NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray remains on top of Frank Seravalli’s trade-bait board, followed by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Seravalli reports the Penguins are looking at an internal salary cap of $75 million. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to free up cap space to “dip a toe” into the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins have $75.3 million invested in 20 players following yesterday’s trade of Patric Hornqvist to Florida for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. If they trade Murray it could be for draft picks or prospects. They also have eight blueliners under NHL contracts. One of them could be moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is No. 10 on Seravalli’s list, but everything I’ve read and heard out of Pittsburgh suggests he’s staying put. He’s got an 18-team trade list but also carries a no-movement clause, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft. That could be a sticking point if the Penguins shop him.

Regarding Dumba, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger believes the Wild could set a high asking price. GM Bill Guerin would love to land a first- or second-line center but could be willing to accept a “softer deal” of a high first-round pick and a good young NHL roster player. He points out they can hold onto Dumba until their price is met.

Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets could also attempt to move out Alex Wennberg or Markus Nutivaara to clear space to re-sign Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The latter, of course, is the priority. The Jackets could shop Anderson if contract talks stall.

Ekman-Larsson is among several Coyotes (Phil Kessel at No 6 and Darcy Kuemper at No. 12) on Seravalli’s list who could become cost-cutting candidates, along with Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Ekman-Larsson, however, has a full no-movement clause and controls his fate. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reported Hjalmarsson currently doesn’t intend to waive his NMC.

Laine’s appearance on the trade-bait list prompted criticism suggesting TSN put him there as clickbait. Seravalli’s colleagues Dreger and Pierre LeBrun dispute this, with Dreger claiming Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is listening on Laine. However, he indicated there hasn’t been a lot of action, perhaps in part over economics going forward or the cost of re-signing him before he becomes arbitration-eligible next summer.

LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets has some interest in Laine while the Carolina Hurricanes had a brief conversation with the Jets that didn’t go far. The Montreal Canadiens could use a scorer like Laine but LeBrun said they currently don’t intend to get into the Laine sweepstakes.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, the Ottawa Senators two first-round picks, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are also among the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli has Palmieri on that list because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. So far, there’s no indication of what the Devils intend to do with him.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion could listen to offers on those picks. If he moves a first-rounder it’ll likely be the one he got from the Islanders (28th overall) in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. Fleury’s a goner if the Golden Knights re-sign Robin Lehner.

Wild winger Ryan Donato, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome also make the cut between spots 11 and 16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Donato ($1.9 million for one season) would be a cost-cutting candidate. So would Boychuk for the cap-strapped Isles, who has an eight-team trade list as well as an annual average value of $6 million.

LeBrun believes a club could be interested in acquiring Pietrangelo’s rights because re-signing him for eight years would give them a favorable annual average value. DeAngelo and Strome are both RFAs with arbitration rights. One of them could be traded if the Rangers can’t find a way to shed Henrik Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit for next season.

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, and Canadiens center Max Domi fill spots 17 through 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes acquired Skjei at the trade deadline and recently shipped out Joel Edmundson. They could use a scorer or an experienced starting goalie, but I suspect they’d find other options than moving Skjei.

The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. With Johnson carrying a full no-trade clause, Killorn and his 16-team no-trade list seem the most likely to go.

Domi is an RFA with arbitration rights who spent time on the fourth line during the playoffs. He could be moved for a scoring winger if the Habs are comfortable with young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson are in spots 21 through 25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could move Johnsson in a package deal for a defenseman or in a cost-cutting move to clear cap room to sign a blueliner in free agency. The rise of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi has some pundits wondering about Danault’s future, but I don’t believe the Habs intend to move him. He’s a UFA next summer but it’s best to keep him around in case Suzuki or Kotkaniemi struggle next season.

Montour is an RFA with arbitration rights and he could be moved for a forward. There was talk of the Oilers shopping Larsson for a top-six right winger but that’s died down of late.

