NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023

The latest on William Nylander and Matt Murray, an update on Alex DeBrincat, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Barden cited TSN’s Chris Johnston’s recent report claiming contract extension talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander “aren’t going well.” The 27-year-old winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent status and carries an average annual cap hit of just under $7 million on his current contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

Johnston said the two sides had “a lot of discussions” during the draft in Nashville but “see the world differently at this point in time.” He claimed that Nylander sees himself as a $10 million player based on his points but the Leafs are trying to get him at a lower number.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reminds us that Nylander and the Leafs played contract chicken during the first half of the 2018-19 season when he was a restricted free agent. The staring contest went down to the Dec. 1 deadline before the two sides agreed to his current deal.

Hornby notes that Nylander hit career highs this season with 40 goals and 87 points. The winger was also fourth in playoff scoring with 10 points despite seeing less ice time than Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is reportedly offering the Nylander camp an AAV of $9 million. Meanwhile, has to get a new contract hammered out for Matthews before next summer and keep an eye on a new deal for Marner before the summer of 2025.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s previous contract standoff never sat well with some Leafs fans, who’ve used it as a cudgel against the winger whenever he hasn’t played up to their expectations. Another lengthy negotiation will likely prompt them to demand that Treliving trade him as soon as possible for the best potential return.

Treliving wasn’t the general manager during Nylander’s 2018 contract talks. However, he’s inherited limited cap room from his predecessor, who had no problem tossing cash around on Matthews, Marner and John Tavares.

Back then, the argument was Nylander wasn’t in the same class as his three high-profile teammates. Nevertheless, he has steadily improved since 2018-19 into a point-per-game player. He’s also garnered a reputation as a reliable playoff performer.

As Johnston said, Nylander made a reasonable argument that he’s a $10 million per season player. If the Leafs won’t pay him that much, other clubs will, especially if he hits the open market next summer with a salary cap expected to significantly jump following four seasons of stagnation.

I think the Leafs will open the vault for Matthews and Marner but not for Nylander. He could end up playing elsewhere in 2024-25 as a free agent unless the Leafs decide to trade him this summer. Either way, I expect he’ll shine with his new club to the consternation of his critics in Toronto.


THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited Chris Johnston reporting the Leafs are trying to shed the final season of goaltender Matt Murray’s contract for salary-cap relief. He’s on their books for $4.6 million for 2023-24 before becoming a UFA next summer.

According to Johnston, the Leafs would prefer a trade. However, they might avail themselves of the second buyout window if a trade fails to materialize. Teams can use that second buyout window if they have a player who files for salary arbitration. Restricted free-agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov could opt to go that route. The filing deadline is 5 pm on July 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and 10-team no-trade clause could make a buyout more likely than a trade.


SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan looked at three possible scenarios for Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old restricted free-agent winger reportedly prefers a trade to an American club but the Senators are having difficulty finding a suitable deal.

One outcome is DeBrincat returns to the Senators this season on an arbitration deal. However, the club has filed to take him to arbitration meaning the maximum award would be 15 percent less than what his qualifying offer ($9 million) would’ve been. They could attempt to move him later in the season near the trade deadline or keep him for a potential playoff run.

Another sees him signing a bridge deal with the Senators for two or three years. That would buy the Senators more time to find a suitable trade package while DeBrincat could become a UFA at 27 or 28 and cash in big on the open market.

The other, more likely outcome is a trade. That would depend on the Senators finding a return that helps them now while the DeBrincat camp find a contract they can live with, though perhaps not the long-term deal they recently envisioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might be to DeBrincat’s advantage to accept a short-term deal to facilitate a trade. The cap is going to rise substantially for 2024-25 and 2025-26. He’d then be in a better position to find a more lucrative long-term deal either with his new team or on the open market.

Speaking of a trade, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reports the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders remain in the DeBrincat sweepstakes.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks have a deal on the table involving Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers. It would see Myers head to San Jose straight up for winger Kevin Labanc.

So far, that deal has yet to materialize. Seravalli claimed the Canucks were exasperated that this offer has sat on the table for some time now.

Peng speculates the Sharks prefer waiting until Myers is paid his $5 million signing bonus on Sept. 1. After that, the Sharks would only have to pay him $1 million of his remaining actual salary, though the $6 million cap hit would count against their salary cap for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the case I expect the Sharks would’ve communicated that to the Canucks by now. The delay could also be due to the Sharks’ efforts to trade Erik Karlsson.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

The latest on Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos, plus a look at yesterday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson cleared waivers yesterday. The Lightning had hoped a rival club would claim Johnson and clear his $5 million annual average value from their books.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts hope to shed some salary to create cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Trading Johnson is still possible but the Lightning will have to include a sweetener in the deal like a quality draft pick, prospect or young player. He has a full no-trade but has reportedly submitted a list of preferred trade destinations.

