NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

Could the Lightning and Red Wings become trade partners? Are the Predators preparing for more moves? What’s the latest on Mikael Granlund? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked what moves the Tampa Bay Lightning could make to shed sufficient cap space to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak while staying cap compliant for 2020-21.

Could the Detroit Red Wings take Tyler Johnson off the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hands? (NHL Images)

Duhatschek suggested the Detroit Red Wings as “the obvious first landing place” to address the Lightning’s cap issues. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is the former Lightning GM and responsible for many of the contracts on their books.

In a perfect world,” Duhatschek said he’d try to move Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn to Detroit, along with a first-round pick and quality young player. He thinks the Wings would jump on that deal if the young player was Cernak but the Bolts don’t want to part with him. Whatever moves the Lightning make they won’t be taking back players in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek’s colleagues Joe Smith and Max Bultman discussed the possibility of a Lightning-Red Wings swap. They agree Johnson or Killorn to the Wings could make sense depending on what the rest of the package looks like.

As Duhatschek points out, the Wings seem a logical trade partner for the Lightning given their cap space and Yzerman’s ties to the Bolts. However, that depends on whether the Wings are among the preferred trade destinations for Johnson or Killorn.

Duhatschek also commended the Nashville Predators for a “quietly successful” offseason, creating nearly $13 million in cap space while adding affordable grit such as Luke Kunin, Nick Cousins, Brad Richardson and Mark Borowiecki. He feels they’ve done their heavy lifting and suggests they hoard their cap space to see what the club looks like on the ice and what areas of the roster still needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have been tied to unrestricted free agent Mike Hoffman. Some believe GM David Poile is playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping he’ll lower his asking price.

Poile could add Hoffman on a one-year deal for considerably less than the $5.5 million to $6.5 million the winger’s camp reportedly seeks. That would still leave sufficient cap room to make other additions over the course of the season if required.

If Poile has made his significant moves this offseason it won’t hurt to have that cap space for the coming season, especially near the trade deadline.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

A look at the latest speculation involving some of the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of several notable remaining restricted free agents following the Tampa Bay Lightning signing Mikhail Sergachev and the Boston Bruins signing Jake DeBrusk last week.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal remains atop the list. Fox reminds us New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello promised to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old center.

Lamoriello has limited cap space but will garner some extra wiggle room with defenseman Johnny Boychuk headed for LTIR following a career-ending eye injury. It’s believed the Isles GM prefers locking up Barzal for around $7.5 million annually. Barzal reportedly is considering a team-friendly deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most general managers with key RFAs still to sign, Lamoriello could be waiting for official confirmation of a start date for this season before getting Barzal under contract. It’s not unusual for negotiations with a top RFA to stretch out until the start of training camp and sometimes into the opening days of camp.

Following the Sergachev signing, Anthony Cirelli’s agent said there was nothing new to report on contract talks with the Lightning. The cap-strapped club must shed salary to re-sign Cirelli and fellow RFA Erik Cernak and become cap compliant whenever the season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are trying to move winger Tyler Johnson and his $5.5 million annual average value. There’s also speculation winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million) could be a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Contract talks between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Columbus Blue Jackets have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t concerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski’s contract was signed right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Jackets have plenty of room to accommodate a new deal for Dubois. That’s without placing injured winger Gustav Nyquist ($5.5 million) on LTIR.

Fox speculates New Jersey Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood may wish to use Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins’ two-year, $8 million bridge contract as a starting point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have plenty of cap space to re-sign Blackwood and fellow RFA Jesper Bratt. They’ll get it sorted by training camp.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he and the Vince Dunn camp intend to wait until close to training camp to sign an extension. Placing sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen on LTIR will free up cap room to sign the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After watching Alex Pietrangelo depart via free agency last month, some Blues fans are concerned over why it’s taking so long to get Dunn signed. Now we know why. They’ll get a deal done.

The Winnipeg Jets have reportedly shopped forward Jack Roslovic during this off-season in search of a top-four, left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might scoff at the notion of Roslovic fetching that type of return. However, the Jets could target a club in need of shedding cap space. The Jets are above the cap by $697K but are expected to place sidelined center Bryan Little ($5.29 million) on LTIR, giving them sufficient space to swap Roslovic for a decent rearguard.










Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2020

More speculation over which Lightning player could be moved in a cost-cutting trade plus the latest on the Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen examined which players the Tampa Bay Lightning could shop in a cost-cutting move. They’re above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.904 million after re-signing defenseman Mikhail Sergachev earlier in the week, with restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak in need of new contracts.

