NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2019

Latest on the Blackhawks, Flames, Canucks, Rangers, Penguins, Wild, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Among the five questions the Blackhawks must answer in the second half of this season, Jimmy Greenfield wonders if GM Stan Bowman will keep dealing. He already shipped Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini, and on Sunday traded defenseman Brandon Manning to the Edmonton Oilers for Drake Caggiula and blueliner Jason Garrison, who’s now on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

Should the Chicago Blackhawks attempt to trade defenseman Duncan Keith? (Photo via NHL Images)

If Bowman plans more significant moves, Greenfield suggests they could include Brandon Saad or Artem Anisimov. “Saad doesn’t have a no-trade clause and Anisimov can be dealt to 10 teams from a list he submitted to the Hawks.”

THE ATHLETIC: If the Blackhawks become sellers, Scott Powers feels it’ll be interesting to see who hits the trade block. He wondered if Bowman will approach defenseman Duncan Keith about a trade. Artem Anisimov’s performance has improved since returning to Patrick Kane’s line. Powers wondered if Erik Gustafsson has a future with the Blackhawks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad or Anisimov would have the most trade value. Moving either guy would also shed considerable salary-cap room that could be put toward other moves in the offseason. However, they’re both under contract beyond this season and could be difficult to move before the trade deadline.

Keith has a full no-movement clause, another four seasons left on his contract with a cap hit of over $5.5 million, and at 35 is on the downside of his long career. If, and that’s a big if, Keith is willing to accept a trade, that type of deal won’t take place until the offseason. He’ll probably want to go to a Stanley Cup contender, limiting where the Blackhawks can send him. 


SPORTSNET: In his first “31 Thoughts” column of 2019, Elliotte Friedman reported the Calgary Flames are looking for left-handed options on defense. Blueliner Jusso Valimaki is sidelined until late-January with a high-ankle sprain. Noting Michael Frolik’s agent recently raised questions about his client’s role with the Flames, Friedman speculates they could check the winger’s value in the trade market but doesn’t see him moving unless it’s for a return that makes them better. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, unless the Flames can move Frolik for a good left-shot blueliner, he won’t be going anywhere before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. 

Friedman believes the Vancouver Canucks could be “looking to see what’s out there for Nikolay Goldobin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goldobin, 23,  sits fourth among Canucks scorers this season (23 points in 41 games) and is on pace for a career-best 45 points. However, he’s been frequently shuffled among Vancouver’s forward lines and was a healthy scratch last night against the Senators, increasing speculation he could be on the trade block. There are also ongoing concerns over his defensive game. Could be worth monitoring in the coming weeks, especially with the Canucks surging back into playoff contention.  

Friedman suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking to better themselves, as could the struggling Minnesota Wild. He also wondered if the Philadelphia Flyers are buying or selling, and believes the New York Rangers will sell by the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is among the league’s most aggressive wheeler-dealers. He’s already swung two trades this season and could make more to improve his club’s playoff chances. I expect Wild GM Paul Fenton would love to make a deal to snap his club out of yet another midseason funk but there might not be much help in the trade market right now.

The Flyers should sell by the deadline. They’ve already changed management and coaches. It’s time to retool for next season.

As for the Rangers, TSN’s Darren Dreger expects they’ll shop pending UFAs such as Mats Zuccarello and Adam McQuaid, but said they haven’t decided yet if they’ll peddle Kevin Hayes. The 26-year-old center still has value to the Blueshirts now and in the future but it’ll depend upon how much he’s seeking on his next contract. 

Friedman believes contenders will wonder how long the Ottawa Senators wait for commitments from pending UFA forwards Mark Stone and/or Matt Duchene. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If possible, Senators management could wait until up to deadline day, though I daresay they’ll prefer a firm decision one way or the other from both guys well before then. Stone indicated he wants to stay and said contract talks should intensify later this month. Duchene’s been vague over the status of his negotiations. 

