NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2022

Evgeni Malkin to test UFA market while Penguins re-sign Rickard Rakell, Avs promote Joe Sakic and re-sign Valeri Nichushkin, Senators trade Matt Murray to the Leafs and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger broke the news yesterday that long-time Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin intends to test the free-agent market when it opens on Wednesday at noon ET. Colleague Pierre LeBrun reported there was a bit of progress in negotiations between Malkin and the Penguins but his decision to go to market reflects his frustration with the process.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins reportedly are offering Malkin a three-year term while he’d prefer a longer deal. I can’t say I blame him considering the Pens re-signed teammates Kris Letang and Bryan Rust to six-year contracts.

There’s still time for the two sides to reach an agreement and the Pens have the cap space to re-sign him. Nevertheless, Malkin could draw plenty of interest in the open market. Whether he’ll get a long-term deal remains to be seen.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins re-signed Rickard Rakell to a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rakell was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the March trade deadline, netting 13 points in 19 regular-season games with the Penguins. The AAV is reasonable but the term is too long for a 29-year-old winger who last reached 30 goals in 2017-18.

Maybe Rakell will regain that form with the Penguins, but I think his chances of doing so would be better skating alongside Malkin. His linemates for next season could include an aging Jeff Carter and a frequently injured Jason Zucker.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche promoted general manager Joe Sakic to president of hockey operations. Assistant general manager Chris MacFarland takes over as the GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic will still be involved in the major decisions but MacFarland will handle the day-to-day work. The move was made in part because other clubs were expressing interest in hiring MacFarland as a general manager. This was a shrewd decision by the Avs to keep him in the fold.

Speaking of the Avalanche, they signed Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year contract with an annual average value of $6.125 million. The 27-year-old winger was slated to become a UFA on Wednesday. Meanwhile, it appears winger Andre Burakovsky will be testing the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bought out by the Dallas Stars in 2019, Nichushkin turned his career around in Colorado, enjoying a career-best 52-point regular season and netting nine goals and 15 points in 20 playoff games in their march to the Stanley Cup. It’s a major raise for Nichushkin on a deal that seems rather lengthy. However, it could work out for the Avs over the long term if he maintains that high level of two-way play.

OTTAWA SUN: The Ottawa Senators traded goaltender Matt Murray to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-rounder in 2024 for future considerations. The Senators also retained 25 percent of the 28-year-old Murray’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As more than one pundit and fan pointed out on social media, this trade will either make Kyle Dubas look like a genius or ensure the coming season will be his last as Maple Leafs GM.

When healthy, Murray is a good goaltender who backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, he’s been plagued by injuries in recent years that have sidelined him for lengthy periods of time and hampered his performance. Dubas now needs to find a reliable backup goaltender for Murray.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion is enjoying a fine off-season thus far. He acquired a proven 40-goal scorer last week in Alex DeBrincat and freed up a logjam in goal while shedding the bulk of Murray’s cap hit. He now has room to pursue some additional veteran depth via free agency or the trade market.

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, they’re working on trading winger Connor Brown and hired former Sens defenseman Wade Redden as a player development coach.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have granted Evander Kane’s agent permission to speak with other clubs. However, they remain hopeful of working out an agreement on a new contract with the 30-year-old winger. It’s believed they offered Kane a three-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how Kane’s situation pans out. The uncertainty over the outcome of his contract termination grievance with the San Jose Sharks plus his well-documented personal baggage could scare off other clubs, making the Oilers perhaps his best option.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports St. Louis Blues winger David Perron could be heading to market. The Blues want to re-sign him but currently lack sufficient cap space to do so. Perron could command up to $6 million annually on the open market.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins are reportedly in negotiations with David Krejci for a potential return to Boston. The 36-year-old center spent last season playing Czechia.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks placed Henrik Borgstrom and Brett Connolly on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out their contracts. They’ll become UFAs on Wednesday. They’ve also brought back Derek King as an assistant coach following his solid stint as their interim bench boss in 2021-22.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov has been offered a one-year contract by his former KHL club CSKA Moscow. He’s a restricted free agent who cannot be signed to an offer sheet. It’s believed this is an attempted leverage move by his agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The KHL offer is for less than $1 million US. I doubt Isles GM Lou Lamoriello will be swayed by this tactic. There was concern over whether this offer meant Romanov would have difficulty returning to the United States. However, he and his wife are reportedly in Miami.

