NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2020

Recent speculation on the Oilers, Flames, and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if the Edmonton Oilers might bring back Taylor Hall if they can shed some salary. He felt there’s zero chance of the 28-year-old winger returning to Edmonton, pointing out the Oilers already carry several players with expensive contracts. “I think it’s a dream Oilers fans should wake up from. Hall’s not coming back,” wrote Spector.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with “Cousin Mark”. Hall returning to the Oilers is a pipe dream. Stop pining about what could’ve been and look forward.

Jesse Puljujarvi’s future remains an off-season question for the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Asked out the most likely scenario for Jesse Puljujarvi, Spector said the Oilers prefer he returns and plays for them. If he doesn’t, they could let him spend another season in Finland (where he’ll make less money), or trade him at the draft for perhaps two second-round picks, or a second and a prospect (the Oilers lack a second-rounder in this year’s draft). Spector thinks Puljujarvi should return to the Oilers on a one-year deal and prove he can still play.

(STILL NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Oilers handle this situation. Puljujarvi’s done well in Finland (53 points in 56 games), but that’s not much of an indicator whether he can be an effective NHL player.

Asked if Sam Gagner might sign with the Oilers as an unrestricted free agent, Spector believes he will. He’d be an affordable signing, his home is in Edmonton, and Oilers general manager Ken Holland could see Gagner as a future member of the front office.

(THE OTHER ) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagner is completing a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $3.15 million. He’s not getting that much ever again, but he could be a decent fourth-line pickup for the Oilers (or somebody else) on a one-year, $900K contract.

FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently opened up the mailbag to address questions from Calgary Flames fans. Asked if the Flames might shake up their core, Francis doesn’t believe they will. Acknowledging the production of stars like Johnny Gaudreau is down this season, he feels the early end to this season ensures Gaudreau will return next season. He thinks players like Gaudreau and Monahan shouldn’t be shopped until they’ve had a shot at redemption.

(THE BETTER-LOOKING) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I didn’t put any stock into the trade rumors involving Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this season. Yes, their production was down this season, but they’re only a year removed from their respective career-high point totals. They’re still in the mid-twenties and very much in their playing prime. Unless they asked to be moved, they’re not going anywhere.

Francis thinks the Flames will kick tires on Taylor Hall if he tests the UFA market but believes they’ll use their cap space to plug holes in their defense corps than overspending on Hall. He also doesn’t see both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic returning next season but Brodie could stay.

Francis also sees the Flames attempting to re-sign UFA goalie Cam Talbot or taking a stab at Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Vegas’ Robin Lehner. He doesn’t think they’ll try to buy out Milan Lucic’s contract, pointing out he fills an effective physical role, as well as his popularity with his teammates and among Calgary fans.

Asked if interim coach Geoff Ward will remain as their bench boss after this season, Francis believes he will, citing GM Brad Treliving saying he’s seen enough to make his decision. Following a shaky start, the Flames turned things around under Ward, who has a year remaining on his contract.

RED WINGS

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently weighed in with his thoughts on what Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will do with his 12 restricted free agents.

Tyler Bertuzzi will likely get a long-term deal. Anthony Mantha’s situation could be more complicated. He could sign a one-year deal to post up big numbers before his UFA eligibility in two years, or the Wings could ink him to a four- or five-year deal believing he’ll keep progressing.

Kulfan believes Robby Fabbri has shown enough this season to be part of the Wings’ short-term future. He expects Adam Erne to be re-signed but feels he must take a bigger step forward.

He wouldn’t be surprised if the Wings cut ties with Madison Bowey and Brendan Perlini.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

More compliance buyout speculation and how the Canadiens cap space could serve them well in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HYPOTHETICAL COMPLIANCE BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports the anticipation of the 2020-21 NHL salary cap taking a COVID-19 hit has generated speculation the league and the NHL Players Association could agree to the implementation of compliance contract buyouts. He listed 11 hypothetical amnesty buyout candidates, with Vancouver’s Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) topping the list. With Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli and others to re-sign, a compliance buyout window would help the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were rumored looking into trading Eriksson last summer, but couldn’t find any takers for his contract. Given the complications they’ll face if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he’ll be a prime compliance buyout candidate.

