NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2023

Changes are coming for the Canucks plus the latest on Erik Karlsson, John Klingberg, Jakob Chychrun and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CHANGES IN STORE FOR CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE/THE ATHLETIC: Ben Kuzma and Harman Dayal. reports Jim Rutherford, the Vancouver Canucks president of hockey, indicated big changes are coming for the roster during a press conference on Monday to address the state of the franchise.

We have to do major surgery,” said Rutherford. He declined to call it a rebuild but felt it would be a retooling.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s toeing the company line with that comment. Team owner Francesco Aquilini is reportedly dead set against rebuilding the roster.

He indicated that the club is stuck right now with contracts that they can’t move. “Until we move those out, or until they expire, it’s going to be hard to make changes. He also warned that some of the changes won’t be popular.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma believes that last comment refers to team captain Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and has become the subject of trade rumors after reportedly rejecting the Canucks’ contract offer earlier in the season.

Rutherford said the Canucks offer to Horvat was fair up to what he’s done in 2022-23 but it’s under market value for his performance this season. The center is on pace to score over 50 goals for the first time in his career.

It’s believed the Canucks can’t or won’t exceed J.T. Miller’s seven-year, $56 million contract in their dealings with Horvat. He could end up shopped by the March 3 trade deadline if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on a new deal.

Kuzma and Dayal both believe overpaying for Horvat will make it difficult to re-sign pending UFA winger Andrei Kuzmenko. Rutherford said they’ve recently opened contract talks with the 26-year-old winger.

Canucks fans hoping for Rutherford to trade Miller and re-sign Horvat are going to be disappointed. Rutherford pointed out the value of retaining players such as Miller. He also wasn’t concerned about how his contract could affect the Canucks over the long term because of the anticipated rise in the salary cap in the near future, which he believes could reach $90 million to $95 million. In the short term, however, Dayal pointed out that Miller’s deal is already having an impact on the Canucks because it’s hampering their efforts to re-sign Horvat.

Dayal also reported that Rutherford is willing to consider buying out contracts if they can’t move them via trade. While they can provide some short-term relief, Dayal noted that they come at a future cost, pointing out that a buyout of Oliver Ekman-Larsson would leave dead cap space on the Canucks’ books until 2031. I think Rutherford could be looking at someone with a year or two left on their contract like defenseman Tyler Myers.

Kuzma also wondered what Rutherford’s plans are for Brock Boeser. The winger’s agent has permission to speak with other clubs but his lack of production and league-wide salary-cap problems make it difficult to move Boeser’s $6.65 million cap hit.

Rutherford didn’t address Boeser’s situation but made a general statement that a player’s performance dictates his trade value. Even then, Rutherford indicated that a contract could still be tough to move if an interested club lacks the cap space to acquire him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford might have an easier time moving Boeser if he agreed to retain part of his cap hit. However, that’s a scenario he reportedly doesn’t want to do. It’s my belief the earliest Boeser gets moved is in the offseason when clubs have more cap room to work with and a greater willingness to make significant trades.

Talking about his trade plans, Rutherford said that he won’t necessarily seek draft picks in return. Instead, he prefers bringing in young players from other clubs that didn’t work out with their entry-level contracts and giving them a second chance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma speculates the Canucks could target someone like the New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere. Dayal, however, is skeptical whether that’s a workable strategy, suggesting recent reclamation projects like Ethan Bear, Travis Dermott, Jack Studnicka and Riley Stillman haven’t done much to improve the club.

Rutherford didn’t say much about the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau as rumors swirl that he could be replaced by Rick Tocchet. He admitted he’s spoken with some potential coaching candidates going back a couple of months. “All I can say is Bruce is our coach right now,” said Rutherford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hardly a ringing endorsement or a vote of confidence for Boudreau by Rutherford. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman observed, it appears Boudreau will remain the Canucks coach until they’ve found a suitable replacement.

RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks had “legit conversations” about Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson. However, he doesn’t think it got to the point where it got to Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Friedman means that it didn’t reach the point where the Sharks felt talks reached the stage where Karlsson would have to be asked to waive his no-movement clause to go to Edmonton.

