NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

The Bruins name their new captain, Steve Stamkos hasn’t had any contract extension talks yet with the Lightning, plus updates on William Nylander, Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named Brad Marchand as the new captain, replacing Patrice Bergeron who retired in July. Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs praised Marchand’s development over his 15 seasons with the club, noting that he had the opportunity to learn from former Bruins captains such as Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s pesky style of play and his lengthy list of fines and suspensions from earlier in this career had some fans questioning this decision by the Bruins. However, the evolution of his game into an elite scoring winger combined with his lead-by-example performances made him an obvious choice as Bergeron’s successor.

For those who believed defenseman Charlie McAvoy would’ve been a better choice as Bruins captain, his day will come within the next several years. The 35-year-old Marchand will likely retire within the next five years. Marchand is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if he and Bruins management fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension before then.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters yesterday that he was disappointed in the lack of contract extension talks with management. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started,” said Stamkos. “There haven’t been any discussions.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said having Stamkos finish his playing career with the Lightning was in everyone’s best interest. However, his captain will have to wait until the end of this season before negotiations begin. “Steven and I share the common goal of bringing the (Stanley) Cup back to Tampa,” said BriseBois. “That’s our objective. In order for us to do that in future years, we’re going to need to spend our cap dollars as wisely as possible.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Stamkos won’t be easy for the Lightning. They’ve been pressed for cap space in recent years due to the high cost of retaining their best players, resulting in a steady erosion of their overall roster depth.

With the cap projected to rise by $4 million next season, the Lightning have just over $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract. I’ll have more on Stamkos in today’s Rumors update.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs intend to try William Nylander at center for the coming season. The club also announced that goaltender Matt Murray will soon undergo a “significant surgery” while defenseman Jake Muzzin will remain on long-term injury reserve with a cervical spine injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs experimenting with moving Nylander from the wing is to see if they can add more scoring to their third line while moving David Kampf down to the fourth-line center role. The move also comes with Nylander in a contract year as he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.

Murray will be joining Muzzin on long-term injury reserve with a combined $10.3 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm will miss the start of training camp with his hip flexor injury. There’s no timeline for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subsequent reports suggest Ekholm won’t be sidelined for long. He regularly skated with Evan Bouchard last season on the Oilers’ second defense pairing.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion claimed he and Shane Pinto’s camp are inching toward a new contract for the 22-year-old center. The two sides have reportedly closed the gap in their negotiations but work remains to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, center Josh Norris will be skating with a non-contact yellow jersey as the Senators hit the ice for training camp. Norris tweaked his shoulder during a recent captain’s skate in Ottawa but it isn’t considered a serious injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators aren’t taking any chances with Norris. An injured shoulder requiring season-ending surgery limited him to just eight games in 2022-23.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak will miss the opening month of the regular season as he continues to rehab from his March 15 knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains in part why the Canadiens brought back Sean Monahan for another series.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, Paul Byron announced his retirement as a player and has joined the franchise as a player development consultant. In 521 games over 12 seasons, the 34-year-old two-way winger had 98 goals and 110 assists for 208 points with the Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. He also had 11 points in 36 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hip injuries force Byron’s retirement after missing the entirety of last season. His energetic play and leadership made him popular with his teammates and a fan favorite in Montreal, especially during the Canadiens run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: And speaking of players moving on to front-office roles, Patric Hornqvist joined the Panthers’ hockey operations department as a development coach and scout. Hornqvist, 36, announced his retirement in July due to season-ending concussions suffered in December.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: A DUI criminal charge against Predators head coach Andrew Brunette has been dropped. Brunette was accused of driving his golf cart under the influence in Florida earlier this year.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks confirmed defenseman Tucker Poolman will not play this season due to ongoing migraine symptoms plaguing him since 2021-22.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Saku Maenalanen has been released by the Avalanche from his professional tryout offer after failing his training camp medical.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Jan Jenik to a one-year, two-way contract.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2023

Patrice Bergeron explains why he retired, the Hurricanes re-sign Sebastian Aho, the Leafs place Matt Murray on LTIR, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

DAILY FACEOFF/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron met yesterday with reporters and explained his decision to retire after 19 seasons with the Boston Bruins.

Bergeron, 38, said that he felt it was best to leave while still at the top of his game. He also wants to spend more time with his family.

The former Bruins captain also cited the physical toll that two decades of NHL action has taken on his body, though he indicated that he had no major issues. “It’s time to let that heal and move on,” he said.

As for his future, Bergeron indicated that he doesn’t believe joining the NHL coaching ranks is in the cards. “Never say never, but for now, I don’t have a want or will to coach.”

