NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2020

The Lightning take a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Senators intend to buy out Bobby Ryan, the Canadiens re-sign Jeff Petry, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Kevin Shattenkirk scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to take 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Shattenkirk’s goal came on a power play after Stars captain Jamie Benn was whistled off for tripping Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Dallas’ Joe Pavelski each scored twice.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (NHL Images).

Several milestones were reached in this game by four Stars. Pavelski tied Joe Mullen’s NHL record for most playoff goals by an American-born player with 60. He also holds the record for most goals scored in one postseason (12) by a player 36-or-older.

Meanwhile, teammates Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg are only the second pair of defensemen on the same team to each reach 20 points in one postseason. Paul Coffey and Charlie Huddy were the first to do so with the 1985 Edmonton Oilers.

Corey Perry also scored in this game, making him the third player in NHL history to go at least 13 years between Stanley Cup Final goals, joining Mark Recchi (15 years) and Dino Ciccarelli (14).

The Lightning were without captain Steven Stamkos. After scoring a goal during a brief appearance in Game 3, Stamkos was unfit to play in Game 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of this series. The Stars took 2-0 and 3-2 leads only to see the Lightning battled back to tie the game. The Bolts took their first lead when Alex Killorn made it 4-3 in the third period but Pavelski tied it with his second of the game.

Benn’s penalty sparked criticism from the Stars but it was an obvious infraction the officials couldn’t ignore. Besides, the Stars had a great opportunity earlier in the extra frame with the man advantage after Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was called for holding Tyler Seguin but they failed to capitalize.

Both clubs have little time to dwell on this one. Game 5 goes tonight at 8 pm ET with the Lightning just one win away from becoming Stanley Cup champions and the Stars desperate to keep their Cup hopes alive.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday placed winger Bobby Ryan on waivers with the intention of buying out the final two years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates the Senators will be tagged with a $3.58 million salary-cap hit for the next two seasons, followed by about $1.83 million annually for the last two seasons. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy this season for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bit of a surprise but one the Senators made for business reasons. The 33-year-old Ryan is not the scorer he used to be and his $7.25 million annual average value was more than the rebuilding Sens were willing to keep paying. This move allows Ryan an opportunity to have a fresh start with a playoff contender at a more affordable price.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are considering a contract buyout of center Alexander Wennberg. The move would save the Jackets over $10 million over the next three years. Wennberg is 26, but because he was 25 in June, as per the CBA the buyout will be at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline reports neither Wennberg or his agent have heard anything about a buyout from the Jackets, while GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment. His annual average value is $4.9 million for the next three seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers won’t be buying out James Neal or any other players this year.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday re-signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million. His new deal also includes a no-movement clause and a 15-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal provides Petry a slight raise over his current $5.5 million AAV, but otherwise isn’t much different from the final three years of his present contract in terms of movement and no-trade clauses. It’s a good move by the Habs to ensure veteran stability on the right side of their blueline. Petry’s been a reliable, sometimes underrated member of the Canadiens core. The move won’t affect their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll.

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed goaltender Alex Lyon to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs added Paul MacLean to their coaching staff.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2020

The latest on the Oilers, Kings, and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill

OILERS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently examined several potential trade targets for the Oilers. He suggested Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper would be an attractive option given his salary-cap hit ($4.5 million) for the next two years and solid save percentages (.920 or higher) over the last three years.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins expects the Oilers focus will be on their goaltending rather than on defense or a third-line center. He notes speculation suggests Darcy Kuemper could be available but feels he’ll go to a goalie-poor club with draft picks to spend like the Calgary Flames. He also considers Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract is too expensive.

Leavins argues for upgrading Mikko Koskinen’s goalie partner rather than seeking a true starter. He points out Koskinen’s save percentage (.917) is similar to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and comparable to Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (.919) and Vegas’ Robin Lehner (.921). Re-signing Mike Smith to a one-year, $1-million deal would make sense if Smith accepts playing 20-25 games per year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly reports the Oilers have $70.9 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They seemingly lack the cap room to bring in an established starter, but recent rumors indicate they had talks with the Penguins about Matt Murray but balked at parting with a first-round pick. Maybe Oilers general manager Ken Holland attempts a dollar-for-dollar deal to add a goalie or dumps salary in a separate trade.

Kuemper would be a solid addition if Holland seeks a reliable starter, but I agree with Leavins that he could end up with a club that has the tradeable assets to tempt the Coyotes if they’re looking to rebuild. That would be draft picks, prospects or young NHL-ready players.

If Holland’s going to upgrade Koskinen’s partner he should pass on Smith. There should be better options available in what’s expected to be a flooded goalie market. Dallas’ Anton Khudobin is due to become a UFA but his playoff heroics will price him out of the Oilers’ range. The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.913) could be an option.

Leavins colleague David Staples looks into whether it would be worthwhile for the Oilers to pursue Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. While he considers the Coyotes captain a very good defenseman, his stats indicate he’s not an elite one. He doubts the Oilers can afford Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value plus he could be unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to come to Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication Holland is interested in Ekman-Larsson. I daresay those points raised by Staples ensures the blueliner won’t be coming to Edmonton anytime soon.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell also suggested Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk would be an attractive trade option for the Connor McDavid line. DeBrusk is a restricted free agent and could cost around $5 million annually to sign. The Bruins asking price could be prospects and draft picks, though Mitchell suggests the Oilers’ first-round pick might come into play.

