the coming weeks.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2024

Check out the latest on the Senators and the Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently looked at which two players the Ottawa Senators will likely shop leading up to the March 8 trade deadline.

Looking at the Senators’ record, Proteau believes they don’t have a chance at reaching the playoffs this season. General manager Steve Staios will have to decide which players to keep and which ones to send packing by the deadline.

Ottawa Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Winger Vladimir Tarasenko is their best trade asset. He’s on a one-year, $5 million contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 32-year-old winger currently has eight goals and 24 points in 32 games. Staios could move him for young players and draft picks.

Dominik Kubalik is another trade candidate. The 28-year-old winger is also slated to become a UFA this summer and has eight goals and 11 points in 34 games with a $2.5 million cap hit.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Staios continues his search for veteran help before the trade deadline. He seeks a third-line forward who can help support alternate captain Claude Giroux by acting as a leader for their younger players.

Garrioch also indicated that Shane Pinto is expected to sign a one-year contract worth around $800K. There is speculation that Staois could be discussing a long-term extension with Pinto’s agent but it’s unlikely to be the case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a second-half performance for the ages, the Senators will not make the playoffs this season. Staios will be a seller at the trade deadline.

It will be surprising if Tarasenko and Kubalik aren’t moved by March. As for Pinto, Staios will likely evaluate his performance over the remainder of the schedule before getting into contract talks beyond this season.

Staios will also want a veteran leader or two with term remaining on their contracts. Whoever they bring in must be willing to be there and help to lead their younger players. Staios might have better luck finding those veterans via free agency this summer.

Hiring the right kind of coach will also be necessary for the Senators to make any real progress after this season. We know that Jacques Martin is only a stop-gap measure for the rest of this season. Whoever they hire as their full-time bench boss will have to keep Daniel Alfredsson on the coaching staff. With everything else going on, the new ownership must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by alienating the popular Senators Hall-of-Famer.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers dismissed recent speculation suggesting the Chicago Blackhawks could be looking to add big-name talent to their roster for next season. “If you were dreaming of someone like William Nylander, you’re going to be disappointed,” he writes.

Powers noted the Blackhawks will have plenty of salary cap space for 2024-25. “If someone wants to get paid more than market worth on a short-term deal, the Blackhawks would be happy to open their checkbook.” However, it’s unlikely to happen for long-term deals.

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson isn’t likely to deviate from his current rebuilding plans until he has a better idea of the talent available in his prospect pipeline. He doesn’t want to pay a veteran for the next eight years with the money that will be needed to re-sign Connor Bedard and Kevin Korchinski when their contracts expire in 2026.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will also puncture last week’s speculation suggesting Elias Pettersson will forsake the Vancouver Canucks to join the Blackhawks this summer.

Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights playing on a team that is jockeying for first place in the standings, a team that will pay him handsomely to stay in Vancouver. He’s not going to stage a holdout to force the Canucks to trade him. The Blackhawks aren’t going to send him an offer sheet as it would probably be matched. Even if the Hawks successfully signed Pettersson away, they would owe the Canucks five first-round draft picks as compensation.

As Powers noted, the Blackhawks won’t be rebuilding forever. For now, Davidson isn’t going to change his current plans.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2023

Check out recent speculation about the Maple Leafs, Sabres, Predators, and Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel recently looked at what the Toronto Maple Leafs have for potential trade assets in their quest to add a defenseman. He noted their lack of prospect depth and draft picks doesn’t leave them very much to bargain with.

Possible trade bait includes their 2024 first-round pick, promising goaltender Dennis Hildeby, forward prospect Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan, forward Nick Robertson and defenseman Topi Niemela.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matthew Knies (NHL Images).

Siegel thinks rival clubs could be interested in forward Matthew Knies but he’s too valuable to their present and their future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Siegel isn’t saying the Leafs will move those assets but is showing the potential cost if they intend to bolster their blueline for the playoffs. General manager Brad Treliving will likely make a move or two by the March 8 trade deadline. What he gets will depend on what he’s willing to part with. Stay tuned!

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reported last week that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams continues to resist making knee-jerk moves to help his struggling club. Nevertheless, he wonders what moves Adams could have in store if they hope to turn things around.

Harrington speculates on how close Victor Olofsson, Tyson Jost or Eric Comrie are to going on waivers. Perhaps the Chicago Blackhawks will be interested in Olofsson with the losses of Taylor Hall and Corey Perry. He believes Adams must bolster his bottom-six forwards and improve their defense. It’s clear Erik Johnsson is their No.7 option on the blueline

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Harrington also pointed out the difficulty the Sabres face in making trades given how many clubs have limited salary-cap space right now. He recently acquired depth forward Eric Robinson from the Blue Jackets so I daresay he’s monitoring the trade market to see if there’s another deal to be had to improve his roster’s depth.

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina examined why defenseman Dante Fabbro has been a frequent healthy scratch this season, which has resulted in his name surfacing in trade rumors.

