NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2019

Latest on the Avalanche, Jets, and Maple Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Colorado Avalanche possess a lethal first line in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog, but Jared Clinton believes it’s masked the club’s lack of secondary scoring. which has contributed to their current 2-5-3 skid. He suggests it’s time to consider making some noise in the trade market.

Clinton wonders if now might be a good time to shop goaltender Semyon Varlamov and his expiring contract, or listen on blueliner Nikita Zadorov or shopping pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Patrick Nemeth. He also proposes entertaining the option of shopping one of their two first-round picks in the 2019 draft, one of which belonged to the Ottawa Senators and could become the first-overall pick. 

Should the Colorado Avalanche shop goalie Semyon Varlamov for a scoring forward? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t hurt to see what Varlamov, Zadorov or Nemeth might fetch in the trade market, but I doubt any of those three can bring the type of return that would provide immediate help to their secondary scoring.

Varlamov is frequently injured and inconsistent, Zadorov (who’s currently sidelined with a lower-body injury) has struggled to establish himself as a reliable top-four blueliner. Nemeth is a third-pairing rearguard.

If general manager Joe Sakic seeks scoring punch, he’ll have to dangle one of those first-round picks. 


WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should bolster his club’s depth at center and on the left side of the blueline. He points out Cheveldayoff made a big splash at last year’s trade deadline by acquiring rental center Paul Stastny, who played a significant role in the Jets’ march to the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

McIntyre’s suggested trade targets include Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene, Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, and St. Louis Blues rearguard Jay Bouwmeester.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene and Muzzin are the best options on McIntyre’s list. The Senators are trying to re-sign Duchene but he could become available before the trade deadline if they cannot hammer out an agreement on a new contract. He’d also be the most expensive on McIntyre’s list to acquire. Muzzin, meanwhile, is under contract for one more season at an affordable $4 million cap hit. The Kings, however, will want a decent return, preferably a promising young player. 

Staal could be more affordable but the Wild could hang onto him if they’re still in playoff contention. He also has a 10-team no-trade list and could veto a move to Winnipeg. Like Duchene, Hayes is a pending UFA but the Rangers could still try to re-sign him.

Bouwmeester would be the most affordable of this bunch but at 35 he’s no longer a reliable top-four defenseman. The Jets would be better off looking elsewhere. 


TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said yesterday following a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild that his club might still be in the market for a goaltender. Starter Frederik Andersen and backup Garret Sparks are currently sidelined, resulting in GM Kyle Dubas’ recent acquisition of Michael Hutchinson from the Florida Panthers and calling up Kasimir Kaskisuo. They’d prefer returning Kaskisuo to the minors, which could put them in the market for another goalie with NHL experience. 

“I don’t know what’s going on, we were just talking about maybe finding another goalie,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “We’d like (Kaskisuo) to get playing, we don’t want him to be sitting around. So maybe we’ve got to find another goalie and go from there.”

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2018

Hurricanes trade Jeff Skinner to the Sabres, Flames put Troy Brouwer on unconditional waivers plus the latest on William Karlsson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes last night traded left wing Jeff Skinner to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for  a second-round draft pick in 2019, third- and sixth-round picks in 2020 and 20-year-old forward Cliff Pu.

The Carolina Hurricanes trade left wing Jeff Skinner to the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Very surprising in terms of destination and return. Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell told the News & Observer that Skinner, who has a full no-movement clause, gave them a limited number of potential trade destinations. The Sabres were high on the list for Skinner, a native of Markham, Ontario.

Recent speculation suggested the Hurricanes sought a scoring forward and perhaps a first-round pick for Skinner. They obviously couldn’t get that from the Sabres or other clubs on the winger’s list. As Waddell noted, the club felt it was best for him to move on after eight seasons in Carolina.

In other words, they wanted to get a deal done before training camp opened next month, rather than have the uncertainty over his status hanging over the club. Doing so, however, likely means they wound up accepting far less than they expected when they started talking to other clubs. 

Skinner’s departure leaves a glaring hole at left wing and hurts a team that was 23rd in goals for per game (2.74) last season. The Hurricanes didn’t get much of a return, though the additional prospects gives the Hurricanes some additional bargaining chips for other moves. Perhaps some of those assets to be packaged in a larger deal involving defenseman Justin Faulk, who’s also been a frequent subject of trade speculation this summer. 

As for the Sabres, they’ve landed a skilled 26-year-old scorer with three 30-plus goal seasons on his resume. Skinner should be a good fit skating alongside first-line center Jack Eichel and bolster their scoring punch.

