NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2023

Could the Maple Leafs be the Flames’ next trade partner? Could the Bruins pursue Noah Hanifin? What next for the Canadiens after re-signing Sam Montembeault? Is Jakub Vrana playing his way out of St. Louis? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Toronto Maple Leafs could make Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev a trade target. Tanev, who turns 34 on Dec. 20, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He carries a cap hit of $4.5 million and a 10-team no-trade clause.

Friedman isn’t sure how hard the Leafs will pursue pure rentals this season. However, Tanev is what Friedman called “a Toronto guy”, noting that Leafs general manager Brad Treliving signed him to his current contract when he was the Flames GM. He also feels they’re “pretty confident” that they could keep him beyond this season.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

The Flames’ resurgent play in recent weeks prompted some to wonder if they might pump the brakes on any trade talk. However, Friedman thinks trading Nikita Zadorov earlier this week to the Vancouver Canucks indicates they’re willing to entertain strong offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With John Klingberg, Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren sidelined by injuries, the Leafs’ battered blueline needs shoring up. If Klingberg is out of the season, that will provide Treliving with sufficient wiggle room to acquire a suitable replacement. The question then becomes how much they’re willing to part with to make it happen.

The Flames only got a 2024 conditional fifth-round pick and a 2026 third-rounder from the Canucks for Zadorov, but the latter punched his ticket out of Calgary with a public trade request that reportedly didn’t sit well with some of his Flames teammates. They could seek more for Tanev, who has gone about his business without making any demands (that we know of) for a trade.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: James Murphy wondered if a report by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggesting the Flames could agree to a sign-and-trade scenario involving Noah Hanifin might tempt Bruins GM Don Sweeney into pursuing him.

Like Tanev, the 26-year-old Hanifin is eligible for UFA status next summer unless the Flames re-sign him. LeBrun indicated the two sides were close to an eight-year contract extension worth $7.5 million annually but the deal was pulled by the Flames after Hanifin indicated he wanted to wait and see how the season unfolded.

An NHL source close to the situation told Murphy that the Flames would be willing to do a sign-and-trade with Hanifin. He also thinks the Bruins could be interested if that came to pass.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been interested in Hanifin for some time. His club will have the cap space to take on Hanifin after this season but they currently lack the space to absorb his $4.95 million AAV for this season unless they shed a comparable salary in the deal or in a separate trade.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: That’s the question posed by Marc Dumont specifically aimed at their goaltending situation. They’re currently carrying three netminders in the recently re-signed Sam Montembeault, veteran Jake Allen (who has a year remaining on his contract) and young Cayden Primeau who continues to struggle at the NHL level.

One way to address this is to place Primeau on waivers and send him back to their farm team in Laval. The risk of losing him to another club is the reason the Canadiens are still carrying him on their roster. However, his sporadic starts and .875 save percentage might not be that enticing to other teams.

The Canadiens could trade Allen but he won’t fetch much of a return for him at this career stage. Dumont also suggested the possibility of trading Montembeault now that he’s under an affordable three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I mentioned in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, I don’t believe the Canadiens intend to trade Montembeault. They signed him to that extension to bring stability between the pipes for their rebuilding roster over the next three years

I think it’s between Allen and Primeau, neither of whom has much trade value. At this point, I believe the Canadiens will take the risk and put Primeau on waivers.


THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford recently pondered Jakub Vrana’s future with the St. Louis Blues. He’s been a healthy scratch in four games (five since Rutherford’s piece was published) and has just six points in 17 games.

Rutherford doesn’t see this ending well for Vrana, who is now on his third NHL club. He’s not a Craig Berube-type player and could eventually be moved if anyone’s interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana has shown the ability to score but not the consistency. In recent years he was plagued by injuries and spent some time last season in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

Traded to St. Louis last season by the Detroit Red Wings, he had a strong finish with the Blues, netting 10 goals and 14 points in 20 games. However, he hasn’t followed that up this season as hoped.