Friedman also believes there will be a market for Carolina Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland if he doesn’t re-sign. Like Stone and Duchene, he’s slated to become a UFA in July. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferland has struggled since missing a couple of weeks with a concussion about a month ago. That could affect his negotiations with the Hurricanes and his trade value if they decide to shop him. 

NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2018

A look at the likely trade candidates for the Rangers, Flames, and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello recently listed Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Adam McQuaid as the players most likely to be traded by the New York Rangers this season. The trio is eligible to become unrestricted free agents in July and could be shopped by the February trade deadline. Zuccarello might fetch a first-round pick but more likely a second and a prospect.  Hayes could prove expensive for the Rangers to re-sign. His current play could potentially fetch a first-round pick.

Kevin Hayes could become a valuable trade chip for the New York Rangers. (Photo via NHL Images)

Carpiniello also thinks there could be a market for defenseman Marc Staal, provided the Rangers are willing to absorb part of his remaining contract ($5.7 million annually through 2020-21). However, Staal also carries a no-movement clause. The Rangers would also have to eat some salary if they want to move Kevin Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes there are two legitimate reasons to trade Hayes which have nothing to do with rebuilding.

The first is if general manager Jeff Gorton doesn’t believe the center is worth the money it would take to keep him off the free-agent market. The second is if Gorton “could acquire either a goal-scoring winger or top-four defenseman under multiple years of contract control who would enhance the Rangers’ chance of contending over the next three or four years, max.”

Unless the Rangers believe they won’t be contenders over the next two or three years, Brooks considers it pointless trading Hayes “for the traditional rental return of a bottom-end first-rounder and a prospect or two.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those potential trade candidates, Hayes has the most value. It could cost the Rangers over $6 million per season on a long-term contract to keep him in the fold. If they don’t believe he’s worth it, they could put him on the trade block before the deadline even if they’re still in playoff contention. The problem, however, is interested clubs could be only willing to part with that traditional rental return, rather than a quality player who can step in and have an immediate effect upon the Rangers’ roster.


THE ATHLETIC: Mike Halford recently listed defensemen Alex Edler and Michael Del Zotto as the Vancouver Canucks’ most likely trade candidates. Both are pending UFAs this season. Of the two, Edler would have the most value. He’d like to stay with the only NHL club he’s ever played for, but the Canucks haven’t opened contract extension talks. He has a full no-trade clause so it’ll be interesting to see how GM Jim Benning handles this. 

Center Brandon Sutter could be another trade candidate. While he has a full no-trade this season, it reverts to a modified NTC next summer. He carries a “digestible” $4.375-million cap hit. Other possible trade candidates could include Chris Tanev, Derrick Pouliot and Erik Gudbranson.

Halford also suggests shopping Jake Virtanen while his stock has increased could be a shrewd “sell high” move. Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher fall under Halford’s “conceivable, but be careful” category. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following a promising October, and despite the best efforts of budding superstar Elias Pettersson, the Canucks have come crashing back to earth in November. If management has no intention of re-signing Edler he might bow to the inevitable and accept a trade. There won’t be as much interest in Del Zotto but a contender could see him as an affordable depth rental.

Once Sutter returns from a shoulder injury, the Canucks might test the market but that move like takes place in the offseason. The Canucks have resisted the temptation to trade Tanev but maybe they decide to move him this season while he still has value. As for shopping Virtanen, his improvement this season could make Benning leery of parting with the 22-year-old forward. 


THE ATHLETIC: Darren Haynes recently suggested defenseman Michael Stone as a possible Calgary Flames trade candidate. As they appear set on the right side with T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and Rasmus Andersson, Haynes feels the Flames could try to move the 28-year-old Stone to free up salary-cap space and give him more playing time. With Stone having been scratched several times from the roster and earning $3.5-million annually, there might not be much of a market for his services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A few days after this was published, the Flames placed Stone (blood clot) on injured reserve with no timetable for his return. 

