Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 11, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 11, 2021

An update on the Matthew Tkachuk speculation, the Sharks are reportedly open for business, and a look at possible Coyotes trade bait in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON MATTHEW TKACHUK

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian recently weighed in on the trade speculation swirling about Matthew Tkachuk this summer. One rumor linked the Calgary Flames winger was linked to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

The Flames firmly denied Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary and a return to his hometown of St. Louis. Salvian also cited colleague Jeremy Rutherford indicating sources saying the Blues had an interest in Tkachuk but it would take more than Tarasenko to pry him away from the Flames. That’s if Tarasenko would waive his no-trade clause to go to Calgary.

Tkachuk struggled through this season. However, Salvian attributed that performance to a combination of multiple injuries and his inability to train with Gary Roberts in Toronto during the offseason because of the border restrictions related to the pandemic. She anticipates a bounce-back effort by the 23-year-old winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors cited by Salvian would certainly account for Tkachuk’s difficulties throughout this season. Given his previous strong performances and his youth, the Flames would be understandably reluctant to part with him.

Tkachuk’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. Both sides could be waiting to see how this season shakes out before negotiating a long-term deal. He’s entering the third season of a three-year, $21 million contract. He’ll earn $9 million in actual salary this season, which could be what he’ll seek as an annual average value on his next deal.

SHARKS SHOPPING LEBANC

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports multiple sources said the San Jose Sharks are ramping up trade talks with other clubs. Kevin Labanc, Radim Simek and Dylan Gambrell are being dangled as the Sharks seek a “hockey trade” in which they get players in return. They’re also hoping to land draft picks. General manager Doug Wilson wants to upgrade his goaltending and add a third-line center.

Labanc would be their best trade chip in this group. Wilson felt he had 60-point potential but he got bumped out of the top six by head coach Bob Boughner. He tallied 28 points in 55 games this season and netted a career-high 56 points in 2018-19. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.725 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Lebanc’s production could be tied to the change in the Sharks’ system under Boughner. He tallied six points in 10 games for Team USA at this year’s World Championships. Perhaps playing with a deeper club or one with a more offensive style would be better suited to his type of game. His contract could be an issue with the cap remaining flattened for 2021-22.

POTENTIAL COYOTES TRADE BAIT

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recommends teams contact the Arizona Coyotes if they’re seeking a trade or free-agent bargain. He doesn’t anticipate they’ll be in buy mode this summer despite carrying $30 million in cap space due to reported money challenges.

Potential bargains could include restricted free agent winger Conor Garland. A June 23 report by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli indicated not much communication between Garland’s agent and management after they exchanged contract proposals. Center Christian Dvorak was mentioned by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman as a possible trade target. He’s signed for four more years at an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.

Pending UFA options include goaltender Antti Raanta and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers. O’Brien also recommends teams avoid trading for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Phil Kessel, citing cap hit and declining performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Bill Armstrong completed his first season on the job. He could be planning some significant changes after evaluating his club’s performance. We know they’re shopping Ekman-Larsson and it’s believed they could be willing to move Kessel. Finding suitable trade partners, however, could be difficult, especially if the Coyotes aren’t willing to retain salary.

Garland, 25, is completing a two-year, $1.55 million contract. Even if he gets a raise to $4 million annually it would be an affordable signing. The question is whether Armstrong sees Garland as a long-term part of the roster or if he’d prefer building up with younger players. The same applies to Dvorak.










What Next For the San Jose Sharks?

What Next For the San Jose Sharks?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

What next for the Rangers following yesterday’s front-office purge? Could Rasmus Sandin’s emergence on the Leafs’ blueline lead to a Morgan Rielly trade? Which Sharks forwards could end up on this summer’s trade block? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes the New York Rangers replacing team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton yesterday with Chris Drury indicates ownership wants the current roster reconstruction wrapped up quickly. Drury will be expected to turn the Rangers into a Stanley Cup contender as soon as possible. Reaching the playoffs was a goal this season but will become a requirement in 2021-22.

New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Rangers GM Glen Sather will be working with Drury in a consulting role. Sather was well known for his wheeling and dealing during his long management career. He would prove useful if ownership pressures Drury to explore this summer’s trade and free-agent markets to accelerate the rebuild.

The incident earlier this week with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson showed a glaring need for more grit in the New York Rangers’ lineup. The club is expected to address its lack of experienced and heavy skaters in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have considerable depth in young players and prospects to use as trade bait to address that need. Cap Friendly indicates they have $55.6 million invested in 17 players, giving Drury sufficient cap space to target teams looking to shed salary this summer or to pursue unrestricted free agents.

Walker also reported former Rangers captain Mark Messier yesterday told ESPN NY radio he’s ready to help the club any way he can. He believes “One thousand percent” he could coach despite having no prior experience.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I admire Messier’s confidence. However, the Rangers will need an experienced, respected bench boss if they replace David Quinn as head coach. Messier doesn’t tick that box.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently suggested the emergence of Rasmus Sandin on the Maple Leafs’ blueline could make things a little uncomfortable for Morgan Rielly. If the club develops faith in Sandin, trading Rielly and his $5 million cap hit for next season to free up money to re-sign Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen could become an option.

