NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2022

The aftermath of a chaotic first round of the 2022 Draft, Joe Sakic was named GM of the Year, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens surprised the hockey world and made history by selecting winger Juraj Slavkovsky with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, making him the first player from Slovakia to go first overall. The Canadiens bypassed center Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, who had been ranked as the top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Further history was made when the New Jersey Devils chose defenseman Simon Nemec with the second-overall selection. Slavkovsky and Nemec are the first Slovakians to become the top-two players selected in an NHL draft.

Center Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) was selected by the Arizona Coyotes with the third-overall pick. Wright was chosen fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken.

The Canadiens also chose Slovakian winger Filip Mesar with the No. 26 pick. Meanwhile, the Coyotes selected center Conor Geekie (11th overall) from the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and Maveric Lamoureux from the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs at No. 29.

After starting Thursday with no picks in the first round, the Chicago Blackhawks wound up with three after shipping winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators, center Kirby Dach to the Canadiens and acquiring goalie Petr Mrazek as part of a return from the Toronto Maple Leafs. They chose defenseman Kevin Korchinski from the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds at No. 7, center Frank Nazar from the USNTDP at No. 13 and defenseman Sam Rinzel from Chaska High School at No. 25.

With two picks in the first round, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Czechia defenseman David Jiricek sixth overall and blueliner Denton Mateychuk from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors with the No. 12 pick.

The Buffalo Sabres had three selections in the first round, choosing Winnipeg Ice center Matthew Savoie ninth overall, Swedish center Noah Ostlund with the No. 16 selection and Czechia center Jiri Kulich at No. 28.

With two first-rounders, the Anaheim Ducks selected Pavel Mintyukov of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit at No. 10 and center Nathan Gaucher of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts at No. 22. The Minnesota Wild used their two first-round picks to choose Swedish winger Liam Ohgren at No. 19 and Russian winger Danila Yurov at No. 24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the full results from the first round by following the link above.

That was one of the wilder drafts regarding surprising selections and player movement via trades. You can read my take on those moves involving NHL players here.

Slafkovsky was as surprised as most in the Bell Centre by his selection as the first-overall pick. The big winger has the potential to become a scoring star in the NHL. He was named tournament MVP in the 2022 Beijing Olympics helping Slovakia win its first-ever medal (bronze) in men’s hockey with a tournament-leading seven goals.

Wright, meanwhile, admitted he’ll have a chip on his shoulder from this outcome which he intends to use as motivation in the future. His style of play drew comparisons to Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. The Kraken will have a future Selke Trophy center on their hands if he plays up to projections.

Rounds 2 through 7 will be held today at the Bell Centre in Montreal at 11 am ET.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Center Jagger Firkus of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, defenseman Ryan Chesley of the USNTDP and blueliner Calle Odelius of Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League are among Tony Ferrari’s top-five prospects remaining after the first round. Center Jack Hughes of Northeastern University in the NCAA and winger Julian Lutz of EHC Munchen in Germany round out his list.

Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche is the 2021-22 winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Sakic who did a fine job building the Avalanche into the 2022 Stanley Cup champions.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said he’s given defenseman Duncan Keith until Saturday whether he intends to play next season or retire. Keith, 38, has one year remaining on his contract. His retirement would free up $5.54 million in salary-cap space.

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings hired former goaltender Manon Rheaume as a hockey operations advisor focusing on prospect development. She’s among several women hired to prominent positions among NHL teams in recent weeks.










Notable NHL Trades and Free Agent Signings – July 7, 2022

Notable NHL Trades and Free Agent Signings – July 7, 2022

Check out my take on the notable trades and free-agent signings leading up to and including the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. This list will be updated as new trades and signings occur.

