NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

The latest on the Oilers, Kings, and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill

OILERS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently examined several potential trade targets for the Oilers. He suggested Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper would be an attractive option given his salary-cap hit ($4.5 million) for the next two years and solid save percentages (.920 or higher) over the last three years.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins expects the Oilers focus will be on their goaltending rather than on defense or a third-line center. He notes speculation suggests Darcy Kuemper could be available but feels he’ll go to a goalie-poor club with draft picks to spend like the Calgary Flames. He also considers Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract is too expensive.

Leavins argues for upgrading Mikko Koskinen’s goalie partner rather than seeking a true starter. He points out Koskinen’s save percentage (.917) is similar to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and comparable to Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (.919) and Vegas’ Robin Lehner (.921). Re-signing Mike Smith to a one-year, $1-million deal would make sense if Smith accepts playing 20-25 games per year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly reports the Oilers have $70.9 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They seemingly lack the cap room to bring in an established starter, but recent rumors indicate they had talks with the Penguins about Matt Murray but balked at parting with a first-round pick. Maybe Oilers general manager Ken Holland attempts a dollar-for-dollar deal to add a goalie or dumps salary in a separate trade.

Kuemper would be a solid addition if Holland seeks a reliable starter, but I agree with Leavins that he could end up with a club that has the tradeable assets to tempt the Coyotes if they’re looking to rebuild. That would be draft picks, prospects or young NHL-ready players.

If Holland’s going to upgrade Koskinen’s partner he should pass on Smith. There should be better options available in what’s expected to be a flooded goalie market. Dallas’ Anton Khudobin is due to become a UFA but his playoff heroics will price him out of the Oilers’ range. The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.913) could be an option.

Leavins colleague David Staples looks into whether it would be worthwhile for the Oilers to pursue Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. While he considers the Coyotes captain a very good defenseman, his stats indicate he’s not an elite one. He doubts the Oilers can afford Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value plus he could be unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to come to Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication Holland is interested in Ekman-Larsson. I daresay those points raised by Staples ensures the blueliner won’t be coming to Edmonton anytime soon.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell also suggested Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk would be an attractive trade option for the Connor McDavid line. DeBrusk is a restricted free agent and could cost around $5 million annually to sign. The Bruins asking price could be prospects and draft picks, though Mitchell suggests the Oilers’ first-round pick might come into play.

Mitchell’s colleague Jonathan Willis believes the Oilers won’t get fair value in any trade involving Jesse Puljujarvi. While some observers suggest swapping the winger for another underachieving young player, Willis believes that could be simply exchanging one problem for another. He suggests they follow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s example with Jonathan Drouin and hope Puljujarvi can build up his value if he returns to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins don’t re-sign Torey Krug they’ll have the cap room to re-sign DeBrusk, though that could go off the rails if the winger seeks more than they’re willing to pay. I think they intend to re-sign DeBrusk and remain patient with him. He’s only 23 and was on pace to exceed 20 goals for the second straight year and 40 points for the third straight year before COVID-19 prematurely ended the regular season.

I agree with Willis’ take on Puljujarvi. Shipping him out for another struggling youngster doesn’t guarantee improvement. Best to bring him back and give him an opportunity to build up his game.

KINGS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman doesn’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to pursue any big-name talent via free agency. If they do look toward the UFA market it could be for affordable options. Oilers winger Tyler Ennis, Nashville Predators winger Craig Smith, and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon were among Dillman’s suggested targets.

Dillman also pointed out the Kings carry over $19 million in salary-cap space, putting them in a good position to acquire a player from a cap-strapped club who can provide immediate help if they’re willing to part with draft picks and prospects. Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and fellow Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson could be available. The St. Louis Blues could look to move winger Jaden Schwartz to clear cap room to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before COVID-19 flattened the salary cap it was expected Kings GM Rob Blake would wait until next summer before getting into the UFA market as the 2021 pool of free-agent talent is deeper than this year’s. We don’t know if the current economic landscape has changed his mind.

Dillman isn’t saying Blake will pursue a big-name player via trades or free agency. She’s simply looking at possible moves if the Kings GM were inclined to get involved. Blake could make a move or two but I’ll be surprised if he makes a big splash in this year’s trade or free-agent markets. He could stick with his plan of rebuilding with youth but I see him adding a reasonable price veteran or two.

