NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Tomas Hertl, Jason Zucker and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Killorn collected two assists and rookie Ross Colton tallied his first NHL goal as the Lightning (25 points) move to within one point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division.

Speaking of the Panthers, they fell 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. Anton Khudobin kicked out 43 shots for the shutout and Joe Pavelski picked up two assists as the Stars snapped a six-game winless skid.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux picked up three assists after coming off the COVID-19 protocol list as his club held off the New York Rangers 4-3. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick and Mika Zibanejad has two assists.

William Nylander scored the tying and winning goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. Flame goalie David Rittich made 37 saves as he was denied his second straight shutout of the Leafs.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise tallied his 800th career point and teammate Mats Zuccarello got his 400th in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nico Sturm also scored twice as the Wild (20 points) have won four straight games to sit one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Anaheim Ducks for the second straight game. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Arizona as they took the game on a shootout goal by Christian Dvorak. Coyotes backup Adin Hill made 14 saves in relief of Darcy Kuemper after the latter left the game with a lower-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their sixth straight victory by hanging on for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Cal Petersen turned aside 35 shots for the win on second-period goals by Alex Iafallo and Andreas Athanasiou.

HEADLINES

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Kontinental Hockey League said it had not been made aware of or received any complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin back in December 2011.

Panarin’s former KHL coach Andrei Nazarov alleged the Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in a bar following a game in Riga, Latvia. The KHL said it would’ve investigated any such complaint as they take allegations of misconduct “incredibly seriously”.

To date, there’s been no corroborating evidence to support Nazarov’s allegation. No victim has come forward nor has there been any police record of the alleged incident. Kip Brennan and Jon Mirasty, two of Panarin’s former Vityaz teammates, both said they never knew or heard of the incident taking place.

Another former teammate, Mikhail Anisin, told Russian outlet Sport-Express the incident didn’t play out as Nazarov described, recalling Panarin “didn’t beat anyone, maybe pushed one girl a little bit, nothing more” in a karaoke bar. Anisin said police did come to the team hotel but left after determining the situation didn’t warrant charges. He also rejected the notion of the police being paid off as the players at the time didn’t have that type of money.

Panarin remains on a leave of absence from the Rangers as he deals with this situation. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is looking into the allegations. Kaplan said it would be uncharacteristic of the league to punish Panarin without corroborating evidence.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker also cited Anisin’s comments. She also spoke with Maxim Sitnikov, who briefly played with Panarin during that season. Sitnikov also denied the alleged incident took place, praising the winger’s character and rejecting what he called “villains” saying “all sorts of nonsense.” Walker cited two more former Vityaz players who requested to remain anonymous agreeing with Brennan’s and Mirasty’s version of events.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The allegation against Panarin is quickly falling apart. Unless Nazarov can produce evidence to corroborate his story he should withdraw his comments and issue an apology to the Rangers’ star.

SPORTSNET: The NHL postponed Thursday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights after a Sharks player tested positive for COVID-19. Sharks center Tomas Hertl was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list yesterday. New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller was also added to the list, which is now down to eight players, four of them members of the Flyers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jason Zucker has returned to Pittsburgh for further evaluation for what appeared to be an injured knee or ankle suffered during their recent game against the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon is sidelined at least a month with a fractured hand.

TSN: The Penguins yesterday claimed defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

CBC SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Pulujarvi on Tuesday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will soon be allowed to admit some fans to their games following North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s announcement yesterday that indoor arenas can open to 15 percent capacity.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gary Inness passed away on Feb. 23 from dementia at age 71. Inness played 162 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals from 1973-74 to 1980-81. He also coached the AHL’s Hershey Bears from 1981-82 to 1984-85. Following his hockey career, he became a teacher and guidance counselor at Barrie North Collegiate Institute until his retirement in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Inness’ family, friends and former teammates.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 13, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 13, 2020

Check out the latest on the Hurricanes, Predators, and Blues in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently observed the Carolina Hurricanes opted to stand pat with goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer rather than pursue an upgrade between the pipes. Nevertheless, he wondered if they could pursue an experienced starter at this season’s trade deadline. O’Brien proposed perhaps moving one of them in exchange for a goalie with an expiring contract like Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Boston’s Tuukka Rask, or Vega’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

Could the Carolina Hurricanes attempt to replace a goalie like James Reimer during the coming season? (NHL Images)

  THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was also asked about the possibility of the Hurricanes swinging an in-season trade to improve their goaltending. She wondered if Fleury could become available if it’s determined Robin Lehner is completely healthy. Civian also advocated pursuing Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers (including myself) believe the Hurricanes need to upgrade their goaltending to become Stanley Cup contenders. Mrazek and Reimer are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. One or both could hit next summer’s open market.