TSN: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ondrej Kase and Chicago Blackhawks forwards Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik were among a number of restricted free agents who did not receive qualifying offers by Monday’s 5 pm ET deadline. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puck Pedia also has a list of RFAs who didn’t get qualifying offers. Some, like Samsonov, Kase, Strome and Kubalik would’ve cost more to qualify than their teams could afford because their actual salaries were higher than their annual cap hit. Some of them could’ve also received higher salaries through arbitration. These players could still sign with their current clubs but it would be for less than what they would’ve received through qualifying offers or arbitration.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ben Bishop has returned to the Dallas Stars as a coach in an informal capacity.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks have parted ways with scouting director Doug Wilson Jr.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2022

The Leafs and Senators are discussing a trade regarding Matt Murray. Are there better options available to the Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LEAFS AND SENATORS DISCUSSING A MATT MURRAY TRADE

YAHOO! SPORTS: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Sunday that trade talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators over goaltender Matt Murray have intensified.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

The Leafs could be in need of a starting goalie if Jack Campbell heads to free agency on July 13 while the Senators are trying to clear a logjam in their crease by moving Murray. The 28-year-old netminder struggled through two injury-shortened seasons with the Senators and has been overtaken on their depth chart by Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson.

Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas knows Murray well as the goalie played for him when he was GM of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was also the Greyhounds coach at that time.

Last week, Murray rejected a trade to the Buffalo Sabres. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports he’s open to moving to Edmonton or Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shows the level of desperation Dubas must be feeling right now. Dreger reported the Leafs GM met with Campbell on Saturday but no progress was made toward a new contract. Having shipped Petr Mrazek to Chicago last Thursday in a cost-cutting move, Dubas is scrambling to find a suitable starting goaltender for the upcoming season.

Dubas’ interest in Murray suggests he can’t afford to pursue Darcy Kuemper, whose tenure with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche ended last week with their acquisition of Alexandar Georgiev. It’s believed the 32-year-old Kuemper seeks a long-term deal worth close to $6 million per season.

In his prime, Murray backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. Injuries, however, hampered his performance and were part of the reason the Penguins traded him to the Senators in 2020.

Murray’s abysmal stats with the Senators are due in part to having a lousy defense in front of him. Nevertheless, his frequent absences from the lineup haven’t helped his play. Even with a better team in front of him, there’s no certainty the oft-injured Murray can provide that club with the type of goaltending necessary to at least win a playoff round.

He also carries a $6.25 million annual cap hit for two more seasons. The Senators are reportedly reluctant to retain any portion of it, though that could change if they’re determined to trade him.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators have also held discussions about Murray with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reported one rumor making the rounds Sunday had the Leafs contacting the Montreal Canadiens about Jake Allen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal Hockey Now’s Marco D’Amico reports the Oilers, Capitals and Buffalo Sabres have also expressed interest in Allen. However, Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has stated Allen’s not going anywhere as long as uncertainty remains about Carey Price’s status next season. Until there’s more clarity on Price’s ongoing rehab from last summer’s knee surgery, forget about Allen being on the move this summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz cites a league source speculating the New York Islanders might not fully close the door on trading Semyon Varlamov given the need for starting goalies in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. That source thinks Isles GM Lou Lamoriello could be receptive if a rival club becomes desperate enough to overpay for the 32-year-old netminder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Complicating that scenario is Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade clause. The teams looking for goalies could be on that list.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons points out that Dubas must also find a decent backup goaltender once he lands a starter. “Dubas is kidding himself if he believes that one of Erik Kallgren or Joseph Woll will be his backup this coming season,” writes Simmons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas should have an easier time finding a backup than a starter. Then again, that’s no certainty given his apparent blind spot in evaluating NHL goaltenders.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2022

The goalie market is heating up with free agency approaching plus updates on J.T. Miller, Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Petry in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GOALIE MARKET HEATING UP

