NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

Analysis of Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek’s list of potential trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek recently listed 25 potential trade candidates of interest to watch this season.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano (NHL Images).

He starts by wondering if Mark Giordano might be thinking of a shot at the Stanley Cup and if the Seattle Kraken might consider shopping him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule it out. That move could happen near the March 21 trade deadline. On the other hand, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of the Kraken re-signing him.

The Montreal Canadiens could get a first-round pick for defenseman Ben Chiarot from a team seeking a deep playoff run.

That seems to be the growing consensus among the pundits. We’ll find out at some point this season if that’s the case.

Marek also wondered if Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli would want to be part of a potential rebuilding in Montreal.

If the Canadiens decide to move Gallagher and/or Toffoli it’ll likely happen in the offseason. It’s difficult to move older players with several years on their contracts during the season, especially with 22 teams carrying less than $3.6 million in cap space. Some will have more cap room by the trade deadline but they must also keep an eye on next season’s payrolls with the cap only rising by $1 million.

The direction of the Nashville Predators depends on what they do with pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Predators GM David Poile said in July he was engaging in a “competitive rebuild”. That could continue with Forsberg’s departure. If they’re still in playoff contention by the deadline they’ll keep him as an “own rental” and let him walk this summer if they can’t reach an agreement on an extension.

The Dallas Stars are shopping Anton Khudobin. Marek suspects they’re after a forward. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes have called about John Klingberg but the Stars could keep him for the playoffs if unable to re-sign the pending UFA defenseman.

Concur on both counts.

The Boston Bruins will remain patient in their efforts to move winger Jake DeBrusk until they get the best possible player or players in return.

Interested clubs could also be unwilling to meet the Bruins’ asking price. Marek’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported GM Don Sweeney was seeking a defenseman or forward of equal value.

The Vegas Golden Knights could move Reilly Smith to free up cap space when Jack Eichel is ready to return to action.

Smith seems the most likely trade candidate. He carries a $5 million cap hit, lacks no-trade protection and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

The Vancouver Canucks are looking to change direction and could surprise us by moving J.T. Miller.

Not if they manage to climb back into playoff contention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t rule out the Canucks testing the trade market for Miller.

Marek doesn’t envision any scenario where Evander Kane returns to the San Jose Sharks lineup. He believes they’ll have to absorb some of his salary to move him.

He’s not the only pundit who believes that.  Kane’s off-ice woes, his reputation as a divisive player in the dressing room and his $7 million annual salary cap hit make him difficult to move.

Perhaps a team in Alberta would have an interest in Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Marek is referring to the Edmonton Oilers. However, that depends on the health of Oiler goalie Mike Smith, whether Fleury would accept a trade to Edmonton and if the Blackhawks are willing to pick up part of his cap hit.

Marek suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Nick Leddy could become trade candidates.

Only if the Wings drop out of playoff contention again. Otherwise, they’ll keep both in hope of securing their first postseason berth since 2016.

Ditto Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney and blueliners Erik Brannstrom and Nick Holden.

I agree regarding Tierney and Holden but I can see them giving Brannstrom another season to crack their roster.

The Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Joonas Korpisalo by the trade deadline. Elvis Merzlikins is their starter and Daniil Tarasov shows promise.

Concur.

Marek wonders if the St. Louis Blues might try to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It’s clear things are frosty between Taraseno and Blues coach Craig Berube.

Tarasenko hasn’t rescinded his trade request and is fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries. However, his $7.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 remains a sticking point as it was this past summer. The fact he’s owed $9.5 million in actual salary this season and I believe the earliest he gets moved is next summer.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury won’t budge on honoring Vitali Kravtsov’s trade request unless he gets something of quality in return. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s name has also been in the rumor mill.

Kravtsov is on loan to KHL club Chelyabinsk and can’t return to the NHL until the KHL season is over. Georgiev’s solid effort filling in for sidelined starter Igor Shesterkin could improve his trade value but the Blueshirts could be reluctant to move him unless they’ve got a reliable backup to replace him.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is available and so is pretty much anyone not named Jakub Chychrun.

I anticipate Kessel gets moved by deadline day. It’ll be interesting to see how many other Coyotes veterans hit the trade block by then.

Marek also wonders what the Pittsburgh Penguins will do with pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. What happens with Malkin will depend on his health.

I doubt the Penguins shop any of those three if they’re holding a playoff berth by deadline day. Rust is the only one lacking any kind of no-trade protection and carries the most affordable cap hit ($3.5 million).