He’s also due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Sabres GM Jason Botterill opens contract talks with the Skinner camp. Sabres GM Jason Botterill told The Buffalo News there’s been no contract discussions. Still, the fact Skinner wanted to come to Buffalo bodes well for their chances of getting him re-signed. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames yesterday placed veteran winger Troy Brouwer on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million. The buyout will count as $1.5-million annually again the Flames salary-cap payroll for the next four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brouwer struggled during his previous two seasons with the Flames, seeing fourth line and penalty-killing duties last season. I think he’ll land with another NHL club seeking experienced, affordable checking-line depth but he might have to go the tryout route when training camps open in mid-September. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: With William Karlsson’s salary arbitration hearing slated for Saturday, the center is reportedly seeking $6.5-million annually while the Golden Knights countered with $3.5-million per season. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings center Dylan Larkin said he’s confident he will have a new contract in place before training camp opens next month. The two sides are reportedly closing in on a long-term deal expected to be between five or six years in length.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche agreed to a one-year, $2.5-million contract with defenseman Patrik Nemeth. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2018

Mark Stone and the Senators are far apart approaching arbitration, Coyotes to retire Shane Doan’s number, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Ottawa Senators must avoid going to arbitration with forward Mark Stone at all cost. The two sides are $4 million apart as Stone’s hearing approaches on Friday, with Stone seeking a one-year, $9-million contract and the Senators countering with $5 million.

If Stone gets an arbiter-awarded contract, he’ll join Erik Karlsson and Matt Duchene for eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency. Warren believes the Senators must re-sign Stone as they cannot afford to risk losing their top forward in a year’s time.

With arbitration approaching, Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators remain far apart. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Warren points out, Karlsson already has one skate out the door. If Stone’s future is uncertain, what incentive will Duchene have in re-signing with the Senators? 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes will retire former captain Shane Doan’s No. 19 on Feb. 24, 2019 versus the Winnipeg Jets. Doan began his NHL career with the original Jets and moved with the club when it relocated to Arizona in 1996. 

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed defenseman Robert Hagg to a two-year contract worth $2.3 million. 

BSN DENVER: Adrian Dater reports a source says the Colorado Avalanche will avoid arbitration with defenseman Patrik Nemeth and announce an agreement on a new contract. Nemeth’s hearing is slated for Saturday. 

CHAMPIONAT.COM: Former NHL winger Jannik Hansen will reportedly sign a one-year contract with CSKA Moscow. 

TORONTO SUN: Dominic Moore’s annual Smashfest table tennis tournament involving current and former NHL players has raised over $700K for research into rare cancers and concussions. For the fourth straight year, Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves was the tournament champion


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2017

Stars of the week plus updates on Erik Karlsson, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Parise & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored twice to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Kucherov now has seven goals this season, scoring in six straight games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov came into his own last season as a goal scorer. I expect he’ll be challenging for the Richard Trophy this season. 

Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 15. 

OTTAWA SUN: Senators captain Erik Karlsson makes his much-anticipated return to action tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. He’s been recovering from off-season foot surgery. 

EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers yesterday placed forward Leon Draisaitl (concussion-like symptoms) on injured reserve.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise left practice yesterday after suffering a setback in his attempt to return from an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Winnipeg Jets placed forward Mathieu Perreault (lower body) on injured reserve. 

BSN DENVER: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday and has returned to Denver for evaluation.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner is expected to start tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals on the fourth line. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move will be a short-term one. Marner carries a team-worst plus-minus of minus-6 and this is to improve his defensive game. 

USA TODAY: Over five weeks after starting a 24-week chemotherapy program for colon cancer, NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk is returning to the broadcast booth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Welcome back, Eddie, and continued best wishes for a swift recovery. 

MACLEAN’S: Hall of Famer Ken Dryden calls upon NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to do more to reduce concussion injuries and make the game safer for the players. Dryden examines the issue in detail in his new book “Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For years, the league has been slow to recognize the seriousness of concussion-related injuries, especially with regards to life-altering brain trauma such as CTE. In recent years, it has taken steps to address concussion injuries but more work is still required to make the game safer. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights apologized for a series of tweets on its Twitter account deemed as sexist prior to the club’s recent game against Boston.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2017

Sabres signed Jack Eichel, Penguins & Canucks swing a trade and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Jack Eichel to an eight-year, $80-million contract extension. The new deal begins in 2018-19 and is worth an annual average value of $10 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here, as it was rumored for months Eichel would get a long-term deal worth around $10 million annually. The second overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, the 20-year-old center is considered the Sabres’ franchise player. 

Yes, it’s an expensive extension for a young player still on his entry-level contract but I doubt he’ll have any difficulty justifying that deal. Eichel has considerable upside and has yet to hit his playing prime. 

Following the signing, I saw some folks on Twitter criticizing the deal by noting Eichel hasn’t cracked 60 points in a season. That’s overlooking the fact he missed 21 games with a high-ankle sprain at the start of last season. He still finished with 57 points in 61 games, putting him close to a point-per-game pace. If he stays healthy this season, he should reach at least 80 points this season.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The NHL ruled the Chicago Blackhawks can place winger Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve for this season. The veteran forward is sidelined with a skin condition related to his hockey gear. Once he’s placed on LTIR, the club can exceed this season’s $75 million cap ceiling to replace him up to his cap hit of $5.275 million.