Others could include Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million AAV through 2022-23), Chicago’s Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) provided he’s recovered from his recent surgeries, Calgary’s Milan Lucic ($6 million through 2023-24), Montreal’s Karl Alzner ($4.625 million through 2021-22), and the New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd ($5.5 million through 2022-23).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out the Wings can afford to absorb Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen ($5.25 million AAV through 2021-22), but general manager Steve Yzerman could avail himself of the opportunity to shed the expensive contracts of fading veterans.

if Seabrook hasn’t been medically cleared to return to action during the buyout period (whenever that might be), the Blackhawks won’t be able to avail themselves of that option. Lucic, Alzner, and Ladd are probably goners. The Isles attempted to trade Ladd to the Minnesota Wild as part of a complicated deal for Zach Parise at the trade deadline.

Could Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky become a compliance buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky ($10 million AAV through 2025-26), the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (one year at $8.5 million), Edmonton’s James Neal ($5.75 million through 2022-23) and Anaheim’s David Backes ($6 million for one more season) round out this list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those guys receiving compliance buyouts. A couple of readers questioned Bobrovsky being a candidate when I wrote about this in an earlier Rumor update, claiming he’s the victim of the Panthers’ woeful defense.

That’s as may be, but there’s no denying the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has struggled over the last two years. His performance this season was not the Panthers’ front office banked on when they signed him to that whopping big contract.

There’s talk that ownership will want to slash payroll if they miss the playoffs this season. An amnesty buyout for Bobrovsky would be the easiest option.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens could be well-positioned to use their cap space to their advantage once the salary-cap figures are determined for 2020-21.They have over $63 million invested in 16 players.

Re-signing restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete and re-signing or replacing other free agents will have little impact upon next summer, when such notables as Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry, and Phillip Danault will become free agents. Engels suggested they’d have more flexibility if they traded Domi for a defenseman like Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. 

Engels believes it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk will return to the Canadiens on a bonus-laden deal next season. He also anticipates they’ll look to the UFA market for a reliable backup for Carey Price. He doubts they’ll go the offer-sheet route this summer, but they could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades before the start of next season, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans and pundits have been waiting for Bergevin to use his cap space to provide a significant boost to the roster. This summer could provide that opportunity if the cap remains flat and compliance buyouts aren’t implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

As for the suggestion of trading Domi for Dumba, the latter lacks no-trade protection, but it could be premature to believe Wild GM Bill Guerin will go that route. If he does, he’ll be shopping Dumba to the highest bidder, meaning Domi might not be enough to pry him away from the Wild. 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2020

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask ponders retirement at the end of his current contract, plus a look at several potential compliance buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD RASK RETIRE AT THE END OF HIS CONTRACT?

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron reports Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask isn’t ruling out retirement at the end of his current contract. In an interview with the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter, Rask hinted at hanging up his pads when his contract expires in 2021. “I have one year left in the contract, so we’ll see if I even play,” Rask said. “We’ll see. Always a possibility.”

Could Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask retire next year? (Photo via NHL Images)

The 33-year-old netminder ruled out returning to play in his native Finland, citing family reasons. “Just be home. The wear and tear of the travel with two, almost three kids now, makes you think. I love to do it. But it’s tough.” Maron indicates Rask leads the league in goals-against average (2.12) and sits second with a .929 save percentage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While that report will likely cause the collective hearts of Bruins fans to skip a beat, Rask isn’t saying for certain that he’s packing it in after next season. It could just be some early posturing on his part to perhaps encourage Bruins management to open contract extension talks following the end of this season, whenever that might be.

Nevertheless, it’s an indication that Rask re-signing with Boston isn’t a sure thing. If he does retire, the Bruins will be scrambling to find a suitable replacement next year.

POSSIBLE COMPLIANCE BUYOUT CANDIDATES

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently examined which players could receive compliance buyouts if the NHL implements that policy to help cap-strapped club shed salary next season. He cited Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke floating that possibility in a recent interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now: “I’ve heard discussion of compliance buyouts to help teams get to this new cap, to solve some of their problems. Which they gave in the last CBA, each team got two cap-compliance buyouts which were exempt from the cap. I’ve heard talk of that, said Burke.

Staples considers “Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielson…Andrew Ladd of the New York Islanders, Milan Lucic of the Flames, Kyle Okposo of the Sabres, and Loui Eriksson of Vancouver” as the most obvious possibilities among NHL forwards.