CAPITALS

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan wonders if the Washington Capitals need to trade a defenseman. If they re-sign Brenden Dillon they’ll be overloaded with left-shot blueliners as they’ll also have Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny and Jonas Siegenthaler, as well as prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev. He speculates that could leave one of them expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon whether Dillon re-signs. Even then, there’s no rush to ship out one of those blueliners. If they do I suspect it would be Kempny or Siegenthaler.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2020

Are the Oilers shopping for a goalie? Will the Blue Jackets get into the market for a center? How could the Blackhawks shed salary? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS SEEKING A GOALTENDER?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers seek a goaltender to share the duties with Mikko Koskinen. While they’ve kicked the tires on Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, the Oilers would prefer adding a younger version of Mike Smith for around $2.5 million who can play 35-40 games with Koskinen.

Matheson points out the Oilers only have around $9 million in cap space. He also notes it’s a buyer’s market for unrestricted free agent goalies with such notables as Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Cam Talbot, Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss potentially available. Trade options could include Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, or maybe Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bolstering the goaltending should be the Oilers’ priority. Koskinen cannot be relied upon to carry the bulk of the starts and Smith is clearly past his prime and must be replaced.

Kuemper would be the best trade option if available, carrying a reasonable $4.5 million annual average value over the next two seasons. Korpisalo would be even more affordable ($2.8 million AAV for two years) but has a limited body of work as a starter.

The Penguins are trying to cut costs by shopping Murray. The asking price won’t be expensive but his new contract will be, perhaps over $6 million annually. Factor in his injury history and inconsistent play over the last two years, and the Oilers would be wise to look elsewhere.

Perhaps the Oilers will move one of their defensemen to free up cap space for other moves. Matheson’s colleague David Staples suggested shopping veteran defenseman Kris Russell to free up some cap space. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4 million AAV and a 15-team no-trade list for 2020-21, but his actual salary will be $1.5 million once the Oilers pay his $1 million signing bonus for next season.

WILL THE BLUE JACKETS SHOP FOR A CENTER?

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports the 2020 playoffs showed the Blue Jackets need an upgrade at center, specifically on the second line. He indicates there’s a “glaring void” between first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois and third-liner Boone Jenner.

Hedger lists free agency, the trade market and developing from within as the ways general manager Jarmo Kekalainen can address this issue.

The free-agent market is bleak, with Nashville’s Mikael Granlund topping the list with 30 points this season. Kekalainen will explore the trade market as they can draw upon their blueline depth, young forwards, and a pair of goalies in their mid-20s who performed well this season for trade bait. Hedger suggested the Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a trade target, though he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

Options from within could include Alexander Wennberg or Alexandre Texier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The UFA market is very thin for center. Granlund, Carl Soderberg, Tyler Ennis, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Mikko Koivu and Erik Haula are the best of the bunch. Thornton, Spezza, Koivu and Soderberg are past their prime, Granlund and Ennis are used more as wingers while Haula’s been hampered by injuries in recent years.They could try Wennberg and Texier, but I don’t think that’s going to work. Wennberg is inconsistent while Texier is used mostly on the wing.

The trade market is their best option to address that need, but I don’t think the Oilers intend to part with Nugent-Hopkins. He’s a key versatile part of their forward lines, able to play second-line center or skate at left wing on Connor McDavid’s line.

HOW WILL THE BLACKHAWKS CUT SALARY?

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis recently examined how the Blackhawks can free up salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome and Drake Caggiula and unrestricted free agent goalie Corey Crawford.

The Blackhawks can free up $5.56 million if they buy out Olli Maatta and Zack Smith. A more ideal solution would be moving one or both via trade, but that would involve packaging them with sweeteners.

Trading Brandon Saad would shed $6 million. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become a UFA next summer. However, Roumeliotis argues that move would subtract a top-six forward merely to shed salary. Given the current economic climate, he doubts a rival club would take on that full cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buying out Maatta and Smith could also leave the Blackhawks with over $1.7 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, followed by two more seasons of $680K annually. Nevertheless, that could become their best option to re-sign their key players.

I doubt Smith will have any more trade value. Maatta’s performance in this year’s playoffs might make him enticing for clubs seeking a puck-moving defenseman.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2020

The latest on Taylor Hall, Max Domi, Frederik Andersen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Anthony Cirelli and James van Riemsdyk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

HALL AND DOMI

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cites Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that a case could be made for the Canadiens as a destination for Taylor Hall. He believes the 29-year-old left-winger would be interested in the Habs if he tests the unrestricted free agent market.

