Notable NHL Trades and Free Agent Signings – July 7, 2022

Notable NHL Trades and Free Agent Signings – July 7, 2022

Check out my take on the notable trades and free-agent signings leading up to and including the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. This list will be updated as new trades and signings occur.

Edmonton Oilers trade winger Zack Kassian, the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft, a second-round pick in 2025 and a third-round pick in 2024 to the Arizona Coyotes for the 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers need to shed salary to acquire a starting goaltender and have enough space to re-sign or replace winger Evander Kane. It cost them two draft picks and dropped them down three places in the remainder of the first round but it sheds Kassian’s $3.2 million annual salary-cap hit through 2023-24.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded goaltender Petr Mrazek and their first-round pick (25th overall) in this year’s draft to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for the 38th overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such is the price necessary for the Leafs to ship out Mrazek and free up his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. They’ll put those savings toward finding a suitable replacement for starting goalie Jack Campbell if they fail to re-sign him before the free-agent market opens next week.

As for the Blackhawks, GM Kyle Davidson is once again making moves to garner more first-round picks for his rebuilding club. He started the day without a pick in this round. He finished the night with three. He also takes on a goaltender in Mrazek but will need to find another if he doesn’t re-sign Kevin Lankinen or Colin Delia.

Montreal Canadiens trade defenseman Alexander Romanov and a fourth-round pick in 2022 to the New York Islanders in exchange for the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

The Canadiens flip that pick and a third-rounder in this year’s draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to reports, the Canadiens wanted more size up front. After selecting big Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first-overall pick, they acquired the 6’4”, 197-pound Dach, who was chosen third overall in 2019 by the Blackhawks.

To get Dach, however, the Canadiens needed another first-round pick, which is why they sent Romanov to the Islanders. This move leaves a gap on their blueline that they’ll have to fill at some point in the offseason. It could come from within by promoting one of their promising young defenseman like Kaiden Guhle or Justin Barron or from another trade or a free-agent signing if they’re looking for experience.

The Canadiens have added more size to their forward lines but they need to address that gap left by Romanov’s absence. The 22-year-old Russian moves the puck well and doesn’t shy away from making big hits. However, he’s had difficulties adjusting to the NHL game. The Isles gave up quite a bit to get him but it could be worth it if he plays up to his potential with his new club.

Dach showed flashes of promise during his three seasons in Chicago but was plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Still, he had time on his side to find his game. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit him.

For the Blackhawks, it’s their second significant trade today, having shipped Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators this afternoon. These moves gave the rebuilding club two picks within the top 15 in this year’s draft, which they used to select defenseman Kevin Korchinski (sixth overall) and center Frank Nazar (13th overall). However, it came at the cost of shipping out their best goal scorer in DeBrincat and a promising center in Dach from their lineup.

Bold moves by the Canadiens and Blackhawks today. Time will tell if they pan out.

Minnesota Wild signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $3.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s quite a pay cut for the 37-year-old Fleury from the $7 million annual average value of his previous contract. At this stage of his career, however, that should be expected. Earlier reports had the Wild trying to sign him to a one-year deal so he managed to squeeze an extra year out of the. With Cam Talbot under contract for $3.6 million next season, the Wild return with their tandem from the 2022 postseason.

The Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the seventh and 39th overall picks in the 2022 NHL draft plus the Senators’ third-round pick in 2024.

Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators wanted a top-six winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle on the second line. DeBrincat should provide a big boost to their offense, coming off his second 41-goal season within the past five years.

The question now is whether the Senators can sign the 24-year-old DeBrincat to a contract extension. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer with a $6.4 million cap hit but will earn $9 million in actual salary. That’s also how much it’ll cost the Senators to qualify his rights because he signed his current contract in 2019 before the changes to the rate for qualifying offers. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility next summer.

