NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2019

Should the Winnipeg Jets trade Jacob Trouba? Will the Tampa Bay Lightning pursue defensemen via trade or free agency this summer? What changes could be coming to the Vegas Golden Knights? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre feels it’s time for the Winnipeg Jets to trade Jacob Trouba. He believes it’s clear the 25-year-old defenseman doesn’t want to be in Winnipeg long-term but the Jets can’t afford to let him depart next summer via free agency for nothing. McIntyre suggested the Jets find a trade partner for Trouba (Florida? Philadelphia? Detroit?) and make the best deal they can. If Trouba is traded, that could open the door to retaining pending UFA blueliner Tyler Myers. 

Could the Winnipeg Jets trade Jacob Trouba this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

McIntyre also proposed the Jets find a way to re-sign UFA Ben Chiarot, trade third-string goalie Eric Comrie, trade or buy out defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and shake up the forward group by trading a veteran like Bryan Little or Mathieu Perreault. 

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s anticipated the Jets will trade Trouba this summer. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and a year away from UFA eligibility. Given his contentious contract history with Jets management, it’s doubtful general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff wants to go through another bruising round of negotiations with Trouba’s camp this summer. He should fetch a quality return that helps the Jets now and in the long-term.

As per Cap Friendly, the 31-year-old Little has a full no-movement clause and I daresay the five years remaining on his contract (at over $5.2 million annually) dampen his trade value. Perreault carries a shorter deal with a cheaper cap hit ($4.125 million through 2020-21) and a five-team no-trade list. He’d be a more likely trade candidate but his recent injury history could make him difficult to move. Kulikov has a six-team no-trade list with an annual cap hit of $4.33 million through 2020-21. Trading him could require adding a sweetener like a decent draft pick or a quality prospect. 


THE ATHLETIC:  Joe Smith recently noted the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense corps could have a different look next season. Veterans Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, and Anton Stralman are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Of the three, Coburn played the best this season and could return on a shorter, cost-effective contract. Stralman might also be willing to accept a short-term, cap-friendly contract. 

Smith also suggested the Lightning could attempt to go the trade route this summer. Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen are the notable defensemen potentially available. They could also revisit their interest in San Jose’s Erik Karlsson if he hits the open market on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith acknowledges the Lightning will have to shed salary to pursue those players, especially with center Brayden Point due for a big raise coming off a 92-point performance this season. With over $73 million invested in 16 players, Point’s new contract will likely eat up most of their cap space, leaving little room to re-sign Coburn and/or Stralman and also re-sign or replace their other free agents. It’s assumed winger Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million for next season) will be traded or bought out, while J.T. Miller ($5.25 million annually through 2022-23) lacks no-trade protection and could also be shopped this summer.

I doubt they can free up sufficient cap room to land Karlsson. If they swing a trade for Trouba or Ristolainen it will likely involve shipping a salaried player out as part of the deal, but they’ll still have to shed another contract to create room for their other free-agent signings. 


LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson believes re-signing center William Karlsson is the Vegas Golden Knights’ top priority. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.25-million contract. He had a career-best 78-point performance last season but his production dropped to 56 points this season.

Given the Golden Knights’ limited salary-cap space, someone must be traded to free up room for Karlsson’s new contract. They currently have over $82 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20. They’ll recoup $5.25 million by placing permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson on long-term injury reserve or they could attempt to trade that dead cap space to a budget-conscious team in need of reaching the cap minimum next season. 

Emerson notes that “Cody Eakin ($3.85 million), Ryan Reaves ($2.775 million), Nick Holden ($2.2 million) and Jon Merrill ($1.375 million) all have sizable cap hits and are entering the last year of their contracts. Colin Miller ($3.875 million) and Brayden McNabb ($2.5 million) could be possibilities as well, but each has three years remaining on their respective deals.”  He also suggested trading one of the defensemen on that list could help free up a logjam on the blueline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect two or three players on Emerson’s list will be on the move this summer. All lack no-trade protection and they also carry reasonable salary-cap hits that could prove attractive in the trade market. I think they’ll retain McNabb and Miller. Eakin, Reaves, Holden or Merrill seem the likely trade candidates. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2017

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin confirms he won’t be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

NHL training camps are open. Check out the latest news in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CSN MIDATLANTIC: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin issued a statement conceding he won’t be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea. While remaining defiant (“It sucks that we will not be there to play!”), Ovechkin acknowledged the decision was no longer up to him. The NHL and IIHF aren’t allowing players under NHL contract to take part in the 2018 Games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s statement also puts to rest the notion that he could retire from the NHL in order to play for Russia in the 2018 Games. I’m assuming this issue will be among several that will prompt the players to exercise their early-out option from the current NHL collective bargaining agreement in September 2019. 