Defensemen could include New Jersey’s P.K. Subban and St. Louis’ Justin Faulk, while Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and New Jersey’s Cory Schneider (provided his injury status would allow it) are his likely goalie candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting compilation from Staples. I agree with his assessment of those most likely to receive compliance (amnesty) buyouts.

For now, of course, there’s no certainty the NHL and NHL Players Association will implement that buyout scheme. Much will depend upon whether the league can finish this season and how much of their lost revenue they can recoup.

The two sides could also agree to an artificial cap that could be higher than the current $81.5 million. That would eliminate the need for such buyouts.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 22, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 22, 2020

The latest on the Islanders, several stars who may have played their final NHL games, and questions about conditional draft picks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

ISLANDERS WOULD MATCH OFFER SHEET FOR BARZAL

SPORTSNET: In a recent Q&A with New York Islanders fans, general manager Lou Lamoriello said it wasn’t his intention to let contract talks with Mathew Barzal reach the point where the 22-year-old center received an offer sheet from a rival club. If Barzal did sign one, however, Lamoriello said he’d match it. He remains confident in getting Barzal and fellow restricted free agents Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews re-signed.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles have over $71 million invested in 18 players. Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, Lamoriello will be hard-pressed to squeeze new contracts for Barzal, Pulock, and Toews within that $10 million of cap space available to him.

Matching an expensive offer sheet would gobble up almost all of that cap room. Lamoriello would get some cap wiggle room as he’s allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the off-season, but he must shed salary before the start of the season to become cap compliant.

I doubt Lamoriello’s worried about a rival GM signing Barzal to an offer sheet. Most NHL clubs will feel the financial squeeze from this pandemic, leaving few with enough cap room to take a run at poaching the young Isles center.

SEVERAL STARS WHO MAY HAVE PLAYED THEIR FINAL NHL GAMES

THE ATHLETIC: New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller, and Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu are among those on James Mirtle’s list of 15 NHL players who may have played their final NHL games if this season is canceled.

Others include Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams, St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, and Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Lundqvist may have played his last game with the Rangers, but I can see him playing with another NHL club if he waives his no-movement clause or is bought out of his current contract. Miller turns 40 in July and I suspect the Ducks will replace him with a younger option. If he’s unwilling to leave Calfornia, he’s likely done. Koivu has already hinted at retirement.

Williams spent half this season mulling retirement before returning to the Hurricanes. He could be done after this. Bouwmeester’s recent cardiac incident has likely ended his playing career. Seabrook’s double hip surgeries place his playing career in jeopardy. Ditto Backes’ concussion history.

WHAT TO DO WITH CONDITIONAL DRAFT PICKS FROM RECENT TRADES?

TSN: Frank Seravalli recently reported there are many questions about how the NHL deals with the minutiae related to contracts and trades if the schedule is reduced or canceled. What happens with conditional draft picks involved in recent trades is among those issues.

In last summer’s deal that saw the Edmonton Oilers ship Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal, the Flames get a conditional third-round pick if Neal tallies 21 goals and Lucic under 10 this season.

“What does the NHL do moving forward here? Do they decide to prorate it? In which case Lucic would remain under 10 and Neal gets to about 23? Or do they decide to leave it as is and that’s just one of the questions at stake with regards to other bonuses in contracts and compensation? Things like expansion draft considerations and also other picks that changed hands for deals at the deadline. Can we see things like compensatory picks and such.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This issue will have to be sorted out once a final decision is reached regarding the remainder of this season and the playoffs. For now, your guess is as good as mine.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2019

The Capitals snuff out the Flames, the Blackhawks edge the Ducks, Milan Lucic receives a two-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jakub Vrana’s first career NHL hat trick powered the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each collected two assists. The league-leading Capitals have won four straight games.

The Flames played without winger Milan Lucic. He received a two-game suspension by the department of player safety for sucker-punching Columbus Blue Jackets winger Kole Sherwood. Flames general manager Brad Treliving disagreed with the decision, claiming Lucic was responding to Sherwood slashing goaltender David Rittich.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With three suspensions and two fines on his resume, Lucic doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt for questionable tactics.

Patrick Kane’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images).