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell decided to stick with the Mrazek-Reimer tandem. Perhaps there simply wasn’t anything to his liking in the offseason trade and free-agent markets to address that need at a reasonable price. Waddell could keep his options open if his club needs help between the pipes before the trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan suggests the Nashville Predators should target Anthony Cirelli with an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent and his club has to clear salary-cap space to sign him to a new contract. Cirelli has the making of a future Selke Trophy candidate with his two-way skills.

Vingan believes the Predators have the necessary ammunition to make a serious offer for Cirelli. They have nearly $13 million in salary-cap space and sufficient draft picks required as compensation for a successful signing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because the Predators have that cap space doesn’t mean they intend to use up a hefty portion with an offer sheet. GM David Poile could also be reluctant to part with his draft picks.

Don’t forget that it takes two to tango. Cirelli likely prefers staying in Tampa Bay with a Stanley Cup champion and could be unwilling to entertain an offer sheet.

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Jim Thomas was asked if there was any chance of the Blues trading Vince Dunn. While admitting one should never say never, Thomas doubts the 24-year-old defenseman will be moved, pointing out the club already lost blueliner Alex Pietrangelo plus he’s young and affordable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn’s not going anywhere. The Blues will get the restricted free agent signed to an affordable short-term deal before training camp opens next month.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor.

TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade-bait board. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Vegas Golden Knights’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury now sit in the top five.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reports Ekman-Larsson is willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks and Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is talking with both clubs hoping to work out a deal. Dreger believes the Coyotes will either have to retain some of Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value or they’ll have to take back some contracts in return.

The Coyotes lack a first-round pick for this year and next year, but the Bruins and Canucks don’t have first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggested Canucks GM Jim Benning offer up Loui Eriksson, who has two years left on his contract at $6 million AAV, as part of the return. Eriksson’s only being paid $5 million in actual salary over those two years. However, the Coyotes could be on his 15-team no-trade list.

Acquiring Ekman-Larsson would allow the Bruins to replace Torey Krug, who’s expected to depart via free agency next Friday. If the Coyotes aren’t willing to pick up part of his cap hit, the Bruins will have to give up something worthwhile while freeing up some additional cap space to absorb Ekman-Larsson’s contract.

Turning to Murray, Seravalli noted the Edmonton Oilers were linked to him. With free agency looming, he said many observers are wondering if they might set their sights on Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, the Ottawa Senators’ second-round picks, Canucks winger Jake Virtanen and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said there were rumors the Oilers had an interest in DeBrusk but their cap constraints likely make him too expensive. He’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Maybe he becomes part of the Bruins’ package offer for Ekman-Larsson?

As for Rask, Seravalli cites multiple sources claiming Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been gauging the goalie’s value in the trade market. He’s got a year left on his contract ($7 million AAV) with a 15-team trade list. If he trades Rask, however, he’ll have to find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. While both markets are flooded with goaltenders, that doesn’t mean Sweeney is guaranteed to land an upgrade over Rask.

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn and Wild forward Ryan Donato come in at 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Gourde and Johnson have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, and Blue Jackets goalies Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo fill spots 16 to 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade Pietrangelo’s rights if the two sides fail to hammer out a new contract before the UFA market opens next Friday. The Jackets could be open to moving one of their goalies, either to free up cap room or perhaps in a package deal for a scoring forward.

Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad fill spots 21 to 24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kuemper trade chatter has cooled in recent days as the Coyotes shift their focus on trade Ekman-Larsson. It’s now believed they prefer to retain him. Hanifin recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned his name came up during the Flames discussions with the New Jersey Devils last fall about Taylor Hall. Hanifin might not be available if the Flames let TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic depart next week as free agents.

Nashville Predators forwards Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Nick Bonino, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere complete spots 25 to 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said the lack of quality centers in this year’s free-agent market has the Predators believed to be seeking opportunities to move one of theirs. I’m guessing GM David Poile would like to bring in a scoring winger in return or to free up the cap room to pursue one via free agency. Poile would love to move Kyle Turris but the four years remaining on his contract at $6 million per season makes that almost impossible.

