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.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2022

The latest roundup of Penguins speculation plus a look at potential trade candidates on the Panthers and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski predicts the Penguins and pending free agent center Evgeni Malkin could meet “more than halfway” on a new contract that keeps him in Pittsburgh for two seasons at $7 million annually.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems reasonable, though Malkin would probably prefer three years to finish his career when teammate Sidney Crosby’s contract expires in 2024-25.

However, he expects UFA defenseman Kris Letang will get a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million somewhere else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has said he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh with Crosby and Malkin. If he’s seeking a big-money raise, however, this season will have been his last in a Penguins jersey.

Kingerski expects restricted free agent winger Kaspari Kapanen will be shopped, perhaps to add a bit of muscle to the Penguins’ lineup. He also believes they’ll let backup goalie Casey DeSmith depart via free agency and attempt to find a reliable backup. “No chance in hell it’s Marc-Andre Fleury,” said Kingerski. “None.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Kapanen or DeSmith return with the Penguins next season. They could decide not to qualify Kapanen’s rights if they can’t find anyone willing to acquire him via trade. Fleury returning to Pittsburgh to finish his career would be a great story but I don’t think we’re going to see it happen if general manager Ron Hextall has faith in Tristan Jarry as their starter.

Finding a suitable backup goalie won’t be easy. Kingerski’s colleague Dave Molinari points out that most of this summer’s cut-rate free agent netminders likely won’t be winning a Stanley Cup anytime soon. They include Louis Domingue, Nashville’s David Rittich and Buffalos’ Malcolm Subban.

Kingerski also looked at possible free-agent targets on right wing. He listed Vegas’ Reilly Smith, Toronto’s Ilya Mikheyev, Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter and Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin but suggests current Penguin Rickard Rakell would be a better fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A trade-deadline acquisition, Rakell fit in well with the Penguins and has expressed a willingness to return. Whether they can reach common ground on a deal remains to be seen. Much will depend on what happens with Malkin and Letang.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel looked at the Penguins’ potential options for Jason Zucker. The 30-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.5 million and has battled injuries in recent years.

The Penguins could attempt to move Zucker in a cost-cutting deal but his contract would be considered a negative trade asset around the league unless they throw in a prospect or draft pick. They could also try to swap him for a comparable veteran forward and hope the latter will be a better fit in Pittsburgh.

A contract buyout could be another option as it would shave $3.5 million from their books for next season. However, they could be prevented from doing so if he’s still considered injured when the buyout period rolls around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another option is that Hextall sticks with Zucker and considers other cost-cutting options. There’s been speculation suggesting he could shed some salary by shopping a defenseman such as John Marino or Marcus Pettersson.

POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES AMONG THE PANTHERS AND COYOTES

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards recently looked at potential cost-cutting trade candidates for the Florida Panthers this summer.

He noted there was some social media buzz suggesting the Panthers move Sergei Bobrovsky. However, the 32-year-old goaltender’s $10 million annual cap hit and full no-movement clause for the next two seasons make him a tough trade.

Players who could be easier to move include Patric Hornqvist (one season remaining at $5.3 million), Sam Bennett (two seasons at $4.4 million per) and Radko Gudas (one season, $2.5 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned in this business not to dismiss out of hand the possibility of a high-salaried veteran with full no-trade protection getting traded. Yes, Bobrovsky could be shopped this summer. However, finding a trade partner willing to take on his full cap hit for the next four years when the salary cap is only rising by $1 million this summer makes him difficult to move.

They could find some takers for Hornqvist or Gudas but Bennett would be the more enticing trade candidate. The 25-year-old is a versatile two-way forward coming off a career-best 28-goal, 49-point performance with a reputation for elevating his game in the postseason.

Those factors would also make Panthers GM Bill Zito reluctant to part with Bennett. He might not have much choice if he’s pressed to free up cap room for next season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Sam Graveline recently looked at some possible trade chips for the rebuilding Coyotes.

