Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 10, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 10, 2018

Contract buyout candidates plus updates on Milan Lucic, Ilya Kovalchuk and Ian Cole in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

Could Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza become a buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

THIS SUMMER’S CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently listed Ottawa Senators winger Marian Gaborik, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jori Lehtera, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling, Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza, Minnesota Wild winger Tyler Ennis, San Jose Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, Calgary Flames right wing Troy Brouwer, and Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky as this year’s top-eight buyout candidates.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz lists Brouwer, PIttsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Hunwick and Buffalo Sabres left wing Matt Moulson as “costly, but might be worth it” buyout candidates. He feels Lehtera and Ennis are definitely worth buying out but suggests Spezza might be worth retaining for the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract buyout period runs from June 15-30. Check out Cap Friendly for their buyout calculator.

Players with one year remaining on their contracts, such as Spezza, Lehtera, Ennis and Martin, are more likely to be bought out than those with two or more years remaining on their deals. For example, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports being told there’s a “strong possibility” the Sharks buy out Martin later this month. 

Even then, that’s not a certainty. In April, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he doesn’t plan to buy out Lehtera though he doesn’t rule out changing his mind.  Boylen also reminds us players must be medically cleared before being eligible for buyouts. If Gaborik hasn’t fully recovered from recent back surgery, he’ll be ineligible for a buyout this month. 

I don’t expect the Hurricanes will buy out Darling this summer, as they’re likely to give him another shot at proving himself as a reliable starting goaltender. Dubinsky battled with injuries and personal issues this season, but given the Blue Jackets’ depth issues at center, I believe he’ll return with them in 2018-19. If the Penguins need more cap room to bring in depth elsewhere in the lineup, I can see them buying out the final two years of Hunwick’s contract. 

LATEST ON LUCIC

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples is “somewhat optimistic” another NHL team will want to trade for Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and his $6-million annual average value through 2022-23. Despite the troubling decline in Lucic’s offensive stats last season, Staples suggests we shouldn’t underestimate how some NHL GMs value size, toughness and past reputation. Lucic also has a full no-movement clause but there’s a belief he could be open to being dealt.

Staples colleague Jim Matheson believes there isn’t a rush on the Oilers part to move Lucic. “The only conceivable way the Oilers could trade Lucic today would be to take on somebody’s onerous long-term contract back, and maybe toss in a draft pick or prospect to sweeten the pot,” said Matheson, who feels there’s no real upside to trading him. He noted the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks tried hard to sign Lucic in 2016 and wondered if they might still be interested in him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, of course, but I share Matheson’s doubts about the Oilers finding a trade partner to take on those remaining five years of Lucic’s contract. There was some speculation of a Lucic for Andrew Shaw swap with Montreal, but I think the Oilers would have to absorb part of Lucic’s cap hit to make it palatable for the Canadiens. Even then, the remaining years of his contract could be a deal breaker.

UPDATE ON COLE

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported Columbus Blue Jackets pending UFA defenseman Ian Cole is open to re-signing if he gets “the right offer” from the Jackets. Cole was acquired in February from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a three-way deal involving the Ottawa Senators and is completing a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $2.1 million. “He quickly became a stalwart for the Blue Jackets, joining David Savard on the No. 2 pair and the top penalty-kill unit,” writes Porzline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blue Jackets have over $61.6 million invested in 19 players. Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Ryan Murray are their restricted free agents and will all seek raises this summer. The Jackets aren’t expected to re-sign Jack Johnson and Thomas Vanek but could bring back Cole and Mark Letestu if their salary demands are realistic. They must also keep sufficient long-term cap space open for Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski and Sergei Bobrovsky, who will become free agents next summer. 

 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2017

The latest on the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks,Pittsburgh Penguins & Philadelphia Flyers in your NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST TSN INSIDERS

TSN: During Thursday’s “Insider Trading” segment, Pierre LeBrun reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion continues to listen to trade offers. Eight teams reached out to Dorion on Thursday. He’s not going to make a deal just for the sake of doing so and if a suitable deal isn’t there he’s not going to force it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The struggling Senators dominated the rumor mill this week with focus on Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derick Brassard. While it’s possible Dorion could swing a deal before the holiday trade freeze kicks in on Dec.19, I wouldn’t be surprised if he waits until sometime in January to make a significant trade. And no, I don’t believe he’ll trade Karlsson.

LeBrun also reports the solid play of San Jose Sharks backup goaltender Aaron Dell is starting to attract some attention. He wonders if Dell, who’s an unrestricted free agent in July, could be this season’s Scott Darling, another backup goalie who garnered lots of interest last season. It’s currently unknown if the Sharks will use him as trade bait closer to the Feb. 26 trade deadline or re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent word out of San Jose suggests the Sharks aren’t likely to move Dell, preferring to retain him as insurance in case starter Martin Jones struggles or becomes sidelined by injury. Of course, that could change if the Sharks are in danger of falling out of playoff contention, but I think they’ll keep him for the rest of the season. 