Haynes also noted Sam Bennett’s appeared in trade speculation but the Flames are staying patient in hopes he’ll reach his full potential. While Flames fans unhappy with goalie Mike Smith’s performance would love to see him traded, Haynes pointed out his struggles would make him difficult to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will stay patient with Bennett and Smith for the remainder of this season. They’ll likely re-evaluate Bennett’s performance at season’s end while Smith will be allowed to depart via free agency in July. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2018

Game recaps, Kings fire head coach John Stevens, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Cam Fowler tallied a hat trick, including the winner in overtime, in the Anaheim Ducks’ 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to snap a seven-game losing skid. The Ducks played without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Cam Fowler’s hat trick carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo via NHL Images)

 Brayden Point’s last-minute game-tying goal set the stage for Yanni Gourde’s overtime winner to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh collected three assists. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 41 saves.

Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 39 shots and Jimmy Vesey scored two goals as the New York Rangers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. The Rangers played without defenseman Adam McQuaid, who’s listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings fired head coach John Stevens, naming Willie Desjardins and Marco Sturm as interim coaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Kings mired at the bottom of the Western Conference, management had to do something to keep the season from spiraling out of control. A coaching change, however, might not be enough. I’ll have more on this later this morning in the Rumors section. 

PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott left practice on Sunday holding his head following a collision with teammate Travis Konecny. An update on his condition is expected today.

WINNIPEG SUN:  Jets forward Nic Petan made his return to the lineup on Friday after missing most of training camp and the first 13 games of the season due to the sudden death of his father. He’s appreciative of the support he received from the team and the league.

CSN WASHINGTON: The Capitals placed forward Nathan Walker on waivers.



NHL Rumor Mill – October 30, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 30, 2018

More “Nylander to Hurricanes” speculation plus the latest on the Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman yesterday told the NHL Network he believes contract negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander are at a total standstill following a week of optimism following two meetings between Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and Nylander’s agent Lewis Gross.

Friedman believes the Leafs prefer not to trade the young forward but wonders if they’ll soon reach a point where they have to consider it. Noting Dubas’ recent travels to see games in “Los Angeles, Minnesota, Carolina, Philadelphia”, he suggests “those are some of the teams I think that makes the most sense as a potential Nylander destination.”

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce is popping up in trade speculation regarding Toronto Maple Leafs free agent William Nylander. (Photo via NHL Images)

During an appearance yesterday on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Darren Dreger said there still appears a wide gap in both term and money between the Leafs and the Nylander camp. With the Leafs facing a Dec. 1 deadline to get the young forward under contract, he feels the Leafs might have to at least consider a trade.

Dreger adds there’s no shortage of interest in Nylander and puts the Carolina Hurricanes right near the top of the list. Show host Carlo Colaiacovo suggested Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce as someone he’d like to see the Leafs target in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Dec. 1 deadline for signing Nylander a month away, the longer this stalemate drags on the more he’ll appear in trade speculation. I believe the Leafs want to get him signed to a new deal but they could consider fielding trade offers if there’s no resolution in contract talks by late-November.

The Hurricanes have been linked to Nylander and the Leafs for some time but they could be reluctant to part with Pesce, preferring perhaps to offer up Justin Faulk. The Hurricanes are also off to a good start to this season. If that continues, they could remain patient with their lineup. If they wish to keep their defense corps intact but still seek a scoring forward, maybe they’ll look at more affordable trade options than Nylander. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the rebuilding New York Rangers shouldn’t wait until February to stage a fire sale of veterans such as Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, and Adam McQuaid. If management knows they’re not re-signing those pending unrestricted free agents, he feels they should be aggressive at shopping those players “when the pool of interested parties might be deeper than at the deadline and clubs are willing to make player-for-player hockey exchanges rather than enter into pure lend-lease operations. ” Doing so would also allow younger players to get more ice time. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During an appearance Monday on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, Elliotte Friedman said he thinks the Rangers are a team to watch in the trade market. He noted Vladislav Namestikov could be out there, cited colleague Nick Kypreos suggesting the Winnipeg Jets could a good fit for Hayes and also acknowledged Zuccarello could be available.

