NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2022

Would a coaching change or trade help the Leafs? What’s the latest on the Sharks following last week’s report claiming management is willing to entertain offers for most of their players? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox wonders if a big trade or a coaching change can reverse the fortunes of the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs. They are 4-4-2 in October, including losses to rebuilding or struggling clubs like the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe (NHL.com).

Head coach Sheldon Keefe seems to be running out of options to motivate his players. Fox blamed general manager Kyle Dubas for not providing Keefe with a better supporting cast for his core talent. He believes the Leafs as currently constructed should reach the playoffs but won’t scare anybody when they get there.

Fox also noted the Leafs lack “gritty, hard role players”. He pointed out they used to have such players in Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Ilya Lyubushkin and Mason Marchment but all were cut loose “due to economics or an inability to fit the vision.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some, including Leafs like Mitch Marner, pointed out they got off to a worse start last season and ended up with a franchise-record 115 points. That’s as may be but, as The Athletic’s James Mirtle pointed out, there are more Leafs performing poorly compared to the same time last season.

If the Leafs don’t turn it around in November there could be some changes coming. The most immediate could be replacing Keefe as head coach since they lack the cap space and available assets to make a significant trade that will reverse their fortunes. I agree with Fox that Dubas failed to provide the necessary assets to maintain a balanced roster. However, at this point, it seems like they might benefit from someone else behind the bench.

I’m not sure if adding gritty, hard role players is the answer. The Leafs still failed to win a playoff round with Kadri, Hyman, Brown, Lyubushkin and Marchment, though the latter barely saw enough playing time to make a difference during his short tenure in Toronto. Finding reliable goaltending and defensive depth might be better options.


THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak recently reported the San Jose Sharks players are shrugging off a report on Thursday by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun claiming GM Mike Grier is willing to entertain offers for almost everyone on the roster except perhaps for Tomas Hertl.

Masisak pointed out LeBrun didn’t say Grier intends to trade certain players. He also cited Sharks coach David Quinn saying every general manager around the league is probably talking to each other to gauge where they are at this point in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak doubts the trade speculation will go away despite the struggling Sharks’ recent wins. He also pointed out he’s got three veterans in Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic carrying hefty contracts with no-movement clauses.

It may be a little early for Grier to start shopping players. He could be willing to listen to offers but it doesn’t mean he’s about to tear it all down and start a complete rebuild.

Nevertheless, Grier will likely become a seller if the Sharks are well out of playoff contention when the calendar flips to 2023. He will likely start shopping pending UFAs like James Reimer and Nick Bonino and perhaps test the trade market on pending RFA winger Timo Meier.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2022

The Canadiens leave all options open with the first-overall pick as the 2022 draft approaches, the Sharks name Mike Grier as their new GM, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk rescinds his trade request, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is stirring up intrigue over what he’ll do with the first-overall pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft. He claimed he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll choose center Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, winger Juraj Slavkovsky of Liiga club TPS in Finland, or center Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

We’re trying to evaluate how a player projects,” said Hughes. He adds they’re being open-minded and flexible over which is the right situation for those players. The Canadiens GM also didn’t rule out trading the pick or swinging a deal with the New Jersey Devils to end up with the first- and second-overall picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes is doing what any GM worth his salt would do with the first-overall pick in a draft where there is no generational player like Connor McDavid available. He’ll get a very good player with that pick if he keeps it regardless of whether he chooses Wright, Slavkovsky or Cooley.

Hughes could surprise us by trading that pick, and if he can land the Devils’ pick without giving up a young core player such as Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield it’ll be an impressive move. However, I doubt he’ll be able to pull that off. I anticipate he’ll retain the first-overall pick and use it to select Wright given the Habs’ ongoing need for quality depth at center.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: cited ESPN NHL insider Kevin Weekes reporting the Sharks will name Mike Grier as their new general manager on Tuesday. He’ll become the first black person in NHL history to become the GM of a team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weekes has a solid record for breaking NHL news. Grier spent 14 seasons from 1996-97 to 2010-11 as an NHL player with the Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. He went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers and in 2021 was named the Rangers’ hockey operations advisor.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: cited TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting Jake DeBrusk’s agent claiming his client has rescinded his trade request. The Bruins signed the 25-year-old winger in March to a two-year contract extension.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting to note that DeBrusk withdrew his trade request after the Bruins fired head coach Bruce Cassidy. Make of that what you will.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Evander Kane’s grievance hearing with the San Jose Sharks over the January termination of his contract isn’t likely to be scheduled before free agency begins on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun wonders if the two sides might reach an agreement on a settlement before then. That might be possible now that the Sharks finally have a new general manager in place.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev has changed agents and is now represented by Dan Milstein. Dreger’s colleague Chris Johnston reports Sergachev is expected to sign a contract extension in the coming weeks.

Pierre LeBrun reports pending UFA winger Ilya Mikheyev’s agent (Dan Milstein) may seek a multi-year deal worth between $4.75 million to $5.5 million annually. The 27-year-old Mikheyev spent the past three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, tallying a career-high 21 goals and 32 points in 53 games in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikheyev is a good depth forward but he’s not worth that much. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to succumb to action fever and overpay for second-tier talent in the opening days of free agency.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets have appointed Scott Arniel as an associate coach under new bench boss Rick Bowness.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov is apparently going to be serving in the Russian Navy. After being detained in St. Petersburg last Friday for allegedly dodging the draft, he was reportedly hospitalized with what his attorney called stress-induced gastritis. He was then sent to a Russian naval base near the Arctic Circle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fedotov, 25, played for CSKA Moscow last season but signed a one-year entry-level contract in May with the Flyers. There are rumors his gastritis was in fact poisoning but there’s no confirmation of this.

Fedotov’s plight is raising concerns that he’s being used as an example to other young Russian players thinking of leaving their KHL clubs to play in the NHL while Russia is at war with Ukraine. It could affect whether Russian prospects are chosen in the upcoming NHL Draft.

CALGARY SUN: The city of Calgary is continuing to work with the Flames in hope of finding a resolution toward the construction of a new arena to replace the aging Saddledome. A third-party intermediary called the Event Centre Visioning Group is continuing talks with both sides with the intention of getting them back to the negotiating table.