LeBrun reports hearing the Philadelphia Flyers are willing to listen to offers for forward Jori Lehtera, who’s been a frequent healthy scratch this season. They’re not aggressively shopping Lehtera but could move him for the right price. His $4.7 million cap hit through 2018-19 could scare off some clubs, but he did tally 44 points three years ago with the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Flyers are willing to pick up part of Lehtera’s cap hit, I don’t see him drawing much interest. His production has steadily declined since that career-high season. 

TEAMS INTERESTED IN MRAZEK?

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports an NHL source claims “multiple teams” have contacted the Detroit Red Wings regarding goaltender Petr Mrazek, despite the fact he has only four wins and a save percentage under .900 this season. That’s an indication of how weak the goalie market is right now.

A source from one NHL team that looked at Mrazek noted several factors that work against the goalie’s trade value. His play has declined over the past season and a half, he carries a $4 million cap hit and will likely be a rental player this season as no one will qualify him at that price next summer, plus he has a reputation as a poor teammate.

Custance suggests the Wings should consider showcasing Mrazek in some upcoming games, though that could jeopardize their playoff hopes. Mrazek could fetch them a third-round pick.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Wings will consider absorbing part of Mrazek’s salary for the right trade offer.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien suggests the Wings could seek a second-round pick for Mrazek if they pick up part of his salary. He suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers should consider acquiring Mrazek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Picking up part of Mrazek’s cap hit is the only way the Wings can make this guy more attractive to rival clubs. However, I think interested GMs will want to see him play in some upcoming games. As Custance notes, that’s the dilemma for the Wings, who are desperately trying to stay in the playoff chase. If they use Mrazek and he costs them points, it’ll also hurt his modest trade value. 

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey recently reported Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said his club is reaching a critical point in this season where they’ll have to decide if they’re going to shake things up or not. Rutherford said he’d prefer adding to his current roster. However, if things don’t improve soon he doesn’t rule out making a major move. He’d like to add more scoring to his roster and bolster his depth at center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford ideally wants a third-line center comparable to Nick Bonino, who was a key factor in the Penguins’ consecutive Stanley Cup championships before departing via free agency last summer to Nashville. He brought in Riley Sheahan earlier this season from Detroit but he lacks Bonino’s offensive skills. I think Rutherford would prefer to bring in a scoring third line center and drop Sheahan down to the fourth line. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2017

Columbus Blue Jackets still haven’t re-signed Alexander Wennberg.

Updates on the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: While the Blue Jackets still haven’t re-signed restricted free agent forwards Alex Wennberg and Josh Anderson, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t concerned. He notes both sides are trying to use the current system to their advantage and expects there will be more urgency toward getting these deals done as training camp approaches. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s plenty of time to get these contracts done.  Wennberg and Anderson will be re-signed, either before training camp or likely within days of the start of training camp. It’s possible one of them could receive an offer sheet, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins backup goalie job remains up for grabs between Anton Khudobin, Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban.

NBC SPORTS:  Center Jori Lehtera hopes his trade from the St. Louis Blues to the Philadelphia Flyers will give him the opportunity for a fresh start. “I have no idea why (the Blues traded me), but I think it’s better for me that I got traded, so I don’t really care why,” Lehtera said. He feels the trade will be good for him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Blues dealt Lehtera because his production declined from his promising 44-point NHL debut in 2014-15. 

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox offers up the Colorado Avalanche as a cautionary tale for teams and fans who believe it’s important for clubs to lock up a young core of stars to expensive long-term contracts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cox makes some good points, but I also believe it’s important to properly build around the young core and provide them with a solid coaching staff capable of helping that young talent improve. That’s what the Avalanche failed to do with Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. The Edmonton Oilers made a similar mistake earlier in the decade with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also locked up Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to long-term deals earlier in their careers, as did the Chicago Blackhawks with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. What they did differently was build up the depth of talent surrounding those players and provide them with solid coaching. 

TSN: The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board ruled the judge overseeing former NHLer Mike Peluso’s lawsuit didn’t have the ability to impose a “gag order” on him.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Eagles will become the AHL’s 31st franchise and the Avalanche’s primary minor-league affiliate. 

 











Analysis of Notable Trades At 2017 NHL Draft – June 23, 2017

Analysis of Notable Trades At 2017 NHL Draft – June 23, 2017

Among the notable trades prior to the opening of the 2017 NHL Draft saw Columbus ship Brandon Saad back to Chicago for Artemi Panarin.

