NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2022

The offseason questions facing the Penguins and Stars plus the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the Pittsburgh Penguins face some big decisions regarding Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. They are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July and there’s little chance all three will return. Wyshynski predicts only Letang will be back.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Other pending UFAs include Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues and Casey DeSmith. Their restricted free agents include Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel wonders if the Penguins will let Malkin and/or Letang to depart via free agency and what effect that might have on captain Sidney Crosby. He also mused over whether they’ll invest a long-term commitment in the 30-year-old Rust, who missed two chunks of this season to injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will determine which UFAs return next season. Cap Friendly indicates they have $54.1 million invested in 15 players for 2022-23. Re-signing Malkin and Letang will eat up a big chunk of their available cap dollars. Rust is due for a significant raise over his current $3.5 million.

Of those three, Letang could be the most vital given his value as a puck-moving defenseman. Malkin’s injury history and at times erratic performance in recent years could make him a risky investment unless he’s willing to accept a substantial pay cut.

It might be possible to sign Letang and Rust. However, that will still eat up a lot of cap space, especially if Letang insists on at least maintaining his current $7.25 million annual average value.

The Penguins could bring back DeSmith if they don’t see any suitable backup options in the free-agent market. I expect they’ll re-sign Heinen but Kapanen seems a likely trade candidate given his struggles during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton believes the Dallas Stars’ offseason priority is signing restricted free agent forward Jason Robertson, who’s coming off his entry-level contract. Having tallied 79 points this season, the 22-year-old sophomore is a star in the making. Goaltender Jake Oettinger is also completing his ELC and looks to be their starter going forward. They’ll have to determine who becomes his backup if Braden Holtby departs via free agency.

Shilton also wonders whether pending UFA John Klingberg stays or goes. General manager Jim Nill didn’t move him at the trade deadline given his value on their blueline and now the two sides must see if they can reach an agreement on a new contract. Nill must also address his roster’s scoring depth issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could attempt to lock up Robertson and Oettinger on long-term deals with affordable annual average salaries. Their agents, however, could seek bigger bucks on shorter terms to bring their clients up to their UFA eligibility.

It seemed Klingberg and the Stars were about to part ways in January after he publicly expressed his unhappiness over the pace of his contract negotiations. However, both sides seem to have resolved that rift at least for the remainder of the season.

There was speculation earlier this season that the 29-year-old Klingberg sought a long-term deal worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually. That, however, could prove too expensive for Nill’s liking but we’ll see how things go between now and the start of the free-agent market on July 13.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan doesn’t believe the Maple Leafs should make major changes in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster despite another first-round playoff exit. He points to their 115-point regular season, as well as pushing the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the limit in that opening-round series as justification for giving them another chance.

General manager Kyle Dubas will have around $8 million in salary-cap space to work with unless he moves some players. Koshan suggested Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl as trade candidates. Dubas must also find a way to shed backup goalie Petr Mrazek’s $3.8 million cap hit.

Re-signing pending UFA goaltender Jack Campbell is the priority, followed by defenseman Mark Giordano if he’s affordable. There doesn’t seem much chance of bringing back Ilya Mikheyev. If Jason Spezza’s playing career is over, Koshan recommends hiring him for an off-ice role.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens also believes Holl could be shopped this summer. It remains to be seen if they can afford to sign Giordano and pending UFA forward Colin Blackwell. It remains to be seen if the aging Spezza fits into their on-ice plans. Stephens suggests there’s a real possibility Mrazek returns with the Leafs this fall while Campbell ends up signing elsewhere.

THE SCORE: John Matisz believes Mrazek, Kerfoot, Jake Muzzin and Pierre Engvall are four Leafs worth monitoring during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could surprise us by making major changes this summer. Like most observers, however, I don’t see that happening following the season they had.

Re-signing Campbell is their priority because they’ll have a difficult time finding a suitable replacement via this summer’s trade or free agent markets. Doing so, however, will eat up a big chunk of that $8 million in cap space, leaving little for the rest of the roster.

Moving out Mrazek, Kerfoot, Muzzin and Holl would clear over $14.9 million from the Leafs’ books. However, that’s easier said than done. Kerfoot ($3.5 million) would be the easiest to move as his cap hit and two-way skills would be enticing in the trade market. Holl ($2 million) might draw some interest from teams seeking affordable blueline depth.