I’m not convinced the Hurricanes are keen to move Skjei after acquiring him at the February trade deadline. Domi and Gostisbehere have been fixtures in the rumor mill for some time. Speaking of the Canadiens, Pierre LeBrun said they’re willing to move their first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for the right return. He indicated they’re in the market for a top-six forward.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Blues winger Jaden Schwartz are in spots 31 to 35.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re reaching the spot in the list where there are players who could be traded, but various factors likely work against it. For example, I don’t believe the Canadiens intend to trade Danault. While centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi could become the Habs top-two centers next season, they’ll need Danault’s skill and experience in case one or both of those youngsters struggle or become sidelined. Maybe that move takes place at next season’s trade deadline. Not now.

Blues center Tyler Bozak, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, Alec Martinez and Paul Stastny, and Coyotes winger Phil Kessel fill spots 36 to 40.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchessault, Martinez or Stastny could become a cap casualty if the Golden Knights need to shed salary to re-sign Lehner or pursue a big-ticket free agent like Pietrangelo. That’s assuming they can’t find any takers for Fleury.

Edmonton’s Kris Russell, Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour, the Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, Edmonton Evan Bouchard, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, San Jose’s Martin Jones, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky round out the bottom ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli wonders if Bobrovsky’s contract is the NHL’s most unmovable. Bill Zito, the Panthers new GM, should become the front-runner for GM of the Year if he can trade that contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2020

Possible destinations for Henrik Lundqvist and Bobby Ryan plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Darcy Kuemper, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD LUNDQVIST AND RYAN LAND AS FREE AGENTS?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks looked at potential landing spots for Henrik Lundqvist. The 38-year-old goaltender was bought out of the final year of his contract yesterday by the New York Rangers. Brooks suggests the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights (if they trade Marc-Andre Fleury), Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks (if Jacob Markstrom departs via free agency) as options.

SPORTSNET: The Canucks make Mike Johnston’s list, which includes the Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars (if they fail to re-sign Anton Khudubin), and Chicago Blackhawks if they move on from Corey Crawford.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien suggests Lundqvist could provide affordable goaltending insurance to contenders like the Capitals, Stars, Blues and Golden Knights, as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets. He also suggested some playoff hopefuls that could provide him more playing time like the Oilers and Canucks, along with the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks.

Where could former New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist land following his contract buyout? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears there are a number of clubs that could be destinations for Lundqvist but this is all mere media speculation right now. But how many of those clubs will be serious suitors and how many of them is he willing to consider as acceptable destinations? His affordability, experience and leadership would be invaluable, but finding the right fit and the right role will be crucial factors.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Joe Fordyce reports Bobby Ryan said the Philadelphia Flyers would be high on his list of destinations if they made him a contract offer or extended an invitation to training camp. The 33-year-old winger was recently bought out by the Ottawa Senators.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt cites The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz recently reporting the San Jose Sharks are one of “many teams” believed interested in Ryan. “They could certainly use a right wing,” said Kurz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if the Flyers are among the clubs interested in Ryan. Whoever signs him will likely do a short-term deal (one-to-two years) for probably between $2 -$3 million per season. Some clubs could try him in a second-line role while others could see him as a third liner.

Speaking of the Sharks, they also reportedly talked to the Minnesota Wild about goaltender Devan Dubnyk and winger Ryan Donato. Kurz suggests this could have some legs as a possible package deal.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman expects Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois to “think unconventionally” in the offseason. He believes teams will ask if defenseman Mikhail Sergachev wants a bigger role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sergachev should get an opportunity for a bigger role with the Lightning. Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn and Jan Rutta are unrestricted free agents. All of them could depart on Oct 9. Granted, they’re also right-side defensemen and Sergachev plays the left side, but I can see the Bolts trying to convert him to the right side.

Friedman expects the Dallas Stars will try to move a big salary, although trade protection is a concern. He expects Anton Khudobin has priced himself out of Dallas. Ben Bishop’s full no-trade becomes a partial, but his actual salary drops to three years at $3.5 million, which is manageable for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Joe Pavelski as the three highest-paid players with each carrying full no-movement clauses, followed by Alexander Radulov with a 15-team no-trade list. Trying to move any one of them will be difficult.

Friedman thinks the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes had a discussion about Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but he doesn’t see if a deal is possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It isn’t unless the Canucks move some salary to take on Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25 million AAV and he agrees to be traded to Vancouver.

If the Jets decide to trade Laine, Friedman wonders if there’s a match with the Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes. He believes the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers could do it but isn’t sure they would. He also wondered about the New York Islanders but mentioned their salary-cap issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will set a big asking price if they put Laine on the trade block. They need a second-line center and a top-four, right-shot defenseman. There’s also the fact he’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights and will be in the market for a big raise over his current $6.75-million AAV.

