NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

Check out the latest Max Pacioretty speculation and how the Capitals could find a short-term replacement for Henrik Lundqvist in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked about the recent trade rumors about Max Pacioretty. He doubts the Golden Knights will trade the winger, citing how much the Golden Knights gave up to the Montreal Canadiens two years ago to acquire him as one reason.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Granger cited sources indicating Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon called around the league to gauge interest in Pacioretty, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Jonathan Marchessault. However, those talks didn’t progress as McCrimmon was merely testing the waters to see what might be out there. Granger also dismissed the notion that Pacioretty requested a trade.

If the Golden Knights were to trade Pacioretty or Marchessault, Granger speculates they could attempt to bring back Erik Haula, who could welcome a return to the city where he had his best NHL season.

Granger also doesn’t believe the Boston Bruins would entertain parting with winger Jake DeBrusk in a package deal for Pacioretty. The 24-year-old DeBrusk is younger than the 32-year-old Pacioretty, carries a more affordable contract and is a restricted free agent when it expires in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pacioretty trade chatter provided welcome grist to the NHL rumor mill. While anything’s possible, it seems unlikely he’ll be moved. In addition to the reasons listed by Granger, the Golden Knights are built to win right now. They have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Pacioretty in the lineup this season.

I also agree with Granger’s take regarding Pacioretty to the Bruins. I don’t think they want to acquire a winger approaching his mid-thirties carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons. While they want to keep their championship window open for this season, they’re at the stage where they must also keep an eye on the future.

THE WASHINGTON POST: In her latest mailbag segment, Samantha Pell was asked if she expects the Capitals to make a trade before the season begins. She believes they could, citing a crowded blue line (“especially on the right side”) and the need to replace Henrik Lundqvist, who’s out for the season receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Pell suggested Nick Jensen as a possible trade candidate but could be retained in case another defenseman is injured.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron listed several options for the Capitals to replace Lundqvist. One could be signing an unrestricted free agent such as Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson or Jimmy Howard. Another could be trading for a goalie, though he doesn’t see them taking on an expensive netminder such as Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals could surprise us by going the trade route. However, I concur with Maron that they’ll either sign a UFA or promote from within their system.

Laine, Marchessault, Perry Featured in NHL Rumor Roundup

Laine, Marchessault, Perry Featured in NHL Rumor Roundup


NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2020

A look at two possible trade partners for the Vegas Golden Knights plus an update on Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Travis Yost suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators as two clubs that could help the Vegas Golden Knights resolve their salary-cap crunch. Both are rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space that could use more scoring punch.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault (NHL.com)

The Golden Knights were reportedly examining the possibility of trading winger Max Pacioretty. They’re also said to be testing the market for winger Jonathan Marchessault. Yost feels Marchessault would be a better fit with the Wings or Senators.

The 29-year-old is three years younger than Pacioretty and carries a more affordable contract. Pacioretty’s annual average value is $7 million while Marchessault’s is $5 million. He also carries an eight-team no-trade clause.

Yost believes Marchessault would immediately improve either club without clogging up a roster spot over the long term. Because the Golden Knights can’t take on salary and remain a Stanley Cup contender, they’ll be looking for a cheaper replacement and futures. “That sort of price is digestible for a 29-year-old signed through 2023-24 and on a back-diving, team-friendly contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Marchessault will earn $5 million in actual salary for 2020-21 and ’21-’22, dropping to $3.5 million annually over the final two seasons. His $5 million AAV would become worthwhile if the Wings or Senators wish to maintain payrolls near the salary-cap minimum in the final years of his deal.

Whether the Wings or Senators see Marchessault fitting into their plans remains to be seen. This could be irrelevant if those two clubs are on his no-trade list and he’s unwilling to waive it

TSN 1040 VANCOUVER: During yesterday’s “Donnie and Moj” show, Bob Marjanovich said he’d heard the Canucks and Calgary Flames were interested in Travis Hamonic. Both clubs have limited cap space, meaning they’d have to shed some salary to sign the free-agent defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are over the $81.5 million cap by $1.5 million while the Flames have just over $1 million in cap space with restricted free agent defenseman Oliver Kylington to sign.

Vancouver could get some cap relief if winger Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million) begins the season on long-term injury reserve because of lingering head trauma symptoms. Signing Kylington will eat up most of the Flames’ cap space.

It’s believed Hamonic will end up with a one-year contract because of the current economic situation. He’ll try to sign with the highest bidder but could prefer staying in Western Canada.

The Manitoba native has been linked to the Winnipeg Jets. They’re above the cap by over $697K but will get $5.29 million in cap relief when Bryan Little (ear) is placed on LTIR. They must also sign Jack Roslovic but there’s talk they could trade the RFA winger. Hamonic could be a fit with the Jets if they don’t Roslovic for a blueliner.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

Breaking down some potential moves to watch as the 2020-21 season inches closer in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon examined five lingering issues that must be addressed before the project Jan. 13 start to the 2020-21 NHL season.

The respective salary-cap crunches facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights and New York Islanders dominated the list.

The Lightning sits just above the $81.5 million salary cap and must sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli. Dixon observed some trade speculation arose earlier this fall suggesting Steven Stamkos could become a trade candidate. However, the captain’s full no-trade clause and the limited number of teams that could afford his $8.25 million annual average value pretty much rules out trading him. Winger Alex Killorn (16-team no-trade list, $4.5 million AAV) remains a possible cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s recent signing of defenseman Mikhail Sergachev prompted conjecture they could have a cost-cutting deal in hand but it has yet to materialize.

They also attempted to shed salary by putting winger Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) on waivers in early October but couldn’t find any takers. He also has a full no-trade but reportedly submitted a list of eight or nine potential destinations to Lightning management.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights are also just above the salary cap, prompting rumors they could be shopping a high-salaried player such as Max Pacioretty, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Fleury won’t be traded while team owner Bill Foley recently dismissed the Pacioretty rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights could move an expensive veteran. Then again, they could also trade or demote a lower-salaried depth player to become cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Islanders still haven’t signed RFA center Mathew Barzal. They will get some cap relief by placing defenseman Johnny Boychuk (eye injury) and his $6 million AAV on long-term injury reserve. Dixon took note of GM Lou Lamoriello’s failed attempt at this year’s trade deadline to ship winger Andrew Ladd to Minnesota for Zach Parise. He wondered if Lamoriello might try to package Ladd with a sweetener to a rebuilding team with the cap space to take on the winger’s $5.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but it could take one heckuva sweetener to convince a rebuilding team to acquire Ladd. While Dixon cited the 35-year-old winger’s experience and leadership, age and injuries have significantly affected his performance.

Dixon also noted the trade rumors swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine and the Arizona Coyotes’ attempt to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move Laine, whose agent suggested earlier this fall it might be beneficial for both sides if his client was moved to a team where he’d get first-line minutes. The winger has a year remaining on his contract and becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. That doesn’t mean GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t trade Laine but he’ll seek a significant return, such as perhaps a top-pairing defenseman.

Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. However, attempts to move him fell through before his self-imposed deadline of Oct. 9.

The Coyotes captain insisted he’s happy in Arizona and wasn’t upset by the club exploring trade options. Nevertheless, this could resurface if the Bruins or Canucks make a pitch to the Coyotes’ liking, provided he’d be willing to waive his clause before the season begins.

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life


NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2020

The latest on Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Hoffman in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson noted TSN’s report earlier this week claiming the Vegas Golden Knights were looking into shopping winger Max Pacioretty. He examined their options if they decide to go that route.

Vegas Golden Knights owners Bill Foley denied a report claiming his club was shopping Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Emerson cited TSN’s speculation the Golden Knights could use the cap flexibility from moving Pacioretty to perhaps sign a more affordable player such as Mike Hoffman or Erik Haula. Replacing Pacioretty with Hoffman would make sense offensively but Emerson wondered if a better positional player like Haula (a former Golden Knight) might be a better idea.

Haula would be a more affordable option than Hoffman, and the savings could be put toward perhaps adding another player such as Anthony Duclair. However, Emerson feels the Golden Knights would have a bigger target in mind if they traded away Pacioretty.

They could attempt to sign New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal to an offer sheet but that seems unlikely, especially if the compensation to the Isles becomes four first-round picks. Emerson proposed going the trade route, suggesting the Nashville Predators (Viktor Arvidsson or Filip Forsberg) or New York Rangers (Ryan Strome or Pavel Buchnevich) as possible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley recently dismissed the notion of trading Pacioretty. Given the dire dearth of real trade rumors, however, it won’t stop folks from speculating about what they could get in return by shopping him.

The Predators could attempt to shake things up and they have the cap space to take on Pacioretty’s contract. However, I don’t believe Nashville general manager David Poile would take on a 32-year-old winger carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons, and I don’t see him parting with Arvidsson or Forsberg.

Strome ($4.5 million AAV) and Buchnevich ($3.25 million) surfaced in trade speculation earlier this year but GM Jeff Gorton probably prefers starting the season with those two in his lineup and see how the season unfolds.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited two NHL sources claiming the Los Angeles Kings are interested in attempting to land the player they thought they had two years ago. The Kings tried to acquire Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Draft but the deal fell through and the winger was subsequently shipped to Vegas.

Murphy also reported the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Winnipeg Jets were mentioned by sources as potential suitors for Pacioretty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings’ situation changed since the summer of 2018. They weren’t invested in a full rebuild back then. GM Rob Blake has since put his focus on stocking his roster with promising youth. I don’t see Pacioretty as a fit there.

The Devils have lots of cap space and could use a winger like Pacioretty but they might not be on his list of preferred destinations. The Isles lack the cap space and still need to sign Mathew Barzal. The Sabres made their big offseason acquisition by signing Taylor Hall.

Having lost Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov to free agency, the Panthers could be looking at adding a scorer like Pacioretty, but I wonder how keen they’d be to take on his cap hit. The Jackets are putting their focus on getting Pierre-Luc Dubois under contract. The Jets’ priority is shoring up their blueline once they put Bryan Little on LTIR.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also took note of Foley denying the Pacioretty trade rumor but the Golden Knights owner admitted in the same interview his club needed to shed cap space. O’Brien proposed winger Jonathan Marchessault as the more likely trade candidate as he’s younger by two years and carries a more affordable cap hit at $5 million annually.

While acknowledging the Golden Knights could be exploring their options in the trade market, O’Brien doesn’t expect they’ll move either player. The club is in win-now mode and has a better chance of doing so with both forwards in the lineup. He suggests a smaller trade or two could alleviate their cap issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Golden Knights are nearly $975K over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could get cap relief by trading or demoting a lower-salaried player.

Management might prefer shipping out a higher-salaried player to have more cap wiggle room for the coming season. But as O’Brien points out, their chances of winning the Stanley Cup this season are better with Pacioretty and Marchessault in the lineup.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie recently asked a panel of guests if Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin might be tempted to sign Mike Hoffman to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Hoffman’s spat with former teammate Erik Karlsson during their final season with the Ottawa Senators raise concerns over the winger’s behavior, but he wasn’t a problem with the Florida Panthers. Signing Hoffman, however, would mean moving out Tomas Tatar and Brett Kulak to clear sufficient cap room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could Bergevin make a pitch for Hoffman? Sure, anything’s possible. Will he? No. The Canadiens GM made his big offseason moves by shipping Max Domi to Columbus for Josh Anderson and signing Tyler Toffoli to a four-year contract. Hoffman won’t be signing with the Habs.