Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Josh Anderson. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, Anderson missed all but 26 games to injury this season. A big winger with scoring ability, he frequently appeared in trade chatter this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I overlooked Anderson in my original post. My apologies. Anyway, his future with the Jackets could depend upon his contract negotiations in the off-season, and how much interest he garners in the trade market. 

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we’ll review Sportsnet’s list of one off-season trade candidate for each team.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen yesterday compiled a list identifying one trade candidate for each team whenever the off-season rolls around. He excluded pending unrestricted free agents, as their rights could be moved after the conclusion of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating each of Boylen’s explanations behind his selections. I recommend you check out the link above for further details.

Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique. If Ducks general manager Bob Murray decides to shed salary, Henrique could be a prime candidate. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value just shy of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Henrique’s modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) could complicate things, as could Henrique’s $5.825-million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes: Derek Stepan. The Coyotes must free up cap space if they hope to re-sign Taylor Hall. Moving Stepan could require picking up part of his salary or packaging him with another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection but his $6.5 million AAV through 2020-21 will be tough to move without following one of Boylen’s suggestions. They can’t take back a toxic contract because they’re trying to shed salary.

Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie. Though just acquired, Ritchie might not fit into their plans after this season, especially with two goalies due for new deals next season, as well as Ondrej Kase and Brandon Carlo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen points out the Bruins’ cap situation is manageable for now, even if they re-sign Torey Krug. Ritchie has an affordable cap hit, so the Bruins could hang onto him and see how things unfold next season.

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s been a frequent subject of trade speculation. The blueliner could fetch a return that helps the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen receives lots of criticism for his defensive play. His $5.4 million AAV through 2021-22 could also be a concern under a flat salary cap. Nevertheless, he’s been suggested as a trade option to bring in a depth scorer.

Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau. It’s believed Gaudreau could be shopped if the Flames fail to reach the playoffs or make another early post-season exit.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but I don’t believe Flames GM Brad Treliving will put the blame for his club’s difficulties on the shoulders of his biggest star, especially when he’s still got two more seasons on his contract at a reasonable $6.75-million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Gardiner. Despite his diminished role and seven-team no-trade list, Boylen feels Gardiner can still be an effective offensive blueliner. He also carries a manageable $4.05 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner also has three more years left on his contract. His declining performance could be tied to last season’s back injury. Those factors hurt his value in the trade market.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad. He surfaced in rumors near the trade deadline and could pop up again. He’s a year away from UFA status with a $6 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t be surprising if Saad is playing elsewhere next season. The Blackhawks are rebuilding on the fly and must restock their prospect cupboard.

Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars: first-round pick. The Avs will have plenty of cap room to target clubs looking to shed salary, while the Stars are built to win now and could peddle their pick for more immediate help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost has been mentioned as a trade option. I’ve seen some suggesting the Stars should peddle a defenseman for a scoring forward. That would mean moving Esa Lindell or John Klingberg and I don’t see that happening.

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha. Boylen feels it’s less likely he’ll be moved but doesn’t rule it out. He suggests Mantha could fetch a haul of futures if they decide not to re-sign the restricted free agent to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha admitted his contract negotiations could get complicated. He also has arbitration rights. I think the Wings want to re-sign him, but he could be shopped if talks bog down.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s requested a trade and spent this season in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi’s situation has been well-documented here and elsewhere. As Boylen pointed out, he remains the Oilers’ No. 1 trade candidate.

Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson. Changes could be coming for the disappointing Panthers. Matheson’s signed through 2025-26 but lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson appeared in media rumors before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has a reasonable $4.875 million AAV and could be tempting for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter. Despite the decline in his production, Carter could attract some interest if the Kings picked up part of his salary-cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter has two more years left on his contract. He’ll turn 36 in January and his best seasons are behind him. Maybe a contender takes a chance on him, but I doubt it. 

Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba. He and Jonas Brodin appeared in trade speculation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Maybe the Wild’s improved play before the pause might tempt GM Bill Guerin to keep his roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. Guerin may have listened to offers, but it’ll take a significant pitch to convince him to move Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens: Max Domi. A decline in Domi’s production, his RFA status this summer, and the promising centers (Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling) on the Habs roster and within their system could make him expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, several Habs players struggled this season, Domi loves playing in Montreal, and much of the chatter about his future seems to originate from some in the Montreal media unhappy over his play. Nevertheless, he could get moved if contract talks become contentious.

Nashville Predators: Kyle Turris. The Predators would love to move his $6 million AAV through 2023-24. However, they could be forced to pick up part of that salary or include another asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. GM David Poile hasn’t retained salary in a trade, but he could be forced to if he intends to move Turris.

New Jersey Devils: Pavel Zacha. “If a trade makes sense to add to their prospect base, and if the team drafts another forward this year, a Zacha move should be explored.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s future will depend upon who’s the Devils’ general manager after this season. Tom Fitzgerald holds the role on an interim basis, but the team ownership reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the role.