Head coach Andrew Brunette said part of the problem was the Predators’ logjam on defense. Meanwhile, Fabbro isn’t making waves over the situation and tries not to think about his name popping up in the rumor mill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fabbro’s situation could be alleviated if the Predators can find any takers for blueliner Tyson Barrie, who recently requested a trade. His agent received permission from GM Barry Trotz to speak with other clubs but it doesn’t appear a deal is coming soon.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch wonders what Senators president of hockey ops and interim GM Steve Staios has in store for the club in the New Year.

The expectation is that suspended center Shane Pinto will sign a one-year deal in the range of $875K. He knows he has no leverage and reportedly appreciates that Staios has been supportive in preparations for when he’s eligible to return to action on Jan. 21. He will be allowed to start skating with the club 10 days beforehand.

Pinto’s return could make Dominik Kubalik expendable. Garrioch claims the Senators have received some calls about the 28-year-old winger, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik could indeed become the odd man out once Pinto returns but it could take some time to move him. Just because some teams have called doesn’t mean a deal will take place right after Pinto comes back.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2023

The latest on the Oilers’ recent scouting of the Blue Jackets plus updates on the Senators and Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE OILERS’ RECENT SCOUTING TRIP TO COLUMBUS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline took note of the Edmonton Oilers scouting the Columbus Blue Jackets last week even though the two clubs don’t play each other until late January.

The Oilers need goaltending help, sparking rumors that they might have been looking at the Blue Jackets’ netminders or their opponents. Jackets starter Elvis Merzlikins’ $5.5 million annual average value through 2026-27 would be difficult for the Oilers to take on unless Jack Campbell ($5 million AAV through ’26-’27) was included in the deal.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (NHL Images).

With the Jackets playing the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens last week, Portzline wondered if the Oilers were scouting the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark or the Canadiens’ Jake Allen, though the latter didn’t play against the Jackets.

The Jackets could end up placing Spencer Martin on waivers with Daniil Tarasov due to return soon from his AHL conditioning stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martin faced the Bruins last week, giving up three goals on 28 shots in a 3-1 loss. If he was being scouted by the Oilers, they might pick him up if he hits the waiver wire.

Martin carries a very affordable cap hit of $762,500, though the cap-strapped Oilers might be able to squeeze into their payroll if he becomes available on the waiver wire. However, there is persistent speculation that the Oilers could recall Campbell from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

ARE CHANGES COMING FOR THE SENATORS?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators interim general manager Steve Staios has a lot on his plate these days.

The club’s ongoing on-ice struggles have Senators fans calling for head coach D.J. Smith to be fired. The front office wants to be patient with Smith as they like his approach and management is trying to give him more support. However, Staios’ patience could soon wear thin.

Garrioch doesn’t expect Staios to swing a blockbuster trade. Teams have called about Drake Batherson but the Senators don’t want to go in that direction. Staios is working the phones and there’s a chance Dominik Kubalik could be traded before Shane Pinto returns to the lineup in January. Kubalik is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staios could find that a coaching change could be his easiest route considering the difficulty of making a significant trade that improves his roster with so many clubs pressed for cap space this season. I think that’s more likely to occur if things don’t improve soon for the Senators.

UPDATE ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington weighed in on the Sabres’ recent struggles. While forwards Tage Thompson and Jack Quinn are sidelined, others have regressed so far this season.

General manager Kevyn Adams didn’t do anything to replace Quinn when he suffered an Achilles injury in June. He also lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Patrick Kane sweepstakes.

Harrington believes the Sabres cannot wait until the trade deadline as they need an injection now to snap them out of their funk. They need help up front and have plenty of draft and prospect capital to entice a rival club to make a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are four points out of a wild-card berth. A string of wins could propel them into a playoff spot but those have been difficult to come by thus far.

Adams could be working the phones but he’s likely finding suitable deals difficult to come by right now. The Sabres will be worth monitoring in the rumor mill if they don’t start gaining ground in the standings.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

What happens next for the Senators and Shane Pinto following his 41-game suspension? Could the Panthers and Blue Jackets become trade partners? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Pinto won’t sign his contract until January once his suspension is served. This will also give the Senators more time to swing a trade to free up cap space to sign him. LeBrun also stated that the investigation had nothing to do with why Pinto hadn’t been signed yet by the Senators.

Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto (NHL Images).

Darren Dreger indicated that the NHL Players Association negotiated the 41-game suspension. They recognized that league commissioner Gary Bettman could hit Pinto with a much harsher punishment.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports that it’s believed the Senators were close on a two-year contract for Shane Pinto prior to his 41-game suspension on Thursday for activities that violated the NHL’s wagering rules. The deal would’ve paid the 22-year-old center an average annual value of $2 million.

When informed of the investigation, the Senators were told to rescind any contract offers to Pinto’s agent. Garrioch expects that Pinto will sign his one-year qualifying offer to get the contract out of the way while he’s serving his suspension.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes the trade winds that were circulating around Senators forwards Mathieu Joseph and Dominik Kubalik will ease in the wake of Pinto’s suspension.

The earliest the young center can return to action is Jan. 21, which buys general manager Pierre Dorion time to determine a proper cost-cutting trade candidate.