Mrazek’s injury history and inconsistency are a tough sell. Muzzin’s age (33), injury history, cap hit ($5.625 million) and no-trade clause are significant sticking points.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

Updates on Kris Letang and Patrice Bergeron plus four free agents who could use a strong finish to this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s been ongoing talk between the Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang. While Letang wants to focus on the season, there’s been more of a connection between his camp and the Penguins, though the progress has been slow.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang, 34, is completing an eight-year contract worth $7.25 million per season. Earlier this year, there was talk he would seek a raise based on his strong performance this season. With 64 points in 74 games, he’s just three away from tying his personal best set in 2015-16.

The Penguins must also attempt to sign fellow UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Malkin, 35, has indicated he’s willing to accept a pay cut. The 29-year-old Rust is finishing a four-year, $14 million contract and will justifiably seek a raise on a long-term deal.

Letang has said he’d like to retire as a Penguin. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut or perhaps a modest raise on a short-term deal, he could price himself out of Pittsburgh. The Athletic’s Josh Yohe guesses Malkin stays, Letang signs with the Montreal Canadiens and Rust cashes in with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. We’ll find out by July 13 if those scenarios come to pass.

There’s been less discussion between the Boston Bruins and Patrice Bergeron but that’s by design. There’s a willingness to be patient between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron and the Bruins agreed to shelve contract talks until the end of this season. I expect he wants to finish his career in Boston and the Bruins want to keep him. Their contract negotiations will start in earnest following the playoffs.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes pending free agents such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser, New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban and Dallas Stars Alexander Radulov could benefit from a strong finish to this season.

Strome overcame a struggling start to this season to score a career-best 21 goals this season. He’s a restricted free agent and the Blackhawks could be reluctant to pay $3.6 million to qualify his rights for another year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus believes Strome faces a murky future in Chicago. However, he believes the 25-year-old forward’s solid play over the past four months could earn him a new contract with another NHL team if the Blackhawks let him walk.

The 25-year-old Boeser is also a restricted free agent. The Canucks could be unwilling to pay $7.5 million to qualify his rights given how injuries have hampered his production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser was the frequent topic of trade speculation this season. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut to stick with the Canucks next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shopped this summer regardless of his performance over his remaining games. If anything, a strong finish would burnish his value in this summer’s trade market.

Stephens acknowledges that Subban and Radulov are now past their prime. Nevertheless, he suggests the pending UFAs could have value playing sheltered minutes on bargain contracts with contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old old Subban is no longer the flashy mobile defenseman that garnered him the Norris Trophy in 2013 and made him a finalist for the award in 2017. However, he could have value as Stephens suggests in a third-pairing role.

Age and injuries have caught up with the 35-year-old Radulov. I don’t dismiss the possibility he could sign with another NHL club on a cheap one-year deal. Still, I think that he’s at the point in his career where he might need a training-camp tryout next fall to earn a new contract.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2022

Check out the latest on the Canadiens, Flyers, Capitals, Leafs and Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Responding to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun’s recent report claiming the Canadiens could be aggressive in this summer’s free-agent market, Marco D’Amico listed Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl and Nashville’s Filip Forsberg as potential UFA targets, with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Colorado’s Nazem Kadri and Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury as honorable mentions.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

D’Amico’s colleague Jimmy Murphy pointed out rumors have linked Letang to the Canadiens for some time. The 34-year-old Penguins defenseman’s former agent is Kent Hughes, who’s now the Habs general manager. Letang, meanwhile, laughed off the speculation though it’s possible the blueliner could be playing his final season with the Penguins.

Meanwhile, D’Amico observed reports of the Edmonton Oilers scouting Tuesday’s Canadiens – Winnipeg Jets game. He wondered if they may have been checking out Canadiens defenseman (and pending UFA) Ben Chiarot.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Jeff Petry could be changing his mind about wanting a trade out of Montreal since Martin St. Louis took over as head coach from Dominique Ducharme. The 34-year-old defenseman struggled under Ducharme this season and openly criticized him. He’s since regained his form under St. Louis. He also acknowledged the Habs’ new bench boss is the type of coach that might make him want to stay in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Canadiens management will aggressively pursue free agents but Habs fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $79 million invested in just nine active roster players for 2022-23. They’ll be allowed to go over next season’s $82.5 million with the all-but-retired Shea Weber ($7.857 million) going on long-term injury reserve again, and they could get $10.5 million more if the same thing happens to goaltender Carey Price.

