NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

A look at Sportnet’s list of possible contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist top Luke Fox’s list of 14 players who might be considered for contract buyouts.

Will the New York Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images)

Buying out Neal would free up $3.83 million if the Oilers need room to go shopping in the trade or free-agent markets. The Rangers, meanwhile, don’t intend to carry three goalies as they did this season, making Lundqvist a possible buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alzner has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million. The Habs have kept him buried in the minors and could afford to do so again for 2020-21. Cap Friendly indicates buying him out would only give them over $666K in cap savings next season, though that increases to $2.66 million in 2021-22.

The first buyout period runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers could wait until the 24-hour second buyout window following the settlement or award on filings by any one of their arbitration-eligible restricted free agents. That would allow some additional time to determine if there’s a trade partner for Lundqvist once the goalie market carousel slows down.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Vancouver Canucks forwards Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi are also on Fox’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks would see substantial savings buying out Maatta, as the annual cap hit over the next four years would be over $680K. I believe the Golden Knights will attempt to trade Fleury if they re-sign Robin Lehner. A buyout could be the option of last resort.

Fox points out an Eriksson buyout wouldn’t provide much cap relief for the Canucks, but they would get $1.7 million in relief by buying out Baertschi. Canucks GM Jim Benning could prefer the trade route for one or both, even if it meant absorbing some salary.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman are other possible buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Turris has four years at $6 million annually on his contract, Ladd has three years with an AAV of $5.5 million, while Abdelkader has three years at $4.25 million annually remaining on his deal.

Because buyouts are at twice the remaining tenure, their respective teams could be reluctant to go that route. The Isles won’t get much immediate cap relief buying out Ladd. Stralman has two years at $5.5 million annually left. A buyout would provide $3 million in cap savings for next season.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, and Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore round out Fox’s list. It was subsequently noted the Ducks informed Backes they’ll keep him for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo and Moore each have three years remaining on their contracts. The Sabres have gone the buyout route in the past so we can’t dismiss the possibility they’ll do it again. However, an Okposo buyout would count as $4 million against their cap for next season and $5 million in 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2020

Teams prepare for Phase 2 of Return-To-Play Plan, Patrick Kane donates to Chicago organizations to combat racism, Kyle Okposo undergoes surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TEAMS PREPARING FOR PHASE 2 OF NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

SPORTSNET: Maple Leafs players already in Toronto underwent COVID-19 testing yesterday in preparation for the second phase of the NHL’s Return-To-Play Plan on Monday. Teams will be allowed to reopen their training facilities (based on local and state/provincial medical protocols) to allow voluntary small-group training of up to six players per group. Those in the Toronto area include Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, Jake Muzzin, and Kyle Clifford.

NHL training facilities can reopen on Monday.

The Vancouver Canucks will be keeping Rogers Arena closed until there is a demand from the players for ice and training space. Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Troy Stecher are the only Canucks to spend the coronavirus shutdown in Vancouver, while Josh Leivo stayed for medical treatment.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens players will have to wait until Thursday to begin skating at their practice facility as no ice has been laid there. The club claims it’s due to maintenance work at the facility, but a source said the ice crew had been laid off because of the pandemic. Another source indicated the ice would be ready for the players on Thursday. Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin are the only Canadiens currently in Montreal.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Nearly every member of the Jets are currently at their homes in Canada, the United States, and Europe. There isn’t expected to be much activity at the Jets training facility in the near future owing to travel restrictions and the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine upon returning to Winnipeg.

STLTODAY.COM: After consultation with his players, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said his club won’t be opening their facilities until they request it. Approximately 10 of the Blues’ players remained in the St. Louis area since the NHL began its self-quarantine period on March 12.

TRIBLIVE.COM: All Penguins players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 before using the club’s training facilities. Medical evaluations for those who test negative will begin on Monday.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders will be ready to open their facilities on Monday, while the Rangers will require an extra day before opening theirs. Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Adam Fox, and Brendan Lemieux are the only Rangers currently in the local area.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (subscription required) has a full listing of each team’s status and how many of their players could use those facilities when they open next week.