Edmonton Oilers trade winger Zack Kassian, the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft, a second-round pick in 2025 and a third-round pick in 2024 to the Arizona Coyotes for the 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers need to shed salary to acquire a starting goaltender and have enough space to re-sign or replace winger Evander Kane. It cost them two draft picks and dropped them down three places in the remainder of the first round but it sheds Kassian’s $3.2 million annual salary-cap hit through 2023-24.

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded goaltender Petr Mrazek and their first-round pick (25th overall) in this year’s draft to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for the 38th overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such is the price necessary for the Leafs to ship out Mrazek and free up his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. They’ll put those savings toward finding a suitable replacement for starting goalie Jack Campbell if they fail to re-sign him before the free-agent market opens next week.

As for the Blackhawks, GM Kyle Davidson is once again making moves to garner more first-round picks for his rebuilding club. He started the day without a pick in this round. He finished the night with three. He also takes on a goaltender in Mrazek but will need to find another if he doesn’t re-sign Kevin Lankinen or Colin Delia.

Montreal Canadiens trade defenseman Alexander Romanov and a fourth-round pick in 2022 to the New York Islanders in exchange for the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

The Canadiens flip that pick and a third-rounder in this year’s draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to reports, the Canadiens wanted more size up front. After selecting big Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first-overall pick, they acquired the 6’4”, 197-pound Dach, who was chosen third overall in 2019 by the Blackhawks.

To get Dach, however, the Canadiens needed another first-round pick, which is why they sent Romanov to the Islanders. This move leaves a gap on their blueline that they’ll have to fill at some point in the offseason. It could come from within by promoting one of their promising young defenseman like Kaiden Guhle or Justin Barron or from another trade or a free-agent signing if they’re looking for experience.

The Canadiens have added more size to their forward lines but they need to address that gap left by Romanov’s absence. The 22-year-old Russian moves the puck well and doesn’t shy away from making big hits. However, he’s had difficulties adjusting to the NHL game. The Isles gave up quite a bit to get him but it could be worth it if he plays up to his potential with his new club.

Dach showed flashes of promise during his three seasons in Chicago but was plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Still, he had time on his side to find his game. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit him.

For the Blackhawks, it’s their second significant trade today, having shipped Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators this afternoon. These moves gave the rebuilding club two picks within the top 15 in this year’s draft, which they used to select defenseman Kevin Korchinski (sixth overall) and center Frank Nazar (13th overall). However, it came at the cost of shipping out their best goal scorer in DeBrincat and a promising center in Dach from their lineup.

Bold moves by the Canadiens and Blackhawks today. Time will tell if they pan out.

Minnesota Wild signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $3.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s quite a pay cut for the 37-year-old Fleury from the $7 million annual average value of his previous contract. At this stage of his career, however, that should be expected. Earlier reports had the Wild trying to sign him to a one-year deal so he managed to squeeze an extra year out of the. With Cam Talbot under contract for $3.6 million next season, the Wild return with their tandem from the 2022 postseason.

The Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the seventh and 39th overall picks in the 2022 NHL draft plus the Senators’ third-round pick in 2024.

Chicago Blackhawks trade winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators wanted a top-six winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle on the second line. DeBrincat should provide a big boost to their offense, coming off his second 41-goal season within the past five years.

The question now is whether the Senators can sign the 24-year-old DeBrincat to a contract extension. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer with a $6.4 million cap hit but will earn $9 million in actual salary. That’s also how much it’ll cost the Senators to qualify his rights because he signed his current contract in 2019 before the changes to the rate for qualifying offers. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility next summer.

The Blackhawks wanted to get a top-10 pick after former general manager Stan Bowman traded away their pick last summer to Columbus in the Seth Jones trades. Some observers expected they’d get a bigger return than a first and a second in this year’s draft and a third in two years’ time. Nevertheless, if current GM Kyle Davidson can secure at least one future star out of those picks it could prove worthwhile for the rebuilding Hawks over the long term.

Pittsburgh Penguins sign Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6-million contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, this isn’t the five-year deal between $8 million and $9 million annually that some sources had speculated. On the other, the Pens are paying an average of $6.1 million per season for a blueliner approaching his late-30s.