Friedman also said he felt last summer that there was a high probability of Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg ending up with the Oilers. The blueliner was interested in Edmonton at the time but the salary-cap pieces couldn’t fit. Friedman no longer expects Klingberg will join the Oilers but expects he’ll be moved by the March 3 trade deadline.

Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is only interested in a trade that will improve his club or provide him assets that he can use in another deal. Friedman isn’t sure Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun would make sense for the Wild as a potential replacement for Matt Dumba given their salary-cap concerns after this season.

The Ottawa Senators are considering rental defensemen. It would give them an opportunity to evaluate someone they’d like to re-sign plus they want to finish as strong as possible for their players and their fans.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

The potential effect of top prospect Connor Bedard upon this season’s trade market, the latest on the Blackhawks and Blues, updates on Alexis Lafreniere and Jakob Chychrun, the Predators could consider shopping Mattias Ekholm, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BEDARD’S POTENTIAL EFFECT ON THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports top prospect Connor Bedard’s unbelievable performance at this year’s World Junior Championship could spur clubs considered sellers in this season’s trade market to start shopping players sooner rather than closer to the March 3 trade deadline.

WHL forward Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats (NHL.com).

Doing so could help those bottom-feeding clubs improve their chances of winning this year’s draft lottery. Potential buyers, however, could prefer waiting until March given the limited salary-cap space around the league.

Chris Johnston believes the asking price for this year’s best assets at this year’s deadline will be at least a first-round pick in return. That goes for the high-profile forwards as well as defensemen like Montreal’s Joel Edmundson and Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club with a shot at winning the 2023 draft lottery will be trying to dump pending free agents that they can’t or won’t re-sign as quickly as possible. However, Cap Friendly indicates there are only seven teams with more than $3 million in salary-cap payrolls right now. Several of those clubs will be sellers.

Most playoff contenders will be trying to accrue as much cap space as they can leading up to March 3. That means most of the buyers will likely want to wait until within a week or two of the deadline to start making moves when they’ve got the cap flexibility to do so.

MORE RUMORS FROM TSN’S LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”

Darren Dreger believes St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has a decision to make regarding Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko when the two return from injury next month. Armstrong will have to consider the trade value of O’Reilly, who would be a hot asset in the trade market. There will have to be a conversation with O’Reilly, and maybe with Tarasenko, regarding contract extensions, and then make the call nearer the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read or heard about Tarasenko’s future is that the Blues won’t be part of it. They reportedly could re-sign O’Reilly if he’s willing to accept a pay cut on a short-term deal.

Dreger also reports the Chicago Blackhawks still have to determine if pending UFAs Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews want to be traded. If they do, the pair will have to determine who the contenders will be. He also believes they would have to decide whether to accept a trade and then test their luck in this summer’s free-agent market or consider a trade-and-sign scenario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pat Brisson, who represents Kane and Toews, is expected to meet with Blackhawks management later this month to discuss their futures.

Speaking of Gavrikov, Johnston said a lot of teams like him but so do the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t believe they’ve decided yet if they want to move the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision will depend on how much Gavrikov wants to stay in Columbus. He could seek to double his salary from its current average annual value of $2.8 million.

Pierre LeBrun reports there were teams that looked into the availability of Alexis Lafreniere after the 2020 first-overall pick was a healthy scratch last week. However, the New York Rangers still believe in him and have also told that to the young winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should quiet the media trade chatter about Lafreniere for the time being. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it surfaces again before the March 3 trade deadline, especially if the Rangers decide to pursue a big-name player (hello there, Patrick Kane).

UPDATES ON CHYCHRUN, KLINGBERG, EKHOLM, MCDONAGH AND MERKLEY

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is sticking to his asking price of two first-round picks plus another asset as part of the return for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He indicated Chychrun still wants to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender. If the assets are there, said Armstrong, he will certainly make that trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how well Chychrun’s played since returning in November from offseason wrist surgery, I daresay Armstrong feels confident that someone will meet his price by March 3.

