Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Check out the latest on Ryan McDonagh, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Trocheck, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in Part Two of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild would like to bring back UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for another season. He hasn’t made his decision yet and there will be competition for his services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depends on how much of a pay cut Fleury is willing to accept. Still, he and GM Bill Guerin are old teammates and friends. They could work something out.

Uncertainty over Nicklas Backstrom’s status makes it difficult to determine the Washington Capitals’ cap flexibility. It’s uncertain if they’ll bring back goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. They could pursue Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper if he becomes a UFA next week. They could be in on J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $8.9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season, the Capitals will have to move Vanecek or Samsonov if they intend to bring in Kuemper. He could prove too expensive to sign. The Canucks’ asking price for Miller could include Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre.

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to negotiate with defenseman Kris Letang. They’re reportedly not close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin but that could change before July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of signing Letang will determine how much they’re willing to invest in bringing back Malkin. That could depend on how much of a pay cut he’s willing to accept and whether he’ll accept a three-year deal.

Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be a good destination for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He admits it might take multiple moves and could affect their efforts to re-sign UFA winger David Perron. He also wondered if they can retain goalie Ville Husso.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season. McDonagh carries a $6.75 million cap hit and I don’t see the Lightning retaining part of it. They’ll have to shed some salary to fit him in and still have enough for Perron and perhaps Husso.

Friedman is curious whether Darcy Kuemper would consider signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs if Jack Campbell departs next week as a UFA. Re-signing defenseman Rasmus Sandin is trickier than they expected. He also wondered if Max Domi might be a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Leafs as a suitor for Kuemper but they’ve got to do something first about Petr Mrazek’s contract. They’ll also likely try to move out Justin Holl and his $2 million cap hit for next season.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith isn’t expected to play next season while Duncan Keith’s situation could go either way. Trade candidates could include Zack Kassian, Warren Foegele, Jesse Puljujarvi and possibly Tyson Barrie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi has garnered a lot of attention recently in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. Kassian could be a buyout candidate while there could be some trade interest in Barrie.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are working with Ryan McDonagh to find a suitable trade. Winger Alex Killorn could also become a cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s full no-trade clause gives him complete control over potential trade destinations. His $6.75 million annual average value through 2025-26 is also a limiting factor. Killorn carries a more affordable contract at $4.45 million through 2022-23. He carries a 16-team no-trade list.

If the Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat it might spur Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to request a trade, especially if DeBrincat’s traded for futures. Teams are also inquiring about Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Kane and Toews have identical $10.5 million cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses. Moving either guy will involve retaining a healthy chunk of their annual average salary. One would think the Blackhawks would retain the 21-year-old Dach as part of their rebuilding plans. Then again, a lot of us thought the same thing about Brandon Hagel before they shipped him to Tampa Bay.

The cap-strapped Vegas Golden Knights need to shed salary. They could move Laurent Brossoit for cap reasons. “Trading Nic Hague is not a preferred option”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are over $2 million above the cap with 18 players under contract for next season. Reilly Smith is believed to be signed but it won’t be made official until July 13 for tagging reasons. They’ll have to move more than Brossoit’s $2.325 million cap hit. Maybe they try to shop William Karlsson and his $5.9 million cap hit.

The Los Angeles Kings made their big move by acquiring Kevin Fiala last week. Friedman wondered if Fiala’s arrival might prompt one or two of their forward prospects to seek a trade if they feel he’ll block their efforts to crack the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If so, perhaps they could be packaged to add an experienced defenseman to their blueline.

It’s believed the Boston Bruins have an interest in Vincent Trocheck if the Carolina Hurricanes center hits the free-agent market next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also mentions Patrice Bergeron and perhaps David Krejci could return but that’s not a long-term plan at center. Trocheck could help at least fill the second-line center spot beyond next season. They have $2.3 million in cap space with 22 players signed for next season. Not a lot of room there.