Friedman wondered how long the Rangers will be willing to wait. He also thinks people are waiting to see what the Toronto Maple Leafs do with William Nylander. He speculates the Rangers could pursue Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin via free agency next summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers can get good returns now for Hayes, Zuccarello, Namestnikov, and McQuaid they probably wouldn’t hesitate to trade them. However, I don’t think there’s much of a trade market right now for those players. I’m not suggesting they don’t have any value, but teams are still evaluating their rosters at this point and there might not be as much interest in making moves.

Once we get closer to late-November, the trade market should start to improve. Still, the Rangers might prefer waiting until the calendar flips to January before shopping those guys. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2018

Game recaps, Bettman upholds Wilson’s 20-game suspension, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Cam Talbot made 31 saves and rookie defenseman Evan Bouchard scored his first career NHL goal to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 20-game suspension of Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson. (Photo via NHL Images)

Speaking of the Capitals, they learned earlier in the day that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 20-game suspension of Capitals winger Tom Wilson, who received the punishment for hitting St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the head during a preseason game. Wilson has seven days to decide if he’ll take his case to an independent arbitrator.

Sidney Crosby and Derick Brassard each collected three points while Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel each scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Calgary Flames 9-1. Earlier in the day, the Flames activated defenseman Travis Hamonic off injured reserve.

Boone Jenner and Anthony Duclair each scored twice and Artemi Panarin collected three assists to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The loss gives the Blues just two wins and seven points in nine games, raising questions over head coach Mike Yeo’s future behind the bench.  They also played without defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who was placed on injured reserve

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were supposed to be much better than this. Last season, the problem was a lack of scoring depth. This season, it’s lousy defensive play. If they don’t reverse their fortunes soon, Yeo could be relieved of his duties. 

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, uncertainty over the futures of pending free agents Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin is among the factors behind the drop in their attendance thus far this season. Attendance is down nearly 1,000 fans per game compared to this point last season and more than 2,000 from the whole of last season. 

The Minnesota Wild beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1, handing the latter their sixth straight loss. Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves and Eric Fehr scored a goal and set up another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of coaches in danger of losing their jobs, this latest defeat does nothing to help Kings’ bench boss John Stevens. Firing him, however, probably won’t help. The aging Kings’ core is struggling in a league trending toward youth and speed. 

Jason Dickinson scored twice and set up another in the Dallas Stars’ 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf tallied both goals for the Ducks, who’ve lost their fourth straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After getting off to a strong start in October the Ducks are in free-fall approaching month’s end. Their weak puck possession is catching up with them.

Zdeno Chara scored twice and Jaroslav Halak had a 28-save shutout as the Boston Bruins blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.

The Buffalo Sabres overcame three one-goal deficits to edge the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Jason Pominville potted two goals and Kyle Okposo scored the winner on a power-play with 1:01 remaining in the third period. Max Domi also scored twice for the Canadiens.

Filip Forsberg scored the game-tying goal in the third period and Kyle Turris tallied the winner in overtime as the Nashville Predators squeezed past the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Nico Hischier netted two of the Devils’ goals.

Patrick Kane scored his ninth goal of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the New York Rangers 4-1. Alex DeBrincat also scored and set up another goal. The Rangers also lost defenseman Adam McQuaid to a lower-body injury in the second period. 

Third-period goals by Clayton Keller, Brad Richardson, and Lawson Crouse carried the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green is set to make his season debut tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. Green’s been sidelined by a liver virus. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes recalled goaltender Scott Darling from his AHL conditioning stint. 