It’s a gamble by general manager Ron Hextall. Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point performance and should have around three more good seasons left. It’s those final three years that could make this contract burdensome down the road.

Hextall’s focus will shift toward Evgeni Malkin, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. Recent speculation had the two sides discussing a three-year contract but they’re apparently far apart on the dollars.

New York Rangers trade goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a third and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft plus a third-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This means Darcy Kuemper will be departing the Avalanche as a free agent on July 13. Georgiev struggled at times during his tenure with the Rangers. However, he did play well filling in for starter Igor Shesterkin this season when he missed 11 games with a lower-body injury and a bout with COVID-19. Maybe he’ll have better luck in Colorado establishing himself as a starter than he did in New York.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 7, 2022

The rumor mill is abuzz leading up to the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. Check out the latest on J.T. Miller, Matthew Tkachuk, Alex DeBrincat, Blake Wheeler, Claude Giroux, the Senator’s first-round pick and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

J.T. MILLER

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the New York Rangers are among the suitors for Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I wonder if the Capitals are still interested with Nicklas Backstrom determined to return to action in 2022-23 following hip surgery? They were linked to Miller in recent rumors because of uncertainty over Backstrom’s status.

MATTHEW TKACHUK

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports teams are “delicately approaching” the Calgary Flames about Matthew Tkachuk. The representatives for the restricted free agent winger want to see how things play out with his teammate (and pending UFA) Johnny Gaudreau before formalizing a game plan for their client.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cited St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland suggesting the Blues would be interested if Tkachuk becomes available in the trade market. If the Flames lose Gaudreau I expect they’ll put all their focus on signing Tkachuk to a big raise on a long-term deal.

ALEX DEBRINCAT

Pierre LeBrun said teams are starting to put their best offers forward to the Chicago Blackhawks for winger Alex DeBrincat. A first-round pick would have to be part of the return.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the New Jersey Devils (second overall pick), Philadelphia Flyers (fifth overall) and Ottawa Senators (seventh overall) are the most likely suitors for DeBrincat. He reports rumors involving the Flyers and DeBrincat have cooled of late.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks traded away their first-round pick in this year’s draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones.

BLAKE WHEELER

THE SCORE: cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Winnipeg Jets have started exploring the trade market for captain Blake Wheeler. The 35-year-old winger’s no-movement clause has now become a modified no-trade in which he submits five preferred trade destinations. He has two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler’s age, cap hit and limited trade destinations make him difficult to move in an offseason where the salary cap has only risen by $1 million.

CLAUDE GIROUX

Pierre LeBrun adds the Carolina Hurricanes to the list of possible suitors for Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux. They’re prioritizing offense this season and could lose forwards Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck to free agency next Wednesday.

WILL THE SENATORS SHOP THE SEVENTH-OVERALL PICK?

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has said there was a 50-50 chance he might trade it. Dreger believes he’s now leaning toward trading that selection.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s some “serious interest” in that seventh-overall pick. The offers have increased dramatically since Dorion and his staff arrived in Montreal for the upcoming draft. It’s believed the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes have been the most aggressive teams pursuing a top-10 pick.

Dorion was asked by a reporter if the Canadiens had offered up winger Josh Anderson for that pick. He declined to say anything about that but added that he’d seriously consider an offer from the Habs if it allowed both clubs to improve.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico reports sources say the Senators are interested in Anderson and teammate Christian Dvorak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s also talk the Canadiens are interested in the Devils’ pick and could offer up Anderson in a package deal for that. I’d say they’ll have better luck landing the Senators’ pick with that package but I’m not holding my breath they’ll get either pick.