TSN: Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas intends to meet with Jack Campbell in the hope of negotiating a new contract with the goaltender before free agency begins on July 13. Dubas also did due diligence on the Ottawa Senators’ Matt Murray and talked with other GMs on possible options if Campbell decides to test the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs aren’t the only club looking at Murray. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes are studying that option.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reported the Leafs aren’t the only club searching for goaltenders. Multiple clubs will be bidding for Campbell and Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper. Meanwhile, Murray, Montreal’s Jake Allen and Anaheim’s John Gibson have surfaced in the trade market.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger believes it’ll take a lot to pry Allen away from the Canadiens given the uncertainty over Carey Price’s future as he attempts to recover from last summer’s knee surgery. Gibson recently denied rumors he wanted out of Anaheim. With a $6.4 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list, he won’t be an easy acquisition.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin sought to downplay reports claiming Cam Talbot was upset over the Wild’s signing Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year contract.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports Talbot’s agent met with Guerin on Friday, telling The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that the Wild GM had a lot to think about. Asked about those remarks, Guerin bluntly said the agent could say “whatever the hell he wants.” He went on to point out Talbot’s under contract for 2022-23, he really likes him and the team is set now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo cited a source close to Talbot saying he doesn’t want out of Minnesota but he was hurt by not seeing much playing time in the 2022 postseason. He also indicated Talbot seeks a raise on a contract extension.

Guerin stated he has no intention of trading Talbot. However, that won’t keep his name out of the rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Pierre LeBrun, he believes Kuemper could be a fit with the Washington Capitals. That could leave the Leafs and Edmonton Oilers battling over Campbell in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Kuemper will be expensive. Washington Hockey Now’s Sammi Silber cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the netminder’s seeking a deal similar to Seattle’s Philipp Grubauer ($5.9 million AAV for six seasons).

The Leafs are in a tighter spot cap-wise than the Oilers, who freed up plenty of cap room after trading Zack Kassian to Arizona on Thursday followed by Duncan Keith announcing his retirement. If Kuemper signs with Washington, the Oilers could pursue Campbell if he goes to market on Wednesday, leaving the Leafs scrambling to find at least a suitable starting goalie via the trade market.

LATEST ON MILLER, MALKIN AND PETRY

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there remains tremendous interest in J.T. Miller but that failed to materialize into a deal that suited the Vancouver Canucks. Their intent now is to wait and see if teams that fail to address their need for a top-six two-way forward in the upcoming free-agent market will circle back to Miller. If not, the Canucks are happy to have him back for the final season of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Rangers could be one of those clubs. They’re believed in the market for a second-line center with Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp heading to market on Wednesday.

Chris Johnston reported Evgeni Malkin might be staying with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He believes it comes down to contract term, suggesting a four-year deal worth $7 million annually might get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Ron Hextall remains hopeful of getting Malkin signed, saying they’ll continue chipping away at it.

Darren Dreger reports there’s still some interest in the trade market in Jeff Petry. However, there wasn’t enough for the Montreal Canadiens to trade the 34-year-old defenseman during the draft week.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL executive suggesting a Petry trade could take place within the next two weeks. He pointed out that the blueliner has been linked to the Dalla Stars. Murphy also said sources confirm that the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes had some interest in Petry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens hope to shed Petry’s $6.25 million annual average value their best opportunity is between now and the start of free agency on July 13. After that, most teams will have used up much of their cap space, leaving fewer potential trade partners.










NHL Rumor Mill Update – July 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill Update – July 7, 2022

Heading toward the opening round of the 2022 NHL Draft, check out the latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jake Oettinger, Matt Murray and Claude Giroux in the NHL Rumor Mill update.

BALLY SPORTS MIDWEST’s Andy Strickland reports he was told the Calgary Flames have no plans of trading Matthew Tkachuk at the draft or this summer. They’re fully focused on getting the restricted free agent winger signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. They’ll be extra focused on signing Tkachuk if Johnny Gaudreau departs next Wednesday via free agency.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cited ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reporting rumblings of the Minnesota Wild negotiating a one-year contract with Marc-Andre Fleury. If a deal doesn’t get done and the 37-year-old goaltender hits the open market, the Capitals could be among his possible destinations. She also cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins could be among Fleury’s suitors.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weekes had initially reported Fleury had a one-year deal in place with the Wild. He clarified that no deal is in place and the process is ongoing.

Fleury was reportedly cool toward getting shipped to the Capitals before the trade deadline. However, he could have a change of heart depending on the free-agent market.

Unless the Penguins are trading Tristan Jarry or the recently re-signed Casey DeSmith (and they have no reason to do that), Fleury won’t be returning to Pittsburgh.