TSN: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair an abdominal core muscle. He’s expected to make a full recovery before the start of the 2020-21 season.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos will have plenty of time to recover. The NHL and NHLPA have targeted Jan. 1 for the start date of next season. I believe March 1 could be a more realistic start date, depending on the course of the second wave of COVID-19.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman Tyson Barrie to a one-year, $3.75-million contract and brought back goaltender Mike Smith on a one-year, $2-million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Barrie addition is an affordable short-term acquisition to address Oscar Klefbom’s anticipated lengthy absence as he deals with a nagging shoulder injury. Bringing back Smith, however, doesn’t improve their goaltending, which is their biggest weakness. After failing to find an upgrade via free agency, GM Ken Holland seems unwilling to take a chance in the trade market.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are reportedly close to bringing back winger Patrick Marleau for a third stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau’s had a long, productive NHL career, most of it with the Sharks. However, the 41-year-old winger is well past his prime. This could be based more on sentimentality than what he can actually bring to their lineup.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild opted not to re-sign their long-time captain after the 37-year-old Koivu dropped down their depth chart last season. His best days are behind him but he could still have one decent season left as a fourth-line center with the Jackets.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Thomas Greiss to a two-year deal with an annual average value of $3.6 million and defenseman Troy Stecher to a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two decent short-term deals bringing some much-needed goaltending and blueline depth to the rebuilding Wings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed winger Craig Smith to a three-year deal with a $3.1 million AAV.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Jesper Fast to a three-year deal ($2 million AAV).

SPORTSNET: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a two-year, $4.5-million contract.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1-million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Johan Larsson to a two-year, $2.8-million contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a one-year, $800K contract.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The Sharks re-signed winger Kevin Lebanc to a four-year deal worth an AAV of $4.725 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Lebanc’s reward for only taking a one-year, $1-million contract last year when the Sharks were facing a salary-cap crunch. His production was down last season but that could be due to the Sharks’ overall poor performance last season. This could be a worthwhile contract for the Sharks if Lebanc regains his 56-point form from 2018-19.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed wingers Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin to two-year contracts. Burakovsky’s AAV is $4.9 million while Nichushkin’s is $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Both forwards were key contributors to the Avalanche last season. Burakovsky enjoyed a career-best 20 goal, 45 point performance in 58 games last season while Nichushkin has turned into a versatile checking-line forward.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a one-year, $3.85-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour was the frequent topic of trade speculation last season. It’ll be interesting to see if he has a future in Buffalo beyond next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Jordan Greenway to a two-year, $4.2-million contract.


TSN: The Ottawa Senators acquired forward Austin Watson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick.

NHLPA: 26 NHL players filed yesterday for salary arbitration. The arbitration period begins Oct. 20 and concludes Nov. 8.

Boston Bruins

Matt Grzelcyk

Buffalo Sabres

Victor Olofsson

Sam Reinhart

Linus Ullmark

Calgary Flames

Andrew Mangiapane

Carolina Hurricanes

Clark Bishop

Haydn Fleury

Warren Foegele

Gustav Forsling

Colorado Avalanche

Ryan Graves

Detroit Red Wings

Tyler Bertuzzi

Florida Panthers

MacKenzie Weegar

Minnesota Wild

Kaapo Kahkonen

New York Islanders

Joshua Ho-Sang

Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews

New York Rangers

Tony DeAngelo

Alexandar Georgiev

Brendan Lemieux

Ryan Strome

Ottawa Senators

Connor Brown

Christian Jaros

Nick Paul

Chris Tierney

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Mikheyev

Vancouver Canucks

Jake Virtanen

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2020

Could the Sharks trade Tomas Hertl or Kevin Labanc? Should they make a pitch for Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev? Check out the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked about the possibility of the San Jose Sharks trading Tomas Hertl. The 26-year-old forward carries a $5.625-million annual average value through 2021-22 and his modified no-trade clause (three-team trade list) doesn’t kick in until next season. While one can never say never, Kurz doesn’t see the Sharks moving Hertl.

Kevin Labanc Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - San ...

San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Lebanc (Photo via NHL Images).

Kurz was also asked about how much Kevin Labanc could receive on his next contract. The 26-year-old winger is a restricted free agent completing a one-year, $1-million contract and has arbitration rights, but the decline in his production this season could hurt his efforts to land a lucrative new deal. Kurz wouldn’t offer more than $3 million to $4 million annually, but he wonders if the Labanc camp would accept it. He considers the winger a prime trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson could surprise us by moving Hertl before his modified no-trade goes into effect, but I doubt he’ll go that route. Even if he were so inclined, Hertl’s history of knee injuries could make him a difficult sell. Labanc bet on himself last summer and lost. With the Sharks carrying over $66 million invested in 13 players for next season, Wilson could peddle the winger if his contract talks become contentious.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White suggests the Sharks address their need for a reliable backup for starting goalie Martin Jones by pursuing a trade for Alexandar Georgiev. The 24-year-old New York Rangers goaltender is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights following this season.

Long-time Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist has another year left on his contract while promising Igor Shesterkin is also signed for next season. White suggests offering up a second-round pick in the 2020 draft to the Rangers for Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Lundqvist doesn’t retire, accepts a trade, or has his contract bought out, the Rangers cannot go into next season carrying three goalies. They won’t move Shesterkin, leaving Georgiev the most likely candidate. He could be a good fit with the Sharks, but the Blueshirts could squeeze them for more than a second-rounder.


NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.