He likes playing in that environment,” said Dreger. “He enjoyed his time in Edmonton. He’s not afraid of the media and all those things. Markets in Canada are fun when you know what you’re getting into.”

Hall could improve the Canadiens’ offense. However, Dreger also noted the Arizona Coyotes are interested in re-signing the former Hart Trophy winner. He feels if Hall is seeking the most money he can get, chances are he’ll get that with the Coyotes.

Cowan also wondered what the future holds for Max Domi. The 25-year-old Canadiens center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a disappointing follow-up to last season’s 72-point performance.

The Buffalo Sabres could be a fit if the Habs put Domi on the trade block. Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR Sports Radio 550 he thinks Domi is available. He pointed out the center wasn’t happy with his role this season plus he changed agents last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall will garner lots of interest if he hits the open market. I don’t doubt the Coyotes’ sincerity toward re-signing him, but recent reports that they were late paying player bonuses plus their $80-million cap payroll could affect their efforts. I also believe Hall wants to play for a contender, which could see him move on from the Coyotes and pass over the Habs.

Friedman followed up on Domi during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, reporting he hasn’t requested a trade. The Canadiens could re-sign him but, as Friedman pointed out during his WGR interview last Thursday, they probably don’t see him as a $5 million per season player. The Habs could trade Domi if negotiations bog down and arbitration looms.

ANDERSEN

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported Friday he believes Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has spoken to Frederik Andersen. He apparently told the 30-year-old goalie the Leafs aren’t shopping him, but teams are asking about him.

Luke Fox suggests the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres “to name a few” could be potential trade partners. They’re in need of an upgrade between the pipes and have the blueline depth to tempts Dubas. However, Fox feels the Leafs shouldn’t move Andersen unless they can land a goalie carrying a similar cap hit ($5 million) who could be a better fit right away.

Fox also pointed out Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper’s new contract (two years, $4.5 million annual average value) kicks in next season. Given the Coyotes woes, teams seeking a goaltender would come calling. Trading him, however, would be a horrible way for the Coyotes to boost their dressing room or excite their fan base.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I mention Fox’s comments about Kuemper because his name recently surfaced in the rumor mill. It would be natural to tie the Leafs to Kuemper and suggest peddling Andersen elsewhere. Maybe that’s what Dubas has in mind. All the talk about trading Andersen was as a cost-cutting measure, but things can change rapidly if you’re considering several options.

Dubas won’t trade Andersen unless he’s getting a goalie of equal or greater value in return. Maybe it’s Kuemper, maybe it’s someone else. Maybe there’s no better option out there. Maybe the right deal just can’t be found. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks.

COULD FLEURY RETURN TO PITTSBURGH?

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights would like to re-sign Robin Lehner, who’s taken over the starting goalie role from Fleury.

Doing so, however, would mean trading or buying out Fleury. Madden feels the latter is possible because the 35-year-old’s $7 million AAV for the next two seasons is difficult to trade. Fleury would then become an unrestricted free agent and sign a cap-friendly deal with the Penguins, who are expected to trade Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting premise, but I don’t see this unfolding. Sure, the Golden Knights could buy out Fleury, and he could be amenable to returning to the Penguins on perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden deal to share the crease with Tristan Jarry. However, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will go with Jarry and Casey DeSmith as his tandem and see how things unfold next season.

SHOULD THE JETS OFFER-SHEET CIRELLI?

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck suggests Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be a little ruthless in the offseason and sign Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. The Lightning have $76.1 million invested in next season’s payroll, lacking sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli is a tempting offer-sheet target, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he’s not, it’s a pointless exercise. And if he is willing to sign, there’s no certainty he’d do so with the Jets. If the Lightning want to match it, they are allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by 10 percent during the offseason. I don’t see the Bolts losing him to an offer sheet unless a club signs him for an AAV of $8.5 million or more.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLYERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined what the offseason could hold for the Philadelphia Flyers in the wake of their second-round elimination from the 2020 playoffs. Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to re-sign some veteran players.