THE DENVER POST: Center Matt Duchene has reported to Colorado Avalanche training camp, but he doesn’t seem happy about it. “Guys, to start, I’m not taking any questions right now. I’m here to honor my contract, I’m here for respect of the fans, and I’m here for my teammates. I had a great summer training and I’m in good physical condition, so thanks so much I’ll see you in the next couple days, OK?” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Duchene, the subject of non-stop trade speculation for months, thought he might belong to a new club by now. His unhappy demeanor will only stoke the trade chatter. I’ll have the latest in my Rumors section. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares said he’s comfortable talking contract extension with management during the upcoming season. The two sides have had limited discussions, mostly tied to the Isles efforts to secure a location to build a new arena. He said communication with management hasn’t been an issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. His future with the Isles will continue to draw attention throughout this season. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg clarified comments he made to a Swedish news agency last month suggesting he might only play two more seasons. Zetterberg, who has four years remaining on his contract, said he intends to play out the remaining tenure of the deal but adds it will depend upon his health. Zetterberg’s been plagued by back injuries but he said it’s been getting better the last couple of years.

BOSTON HERALD/CSNNE.COM: The Boston Bruins yesterday re-signed right wing David Pastrnak to a six-year, $40-million contract. The annual average cap hit is $6.67 million and comes with some no-trade protection in the final two years. Meanwhile, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he’s interested in re-signing captain Zdeno Chara, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak’s new deal is a reasonable one for a 21-year-old winger coming off a 70-point breakout performance. The Bruins went a little higher than their original offers worth $6 million per season, but it’s considerably lower than the rumored $7.5 million asking price of the Pastrnak camp. Should the young winger continue to put up 70-plus point campaigns, this deal will be considered a bargain for the Bruins.

As for Chara, he’s no longer the dominant defensemen he once was but he’s still an effective blueliner. I can see him getting a two-year deal or a one-year, bonus-laden contract with the Bruins. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed center Bryan Little to a six-year, $31.7 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.291 million. Little, 29, was eligible for unrestricted free agency next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The underrated Little wants to spend his entire career with the Jets, who obviously had no qualms accommodating his wish. Though his offensive numbers will likely decline in the final two or three years of the deal, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff complimented his “200-foot game” and his professionalism. Little will be a crucial part of the Jets’ quest to reach the playoff this season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed forward Marcus Foligno to a four-year, $11.5 million contract. The annual cap hit is $2.875 million. The Wild acquired Foligno last June in a multi-player trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators winger Clarke MacArthur failed his training camp medical yesterday, though the club wouldn’t say if it was related to his concussion history. They hope to have an update on MacArthur’s status in the near future.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger James Neal will likely need another two-to-four weeks to recover from a broken right hand suffered during the 2017 Western Conference Finals .

NBC SPORTS: Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal is nursing a sprained ankle suffered during recent offseason training.

TORONTO SUN/TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs have given defenseman Roman Polak a professional tryout offer. Meanwhile, GM Lou Lamoriello also announced the Leafs are content to play this season without a team captain, instead icing four alternates. 

NBC SPORTS: Former NHL player Jeff Parker has passed away at the age of 53. His brain will be donated for examination. Parker, who played parts of five seasons in the NHL during the late-1980s and early-1990s, was part of the concussion lawsuit filed by former players against the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Parker’s family and friends. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2017

Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik celebrates his game-winning goal against the Ottawa Senators.

Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM:  Richard Panik’s third-period goal proved the winner as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1. The Hawks widen their lead for top spot in the Western Conference over the Minnesota Wild by three points, while the Sens remain one point back of the Montreal Canadiens for top spot in the Atlantic Division. 

Late third-period goals by Victor Rask and Teuvo Teravainen powered the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-1 upset of the Minnesota Wild, handing the latter their third straight defeat. 

Frederik Andersen turned in a 33-save performance backstopping the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs moved into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by one point over the New York Islanders. 

Bryan Little’s two goals helped the Winnipeg Jets double up the New York Islanders 4-2. The loss knocked the Isles out of the final wild-card spot in the East. 

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid collected three assists as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Boston Bruins 7-4. The Oilers (83 points)move one point ahead of the Calgary Flames into third place in the Pacific Division.  The Bruins’ Brad Marchand also had three point, leaving him tied with McDavid for the league lead in points (79). Late in the game, Bruins forward Matt Beleskey was struck in the head by a shot from teammate Patrice Bergeron. His status is unknown. 

Viktor Arvidsson’s overtime goal lifted the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. The win ensured the Preds maintain their hold on third place in the Central Division, remaining two points up on the St. Louis Blues. 

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Blues maintain their hold on the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Jonathan Quick made 22 saves to backstop the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres. The Kings, however, remain four points back of the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves and Josh Anderson had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Florida Panthers 2-1. The Jackets set a franchise record for most home victories (26) in a season. 

Third-period goals by Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa gave the Dallas Stars a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks to end a three-game losing streak. It was a costly win for the Stars, as captain Jamie Benn suffered an upper-body injury following a hit and a fight with Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin. 

Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique each scored twice as the New Jersey Devils snapped a 10-game losing skid by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2. Flyers goalie Steve Mason was forced to leave the game in the third period with his team down 3-2 suffering from cramps. 