Mitchell’s colleague Jonathan Willis believes the Oilers won’t get fair value in any trade involving Jesse Puljujarvi. While some observers suggest swapping the winger for another underachieving young player, Willis believes that could be simply exchanging one problem for another. He suggests they follow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s example with Jonathan Drouin and hope Puljujarvi can build up his value if he returns to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins don’t re-sign Torey Krug they’ll have the cap room to re-sign DeBrusk, though that could go off the rails if the winger seeks more than they’re willing to pay. I think they intend to re-sign DeBrusk and remain patient with him. He’s only 23 and was on pace to exceed 20 goals for the second straight year and 40 points for the third straight year before COVID-19 prematurely ended the regular season.

I agree with Willis’ take on Puljujarvi. Shipping him out for another struggling youngster doesn’t guarantee improvement. Best to bring him back and give him an opportunity to build up his game.

KINGS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman doesn’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to pursue any big-name talent via free agency. If they do look toward the UFA market it could be for affordable options. Oilers winger Tyler Ennis, Nashville Predators winger Craig Smith, and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon were among Dillman’s suggested targets.

Dillman also pointed out the Kings carry over $19 million in salary-cap space, putting them in a good position to acquire a player from a cap-strapped club who can provide immediate help if they’re willing to part with draft picks and prospects. Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and fellow Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson could be available. The St. Louis Blues could look to move winger Jaden Schwartz to clear cap room to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before COVID-19 flattened the salary cap it was expected Kings GM Rob Blake would wait until next summer before getting into the UFA market as the 2021 pool of free-agent talent is deeper than this year’s. We don’t know if the current economic landscape has changed his mind.

Dillman isn’t saying Blake will pursue a big-name player via trades or free agency. She’s simply looking at possible moves if the Kings GM were inclined to get involved. Blake could make a move or two but I’ll be surprised if he makes a big splash in this year’s trade or free-agent markets. He could stick with his plan of rebuilding with youth but I see him adding a reasonable price veteran or two.

CAPITALS

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan wonders if the Washington Capitals need to trade a defenseman. If they re-sign Brenden Dillon they’ll be overloaded with left-shot blueliners as they’ll also have Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny and Jonas Siegenthaler, as well as prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev. He speculates that could leave one of them expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon whether Dillon re-signs. Even then, there’s no rush to ship out one of those blueliners. If they do I suspect it would be Kempny or Siegenthaler.










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 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.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2020

A Big Offseason Goalie Market

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TSN: Following the St. Louis Blues trading Jake Allen to the Montreal Canadiens, Frank Seravalli listed a number of goaltenders potentially available in the offseason.

Free-agent options include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.

Possible trade chips include Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, and one of Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins.

Among the trade options, Seravalli reports the Penguins are believed to have an offer on the table for Murray. He speculates the Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and perhaps the Avalanche could become suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer could be a buyer’s market for goaltenders. Plenty of options to choose from here.

Of the UFAs, I believe Markstrom, Lehner and Crawford will re-sign with their current clubs. The Stars could stick with Khudobin as Ben Bishop’s backup depending on what he seeks in his next contract. The Flyers could bring back Elliott for another year backing up Carter Hart.

Holtby, Greiss and Talbot would be the best available options. However, finding new homes and lucrative deals could be difficult to come by depending on what happens in the trade market.

The trade candidates are a mixed bag. Andersen could be the best of the bunch. He catches a lot of flak from some Leafs fans over his playoff record, but he’s not to blame for his club’s porous defense. It’s to his credit he’s posted up the numbers he has given his heavy workload.

Murray has two Stanley Cups on his resume but he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past couple of years. Raanta is an outstanding netminder when he’s healthy but he’s often sidelined.

Korpisalo and Merzlikins both played well this season, but are they truly ready for full-time starter’s work? Either guy could be a bit of a gamble.

Fleury turns 36 in November and his play during this season in part prompted the acquisition of Lehner at the trade deadline. Lundqvist is past his prime and carries an $8.5 million cap hit next season with a full no-movement clause. I doubt the Rangers will find many takers for King Henrik unless he waives his NMC and the Blueshirts pick up a healthy chunk of his cap space.

Smith, Howard, Miller and Anderson are well past their prime. Maybe Miller returns with the Ducks for one last season. Otherwise, he and the others could face retirement.

THE EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman including goalie Darcy Kuemper among the Arizona Coyotes’ trade chips. Staples feels Kuemper would be worth pursuing by the Oilers if they can clear out some money on defense. The Coyotes are without a first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, leading Staples to wonder if it would be wise for the Oilers to give up a first-rounder when other goalies could be more affordable in contract and return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on Kuemper’s performance this season, the Oilers should definitely look into acquiring him. I’m not saying they should overpay, but if what Kuemper did over the past two seasons is an indication of what lies ahead, he could be a big upgrade between the pipes in Edmonton. His performance in this year’s postseason will likely draw lots of interest from other clubs if the Coyotes shop him. As Friedman noted, however, that will depend upon what the next Coyotes’ GM wants to do.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle examined the Leafs options to replace Andersen if they decide to trade him. While acknowledging there’s no guarantee they’ll move Andersen, Mirtle believes they have a legitimate interest in Robin Lehner and could be among the bidders for his services when he becomes a UFA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner will cost a lot more than the $5 million AAV the Leafs are paying Andersen for next season. He’s already making that much on a one-year deal. Yes, the flattened cap will have an effect upon Lehner’s next contract and those of his fellow pending UFAs. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got offers between $6-$7 million annually on a four- or five-year deal. The Leafs will have to shed more payroll if they hope to land Lehner.

Kevin Kurz recently observed the San Jose Sharks need a goaltender to pair with or supplant starter Martin Jones. He wondered if Andersen might be a better fit with the Sharks, noting he played his first three NHL seasons in the Western Conference with the Anaheim Ducks. If the Carolina Hurricanes decide to pursue a top-flight netminder, perhaps the Sharks could bring back James Reimer. He likely wouldn’t cost much beyond a mid-round pick.