Russo also noted that Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg’s full no-trade clause changed to a modified one on Jan. 1 that’s limited to 10 teams. He pointed out that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek scouted the Edmonton Oilers during two games last month. There’s been chatter they could have an interest in Klingberg, though they seem to have more of a need for a left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ preference would be for Chychrun but they could lack the assets to make that deal happen. The Oilers have also been linked to Gavrikov.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm to his list of trade candidates at No. 7. He’s been told that Predators GM David Poile has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his club has regressed this season to a likely non-playoff team loaded with expensive contracts. Seravalli also wondered if defenseman Ryan McDonagh might be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm lacks no-trade protection and is in the first season of a four-year contract. However, he’s also turning 33 in May and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. Good luck moving that contract during a season under a flattened salary cap.

As for McDonagh, Seravalli pointed out he waived his no-trade clause last summer to go from Tampa Bay to Nashville. He believes that requesting the 33-year-old rearguard to waive it again could be a tall ask. Even if McDonagh agreed to be traded again, his age and $6.75 million cap hit through 2025-26 make him very difficult to move in-season.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Max Miller cited Seravalli reporting yesterday that Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley requested a trade. A first-round pick (21st overall) in 2018, he’s spent much of his tenure with the Sharks organization playing for their AHL affiliate.

Merkley spent 39 games with the Sharks last season and was expected to skate with them again this season. Sharks GM Mike Grier declined to comment.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2022

Are the Bruins interested in Sean Monahan? What’s the latest on Bo Horvat, Jonathan Toews, and Alexis Lafreniere? Could the Red Wings face a decision regarding their goaltending? Find out in our year-ending NHL Rumor Mill.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault reports several teams have an interest in Sean Monahan as a playoff rental player. He’s been told the Boston Bruins are among those looking at the Montreal Canadiens center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He carries a $6.375 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. Monahan was enjoying a solid performance with 17 points in 25 games until sidelined on Dec. 6 by a foot injury. He’s expected to return soon to the Canadiens’ lineup.

If Monahan picks up where he left off he’ll draw plenty of interest in the trade market. The rebuilding Canadiens will likely have to pick up a portion of his remaining cap hit but could willingly do so if it’ll improve the chances of acquiring a high-quality draft pick or a good young player.

The Bruins are pressed for cap space and will have to part with a salaried player to acquire Monahan even if the Canadiens retain salary on the deal. I’m also not seeing a heck of a lot on their active roster that would fit into the Habs rebuilding program. If the Bruins make a cost-cutting deal with another team, perhaps they could use the return as part of a package for Monahan.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Canadiens, Pedneault wondered if management felt certain about Kirby Dach as a center. If not, he suggested they inquire about Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have the depth in promising young players to perhaps put together a tempting offer for Horvat. The 27-year-old center is on pace to reach 50 goals for the first time in his career and will be in line for a big pay raise as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

However, I don’t see the Canadiens pursuing Horvat. They would need assurances that he will sign with them. Otherwise, they’ll be giving up valuable young assets for a veteran who could walk as a free agent in July.

Pedneault believes Colorado Avalanche president Joe Sakic’s target in the trade market could be Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pedneault’s not the only observer who believes Toews would be a good fit as a second or third-line center with the Avalanche. Making the dollars fit for the Avs could be tricky. They’ll have over $5 million in projected cap space by the trade deadline but could request the Blackhawks retain half of the remainder of Toews’ $10.5 million cap hit.

Even then, the Avs could be forced to shed a salary unless they make this a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around. That’s assuming, of course, that Toews waives his no-movement clause.

The New York Rangers scratching Alexis Lafreniere from the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning raises questions about his future. Pedneault believes Lafreniere isn’t a power forward as the Rangers envisioned but a playmaker. He wondered if the 2020 first-overall pick could become trade bait to acquire Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks also weighed in on Lafreniere’s situation. He can’t imagine what type of return the 21-year-old left winger could fetch that would be considered equal value. Brooks also pointed out the risk of trading Lafreniere and watching him thrive with another team.

For now, the Rangers don’t have to rush into moving Lafreniere. He’s a restricted free agent in July coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. They could sign him to a low-cost bridge deal and try to help him improve his game. Nevertheless, the young winger could become a valuable trade chip if the Blueshirts make a major move by the March 3 trade deadline or during the offseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman recently speculated the Detroit Red Wings could face a decision regarding their goaltending. They’ve been carrying three goaltenders since November when they claimed Magnus Hellberg off waivers.