The Blackhawks wanted to get a top-10 pick after former general manager Stan Bowman traded away their pick last summer to Columbus in the Seth Jones trades. Some observers expected they’d get a bigger return than a first and a second in this year’s draft and a third in two years’ time. Nevertheless, if current GM Kyle Davidson can secure at least one future star out of those picks it could prove worthwhile for the rebuilding Hawks over the long term.

Pittsburgh Penguins sign Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6-million contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, this isn’t the five-year deal between $8 million and $9 million annually that some sources had speculated. On the other, the Pens are paying an average of $6.1 million per season for a blueliner approaching his late-30s.

It’s a gamble by general manager Ron Hextall. Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point performance and should have around three more good seasons left. It’s those final three years that could make this contract burdensome down the road.

Hextall’s focus will shift toward Evgeni Malkin, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. Recent speculation had the two sides discussing a three-year contract but they’re apparently far apart on the dollars.

New York Rangers trade goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a third and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft plus a third-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This means Darcy Kuemper will be departing the Avalanche as a free agent on July 13. Georgiev struggled at times during his tenure with the Rangers. However, he did play well filling in for starter Igor Shesterkin this season when he missed 11 games with a lower-body injury and a bout with COVID-19. Maybe he’ll have better luck in Colorado establishing himself as a starter than he did in New York.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2022

The 2022-23 schedule is released plus the latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Filip Forsberg, Kris Letang, Patrice Bergeron, John Klingberg, Evander Kane and more on the eve of the first round of the 2022 draft in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released its 2022-23 schedule on Wednesday. The regular season begins in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8 as the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks face off in the 2022 Global Series. The first games in North America will be held on Oct. 11 featuring the New York Rangers facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Colorado Avalanche will raise their 2021-22 Stanley Cup banner in Denver on Oct. 12 prior to their home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. That evening will also see the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens while the Vancouver Canucks will face the Oilers in Edmonton.

The 2023 Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2023, between the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park in Boston. Hockey Day in Canada featuring all seven Canadian teams in action will be on Jan. 21.

The Florida Panthers will host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game with the skills competition on Feb. 3 and the All-Star Game on Feb. 4. The regular season will end on Apr. 13.

THE ATHLETIC: Media reports out of Russia claim Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov is wanted in his native country for allegedly buying a fake military ID card in 2017 while he was playing in the KHL. The Wild and the NHL are gathering information to determine the credibility of the story.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

Reports also claimed Kaprizov had fled Russia but Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he’s still in the country and is safe with family and friends. Guerin said he and the club have been in touch with Kaprizov’s agent and aren’t pushing the panic button.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine. Under Russian law, eligible men between 18 and 27 must serve a year in the military, though exemptions are provided for athletes. Russo cited a source claiming Kaprizov’s exemption ended on June 30.

Last week, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov was detained under suspicion of dodging the draft and sent to a remote Arctic naval base. Fedotov broke his contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow to sign with the Flyers in May. It’s generated increasing concern over whether Russian players will be allowed to return to the NHL next season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Speaking of the Wild, they signed defenseman Jake Middleton to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2.45 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Middleton was due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights when the free-agent market opened on July 13. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline, he proved to be a good fit with the Wild. He skated with Jared Spurgeon on their top pairing, providing an additional measure of grit to their blueline.

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said his club is closer to signing Filip Forsberg now than when they made their eight-year contract offer earlier in the offseason. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It looks like Forsberg will stay in Nashville barring a last-minute collapse in negotiations before the free agent market opens next Wednesday. There’s no indication from the Forsberg camp of any disagreement with Poile’s assessment of their contract talks.

I assumed a sticking point was the lack of no-trade protection. Poile indicated Forsberg will get a full no-movement clause and a full no-trade if he signs with the Predators.

The Predators GM said the holdup was over money. It’s rumored that could be between $8 million and $9 million per season on an eight-year deal.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins GM Ron Hextall said he’d be surprised if his club didn’t get defenseman Kris Letang signed to a new contract before July 13. However, he seemed less optimistic about re-signing Evgeni Malkin but said the two sides will continue working on it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is reportedly seeking a five-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million annually. The Penguins are also said to have put the priority on re-signing the 35-year-old defenseman before turning to Malkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet, but recent discussions indicate he’s considering a return with the Bruins next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An earlier report last month had Bergeron agreeing to come back. Back in May, he indicated that he would either return with the Bruins or retire. If he’s leaning toward playing, I think we’ll see him suiting up for a 19th season in Boston.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports John Klingberg will be hitting the free-agent market next week. Talks between the 29-year-old defenseman and the Dallas Stars have been cordial but they don’t appear to be any closer to working out a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports last fall claimed Klingberg sought an eight-year deal with the Stars worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million per season. With Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson due for big raises coming off their entry-level deals, the Stars won’t have enough cap room to pay them and Klingberg.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club isn’t close to a deal with Evander Kane. He said they’ll continue to speak with his agent to see if something can be worked out. Kane, 30, is due to become a UFA next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane also has a grievance hearing over his terminated contract with the San Jose Sharks coming up sometime after July 13 unless he and the Sharks can work out an agreement before then. That could affect the Oilers’ efforts to sign him.

TSN: Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said Nicklas Backstrom is determined to play next season after undergoing hip surgery last month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Uncertainty over Backstrom’s status raised speculation the Capitals could be shopping around for a replacement. His determination to play is admirable but that will be decided by how well he recovers from hip-shaving surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, they’ll get more clarity on the status of Carl Hagelin’s season-ending eye injury later this summer. Hagelin suffered the injury during practice in early March. He underwent two surgeries which permanently took away some of the vision in his left eye. It also affected his depth perception but that could return in time.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Canucks management indicated there’s not much to report on contract extension talks with J.T. Miller. However, they’re more optimistic about re-signing captain Bo Horvat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players have a year remaining on their contracts. Miller has been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. There are rumors he could be traded either during the draft or before the start of the UFA market next week.

NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said Jesper Bratt will not be traded and has received a qualifying offer from the team. The 23-year-old winger is coming off a career-best 73-point performance and is slated to become a restricted free agent next Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the recent speculation claiming the Devils could shop Bratt if they couldn’t work out a suitable new contract.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Speaking of the Devils, they hired Kate Madigan as their new assistant GM, becoming the first woman in franchise history to hold that role.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Adam Boqvist to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.6 million.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment died suddenly on Wednesday in Montreal. Marchment, 53, was attending the upcoming draft in his role as a scout with the San Jose Sharks.

A physical blueliner during his playing career, Marchment spent 17 seasons in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames from 1988-89 to 2005-06. In 926 regular-season games, he had 182 points and amassed 2,307 PIMs. His son, Mason Marchment, plays for the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Marchment’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sharks organization.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Check out the latest on Ryan McDonagh, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Trocheck, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in Part Two of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild would like to bring back UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for another season. He hasn’t made his decision yet and there will be competition for his services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depends on how much of a pay cut Fleury is willing to accept. Still, he and GM Bill Guerin are old teammates and friends. They could work something out.

Uncertainty over Nicklas Backstrom’s status makes it difficult to determine the Washington Capitals’ cap flexibility. It’s uncertain if they’ll bring back goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. They could pursue Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper if he becomes a UFA next week. They could be in on J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $8.9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season, the Capitals will have to move Vanecek or Samsonov if they intend to bring in Kuemper. He could prove too expensive to sign. The Canucks’ asking price for Miller could include Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre.

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to negotiate with defenseman Kris Letang. They’re reportedly not close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin but that could change before July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of signing Letang will determine how much they’re willing to invest in bringing back Malkin. That could depend on how much of a pay cut he’s willing to accept and whether he’ll accept a three-year deal.

Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be a good destination for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He admits it might take multiple moves and could affect their efforts to re-sign UFA winger David Perron. He also wondered if they can retain goalie Ville Husso.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season. McDonagh carries a $6.75 million cap hit and I don’t see the Lightning retaining part of it. They’ll have to shed some salary to fit him in and still have enough for Perron and perhaps Husso.