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pro athletes tend to hang on too long, often becoming shadows of their former greatness late in their careers. Bergeron was that rare player still capable of playing at a high level at an age when most are in decline. He made the wise choice to trust his instincts and recognize the best time to leave the game.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday signed Sebastian Aho to an eight-year, $78 million contract extension effective July 1, 2024. The 26-year-old center will earn an average annual value of $9.75 million plus his deal comes with a full no-movement clause throughout and a modified no-trade clause (15-team no-trade list) in the final season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise that the Hurricanes locked up their first-line center on a long-term extension. Aho’s been their best forward since his 2017-18 sophomore season and a key reason why they’re a Stanley Cup contender. His new AAV is a reasonable raise over his current annual cap hit of $8.46 million. Aho probably would’ve gotten more in next summer’s open market but opted for the long-term security of staying with the only NHL club he’s ever played for.

General manager Don Waddell also indicated that he’s not close to re-signing other Hurricanes eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next summer. They include defensemen Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei and winger Teuvo Teravainen.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs announced goaltender Matt Murray is sidelined indefinitely and has been placed on long-term injury reserve.

The designation, however, comes two months after Murray was considered fully recovered from a late-season concussion and was well enough to be considered for a start against the Florida Panthers during the Leafs’ second-round series.

This report also came without any details as to the nature of Murray’s injury. The league reserves the right to have an independent doctor assess to determine if the LTIR designation is justified.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move prompted speculation on social media accusing the Leafs of circumventing the salary cap. It’s my understanding that the approval of the team doctor is required before a player is placed on LTIR. I believe that Murray must also report to training camp and undergo a physical. If he fails that, he will remain on LTIR for the 2023-24 season until such time that he’s physically able to return to action, which might not happen given his injury history.

Murray and his $4.687 million cap hit join sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin and his $5.625 million on LTIR giving the Leafs some $10.3 million in cap relief. However, they remain above the $83.5 million cap by just over $2 million. That means they’ll have to shed salary via trade or demotion or end up icing a 20-man roster for the coming season.

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has returned to the ice in semi-competitive play for the first time since his season-ending shoulder injury last November. He’s participating in a no-contact summer league as he looks toward returning to NHL action for 2023-24 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Werenski’s absence was among the factors that contributed to the Blue Jackets missing the playoffs last season. They’ve bolstered their blueline this summer by adding Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson but a healthy and productive Werenski will be crucial to their hopes of postseason contention.

TVA SPORTS: Maxime Comtois revealed it was a mutual decision between himself and the Anaheim Ducks to part ways this summer. The Ducks didn’t send him a qualifying offer, making the 24-year-old forward an unrestricted free agent.

Comtois said he’s getting calls from interested clubs though none have turned into a concrete offer yet. After playing several years with the rebuilding Ducks, he said he wants to play for a winning team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comtois also said that he’d be interested in joining the Montreal Canadiens but he has not received a call from them. The Habs are rebuilding their roster with an eye on making room for their promising young prospects.

SPORTSNET: Logan Cooley is having second thoughts about returning to the University of Minnesota for another season and could sign his entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Cooley, 19, was taken third overall in the 2022 NHL Draft by the Coyotes.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche re-signed forward Ben Meyers to a one-year, $775K contract.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed 2023 first-round pick Samuel Honzek to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old left winger was chosen 16th overall.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 25, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors – July 25, 2023

The Stars sign GM Jim Nill to a contract extension, the Hurricanes sign Tony DeAngelo plus the latest speculation on the Leafs, Rangers and Coyotes in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumors


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed general manager Jim Nill to a two-year contract extension. He is entering his 11th season with the Stars and became the first general manager in franchise history to win the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill did a fine job rebuilding the Stars in his early years, weathering some difficult times and bringing in young talent such as Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Jake Oettinger. They reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 and the Western Conference Final last season.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have brought back Tony DeAngelo, signing the puck-moving defenseman to a one-year, $1.675 million contract.

DeAngelo, 27, played for the Hurricanes in 2021-22 and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, who signed him to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $5 million. However, the Flyers bought out the final year of his contract earlier this month, making him an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo played a better-disciplined game during his first tenure with the Hurricanes which explains why the Hurricanes brought him back. They had a trade in place with the Flyers earlier this month to acquire him with the latter retaining half of his cap hit but the deal was rejected on a CBA technicality.