Vrana, 27, is eligible for UFA status next July. The Blues could shop him if they become sellers by the March 8 trade deadline but there might not be much interest in him.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2023

The Sharks finally win a road game, Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton is sidelined indefinitely, and the three stars and the top rookie for November are announced. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks finally won their first road game of the season by upsetting the New Jersey Devils 6-3. Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 44 shots, Mikael Granlund had a goal and two assists while Anthony Duclair and Jacob MacDonald each tallied twice for 6-16-2 Sharks. Rookie defenseman Simon Nemec collected two assists in his first-ever NHL game while Akira Schmid gave up five goals on 17 shots as the Devils slipped to 11-10-1 on the season.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks remain at the bottom of the overall standings because of their horrific start (0-10-1) to this season. However, they’ve improved since general manager Mike Grier read them the riot act in early November, going 6-6-1 since Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, the Devils received some bad news before this game as defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Tomas Nosek will be sidelined indefinitely. Hamilton went under the knife to repair a torn left pectoral muscle while Nosek underwent surgery on his right foot.

Things didn’t get any better for the Devils as defenseman Brendan Smith received a two-game suspension from the league for slashing Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny on Nov. 30. Konecny was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Smith.

The Devils did get some good news, however, as winger Timo Meier returned to action against the Sharks after being sidelined for seven games with a lower-body injury. It was his first game against his former club since being traded to New Jersey in February and was held without a point in this contest.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merlikins stopped 41 shots as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Ottawa Senator 4-2. Johnny Gaudreau and Zach Werenski each collected two assists while Adam Fantilli broke a 2-2 in the second period for the 8-13-4 Blue Jackets. Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux for the Senators (8-10-0), who sit four points back of the Blue Jackets at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with 16 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are a mess, winning just four of their last 10 games and dropping their last three contests. Management has stuck by embattled head coach D.J. Smith but the calls for his firing from unhappy Senators fans are growing.

They’ve played about five fewer games than most of their rivals in the Eastern Conference. Nevertheless, they’re nine points out of the final wild-card berth. If things don’t improve soon, they’ll be too far back to catch up.


NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Vancouver Canucks captain Quinn Hughes are the league’s three stars for November 2023.

Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard is the league’s top rookie for November 2023.

THE SCORE: Speaking of Bedard, he condemned a baseless social media rumor regarding a member of his family and former Blackhawks teammate Corey Perry.

It’s just a bunch of BS on the internet,” said Bedard. “It’s, of course, been an effect on myself and my family, and that’s not fair. But’s it out of our control. It’s all just fake, made-up stuff.”

Bedard also touched on Perry’s contract termination for what the Blackhawks deemed unacceptable conduct. “Obviously, what happened with Perry was serious. I think the first concern is that he’s okay, and his family are.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard handled those questions very well. He appears to have a maturity beyond his years, certainly more than those who started that disgusting rumor or those who spread it around like manure.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens yesterday signed goaltender Sam Montembeault to a three-year contract extension with an average annual value of $3.15 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable move by the Canadiens to lock down their best goalie. The 27-year-old Montembeault could’ve opted to test the unrestricted free-agent market in July but he wanted to stay in Montreal and play for the Habs.

A short-term deal such as this should provide cost-effective stability between the pipes for the rebuilding Canadiens. While some have suggested this contract could boost Montembeault’s trade value, I think Jake Allen or Cayden Primeau are the more likely trade candidates.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they put Primeau on waivers with the intent of sending him to their AHL affiliate in Laval. While there’s a risk another club could claim him, they cannot continue carrying three goalies for much longer. If they’re not peddling Montembeault or Allen, they must trade Primeau or send him back to the farm.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin yesterday shared the news that he and his wife Kenzie, who were expecting their first child, have lost the baby. Larkin had been out of the lineup for the past two games to be with Kenzie during this time.

The Larkins were married in August. They were expecting a girl in April. Dylan is expected to return to action on Saturday against the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to the Larkins.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz could be sidelined for six weeks with an upper-body injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: Nashville Predators defenseman Alex Carrier is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Oliver Kylington skated with a handful of his Flames teammates on Friday. He remains on a personal leave of absence from the club since the start of last season dealing with mental health challenges. There is no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Kylington and here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 1, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 1, 2023

Does the Zadorov trade mean the Flames have more deals in store? Could the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl or the Canadiens’ Sam Montembeault hit the trade block? What’s the latest on the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson wonders what will happen to Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev following the Flames trading Nikita Zadorov to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Like Zadorov, the trio are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.