The Leafs will be in the market for a starter if Jack Campbell tests the market next week and I daresay they’ll put in a call to Fleury if he’s available. The Avs are out of that market after acquiring Alexandar Georgiev to replace the departing Darcy Kuemper.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports hearing that some teams have internally discussed the merit of offer sheeting Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger. He imagines the Stars will match any offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, they will, and who’s to say Oettinger’s even interested in signing an offer sheet? Remember, just because a team is thinking about it doesn’t mean he’ll sign one.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres had conversations about Matt Murray. However, the Sabres were on his 10-team no-trade list and he declined to waive it. Meanwhile, the OTTAWA SUN’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the mix for Murray and he would agree to be traded there.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Ottawa Senators will be among the clubs pursuing Claude Giroux if he goes to market next week.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2022

Are the Blackhawks shopping Seth Jones? What’s the latest on Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Miller, Nazem Kadri, Jakob Chychrun, Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Murray and John Gibson? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggests keeping an eye on Seth Jones. He said the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks hope to move the 27-year-old defenseman’s hefty contract. Jones is commencing an eight-year deal with an annual average value of $9.5 million. The only way to move that is to retain some salary which would be difficult to do.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of Jones getting traded. However, I doubt he’s going anywhere because of the reasons laid out by Garrioch. That contract is almost impossible to move.

Garrioch reports the Blackhawks seek at least three pieces in return for Alex DeBrincat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those pieces is probably a 2022 first-round pick. The Blackhawks traded theirs away to the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer for Seth Jones.

NHL WATCHER: cited Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussing the possibility of the New Jersey Devils pursuing DeBrincat during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast. Friedman said the Devils want a player under a lot of team control.

DeBrincat is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer and is two years away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Friedman wondered if that would be enough team control for the Devils to part with the second-overall pick in the upcoming draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils would probably want assurances that bDeBrincat will sign a contract extension before giving up that pick and whatever else the Blackhawks want in return. The earliest he can sign an extension is when this year’s free-agent market opens on July 13.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Gustav Elvin examined the pros and cons if the Flyers were to acquire DeBrincat. They’ve been linked to the 24-year-old Blackhawks winger with speculation suggesting they could offer up their first-round pick (fifth overall) in this year’s draft. However, he cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Flyers were unwilling to part with that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers hold two first-rounders in the 2024 draft but I think Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson prefers something more immediate.

Garrioch also reported the Blackhawks are trying to trade Dylan Strome but there are rumors the 25-year-old RFA center won’t get a qualifying offer.

UPDATE ON J.T. MILLER

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports there’s plenty of interest in Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller with the NHL Draft fast approaching. They would prefer retaining the 29-year-old Miller but a contract extension could prove too expensive.

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are believed in pursuit of Miller. The Rangers need a second-line center while the Capitals face uncertainty over the long-term absence of Nicklas Backstrom as he recovers from hip surgery.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal also listed the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers among the possible suitors for Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Blackhawks with DeBrincat, I daresay the Canucks seek three pieces in return for Miller. A 2022 first-round pick will likely have to be part of it. Failing that, a couple of top prospects or a couple of good young NHL players.

Coming off a 99-point season, Miller’s trade value has never been higher. If the Canucks feel they can’t afford to re-sign him, they must move him now if the right deal is there. Waiting until the trade deadline next February risks his value declining if he fails to play up to this season’s level or if an injury takes him out of the trade market.

LATEST ON KADRI, CHYCHRUN AND PULJUJARVI

NHL WATCHER: cited Jeff Marek on yesterday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast wondering if the Detroit Red Wings would be a destination for Nazem Kadri. The 31-year-old Colorado Avalanche center is slated to become a UFA on July 13. Marek observed the Red Wings have lots of salary-cap space this summer and it’s believed they’re really going to try and compete next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could make a splash in this summer’s trade and/or free agent markets. He might go after Kadri but he might not fit into Yzerman’s long-term plans for the club given his age. It also depends on whether Kadri’s willing to sign with a rebuilding club.

THE SCORE: cited a report by The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger indicating the Blue Jackets are talking to the Arizona Coyotes about defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He observed Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicating a willingness to move his first-round pick (12th overall) to acquire a young NHL player with term remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen holds the Blackhawks’ first-rounder (sixth overall) so he can afford to move his own first-rounder. The Coyotes reportedly set a very high asking price for Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25. The Jackets GM might have to bundle that pick with two or three other pieces to make it work.

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reports as many as four teams have been kicking tired on Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi. “Sense is return is marginal at this point but things can change over the next few days.”