The Hurricanes were reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring San Jose Sharks blueliner Erik Karlsson. Signing DeAngelo likely takes them out of the Karlsson sweepstakes.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Minnesota Wild and goaltender Filip Gustavsson could be headed to arbitration to resolve his contract situation. Gustavsson, 25, is coming off a two-year contract with an AAV of $787,500. He filed for arbitration and his hearing date is Aug. 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustavsson and the Wild will make their respective contract submissions to the arbitrator 48 hours prior to his scheduled hearing.

CAP FRIENDLY: Speaking of arbitration, Gustavsson is among eight players with hearings scheduled from July 30 (Arizona’s Jack McBain and Boston’s Jeremy Swayman) to Aug. 4 (Gustavsson, Edmonton’s Ryan McLeod, Pittsburgh’s Drew O’Connor and the New York Rangers’ Brandon Scanlin).

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

Others include Boston’s Trent Frederic (Aug. 1) and Anaheim’s Troy Terry.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs cannot afford to pay William Nylander the $9 million to $10 million annual cap hit that he’s seeking on his next contract. It’s still less than what John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are currently making.

Simmons doubts the Leafs will get anything close to equal value for Nylander in a trade. He recommends letting the 27-year-old winger play out the final year of his contract and then let him walk via free agency. Simmons argues the Leafs could use the money they would’ve paid Nylander to put toward “all kinds of possibilities for roster movement” between now and next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The latest reports on Nylander’s contract negotiations claim they’re not going well with the two sides far apart.

General manager Brad Treliving went through a similar situation in 2021-22 with winger Johnny Gaudreau while GM of the Calgary Flames. He hoped to re-sign Gaudreau but wound up watching the winger depart for Columbus as a free agent last summer.

That’s sparked speculation that Treliving won’t go through the same thing with Nylander. Others, meanwhile, share Simmons’ belief that they should retain him this season as the Leafs chase the Stanley Cup, let him walk next summer and use the cap room to bolster their depth elsewhere.

It’ll be interesting to see how Treliving addresses this. While he won’t get equal value for Nylander in the trade market, he could get a couple of promising young players in return who could blossom into future stars. However, if the “Shanaplan” remains pursuing the Stanley Cup this season, they’ll likely keep Nylander and watch him depart as a free agent next July.

TSN: Travis Yost considers the contract buyout possibilities for the Maple Leafs in the wake of Ilya Samsonov’s contract award via arbitration on Sunday.

With the Leafs now well over the $83.5 million salary cap, Yost believes a buyout is coming before their second buyout window closes barring a cost-cutting trade. He suggests oft-injured goaltender Matt Murray or defenseman T.J. Brodie as candidates, though buying out the latter could hurt their efforts to be a Cup contender this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yost also points out that the Leafs could place Murray on long-term injury reserve. However, they would have to be salary-cap compliant once he’s ready to return to the lineup. Of course, if injuries have ended his playing career they can place him on LTIR and buy out Brodie or someone else.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently noted an unusually large number of free agents remain unsigned. He wondered how many of them would accept one-year contracts or tryout offers and if the Rangers might be able to tap into that low-cost pool to fill out their roster.

Among the notables that Brooks listed were Max Comtois, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian, Anders Bjork, Colin White, Danton Heinen, Austin Watson, Cal Foote and Ethan Bear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi might not be able to play until much later in the coming season. He underwent double hip surgery and faces a long recovery period.

GOPHNX.COM: In his latest mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about why the Arizona Coyotes didn’t trade Nick Schmaltz this summer given how backloaded his contract was. Morgan believes they’re willing to absorb that cost given their shift to improving year over year as well as Schmaltz’s chemistry with high-scoring winger Clayton Keller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan believes Keller wouldn’t have been very happy if Schmaltz was traded. He tied the franchise single-season points record (86) in 2022-23 with Schmaltz as his linemate.

Morgan was also asked about the trade rumors that swirled about Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka. While they’re always willing to listen to offers, management hasn’t put Vejmelka on the trade block.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023

The latest on William Nylander and Matt Murray, an update on Alex DeBrincat, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Barden cited TSN’s Chris Johnston’s recent report claiming contract extension talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander “aren’t going well.” The 27-year-old winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent status and carries an average annual cap hit of just under $7 million on his current contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

Johnston said the two sides had “a lot of discussions” during the draft in Nashville but “see the world differently at this point in time.” He claimed that Nylander sees himself as a $10 million player based on his points but the Leafs are trying to get him at a lower number.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reminds us that Nylander and the Leafs played contract chicken during the first half of the 2018-19 season when he was a restricted free agent. The staring contest went down to the Dec. 1 deadline before the two sides agreed to his current deal.