The Chicago Blackhawks blew a 2-0 lead but Patrick Kane scored in overtime as they edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blackhawks rookie Adam Boqvist scored his first NHL goal. It was Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf’s 1,000th career regular-season game. He picked up an assist in this contest.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: Ottawa Senators winger Scott Sabourin was released from the hospital yesterday after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Boston Bruins winger David Backes on Saturday. The Senators announced he suffered a fractured nose.The club also announced Logan Brown is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Backes left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss the next couple of games.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Adam Lowry will not face supplemental discipline for a questionable hit on Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch, who left the game and didn’t return.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have called up forward Ryan Poehling and placed center Jesperi Kotkaniemi on IR with a groin injury.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres placed defenseman Marco Scandella on injured reserve and called up blueliner Lawrence Pilut.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL winger Dean Prentice has passed away at age 87. Prentice played 22 seasons with the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota North Stars from 1952-53 to 1973-74. He tallied 391 goals and 860 points in 1,378 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Prentice’s family, friends, and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 3, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 3, 2019

The Islanders win their ninth straight game, the Canucks are rising in the standings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov turned in a 27-save shutout and Derick Brassard scored the only goal in 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. It was the Islanders’ ninth consecutive win. The Sabres are now winless in their last three contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders’ impressive hot streak seems to be largely overlooked by the media. Thanks to solid goaltending and disciplined play, they’re one of four teams with 10 victories on the season. They’re just three points behind the league-leading Washington Capitals.

Elias Pettersson scored twice as the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 (Photo via NHL Images).

 Elias Pettersson scored two goals to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. The Canucks extended their points streak to seven games. They also learned sidelined blueliner Quinn Hughes is listed as day-to-day after suffering a bruised knee against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are one point behind the Oilers and Blues for first place in the Western Conference. The Sharks, meanwhile, sank to the bottom of the Conference standings. They continue to be hampered by poor goaltending and a sputtering offense. 

The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to nine games by beating the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Bruins forwards David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combined for seven points. Their victory was overshadowed as Senators winger Scott Sabourin was stretchered from the game following a collision with Bruins winger David Backes. Sabourin was taken to local hospital and a follow-up report indicated he was doing ok. Backes also left the game with a suspected concussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping both players make speedy recoveries. 

Mike Smith made 51 saves and Leon Draisaitl tallied in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Colby Cave also scored for the Oilers while Brian Dumoulin replied for the Penguins.

The Calgary Flames shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on a 43-save performance by David Rittich. Flames center Sean Monahan scored to snap his 14-game goalless drought. The Jackets are winless in their last four contests. Flames winger Milan Lucic faces a disciplinary hearing for roughing Jackets forward Kole Sherwood.

Andreas Johnsson’s goal in the 11th round of the shootout gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen turned aside 37 shots. Kasperi Kapanen and Jason Spezza each had a goal and an assist. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Ivan Provorov each had two points for the Flyers. Philadelphia center Sean Couturier has been nursing an apparent injury to his left hand.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fourth straight win by edging the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on an overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly. The game was marred by several questionable calls against the Wild.

Nathan MacKinnon’s point streak ended at 13 games as the Colorado Avalanche fell 3-0 to the Arizona Coyotes. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist while Darcy Kuemper made 33 stops for the shutout. The Avs are winless in four straight.

New York Rangers rookie Alexandar Georgiev kicked out 32 shots backstopping his club to a 2-1 upset over the Nashville Predators. Filip Chytil and Ryan Strome were the Rangers’ goalscorers. Earlier in the day, the Predators revealed their jerseys for the 2020 Winter Classic against the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl. 

The Dallas Stars picked up their third straight win by downing the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Denis Gurianov scored twice, including a penalty-shot goal, while Ben Bishop made 35 saves. Canadiens goalie Carey Price stop 36 shots.

Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his first shutout with the Florida Panthers in a 4-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings. Bobrovsky made 22 saves while Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and collected an assist.

The Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Kyle Connor scored in overtime and collected two assists while.Mathieu Perreault scored twice for the Jets. The flu sidelined Golden Knights starter Marc-Andre Fleury from this game.

P.K. Subban tallied the go-ahead goal as the New Jersey Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. It was the Devils first win in four games.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Drew Doughty potted the winner in overtime. Blackhawks blueliner Erik Gustafsson was a healthy scratch.