NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2020

Could Shayne Gostisbehere become a Flyers’ off-season trade chip? Could the Ducks trade one of their top-three defensemen? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD GOSTISBEHERE BECOME AN OFF-SEASON TRADE CHIP?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Shayne Gostisbehere remains the subject of frequent trade speculation. The 27-year-old defenseman is in his playing prime with offensive skills and an attractive contract that could make him enticing to other clubs.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Photo via NHL Images).

Following the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher admitted teams had made inquiries about Gostisbehere but he wasn’t shopping the blueliner. Nevertheless, Hall doesn’t dismiss the possibility he could become an off-season trade chip.

The development of prospect Egor Zamula, efforts to re-sign pending UFA rearguard Justin Braun, and whenever promising college prospect Cam York turns pro could factor into Gostisbehere’s future in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere also lacks no-trade protection, making it easier for Fletcher to move him. I don’t doubt there was interest in “Ghost Bear”, but his stock has tumbled this season. Despite his offensive abilities, he’s been criticized for sloppy defensive play.

If Fletcher were inclined to move Gostisbehere, he’d probably want a decent scoring forward in return. That deal probably isn’t available right now. 

DO THE DUCKS RECENT SIGNINGS SUGGESTS A BLUELINE CHANGE?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently mused over the Anaheim Ducks’ blueline plans in the wake of their signing Christian Djoos, Brendan Guhle, and Jani Hakanpää to new contracts. He feels the Ducks are trying to fill a pressing need for depth among their bottom-three defense.

The new contracts for Djoos and Hakanpää are ‘show me’ deals based on their promising auditions this season, while Guhle’s contract indicates they want to iron out the inconsistencies in his game. Stephens doubts Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, or Josh Manson will be subtracted from an already question-filled blueline corps. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fowler and Manson frequently surfaced in trade rumors this season. At one point, Fowler was linked to the Montreal Canadiens, while Manson is often suggested as a trade target for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Given the Ducks’ defensive woes over the last two seasons, I don’t think they’ll make a bad situation worse by shopping any of those three. Besides, Fowler has a four-team trade list while Manson has a 12-team no-trade list. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

Check out the latest Maple Leafs and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MAPLE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked how much it could cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly when the defenseman’s contract expires in 2022. A good comparable is the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. Fox also suggested paying attention to whatever Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug gets in the coming off-season.

How much could it cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox acknowledged the fallout from the pandemic could affect the salary cap by 2022, which could impact what Rielly’s next contract looks like. Then again, perhaps league revenue rebounds by that point. Given Rielly’s value to the Leafs, don’t be surprised if his agent seeks top dollar. It’s worth noting the Leafs have over $55 million invested in just seven players for 2022-23.

Asked about a suggestion in The Athletic in which the Leafs trade goaltender Frederik Andersen and sign Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Fox isn’t sold on either guy as an upgrade over Andersen. He doesn’t expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to break up his current goalie tandem in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I expect the Leafs will return with their Andersen-Jack Campbell tandem next season. Their performances will determine their long-term futures in Toronto. Murray, by the way, is a restricted free agent. The Leafs will have to trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet.

Fox doesn’t see the Leafs acquiring another LTIR contract to free up cap space to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. However, he thinks Dubas could attempt to acquire a defenseman via trade. “Paying Ryan Kesler or Marian Hossa to not play hockey won’t help Toronto land Petro. Paying Kesler might, in theory, help Dubas acquire a Josh Manson plus a draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas and his staff surprised observers with their wheeling and dealing last summer to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Mitch Marner. We can’t rule out a scenario like that mentioned by Fox to bring in a defenseman, although that might not be necessary with yesterday’s signing of Mikko Lehtonen. Speaking of which…

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the addition of Lehtonen could bring some intrigue to the Leafs defense corps. On paper, his addition creates a log-jam of left-handed defensemen. O’Brien wonders if the Leafs could trade someone like Travis Dermott to balance things out on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen said he’s comfortable playing either side. If he adjusts well on the right side with the Leafs, they won’t have to trade someone like Dermott for a right-handed defender.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined potential free-agent options to bolster the Red Wings’ defense corps. The best of the bunch is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, but he’d probably prefer going somewhere more competitive if he doesn’t re-sign with the Blues. It might not be possible to lure Michigan native Torey Krug away from the Boston Bruins.

Other options include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. A good chunk of that cap room will be invested in re-signing key players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

Provided ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, they should have enough to make a competitive offer to one of those UFAs in the offseason. Nevertheless, the rebuilding Wings might have to overpay to entice one of those blueliners to join them.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2020

Several Western Conference clubs will face some serious off-season questions. Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon wondered if the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks might shop a defenseman like Josh Manson or Cam Fowler.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they do, it could be for a young scoring forward. Manson would be the easiest to move. He has a 12-team no-trade list, while Fowler has a four-team trade list.

Dixon expects Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka to continue pursuing a goal scorer, but wondered what’s the next solution? Phil Kessel turned into a disappointment, and they saw marginal improvement when Taylor Hall was acquired in December.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they shop more futures? They already traded away their 2020 first-rounder. Do they offer up promising defenseman Jakob Chycrhun despite his long injury history? Chayka’s going to have to get creative.

Could the Calgary Flames shop Johnny Gaudreau this off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dixon mused about the possibility of the Calgary Flames shopping Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but I don’t see this happening. Gaudreau’s numbers were down this season, but the 26-year-old winger is only a year removed from a career-high 99-point performance. Unless Flames GM Brad Treliving is going to rebuild the roster (and I don’t believe that’s his intention), It doesn’t make any sense to trade his best scorer because of one bad year.