New York Islanders: Johnny Boychuk. He’s lost a step and his role is in decline. His $6 million AAV through 2021-22 is a concern for a club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those factors, as well as his eight-team trade list, also make moving him a difficult challenge.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. Trading him is a big “if” and would require Lundqvist waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers can’t go into next season carrying three goalies again.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the speculation out of New York on Lundqvist suggest a buyout is more likely than a trade. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone and retire.

Ottawa Senators: Anthony Duclair. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, but this could be an opportunity to sell while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky production could make the Senators leery about signing him to a long-term deal. If they do shop Duclair, they could seek a promising young NHL-ready player in return. They’re already loaded with picks and prospects.

Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s frequently appeared in this season’s rumor mill and could surface in off-season speculation. He’s slipped to third-pairing duty this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club in the market for a puck-moving rearguard could gamble on Gostisbehere regaining his form with a change of scenery.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Keeping them both could mean shedding salary elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could surprise us by re-signing both netminders. However, I think he’ll move one of them and promote Casey DeSmith into the backup role.

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones. He’s struggled in goal the last two years and the Sharks need to upgrade at that position. They’ll have to retain part of his $5.75-million AAV to make it happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones broadens his three-team list of preferred trade destinations, the Sharks will have a difficult time moving him. The length of his contract (signed to 2024) is another sticking point.

St. Louis Blues: Tyler Bozak. The Blues must clear cap space if they intend to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. Bozak carries a $5 million AAV through 2020-21 for playing a bottom-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think goalie Jake Allen is a more likely trade candidate. He’ll have more value and will be easier to move than Bozak.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn. The Lightning must free up cap space to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Killorn’s full no-trade becomes a modified list after this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn would also have plenty of value around the league, especially for playoff contenders.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs face another cap crunch this off-season. Kerfoot could become a trade candidate, as could wingers Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Travis Dermott.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot is off the 40-plus point pace of his first two NHL seasons. The Leafs could prefer hanging onto the other three.

Vancouver Canucks: Olli Juolevi. The Canucks might not be looking to trade Juolevi, but that could change if he can’t crack the roster next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Juolevi’s development. They’re being patient with him, but one has to wonder how long that will last.

Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a long shot that Fleury will be moved, but the Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was an interesting move. Re-signing Lehner would mean shedding salary by moving a top-six forward or Fleury, who’s signed for two more years but whose performance has been in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s acquisition appeared to be an insurance move for the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s generated plenty of speculation about Fleury’s future in Vegas. His contract ($7 million AAV through 2021-22 with a 10-team no-trade list) won’t be easy to move.

Washington Capitals: Nick Jensen. If the Capitals re-sign Braden Holtby, they’ll have to cut some payroll. Jensen could become a cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $71 million invested in 16 players and Holtby looking for a lucrative new contract, I don’t think they’ll be shedding salary to re-sign him.

Winnipeg Jets: Jack Roslovic. Boylen suggests Roslovic could be shopped to address the Jets’ greater need for blueline depth. He’s struggled to crack the top-six forward lines and previously aired his frustration over his use in the Jets lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Roslovic. Having freed up $7.6 million in cap space by terminating Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, he has room to perhaps bolster his blueline through the free-agent market without moving Roslovic.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Canadiens, Sharks, and Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD MANTHA BECOME A CANADIENS’ OFFER-SHEET TARGET?

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha would be an intriguing offer-sheet target for the Montreal Canadiens. He feels they would benefit from having a sniper such as Mantha at right wing. He also pointed to the winger’s tumultuous relationship with Detroit coach Jeff Blashill. While Lajoie feels Blashill might not be back behind the Wings’ bench next season, Mantha might be willing to entertain an offer sheet.

Could the Montreal Canadiens try to sign Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha to an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Mantha would listen to an offer from the Canadiens, but it’ll have to be a significant one to pry him away from the Wings. They have over $46 million invested in 11 players. Unless it’s a mind-blowing offer, they can easily match it. 

Lajoie also noted Columbus’ Pierre-Luc Dubois and the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal could be interesting options. He thinks the Blue Jackets would match almost any offer for Dubois, but the Isles might be less inclined to do so for Barzal because their GM is Lou Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets will match an offer for Dubois. As for Lamoriello, he’s already bluntly stated he’ll do the same for Barzal. Don’t expect to see either guy wearing a Habs sweater next season. 

COULD THE SHARKS BE UFA BUYERS?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes the San Jose Sharks could benefit if the salary cap remains around $81.5 million for 2020-21. Several teams will enter the off-season with less than $1 million in cap space, while half the league will have more than $3 million. The Sharks could have between $8 million and $15 million available.

Some of that will be used to re-sign some pending free agents, but Witt feels their notable ones (Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc) could be affordable re-signings. That would leave sufficient room for some prominent free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players. All of their core players except for Thornton are under contract for next season. As Witt indicated, Thornton and Labanc should be affordable signings.