JESSE PULJUJARVI

EDMONTON JOURNAL’s Jim Matheson believes Oilers GM Ken Holland could seek a first-round pick who hasn’t panned on other clubs in return for Jesse Pujujarvi. He listed Detroit’s Filip Zadina, Nashville’s Eeli Tolvanen and Carolina’s Martin Necas as options.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS GOALTENDING SITUATION

TSN: Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said his club is still talking to Jack Campbell’s camp. However, there doesn’t appear to be much progress toward a deal. He felt the Leafs will look to add at least one goaltender, mentioning the Minnesota Wild’s Marc-Andre Fleury as an option. Dubas also indicated Petr Mrazek could be sticking around next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The whole point of trading Mrazek is to free up cap space for Campbell. If they can’t afford him with Mrazek still on the books, how can they afford Fleury?

Darren Dreger believes Campbell is headed to the open market. He listed the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils as possible destinations for the 30-year-old netminder with the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings as honorable mentions. Dreger believes Campbell could seek a five-year deal worth $5 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is it’s Edmonton or New Jersey for Campbell.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the word is the Leafs have kicked tires on Senators goaltender Matt Murray as one of their options if Campbell departs next week via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Senators are retaining half of Murray’s $6.25 million cap hit, I don’t see how the Leafs can afford him. I also think they should seek better options rather than a goalie with a long injury history or it’s Mrazek time again next season.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS COULD SEEK A GOALTENDER

LAS VEGAS SUN: Danny Webster reports the Vegas Golden Knights could be in the market for a goaltender if Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit haven’t recovered from their offseason surgeries in time for training camp.

Webster suggested the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brian Elliott as possibilities. He rules out any hope of a Marc-Andre Fleury reunion. Webster also indicated the Golden Knights could shop defenseman Alec Martinez. Center William Karlsson has come up as a trade candidate but the sense is things have cooled on that front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One option could be the Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports the Blueshirts could move the 26-year-old restricted free agent if they don’t intend to file a qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline.

The Canadiens aren’t moving Allen until they’ve had more clarity on Carey Price’s health and that won’t be known until later in the summer. The Lightning re-sign Elliott in April to a one-year, $900K contract so he’s not going anywhere.

RUMORS FROM THE OTTAWA SUN

Bruce Garrioch reports a couple of teams have contacted the St. Louis Blues about Vladimir Tarasenko but the club isn’t shopping him. He wouldn’t mind staying in St. Louis.

The Florida Panthers are expected to let defenseman Ben Chiarot depart as a free agent next week.

Teams might want to reach out to the Minnesota Wild about defenseman Matt Dumba. He was being shopped before the Wild shipped Kevin Fiala last week to the Los Angeles Kings.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2022

Could Claude Giroux sign with the Oilers? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Senators? Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports there remains mutual interest between Claude Giroux and the Florida Panthers. With the July 13 start of the free-agent market fast approaching, there are other clubs that could pursue the 34-year-old forward.

Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

The Edmonton Oilers could be among Giroux’s suitors if he hits the open market next Thursday. There were internal discussions over whether to pursue him if they’re unable to bring back Evander Kane. Giroux can play center or wing and the idea of his skating alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl is an appealing option.

LeBrun also mentions the Ottawa Senators as a possibility. He wonders if the appeal of playing for a Cup contender might be more alluring for Giroux.

NHL WATCHER: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Toronto Maple Leafs would give the Giroux camp a call to inquire into what it would take to sign him. Friedman pointed out that Giroux is building a new home in Ottawa and made it clear at the March trade deadline that he prefers playing in the East.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that there is no longer an interview process for pending unrestricted free agents to speak with clubs interested in signing them. The Oilers, Senators, Leafs or any team other than the Panthers must wait until the market opens at noon ET on July 13 to speak to Giroux and his representatives.

The Oilers could end up seeking other options to replace Kane if Giroux prefers staying in the Eastern Conference. I don’t think the Leafs can afford him unless he’s willing to accept a significant pay cut. Besides, they have other priorities as we’ll soon see.

