Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

The latest on Filip Forsberg’s contract talks, more speculation over Semyon Varlamov’s future with the Islanders plus an update on the Sharks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON FORSBERG’S CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there was recently a face-to-face meeting between Nashville Predators general manager David Poile and J.P. Barry, who represents Predators winger Filip Forsberg. It was the first time in a while the two sides had met this way.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Neither side would comment on specifics so it’s difficult to gauge if there’s been any progress in their contract negotiations. However, Friedman considers it significant that this meeting took place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. The 27-year-old left winger is completing a six-year, $36 million contract and is enjoying a career-best performance with 38 goals and 74 points in 69 games.

I’ve speculated that Forsberg could seek over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal to remain in Nashville. Poile, however, could be reluctant to go that high or for that long when he’s already got two forwards (Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen) on long-term deals with annual average values of $8 million.

MORE SPECULATION ON VARLAMOV’S FUTURE WITH THE ISLANDERS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the New York Islanders should lean heavily on Ilya Sorokin over the remainder of their schedule for this season to see how well he holds up. He believes that will give the 26-year-old goalie another opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a bonafide NHL starter.

Kurz also thinks that could influence what Islanders management does with veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov. While it’s believed they want to bring him back for another season, they might prefer moving him in the offseason if Sorokin proves he can handle a heavier workload. Trading Varlamov would enable them to patch holes in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov frequently surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s signed through next season with an annual average value of $5 million and a 16-team no-trade list.

With the Islanders carrying over $70 million invested in 18 active players for next season, shipping out Varlamov’s cap hit would make it easier to add a top-four left-side defenseman or a top-six forward via trade or free agency. However, his no-trade list could complicate things.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka believes a lack of offense is the issue the San Jose Sharks must address in the offseason. They’re 30th out of the 32 NHL clubs in goals-per-game average and last in even-strength goals.

Pashelka believes the Sharks need to add an experienced top-six winger. With limited salary-cap space for 2022-23, they’ll have to shed some salary via trades or contract buyouts to clear sufficient room to bolster their scoring.

Trade candidates include goaltender Adin Hill, forward Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek. The Sharks could also look into buying out the final four years of blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s contract, which would free up $8.8 million over the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Pashelka pointed out, the oft-injured Hill is expected to be the odd man out as James Reimer and the recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen will be their goalie tandem next season. Labanc has slid down the depth chart while Simek’s become a recent health scratch. It won’t be easy to find many takers for those players given their current woes.

Buying out Vlasic will provide some cap relief but it will sting nevertheless because of the way the deal is structured. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll count as over $3.6 million in the first year, $1.4 million in the second, rising to $4.1 million in the third year and $5.1 million in year four before dropping to over $1.6 million over the remaining four years of the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

An update on Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and some Sharks trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Jake DeBrusk’s performance has improved since the trade deadline passed. The Boston Bruins winger has exceeded the 20-goal plateau this season and remains on the top line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

DeBrusk, 25, has not rescinded the trade request he made earlier this season. It’s difficult to know if his recent improvement will carry over into the playoffs or what the future holds despite signing a two-year contract extension before the March 21 trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes DeBrusk has made himself too invaluable for the Bruins to trade in the offseason unless his performance tumbles in the postseason. If other general managers come calling this summer, Bruins GM Don Sweeney would set the price higher than it was before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed DeBrusk and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t see eye-to-eye. The winger’s trade request seemed borne out of frustration over his usage on the Bruins’ checking lines rather than as a scorer.

However, DeBrusk’s performance has gotten better since being moved onto the top line with Marchand and Bergeron in mid-February. His production remains streaky as he’ll go on stretches without scoring but he has 14 goals and 19 points in 22 games over that period.

Earlier in his career, DeBrusk showed he could step up in postseason play. If he regains that form in this year’s playoffs, he could indeed make himself too valuable to trade. Then again, he could also improve his value, perhaps to the point where a rival GM is willing to overpay for his services.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported the San Jose Sharks could be forced to make one or two cost-cutting moves to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Alexander Barabanov. The 27-year-old winger has developed solid chemistry this season with linemates Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. However, he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Pashelka observes the Sharks have $70.1 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with restricted free agent Mario Ferraro and Kaapo Kahkonen to re-sign. They must also ensure they have sufficient cap space for 2023-24 to sign Meier to a contract extension.

The Sharks could over $2 million in savings by trading James Reimer or Adin Hill this summer as they won’t need three goaltenders with Kahkonen in the fold. They could try shopping winger Kevin Labanc and his $4.725 million contract or defenseman Radim Simek and his $2.25 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks will have an easier time finding trade partners Reimer or Hill and for Simek than they will for Labanc, who’s signed through 2023-24. The 26-year-old winger’s production has plummeted from his career-high of 56 points in 2018-19. He missed five games with COVID-19 last fall and has been sidelined with a dislocated shoulder since Jan. 2.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

Auston Matthews ties a Leafs’ records, the Flames widen their lead in the Pacific Division, the three stars of the week are revealed, an update on Mike Bossy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Matthews now has a league-leading 54 goals, tying Rick Vaive’s single-season franchise record. Mitch Marner collected three points and Jack Campbell got the win with a 32-save performance. Leafs forward William Nylander missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness. The Leafs sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this pace, Matthews will not only set a new franchise goal record but will become the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau since the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos hit that mark in 2011-12.

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and picked up an assist to give the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. With 91 points, the Flames hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. Adrian Kempe netted both of the Kings’ goals.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored twice (including the winner in overtime) to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. With the win, the Bruins have won seven of their last eight games. They are tied with the Lightning with 93 points but the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with 44 regulation wins.

A four-goal second period carried the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice while teammate Pavel Buchnevich collected three points for the Blues (88 points), who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, and New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov are the three stars for the weekend ending April 3, 2022.