Marek wondered if Oilers GM Ken Holland will use his first-round pick as trade bait to bring in immediate help for his roster. He also mused over whether the Buffalo Sabres would use one of their three 2022 first-round picks to address an organizational need.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2021

Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Phil Kessel or Reilly Smith? What free agents should the Canadiens pursue next summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the New York Rangers might kick tires on Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel or Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith to add a scorer to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Rosen likes the idea of Smith as he’s more versatile than Kessel and previously played for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. The Golden Knights will need to shed salary to make room for recently-acquired Jack Eichel when he returns to action from neck surgery in February.

The Rangers don’t have to rush into finding a winger for Zibanejad and Kreider. They’re winning games while using the time to determine what they have in young forwards Julian Gauthier, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those young forwards could improve in the coming weeks to the point where the Rangers won’t need to pursue a top-six winger. If not, they’ll go shopping for one leading up to the March 21 trade deadline, maybe for Kessel, Smith, or whoever else could be useful to them at a reasonable price.

TVA SPORTS: Anthony Martineau and Nicolas Cloutier discussed possible offseason free-agent targets for the Montreal Canadiens next summer. Martineau suggested pursuing San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl while Cloutier recommended Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman (and Quebec native) Kris Letang.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens aren’t in any position financially to pursue any of next summer’s noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Cap Friendly shows them with a projected $84.8 million invested in just 14 players for 2022-23. They’ll get some cap relief if Shea Weber ($7.857 million annual average value) remains on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll still have to shed considerably more to free up cap space to fill out the remainder of their roster.

The Canadiens’ poor performance this season and the fishbowl existence for Habs players in Montreal won’t be enticing to any of next summer’s notable UFAs. It’s a pipe dream. Moving on…










NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2021

Check out the latest on the Penguins, Wild and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Josh Yohe was asked if the Pittsburgh Penguins could become sellers at the 2022 trade deadline if they don’t make the playoffs. He didn’t dismiss the possibility of a rebuild but felt they’re not at that point yet.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Asked if Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin could become deadline trade chips if the Penguins were out of contention, Yohe replied he could envision them being available for the right price, especially Rust as he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He also mused about whether general manager Ron Hextall would attempt to peddle pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins need a course correction to snap out of their early-season struggles. He feels they need a right-side defenseman, a scoring winger for Jeff Carter and a spark plug player similar to former Penguins forwards like Patric Hornqvist or Brandon Tanev.

In the wake of the Penguins’ impending sale to the Fenway Group, Kingerski wondered what effect that could have upon the future of Malkin and Letang in Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see what changes there are (if any) once the Fenway Group takes over ownership of the Penguins. The longer Malkin and Letang go without new contracts, the more speculation about their trade status as the deadline approaches.

Management could be reluctant to move Malkin, Letang, Rust or any other pending free agents if the Penguins hold a playoff berth by deadline day. We’ll have to wait until the calendar flips to January 2022 to perhaps begin to get a clearer picture of their plans.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about the future of winger Jordan Greenway. He could be moved before next season to make room for promising wingers like Matthew Boldy and Adam Beckman.

Greenway’s a pending restricted free agent in the midst of an underwhelming start to this season. Russo believes he’ll be moved at some point before next season and expects the Wild would seek futures in return.

Russo also said the Wild are trying to move center Victor Rask but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greenway, 24, is a 6’6”, 231-pound left winger who was showing some potential as a big playmaker over the last two years. However, he has just three assists in 12 games this season and facing criticism for not being more physically engaged and driving the offense. With a cap hit of $2.1 million, he could be an affordable option for clubs seeking size and offense at left wing.

OTTAWA SUN: Earlier this week, Ken Warren speculated over whether the Senators will pursue a trade for a center to replace the sidelined Colin White and Shane Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have been rumored to be in the market for a center for some time. GM Pierre Dorion could be shopping around but finding a suitable deal this early in the season won’t be easy.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

A look at the top potential trade targets now that Jack Eichel’s off the market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin examined several possible trade targets now that Jack Eichel is finally off the trade market.

Kennedy kicked things off by suggesting Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel as the most obvious choice. He also wondered what the market would be for defenseman Kris Letang if the Pittsburgh Penguins decide the postseason isn’t in the cards for them this season. Despite his injury history and age, the 34-year-old remains a solid offensive blueliner who could fetch a decent return should the Penguins decide to rebuild.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is going to be traded at some point between now and the March 21 trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer who doesn’t fit into the rebuilding Coyotes’ plans and he wants a chance to earn a new contract by playing with a playoff contender this season. He’s being paid only $1 million in actual salary but his $6.8 million cap hit likely means cap-strapped suitors could wait until closer to the trade deadline.