Giroux’s been linked to the Senators for months because of the hometown ties. However, they’re still several years from Stanley Cup contention. Giroux wants to win now so there might not be a fit there.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the Maple Leafs must find a way to move goaltender Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. As of today, they can’t afford to sign any of the free-agent goalies (including their own Jack Campbell) who could make a significant difference.

Koshan dismissed the notion of shipping out William Nylander given his value to the Leafs. He suggested forward Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million cap hit) or defenseman Justin Holl ($2.1 million) as trade candidates.

Maple Leafs management must also figure out a way to replace the 21 goals and energetic play of departing winger Ilya Mikheyev. They could attempt to shop his rights heading into the upcoming NHL Draft. Re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin is their blueline priority. Once that’s completed, general manager Kyle Dubas isn’t expected to add to his defense corps as he’ll have seven rearguards under contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs are among the clubs with an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Minnesota Wild is interested in bringing back the 37-year-old netminder for another season. He also thinks the Colorado Avalanche could be a good fit for Fleury if Darcy Kuemper heads to free agency next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just $6.4 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23. Shedding Mrazek’s contract is a must but it could cost them a quality prospect or draft pick to get it done. Even then, Dubas still might have to shed another contract to free up sufficient room to re-sign or replace Campbell, re-sign Sandin and fill out the rest of the roster.

Speaking of Fleury, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen wondered if he’d sign with the New Jersey Devils. I’m not ruling out a return with the Wild, though the opportunity to play with the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche could be tempting if they come calling on July 13.

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is still open to shopping his first-round pick (seventh overall) in the upcoming draft. He’s in the market for a winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle or a top-four, right-shot defenseman.

The Senators made a serious pitch for Kevin Fiala before the Wild traded him last week to the Los Angeles Kings. They had no issue with the $7.9 million salary-cap hit of his new contract but balked at the seven-year term.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat is the most mentioned name in the rumor mill. He’d be a good fit with any team but it has to be determined if he’ll sign a contract extension before going down that road. Other trade options include Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi, and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler or Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Senators could also look at signing Claude Giroux via free agency next week. A blueline option could be Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ status as a rebuilding club could make it difficult for Dorion to acquire most of those players listed by Garrioch. The best option could be Puljujarvi, who won’t cost their first-rounder to acquire. He could benefit from a change of scenery after struggling with the Oilers and might fit in well with the Senators’ young forwards.

Chychrun lacks no-trade protection until 2023-24 and is under contract through 2024-25. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be very interested in the Senators’ pick but his asking price is said to be quite high, including a top prospect and a good young NHL player. That could prove too rich for the Senators.










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.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

Check out the latest on Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex DeBrincat, Jack Campbell and more, plus some contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RUMORS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” PODCAST

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.

Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.

Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.

Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.

Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.

Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes have multiple picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe one of those teams made that pitch for DeBrincat. Discuss!

Regarding his report of the Tampa Bay Lightning looking into shopping Ryan McDonagh, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the suitors. He thinks the 32-year-old defenseman would be a good addition to their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.

Friedman mused over the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers signing Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.

Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.

Finally, Friedman wonders if the New Jersey Devils will attempt to sign Blues goalie Ville Husso if he hits the open market on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.

POTENTIAL CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic topped Mike Stephens’ recent list of potential contract buyout candidates. The buyout window opened on July 1 and runs until 5 pm ET on July 12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are still without a full-time replacement for general manager Doug Wilson. Still, it didn’t stop them from axing Bob Boughner as head coach on July 1.

I doubt they’ll find any takers for Vlasic in the trade market given his hefty contract and the decline in his play. We can’t rule out a buyout before July 12.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith and winger Zack Kassian are also on Stephens’ list, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek and Ottawa Senators netminder Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.

The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen had Senators forward Colin White and Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist on his list of buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated White could indeed be bought out by the Senators. The Panthers could do the same if they can’t find a club to take him off their hands in the trade market.