The high volume of goalies available in the UFA market could affect the trade market, making it difficult for a club like Pittsburgh to trade a netminder. Friedman suggests that’s why the Arizona Coyotes’ preference is to retain goalie Darcy Kuemper. He believes the Calgary Flames talking with the Columbus Blue Jackets about one of their goalies but that talk has cooled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams that fail to address their goalie needs via free agency could return to the trade market, but their numbers will be depleted after the best UFA goalies are signed. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch also cited sources claiming the Coyotes could retain Kuemper, but he thinks that could change if GM Bill Armstrong gets a first-round pick and another piece he’s seeking in the deal.

Speaking of the Flames, Friedman thinks they could revamp their blueline depending on who’s available. Noah Hanifin’s name was mentioned when the Flames were talking with the New Jersey Devils about Taylor Hall last month.

Speaking of the Coyotes, Friedman wonders if they’ll test the market on forward Clayton Keller.

The Washington Capitals are trying to shed some salary to re-sign defenseman Brenden Dillon.

The New Jersey Devils are willing to move the 18th and 20th picks in this year’s draft but Friedman doesn’t see them shopping the seventh-overall selection. The Anaheim Ducks aren’t averse to moving down a few spots from sixth overall.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2020

The latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Jets, Coyotes, Canucks and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered how the cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning will navigate the offseason following their Stanley Cup win. Only three defensemen (Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn) are under contract for next season, with Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak restricted free agents while Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn are among their unrestricted free agents. Center Anthony Cirelli is an RFA due for a big raise.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (NHL Images).

Wyshynski observes the Lightning have $5.3 million in cap space. It’s expected they’ll have to move a veteran forward to free up cap space, with Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual value, no-trade clause) and Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV, modified no-trade) among the trade candidates.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun also mentioned Johnson as a trade candidate as well as center Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million). He points out both could be tough to move because of their full no-trade clauses.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests the Winnipeg Jets attempt to trade for Cirelli. Noting the Lightning’s cap situation, he feels picks and/or prospects could be the return. Failing that, McIntyre suggests attempting to sign Cirelli to an offer sheet worth between $4.2 million and $6.3 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of general managers will be interested in what Lightning GM Julien BriseBois will do to address his cap issue and re-sign Cirelli and Sergachev. Shopping one or two veteran forwards seems the likely play, though that could prove difficult if there isn’t much of a market for them or if interested clubs insist on a sweetener in the deal. Killorn’s lesser cap hit and modified no-trade makes him easier to move than Johnson and Gourde

An offer sheet for Cirelli is possible, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he does, the Bolts can spend over the cap ceiling by 10 percent in the offseason to match the offer, though they must be cap compliant when next season begins.

OILERS INTERESTED IN EKMAN-LARSSON, KUEMPER?

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Edmonton Oilers are among the clubs with interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman carries a hefty contract ($8.25 million AAV through 2026-27, full no-movement clause), making it a difficult transaction for the Oilers. Dreger also adds the Boston Bruins in the mix.

Pierre LeBrun adds the Oilers are looking at goaltenders and believes they’ve spoken to the Coyotes about Darcy Kuemper. He also said they have shown interest in Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek and could keep an eye on Jacob Markstrom’s contract talks with the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples doesn’t see any of those players coming to Edmonton because of the Oilers’ cap constraints. Unless GM Ken Holland intends to dump some salary to make room for one of those players, I agree with Staples’ take.

VIRTANEN ON THE MOVE?

TSN: Darren Dreger suggests the Vancouver Canucks might not have much choice but to trade Jake Virtanen. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but it could cost $3 million annually on a two-year deal. Dreger indicated other teams are interested in Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $14.2 million in cap space but they’re also trying to re-sign Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, which will eat up a big chunk of their available cap payroll. Depending on how those negotiations go, they could be forced to shop Virtanen.

The Canucks could also shed salary to free up additional cap room. The Province’s Steve Ewen reports GM Jim Benning is rumored to be trying to move Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter. He noted Eriksson’s agent said he has permission from Benning to speak with other clubs about brokering a deal, though Ewen speculates that could also require packaging the winger with a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect.

LATEST ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggested possible options for the Senators if they decide to bring in an experienced goaltender. Free-agent targets could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss. Trade options include Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek.

Garrioch also reports the Senators are willing to listen to offers for the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have plenty of goaltending options to choose from and the cap space and trade assets to make it happen. It’ll be interesting to see what route they take.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine and Marc-Andre Fleury plus an update on the Coyotes and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WOULD IT COST TO ACQUIRE LAINE?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked about the trade speculation surrounding Patrik Laine. He isn’t ignoring the possibility of the 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger getting traded However, he considers it a long shot unless general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff gets blown away by an offer.