The Blackhawks will today sign left wing Bryan Bickell to a one-day contract, allowing him to retire with the club. Bickell spent all but one season with the Hawks, winning two Stanley Cups. His career was ended by multiple sclerosis.

SPORTSNET: The league also ruled the Toronto Maple Leafs can placed sidelined winger Joffrey Lupul on LTIR. Lupul, who failed to pass his training-camp physical, also failed a second medical examination. His annual cap hit is $5.25 million.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The PIttsburgh Penguins traded defenseman Derrick Pouliot to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for  defenseman Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move provides Pouliot an opportunity for a fresh start. He struggled to crack the Penguins roster and could have a better opportunity with the rebuilding Canucks. There was some expectation the Penguins might use Pouliot as a trade chip to bring in a third-line center but GM Jim Rutherford is willing to stick with Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney centering the bottom two lines.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes won’t have a captain for this season, opting instead for three alternates. A source said defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson would be named alternates, with centers Derek Stepan and Brad Richardson and blueliner Alex Goligoski in the running for the third spot. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bit of a surprise move by the Coyotes. It was anticipated Ekman-Larsson will take over the captaincy from now-retired winger Shane Doan. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed gritty winger Tanner Glass to a one-year, $650K contract. 

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson received a four-game suspension for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche claimed defenseman Patrik Nemeth off waivers from the Dallas Stars. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights plucked goaltender Malcolm Subban off waivers from the Boston Bruins. 


Latest on the Blue Jackets, Blues & Stars – September 29, 2017

Latest on the Blue Jackets, Blues & Stars – September 29, 2017

Does Josh Anderson want out of Columbus?

Conflicting reports about Josh Anderson seeking a trade, the Blues are linked to Jaromir Jagr and the Stars could make a move to clear up their logjam on defense. Details in your NHL rumor mill.

 SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman yesterday reported Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson requested a trade. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen claimed the request “was news to me,” adding the club isn’t looking to trade Anderson.

Friedman said the idea of a sign-and-trade scenario was broached. Appearing on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590, he said the report of the request didn’t come directly from the Anderson camp, but it was something he’d heard when working on the story. Anderson’s agent told Friedman he wasn’t going to talk about it.

Anderson is a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract. Friedman cites a report in The Athletic claiming the two sides appear to be only $150K per season apart on a three-year deal but the two sides are standing firm on principle. He also notes the Blue Jackets worked to protect Anderson from June’s expansion draft and it’s thought they’ve rejected requests from the Colorado Avalanche to include the winger in a trade package for center Matt Duchene.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Adam Jardy also reports Kekalainen denied Friedman’s report of a trade request, adding the Jackets are hopeful Anderson will be signed soon and continue playing in the NHL. The winger’s agent, Darren Ferris, declined to comment on speculation or the state of contract talks, other than to say talks are ongoing and he hoped for a resolution soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson posted a respectable 17 goals and 29 points as a rookie in 2016-17. He’s a big, physical forward with a decent scoring touch. The Blue Jackets obviously believe he has a promising future and prefer to keep him in the fold. However, the longer this contract stalemate drags on, the more Anderson’s name will pop up in the trade rumor mill. Because he’s coming off an entry-level deal, he has limited leverage. If he’s not under contract by December, he becomes ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season. Perhaps the Jackets will listen to trade offers if the standoff drags on through October. 

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t ruling out bringing in outside help to replace forward Robby Fabbri, who’s out for the upcoming season with a knee injury. However, it’s likely he’ll look to within his organization to address the issue. Armstrong admitted his staff are discussing options outside the team, including unrestricted free agent Jaromir Jagr. However, there are few decent choices available via free agency. There are also salary-cap complications if they go the trade route.

NBC SPORTS: Jame’s O’Brien cites TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Blues could bring back forward Scottie Upshall, who’s currently with the Vancouver Canucks on a professional tryout offer. Canucks GM Jim Benning, however, said his club hasn’t heard anything yet about Upshall returning to St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues currently have around $2.2 million in salary-cap space. If necessary, they can place Fabbri on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll only get $894K in salary-cap relief. Bringing back Upshall would be cheaper than signing Jagr.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently examined the options facing Stars GM Jim Nill to address his crowded blueline. The club currently carries nine defensemen. He could send Julius Honka, who’s exempt from waivers, to the minors. He could demote Greg Pateryn, who’ll likely clear waivers. Heika said Nill hasn’t traded Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth yet because he still values their potential.

Heika subsequently reports Stars coach Ken Hitchcock has determined who his top-six blueliners will be to open the season, though he declined to reveal who they are. Heika speculates they could be Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Marc Methot, Jamie Oleksiak, Dan Hamhuis and Stephen Johns, as they were Hitchcock’s defense pairings during a recent preseason game. He suggests Honka could be demoted and either Nemeth or Pateryn could be traded or placed on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General managers looking to pry a blueliner from the defense-heavy Vegas Golden Knights could also contact the Stars. I think there will be interest in Honka but I doubt that Nill wants to part with him. Nemeth could also attract interest in the trade market. Pateryn could get plucked off the waiver wire.