Philadephia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak and Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton round out the list. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson are also there but this listing was published before they were traded for each other yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s struggles this season made him a frequent subject of trade chatter. Bozak could be shopped if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo. Hamilton is a UFA next summer but the Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with him.

In other trade-rumor nuggets, Seravalli believes it’s a poorly-kept secret the Vegas Golden Knights could pursue Pietrangelo via free agency but he wonders how they can afford him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They can’t unless they forget about re-signing Robin Lehner or find a way to shed a lot of salary. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. Even moving Fleury’s $7-million AAV won’t leave enough for Pietrangelo and Lehner, who could cost a combined $15 million to sign.

Seravalli also reports many are wondering if Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the trade value of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has a year remaining on his contract at $7 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney must find a suitable replacement for Rask if he’s going down that road, especially if he still feels the Bruins championship window remains open. Rask has a 15-team trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

The latest on the Penguins, Coyotes, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is going to make significant moves in the coming weeks, though the pressure from team executives may have relented a bit since their qualifying-round elimination over a month ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

It’s only a matter of time until goaltender Matt Murray is moved. They’d love to get a first-round pick in return but so far there are no takers. Given their cap issues, they could be fine with a return of draft picks and prospects for Murray. Yohe also expects another salaried player could be moved.

Yohe would be surprised if defenseman Kris Letang is traded. He doesn’t rule out recently re-signed Jared McCann getting traded but feels they’d like to keep him as a third-line center. He also said adding a right-hand defenseman is high on the Penguins’ wish list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe recently suggested Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey and Philadelphia’s Justin Braun as possible right-shot free-agent defense targets for the Penguins. Depending on how much cap space Rutherford frees up, Hainsey or Braun would be his most affordable options.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Madden wouldn’t be surprised if McCann gets traded. He points out the center’s new two-year contract ($2.94 million AAV) could make him easier to move.

COYOTES

TSN: Travis Yost believes teams interested in acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson should be aware of the decline in his production since 2015-16. While he feels the Arizona Coyotes captain is still a good player who could be very good in the right situation, the 29-year-old defenseman is on the wrong side of the aging curve carrying a big contract ($8.25 million AAV) through 2026-27.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER.COM: Craig Morgan cites league sources say Arizona Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson will not waive his no-movement clause for the final year of his contract. He wants to spend the season in Arizona for family reasons that likely center around his two sons. Morgan doubts the Coyotes will buy him out because the savings would be nominal and he’s already received half of his $4 million in actual salary in signing bonus money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ekman-Larsson trade chatter emerged weeks before their recent hiring of Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. He could prefer hanging onto Ekman-Larsson in hopes his performance improves as the roster does. If ownership insists on dumping salary, Armstrong could see what the trade market is like for his captain. The decline in his stats plus his hefty contract (with a full no-movement clause) could dampen his trade value.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently listed Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Pat Maroon and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as bargain free-agent options for the Nashville Predators. He also suggested they could re-sign winger Craig Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have $73.3 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Unless GM David Poile sheds some salary, they won’t be major players in the UFA market. The best they’ll get is bargain signings like those suggested by Vingan. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring back Smith.










NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.

NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.

TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.

NHL RUMOR MILL

TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.

We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.

PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.

Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.

The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.

Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.

Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON MATT MURRAY

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.

COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.

Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”

Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.

What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.

WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”

Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.

Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.

NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.

If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

Golden Knights reportedly talking contract with Robin Lehner, plus the latest on the Bruins and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

REPORT: GOLDEN KNIGHTS HOLD CONTRACT TALKS WITH LEHNER

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights intend to sign goaltender Robin Lehner to a long-term contract extension. He cites sources suggesting discussions between management and the Lehner camp might have already begun. Lehner, 29, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season, the Golden Knights only have $6.375 million in cap space. $3-$4 million of that could be taken up re-signing restricted free agents Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins. Granger estimates it could take a five-year deal at $5 million annually, possibly more, to keep Lehner in the fold.