Hornby notes that Nylander hit career highs this season with 40 goals and 87 points. The winger was also fourth in playoff scoring with 10 points despite seeing less ice time than Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is reportedly offering the Nylander camp an AAV of $9 million. Meanwhile, has to get a new contract hammered out for Matthews before next summer and keep an eye on a new deal for Marner before the summer of 2025.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s previous contract standoff never sat well with some Leafs fans, who’ve used it as a cudgel against the winger whenever he hasn’t played up to their expectations. Another lengthy negotiation will likely prompt them to demand that Treliving trade him as soon as possible for the best potential return.

Treliving wasn’t the general manager during Nylander’s 2018 contract talks. However, he’s inherited limited cap room from his predecessor, who had no problem tossing cash around on Matthews, Marner and John Tavares.

Back then, the argument was Nylander wasn’t in the same class as his three high-profile teammates. Nevertheless, he has steadily improved since 2018-19 into a point-per-game player. He’s also garnered a reputation as a reliable playoff performer.

As Johnston said, Nylander made a reasonable argument that he’s a $10 million per season player. If the Leafs won’t pay him that much, other clubs will, especially if he hits the open market next summer with a salary cap expected to significantly jump following four seasons of stagnation.

I think the Leafs will open the vault for Matthews and Marner but not for Nylander. He could end up playing elsewhere in 2024-25 as a free agent unless the Leafs decide to trade him this summer. Either way, I expect he’ll shine with his new club to the consternation of his critics in Toronto.


THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited Chris Johnston reporting the Leafs are trying to shed the final season of goaltender Matt Murray’s contract for salary-cap relief. He’s on their books for $4.6 million for 2023-24 before becoming a UFA next summer.

According to Johnston, the Leafs would prefer a trade. However, they might avail themselves of the second buyout window if a trade fails to materialize. Teams can use that second buyout window if they have a player who files for salary arbitration. Restricted free-agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov could opt to go that route. The filing deadline is 5 pm on July 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and 10-team no-trade clause could make a buyout more likely than a trade.


SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan looked at three possible scenarios for Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old restricted free-agent winger reportedly prefers a trade to an American club but the Senators are having difficulty finding a suitable deal.

One outcome is DeBrincat returns to the Senators this season on an arbitration deal. However, the club has filed to take him to arbitration meaning the maximum award would be 15 percent less than what his qualifying offer ($9 million) would’ve been. They could attempt to move him later in the season near the trade deadline or keep him for a potential playoff run.

Another sees him signing a bridge deal with the Senators for two or three years. That would buy the Senators more time to find a suitable trade package while DeBrincat could become a UFA at 27 or 28 and cash in big on the open market.

The other, more likely outcome is a trade. That would depend on the Senators finding a return that helps them now while the DeBrincat camp find a contract they can live with, though perhaps not the long-term deal they recently envisioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might be to DeBrincat’s advantage to accept a short-term deal to facilitate a trade. The cap is going to rise substantially for 2024-25 and 2025-26. He’d then be in a better position to find a more lucrative long-term deal either with his new team or on the open market.

Speaking of a trade, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reports the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders remain in the DeBrincat sweepstakes.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks have a deal on the table involving Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers. It would see Myers head to San Jose straight up for winger Kevin Labanc.

So far, that deal has yet to materialize. Seravalli claimed the Canucks were exasperated that this offer has sat on the table for some time now.

Peng speculates the Sharks prefer waiting until Myers is paid his $5 million signing bonus on Sept. 1. After that, the Sharks would only have to pay him $1 million of his remaining actual salary, though the $6 million cap hit would count against their salary cap for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the case I expect the Sharks would’ve communicated that to the Canucks by now. The delay could also be due to the Sharks’ efforts to trade Erik Karlsson.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2023

Senators linked to Vladimir Tarasenko plus the latest on the Leafs and Bruins in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: On Saturday evening, Elliotte Friedman tweeted that the Ottawa Senators had had discussions with free-agent winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He indicated there were “some moving parts here”, referring to how things unfold with winger Alex DeBrincat.

Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of this writing, there’s been no further word regarding talks between Tarasenko and the Senators. The 31-year-old right winger is a six-time 30-goal scorer who’s also a year removed from a career-best 82-point performance.

Tarasenko completed an eight-year, $60 million contract. He won’t get anything close to that in this year’s market given the high number of teams with limited cap space. He could end up accepting a one-year deal with the Senators or another club and return to the market next year when the cap is projected to rise by at least $4 million.

