NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2017

Latest on the Penguins, Blue Jackets, Senators, Hurricanes and more in your NHL rumor mill. 


 SPORTSNET: Noting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ search for a center, Elliotte Friedman suggests a reunion with the Ottawa Senators’ Derick Brassard. He points out Brassard played well for Jackets head coach John Tortorella during their time with the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion from Friedman. Brassard could be a good fit in Columbus. The Jackets have the cap space to absorb his $5 million annual cap hit, especially if they send a salaried player to Ottawa. Such a move, however, depends upon whether the Jackets are on his no-trade list, as well as the Senators’ asking price. Maybe the Jackets offer up Alexander Wennberg, who tallied 59 points in 2016-17 but is struggling this season and might benefit from a change of scenery. 


Speaking of Brassard, Friedman also notes Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was Tortorella’s assistant during that time and the Pens are also in the market for a center. Some opposing team executives consider the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent acquisitions of Jamie Oleksiak and Michael Leighton “the tip of the iceberg.”

NBC SPORTS: In the wake of the Pittsburgh Penguins acquisitions of Oleksiak and Leighton, James O’Brien wonders who the Penguins should trade for next. He mentions Toronto’s Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard, and Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist or Andreas Athanasiou as possible fits, but doubts those Eastern rivals would want to enrich the Penguins’ roster.

O’Brien also suggests several players on expiring contracts. They include Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Vegas’ James Neal or Jonathan Marchessault, Florida’s Radim Vrbata or Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon or Ryan Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Penguins would jump at the opportunity to land Brassard from the Senators. However, they’ll have to clear sufficient room for his cap hit or convince the Sens to pick up part of it. If Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion decides to move Brassard, I suspect he’ll wait until the trade deadline in hopes of sparking a bidding war for the center. 

Unless the Leafs tumble out of the playoff race I don’t see them moving Bozak or van Riemsdyk, even if it means possibly losing them for nothing to free agency in July. The Senators and Wings could be reluctant to deal with an Eastern Conference club but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it if the Penguins were to make a better offer. The Wings could be willing to move Nyquist but they likely see Athanasiou being part of their unspoken rebuild.

Kane’s a possibility but he won’t address the Pens’ need for a third-line center. Ditto Maroon and Strome. Golden Knights GM George McPhee recently said he wouldn’t stage a fire sale at the trade deadline if his club remained in playoff contention, so don’t expect Neal or Marchessault to be available. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Carolina Hurricanes might shop a defenseman in hopes of adding an impact forward. While it’s believed they kept tabs on Matt Duchene before he was traded by Colorado to Ottawa, LeBrun doubts they were heavily involved in pursuing him. 

LeBrun believes adding a piece up front has to be a priority before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. While they could draw upon their depth on the blueline as trade bait, they don’t want to risk addressing one problem while creating another. He thinks the Canes want to keep their defense corps intact. “Perhaps there’s another way to upgrade up front at some point before Feb. 26.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading one of their defensemen for a scoring forward could create a hole on the blueline that’s tough to fill. Then again, perhaps they can fill that gap from within their system, via waivers or with a cheap trade pickup. If they’re unwilling to take the gamble by moving one of their blueliners, they’ll have to consider shopping their first-round pick and/or one or two of their top prospects. 


 SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports some teams inquired about Senators forward Mark Stone but were told he’s not available. He suspects there will be interest in forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and Zack Smith. Senators GM Pierre Dorion could be seeking young NHL players, draft picks and/or prospects.

Friedman has a hunch the Vancouver Canucks could make an increased effort to trade pending free agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He also speculates the Edmonton Oilers could move forward Anton Slepyshev.

Friedman thinks some teams have asked Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin about his plans for goaltender Charlie Lindgren. While it’s difficult to know because Bergevin doesn’t discuss trade possibilities, “the fact nothing’s happened tells you something.”

The Winnipeg Jets sent a note around the league last week indicating forward Shawn Matthias is available.


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 17, 2017

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 17, 2017

Latest on the Senators, Jets and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos speculates if (“and I use the word if”) the Ottawa Senators decide to shed some payroll, the easiest way to do so would be to trade winger Mike Hoffman. “Some have suggested to me that the Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers have had conversations on Hoffman,” he said. But with the Oilers striving to get back into the playoff chase, Kypreos believes they might prefer a deal build around top draft picks and prospects so as not to upset the current roster.

Moving a player like Hoffman wouldn’t require the Senators taking back salary, unlike if they attempted to move players carrying more expensive contracts, such as winger Bobby Ryan or defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Hoffman is signed through 2019-20 with an annual salary-cap hit of over $5.187 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell last week suggested Hoffman could be a good fit for the Oilers as a shooter on Connor McDavid’s line. However, he’s not sure if the two clubs are a fit trade-wise, suggesting the Sens could want a return that improves their blueline. Hoffman also has a 10-team no-trade list and it’s possible the Oilers could be on it. 

Chris Johnston reports Senators management have looked at short-term deals but so far haven’t found anything. They’ll likely be sellers if they’re out of the playoff chase by the Feb. 26 trade deadline and could consider major changes in the offseason if they miss the playoffs.