The Calgary Flames are believed to have offered an eight-year deal to Johnny Gaudreau worth $9.5 million annually. They’re still waiting for a decision from the left winger, who feels loyalty toward Calgary but this is as much a family decision as it is a hockey one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gaudreau departs I can see the Flames pursuing Filip Forsberg if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nashville Predators.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might make a pitch to Evgeni Malkin if he doesn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t put anything past Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon.

The New York Rangers probably can’t afford to sign Andrew Copp or Ryan Strome so they’re testing the trade market for centers. Potential trade partners could ask for Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko or even Braden Schneider in return. Friedman wondered if they might look at Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorbed part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Rangers have spoken to the Winnipeg Jets about Pierre-Luc Dubois. They’re also believed interested in Mark Scheifele. He also mentioned Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, though those three have just one year each remaining on their contracts. Brooks mentioned Chicago’s Kirby Dach as an intriguing possibility.

The Florida Panthers denied they were trying to lay the groundwork to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a full no-movement clause for two more seasons. UFA winger Mason Marchment is probably priced out of their market now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have $3 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. They can get some cap relief by placing sidelined winger Anthony Duclair (Achilles tendon surgery) on LTIR but they’ll have to be compliant when he returns at midseason.

Coming off their Stanley Cup win, the Colorado Avalanche face big decisions regarding UFAs Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Nichushkin seems the most likely to be retained. Kuemper and Kadri will be expensive and they’ve got to keep an eye on their long-term cap space with Nathan MacKinnon due for a big raise next summer.










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.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2022

Check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alex DeBrincat, Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in the Canada Day edition of the NHL rumor mill.

LATEST RUMORS FROM TSN’S NHL INSIDERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s “tons of trade interest” in Pierre-Luc Dubois after the 23-year-old center informed the Winnipeg Jets of his intention to test the 2024 unrestricted free agent market. Dreger mentioned the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens among the possible suitors but believes it’ll take a substantial offer to pry him away from the Jets.

If it’s the Rangers, Filip Chytil, Braden Schneider or Kaapo Kakko and a first-round pick would have to be part of the return. Otherwise, Dreger doubts Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has the stomach to move Dubois during this offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And if it’s the Canadiens, a young forward such as Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield would probably have to be part of that discussion. I doubt the Habs would part with either guy. They also won’t part with the first-overall pick for Dubois but would probably offer up the 26th overall selection they received from the Calgary Flames in the Tyler Toffoli trade.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks have been listening to offers for winger Alex DeBrincat for five or six weeks. However, the asking price is more than the first-round pick and prospect the Los Angeles Kings sent to the Minnesota Wild for Kevin Fiala.

LeBrun suspects it would be a “triple-asset haul” for Chicago, including a 2022 first-round pick. With the first round of the draft slated for July 7, things could come to a head over the next several days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrincat’s a more reliable offensive winger than Fiala, with two 40-goal seasons under his belt. Unlike the Wild, the Blackhawks are a rebuilding club so they’ll want a larger return focussing on long-term assets.

Bleacher Nation’s Patrick K. Flowers cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Hawks turned down an offer for DeBrincat that would’ve contained a couple of first-rounders. However, there are no details as to what else was proposed in that pitch.

Speaking of Fiala, Chris Johnston reported the Seattle Kraken were among the interested parties before he was shipped to the Kings. They have the cap space to make a splash in the trade or free agent markets this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Writing for The Athletic, LeBrun cited a source saying the Kraken intends to be active in this summer’s UFA market when it opens on July 13. He wonders if they might make a pitch for Johnny Gaudreau if the Calgary Flames winger tests the open market. Cap Friendly indicates they have $22.8 million in cap space with 14 players under contract.

And speaking of Gaudreau, LeBrun said he remains undecided about the offer from the Flames. He suspects the winger wants to keep Calgary in the fold but may want to see what’s out there in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gaudreau departs, the Flames could be scrambling to find a suitable replacement. Maybe they’ll attempt to sign Nashville’s Filip Forsberg if he goes to market or try to swing a trade for DeBrincat.