Unless they sign contract extensions, Gilbertson believes all three will be moved before the March 8 trade deadline. He expects they’ll fetch more than the 2024 fifth-round pick and the 2026 third-rounder that the Flames received in the Zadorov deal. General manager Craig Conroy could allow interested clubs to open contract extension talks with those players or sweeten the pot by retaining some salary.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

Gilbertson noted that Zadorov ensured the Flames would move him after publicly requesting a trade on Nov. 10 through his agent. It’s believed some of his teammates didn’t approve of him going that route to force a deal.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported the Flames were close to reaching an agreement with Hanifin on an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $7.5 million. However, the 26-year-old defenseman wanted to see the club’s direction as the team stumbled out of the gate, resulting in the Flames withdrawing the offer.

Despite the Flames’ improvement through November, LeBrun said that hasn’t changed management’s mindset that a roster reset is in order. That will likely lead to trades involving Hanifin and their other pending UFAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have improved partly because of the addition of promising players such as Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil. That might explain why management is still willing to consider moving their other pending UFAs despite the club’s recent improvement to make way for returns that can help them build for the future.

It’ll be interesting to see how Conroy handles this. Does he trade Lindholm, Hanifin and Tanev? Does he retain one or two and trade the other? What happens if the Flames rise even higher in the standings than a wild-card position? Does that change the “roster reset” mindset?

Whatever happens, I daresay we’ll continue to hear a lot of trade speculation about Lindholm, Hanifin and Tanev, especially when the calendar flips to 2024 and the March trade deadline appears on the horizon.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently examined Tomas Hertl’s future with the rebuilding San Jose Sharks and how he might best help them.

He suggested that the 30-year-old center could be their best trade asset. However, Hertl also carries a full no-movement clause through 2024-25, after which it becomes a three-team trade list through 2027-28, followed by a 15-team trade list until the contract expires in 2030. He’s also carrying an average annual value of $8.137 million.

That means Hertl won’t be going anywhere unless he requests to be moved to a club where he can win now to a team that can absorb all or a large part of his cap hit. Stephens indicated that Sharks GM Mike Grier recently said that he hasn’t received any calls from other clubs about Hertl, who has embraced a leadership role with the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The piece also noted that Hertl may not be happy with the Sharks’ current rough patch but considers San Jose home for himself and his family. He’s motivated to work harder to help the Sharks regain their winning ways.

Hertl surfaced briefly in the rumor mill earlier this season but that talk has died away. Unless he asks to be moved, I doubt the Sharks will move him.


TVA SPORTS: Jean-Nicholas Blanchet makes the case for the Montreal Canadiens to trade Sam Montembeault.

While the 27-year-old goaltender is showing signs of becoming a reliable starter, Blanchet believes he’s only got about two more years remaining in his playing prime before he slows down. By the time the Canadiens promising young core is ready to win, Montembeault won’t be the solution they need in goal.

Blanchet felt that Montembeault’s value won’t be higher than it is now. He suggested shopping him for a second-round pick or a younger player who could fit into the Canadiens’ long-term plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the other hand, the Canadiens could decide that Montembeault might be a worthwhile starter for them over the next three or four years to hold the fort while they develop a promising goalie such as Jacob Fowler or acquire a more reliable starter via trade or free agency.

I understand Blanchet’s point. Nevertheless, they need somebody reliable between the pipes to give this club some chance of improvement while they wait for those promising kids to fully develop. They can’t keep ending up at the bottom of the standings year after year. That sucks the life out of a team and can hurt the development of those talented kids.

Montembeault is completing a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1 million. Unless he’s trying to force a trade by seeking a ridiculously high number, they should attempt to retain him. Re-signing him to a three or four-year contract with an AAV of around $3.5 million won’t break the bank.

**UPDATE** The Canadiens announced they’ve signed Montembeault to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The AAV is $3.15 million. 