If the Senators make a major roster shakeup, Elliotte Friedman doubts winger Mark Stone won’t be part of it. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, however, could attract interest from clubs seeking depth at center. If they do make significant moves they’ll want young players, draft picks and prospects in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading the 25-year-old Stone, a restricted free agent next summer, would be an extreme move. However, if the Sens go into cost-cutting mode he could become a trade candidate if he seeks a significant raise over his current $3.5 million cap hit. Still, I think they’d move out Hoffman before Stone. 

Friedman also reports the Winnipeg Jets has made it known center Shawn Matthias is available via trade. Matthias has just two assists in 18 games. Since Nov. 14, he’s been a frequent healthy scratch.


SPORTSNET: The Senators could also be active before the upcoming NHL holiday trade freeze period (Dec. 19-26), along with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.

The Sens, of course, dominated the rumor mill over the last week, especially when it was reported that management requested 10-team no-trade lists from their players carrying no-trade clauses. Forwards Derick Brassard and Mike Hoffman have been mentioned as possible trade chips. Defenseman Fredrik Claesson and backup Mike Condon could also be tradeable assets. 

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford recently suggested a major trade might be necessary if his club didn’t soon snap out of its current funk. They’re still in need of a proven third-line center and defenseman Ian Cole is believed to be a trade candidate. 

The Sabres, meanwhile, are once again at the bottom of the standings and are featuring prominently in the rumor mill. UFA winger Evander Kane could attract attention from clubs seeking a scoring winger. Word is everyone except Jack Eichel could be on the table. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While anything’s possible, significant trades rarely take place before the holiday trade freeze. Of the three clubs, the Senators seem to be working the phones the most. Talk of the Penguins shopping Cole seems to have cooled over the past couple of weeks.

As for the Sabres, I daresay they’ll wait until mid-January at the earliest before making any significant moves. Being mired at the bottom of the standings, they’re under less pressure than the Senators and Penguins to make moves right now. 


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols compiled a roundup of trade tidbits from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun from their respective radio appearances on Friday.

Appearing on Montreal’s TSN 690, McKenzie was asked about the trade value of Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. He expects Plekanec will have some trade value as a rental player if the Habs are out of playoff contention by the deadline, suggesting he could fetch a second- or third-round pick. 

LeBrun, appearing on Vancouver’s TSN 1040, doesn’t believe Sabres left wing Evander Kane would be a good fit with the Calgary Flames because they’re fairly good at left wing. However, he acknowledged they need top-six help elsewhere.

The Senators  could be dangling some forwards and LeBrun wonders if the Flames and Vancouver Canucks might be interested. With forwards Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi sidelined by injury, LeBrun said they’re making calls but he doesn’t know if there’s a fit right now, especially giving Canucks GM Jim Benning’s unwillingness to trade futures. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman could be a better fit for the Flames. He can play either wing and they’re thin on the right side. However, the Flames currently have over $3.9 million in cap space. If they want to acquire him soon, they’ll have to free up room to absorb his $5.18 million cap hit. I think the Canucks are looking more for affordable short-term additions until Horvat and Baertschi return. If so, I don’t think the Sens are a good fit for them. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2017

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie scores one of his three goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Game recaps and injury updates in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth this season. T.J. Oshie’s hat trick carried them to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps are also the first club this season to reach 100 points.

The Lightning continue to battle for their playoff lives, but they won’t rush sidelined captain Steven Stamkos back to the lineup. Stamkos has missed nearly four months with a knee injury. 

Cam Atkinson’s overtime goal lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. The Jackets have 98 points and sit second in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference standings, two behind the Capitals. 

Ryan Hartman’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Western Conference-leading Blackhawks (97 points) widened their lead over the slumping Minnesota Wild by five points, while the Leafs (79 points) maintain a one-point lead over the New York Islanders for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.  The Blackhawks played without winger Marian Hossa, who missed the game with a lower-body injury

Antti Raanta made 25 saves and Jimmy Vesey tallied the game winner as the New York Rangers edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. The Wild (92 points) have lost four straight and six of their last seven games.

Paul Byron and Alex Radulov scored shootout goals to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. With 88 points, the Habs now hold a two-point lead over the Sens for top spot in the Atlantic Division. 

Connor McDavid scored a goal to regain the lead in the NHL scoring race (80 points) while Cam Talbot made 33 saves as the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Vancouver Canucks 2-0. The win moves the Oilers (85 points) into third spot in the Pacific Division, one ahead of the Calgary Flames. 

Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves and Jakob Silfverberg netted the game winner as the Anaheim Ducks nipped the San Jose Sharks 2-1. The victory gives the Ducks 87 points, moving them within four points of the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

Jake Allen had a 31-save shutout effort backstopping the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The win moves the Blues into third place in the Central Division with 38 wins and 81 points. 

Jeff Skinner scored twice and Eddie Lack made 27 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes upset the Nashville Predators 4-2. With the loss, the Predators (35 wins, 81 points) hold the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. 

Tomas Tatar scored two third-period goals as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1. Wings forward Darren Helm was forced to leave the game in the second period with a lower-body injury, possibly his left knee.  

TRIBLIVE.COM/ESPN.COM: Injuries continue to take a toll on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Center Evgeni Malkin (shoulder injury) is expected to miss today’s game against the Florida Panthers and defenseman Ron Hainsey (upper-body injury) is listed as week-to-week. The Pens are already missing blueliners Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Shawn Matthias will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.