She suggested trading winger James van Riemsdyk as a cost-cutting measure. He carries a $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 and fell out of favor during the playoffs. However, Kaplan feels there’s probably not much of a market for him and it would be a sell-low move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli had JVR sitting second on his recently updated NHL trade-bait board. Kaplan offered a good explanation of why he shouldn’t be that high on the list. Unless the Flyers pick up part of that cap hit or package him with a sweetener, they could find it tough to attract suitors for van Riemsdyk.

 










NHL Trade Market Returning to Life

NHL Trade Market Returning to Life










NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

A Big Offseason Goalie Market

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TSN: Following the St. Louis Blues trading Jake Allen to the Montreal Canadiens, Frank Seravalli listed a number of goaltenders potentially available in the offseason.

Free-agent options include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.

Possible trade chips include Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, and one of Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins.

Among the trade options, Seravalli reports the Penguins are believed to have an offer on the table for Murray. He speculates the Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and perhaps the Avalanche could become suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer could be a buyer’s market for goaltenders. Plenty of options to choose from here.

Of the UFAs, I believe Markstrom, Lehner and Crawford will re-sign with their current clubs. The Stars could stick with Khudobin as Ben Bishop’s backup depending on what he seeks in his next contract. The Flyers could bring back Elliott for another year backing up Carter Hart.

Holtby, Greiss and Talbot would be the best available options. However, finding new homes and lucrative deals could be difficult to come by depending on what happens in the trade market.

The trade candidates are a mixed bag. Andersen could be the best of the bunch. He catches a lot of flak from some Leafs fans over his playoff record, but he’s not to blame for his club’s porous defense. It’s to his credit he’s posted up the numbers he has given his heavy workload.

Murray has two Stanley Cups on his resume but he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past couple of years. Raanta is an outstanding netminder when he’s healthy but he’s often sidelined.

Korpisalo and Merzlikins both played well this season, but are they truly ready for full-time starter’s work? Either guy could be a bit of a gamble.

Fleury turns 36 in November and his play during this season in part prompted the acquisition of Lehner at the trade deadline. Lundqvist is past his prime and carries an $8.5 million cap hit next season with a full no-movement clause. I doubt the Rangers will find many takers for King Henrik unless he waives his NMC and the Blueshirts pick up a healthy chunk of his cap space.

Smith, Howard, Miller and Anderson are well past their prime. Maybe Miller returns with the Ducks for one last season. Otherwise, he and the others could face retirement.

THE EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman including goalie Darcy Kuemper among the Arizona Coyotes’ trade chips. Staples feels Kuemper would be worth pursuing by the Oilers if they can clear out some money on defense. The Coyotes are without a first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, leading Staples to wonder if it would be wise for the Oilers to give up a first-rounder when other goalies could be more affordable in contract and return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on Kuemper’s performance this season, the Oilers should definitely look into acquiring him. I’m not saying they should overpay, but if what Kuemper did over the past two seasons is an indication of what lies ahead, he could be a big upgrade between the pipes in Edmonton. His performance in this year’s postseason will likely draw lots of interest from other clubs if the Coyotes shop him. As Friedman noted, however, that will depend upon what the next Coyotes’ GM wants to do.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle examined the Leafs options to replace Andersen if they decide to trade him. While acknowledging there’s no guarantee they’ll move Andersen, Mirtle believes they have a legitimate interest in Robin Lehner and could be among the bidders for his services when he becomes a UFA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner will cost a lot more than the $5 million AAV the Leafs are paying Andersen for next season. He’s already making that much on a one-year deal. Yes, the flattened cap will have an effect upon Lehner’s next contract and those of his fellow pending UFAs. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got offers between $6-$7 million annually on a four- or five-year deal. The Leafs will have to shed more payroll if they hope to land Lehner.