The day kicked off with the Chicago Blackhawks shipping defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for defensemen Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin.

They soon followed that up with a blockbuster, shipping forwards Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte plus a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Brandon Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-round selection.

It’s tempting to call these moves salary dumps by the Blackhawks. However, Panarin and Saad make the same annual cap hit ($6 million), but Saad’s runs through 2020-21 and Panarin’s through 2018-19.

Hjalmarsson’s cap hit is $4.1 million annually through 2018-19. Murphy’s is $3.85 million through 2021-22.

Forsberg, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent who made $650K last season. He’ll likely get a bit of a pay bump, which cancels out any savings from the deal with the Coyotes. Motte’s $925K cap hit is the only notable savings for the Hawks. 

Bottom line is Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman wanted to shake things up. He promised as much after his club was swept from the opening round of the 2017 playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

Hjalmarsson, 30, helped the Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups since 2010. However, he seemed to struggle during that series against the Predators. Murphy, 24, is a big-bodied shutdown rearguard who skates well and plays a physical style.

The Coyotes needed more of a veteran presence on their blueline and Hjalmarsson should help. GM John Chayka envisions him as Oliver Ekman-Larssen’s partner on their top defense pairing. If they mesh well it could go a long way toward improving their porous blueline.

Bowman never wanted to part with Saad two years ago but budget constraints forced his hand. The winger was a key part of the Hawks’ last two Cup championships. They missed his two-way style and chemistry with center Jonathan Toews. Losing Marian Hossa’s decision to sit out next season because of a rare skin condition also probably factored into this decision.

Forsberg, of course, was brought in as the potential replacement for departed backup Scott Darling. He’s got good size (6’3”, 192 lbs) but limited NHL experience. He’ll likely get 20-25 games as Corey Crawford’s understudy. 

Saad had some difficulty playing for demanding Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. It’ll be interesting to see how Panarin fares. The 2016 Calder Trophy winner excelled alongside Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov in Chicago, netting 73 points in 2016-17. He’s got terrific speed but, at 5-11 and 170 pounds, he’s not a physical player.

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Not to be outdone, the New York Rangers swung a major deal of their own, shipping center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta to the Coyotes for defenseman Anthony Deangelo and the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft.

It was the second major move of the day for the Coyotes, bringing them the experienced top-line center they need and bolstering their depth in the crease.

Stepan’s in the third year of his six-year, $39-million contract. He’s a proven performance, netting over 40 points in each of his seven NHL seasons. The 27-year-old is a hardworking two-way forward and a skilled playmaker. He’ll likely have promising Max Domi skating on his wing. 

Raanta has spent his NHL career in backup roles. He played very well spelling off Henrik Lundqvist in 2016-17. This could be his opportunity to become a full-time starter as the potential replacement for the now-departed Mike Smith.

The Rangers, meanwhile, shed over a combined $7 million in cap space, pick up a promising puck-moving, right-handed defenseman in Deangelo plus a high pick in this year’s draft. With over $20 million in salary cap space for next season, they could be on the hunt for an experienced offensive blueliner to skate on the right side via trade or in the upcoming free-agent market.

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It appeared the opening round of the 2017 NHL Draft wouldn’t have any trades involving veteran players, but two late deals came through under the wire. 

The first saw the Philadelphia Flyers ship forward Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for center Jori Lehtera, a first-round pick in 2017 and a conditional first in 2018. 

Entering this offseason, the Blues were searching for more scoring depth. Schenn, 25, is a versatile forward who can play center or on the wing. He’s coming off consecutive seasons with over 20 goals and 50 points. With his speed and two-way ability, he could be a good fit in St. Louis with his speed and two-way ability. 

Lehtera, 29, had a solid NHL debut in 2014-15 with 44 points. However, his production tumbled after that. Though he has playmaking skills, he’s pretty much a checking-line center now. He’ll likely see fourth-line duty with the Flyers as a replacement for the departed Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. 

Schenn has a $5.125 million cap hit through 2019-20, while Lehtera’s is $4.7 million through 2018-19. 

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The final move of the opening round saw the Blues ship rugged winger Ryan Reaves and a second-round pick in this year’s draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Oskar Sundqvist and a 2017 first-round picks. 

Penguins fans may be puzzled by this move, but GM Jim Rutherford recently indicated he wanted to add some muscle to his forward lines. Reaves’ role will be to hold accountable those who take liberties on the Penguins’ best players, especially captain Sidney Crosby. 

Sundqvist, 23, isn’t an enforcer like Reaves but he can play an agitating physical style. He can also play all three forward positions, giving the Blues some flexibility up front. 