This situation could also work to Dorion’s advantage in his negotiations with the Pinto camp. Mendes wondered if the latter would still attempt to get a little bit of security in his contract or accept a one-year deal at a lesser rate and try again next summer. He’s not assuming that Pinto and his agent will accept the one-year qualifying offer of $874, 125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation could also prompt speculation of the Senators attempting to trade Pinto once he’s served his suspension given all that’s transpired. Reports out of Ottawa in recent weeks claimed that they don’t want to move him and the club issued a statement following his suspension that they’ll welcome him back with open arms.

Still, we can’t dismiss the possibility of Doirion peddling Pinto starting in January, though I daresay this suspension could hurt his value in the trade market. 

COULD THE PANTHERS AND BLUE JACKETS SWING A TRADE?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted that the Columbus Blue Jackets have been attempting to trade a defenseman for weeks now. It’s believed right-shot blueliners Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke are available.

Murphy indicated that the Florida Panthers are interested in upgrading their blueline though they’ll be squeezed for salary-cap space once defenseman Aaron Ekblad comes off long-term injury reserve. A source told Murphy that the Panthers and Dallas Stars have an interest in Boqvist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have only used just over $1 million of their LTIR cap space. They have room to add Boqvist’s $2.6 million cap hit but they’ll have to shed salary to make room for Ekblad when he returns in January.

They could prefer instead waiting until close to the March 8 trade deadline to boost their defense corps. There could be more affordable options available by that time plus they’ll have accrued some cap space by then.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2023

The Red Wings acquire Alex DeBrincat from the Senators and sign him to a four-year contract. Check out the details in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Detroit Red Wings acquired forward Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Dominik Kubalik, defense prospect Donavan Sebrango, a conditional first-round pick in 2024 and a fourth-round pick in 2024.

OTTAWA SUN: The conditions of the first-round pick are as follows:

Ottawa Senators trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Detroit Red Wings (NHL Images).

The Red Wings have the option of sending the Senators their own 2024 first-round pick or the 2024 first-rounder they acquired from the Boston Bruins. However, if Boston’s selection is a top-10 pick, the Bruins have the option of retaining that pick and sending the Wings their 2025 first-rounder. The Wings will then have the option of sending that pick or their own 2024 first-rounder to Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This looks like a steal for the Red Wings and an underwhelming return for the Senators.

DeBrincat, 25, is a two-time 40-goal scorer who should help Detroit address their need for more scoring punch. He’s also a Michigan native who wanted to play for the Red Wings.

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion apparently wanted to move DeBrincat before his arbitration hearing later this summer. He didn’t want a player on his roster who didn’t want to be there becoming an unnecessary distraction for his club as they try to reach the playoffs in 2023-24.

Nevertheless, if this return is the best Dorion could find it doesn’t say much about the offers he received from other interested clubs.

Kubalik, 27, tallied 20 goals and 45 points in 81 games last season. He is a middle-six winger who might only be a Senator for one season given his unrestricted free-agent status next July. The 21-year-old Sebrango was ranked 14th among the Wings prospects in The Athletic’s midseason prospect evaluations.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports getting a first-round pick was crucial to the Senators. If Kubalik and/or Sebrango fail to become significant long-term additions to the Senators, the only saving grace could be that first-round pick.

Acquiring DeBrincat without any assurances of signing him to a long-term contract was a risky move by Dorion that failed to pan out. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, on the other hand, didn’t make the same mistake…

The Red Wings also signed DeBrincat to a four-year contract with an average annual value of $7.875 million. He’ll also get a 16-team no-trade clause commencing in 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrincat was a restricted free agent. His camp reportedly sought an eight-year deal worth $8.8 million. He gets half that term for $1 million less but I doubt the winger is unhappy given his desire to play for the Wings.

MLive.com’s Ansar Khan believes Yzerman got DeBrincat on his terms and I concur with that assessment. As Khan observed, he got the winger signed to a team-friendly contract without parting with any core players or prime prospects. If DeBrincat regains his high-scoring form this will be a big win for the Wings.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE PROVINCE: Recently-signed Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ian Cole has withdrawn his request to wear No. 28 after learning that number was last worn by the late Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle accident in May 2008.

Cole wore the No. 28 for most of his career and had received permission from the Canucks to wear it. Following an outcry from the team’s fans, the 34-year-old blueliner issued a statement indicating he was unaware that Bourdon was the last player to wear that number.

To honor Bourdon’s memory, Cole will instead wear No. 82 with the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an oversight by Canucks management that put Cole in a difficult spot. They should’ve known about the significance of Bourdon’s memory to the club’s fans and informed Cole that the No. 28 was not available.

TSN: Speaking of the Canucks, they signed restricted free-agent forward Nils Hoglander to a two-year, $2.2 million deal.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Cale Fleury by signing him to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken also avoided arbitration with blueliner Will Borgen last week. That brings the original 22-name list of NHL players who filed last week for arbitration down to 20.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vladimir Tarasenko and Matt Dumba are among the notable names still available over a week into the 2023 NHL free-agent period.