TSN: Darren Dreger wondered if the Buffalo Sabres remain in the market for a forward after losing out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Patrick Kane sweepstakes. He believes they don’t have to rush to do so as they’ve got Tage Thompson and Jack Quinn returning soon from injuries. Dreger believes they’re open for business to add a forward but it’s not an intense search.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Sabres need an experienced, reliable starting goaltender and improved depth among their bottom-six defense. But hey, if they want to chase another forward, fill your boots.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

The latest Oilers’ speculation, the Flyers are willing to wheel and deal, an update on Patrick Kane and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston said the Edmonton Oilers are exploring their options to save their season. That includes external discussions with other clubs but it will be difficult to find a club as desperate as they are or to avoid a bad trade by overpaying for help.

Johnston believes the Oilers are looking internally as well and that could include bringing back Jack Campbell from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. He had a shutout earlier this week.

Johnston’s colleague Ryan Rishaug expressed his belief that all assets other than Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and their 2024 first-round pick are in play as the Oilers try to find a fix for their problems.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Rishaug acknowledged finding a true goalie fix or a major upgrade on defense is tough to achieve right now. He instead suggested adding a player like the Minnesota Wild’s Pat Maroon as he would bring championship experience, positive energy and physicality to the lineup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also noted the Oilers’ concern about making a bad trade as well as the possibility of recalling Campbell if he’s rediscovered his game. He also cited an NHL general manager saying if the Oilers want to include their first-round pick in a trade they had better put top-of-the-draft protection on it.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Caleb Kerney noted there was some speculation linking the Oilers to Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek. It was based on Mrazek having played for Oilers general manager Ken Holland when they were with the Detroit Red Wings.

Kerney doesn’t think Mrazek would be a fit for the Oilers. He pointed out that the 31-year-old goaltender’s best years are behind him plus he’s frequently sidelined by injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a bad place right now. They’re not dealing from a position of strength so they’re going to get squeezed by rival clubs as they try to find a suitable goaltender.

It will be difficult to land any kind of upgrade for their roster without giving up that first-round pick as part of the deal. If they are willing to move it but make it top-10 protected, that could be a deal breaker for most clubs.

The harsh truth is recalling Campbell could be their only solution. They could sign free-agent Jaroslav Halak but at this stage of his career, he’s best suited for backup work. Even then, there’s no certainty that he’d be able to help them. The Lightning placed Matt Tomkins on waivers but he didn’t do enough in his few appearances this season to suggest that he’d be an improvement over Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

I don’t think the Blackhawks are looking at moving Mrazek. If they are, the Oilers could be on his 10-team no-trade list.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in becoming a wheeler or a dealer as they look to build a strong foundation for the future. They’re willing to listen on every position (but not every player). He believes they could entertain offers on defensemen Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman pointed out that Walker has “really impressed in Philadelphia.” He thinks there will be plenty of interest if the Flyers don’t extend him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report will further stoke speculation over the future of Flyers goalie Carter Hart. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer and has surfaced of late as a possible trade target for the struggling Oilers. Flyers GM Daniel Briere has previously said he’ll listen on anybody (including Hart) but that doesn’t mean he’s rushing to move him.


TSN: Darren Dreger speculates that Patrick Kane could reach a decision on where he’ll sign sometime next week. He felt it was a bit of a stretch suggesting that the 35-year-old free-agent winger could decide this week given that he and his family would be celebrating American Thanksgiving.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman ran down the list of potential destinations for Kane. Along with the usual ones (Toronto, Dallas, Florida, Buffalo, Detroit), he also thinks the Colorado Avalanche have made a pitch plus rumors continue to swirl about the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Friedman also suggested that Kane might prefer an Eastern Conference club as he wouldn’t have to travel as much as he would in the Western Conference.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka wondered if there was the possibility of a team with salary-cap space like the Sharks signing Kane to a “somewhat richer contract” (agreed to by Kane and a contending team), and then flipping him to that contender while retaining part of his annual cap hit in exchange for an asset.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said no. Such a series of transactions would constitute salary-cap circumvention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane has the right to take his time to reach a decision over where he’ll play this season. Still, more than a few fans will be glad to see this ongoing media guessing game come to an end.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman observed the Columbus Blue Jackets are going through the same kind of difficulties this season as the Oilers. He noted that Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson expects his veteran players to be much, much better. Friedman thinks the Jackets could ask some of their veterans if they’d prefer playing somewhere else if things don’t turn around soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those veterans include Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. Both have been big disappointments thus far. They carry some form of no-trade protection on their contracts but could be willing to waive them for the right destinations. Then again, their hefty contracts would be difficult to move this season.