Gustav Nyquist’s shootout goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes. 

NBC SPORTS:  The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team refused to budge in their standoff with USA Hockey over wages. They announced yesterday they were boycotting the upcoming 2017 World Championship on March 31. 

Most Costly Early-Season NHL Injuries

Most Costly Early-Season NHL Injuries

An ankle injury has sidelined Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

An ankle injury has sidelined Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

We’re only a month into the 2016-17 NHL season, but already several notable players are sidelined by injuries. Some are already proving costly to their respective teams. Here’s a look at the most notable (by team) thus far.

Mike Smith, goaltender, Arizona Coyotes (lower-body injury, injured reserve since Oct. 18). The Coyotes are struggling to cope without their veteran starter. Backup Louis Domingue won only four of 11 starts. Smith’s absence is a key reason the Coyotes are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Jack Eichel, center, Buffalo Sabres (high-ankle sprain, injured reserve since Oct. 11). The Sabres have several players sidelined but Eichel’s absence is keenly felt. While they’ve got 14 points in 15 games, they’re near the bottom of the league in goals.

Justin Faulk, defenseman, Carolina Hurricanes (upper-body, IR since Nov. 6). The Hurricanes top defenseman, Faulk skates a team-leading 24:10 minutes per game. With the Hurricanes at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, losing Faulk for a significant period could prove fatal to their playoff hopes.

Seth Jones, defenseman, Columbus Blue Jackets (fractured foot, IR since Nov. 6). Jones logs big minutes for the Jackets (24:14 per game) and is among their leaders in hits, blocked shots and takeaways. Out for at least three weeks, they’re going to miss his blueline presence.

Jonathan Huberdeau, left wing, Florida Panthers (ruptured Achilles tendon, IR since Oct. 7). Their top-line left wing, Huberdeau’s absence has been capably filled by Jonathan Marchessault. However, they’re still missing his presence and skills, as evidenced by their mediocre start (7-7-1) this season.

Jonathan Quick, goaltender, Los Angeles Kings (groin injury, IR since Oct. 12). Call-up Peter Budaj’s done a good job filling in for Quick, who’s out until early-January at the latest. At some point, however, Quick’s lengthy absence could start catching up with the Kings.

Travis Hamonic, defenseman, New York Islanders (broken thumb, IR since Nov. 5). Hamonic is the Isles’ best all-around blueliner. Sidelined four-to-six weeks, his absence is a significant blow for this floundering (5-7-3) club.

Clarke MacArthur, left wing, Ottawa Senators (concussion, IR since Sep. 24). The Senators are doing okay without MacArthur (9-5-0), but they were really counting on his veteran leadership and grit this season. His lengthy absence last season was a factor in their missing the playoffs. It could become an issue again in 2016-17.

Jannik Hansen, left wing, Vancouver Canucks (fractured rib, IR since Nov. 6). With the Canucks struggling offensively, losing a 20-goal scorer such as Hansen is a serious setback for the Canucks. Ou four-to-six weeks, by the time Hansen returns, it could be too late to save their season.

Bryan Little, center, Winnipeg Jets. (lower-body injury, IR since Oct. 13). While the Jets have 16 points in as many games, Little’s absence leave them short of skilled offensive depth at center.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2016

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid leads his club to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid leads his club to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames.

Game highlights, Ducks re-sign Rickard Rakell  & more in your NHL morning headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl had three-point performances leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. 

P.K. Subban scored in his first game with the Nashville Predators, who went on to edge the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. 

Sean Couturier scored twice and Travis Konecny had two assists as the Philadelphia Flyers doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a skate blade to the face, but didn’t require stitches and returned to the game. 

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday re-signed restricted free agent forward Rickard Rakell to a six-year, $22.8 million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  That’s $3.8 million per season for the versatile Rakell, who established himself as a key part of the Ducks roster over the last two season. His new deal is one year longer and $800K per season more than I expected he’d get. If the Ducks had more depth in good young forwards, perhaps Rakell wouldn’t have received as much for as long. That’s not a knock against Rakell, merely an observation about the status of the Ducks’ forward lines. This signing leaves the Ducks with only $365K in cap space. With Hampus Lindholm still to be re-signed, they’ll have to shed a salary or two to get this done. 

SPORTSNET’s Darren Millard reports Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (groin injury) could be out three-four months. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings current goalie tandem consists of backup Jeff Zatkoff and call-up Peter Budaj. If they struggle between the pipes in Quick’s absence, the Kings could be in the market for a short-term goalie upgrade. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS:  Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (three cracked ribs) will be sidelined for weeks. 

WINNIPEG SUN:  Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. 

TSN.CA:  Dave Keon was named the greatest player in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m old enough to remember Keon in his heyday and I agree that he’s the greatest Leaf of all time. He was a complete player and a key component in the Leafs four Stanley Cup championships in the 1960s, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1961, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1962 and 1963 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1967.