The Wings have leaned heavily on starter Ville Husso while Hellberg has appeared in three games. Alex Nedeljkovic, meanwhile, hasn’t played since Dec. 8. He could be loaned to their AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint but still remains on their roster.

That could become a problem as sidelined players such as Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina return to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings could put Hellberg or Nedeljkovic on waivers to send them down to the AHL but there’s a risk they’ll get plucked away by another club. Perhaps a trade could be in order in the near future.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 30, 2022

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Bo Horvat, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexis Lafreniere and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TRADE PREDICTIONS FOR 2023

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos predicts the bottom will fall out of the trade market leading up to the March 3 deadline because of more big-name players being available than in previous years. He also observed that players carrying no-movement clauses (like Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews) mean they will be “strong-arming” a lot of deals.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Toews, Kypreos anticipates he’ll land with the Colorado Avalanche. However, he doesn’t see the Blackhawks getting much more than a third-rounder for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not as crazy as it sounds given Kypreos’ observations of the talent potentially available in the market leading up to deadline day. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold as March 3 approaches.

Kypreos predicts Patrick Kane will stay with the Blackhawks for the remainder of this season and then test his luck in this summer’s free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s agent and Blackhawks management are expected to meet sometime in January when his fate will be decided. Some observers share Kypreos’ view while others think he’d like to chase a Stanley Cup this season as a playoff rental.

Multiple teams could love to acquire Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat for a playoff push but few can afford to retain him on a long-term contract. Kypreos believes the Boston Bruins are among those who could, suggesting Horvat could help them transition out of the Patrice Bergeron/David Krejci era.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s true at first glance, where the Bruins have $56.9 million invested in 12 roster players for 2023-24. However, the only way I think that’s feasible is if they decide not to re-sign David Pastrnak, who could end up earning $11 million annually or more on his next contract. Horvat could cost over $9 million to sign. That would be potentially $20 million invested in just two players, leaving very little to fill out the rest of the roster.

Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal aren’t ruling out the possibility of the Canucks and Horvat reaching an agreement on a contract extension. However, Horvat’s production this season suggests he could earn more in this summer’s free-agent market than what the Canucks can afford to pay him. They believe management will strongly consider trading him if the right offer comes along.

Finally, Kypreos expects the Florida Panthers will be sellers early in 2023. He predicts they’ll peddle forwards like Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart or Carter Verhaeghe to address their depleted defense corps.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are pressed for cap space and possess few tradeable assets in terms of draft picks or prospects to address their blueline issues. A one-for-one hockey deal involving one of those forwards could fetch a quality defenseman. Then again, they could move one of those forwards in a cost-cutting deal to free up cap space to pursue a defenseman or two in the offseason.

UPDATES ON O’REILLY AND TARASENKO

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun thinks it’s more likely the St. Louis Blues move Ryan O’Reilly by the trade deadline as the club struggles to stabilize their season. His agent indicated there haven’t been any contract extension talks this season.

LeBrun is also certain that Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be signing a contract extension. The Blues winger requested a trade following the 2020-21 season. Unlike O’Reilly, Tarasenko has a full no-trade clause giving him a say over what happens leading up to March 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun’s colleague Jeremy Rutherford recently speculated that the Blues would like to re-sign O’Reilly as a middle-third center on an affordable short-term contract. However, that’ll depend on whether O’Reilly wants to stay put or pursue a payday. If it’s the latter, Rutherford thinks they’ll peddle him before the deadline.

THE LATEST ON LAFRENIERE

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes the New York Rangers and Alexis Lafreniere are reaching a critical point in their relationship. The 21-year-old winger (and 2020 first-overall draft pick) has been reduced to fourth-line duty and was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now into his third season, Lafreniere has yet to achieve his much-anticipated breakout season. He’s been inconsistent and one NHL scout observed he doesn’t seem to accomplish much with or without the puck.

The Rangers still believe Lafreniere could become the player who showed so much potential during his impressive junior career. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the player he could become and where he is now. If things continue on their current path, they could face the choice of whether or not to keep him or trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple duly noted that Lafreniere, a natural left wing, has tried to adjust to playing on the right side as Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider are firmly entrenched as the top-two left-side wingers. However, he also felt the youngster is lacking the determination to do more to earn himself bigger minutes.