OTHER TRADE RUMOR TIDBITS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s some trade buzz surrounding Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray. The Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are among the clubs that could use some help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and $6.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 makes him difficult to move. The Senators will have to either retain part of his cap hit, take back a comparable contract or bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect.

The Anaheim Ducks would like to get goalie John Gibson’s contract off their books. He’s got five years left with a $6.5 million AAV and a no-movement clause which could be tough for some teams to swallow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s AAV is $6.4 million and he carries a 10-team no-trade clause. Nevertheless, his contract won’t be easy to move. He also recently denied a report claiming he would welcome a trade. Unless the Ducks retain part of that cap hit, they probably won’t find many takers.

Ignore any trade chatter about Clayton Keller. The Arizona Coyotes see him as one of their building blocks.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

Should the Islanders pursue Johnny Gaudreau? What’s the latest on Jakob Chychrun? Could the Blackhawks have an interest in Petr Mrazek or Matt Murray? What’s the latest on the Oilers, Golden Knights and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD ISLANDERS TRY TO SIGN GAUDREAU?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks made the case for the New York Islanders to sign Johnny Gaudreau if the Calgary Flames left winger hits the open market on July 13. He acknowledged it would be an expensive undertaking but suggested general manager Lou Lamoriello should shed a combination of Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier to do it.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need a high-scoring winger to skate alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal. However, it’s unlikely Lamoriello will set his sights on such an expensive target as Gaudreau.

Lamoriello seems unwilling to move Varlamov. Bailey could be a cost-cutting candidate while Beauvillier becomes a trade chip to add a forward or defenseman. However, I don’t see them being part of a grand plan to land a blue-chip free agent like Gaudreau.

CHYCHRUN STAYING IN ARIZONA?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said not much has changed on the Jakob Chychrun trade front. He’s still willing to entertain offers but for now, he expects the 24-year-old defenseman will be returning with the Coyotes for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no one’s made an offer that would entice Armstrong to part with Chychrun. That could change this week leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on Thursday and Friday.

If not, Armstrong seems content to have Chychrun in the lineup for the ’22-’23 campaign. The blueliner is under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million annual average value and lacks no-trade protection for the coming season.

COULD THE BLACKHAWKS TAKE ON MRAZEK OR MURRAY?

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the Chicago Blackhawks could begin to address their goaltending this week. They anticipate GM Kyle Davidson could contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about Petr Mrazek or the Ottawa Senators regarding Matt Murray. He might be willing to take on one of them in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects.

Mrazek carries a $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two seasons. Murray is signed through 2023-24 with an AAV of $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson will likely ask for a sweetener like a draft pick and/or prospect to be packaged with Mrazek or Murray. He also won’t part with a high draft pick or prospect to do this favor for the Leafs or Senators.

LATEST ON THE OILERS, CANUCKS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND SABRES

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports the Edmonton Oilers are still awaiting answers from Mike Smith and Duncan Keith before free agency begins next week. Both players have a year remaining on their contracts and there’s talk they could retire. Given Smith’s injuries, it appears more likely he’ll go on long-term injury reserve for next season than retire.

Nugent-Bowman also reports winger Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t requested a trade. It sounds as though he’d like to return with the Oilers as a top-six winger. The Oilers could ask the restricted free agent to start the season on their third line and see if he can work his way higher in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Smith goes on LTIR, Keith returns to finish his contract, and Puljujarvi gets traded.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps acknowledged recent trade speculation swirling about Golden Knights defenseman Nic Hague. He believes it wouldn’t be a bad thing to move him in a cost-cutting deal given their blueline depth, allowing the Golden Knights to recoup some assets in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pundits I’ve read on the subject believe moving Hague isn’t an option at this point. However, the Golden Knights might not have much choice if they can’t find other ways to reduce their payroll before 2022-23.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres signing goaltender Craig Anderson last week to a one-year deal doesn’t mean they’re done seeking help between the pipes. He anticipates they’ll sign or trade for a netminder while allowing Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen more time to develop.

Harrington doesn’t expect they’ll pursue notable UFAs such as St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Toronto’s Jack Campbell. Free-agent targets could include Dallas’ Braden Holtby, Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith or Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie. Trade options could be the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, San Jose’s James Reimer or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted earlier, the Isles seem unwilling to move Varlamov. I think the Sharks intend to retain Reimer for the coming season. Georgiev could be a good addition if they’re looking beyond 2022-23.