Dreger said the Colorado Avalanche will try hard to re-sign Nazem Kadri before he becomes eligible for UFA status on July 13. He wonders if they can afford what could be an $8 million to $9 million annual average value to keep the 31-year-old center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $26.8 million in cap space and 14 players under contract, the Avalanche can afford Kadri. However, that will take a big bite out of their cap space, hampering efforts to re-sign or suitably replace goaltender Darcy Kuemper, winger Valeri Nichushkin and winger Artturi Lehkonen. LeBrun believes they’ll prioritize Nichushkin even though they really want to retain Kadri.

Johnston reports the trade winds are blowing increasingly stronger on Jesse Puljujarvi. The Ottawa Senators are among two clubs believed to have an interest in the 24-year-old Edmonton Oilers winger. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector (No, that’s not me!) reported several professional scouts told him the Oilers could get a second- or third-round pick or perhaps a third-line player with upside for Puljujarvi. He mentioned the Senators and Carolina Hurricanes as having an interest in the former 2016 first-rounder. Spector also wondered if the Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils or San Jose Sharks will come calling.

On the topic of the Oilers, Darren Dreger reports GM Ken Holland will meet soon with Mike Smith to discuss the goaltender’s future. The 40-year-old has one season left on his contract and could spend it on long-term injury reserve. Dreger anticipates Holland will “dive deep” into the UFA pool with an interest in Toronto’s Jack Campbell, St. Louis’ Ville Husso and maybe others.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2022

Could the Rangers and Canadiens pursue Pierre-Luc Dubois? What’s the latest on J.T. Miller and Filip Forsberg? Are the Oilers poised to trade Jesse Puljujarvi? Who could the Senators buy out? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RANGERS OR CANADIENS INTERESTED IN DUBOIS?

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe cites a report by Francois Gagnon of RDS linking the New York Rangers to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 23-year-old restricted free agent center has told the Winnipeg Jets of his intention to test the unrestricted free agent market when he becomes eligible in 2024.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

The Rangers and Jets have reportedly held conversations about Dubois. Rangers general manager Chris Drury is said to be very interested in him. They were also believed to have an interest in Jets center Mark Scheifele to give them a solid one-two punch at center with Mika Zibanejad.

Wiebe believes any deal would have to include discussions regarding young Rangers such as Filip Chytil, wingers Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko and defenseman Braden Schneider. He also indicated the Montreal Canadiens as also having an interest in Dubois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be clear, Wiebe isn’t saying the Rangers must ship all those players to the Jets for Dubois. He means at least one of them will have to be part of the trade package.

Wiebe isn’t suggesting a deal is imminent, suggesting this could be simply to stoke a bidding war for Dubois. He said the Jets’ primary objective remains signing the center to a one-year contract and then attempting to convince him to rethink his long-term plans. Still, it doesn’t hurt to investigate Dubois’ value in the trade market for future reference if he remains adamant about moving on in 2024.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is against the Rangers pursuing Dubois, suggesting it may have been the Jets calling the Rangers to check into their interest given their trade history. He believes Dubois will command a substantial raise (seven years, $50 million) on the open market, casting doubt over how the Blueshirts can squeeze him into their already tight salary-cap payroll. Brooks also doesn’t want to see them part with Chytil following his promising performance in the recent postseason.

As for the Canadiens, maybe they surprise us by offering up a package of draft picks (excluding the first-overall pick), one or two prospects or a prospect and a good young NHL player not named Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield to the Jets. Dubois is rumored to be eager to join the Canadiens as a free agent in two years’ time. If so, it would be worthwhile for the Habs to simply remain patient and wait for Dubois’ availability in 2024. Then it’s only costing money and not assets as well.

LATEST ON J.T. MILLER

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported a source told him there are reports the Vancouver Canucks are listening to trade offers for J.T. Miller. The 29-year-old center is a year away from UFA eligibility. He also indicated Miller’s representatives aren’t surprised by those reports.