Kevin Kurz recently observed the San Jose Sharks need a goaltender to pair with or supplant starter Martin Jones. He wondered if Andersen might be a better fit with the Sharks, noting he played his first three NHL seasons in the Western Conference with the Anaheim Ducks. If the Carolina Hurricanes decide to pursue a top-flight netminder, perhaps the Sharks could bring back James Reimer. He likely wouldn’t cost much beyond a mid-round pick.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2020

Could the Coyotes make some big changes? Are the Hurricanes interested in Frederik Andersen? What’s the latest on Alex Pietrangelo, Jonas Brodin, and Phillip Danault? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes’ goal will be to cut payroll and rebuild. They face a tight salary cap for 2020-21 but then it eases. With no picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft and no first- or third-rounder for 2021, they could try to restock that.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images)

Friedman suggests there could be a market for goaltender Darcy Kuemper and they would like to test defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s trade value. Ekman-Larsson has seven years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million and a full no-movement clause, but he could be open to waiving it depending on the destination. They also have four defensemen (Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Oesterle and Niklas Hjalmarsson) with a year remaining on their contracts. Friedman claims Hjalmarsson remains much-loved around the league.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER: Craig Morgan considers Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Jakob Chychrun as the Coyotes’ most marketable assets if they decide to rebuild. Kuemper has two years left on his contract ($4.5 million AAV) and lacks no-trade protection. Chychrun has five years left ($4.6 million AAV) with a modified no-trade in the final two years. He also considered those other blueliners on one-year deals as tradeable assets, though he thinks they could retain Oesterle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because those names are being bandied about doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be moved in the off-season. The Coyotes still haven’t decided on a full-time general manager and it remains to be seen if they’ll make any drastic moves. Nevertheless, their situation will be worth monitoring.

Friedman said team owner Alex Muerelo’s casino business is getting hammered by COVID-19, resulting in business layoffs and players complaining of late per diem payments. If the goal is to cut payroll and rebuild with affordable players, veterans like Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Hjalmarsson could be on the move. It will also mean they won’t be re-signing Taylor Hall, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 1.

Friedman reports the Carolina Hurricanes have an interest in Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. However, the Leafs aren’t keen to make a change just for the sake of doing so. Friedman feels if they make that move it’ll be for an upgrade, suggesting they could wait to see how this year’s goaltending free-agent market shakes out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs could pursue someone like Vegas’ Robin Lehner if he hits the open market. Or maybe they make a trade for someone like Darcy Kuemper and then peddle Andersen to the Hurricanes. If they go the UFA route they’ll be paying more than Andersen’s $5 million AAV. The Canes would also have to dump either Petr Mrazek or James Reimer as both have a year left on their contracts.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t think William Nylander is going anywhere without a legitimate top-four right-hand shot defenseman coming in return.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think they’d prefer that defenseman to be a top-two right-side guy. It would take someone like Nylander to fetch that type of return, especially with John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner considered untouchable.

Friedman also mentioned Alex Pietrangelo met last week with St. Louis Blues management to discuss a new contract. He feels the Blues captain wants to stay in St. Louis but cited a couple of sources suggesting it hasn’t been easy for Pietrangelo to see teammates like Justin Faulk, Marco Scandella and Brayden Schenn get contract extensions while his talks stalled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have $79.4 million invested in 21 players, with defenseman Vince Dunn also to be re-signed. The additions of Faulk and Scandella were likely insurance in case Pietrangelo departs via free agency. If the Blues hope to re-sign him, they must shed two or three contracts to make it work. There’s plenty of time for both sides to get a deal done. The tip-off will be how quickly Blues GM Doug Armstrong sheds salary once the playoffs are over.

The Montreal Canadiens are getting asked about their plans for Phillip Danault, who’s a year away from UFA status. His comments following the Habs’ playoff elimination about his future being a bit unclear drew attention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s role as solely a defensive center against the Penguins and Flyers and the rise of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is stoking speculation about his future in Montreal.

As for his comments, Danault said he wasn’t ready to be solely a defensive forward, adding he enjoyed producing offensively and his role as a two-way forward. He acknowledged his role for next season would determine if he re-signs with Montreal. However, he also indicated that by what he’s proven in the last few years, his role shouldn’t change in Montreal.

The Canadiens could move him if they feel Suzuki and Kotkaniemi are now ready as full-time centers on the top two lines. However, I think they prefer keeping Danault around in case one or both struggle to adjust over the course of a long season. 

One of the Minnesota Wild’s priorities is figuring out the cost of extending Jonas Brodin. The 27-year-old defenseman will become an unrestricted free agent next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo suggested the blueliner could also be used to acquire a starting goaltender like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or to acquire a center. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets could consider moving a goalie for some scoring. Friedman notes Joonas Korpisalo and Matiss Kivlenieks aren’t exempt from next year’s expansion draft. Meanwhile, he reports the Pittsburgh Penguins is testing the trade market on third-line center Jared McCann.