I don’t think the Rangers will give up on Lafreniere but he could become the subject of trade speculation if he fails to improve as this season rolls along. He’s certainly not going to earn a big payday from the Blueshirts once his entry-level contract expires at the end of this season. A short-term “show me” bridge deal is in his future.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 30, 2022

Thursday’s games saw Aleksander Barkov, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Okposo enjoy hat-trick performances while Erik Karlsson becomes the first defenseman to reach 50 points this season. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov had a five-point performance (including a first-period hat trick) in a 7-2 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. Barkov had missed three games with a lower-body injury. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice for the Panthers as they improved to 16-16-4. The Canadiens (15-18-3) have dropped four straight games.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens welcomed back Brendan Gallagher after he was sidelined for 13 games by a lower-body injury. Habs defenseman Kaiden Guhle left this contest late in the third period with an apparent leg injury. There was no post-game update regarding his condition.

A hat trick by Mark Scheifele carried the Winnipeg Jets (22-13-1)over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 4-2. Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois scored on a penalty shot while teammate Sam Gagner skated in his 1,000th career NHL game. Collin Delia made 35 saves for the Canucks, who drop to 16-16-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly victory for the Jets as defenseman Josh Morrissey left the game in the third period following a hit by Canucks blueliner Tyler Myers. Head coach Rick Bowness claimed Morrissey had a “little bit of a lower-body injury” but anticipates he’ll be able to play on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo also had a hat trick while Casey Mittlestadt tallied twice in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Sabres (17-14-2) have won five straight games. Dominik Kubalik scored two goals for the Red Wings as they dropped to 15-12-7.

The San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson became the first defenseman to reach 50 points this season but his club fell 4-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers (12-17-7) on an overtime goal by Tony DeAngelo. Karlsson collected two assists to extend his points streak to 11 games while teammate Tomas Hertl scored twice for the 11-19-7 Sharks. Travis Konecny tallied twice for the Flyers as they overcame a 3-1 deficit to force overtime.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson is having what could become a career-best performance. With 50 points in just 37 games, he’s on pace to exceed his previous high of 82 points and could become the first blueliner to reach 100 points since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.

The Dallas Stars (22-9-6) moved into first place in the Western Conference by beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Tyler Seguin scored two goals and Jake Oettinger kicked out 23 shots as the Stars are tied with the Vegas Golden Knights with 50 points but hold first place with a game in hand. Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 20th goal of the season for the 20-13-2 Wild.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point scored his 20th goal of the season as his club downed the New York Rangers 2-1 on a shootout goal by Alex Killorn. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 45 saves through regulation and the shootout as the Lightning rose to 22-11-1. Mika Zibanejad scored for the Rangers (19-12-6) in regulation while Igor Shesterkin made 39 stops.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Point became the fifth player in Lightning history to reach the 20-goal plateau in at least six straight seasons. Meanwhile, there were some raised eyebrows when the Rangers announced former first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere was a healthy scratch for this game.

The Arizona Coyotes scored four unanswered goals (two by Jack McBain) to upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. Barrett Hayton had a three-point performance for the 13-16-5 Coyotes while Conor Timmins collected two assists for the 22-8-6 Maple Leafs.

A shootout goal by Viktor Arvidsson lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Arvidsson also collected two assists in regulation as the Kings (21-12-6) extended their points streak to seven games (6-0-1). With 48 points, they’re now two behind the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat scored the game-tying and winning goals to defeat the Washington Capitals 4-3. Claude Giroux picked up two assists as the Senators improved to 16-16-3. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for the 20-13-5 Capitals.

The New York Islanders topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on goals by Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal. The Islanders improved to 21-14-2 with their third straight victory while the Blue Jackets (10-22-4) suffered their seventh straight defeat.

Goals by Calle Rosen and Brandon Saad gave the St. Louis Blues (17-16-3) a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks to snap a three-game losing skid. Patrick Kane scored for the Blackhawks (8-22-4), who have lost 18 of their last 20 contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko sat out this game with a non-COVID-related illness.

IN OTHER NEWS…

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby received an appointment for the Order of Canada for “being one of the greatest hockey players of all time and for supporting community service initiatives for youth.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Crosby on receiving one of Canada’s highest honors.