Re-signing Lehner could mean parting ways with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract. Granger feels Fleury’s relationship with management has soured since Lehner’s acquisition at the February trade deadline. They could retain part of his cap hit to trade him, though he carries a 10-team no-trade list. They could also buy out the remainder of Fleury’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Lehner is re-signed and Fleury traded or bought out. That’s been percolating in the rumor mill for some time, especially when Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs. It went to a full boil last month after Fleury’s agent tweeted an image of his client with a sword through his back and coach Peter DeBoer’s name on the blade.

Lehner or Fleury could draw the attention of the Colorado Avalanche. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers suggested the Avs could pursue either goalie if they become available.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intends to explore ways to improve his club between now and the start of the free-agent market on Oct. 9.

The toughest decision could be deciding whether to re-sign Torey Krug. Haggerty believes the Bruins would love to keep the 29-year-old pending UFA defenseman, but he doesn’t feel they’re in a good enough salary-cap place to do so.

Haggerty speculates Sweeney could look to within to bolster his lineup by promoting Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka into full-time roles next season. Making room for those two could mean moving out a winger like Jake DeBrusk. He’s a restricted free agent due for a significant raise but also an inconsistent scorer who managed just two points in 10 playoff games last month.

Haggerty wondered if Sweeney might consider shopping David Krejci. The 34-year-old center has one year left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.25 million who can be dealt to half the teams in the league based on the no-trade language in his contract.

Sweeney also said the Bruins have no reservations about goaltender Tuukka Rask after he opted out of the playoffs for family reasons. Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak both have a year left on their contracts and it appears the Bruins plan on continuing next season with their current goalie tandem. Sweeney pointed out Rask is up for the Vezina Trophy this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krug seeks over $7 million annually, he’s probably played his final game with the Bruins. He’s indicated he’s not taking a hometown discount or a one-year deal. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney said the two sides “haven’t found a landing spot yet.”

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa (subscription required) also suggested DeBrusk could be a trade chip. However, he felt defenseman Brandon Carlo was more likely to move because he didn’t play up to his capabilities in the playoffs. However, if Krug departs I doubt they’ll trade away Carlo.

As for Krejci, his age, cap hit and modified no-trade make him difficult to move under the current economic conditions. He could be traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still suiting up with the Bruins next season.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports sources around the league have spoken with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford regarding defenseman Kris Letang. However, this isn’t uncommon and there’s no indication Letang is being actively shopped.

Yohe also reports all indications suggest the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade goaltender Matt Murray. Rutherford had little interest in moving goalie Tristan Jarry. The Penguins GM is willing to move center Jared McCann and perhaps Nick Bjugstad, though Rutherford isn’t opposed to keeping him. He also doesn’t sound interested in moving defenseman Jack Johnson.

TSN: Darren Dreger isn’t sure the speculation about Letang is legit, pointing out his agent said his client doesn’t expect to be moved. Dreger acknowledged the 33-year-old defenseman might still be traded, but it’s not his expectation. Other Penguins who could hit the trade block include Johnson, Patric Hornqvist, and Zach Aston-Reese.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation yesterday claiming Letang was expecting a trade, but now his agent says otherwise. Damage control, perhaps? Or merely some confusion emerging from multiple sources on Letang’s status. Whatever it is, it seems likely Rutherford was talking to other clubs about the veteran blueliner but doesn’t appear close to considering a trade.

No one’s surprised Murray is the most likely of their two goalies to move. He’ll be more expensive for the Penguins to re-sign plus he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past two years.

Hornqvist has a $5.3-million AAV through 2022-23 but his full no-trade clause becomes an eight-team no-trade list at the end of this season. He’s 33 and his style of play frequently leaves him banged-up but his experience and gritty style around the net could be enticing to other clubs.