The Lightning put winger Tyler Johnson and his $5 million salary-cap hit on waivers last month but he went unclaimed. His no-trade clause gives him some say over where he could go but there might not be a market for a 30-year-old winger with declining stats and a high cap hit for the next four years.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn could become a cost-cutting trade candidate (NHL Images).

Alex Killorn is another candidate because of his modified no-trade clause whereas other Bolts with annual average values exceeding $4 million have full no-trades. Ondrej Palat and captain Steven Stamkos have also come up in speculation but both have full no-trade protection.

Whoever the Lightning trade they won’t get back a favorable return. However, the point is to free up cap room to keep as much of their roster intact as possible.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked if Tyler Johnson was a legitimate trade target for the Anaheim Ducks. While acknowledging Johnson’s had a solid NHL career, he wonders how well the 30-year-old will perform away from a deep roster like the Lightning. Given the Ducks’ own salary-cap constraints, the Bolts would have to absorb half of Johnson’s cap hit while the Ducks made a separate cost-cutting move to balance out the $2.5 million.

Stephens also suggested moving Ryan Kesler’s contract and perhaps another cap-related asset for Johnson if the center stays on long-term injury reserve during 2020-21. However, Ducks general manager Bob Murray could prefer retaining Kesler’s contract for his own LTIR purposes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson would be a tough sell that could end up costing the Lightning more than they’d like to part with in terms of a sweetener since they can’t afford to take back salary. It’ll be a tricky bit of juggling for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois.

Perhaps BriseBois could attempt to move Johnson for a permanent LTIR contract from another club thus providing sufficient wiggle room to re-sign Cirelli and Cernak and remain cap compliant. Some readers have suggested swinging a deal with the Detroit Red Wings to acquire the contract of all-but-retired center Henrik Zetterberg and his $6.083 million cap hit.

Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is the Lightning’s former GM and BriseBois’ mentor so there could be a fit there. However, Yzerman might not be keen to take on Johnson’s contract when he’s still got Frans Nielsen on his books for two more years at $5.25 million per season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Anaheim Ducks should embrace a rebuild rather than attempting to become a playoff contender in 2020-21. If David Backes ($4.5 million) ends up on LTIR it would provide the Ducks with more salary-cap wiggle room. That could allow them to take on another team’s problem contract along with some valuable pieces for their future.

Should they go the rebuild route, team captain Ryan Getzlaf could become a valuable trade chip if the 35-year-old center is willing to waive his no-movement clause to join a contender. Getzlaf is in the final season of his contract with an $8.25 million cap hit but earning only $3 million in actual salary.

O’Brien also suggested winger Rickard Rakell and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson as trade options. They’re in the late-20s and their contracts will expire at the end of 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Bob Murray is convinced his club can compete for a playoff berth this season. His opinion could change if the Ducks are wallowing near the basement again by the trade deadline.

Getzlaf, Rakell, Lindholm and Manson would all have considerable trade value if Murray opts to tear things down and stage a full rebuild. Backes on LTIR for the season might also be enticing to cap-strapped contenders looking to free up space for other moves.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2020

The latest on Anthony Cirelli, Ilya Samsonov and Alexis Lafreniere plus updates on return-to-play and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it doesn’t appear a new contract is imminent for Anthony Cirelli. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent. Earlier this week, the Lightning re-signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev but Cirelli’s agent said there’s nothing new to report on a new deal for his client.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Lightning are above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.904 million following the Sergachev signing. The Bolts are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but perhaps general manager Julien BriseBois intends to shed salary before signing Cirelli and fellow RFA Erik Cernak.

Given the uncertainty over the start of the 2020-21 NHL season, BriseBois has plenty of time to get Cirelli and Cernak under contract and shed some salary to become cap compliant when the season finally begins.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals professional development coach Olaf Kolzig isn’t worried about Ilya Samsonov replacing the departed Braden Holtby as the club’s starting goaltender. “I think Sammy has the ability to be like (Andrei) Vasilevskiy,” said Kolzig, referring to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s starter. Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and backstopped the Bolts to the 2020 Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As a former Vezina Trophy winner, Kolzig would know if Samsonov has the potential to play as well as Vasilevskiy. The young netminder showed considerable promise as a rookie last season, often outplaying Holtby before an injury kept him out of the 2020 playoffs. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season but that should be alleviated by offseason signing Henrik Lundqvist.

THE SCORE: Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s senior VP of national teams, suggested it’s not out of the question for Alexis Lafreniere to join Canada’s World Junior Championship roster.