Dhaliwal said the two sides remain far apart in contract talks. He cited one source claiming the Canucks have been entertaining offers for Miller since February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal suggested a contract comparable for Miller is the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad, who’s starting an eight-year, $68 million deal ($8.5 million annual average value) in 2022-23. That could prove too expensive for the Canucks, which would explain the growing chatter about Miller in the rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox suggests Miller could be the “optimal big-splash target for the Toronto Maple Leafs” if they’re willing to go for it. He acknowledged it would be a risky move, especially with Leafs GM Kyle Dubas being reluctant to acquire players without term. Still, he thinks the Leafs have the trade assets to tempt the Canucks. Fox believes it would be worthwhile to acquire a forward such as Miller to address their needs right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see them pursuing Miller. The Leafs already have enough depth on the top-two lines. Their biggest need is a reliable starting goaltender if Jack Campbell departs via free agency.

UPDATE ON FILIP FORSBERG

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile confirmed he’s offered pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg an eight-year contract.

Dollars might be the holdup as the Forsberg camp is reportedly seeking an annual average value somewhere in the low $8 million range as reported by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. Estes also speculates another snag could be a no-trade clause as Poile as a rule doesn’t hand those out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal cited Forsberg’s agent acknowledging they’re not there yet on the money but both sides continue to grind away at it. There’s a reasonable chance Forsberg remains with the Predators as long as those negotiations continue over the next two weeks.

OILERS CLOSE TO TRADING PULJUJARVI?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Oilers insider Tom Gazzola reporting he’s been told Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi is on his way out of Edmonton. It appears both sides are comfortable with the idea that it’s time to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He has shown flashes of offensive talent over the past couple of seasons but it just seems that things aren’t getting better after five seasons with the Oilers.

Maybe Puljujarvi can reach his offensive potential with another club. If there’s a decent return to be had, the Oilers should consider it.

POTENTIAL SENATORS BUYOUT CANDIDATES

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch observed the first buyout window opens on July 1 until 5 pm ET on July 12. It’s believed Senators management is considering going that route. He believes forward Colin White is their top buyout candidate. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto is another. Goaltender Matt Murray has been mentioned but Garrioch doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

The Senators are still listening to offers regarding their first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft. GM Pierre Dorion is in the market for a top-four defenseman and a high-end winger.

Garrioch said the Montreal Canadiens have been calling teams with picks in the top-10 to see what it would take to nab one. There’s also talk the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks are willing to take on contracts if a draft pick is added as a sweetener. He thinks it wouldn’t be surprising if Senators defenseman Nikita Zaitsev was moved that way.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

Check out the latest Oilers and Leafs speculation plus an update on Ethan Bear in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked which goaltender Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland might target in this summer’s free-agent market. He believes he’ll choose a cheaper, less proven goalie than an expensive free-agent question mark.

Spector said sources tell him Marc-Andre Fleury chooses not to play in Edmonton. He anticipates the Oilers’ free-agent targets will be St. Louis’ Ville Husso and Toronto’s Jack Campbell. He envisions a tandem of Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (NHL Images).

Asked which players could be cost-cutting trade candidates, Skinner listed Zack Kassian ($3.2 million), Warren Foegele ($2.75 million) and Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million). He also included restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi depending on his pay raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers face considerable uncertainty between the pipes for next season. Mikko Koskinen is off to Switzerland while aging Mike Smith could be considering retirement. Even if Smith returns to complete the final season of his contract, they still need a more reliable starter.

Campbell and Husso have shown promise as starters but question marks hover over both. Campbell struggled over the second half of last season with the Maple Leafs, which was his first full campaign as a starter. Husso had a solid regular season with the Blues when Jordan Binnington struggled but gave way to Binnington in the playoffs.

Of those cost-cutting trade candidates, Barrie could attract the most attention. He’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman who could draw interest in the trade market. VancouverHockeyNow’s Rob Simpson believes he’d be a good addition to the Canucks.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LEAFS AFTER RE-SIGNING LILJEGREN?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas still has to deal with restricted free agents Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase after re-signing Timothy Liljegren on Monday.