McGran feels Rielly could fetch a return comparable to the first-round pick and prospect the Leafs got for shipping Kaspari Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the blueliner would be safe if Andersen isn’t re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGran’s just spitballing here. I don’t think Rielly’s got anything to worry about. I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs bring back Andersen. They’ll likely stick with Jack Campbell as their starter and seek a reliable, affordable backup for him in the offseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests San Jose Sharks forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could become expendable after being pushed out of the top-six at times in recent weeks. He speculates one or both could be moved out this summer, perhaps in pursuit of an effective third-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier’s got a $6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23 while Labanc’s is $4725 million annually through 2023-24. Those contracts could prove tough to move with the salary cap staying around $81.5 million next season. It’s not impossible to move them but it could be more of a dollar-in, dollar-out scenario or perhaps the Sharks will have to retain some salary in the deals.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill: the Flames face some big offseason decisions, it might be time for the Sharks to consider trading Timo Meier or Kevin Labanc and Nikita Zadorov’s uncertain future with the Blackhawks.

TSN: Salim Valji examined the seven-year tenure of Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving and the big decisions he faces in the offseason. He pointed out the perception of the Flames as a flawed team has grown, suggesting it’ll take more than a handful of transactions to turn this disappointing club into a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Winger Johnny Gaudreau’s no-trade clause kicks in after this season and he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Team captain Mark Giordano could be exposed in the expansion draft. Under-performing winger Matthew Tkachuk will be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights requiring a $9 million qualifying offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving took responsibility for the Flames’ discouraging performance this season but that’s cold comfort for their fans. There could be growing calls for a new GM but Valji points out Treliving has two years remaining on his contract.

Gaudreau’s future could be Treliving’s biggest decision. The 27-year-old winger is a whipping boy for the Flames’ woes as his production has declined over the last two years. He could be their best trade chip but interested parties will want to know if Gaudreau will sign a contract extension before committing to a trade. He’d have more value if he’s under contract beyond next season.

Exposing Giordano in the expansion draft is a calculated risk. The Seattle Kraken could select him but could prefer another option given his age (37) and UFA eligibility next summer.

Tkachuk disappointed this season but the Flames could be reluctant to part ways with the pesky 23-year-old winger. He’d attract plenty of interest in the trade market but some teams will balk at that hefty qualifying offer.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz points out it’s not just the San Jose Sharks’ veterans who are playing poorly of late but also their younger players. Most concerning is Timo Meier (24) and Kevin Labanc (25) aren’t performing to the level expected of players with their contracts.

Kurz wonders if it might be time to trade one or both but that won’t be easy. While they lack no-trade protection, Labanc has a $4.725 million cap hit for the next three seasons while Meier’s is $6 million annually for the next two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their trade value at this point would also be affected by their play this season. Factor in those cap hits and getting a worthwhile return for either guy this summer seems unlikely.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope suggested the Blackhawks’ signing physical defenseman Riley Stillman to a three-year contract extension casts more doubt over Nikita Zadorov’s future in Chicago. He speculates Zadorov’s RFA rights could be traded in the offseason.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman listened to offers for Zadorov at the trade deadline but set a high asking price. He might have to lower it to move the blueliner this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stillman’s $1.35 million annual average value and age (23) makes him a younger, more affordable option for the Blackhawks than the 26-year-old Zadorov, who’ll cost $3.2 million to qualify his rights. He’s also got arbitration rights this summer, making him perhaps more difficult to move this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Blackhawks, Ducks, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has stayed in touch with his pending free agents. However, he hasn’t spoken much about their pending free agency.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (Photo via NHL Images).

​Re-signing Corey Crawford, Dominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome are on Bowman’s to-do list but he can’t get into negotiations until he knows what next season’s salary cap will be.

In a mailbag segment, Lazerus was asked who he felt would be the Blackhawks’ starting goalie next season. He still believes it will be Crawford, who badly wants to remain in Chicago and is coming off a strong season.

Making the money work will be difficult, especially with Kubalik and Strome to re-sign. Nevertheless, Crawford would be a better option than most of this year’s pending UFA goalies and not as expensive as Braden Holtby or Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks don’t have much choice but to re-sign Crawford. They don’t have anyone in their system ready to step in as their full-time starter. Finding a suitable replacement will be expensive. Perhaps Bowman inks the 35-year-old Crawford to a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a base salary of $4 million.

Asked if the Blackhawks should trade Strome, Lazerus believes it would be a mistake to move the 23-year-old center. He envisions Strome becoming the Hawks No. 2 center behind Kirby Dach in four or five years while Jonathan Toews moves into the third-line center role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome’s production dropped this season (38 points in 58 games) after tallying 51 points in the same number of games with the Hawks last season. Lazerus suggests he’s still scarred by his experience with the Arizona Coyotes and could take a little less to stay where he’s happy and getting lots of playing time.

Strome is a restricted free agent completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Bowman will likely use that to leverage an affordable short-term bridge deal.

UPDATES ON THE DUCKS AND SHARKS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently did his postmortems of the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Larkin doesn’t expect the rebuilding Ducks will be adding any expensive veterans, especially with their limited salary-cap space for 2020-21. He anticipates they’ll keep trying to shed salary and make room for younger players.

The Sharks, meanwhile, could see around one-third of their roughly $15 million in salary-cap space go toward re-signing Kevin Labanc to a make-good contract after he took a one-year bargain-basement deal last summer. They’ll also have to decide if they’ll bring back Joe Thornton for one more year. If they re-sign the 41-year-old center, it won’t leave much room to chase higher-end UFAs, especially a No. 2 goaltender. Larkin also wondered if they might consider buying out starting goalie Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc has arbitration rights this time around, so GM Doug Wilson must either pay him a suitable raise or trade him. Labanc’s stats declined this season but that could be tied to the Sharks’ overall poor performance.

The cap hit for buying out Jones is $2.875 million for 2020-21, $1.875 million for 2021-22, $2.375 million in 2022-23, and $2.875 million for 2023-24 before dropping to $1.625 million annually through 2027-28. While it’s not expensive, it’s still a long time to be carrying that much dead cap space.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – San Jose Sharks

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – San Jose Sharks