Like Kessel, Letang is a UFA next summer. While his name briefly surfaced in trade speculation over the past couple of years, he has indicated his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. He won’t be going anywhere if management feels the same way.

Kennedy noted that Letang has a modified no-trade clause allowing him to be moved to 18 teams. He’s also earning $7.25 million in cap hit and actual salary, meaning he would be a more likely trade candidate near the deadline if he and the Penguins decide it’s time to move on.

Larkin suggests center Tomas Hertl as a trade candidate if the San Jose Sharks slide out of playoff contention. Another one could be Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, prompting Larkin to wonder if the Calgary Flames might attempt to reacquire their former captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl could be the most desirable trade target depending on what the market looks like after the calendar flips to 2022. The 28-year-old center hopes to soon discuss a new contract with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson but there’s no certainty they’ll reach an agreement on an extension before the trade deadline.

The Kraken making Giordano their captain suggests they’re confident of signing the 38-year-old defenseman to a contract extension. If that doesn’t work out, they could consider moving him before deadline day. Maybe the Flames would try to bring him back as a rental but that will depend on what their needs are as the trade deadline approaches.

Returning to the Penguins, Larkin noted Evgeni Malkin is also in the final year of his contract. The 35-year-old center is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Once he returns to the lineup the club will have a better idea of how the standings might shake out. Malkin could be a player they could get a lot for in the trade market if they decide it’s time to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s in the same boat as Letang. He’s also hinted that he’d like to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He has a full no-movement clause and is earning $9.5 million in cap hit and actual salary. He would generate plenty of interest if the Penguins shop him but moving that contract won’t be easy.

Larkin also mentioned Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as a trade candidate. He suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a club that might want to kick tires on Fleury or current free agent Tuukka Rask.

Staying with the Blackhawks, Larkin raised the possibility of Patrick Kane as a trade chip, noting he’s got a year remaining on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. He acknowledged that would make it difficult to move the 32-year-old winger but he would be appealing as a two-year rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has popped up in recent weeks as a potential trade chip for the Blackhawks later in the season. His $7 million cap hit ($6 million in actual salary) and 10-team no-trade clause would make it difficult for a team with little or no cap space (like the Oilers) to acquire him.

As for Kane, I don’t see the Blackhawks having that conversation with him until the offseason unless he asks to be moved before the deadline. The Hawks need a long-overdue rebuild. Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews could be shopped if they don’t want to be part of it. They both carry identical contracts with full no-movement clauses, which is why I believe any attempt by the Blackhawks to move either guy will have to wait until next summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

T.J. Oshie and Drake Batherson get dueling hat tricks in high-scoring Capitals-Senators game, the Panthers, Hurricanes and Blues remain undefeated, the Sabres upset the Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-5 in a wild game that saw Washington’s T.J. Oshie and Ottawa’s Drake Batherson each tally a hat trick. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move within four goals of Brett Hull (741) for fourth place among the all-time goal leaders. With seven goals, he takes over the goal-scoring lead from Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. The Capitals led 4-1 at one point but the Senators stormed back to tie it in the second period to make it interesting before the Caps regained the lead.

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour had two-point performances and Joe Thornton scored his first goal of the season as the Florida Panthers beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. The Panthers take over first place in the overall standings with a 6-0-0 record. Coyotes goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Conor Timmins both left the game with lower-body injuries.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Frederik Andersen made 24 saves against his former team to backstop his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin each had two points for the Hurricanes, who remain unbeaten at 5-0-0. Auston Matthews tallied his first of the season (the 200th goal of his career) for the slumping Leafs, whose record drops to 2-4-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of unhappiness in Leafs Nation as their club’s early-season woes are drawing comparison to their similar difficulties two years ago. That led to a November coaching change as Sheldon Keefe replace Mike Babcock. Could Keefe face a similar fate if the Leafs fail to reverse their fortunes? Stay tuned…

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and Ville Husso turned in a 34-save shutout as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. The Blues extended their record to 5-0-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues, Hurricanes and Panthers join the Edmonton Oilers as the only clubs to remain unbeaten through their first five games of the season. It’s the first time in league history four teams begin the season with records of at least 5-0-0.