Topping the list is defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who’s been the subject of trade speculation for most of this season. GM Bill Armstrong could seek a return of multiple draft picks and a top prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong reportedly set a high asking price for Chychrun during this season. He’s not expected to lower it during this offseason.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere’s trade value may have improved following his 14-goal, 51-point performance this season. He’s set to become a UFA next summer. Restricted free agent forward Lawson Crouse could also have some trade value after reaching 20 goals this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s solid bounce-back performance was among the few bright spots for the offensively anemic Coyotes this season. Contenders seeking a puck-moving blueliner could come calling. Unless Crouse’s contract demands are unreasonable I expect the Coyotes will re-sign him.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2022

More speculation over the Blues’ offseason plan, the Canadiens’ Christian Dvorak could be a trade candidate and the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MORE SPECULATION OVER POTENTIAL BLUES MOVES

STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson reports it’s been whispered Vladimir Tarasenko has decided he wants to remain with the St. Louis Blues after last summer’s drama following his trade request led to a solid bounce-back season for the 30-year-old winger. He believes Tarasenko and the Blues belong together and hopes the winger and general manager Doug Armstrong agree.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong had difficulty finding a suitable trade partner last summer for Tarasenko, who’d been hampered by shoulder injuries the previous two years. His team-leading, career-best 82-point performance this season should considerably improve his trade value if he still wants out.

Tarasenko has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but with an actual salary of $5.5 million, which could also make him enticing in the trade market. He also carries a full no-trade clause, giving him control over potential destinations.

Armstrong could hang onto Tarasenko for another run at the Stanley Cup next season. Given the winger’s UFA status next summer, however, he could quietly revisit his trade conversations from last summer if Tarasenko’s future in St. Louis remains uncertain.

Frederickson suggests the Blues thank goaltender Ville Husso for his service during the regular season and allow him to depart via free agency. With limited salary-cap space and Jordan Binnington having salvaged his season with a strong playoff performance, it may be time for Charlie Lindgren to sink or swim as his backup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frederickson’s colleague Jim Thomas disagrees, believing the Blues should prioritize re-signing Husso given their lack of a clear-cut replacement within their organization. He noted the 27-year-old saved the Blues season when Binnington was floundering. The club has also invested a lot of time in his development. We’ll find out by July 13 which way Armstrong goes with his goaltending.

Regarding pending UFA David Perron, Frederickson believes the Blues should do all they can to keep him in the fold. He also recommended shopping forward Ivan Barbashev while the 60-point winger’s value is high if it’ll free up cap room given their depth up front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Blues with $9.775 million in projected cap space. Perron and Husso are their main UFAs while Scott Perunovich and Niko Mikkola are restricted free agents.

Shipping out Tarasenko would clear considerable cap room to retain most of their key free agents and perhaps bolster their defense corps. Moving Barbashev would help if they keep Tarasenko but there won’t be much for other additions unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap for another player.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited a source saying Christian Dvorak’s name is out there in the trade market. He isn’t saying the Canadiens will trade the 26-year-old center but it sounds like teams are making inquiries.

It’s also no secret Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry is also being shopped and has been since requesting a trade during the regular season. If Petry and his $6.25 million annual cap hit gets moved this summer, Murphy wonders if GM Ken Hughes will attempt to do the same with Dvorak and his $4.4 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon whether the Canadiens can divest themselves of the remainder of the permanently-sidelined Shea Weber’s contract. There were reports claiming they were close to moving it to the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline but it fell through because of the delay in sorting out the insurance issues.

Recent speculation suggests Hughes and the Coyotes could revisit that deal. If so, there might not be as much pressure to shed Dvorak’s contract, especially if Petry gets moved.

SHOULD THE PENGUINS BLOW UP THEIR BLUELINE TO RE-SIGN LETANG?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins’ objective shouldn’t be finding a way to replace Kris Letang. Instead, they should re-sign the pending UFA defenseman but replace others on the blueline corps.

Kingerski believes the Penguins can’t afford to lose Letang’s offense considering the lack of production among their other defensemen. He recommended retaining Mike Matheson following his bounce-back performance this season and the affordable Mark Friedman. He called on management to shop blueliners such as Marcus Pettersson and John Marino and use the cap savings to improve the defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion but Penguins management might not see it that way. Then again, there has been speculation linking Marino to the Vancouver Canucks, so maybe they can shed him and perhaps Pettersson and find suitable replacements via trade or free agency.