The Chicago Blackhawks need goaltenders next season. Even if they re-sign 35-year-old Corey Crawford, Dixon thinks they must add another quality goalie who can play 40 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If, as expected, Crawford is re-signed for another year or two, they could find several good options in this summer’s UFA market. Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss could be available.

Dixon asked if the Colorado Avalanche have Taylor Hall‘s phone number when he hits the open market in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He feels Hall would be a great addition on the Avs’s second line. I agree, but signing Hall will be an expensive undertaking. The Avalanche could easily afford him this year, but he would become their highest-paid player. Assuming they could get him for $8 million annually, that’s too much to invest in a second-line player, especially when Gabriel Landeskog and rising star Cale Makar will be in line for big raises next year.

Dixon wondered where the Dallas Stars will find some young forwards. It could cost them futures to land a scorer in his prime.

He’s also curious how much it’ll cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before he becomes a UFA next summer. He also expects them to shop around for a goalie, as it may be asking too much to bank on 38-year-old Mike Smith.

Can the Los Angeles Kings trade Jeff Carter or Dustin Brown?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless they absorb half their salary or take on a toxic contract in return, the answer is no. Both are 35 and carrying annual salary-cap hits exceeding $5 million annually through 2021-22.

Does it make sense for the Minnesota Wild to trade defenseman Matt Dumba?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, it doesn’t. Dumba is 25 and signed through 2022-23. This was a down season stats-wise, but he was also coming off a serious pectoral muscle injury last season. Sometimes it takes time to fully recover from that type of injury. GM Bill Guerin could keep an open ear for reasonable trade offers, but I think he’ll hang onto Dumba.

Can the San Jose Sharks find a starting goalie? Dixon advocates pursuing a UFA netminder like Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, or Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea, but the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players, with $5.75 million annually being paid to current starting goalie Martin Jones, who has a three-team trade list. Unless they can find a way to move out Jones or slash another salary, they could be forced to consider more affordable short-term options.

Will Alex Pietrangelo re-sign with the St. Louis Blues?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe he will, but the Blues will have to shed some salary to accommodate his raise to between $8 million and $9 million annually.

Can the Vancouver Canucks keep Jacob Markstrom?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, but like the Blues, they’ll have to shed a salary to fit in his new contract. Maybe this is the year they find a taker for Loui Eriksson or buy out the remainder of his contract.

Is Robin Lehner the Vegas Golden Knights’ long-term goalie?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Lehner is younger than starter Marc-Andre Fleury, put up better numbers over the last two seasons, and is in his playing prime. On the other hand, Fleury is a proven performer and remains the face of the Golden Knights. Had Lehner come in and took over the starter’s job from Fleury over the remainder of this season, perhaps he could make the case as their long-term goalie. Re-signing him would force the cap-strapped Golden Knights to dump a salary or two.

Dixon wondered if the Winnipeg Jets might move a forward to bolster their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out, but the anticipated termination of Dustin Byfuglien’s contract ($7.6 million AAV) could provide sufficient wiggle room to find more affordable depth options for next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2020

The NHL schedule remains paused but the off-season trade and free-agent speculation keep churning. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS LIMITED CAP SPACE COULD HAMPER EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE BLUELINE

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the biggest off-season questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Improving the blueline remains a pressing need, especially on the right side. Landing a dependable right-shot blueliner via free agency, like Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Tanev, Travis Hamonic, Justin Schultz, or Radkos Gudas, is a long shot. General manager Kyle Dubas could be forced into the trade market for someone like Matt Dumba, Rasmus Ristolainen, Colin Miller and Josh Manson.

Could Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen become an off-season trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Leafs penalty kill also needs help. Fox believes that rings back to their need for more experienced stay-at-home defenders and a reliable face-off man. Their limited salary-cap space means Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson and/or Alexander Kerfoot could become trade candidates. The trio lack no-trade protection in their respective contracts.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the possibility of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season spells big trouble for the Leafs. They have around $77 million invested in 17 players, with restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, Frederik Gauthier and Denis Malgin to re-sign. Veteran forwards Jason Spezza and recently-acquired Kyle Clifford are unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas surprised many observers last summer (including me) with his ability to juggle his limited cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner to a lucrative long-term contract. He was able to do that in part because he could place permanently sidelined forwards Nathan Horton and David Clarkson on long-term injury reserve.

As Fox observed, Dubas won’t have that option this summer. He could gain some flexibility by acquiring another club’s permanent LTIR player. That’s what he did last summer by reacquiring Clarkson’s rights, but there’s no certainty he can pull off a similar deal again.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot often surfaced in this season’s rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. Dubas resisted moving either guy, but he could end up peddling one of them this off-season for a right-side defenseman. I don’t see either of those guys being sufficient to land Dumba or Manson, and the Sabres could be reluctant to send Ristolainen or Miller to a division rival.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined the long-term outlook for the Boston Bruins. Their biggest challenges this off-season are re-signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug and restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk. Gretz feels there’s enough salary-cap space to re-sign both, though there could be some pressure to keep Krug around the $6.5 million mark that the other core players receive.

Starting goalie Tuukka Rask recently hinting at retiring next year at the end of his current contract could be worth keeping an eye on. Backup Jaroslav Halak is a UFA this summer and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug suggested last fall he’d be willing to consider a hometown discount, but we haven’t heard anything further about that possibility. Perhaps a front-loaded deal in which Krug earns $7.5 million in actual salary at the start of a seven-year deal that gradually declines to $5 million by the final year would be acceptable to him. It would keep his cap hit around that $6.5-million range.










Off-Season NHL Trade & Free Agent Candidates: Anaheim Ducks

Off-Season NHL Trade & Free Agent Candidates: Anaheim Ducks

 










What Are Bob Murray’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Anaheim Ducks?

What Are Bob Murray’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Anaheim Ducks?