CBC.CA: Former NHL player Peter Worrell recalls the racist incident that occurred to him during a Junior hockey game in Quebec and how his teammates, coaches, and management helped him overcome it and continue his playing career. 


Thoughts on Some Recent NHL News

Thoughts on Some Recent NHL News

Silly Pacioretty debate

Even though the Montreal Canadiens traded Max Pacioretty last week to the Vegas Golden Knights. there’s ongoing debate amongst Habs followers over whether he requested a trade.

At this point, does it really matter anymore? This pointless finger-pointing doesn’t change the fact he now belongs to another club.  It won’t change how most Canadiens fans feel about Pacioretty or general manager Marc Bergevin.

Move on, Canadiens fans! You’ve got bigger things to worry about this season.

What next for Yzerman?

Steve Yzerman surprised everyone last Tuesday by stepping down as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He did it for the right reasons, as the constant travel between Tampa Bay and his home in Detroit was took a toll on his family life.

There’s already speculation Yzerman could take over next summer from Ken Holland as GM of the Red Wings. However, Holland’s signed through 2019-20 and Yzerman isn’t about to back-stab his old boss to get that job.

Some suggest Yzerman could be in line for the GM’s role with the expansion Seattle franchise. Given his desire to be closer to home, it’s unlikely he’ll be taking a job on the west coast.

Weirdness in Ottawa

Did anyone in the Ottawa Senators’ front office really believe that weird-ass video featuring defenseman Mark Borowiecki interviewing team owner Eugene Melnyk about the club’s future plans was a good idea? If it was Melnyk’s idea, it certainly says a lot about the unwillingness of his staff to reject his wackier notions.

Melnyk’s got a reputation as an outspoken guy. Over the past year, however, his public statements about the team have raised questions about the caliber of his ability as a franchise owner.

Senators fans are growing fed up with his antics while some pundits are calling for his ouster. They’re questioning the steadiness of the hand on the tiller, even more so since they traded Erik Karlsson last week to San Jose. For my thoughts on that move, follow this link.

While among the NHL’s best two-way forwards, Henrik Zetterberg was never rewarded with the Selke Trophy. (Photo via NHL Images)

No Selke for Zetterberg

Through most of his 15-year NHL career, now-retired Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg was among the league’s best two-way forwards.

One reason why he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2008 was his defensive play. His efforts killing off a five-on-three against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the ’08 Stanley Cup Final became the stuff of lore among Wings fans.

Nevertheless, Zetterberg was never honored with the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. Indeed, the closest he came was finishing third among the finalists in 2008.

To be fair, Zetterberg was in his prime at the same time as such noteworthy two-way forwards as Pavel Datsyuk, Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar. Still, it’s unfortunate that he was never properly recognized for his efforts.

McQuaid to the Rangers

Overshadowed by the trades of Pacioretty and Karlsson this week, the Boston Bruins shipped defenseman Adam McQuaid on Tuesday to the New York Rangers. Entering his 10th NHL season, this will be his first with a different club.

A big, physical stay-at-home blueliner, the 32-year-old McQuaid was one of the Bruins’ last links to their 2011 Stanley Cup championship roster. However, he was being squeezed out by the Bruins’ depth in promising young rearguards.

McQuaid has one year remaining on his contract and a long injury history. One wonders if the Cornwall, PEI native has a future with the Rangers.

Players to decide if there’s another lockout?

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun recently suggested the potential for a future NHL lockout rests with the players. Seems many team owners are happy for the most part with the current collective bargaining agreement.

The players, meanwhile, aren’t happy about the escrow claw-backs from their salaries. However, the ongoing rise of league revenue and a new franchise expected to open in Seattle within two-to-three years might persuade them not to take the early opt-out from the CBA next September.

Because I cover the NHL for a living, I’m hoping there’s no early end to this CBA. For that matter, I hope both sides to reach an agreement on a new deal before the current one expires in 2022. I’ve had my fill of NHL labor disputes.