 











NHL Trade Tracker – June 23, 2017

NHL Trade Tracker – June 23, 2017

Chicago Blackhawks trade defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes.

Check in throughout the day for the latest NHL trades on the opening day of the 2017 NHL Draft. Analysis of the notable deals following the end of the first round tonight. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired winger Ryan Reaves and a second-round pick in the 2017 draft from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Oskar Sundqvist and a first-round pick (31st overall) in this year’s draft. 

The Philadelphia Flyers trade forward Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for center Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 conditional first rounder. 

The New York Rangers have traded center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Anthony Deangelo and the Coyotes first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft

The Chicago Blackhawks have dealt Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and a sixth round pick in this year’s draft  to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick in 2018.

The Chicago Blackhawks have traded defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defensemen Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2017

Trade speculation continues to swirl about Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle.

Latest on Jordan Eberle and Evander Kane in your NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL:  On Monday, David Staples noted TSN’s recent trade-bait list included right-shot defensemen such as Sami Vatanen, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Travis Hamonic. He wondered if the Oilers could peddle right wing Jordan Eberle for one of the notables on that list, especially one of those blueliners.

If they do, they’ll likely wait until after the expansion draft as landing another defenseman could leave the Oilers having to protect four blueliners, raising the risk of losing a forward in the draft and potentially weakening their depth at right wing.

If Eberle is shopped, Staples suspects it’ll take place after the expansion draft and to teams with salary-cap space that lost scoring depth in that draft. Swapping Eberle for another forward could also be an option.

Staples followed up on Tuesday, noting TSN’s Darren Dreger maintains his insistence that Eberle was definitely getting traded. While GM Peter Chiarelli has received some offers he hasn’t had one yet than he’s willing to accept yet. “Just for fun”, Dreger suggested swapping Eberle for Hamonic.

Oilers insiders Bob Stauffer and Mark Spector also discussed Eberle’s trade status, suspecting the “change is good” theme for Eberle could be “agent speak.”  Stauffer also agreed with suggestions from listeners to his show that shipping Eberle for a lesser, more affordable forward, such as the Islanders’ Ryane Strome, might make sense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Chiarelli is keen to move Eberle, either for a defenseman or another right winger, to shed the winger’s $6 million cap hit (or as much of it as possible) in order to clear cap space to re-sign Leon Draisaitl this summer and Connor McDavid before next summer.

I agree with Staples that it makes more sense to move Eberle after the expansion draft, though maybe Chiarelli is looking at some wheeling and dealing with the Vegas Golden Knights to ensure they don’t pick an exposed player the Oilers prefer to keep. Perhaps Eberle’s agent is stoking the trade chatter but we don’t know that for sure. I expect we haven’t heard the last of the Eberle trade chatter. 

WGR 550: Howard Simon believes the timing is perfect for the Buffalo Sabres to trade left wing Evander Kane. He points out the Sabres’ need to bolster their blueline and considers the 25-year-old winger the best trade chip to address that issue, though he also suggests the Sabres might have to toss in a top prospect or their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft.

While acknowledging the Sabres would lose an asset by trading Kane, his value is high right now. He is also eligible next summer for UFA status and could seek a significant raise over his current six-year, $31.5-million deal. He wonders if Kane could fetch a quality d-man such as Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings.

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma wonders if the Vancouver Canucks are ready to make a trade for Kane. He notes the winger would bring proven scoring skills to a Canucks club lacking those attributes at left wing. Offering up Chris Tanev ($4.45 million cap hit) would financially justify acquiring Kane in the short term, though it could make it difficult to re-sign other players next summer.

While Kane has made headlines for his selfish and stubborn behavior off the ice, he does have his defenders who believe the Vancouver native would respond well to more structure. Kuzma concludes that if Kane has finally turned the corner off the ice, it could be worthwhile for the Canucks to at least kick the tires on a trade.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Bob McKenzie telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 yesterday that he’s unsure of the Canucks’ interest in Kane. He points out the club twice expressed interest in Kane. The first time the Sabres weren’t that keen on moving the winger. The second time, talks moved along for a while they suddenly ended. McKenzie believes it was the Canucks bringing those discussions to a halt. He adds he knows a number of teams have shown some interest in Kane but he doesn’t know if the Canucks are among them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This might be a good time to move Kane, but it appears the Sabres’ asking price will be a top-four defenseman such as Muzzin or Tanev. It’s also possible the Sabres could move Kane to one club for another asset, which they could flip to a third club for a blueliner.

There’s no denying Kane’s skills are enticing, but his previous off-ice escapades and his UFA status next summer could hurt his trade value. As with Eberle, Kane is likely to remain a fixture in the rumor mill over the next several weeks.