Friedman is curious whether Darcy Kuemper would consider signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs if Jack Campbell departs next week as a UFA. Re-signing defenseman Rasmus Sandin is trickier than they expected. He also wondered if Max Domi might be a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Leafs as a suitor for Kuemper but they’ve got to do something first about Petr Mrazek’s contract. They’ll also likely try to move out Justin Holl and his $2 million cap hit for next season.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith isn’t expected to play next season while Duncan Keith’s situation could go either way. Trade candidates could include Zack Kassian, Warren Foegele, Jesse Puljujarvi and possibly Tyson Barrie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi has garnered a lot of attention recently in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. Kassian could be a buyout candidate while there could be some trade interest in Barrie.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are working with Ryan McDonagh to find a suitable trade. Winger Alex Killorn could also become a cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s full no-trade clause gives him complete control over potential trade destinations. His $6.75 million annual average value through 2025-26 is also a limiting factor. Killorn carries a more affordable contract at $4.45 million through 2022-23. He carries a 16-team no-trade list.

If the Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat it might spur Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to request a trade, especially if DeBrincat’s traded for futures. Teams are also inquiring about Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Kane and Toews have identical $10.5 million cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses. Moving either guy will involve retaining a healthy chunk of their annual average salary. One would think the Blackhawks would retain the 21-year-old Dach as part of their rebuilding plans. Then again, a lot of us thought the same thing about Brandon Hagel before they shipped him to Tampa Bay.

The cap-strapped Vegas Golden Knights need to shed salary. They could move Laurent Brossoit for cap reasons. “Trading Nic Hague is not a preferred option”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are over $2 million above the cap with 18 players under contract for next season. Reilly Smith is believed to be signed but it won’t be made official until July 13 for tagging reasons. They’ll have to move more than Brossoit’s $2.325 million cap hit. Maybe they try to shop William Karlsson and his $5.9 million cap hit.

The Los Angeles Kings made their big move by acquiring Kevin Fiala last week. Friedman wondered if Fiala’s arrival might prompt one or two of their forward prospects to seek a trade if they feel he’ll block their efforts to crack the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If so, perhaps they could be packaged to add an experienced defenseman to their blueline.

It’s believed the Boston Bruins have an interest in Vincent Trocheck if the Carolina Hurricanes center hits the free-agent market next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also mentions Patrice Bergeron and perhaps David Krejci could return but that’s not a long-term plan at center. Trocheck could help at least fill the second-line center spot beyond next season. They have $2.3 million in cap space with 22 players signed for next season. Not a lot of room there.

The Calgary Flames are believed to have offered an eight-year deal to Johnny Gaudreau worth $9.5 million annually. They’re still waiting for a decision from the left winger, who feels loyalty toward Calgary but this is as much a family decision as it is a hockey one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gaudreau departs I can see the Flames pursuing Filip Forsberg if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nashville Predators.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might make a pitch to Evgeni Malkin if he doesn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t put anything past Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon.

The New York Rangers probably can’t afford to sign Andrew Copp or Ryan Strome so they’re testing the trade market for centers. Potential trade partners could ask for Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko or even Braden Schneider in return. Friedman wondered if they might look at Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorbed part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Rangers have spoken to the Winnipeg Jets about Pierre-Luc Dubois. They’re also believed interested in Mark Scheifele. He also mentioned Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, though those three have just one year each remaining on their contracts. Brooks mentioned Chicago’s Kirby Dach as an intriguing possibility.

The Florida Panthers denied they were trying to lay the groundwork to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a full no-movement clause for two more seasons. UFA winger Mason Marchment is probably priced out of their market now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have $3 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. They can get some cap relief by placing sidelined winger Anthony Duclair (Achilles tendon surgery) on LTIR but they’ll have to be compliant when he returns at midseason.

Coming off their Stanley Cup win, the Colorado Avalanche face big decisions regarding UFAs Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Nichushkin seems the most likely to be retained. Kuemper and Kadri will be expensive and they’ve got to keep an eye on their long-term cap space with Nathan MacKinnon due for a big raise next summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

Check out the latest on Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex DeBrincat, Jack Campbell and more, plus some contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RUMORS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” PODCAST

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.

Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.

Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.

Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.

Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.

Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes have multiple picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe one of those teams made that pitch for DeBrincat. Discuss!

Regarding his report of the Tampa Bay Lightning looking into shopping Ryan McDonagh, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the suitors. He thinks the 32-year-old defenseman would be a good addition to their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.

Friedman mused over the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers signing Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.

Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.

Finally, Friedman wonders if the New Jersey Devils will attempt to sign Blues goalie Ville Husso if he hits the open market on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.

POTENTIAL CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic topped Mike Stephens’ recent list of potential contract buyout candidates. The buyout window opened on July 1 and runs until 5 pm ET on July 12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are still without a full-time replacement for general manager Doug Wilson. Still, it didn’t stop them from axing Bob Boughner as head coach on July 1.

I doubt they’ll find any takers for Vlasic in the trade market given his hefty contract and the decline in his play. We can’t rule out a buyout before July 12.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith and winger Zack Kassian are also on Stephens’ list, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek and Ottawa Senators netminder Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.

The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen had Senators forward Colin White and Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist on his list of buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated White could indeed be bought out by the Senators. The Panthers could do the same if they can’t find a club to take him off their hands in the trade market.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

Are the Penguins in danger of losing Malkin and Letang to free agency? What’s the latest on the Lightning? Could a couple of Golden Knights become offer sheet targets?

ARE MALKIN AND LETANG EDGING CLOSER TO FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting sources claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t had regular contract talks with Evgeni Malkin since mid-May. A number of agents and several people within the Penguins organization believe the 35-year-old center won’t be returning. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Yohe also reported the Penguins offered Kris Letang a three-year deal. However, the 35-year-old defenseman wants a five-year contract worth over $8 million annually. Like Malkin, he’s due to become a UFA on July 13.

Malkin was reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million annual average value. Letang, meanwhile, seeks a raise over his current $7.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A recent report indicated management intends to turn its focus toward Malkin once they’ve sorted out Letang’s situation. That could explain the lack of discussions.

Letang could be pricing himself out of Pittsburgh. What he’s asking for is two years too long for the annual salary he’s seeking. Perhaps the Penguins would agree to $8 million annually for three years. If that’s not acceptable to Letang he could test the market but I don’t see many teams lining up to meet his asking price.

Re-signing both players will bite deeply into the Penguins’ $23.2 million in salary-cap space for 2022-23. Yohe indicated a defenseman such as Marcus Pettersson, John Marino or Brian Dumoulin could become a cost-cutting candidate. One assumes they’d move one of them after signing Malkin and Letang. No sense doing so if one or both end up departing via free agency.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois indicated during his post-Stanley Cup Final press conference that he’s hopeful of re-signing Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. The trio is slated to become UFAs on July 13.

The Lightning, however, once again has limited salary-cap space. To retain at least Palat and Paul would mean shopping a salaried player to free up sufficient dollars.

Smith believes they have several players with value in the trade market. One of them is Alex Killorn, who has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million and a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The one advantage the Lightning have, apart from their championship pedigree, is the lack of a state tax in Florida. That makes it possible for them to sign players for less than market value because their dollars will go further in that state.

Paul was traded by the Senators because he reportedly spurned a four-year, $10 million contract offer. He could seek something between $3.5 and $4 million annually. Palat was earning $5.3 million annually on his current contract. He could get as much if not more on the open market, but maybe the 31-year-old winger will accept a little less to stay put.

Killorn was a frequent subject of trade speculation whenever the issue of the Lightning needing to free up cap room comes up. This time, however, it could become a reality. The 32-year-old winger only managed four points in the postseason but enjoyed a career-high 25 goals and 59 points in the regular season.

COULD TWO GOLDEN KNIGHTS BECOME OFFER SHEET TARGETS?