CBC SPORTS: The family of former New York Islanders superstar Mike Bossy said he is resting peacefully at home while continuing his battle with lung cancer. This comes following unconfirmed reports claiming the 65-year-old Hall-of-Famer had entered palliative care.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bossy in his battle with this insidious disease.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took part in a full practice with his teammates on Monday for the first time this season. Price, 34, has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. There remains no timeline for his return to game action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price reportedly looked good during yesterday’s practice, which suggests he might return for a handful of games before the end of the Canadiens’ season on April 29.

TSN: Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt emerged from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined their Winnipeg Jets teammates after missing the last three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin is expected to return to action tonight against the Florida Panthers. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since Feb. 21.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker is still being evaluated since suffering an undisclosed injury last Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. A more complete update on his condition is expected today.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks could decide to shut down winger Kevin Labanc for the remainder of the season to allow more time for his recovery from shoulder surgery.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram has rejoined his teammates after being sidelined for nearly three months with concussion issues. He’s been practicing with his teammates for weeks and was recalled from an AHL conditioning stint.

GOPHNX.COM: The Tempe City Council will discuss the Arizona Coyotes proposed arena and entertainment district in an executive session on Thursday. The proposal is reportedly tightly contested and could come down to one or two swing votes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ future in Arizona could be determined by the outcome of this vote.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

More COVID cases among NHL teams raise concerns about Olympic participation, the Blackhawks reach a settlement with Kyle Beach, Alex Ovechkin ties an NHL scoring record, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

COVID CASES AMONG NHL CLUBS STILL RISING, CONCERN GROWING OVER OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION

CALGARY SUN: The number of Calgary Flames players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 grew to 27 yesterday. Head coach Darryl Sutter and players Jacob Markstrom, Rasmus Andersson, Erik Gudbranson, Byron Froese, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick joined the list yesterday. Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets has been postponed. The good news is all the Flames’ cases are reportedly doing well, which is being attributed to the players being fully vaccinated.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron joined teammates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith in COVID protocol yesterday.

THE TENNESSEAN: 11 members of the Nashville Predators were placed in COVID protocol yesterday. They include forwards Mikael Granlund, Matt Luff, Michael McCarron and Philip Tomasino and defenseman Ben Harpur and head coach John Hynes.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Five Panthers players (Ryan Lomberg, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Radko Gudas and Brandon Montour) enter COVID protocol on Wednesday.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings placed forwards Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen in COVID protocol Wednesday. Tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of cases is alarming but it’s not expected to result in a shutdown of the NHL schedule at the present time. That could change if the cases continue to spread and more games become postponed. However, it’s not expected to result in a season-ending shutdown as we saw in 2019-20. It could instead be a pause of two-to-three weeks.

One reason is all cases are experienced at worst minor symptoms because all but one player is fully vaccinated. Another is a return to enhanced COVID protocols (including daily testing) are expected to be implemented soon.

TSN: The province of Ontario is reducing capacity limits at sporting events to 50 percent starting Saturday. That includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL has no control over provincial or state COVID guidelines regarding sporting events. It remains to be seen if others will follow Ontario’s lead. The Leafs and Senators will likely see a return to full capacity once the COVID numbers in Ontario are reduced.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is the latest NHL player to express concern over potential three-to-five week quarantine in China for players taking part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who test positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I don’t see it being very feasible for guys to take that risk. That’s my personal opinion,” said Karlsson.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin expressed apprehension over the potentially strict COVID guidelines for Olympic participants. “It would be unfortunate for anyone to get stuck in quarantine for that long and a serious unknown of when you’d come home. I think it’s unfortunate for all athletes,” said Larkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is so far leaving it up to the NHLPA members to decide if they’ll participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. No one has definitively said they won’t go because of those restrictions but that could change if there is no loosening of those rules for Olympic athletes.

The opt-out date is Jan. 10. The league can also withdraw if COVID outbreaks reach a point where it cannot complete the remainder of this season on time.

It’s been suggested the NHL would simply run a normal schedule during the Olympic break in February. However, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reported that would create a logistical nightmare for team owners as they attempt to reschedule events in their arenas during that period.

BLACKHAWKS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH BEACH

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: After eight months of legal battles, the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach have reached a confidential out-of-court settlement during third-party mediation yesterday. Beach alleged former Blackhawks video coach sexually assaulted him in May 2010 and that Blackhawks executives knowingly covered it up. An independent investigation by the Blackhawks supported Beach’s claims.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping this settlement brings Beach the closure and peace of mind he deserves after enduring a decade of hell dealing with what happened to him. It will take a long time for the Blackhawks organization to scrub away the stain on their reputation for the atrocious way they treated Beach and their handling of this situation.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tied the all-time power-play goal record as his club fell 5-4 to the Blackhawks. Ovechkin tallied his 274th PP marker to tied Dave Andreychuk.

Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones won it for his club with an overtime goal. Chicago winger Alex DeBrincat scored two goals while Marc-Andre Fleury got his 501st career win with a 42-save performance. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist in his season debut after missing 28 games recovering from a hip injury

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko scored twice, including the game-winner as his club downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Chris Kreider assisted on all three Rangers goals. The Coyotes have lost six straight. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left the game in the second period with a minor lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry netted his 18th of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Goalie Anthony Stolarz picked up his sixth straight win for the Ducks this season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak is listed as sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Josh Anderson will be out for another six weeks with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, winger Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Sami Niku are expected to rejoin their teammates later this week after emerging from COVID protocol.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc will be sidelined for three months after opting for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Henrik Borgstrom on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 10 with a non-COVID-related illness.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings winger Andreas Athanasiou will miss the remainder of his club’s current road trip with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils acquired goaltender Jon Gillies from the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.










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?