Speaking of the Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang missed practice on Thursday with a lower-body injury. His status for Friday’s game again the New Jersey Devils remains uncertain.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, winger Andreas Johnsson cleared waivers yesterday and was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Utica.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL winger Barry Cullen passed away on Dec. 16 at the age of 87. He spent five seasons in the league between 1955-56 and 1959-60 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Red Wings, finishing with 32 goals and 84 points in 219 games. Cullen’s brothers, Brian and Raymond, also played in the NHL. In his post-playing career, he owned a successful car dealership in Guelph, Ontario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cullen’s son, John, spent 10 seasons in the NHL from 1988-89 to 1998-99. My condolences to the Cullen family as well as Barry’s friends and former teammates.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2022

Check out the latest on Patrick Kane and Jakob Chychrun in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

NOTE: The NHL’s annual holiday roster freeze goes into effect at 11:59 PM ET on Dec. 19 and runs through 12:01 AM ET on Dec. 28.

COULD THE RANGERS OR BRUINS LAND PATRICK KANE?

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Patrick Kane hasn’t made a decision yet on what his future will look like beyond the March 3 trade deadline. Nevertheless, he examined what a trade between the Blackhawks and New York Rangers involving Patrick Kane might look like.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Roumeliotis believes the Rangers have the assets the Blackhawks are looking for. They’re loaded with young players, most of whom are underperforming and could use a change of scenery. The Blueshirts also carry two first-round picks in the 2023 draft. They also have $7.1 million in projected trade deadline cap space. The move would reunite Kane with former linemate Artemi Panarin.

As for what the return might look like, Roumeliotis believes a first-round pick would be part of the package. He doesn’t see the Rangers parting with K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider but thinks Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere would be part of the discussion. He also doesn’t think the Blackhawks would be interested in winger Vitali Kravtsov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers would likely still want the Blackhawks to retain a portion of Kane’s salary. However, their cap space means they wouldn’t have to get a third team involved in the deal to make the dollars fit.

One of those two picks is conditional with the Dallas Stars. If it’s a top-10 selection, it instead becomes the Stars’ unprotected first-round pick in 2024. Given the Stars’ high placement in the Western Conference this season, it’s safe to assume their 2023 pick will belong to the Rangers.

Chytil, Kakko or Lafreniere will have to be part of the return. Not all three, of course, and it’s unlikely two of them will be included in the deal. I can see Kravtsov being a toss-in as he doesn’t appear to have a future with the Rangers. There could be another draft pick plus a prospect or two heading Chicago’s way in this hypothetical deal.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited a rumor linking the Bruins to Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews. However, an NHL source claims the Bruins are more interested in Kane. The source told Murphy that any trade talks between the two clubs are merely exploratory at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are pressed against the $82.5 million salary cap. They could get $3.1 million in cap relief if somebody claims Craig Smith off waivers by noon ET today but that seems unlikely given how much clubs also carry limited cap space right now.

Even if someone claims Smith, it might not give the Bruins sufficient wiggle room to acquire Kane or Toews at the trade deadline. They might have to get a third team involved to spread their cap hit around, which could be complicated to pull off.

They also lack depth in the type of promising young assets to tempt the Blackhawks. Unless clubs like the Rangers aren’t pursuing Kane or Toews, I don’t see the Bruins winning a bidding war for either guy before March 3.

UPDATE ON JAKOB CHYCHRUN

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Guest host Mark Marchese suggested the Buffalo Sabres as a dark horse contender for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He would complement Owen Power or Rasmus Dahlin plus the Sabres have the assets to entice the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Three weeks ago, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited sources confirming the Sabres had an interest in Chychrun. They’ve got plenty of cap space to take on his $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.

Thanks to their league-leading offense, the Sabres are steadily moving closer to playoff contention. His puck-moving skills would make Chychrun a good fit there. The Coyotes reportedly seek two first-round picks plus a top prospect or good young NHL player in return.

Elliotte Friedman noted the Columbus Blue Jackets have been in and out of the Chychrun sweepstakes for some time but he doesn’t see them trading first-rounders. The Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers have been around it. He doesn’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs getting involved.

Friedman felt the Florida Panthers are the team that makes the most sense for Chychrun. However, they’re in the least position to do it because they lack the type of assets the Coyotes want.