The Montreal Canadiens continue to discuss a contract extension with goaltender Sam Montembeault. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Friedman doesn’t see the Canadiens waiting until the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montembeault has been linked to the Oilers as a possible trade target. However, he’s putting up decent stats with the rebuilding Canadiens, who must sort out who will tend their net in the coming years. With Jake Allen aging and Cayden Primeau yet to establish himself as an NHL goalie, I think they’ll get Montembeault signed to a new deal.

Friedman said the injury-depleted Avalanche are looking for scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why he thinks they’ve made a pitch to Patrick Kane.

If the Calgary Flames decide to trade some of their pending UFAs, interested clubs will want to know if they can negotiate with those players beforehand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the type of returns the Flames would get for those players.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2023

Check out the latest on the Oilers and Flames in today’s NHL Rumor Roundup.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli suggested five options for the Edmonton Oilers to target in order to upgrade their goaltending.

Topping his list is James Reimer of the Detroit Red Wings. Mackenzie Blackwood of the San Jose Sharks and Jake Allen of the Montreal Canadiens were next, followed by the Arizona Coyotes’ Karel Vejmelka and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood and Allen appear the more likely to be available. The Sharks are going nowhere fast while the Canadiens could opt to move Allen if they decide to go with a tandem of Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau (which I think they should).

Speaking of Blackwood, TSN’s Darren Dreger said he’d be looking at the Sharks netminder if he were the Oilers general manager. When Oilers GM Ken Holland is doing so remains to be seen.

Like the Canadiens, the Red Wings are carrying three goalies but they’re also trying to reach the playoffs this year. They could opt to hang onto Reimer.

The same goes with Vejmelka and Hart. Their respective clubs are off to better-than-expected starts this season and they could be reluctant to move their starting goalies right now. Perhaps that changes if they fall out of contention as the season goes along.

A lot would also depend on how much the Oilers are willing to overpay for one of those goalies.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault (NHL Images).

Seravalli also dismissed the notion of the Boston Bruins parting with Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark. He also rejected speculation about Nashville Predators’ starter Juuse Saros, pointing to Predators general manager Barry Trotz’s desire to sign Saros to a contract extension next summer.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited TSN’s Darren Dreger speculating over what it might cost the Oilers to acquire Sam Montembeault from the Montreal Canadiens.

Dreger believes the Canadiens would want a “substantial” return for Montembeault, who’s earning $1 million this season and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He thinks prospect Xavier Bourgault would have to be part of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve also heard speculation suggesting the only way the Oilers can swing a trade for a goalie is to find someone who’ll take struggling former starter Jack Campbell and his $5 million average annual value through 2026-27 off their hands.

Maybe that’s possible but it would take a hell of an offer with a lot of sweeteners bundled with Campbell to make it happen. Right now, I don’t see that sort of deal happening. Maybe in the offseason leading up to the draft but not during a season where most teams are pressed against the $83.5 million cap.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Julian McKenzie was asked if there was any scenario he could see where the Calgary Flames could shed higher-salaried players such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, MacKenzie Weegar and Jacob Markstrom should they decide to rebuild.

Such moves would require some salary retention on the Flames’ part. Given Huberdeau’s hefty contract, they would likely have to include a draft pick or a prospect to tempt another club into taking him off their hands.

McKenzie said he would be very surprised if those four players were shipped out this season. He believes the Flames should focus on bringing in younger, better players (like Conor Zary) to build around the expensive core.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with the salary cap projected to rise significantly over the next two or three seasons, Huberdeau, Kadri, Weegar and Markstrom would still be difficult to move. All but Markstrom are in the first year or two of their long-term deals while Markstrom has two more seasons left on his contract.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited NHL analyst Pierre McGuire telling the Eye Test Podcast that he thinks the Flames and Boston Bruins seem like trade “dance partners.” He noted that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has long coveted Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That dance might take place near the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of playoff contention by that point. Given the Bruins’ limited trade deadline cap space ($2.6 million), perhaps Sweeney will wait until the offseason when he could pursue Hanifin via the free-agent market.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichol cited a report from The Fourth Period claiming the New Jersey Devils are among four teams interested in Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov. The others were the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are struggling defensively of late and Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald has shown a willingness to make big moves during the season. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him landing Tanev or Zadorov at some point this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