However, the Canadiens have long had difficulty attracting top free agents to Montreal. Part of that’s because of the high provincial taxes and Quebec being a francophone province. Part of it is because Montreal is among the NHL’s most demanding markets. Another is they haven’t been very good for a long time.

Letang and Bergeron could be loyal to Hughes, but I doubt that will sway them to sign with the Canadiens. Letang prefers to stay in Pittsburgh but if that’s not possible I see him trying to join a Cup contender. Bergeron will finish his career with the Bruins.

As for Petry, he might be willing to stay in Montreal now but management could have other plans if they need to free up cap space. If there’s a market for Petry, they could explore it.


SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston listed the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild as potential trade destinations for Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: With the trade deadline approaching, could Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle agree to waive his no-movement clause. Moving on to another club could put his Ironman streak in jeopardy, whereas he’d have a good chance of running it to 1,000 games if he remains a Flyer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche, Blue and Wild are said to be Giroux’s preferences though recent reports indicate he hasn’t yet approached Flyers management about waiving his no-movement clause. Of the three, the Wild could stand the best chance of landing him given their salary-cap space.

The Panthers are believed more interested in adding a top-four left-shot defenseman. The Lightning has no cap space so it’ll require considerable wizardry on the part of GM Julien BriseBois to bring Giroux to Tampa Bay.

No offense to Yandle, whose Ironman streak is a significant achievement, but I don’t think there’s much of a market for him now. I can see him finishing this season in Philadelphia.


THE SCORE: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said his club might not be as aggressive in the market leading up to the trade deadline compared to previous years. He acknowledged his roster needs help to return to where they were at the start of 2022 when they were among the top teams.

MacLellan cited his inexperienced goaltending duo of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek as needing improvement. He admitted calling around the league earlier in this season but couldn’t find anyone that would get them over the hump.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber also reported on MacLellan’s comments about the Capitals goaltending. In addition, she noted MacLellan acknowledging a need for an upgrade among the club’s middle-six forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have over $3.8 million in projected trade deadline cap space. Finding suitable trade options that fit within that space to address those needs could be difficult.

MacLellan could be seeking more of a hockey trade similar to the deal he swung at last year’s deadline with Detroit that brought him forward Anthony Mantha, who’s been sidelined since November but is expected to return to the lineup soon.

Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury is the best rental option but he doesn’t seem keen to waive his no-trade clause. After that, the depth drops sharply in the quality of available goaltenders.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports there are few decent options to address the concerns over the Toronto Maple Leafs shaky goaltending. While Marc-Andre Fleury is the best of the bunch that could be available, he also has a history of giving up bad goals, something that could be magnified playing in the intense Toronto market.

Others options are either backups (Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo, Vancouver’s Jaroslav Halak, Ottawa’s Anton Forsberg and San Jose’s James Reimer) or past-their-prime starters like Dallas’ Braden Holtby and Philadelphia’s Martin Jones. The New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov carries a $5 million cap hit through next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Leafs could end up sticking with the current tandem of Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek for the remainder of the season. They could end up trying to shore up their defense.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has no patience for the trade rumors swirling around winger Patrik Laine. “Yeah, it bothers me because people make shit up, that’s what bothers me,” he said.

Laine’s status as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $7.5 million contract has sparked media speculation about his future in Columbus. Kekalainen said when the time is right he’ll sit down with Laine’s representatives to examine their options in order to keep him with the Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gotta love it when general managers let their guard down a little and get salty. Laine has said he enjoys living and playing in Columbus. Nevertheless, it could prove very expensive for the Jackets to sign him. It could make for an interesting summer.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2022

Could the Canucks make a significant move like trading J.T. Miller? Will the Flyers commence a rebuild by trading Claude Giroux? What’s the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli and Scott Burnside discussed what could be next for the Vancouver Canucks after hiring Patrik Allvin as their new general manager and Emilie Castonguay as assistant GM. They believe the top priority is figuring out what to do with J.T. Miller. The 28-year-old center leads the Canucks with 40 points and is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Seravalli reports the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers (Miller’s former team) have expressed interest. While Miller has enjoyed his time in Vancouver, he could be open to returning to an American team.