What could the Winnipeg Jets get if they trade Patrick Laine? (NHL Images)

Wiebe said the Jets would like to re-sign Laine, who’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. However, the flattened salary cap will affect those negotiations. Laine could command as much (or more) than captain Blake Wheeler’s $8.25 million annual average value if he takes another step forward in his development next season. If common ground can’t be reached, the trade talks could heat up next summer.

THE SCORE: Matt Teague and Brandon Maron listed the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild as five possible trade destinations for Laine.

From the Avs, they suggested a return of defensemen Ryan Graves or Nikita Zadorov, blueline prospect Connor Timmons and center Tyson Jost. From the Hurricanes, Vincent Trocheck and Brett Pesce. From the Blue Jackets, defenseman David Savard, winger Josh Anderson, and a 2021 third-round pick. From the Devils, defenseman Damon Severson, forward Pavel Zacha, and Vancouver’s 2020 first-round pick. From the Wild, defenseman Matt Dumba, center Joel Eriksson Ek, and the conditional 2021 first-round pick from Pittsburgh.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens are in a position to make an attractive pitch. He suggests offering up Max Domi, defenseman Brett Kulak and either Cale Fleury or Noah Juulsen, and the Canadiens’ first-round pick (16th overall).

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Duhatschek believes the Jackets would have to part with Seth Jones or Zach Werenski to acquire Laine, which he doesn’t see them going. He feels Hurricanes blueliner Pesce would be more attractive to the Jets than Dougie Hamilton, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Laine to Minnesota for Dumba also makes some sense, though the Wild’s biggest need is at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sound you’re hearing is most Jets fans panning those proposed deals. Justifiably so. The return for Laine would have to be significant, which those suggested returns are not. However, those proposals also illustrate the difficulty Cheveldayoff could face getting a quality package for Laine. As talented as the young winger is, and as much upside as he has, getting equal or greater value won’t be easy.

When the Laine rumors first surfaced earlier this month, one Winnipeg sportswriter said the return better be someone of the equivalent of Buffalo’s Jack Eichel. I agree with the sentiment, but the reality is that type of return is rarely received in trades involving stars like Laine.

Hanging over all this, of course, is Laine’s contract status at the end of 2020-21. If Cheveldayoff doesn’t believe he can afford to re-sign the winger, perhaps he’ll feel it’s best to move him now instead of having contract talks become an unnecessary distraction over the course of next season.

FLEURY PREFERS STAYING IN VEGAS

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Jesse Granger reporting Marc-Andre Fleury prefers staying with the Vegas Golden Knights. The 36-year-old goaltender said he’s loved the city and the team from the moment he arrived. It’s believed the Golden Knights could re-sign Robin Lehner, making Fleury potentially expendable. He said he gets along fine with Lehner and is open to splitting the goaltending duties with him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights only have $4.94 million in salary-cap space for 2020-21. They’ll need more than that to re-sign Lehner. They’ll have to shed salary and Fleury would be the most likely trade candidate. Moving his $7 million annual average value over the next two seasons won’t be easy, but it could be done by perhaps retaining a portion of it.

LATEST COYOTES RUMORS

ARIZONA COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports it’s not a certainty the Coyotes will trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Before the hiring of general manager Bill Armstrong, it was believed the asking price for Kuemper was a first-round pick. However, it appears they now want more than that. If the Coyotes cannot maximize the return on an asset like Kuemper, Morgan feels they should hang onto him.

Morgan also noted Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t waive his no-movement clause. While we have to wait-and-see on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Morgan senses the blueliner’s camp is open to a change of scenery.

Center Derek Stepan and defensemen Jason Demers could be attractive to rival clubs. In addition to goalie Antti Raanta, Morgan suggests keeping an eye on forward Michael Grabner and defenseman Alex Goligoski. He cites sources indicating Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Buffalo, Detroit and Los Angeles are among his eight-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause and reportedly loves living in Arizona. Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy that he could be open to a trade, though I daresay it’ll be a short list made up of playoff or Stanley Cup contenders.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he’s not interested in trading Brian Dumoulin or Marcus Pettersson. He expects recently acquired defenseman Mike Matheson will play on the left side. Rutherford also said Jack Johnson will have to compete for the sixth defenseman’s role, and he doesn’t plan to be active in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Johnson doesn’t nail down that role he could be shopped or demoted, with the latter the most likely option.