The Buffalo Sabres stunned the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1. Craig Anderson made 35 saves for the win while Victor Olofsson scored twice for the Sabres, who maintain their surprising hot start with a 4-1-1 record. The Lightning are still without winger Nikita Kucherov, who could be sidelined for another eight weeks by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning definitely miss Kucherov’s offense but other factors are also behind their stumbling start. Their forward depth was depleted by this summer’s departures of Tyler Johnston, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow. A shortened offseason also gave them less time than most clubs to rest and prepare for this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. On his way to pre-game warmups, Merzlikins was heckled by a Stars fan making a negative comment about the death of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed in a fireworks accident in July. “I was expecting a shutout because I believe in karma,” said Merzlikins. “There is some stupid people in this world. That was really, really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (provoked) me about Matiss.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are some disgusting people in this world whose lives are so pathetic that their only source of joy is trying to incite sadness or anger in other people. Good on Merlikins for not letting that douchebag’s remarks knock him off his game.

A 28-save shutout by Jacob Markstrom and two goals from Andrew Mangiapane carried to the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund each had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who’ve now won three straight games.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 24, 2021.

YARDBARKER: The Vegas Golden Knights have moved Max Pacioretty (fractured foot) from injured reserve to long-term IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move provides the Golden Knights some flexibility to call up a player or acquire one via trade. However, they must become cap compliant when Pacioretty returns to the lineup.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed defenseman Kris Letang tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in COVID protocol.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being checked awkwardly into the board by the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos on Saturday.

NBC SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils confirmed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last week. He’ll have to continue following league protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after his second dose.

TSN: New York Islanders goaltender Cory Schneider hit the waiver wire yesterday. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks placed forward Alexander Volkov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Colin Wilson opens up about his addiction to drugs, including cocaine and prescription drugs. He cited the recent death of Jimmy Hayes motivating him to come clean about his addiction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a difficult but invaluable story that everyone should read. Wilson’s tale will hopefully motivate other players with addictions to seek help and perhaps provoke more positive change with the NHL toward addressing this issue.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 10, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 10, 2021

An early look at this season’s pending unrestricted free agents, Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is working the phones and the Canucks are shopping Olli Juolevi. Check it out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently looked at which of this season’s high-profile unrestricted free agents could sign contract extensions within the next month or two. He wouldn’t be surprised Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg is signed by midseason though there’s work to be done. The Boston Bruins signing Patrice Bergeron is a no-brainer if the 36-year-old center wants to return for another season.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

There haven’t been any real contract discussions between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Evgeni Malkin as he focuses on recovering from offseason knee surgery. LeBrun expects those talks could begin later in the season. He also believes the Penguins want to avoid lengthy deals they could regret for Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. The latter could be willing to see how the season plays out.

LeBrun believes the San Jose Sharks haven’t given up hope of signing Tomas Hertl but thinks the 27-year-old center is unlikely to do so. He could become a big name potentially available at the March 21 trade deadline.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had preliminary talks with Morgan Rielly and lines of communication remain open. This could be decided in June depending on the Leafs freeing up sufficient cap space to sign him or Rielly going to market because they can’t afford him. LeBrun expects he’ll be in the $8 million per season club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with LeBrun’s take on all but Klingberg. He’s in the final season of a seven-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.25 million and could seek something comparable to Dougie Hamilton’s $9 million AAV with the New Jersey Devils.

As The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks observed, the Stars already have $8.45 million annually invested in Miro Heiskanen, $5.8 million annually in Esa Lindell and $3.65 million in Ryan Suter. Assuming Klingberg accepts something in the $8 million range, the Stars will have one of the NHL’s most expensive bluelines.

Unless the Stars shed salary or decide not to re-sign other pending UFAs like Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov, they could be unwilling to ink Klingberg to an expensive long-term extension.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t quite finished assembling the roster. He may be looking to trade some of their extra players. NEWSDAY’s Andrew Gross reports Trotz said the Isles GM is still working the phones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those “extra guys” likely include defenseman Thomas Hickey and winger Richard Panik as they were placed on waivers yesterday. If they clear, Lamoriello could attempt to peddle them elsewhere.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston confirms a report in The Athletic that the Vancouver Canucks are shopping defenseman Olli Juolevi. The former 2016 first-round pick has tumbled down the Canucks blueline depth chart.

If they can’t find a trade and they decide to send Juolevi to their AHL affiliate, he’ll have to be placed on waivers today. Given his pedigree, Johnston anticipated he’d be claimed by another club.