The Senators have been trying to trade DeBrincat since June but recent reports claim they’ve had no luck finding a club willing to ink the 25-year-old winger to a long-term extension. They’re taking DeBrincat to arbitration with a hearing sometime between July 20 and August 4.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports the Maple Leafs’ signings of Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi push them above the $83.5 million salary cap by $8.1 million. They still have to sign restricted free agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov to a new contract that could come in between $2.5 million and $4 million per season.

Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be compliant when the regular season begins in October. The Leafs can get some savings by placing permanently sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injury reserve. Moving the contract of goaltender Matt Murray (the Leafs share is just over $4.6 million) or buying him out could free up enough to get them under the cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs would be above the cap by $2.4 million once Muzzin goes on LTIR. The Leafs opted not to buy out Murray during last month’s buyout period but could get another opportunity if Samsonov files for arbitration by the July 5 deadline for player-elected arbitration or if the Leafs go that route by their July 6 deadline.

Trading Murray seems all but unlikely given his injury history. The Leafs would have to sweeten the pot by bundling him with a draft pick and perhaps retain a portion of his cap hit. A contract buyout, meanwhile, will be two-thirds of the remaining value of the contract over twice the remaining term.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney denied the trade rumors swirling about defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. He said they never came from him, suggesting they were media creations. He also stated that he would never talk publicly about whether a team has called him about one of his players.

Murphy claimed numerous sources said Sweeney had had trade conversations regarding Grzelcyk, goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, blueliners Brandon Carlo and Derek Forbort and forwards Jake DeBrusk and Trent Frederic. It doesn’t mean the Bruins GM is shopping those players but rather that teams have inquired about them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney trading Taylor Hall in late June stoked speculation that more moves could be in store. However, the Bruins now have over $6.2 million in cap space with three active roster players to sign. Depending on the cost of re-signing Swayman and Frederic, another cost-cutting move might not be necessary.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2023

Could the Coyotes trade Clayton Keller to the Blues? Could Penguins GM Kyle Dubas acquire Leafs goalie Matt Murray? What’s the latest on David Krejci, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Alex Killorn? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos recently reported that there is some trade buzz suggesting the Arizona Coyotes could move Clayton Keller. This comes after they bought out Zack Kassian and Patrik Nemeth earlier this week.

Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller (NHL Images).

Kypreos claims Keller has been linked to the St. Louis Blues. However, the cap-strapped Blues would have to first ship out a player with an expensive contract like forward Jordan Kyrou.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Coyotes trading Keller unless he wants out. So far, there’s no indication of that. He’s an invaluable part of their rebuild program.

Meanwhile, center Nick Schmaltz has been the subject of rumors since the weeks leading up to the March trade deadline. I can see the Coyotes shopping him this summer.

I don’t think St. Louis is a destination for Keller or Schmaltz because of their limited cap space. They made a significant investment in Kyrou, who exceeded 70 points for the second straight season.

Still, we can’t dismiss the possibility of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wheeling and dealing this summer. He’s indicated he’s retooling his roster rather than rebuilding with the aim of bouncing back after missing the playoffs this season.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos recently reported there was a strong sense prior to Kyle Dubas’ departure as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager that he was planning on having Matt Murray return for his final year. With Dubas now the Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations, Kypreos wondered if he’ll attempt to acquire Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he does he’s a fool. Murray is too banged up to be an effective NHL goaltender anymore. That was painfully obvious this season with the Leafs.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited two sources suggesting that Bruins center David Krejci could soon be returning to retirement. The 37-year-old center hinted he might hang up his skates following the Bruins’ first-round playoff elimination by the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci also seemed to dismiss the possibility that he’d continue his playing career in Czechia as he did during the 2021-22 season. If he does return next season, he intends to do so with the Bruins.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber cited NHLPA player agent Alexey Dementyev suggesting the possibility of reconciliation between Washington Capitals management and center Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Demenyev believes the Capitals’ recent coaching change could be beneficial for Kuznetsov to regain his form following a disappointing performance in 2022-23. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals and Kuznetsov might have no choice but to reconcile. While it’s been recently reported that the 30-year-old center is available in the trade market, his contract could prove difficult to move this summer with a number of teams carrying limited cap room. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $7.8 million and a 10-team no-trade clause.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos recently reported Alex Killorn prefers to stay in Tampa Bay and Lightning GM Julien BriseBois is hoping to re-sign the pending UFA winger. If that happens, Kypreos believes BriseBois will trade restricted free-agent winger Ross Colton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Killorn to a team-friendly deal wouldn’t leave enough for the cap-strapped Lightning to re-sign Colton unless they trade away somebody else in a cost-cutting deal.