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculated over whether Nicolas Roy or Nicolas Hague will be targeted for offer sheets by rival clubs. Both players are restricted free agents with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Roy is coming off a career-best 15 goals and 39 points in 2021-22. The 25-year-old forward was on a two-year deal earning $750k annually. Hague, 23, had 14 points in 52 games. The defenseman is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

The Golden Knights lack salary-cap space at this time to sign both players after shipping out Evgenii Dadonov to Montreal earlier this month. Another cost-cutting move could be on the horizon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy recently reported at least two Eastern Conference clubs had “serious interest” in Hague. That could force the Golden Knights to make that cost-cutting move before he becomes eligible to receive an offer sheet on July 13.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2022

More speculation over the Rangers’ free-agent situation plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH RANGERS FREE AGENTS WILL BE BACK NEXT SEASON?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at which Rangers’ free agents will be back next season and which ones could be playing elsewhere.

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (NHL Images).

Kaapo Kakko’s surprising scratch from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals raises questions about his future with the Rangers. He’s a restricted free agent who would be an affordable fit with a two-year bridge deal between $2 million and $2.5 million. Should the 21-year-old winger entertain offer sheets between $4.2 million and $6.1 million, however, the Rangers wouldn’t be able to match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offer sheets are rare but there’s a chance Kakko could sign one. Walker’s colleague Larry Brooks pointed to the Carolina Hurricanes’ successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens last summer. He acknowledged the Hurricanes’ move was based on a certain amount of payback because of the Canadiens’ failed attempt in 2019 to sign away Sebastian Aho.

Kakko could be upset enough over being scratched from Game 6 to perhaps entertain offer sheets from other clubs. However, it’s not a preferred tactic by most general managers. With limited salary-cap space for next season, they’re likely to invest their dollars this summer on more established talent.

Ryan Strome’s lack of production in this year’s postseason combined with the Rangers’ cap situation could see him depart as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker also noted Strome is among the Rangers’ alternate captains and one of his best friends is linemate Artemi Panarin. Those are good reasons for the Blueshirts to retain him, perhaps by freeing up cap space by making a cost-cutting move. If that’s not possible, Strome may have played his final season as a Ranger.

Walker considers Andrew Copp as the priority signing among their trade-deadline acquisitions. He could get more on the open market than the Rangers can afford to pay but perhaps he’ll accept less to remain in New York if he believes they’re close to winning the Stanley Cup.

Fourth-line forward Tyler Motte’s willingness to sign a team-friendly deal could come down to contract term. RFA Sammy Blais played well before suffering a season-ending injury in November. He’ll likely re-sign a deal that works for the Rangers.

UFA winger Frank Vatrano might not be the team’s answer to filling out their top-six. Depth forward Greg McKegg could also return on an affordable contract. Walker wonders if the Rangers can afford to bring back fourth-line Kevin Rooney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker anticipates UFA defenseman Justin Braun and RFAs Alexandar Georgiev and Julien Gauthier will likely be playing elsewhere next season.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports multiple sources said the Pittsburgh Penguins’ priority is getting Kris Letang signed to a new multi-year contract. The 34-year-old defenseman is due to become a UFA on July 13.

Discussions between the team and the representatives of Letang and UFA center Evgeni Malkin are ongoing. However, the club wants to determine the cost of signing Letang before turning their attention more seriously to Malkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point season. Recent reports suggest he could seek a new deal close to his current annual average value of $7.25 million. Malkin is reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million AAV. Whatever Letang wants could determine how much cap room they’ve got left for Malkin.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently reported some teams have contacted the Penguins to express interest in Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Sources said the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens were among the clubs that looked into the promising 22-year-old defenseman before the trade deadline.

Kingerski suggested Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry as a potential replacement for Kris Letang if the latter departs via free agency. Petry requested a trade earlier this season but reportedly reconsidered after Martin St. Louis took over a head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens could ask for Joseph as part of the return for Petry if they were to peddle the latter to the Penguins. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Dallas Stars were also thought to have some interest in Petry.