Leafs winger William Nylander’s performance is pushing up the cost of his next contract, a look at the goalie market for the Oilers plus an update on the Avalanche in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Travis Yost believes William Nylander’s torrid scoring pace will raise the cost of his next contract if he maintains his production throughout this season. He pointed out that the 27-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs winger had closed the gap with teammates such as Mitch Marner, including outperforming them in the playoffs.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman observing that the difference between Leafs management and the Nylander camp over the summer was thought to be around $1 million per season in the $8 million to $9 million range. “I just do not think that’s realistic anymore,” said Friedman. Hornby noted that talks are continuing between the two sides.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran wondered if Nylander has priced himself out of Toronto. “Looks like the supposed $10-million-a-year ask over the summer might have been a bargain,” he writes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun spoke to team executives in rival front offices across the NHL to get their views on what they felt would be a fair contract extension for Nylander. The numbers came in with an average annual value between $8.5 million to $12.25 million on a seven or eight-year contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the AAV is below $10 million on his next contract if he maintains his current level of performance throughout this season.

Nylander is the Leafs’ leading scorer thus far and among this season’s league leaders. He’s on pace to reach 100 points for the first time after two seasons between 80 and 87 points. He’s earned far less than teammates Marner and Auston Matthews. His summer asking price indicates that he wants fair market value.

I think Nylander’s asking price is now between $11 million and $12 million. Maybe he accepts a little less if he wants to stay in Toronto but I doubt that number goes below $10 million. If the Leafs won’t pay up, plenty of other clubs will line up to do so if he hits the open market on July 1.


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the Edmonton Oilers’ salary-cap constraints mean they must find a way to shed the contract of struggling goalie Jack Campbell to free up cap dollars for an upgrade between the pipes.

Mitchell believes it’ll cost the Oilers at least three good prospects/draft picks being bundled with Campbell as sweeteners. He wondered if they could find a team that would accept their 2024 first-round pick, top prospect Xavier Bourgault and a “more established asset” such as Philip Broberg or the sidelined Dylan Holloway packaged with Campbell.

Mitchell then looked around at possible options in the trade market. They include Montreal’s Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen, St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington, Calgary’s Dan Vladar and Detroit’s James Reimer. He felt Vladar was the right choice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a very bad state with their goaltending right now. I concur with Mitchell regarding what it would cost them to entice a rival team into taking Campbell off their hands. That club could then buy him out next summer if he doesn’t improve over the remainder of this season.

Nevertheless, I still think moving out Campbell’s contract is very difficult with so many teams pressed for cap space this season. The Oilers have no leverage which other clubs will attempt to exploit.

Mitchell mentioned Montembeault and Allen because of recent reports indicating the Oilers had scouted the Canadiens goalies. Binnington’s come up because of rumored concerns in St. Louis over his performance in recent years (though he’s playing better this season) as well as the difficulty of carrying his $6 million AAV. Like the Canadiens, the Red Wings are carrying three goalies which is why Reimer got mentioned. Meanwhile, the Flames could be willing to move Vladar to bring up promising Dustin Wolf.

Binnington, however, has a full no-trade clause while Allen carries a seven-team no-trade list for this season. Given the Oilers’ struggles this season, the attraction of playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl might not be enough of a selling point to convince either guy to come to Edmonton.

The Red Wings and Canadiens could have the room to take on Campbell’s contract but I don’t think they’re keen to do so even if they got a package of sweeteners in the deal. The Flames, meanwhile, lack the cap space plus I don’t see them and the Oilers making a deal unless a third team gets into the mix. Indeed, it could take a three-team deal to spread Campbell’s cap hit around to make this happen.


SPORTSNET (via NHL WATCHER): During his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said Artturi Lehkonen’s injury is pretty significant. He added the Colorado Avalanche are in the market to add some depth scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on who they might pursue and what they’re willing to offer. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the coming days.