Burnside felt an extension with Miller might be possible if he wants to be part of the Canucks’ process over the next four or five years. If not, that extra year on his current contract could fetch a first-round pick, a high-end prospect and a mix of later-round picks.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers’ preference is to re-sign second-line center Ryan Strome but Miller could be a potential replacement. The Canucks asking price is said to be astronomical but Brooks believes it could drop as the trade deadline approaches if the Canucks fall completely out of the playoff race by then.

Brooks envisions Miller playing right wing with Mika Zibanejad or Strome during this season and taking over as second-line center next season if Strome departs as a free agent. He also wondered if the Canucks will take a serious offseason run at acquiring Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere, who was a client of Canucks assistant GM Castonguay when she was a player agent.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should pursue Miller despite the steep asking price as he would fill their need for a reliable second-line center. He doesn’t feel they should dangle top prospect Fabian Lysell but shouldn’t be afraid to dangle any of their other prospects while they’re in “win-now” mode.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Miller speculation has resurfaced because the Canucks finally have their new management team in place. The assumption is they could trade him because Rutherford will make the decisions on trades involving their core players based on his reputation as a wheeler dealer.

Miller could be shopped if the Canucks fall out of contention by the trade deadline. However, Rutherford indicated he’ll provide input but Allvin will handle the day-to-day operations and will be the key decision-maker. While they could get a solid return for Miller before the trade deadline, the Canucks can also wait until the offseason to peddle him if he doesn’t fit into their long-range plans.

If the Canucks do put Miller on the trade block by the deadline, I believe the Rangers would be better positioned to acquire him than the Bruins, Flames or Wild. They have plenty of salary-cap space and a lot of promising young talent to draw upon for trade bait.


THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Giana Han reports Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will be having discussions with Claude Giroux to determine their 34-year-old captain’s future with the club. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and holds a full no-movement clause. Fletcher intends to leave the decision up to Giroux whether he’ll waive it to accept a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giroux will reportedly be discussing his future with his agent next month, perhaps as early as next weekend’s All-Star Game.

Fletcher also indicated he’s looking to aggressively retool his roster rather than engage in a rebuild. The Flyers GM is not sure what moves he’ll make by the trade deadline but indicated “everything’s on the table.” He believes his club needs two or three players to complement the strong core he believes they have when they’re healthy. Despite the injury woes, he felt the club hasn’t played up to expectations and needs more top-end talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might scoff at Fletcher’s unwillingness to stage a rebuild but he can also look at other teams that have successfully retooled and enjoyed a quick turnaround in their fortunes. The Nashville Predators are the most notable recent example. They weren’t considered a playoff contender entering this season but are among the top teams in the Western Conference. Whether Fletcher can achieve similar results remains to be seen.


THE SCORE: cites The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting Evgeni Malkin is willing to accept a pay cut to remain with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His agents have reportedly spoken with Penguins management about a new contract. Malkin’s current cap hit is $9.5 million but he would be pleased with a multi-year deal earning less than teammate Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million AAV).

Kris Letang, meanwhile, believes he’s playing well enough to earn a raise over his $7.25 million annual average value. Yohe reports the Penguins are willing to sign him to a short-term deal with the possibility of a raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on how short-term those deals could be, how much of a pay cut Malkin will accept and how much of a raise Letang is seeking. Crosby is signed through 2024-25. Those two could prefer three-year deals so they can finish their careers as Penguins with their captain.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting there’s a strong sense the Oilers will sign free-agent winger Evander Kane. He’s been skating for over a week in Vancouver and could be ready for games as early as this weekend depending on the outcome of the league’s investigation into whether he violated AHL COVID protocols. ESPN’s Kevin Weekes cites sources saying it’s down to two teams for Kane but the Oilers appear the likeliest destination.

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.


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…