Lafreniere was selected first overall by the New York Rangers in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old winger is currently in New York and would face quarantine restrictions to return to Canada but Salmond said there’s an ongoing discussion about the winger’s status.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cites a league executive having “no doubt we’re going to have a season” but he’s uncertain when that will happen. Garrioch believes an agreement to start the season on Jan. 1 will have to be made by no later than Tuesday (Dec. 1).

With negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players Association stalled, a mid-January or early February start appears more likely. The betting in league circles is Feb. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also said the word is the players told NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr not to pick up the phone or budge on their position not to agree to the league’s requests for increases to the escrow and salary deferral rates.

Given the importance of ensuring the league doesn’t slip off the sports radar with other leagues ongoing or planning their new seasons, the feeling is the league and the PA will eventually work out a return-to-play plan.

It could be both sides are regrouping and working on workable proposals. We’ll find out soon enough.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell recently wondered if the NHL could legally attempt to leverage the threat of suspending or ceasing the 2020-21 season if their requests aren’t met by the players because of the effects of COVID-19 upon hockey-related revenue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far there’s no indication the NHL is going down that road. It’ll be interesting to see if they’ll use that hardball gambit.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2020

What next for the Lightning after re-signing Mikhail Sergachev? What effect will the end of Johnny Boychuk’s career have upon the Islanders’ cap space? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains confident he’ll get restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak under contract after re-signing defenseman Mikhail Sergachev yesterday.

Does Mikhail Sergachev’s new deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning signal a trade of Tyler Johnson is coming? (NHL Images)

Sergachev’s new contract puts the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.9 million. BriseBois acknowledged he’ll have to move players to free up sufficient cap space to sign Cirelli and Cernak. “There’s a lot of progress being made,” he said. “We’re working on a bunch of different fronts, there’s a lot of balls up in the air. Nothing has materialized yet.”

Smith believes the Sergachev signing suggests the Lightning GM has a move in place or in the works to clear cap space. Winger Tyler Johnson is the top trade candidate. He’s provided BriseBois with a list of eight or nine preferred trade destinations but Smith said things are quiet on the Johnson front.

Winger Alex Killorn could be another trade candidate. He’s got three years left on his contract with a $4.45 million annual average value and a modified no-trade clause.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also listed Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat as Lightning trade options. They’ll have more trade value than Johnson and Killorn but they’re also better players. He also wonders if they’d consider moving Cirelli or another player with a big contract though neither option seems ideal.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy speculates BriseBois will likely have to package Johnson with another asset to move him and his $5 million AAV off their books.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois didn’t need to rush to sign Sergachev. Perhaps he got wind of another club thinking about signing the young blueliner to an offer sheet. That doesn’t seem to be the case if Sergachev’s comments about wanting to retire in Tampa are anything to go by.

The Lightning GM could indeed have a deal in the works to move Johnson or someone else like Killorn. I doubt he trades Gourde or Palat. He won’t want to take on additional salary in return so a sweetener like a high draft pick and/or top prospect will have to be packaged with Johnson.

It’s been a while since a notable trade was made. The last occurred on Oct. 12 when the Vegas Golden Knights shipped Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks. BriseBois could wait until confirmation for the start of this season is finally released by the league.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz looked at what’s ahead for the New York Islanders’ offseason after Johnny Boychuk announced his playing career is over because of an eye injury.

His decision clears the way for the Isles to signed restricted free agent center Mathew Barzal. The Isles have $3.9 million in cap space but can exceed the $81.5 million cap by the equivalent of Boychuk’s $6 million annual average value. It could also provide room for their rumored pending deals with winger Matt Martin, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider.

The end of Boychuk’s career is a further blow to the Islanders defense corps after trading away Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche several weeks ago in a cost-cutting move. Gretz wonders if Isles GM Lou Lamoriello would’ve made that move had he known what would happen to Boychuk.

Bringing back Greene could help their blueline and promising Noah Dobson is waiting in the wings. UFA options include Zdeno Chara, Sami Vatanen, Ben Hutton or Slater Koekkoek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The priority is signing Barzal. As Gretz points out, however, his new contract will bite deeply into that additional cap space.

Lamoriello will try to keep that as low as possible. Gretz suggests $7 million annually for Barzal would be the low end but the Isles GM could try to push that down to $6 million on a short-term deal with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.

He’ll need to keep it at the low end if he’s already got contracts lined up for Martin, Greene and Schneider. Failing that, he’ll have to consider a cost-cutting trade or burying someone like Andrew Ladd in the minors.