McCann could also draw some interest. Bjugstad’s been hampered by injuries the past two years, appearing in 64 games last season and just 13 this season. That will put a damper on his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2020

Are the Oilers shopping for a goalie? Will the Blue Jackets get into the market for a center? How could the Blackhawks shed salary? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS SEEKING A GOALTENDER?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers seek a goaltender to share the duties with Mikko Koskinen. While they’ve kicked the tires on Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, the Oilers would prefer adding a younger version of Mike Smith for around $2.5 million who can play 35-40 games with Koskinen.

Matheson points out the Oilers only have around $9 million in cap space. He also notes it’s a buyer’s market for unrestricted free agent goalies with such notables as Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Cam Talbot, Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss potentially available. Trade options could include Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, or maybe Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bolstering the goaltending should be the Oilers’ priority. Koskinen cannot be relied upon to carry the bulk of the starts and Smith is clearly past his prime and must be replaced.

Kuemper would be the best trade option if available, carrying a reasonable $4.5 million annual average value over the next two seasons. Korpisalo would be even more affordable ($2.8 million AAV for two years) but has a limited body of work as a starter.

The Penguins are trying to cut costs by shopping Murray. The asking price won’t be expensive but his new contract will be, perhaps over $6 million annually. Factor in his injury history and inconsistent play over the last two years, and the Oilers would be wise to look elsewhere.

Perhaps the Oilers will move one of their defensemen to free up cap space for other moves. Matheson’s colleague David Staples suggested shopping veteran defenseman Kris Russell to free up some cap space. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4 million AAV and a 15-team no-trade list for 2020-21, but his actual salary will be $1.5 million once the Oilers pay his $1 million signing bonus for next season.

WILL THE BLUE JACKETS SHOP FOR A CENTER?

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports the 2020 playoffs showed the Blue Jackets need an upgrade at center, specifically on the second line. He indicates there’s a “glaring void” between first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois and third-liner Boone Jenner.

Hedger lists free agency, the trade market and developing from within as the ways general manager Jarmo Kekalainen can address this issue.

The free-agent market is bleak, with Nashville’s Mikael Granlund topping the list with 30 points this season. Kekalainen will explore the trade market as they can draw upon their blueline depth, young forwards, and a pair of goalies in their mid-20s who performed well this season for trade bait. Hedger suggested the Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a trade target, though he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

Options from within could include Alexander Wennberg or Alexandre Texier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The UFA market is very thin for center. Granlund, Carl Soderberg, Tyler Ennis, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Mikko Koivu and Erik Haula are the best of the bunch. Thornton, Spezza, Koivu and Soderberg are past their prime, Granlund and Ennis are used more as wingers while Haula’s been hampered by injuries in recent years.They could try Wennberg and Texier, but I don’t think that’s going to work. Wennberg is inconsistent while Texier is used mostly on the wing.

The trade market is their best option to address that need, but I don’t think the Oilers intend to part with Nugent-Hopkins. He’s a key versatile part of their forward lines, able to play second-line center or skate at left wing on Connor McDavid’s line.

HOW WILL THE BLACKHAWKS CUT SALARY?

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis recently examined how the Blackhawks can free up salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome and Drake Caggiula and unrestricted free agent goalie Corey Crawford.

The Blackhawks can free up $5.56 million if they buy out Olli Maatta and Zack Smith. A more ideal solution would be moving one or both via trade, but that would involve packaging them with sweeteners.

Trading Brandon Saad would shed $6 million. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become a UFA next summer. However, Roumeliotis argues that move would subtract a top-six forward merely to shed salary. Given the current economic climate, he doubts a rival club would take on that full cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buying out Maatta and Smith could also leave the Blackhawks with over $1.7 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, followed by two more seasons of $680K annually. Nevertheless, that could become their best option to re-sign their key players.

I doubt Smith will have any more trade value. Maatta’s performance in this year’s playoffs might make him enticing for clubs seeking a puck-moving defenseman.