Koshan wonders how the Liljegren signing affects Justin Holl’s future with the Leafs. While he carries an affordable $2 million cap hit for next season, re-signing Sandin is a priority. He also anticipates trade-deadline pickup Ilya Lyubushkin will hit the open market on July 13.

With less than $7 million in cap space, Dubas must figure out his goaltending. He also needs to bolster his defense and forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen what Dubas has in store to find the cap space to address those needs. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Holl gets traded (despite his 10-team no-trade list) in a cost-cutting deal to free up space for Sandin’s new contract.

UPDATE ON ETHAN BEAR

CANUCKS ARMY: Lachlan Irvine cites CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Vancouver Canucks have had early discussions with Ethan Bear. The restricted free agent defenseman was given permission by the Carolina Hurricanes to speak with other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal said it’s too early to tell how far those talks go between the Canucks and Bear. He could fit their need for younger, affordable talent, especially on their blueline.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2022

The Jets are reportedly exploring trade options for Blake Wheeler while Pierre-Luc Dubois indicates his time in Winnipeg could be short. Check out the details plus the latest on Tyson Barrie in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS SHOPPING WHEELER?

DAILY FACEOFF: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler checks in at No. 3 on Frank Seravalli’s updated list of this offseason’s trade targets. He indicates sources say the Jets are exploring the trade market and engaging with teams on the possibility of moving the 35-year-old right winger.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler (NHL Images)

Wheeler has a full no-movement clause until July 1, after which it reverts to a five-team trade list. He has two more seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Seravalli suggested Wheeler’s contract might not be difficult to move. He suggests there could be a market among playoff contenders seeking a “point-per-game, play-driving winger with size and heart.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler was all those things Seravalli described during his playing prime. However, age could be catching up with him. He got off to a slow start last season and was hampered by a bout with COVID-19 and an injury, though his performance improved over the second half as he finished with 60 points in 65 games. His leadership also came under criticism by Winnipeg pundits and fans amid rumors of divisions in the Jets’ dressing room.

Wheeler’s contract is an issue with the salary cap rising by just $1 million for 2022-23. It’s not impossible to move as there will probably be general managers willing to gamble on him remaining a point-per-game winger on a deeper roster. However, they might not be keen to carry an $8.25 million cap hit for the next two seasons. The Jets could end up taking back a comparable contract, retain part of his annual cap hit, or attempt a three-team deal to spread the dollars around.

DUBOIS TO TEST UFA MARKET IN 2024

THE SCORE: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting Pierre-Luc Dubois informed Jets management of his intention to test the open market when he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Dubois is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. Friedman said the Jets have control of the process until then and intend to keep the 23-year-old center “and have him as a Jet for a long time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets acquired Dubois last season from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. They probably envisioned signing him to a long-term contract with perhaps an eye on him taking over from Mark Scheifele as their first-line center. Scheifele, by the way, is also eligible for UFA status in 2024.

This is not an ideal situation for the Jets. Dubois intends to just sign a two-year extension and then leave in 2024. Based on Friedman’s report, management seems to believe they can convince him otherwise. Unless they’re willing to open the vault and overpay for his services this summer, they risk watching him walk away in two years’ time.

That might explain Seravalli’s report claiming the Jets are gauging Wheeler’s value in the trade market. They might be trying to shed his salary to make room for a hefty raise for Dubois.

LATEST ON BARRIE

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples weighed in on Tyson Barrie ending up on Daily Faceoff’s list of this summer’s trade targets. He not only agrees with it but predicts the 30-year-old Oilers defenseman will be shipped out this summer.

Staples believes Barrie’s puck-moving skills will draw interest in the trade market. With Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci as right-shot defensemen superior to Barrie at even strength, the latter’s $4.5 million cap hit is a luxury the Oilers can’t afford. He suggests shipping him out to clear cap space to add a goaltender or to re-sign Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie carries a reasonable short-term contract and lacks no-trade protection. I can see him getting moved in a cost-cutting deal this summer.