General manager Doug Wilson has a history of pulling off surprising moves, so we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility he’ll land a noteworthy free agent, especially if a flat cap makes other clubs reluctant to invest in the UFA market. However, he might be reluctant to pursue a big-ticket player when he’s already got over $41 million tied up in just six players. 

LATEST ON THE DEVILS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if there was any chance the New Jersey Devils could make a move for St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn following their re-signing of Marco Scandella. While Dunn could be a good fit, Masisak is skeptical about the Blues moving him. He also speculated they could ask for Kyle Palmieri or Nikita Gusev, or perhaps a promising player like Ty Smith or Nolan Foote in return. 

Masisak doubts the Devils could entice whoever wins this year’s draft lottery to part with the first-overall pick by offering up their three first-rounders. 










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 – April 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2020

Several Eastern Conference clubs could face some serious off-season questions. Check them out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon raises some burning off-season questions for each of the NHL’s Eastern Conference clubs. Some were speculation involving off-season plans for several teams:

Dixon suggested the Buffalo Sabres should boost their goaltending depth via the unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Sabres are looking for an experienced backup for promising Linus Ullmark, options could include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss.

Dixon wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will go big-game hunting. He’d love to see them sign a UFA goaltender like Robin Lehner or Jacob Markstrom. If someone like Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau were to hit the trade block, acquiring him would be the type of move the Hurricanes could pull off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, including goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, the Hurricanes lack sufficient room and dollars to add Lehner or Markstrom. Of course, they could attempt to move Mrazek or Reimer to create room for a UFA goalie signing. Gaudreau isn’t going anywhere this off-season, but yes, if he were available, the Hurricanes have the depth in young roster talent, prospects, and draft picks to pull off such a move. Whether they’d do it, however, is another matter.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have the base for a good-to-great team if they got an injection of pure talent such as Gaudreau or Taylor Hall. Dixon acknowledged they have some in-house business to sort out, such as re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois and what to do with winger Josh Anderson, who has arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has made bold moves before, so we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility he’ll do it again. Adding Hall, however, will be too expensive for a club carrying over $68 million tied up in 17 players next season. As I mentioned earlier, Gaudreau’s not going anywhere, but the cost of adding someone like him could be too burdensome to pull off this year.

If the Detroit Red Wings don’t believe winger Anthony Mantha is worth a long-term deal, Dixon suggested shopping him while he has trade value for another piece or two that helps their long-term rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha has 30-goal ability but his injury history is a red flag. They possess plenty of salary-cap space to re-sign him, so it’ll be interesting to how GM Steve Yzerman handles this.

Dixon doubted Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are in play, but feels everything else is on the table for the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll depend on Panthers owner Vinnie Viola. It’s been suggested his unhappiness with the club’s performance could lead to a cost-cutting shakeup. A bold move would be moving Barkov or Huberdeau, but the latter has a full no-movement clause while the former’s kicks in after this season. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad lacks no-trade protection until 2021-22, but a more likely trade candidate could be Mike Matheson, who surfaced in the rumor mill before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Could the Montreal Canadiens shop a forward like Max Domi to bring in a defenseman? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dixon wondered if the Montreal Canadiens might swap a forward, such as pending RFA Max Domi, for a defenseman if the right fit can be found.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect GM Marc Bergevin will explore every option. With depth in draft picks and prospects plus plenty of salary-cap space, Bergevin might not have to part with a roster forward to bring in a blueliner. He could instead target cap-strapped clubs in need of shedding salary.

Once the New Jersey Devils sort out who their general manager will be, Dixon proposed shopping winger Kyle Palmieri could fetch a good return. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision could tkae place before next season’s trade deadline, whenever that might be.

If Henrik Lundqvist wants to continue playing, Dixon suggested the New York Rangers buy out the final season of his contract and let him test the UFA water.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Blueshirts go that route. With Lundqvist losing playing time to young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, it may be time to part ways with King Henrik.

With the Ottawa Senators carrying seven second-round picks in the next two drafts, Dixon wondered if they might shop some of them for an under-25 player or two in need of a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good suggestion, one Senators GM Pierre Dorion could explore when the off-season finally arrives.

Dixon mused over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins re-signing RFA goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: it can’t be ruled out, but it will be a tight squeeze within the Penguins’ limited cap space.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be forced to sacrifice a second-tier forward to make room to re-sign RFAs Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergechev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That forward could be Alex Killorn, whose full no-trade clause becomes a 16-team no-trade list following this season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to look outside the organization to boost their blueline. A lack of cap space and depth in the UFA market could force them into the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And if they do go that route, a second-tier forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot could become a trade candidate.

Dixon mused over the possibility of Braden Holtby returning to the Washington Capitals for another year or two at a salary similar to his current $6.1 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby has indicated his intent to get the best deal he can as he enters the UFA market for the first time. Assuming he can’t find one this year if the salary cap remains flat, perhaps he and the Capitals might circle back and discuss a short-term deal. Even then, bringing back Holtby would push their cap payroll to over $77 million invested in 17 players, leaving little room under a flat cap to fill the rest of the roster.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings