NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

What happens next for the Senators and Shane Pinto following his 41-game suspension? Could the Panthers and Blue Jackets become trade partners? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Pinto won’t sign his contract until January once his suspension is served. This will also give the Senators more time to swing a trade to free up cap space to sign him. LeBrun also stated that the investigation had nothing to do with why Pinto hadn’t been signed yet by the Senators.

Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto (NHL Images).

Darren Dreger indicated that the NHL Players Association negotiated the 41-game suspension. They recognized that league commissioner Gary Bettman could hit Pinto with a much harsher punishment.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports that it’s believed the Senators were close on a two-year contract for Shane Pinto prior to his 41-game suspension on Thursday for activities that violated the NHL’s wagering rules. The deal would’ve paid the 22-year-old center an average annual value of $2 million.

When informed of the investigation, the Senators were told to rescind any contract offers to Pinto’s agent. Garrioch expects that Pinto will sign his one-year qualifying offer to get the contract out of the way while he’s serving his suspension.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes the trade winds that were circulating around Senators forwards Mathieu Joseph and Dominik Kubalik will ease in the wake of Pinto’s suspension.

The earliest the young center can return to action is Jan. 21, which buys general manager Pierre Dorion time to determine a proper cost-cutting trade candidate.

This situation could also work to Dorion’s advantage in his negotiations with the Pinto camp. Mendes wondered if the latter would still attempt to get a little bit of security in his contract or accept a one-year deal at a lesser rate and try again next summer. He’s not assuming that Pinto and his agent will accept the one-year qualifying offer of $874, 125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation could also prompt speculation of the Senators attempting to trade Pinto once he’s served his suspension given all that’s transpired. Reports out of Ottawa in recent weeks claimed that they don’t want to move him and the club issued a statement following his suspension that they’ll welcome him back with open arms.

Still, we can’t dismiss the possibility of Doirion peddling Pinto starting in January, though I daresay this suspension could hurt his value in the trade market. 

COULD THE PANTHERS AND BLUE JACKETS SWING A TRADE?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted that the Columbus Blue Jackets have been attempting to trade a defenseman for weeks now. It’s believed right-shot blueliners Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke are available.

Murphy indicated that the Florida Panthers are interested in upgrading their blueline though they’ll be squeezed for salary-cap space once defenseman Aaron Ekblad comes off long-term injury reserve. A source told Murphy that the Panthers and Dallas Stars have an interest in Boqvist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have only used just over $1 million of their LTIR cap space. They have room to add Boqvist’s $2.6 million cap hit but they’ll have to shed salary to make room for Ekblad when he returns in January.

They could prefer instead waiting until close to the March 8 trade deadline to boost their defense corps. There could be more affordable options available by that time plus they’ll have accrued some cap space by then.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest Canadiens speculation plus a look at why the Jets didn’t opt for a rebuild during the offseason.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently noted that the Canadiens’ early-season injury woes provide them with an advantage in salary cap space.

The Canadiens have $15 million in relief space with Carey Price and Christian Dvorak on long-term injury reserve. Dvorak is expected to return to action in November but Kirby Dach’s season-ending knee injury would still ensure they have over $13 million in cap relief once Dach is placed on LTIR. Defenseman Chris Wideman is also out indefinitely and can also be placed on LTIR.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes (NHL.com).

D’Amico suggests the Canadiens could use this wiggle room to help teams shed some salary, like the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators. He noted that the Canucks’ Conor Garland, the Blue Jackets’ Adam Boqvist, the Capitals’ Anthony Mantha and the Senators’ Mathieu Joseph are all currently on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes was inclined to help those clubs directly or as a third-party broker he’ll want them to include a draft pick or prospect as part of the return.

Hughes could keep his powder dry for now as he accrues cap space over the course of the season. Making an early-season move might bite into that when he could be in a good position to get a better return closer to the March 8 trade deadline.

THE FOURTH PERIOD: Dave Pagnotta recently noted the Canadiens recalled Joel Armia from their AHL affiliate in Laval. He pointed out that they attempted to trade the 30-year-old forward during the offseason and re-engaged in trade talks last week. Armia has a year remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $3.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia also lacks no-trade protection so the Canadiens can send him anywhere if they find a trade partner. His cap hit is difficult to move this early in the season with so many teams pressed against the $83.5 million ceiling.

Nevertheless, they could try to sweeten the deal by retaining part of his cap hit. They’re already retaining salary on Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry for this season but have one retention spot left.

There’s a rumor flying around suggesting that the Canadiens could use Armia as a trade chip to broker a deal that would involve sending Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland to another NHL club. The Habs were a third-party broker in the August trade that sent Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

WHY DIDN’T THE JETS REBUILD THIS SUMMER?

TSN: Darren Dreger reported Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman explained why his club opted to re-sign Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele rather than start rebuilding the roster this summer.

Chipman talked about how long it would take to stage a rebuild as well as the cost. Dreger indicated that it was decided that the market couldn’t sustain a historic rebuild and instead is investing in the here and now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t bode well for the Jets’ long-term future unless they can draft and develop young players who transition well into their lineup. Enticing veteran talent via free agency or acquiring it via trade could prove difficult.

They’ll eventually need replacements for Hellebuyck and Scheifele when their skills inevitably decline in the coming years. Having both players under expensive long-term contracts will still take a big bite out of their cap space even with the cap rising significantly in the coming years.

The Jets seem to be hoping that their fans will return if the team plays better. If they don’t improve, however, their supporters could have less incentive to show up. In addition, the high cost of attending NHL games in the league’s smallest market is bumping up against the rising cost of living. If that cost remains high while the on-ice product stagnates, the Jets could be in a world of hurt in a few years.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2023

Musing over whether the Oilers would pursue Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark plus the latest on the Flames’ Elias Lindholm, the Senators’ Shane Pinto, and the Hurricanes’ defense corps in today’s NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE OILERS PURSUE BRUINS GOALIE LINUS ULLMARK?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: That’s the question Jimmy Murphy pondered after watching the Edmonton Oilers get blown out 8-1 by the Vancouver Canucks in their season opener on Wednesday.

Murphy cited an NHL executive source saying a few more games like that from Oilers goalies Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner will force general manager Ken Holland into the trade market seeking a more permanent solution between the pipes. The source claimed they had heard the Oilers expressed interest in Bruins netminders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman over the summer.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images).

Ullmark carries a modified no-trade clause and might be reluctant about moving to Edmonton. Murphy also pointed out that both clubs have limited cap space this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s way too early to start pondering whether Holland will hit the panic button and go shopping for a more reliable starting goalie. Yes, the Oilers’ season-opener was awful but it wasn’t just on their goalies. The whole club looked flatter than pancakes for that contest.

I expect Campbell and/or Skinner will improve in the coming weeks. If they don’t, Holland could end up having to shop for help. As for Ullmark, I don’t see the Bruins parting with him unless their season goes off the rails.

FLAMES ARE NO CLOSE TO AN EXTENSION WITH LINDHOLM

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports dialogue continues between the Calgary Flames and Elias Lindholm regarding a new contract for the 28-year-old center. While there’s been no line in the sand from either side, they’re nowhere close yet on a number that works for both sides.

LeBrun speculates the Flames may be looking at Mark Scheifele’s seven-year extension worth $8.5 million annually with the Winnipeg Jets as a possible comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably going to go on all season. The Flames can point to Scheifele’s contract but Lindholm’s camp believes his two-way play is worth more. Most pundits believe it’s probably going to cost over $9 million for the Flames to get him under contract.

SENATORS STILL TRYING TO FREE UP CAP SPACE FOR PINTO

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is still working the phones trying to move a player to free up sufficient cap room to re-sign restricted free agent Shane Pinto.

Dorion has been trying to move Mathieu Joseph. Dreger also said he’s had conversations about moving defenseman Erik Brannstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is what happens when you invest $5 million in an unrestricted free-agent winger like Vladimir Tarasenko without first ensuring you’ve got sufficient cap space to re-sign a key restricted free agent such as Pinto.

The Senators seemed to be counting on Pinto accepting a bargain-basement deal given his lack of leverage coming off his entry-level contract. Instead, the Pinto camp has dug in its heels and shows no sign of budging.

Dorion is left scrambling to move a salaried player in a season where most clubs are also pressed for cap space. Many teams can’t afford Joseph’s $2.95 million cap hit or Brannstrom’s $2 million. Those who could will want something else attached like a draft pick or a quality prospect.

NO MOVES COMING FOR HURRICANES BLUELINE

THE ATHLETIC: Cory Lavalette reported on Wednesday that Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said his club is not actively trying to shop a defenseman. However, he said it’s his job to listen if a club comes calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pending UFA defensemen Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei were frequent topics of trade chatter during the offseason. The Hurricanes’ blueline depth entering this season also prompted speculation that one of them could be used as a trade chip to land a scoring winger.

Much will depend on the Hurricanes’ performance and where they are in the standings leading up to the March 8 trade deadline.

WHY ARE TEAMS HOARDING GOALTENDERS?

TSN: Chris Johnston noted several teams, such as the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks are carrying three goaltenders on their respective rosters this season. He thinks a lot of those teams are trying to hold back one of their veteran goalies rather than risk losing them to waivers.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Could the Hurricanes land Patrick Kane? Is a new contract coming for the Flames’ Mikael Backlund? Will the Canucks shed more contracts? Who could be a cost-cutting candidate for the Senators? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE HURRICANES BECOME PATRICK KANE’S NEW TEAM?

SPORTSNET: That’s the question Ryan Dixon asked among his biggest questions for each team this season in the Metropolitan Division.

Patrick Kane is still rehabbing from an offseason hip resurfacing procedure. Dixon believes the Hurricanes are in no danger of missing the playoffs but felt they could use another offensive player to get them over the postseason hump.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dixon noted the Hurricanes’ experiment with Max Pacioretty last season failed when he was sidelined for all but five games by a twice-torn Achilles.

During the summer, Kane’s agent said his client was expected to be ready to return to action by December. By that point, he’s supposedly going to weigh offers from clubs that he believes will give him the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

The Hurricanes could be among that group as they’re considered among the Cup favorites. Finding the cap dollars, however, could be difficult as they’re entering the season with just over $920K in cap space.

IS A NEW CONTRACT COMING FOR BACKLUND?

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports there are rumblings of contract extension discussions heating up between the Flames and Mikael Backlund. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

We’ll see what happens,” said Backlund on Saturday. “It’s pretty quiet right now, but we will see what happens. We haven’t made a decision yet.”

Gilbertson cited reports from earlier in the week suggesting Backlund is open to re-signing with the Flames. He also indicated that his teammates believe he should be wearing the captaincy. He noted that the Flames intend on naming a new captain before their season opener on Oct. 11.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gilbertson pointed out, that date for naming their next captain could also be the deadline for getting a new contract done for Backlund if he is to wear the “C”.

MORE COST-CUTTING MOVES IN STORE FOR THE CANUCKS?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In the wake of the Vancouver Canucks trading Tanner Pearson to the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Paterson reported Canucks hockey ops president Jim Rutherford indicated his club is “probably a contract or two away” from unraveling their salary-cap issues.

Rutherford didn’t single out any specific contracts but Paterson believed he was referring to Tyler Myers, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland. Myers is on an expiring deal with an average annual value of $5 million, Boeser has two years remaining with an AAV of $6.65 million while Garland has three years left at $4.95 million AAV.

Paterson pointed out that Myers, Boeser and Garland have floated repeatedly in the rumor mill. However, Rutherford blames the flattened salary cap for the Canucks’ difficulty in shedding unwanted contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers could still come off the Canucks’ books before the end of this season. All but $1 million of his $6 million AAV was paid out in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs seeking an experienced playoff rental defenseman.

If the Canucks still intend to move Boeser and/or Garland, they might have better luck next summer. That’s when the salary cap is projected to rise by at least $4 million.

WHO COULD THE SENATORS TRADE TO CLEAR CAP SPACE FOR PINTO?

SPORTSNET: Limited salary-cap space is complicating the Ottawa Senators’ efforts to sign restricted free-agent center Shane Pinto. They’d prefer not to part with the 22-year-old center, especially with Josh Norris starting training camp wearing a non-contact jersey.

They’ll have to trade somebody else to make room for Pinto. Mathieu Joseph keeps popping up as a trade candidate. The 26-year-old winger carries an annual cap hit of $2.95 million through 2025-26. They might have to include a sweetener in the deal to make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Philadelphia Flyers “have been buzzing around the situation.” It was rumored they (and the Boston Bruins) were interested in Pinto. Perhaps the rebuilding Flyers would take Joseph off the Senators’ hands if he comes with a pick or a prospect.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2023

The latest Leafs speculation, an update on Tyler Myers and some cost-cutting trade candidates for the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE MAPLE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked to predict which players the Montreal Canadiens might target in the 2024 class of free agents. He proposed Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

If the Canadiens decide to be active in next summer’s unrestricted free-agent market, Basu believes they would target a winger to complete their top-six forward lines. He thinks they would have sufficient cap space to pursue Nylander, whose current contract extension talks with the Leafs reportedly aren’t going well.

Nylander will be 28 next summer and has been a consistent scorer for the Leafs, even in the playoffs. Basu speculated it would cost $10 million annually on a contract carrying him into his mid-thirties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Basu was merely responding to a reader’s question and he’s not reporting the Canadiens will pursue Nylander on the open market next summer. Depending on the course of their rebuild and the performance of young players such as Juraj Slafkovsky, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, they might not be in the market for a big-name UFA by that time.

Still, this gives us all something else to banter about during these dog days of the NHL offseason other than when and where Erik Karlsson will be traded.

Meanwhile, Basu’s colleague Joshua Kloke looked at some bargain-bin free agents for the Leafs to consider. They included Jonathan Toews, Zach Aston-Reese, Jesse Puljujarvi, Sam Gagner, Derick Brassard, Ethan Bear and Scott Harrington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews is likely retiring while Puljujarvi underwent double hip surgery and probably won’t be available for some time. The rest could be dirt-cheap signings for the Leafs or other NHL clubs looking for affordable options to boost their rosters for 2023-24.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Alter recently examined how the Leafs can slide under the salary cap before their season opens in October.

One option is demoting waiver-exempt players such as Nick Robertson and Pontus Homberg. They could also do the same with Matthew Knies though they’d likely prefer retaining someone who performed well during the playoffs. Another would be placing Maxime Lajoie or Dylan Gambrell on waivers.

DO THE CANUCKS HAVE A DEAL IN PLACE TO TRADE TYLER MYERS?

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Harman Dayal was asked about rumors claiming the Vancouver Canucks already have a trade in place for Tyler Myers but are waiting to announce it after his signing bonus is paid next month.

Dayal recalled Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting in late June that the Canucks had a deal on the table to send Myers to the San Jose Sharks. This was denied by Canucks GM Patrik Allvin as well as Myer’s agent, J.P. Barry. Seravalli clarified that the deal would’ve sent Myers to the Sharks for winger Kevin Labanc.

Myers’ future feels like a “wait-and-see” scenario for several reasons. One is the Sharks’ efforts to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Canucks might also prefer seeing how their other right-shot blueliners fare during training camp. Myers’ 10-team no-trade clause also complicates things.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers’ situation could be resolved before the end of September. We’ll know by that point if the Canucks indeed to move him or not.

POSSIBLE COST-CUTTING OPTIONS FOR THE SENATORS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: With the Senators signing Vladimir Tarasenko last week, they need to shed salary in order to re-sign restricted free-agent center Shane Pinto.

Ryan Hyndman listed five potential cost-cutting trade candidates. The most obvious is forward Mathieu Joseph as clearing his $3 million cap hit from their books provides the room needed to re-sign Pinto.

Other options include defenseman Erik Brannstrom, winger Drake Batherson, blueliner Artem Zub, and goaltender Anton Forsberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it will be Joseph but they might end up having to package him with a sweetener to get it done.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2023

A look at five centers the Bruins could target to replace Patrice Bergeron, possible cost-cutting trade options for the Senators, and more speculation over whether the Blues will trade a defenseman in today’s NHL Rumor Mill

MORE TRADE SUGGESTIONS FOR THE BRUINS TO REPLACE BERGERON

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman listed five possible trade options for the Boston Bruins to replace recently-retired first-line center Patrice Bergeron.

Topping his list is Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve noted previous suggestions linking the Bruins to Lindholm and Scheifele. Lindholm is younger, more affordable and has better all-around skills than Scheifele. However, both players will be expensive to acquire right now, perhaps too expensive for the Bruins to acquire. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited a source suggesting the Bruins would have to part with Jake DeBrusk as part of the return to land Lindholm.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (NHL Images)

Wegman also suggested San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture. He acknowledged a number of obstacles, such as the 34-year-old Couture’s age, expensive contract and three-team trade clause. Nevertheless, he remains productive and would be worth looking into.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t hurt to check but I don’t see Couture ending up in Boston. His contract is simply too complicated to move.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too many red flags around Kuznetsov right now with the biggest being his inconsistent play and $7.8 million average annual value through 2024-25.

Wegman rounds out his list with Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak if the Bruins decide to replace Bergeron by committee along with Charlie Coyole and Pavel Zacha.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll admit anything’s possible and the Bruins could consider that option if there’s nothing more suitable available in the trade market.

However, I expect they’ll likely start the season with Coyle and Zacha and see how things shake out. If they need an upgrade at center, better options could become available near the March trade deadline.

HOW WILL THE SENATORS SHED CAP SPACE AFTER SIGNING TARASENKO

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch pointed out the Senators will have to make a cost-cutting trade after signing Vladimir Tarasenko on Thursday to a one-year, $5 million contract. They have roughly $900K in cap room with restricted free agents Shane Pinto and Egor Sokolov to re-sign.

According to Garrioch, the most likely scenario sees the Senators shopping forward Mathieu Joseph before the regular season opens in October. He carries an AAV of $2.95 million through 2025-26.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steve Warne also considers Joseph the most likely cost-cutting candidate, though he believes the Senators might have to include a sweetener in the deal.

Defenseman Erik Brannstrom ($2 million) is another option but the Senators might prefer retaining him given how many injuries they had on their blueline last season. Warne also speculated they could play hardball with Pinto and sign him to a one-year, $1 million contract and then ink him to a long-term in the new year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Better off to move Joseph than to deplete the blueline depth or get into a contract pissing contest with the promising Pinto.

LATEST SPECULATION REGARDING THE BLUES DEFENSE CORPS

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford was recently asked by a reader how the St. Louis Blues intend to address their logjam on the blueline. He noted that general manager Doug Armstrong has said he intends to start the season with eight defensemen on the roster, which means they could send Scott Perunovich to the minors as he’s the only one who’s waiver-exempt.

Rutherford wouldn’t be surprised if Armstrong attempts to pull off a trade before training camp. However, he noted the difficulty the Blues GM had in trying to trade Torey Krug to the Philadelphia Flyers as he invoked his no-trade clause to block that attempt. Armstrong would also likely have to sweeten the pot to move someone like Marco Scandella.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong is in a mess of his own making with his top-four defensemen (Krug, Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko and Nick Leddy) all carrying full no-trade clauses.