Most players have resided at their off-season residences since the league paused operations in mid-March. Because participation in Phase 2 is voluntary and given travel restrictions and local health protocols, most will likely remain where they are during this period. Those who reside in NHL cities other than their respective teams’ have permission to train at those facilities if they wish.

OTHER NOTABLE HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is donating to local Chicago charities combating racial injustice.

“Racism and injustice in our country must end,” Kane said. “As a white male in this society, I will never truly understand. But I want to help in this fight for change – and I know I cannot do that in silence.”

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive VP for social impact, growth initiatives, and legislative affairs, announced the league is forming four committees to examine and address the diversity issues facing the league and the sport. The committees are the continuation of the work announced at last December’s board of governors meeting after several players reported racist language and physical abuse from coaches during their playing careers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo underwent successful surgery on his right knee this week. He’s expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo could be ready to participate in training camp, tentatively slated to open sometime in July.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Duhatschek reports the Hockey Hall of Fame’s annual selection committee will be held as planned on June 23 and 24. This year’s prominent first-year eligible players are Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa.

OTTAWA SUN: A debate over distribution of funds was among the main issues that led the Ottawa Senators Foundation to announce it was cutting ties with the club on July 3. The foundation’s focus is on supporting youth programs. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who underwent a successful liver transplant in 2015, wanted a portion of the proceeds to go toward organ donation awareness.

SPORTSNET: announced award-winning sports broadcaster Chris Cuthbert will be joining the network as an NHL play-by-play announcer.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The Athletic yesterday announced it was cutting eight percent of its staff. Among those laid off were hockey writers Ken Wiebe, George Richards, Scott Gordon, Tom Reed, Joe Yerdon, John Glennon, Craig Morgan, and Marc Dumont.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They are among some of hockey’s best pundits. Here’s hoping for better days ahead for all of them.










NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

More compliance buyout speculation and how the Canadiens cap space could serve them well in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HYPOTHETICAL COMPLIANCE BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports the anticipation of the 2020-21 NHL salary cap taking a COVID-19 hit has generated speculation the league and the NHL Players Association could agree to the implementation of compliance contract buyouts. He listed 11 hypothetical amnesty buyout candidates, with Vancouver’s Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) topping the list. With Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli and others to re-sign, a compliance buyout window would help the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were rumored looking into trading Eriksson last summer, but couldn’t find any takers for his contract. Given the complications they’ll face if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he’ll be a prime compliance buyout candidate.

Others could include Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million AAV through 2022-23), Chicago’s Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) provided he’s recovered from his recent surgeries, Calgary’s Milan Lucic ($6 million through 2023-24), Montreal’s Karl Alzner ($4.625 million through 2021-22), and the New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd ($5.5 million through 2022-23).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out the Wings can afford to absorb Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen ($5.25 million AAV through 2021-22), but general manager Steve Yzerman could avail himself of the opportunity to shed the expensive contracts of fading veterans.

if Seabrook hasn’t been medically cleared to return to action during the buyout period (whenever that might be), the Blackhawks won’t be able to avail themselves of that option. Lucic, Alzner, and Ladd are probably goners. The Isles attempted to trade Ladd to the Minnesota Wild as part of a complicated deal for Zach Parise at the trade deadline.

Could Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky become a compliance buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky ($10 million AAV through 2025-26), the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (one year at $8.5 million), Edmonton’s James Neal ($5.75 million through 2022-23) and Anaheim’s David Backes ($6 million for one more season) round out this list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those guys receiving compliance buyouts. A couple of readers questioned Bobrovsky being a candidate when I wrote about this in an earlier Rumor update, claiming he’s the victim of the Panthers’ woeful defense.

That’s as may be, but there’s no denying the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has struggled over the last two years. His performance this season was not the Panthers’ front office banked on when they signed him to that whopping big contract.

There’s talk that ownership will want to slash payroll if they miss the playoffs this season. An amnesty buyout for Bobrovsky would be the easiest option.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens could be well-positioned to use their cap space to their advantage once the salary-cap figures are determined for 2020-21.They have over $63 million invested in 16 players.

Re-signing restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete and re-signing or replacing other free agents will have little impact upon next summer, when such notables as Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry, and Phillip Danault will become free agents. Engels suggested they’d have more flexibility if they traded Domi for a defenseman like Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. 

Engels believes it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk will return to the Canadiens on a bonus-laden deal next season. He also anticipates they’ll look to the UFA market for a reliable backup for Carey Price. He doubts they’ll go the offer-sheet route this summer, but they could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades before the start of next season, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans and pundits have been waiting for Bergevin to use his cap space to provide a significant boost to the roster. This summer could provide that opportunity if the cap remains flat and compliance buyouts aren’t implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

As for the suggestion of trading Domi for Dumba, the latter lacks no-trade protection, but it could be premature to believe Wild GM Bill Guerin will go that route. If he does, he’ll be shopping Dumba to the highest bidder, meaning Domi might not be enough to pry him away from the Wild. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2020

Capitals defenseman John Carlson reaches a franchise milestone, the Detroit Red Wings trade Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers. and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals snapped a four-game losing skid and regained sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3. Carl Hagelin scored twice while John Carlson surpassed Calle Johansson for the most points (475) by a defenseman in Capitals history. Following the game, the Capitals acquired winger Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins (80 points) sit two points behind the Capitals. Pittsburgh forward Dominik Kahun (leg injury) was a late scratch.

Detroit Red Wings trade Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Two goals by Andrew Mangiapane powered the Calgary Flames to a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Flames (70 points) hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth. Dylan Larkin scored twice for the Red Wings, who traded defenseman Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers following the game for LTIR forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable move by the Oilers, bringing experienced depth to the defense corps as they push to secure a postseason berth. Green isn’t the offensive presence he once was and hasn’t had a good season with the floundering Wings, but his performance could improve with the Oilers.

The conditional pick is a fourth-rounder in the 2020 draft. If the Oilers reach the Western Conference Final and Green plays in half of the games, it becomes a third-rounder in 2021. The Wings also picked up half of Green’s $5.373-million salary-cap hit.

Speaking of the Oilers, Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists in his return from a quad injury as his club doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Oilers (73 points) moved past the Vancouver Canucks into second place in the Pacific Division.

Shea Theodore’s overtime goal lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the Anaheim Ducks 6-5. William Karlsson tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, while Ducks forwards Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie each scored two goals and collected two assists. The Golden Knights (76 points) opened a three-point lead over the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fourth straight win by beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1. With the win, the Blues (82 points) opened a three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference standings. It was also announced that both clubs will face off in Minnesota in the 2021 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day.

Anton Khudobin made 31 saves as the Dallas Stars edged the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1. Tyler Seguin tallied the game-winner for the Stars (78 points), who sit one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo scored both goals in his club’s 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The win moves the Sabres (66 points) within six points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic division. With 69 points, the Jets remain one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Anders Lee scored twice to lead the New York Islanders over the San Jose Sharks 4-1. The Isles (76 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

CBS SPORTS: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce could be sidelined long-term because of an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Hurricanes, they intend to honor David Ayres, the emergecy goalie who backstopped them over the Leafs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes recalled goaltender Darcy Kuemper from his AHL conditioning stint.

SPORTSNET: The Maple Leafs placed forward Dmytro Timashov on waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 19, 2019

The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2019 is officially inducted, the three stars of the week, Cory Schneider on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The six newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame were officially inducted on Monday night in Toronto. Entering the Hall are former NHL stars Sergei Zubov and Guy Carbonneau, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, hockey pioneers Hayley Wickenheiser and Vaclav Nedomansky, and Boston College coach Jerry York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Class of 2019. I was touched by Wickenheiser’s induction speech in which she spoke of the difficulties and resistance she overcame as a girl playing hockey in the 1980s. She remains a role model for thousands of aspiring female hockey players.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected two points in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images).

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson extended his points streak to seven games with two assists in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 15th goal of the season. Washington winger Garnet Hathaway could face supplemental discipline after being ejected for spitting on Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson following their on-ice scrap.

Antti Raanta turned in a 31-save shutout as the Arizona Coyotes downed the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Conor Garland tallied his team-leading 10th goal of the season and added an assist.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle are the NHL stars for the week ending Nov.17, 2019.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on waivers and recalled Louis Domingue. Given his $6 million annual salary-cap hit on a contract that runs through 2021-22, it’s unlikely anyone will claim him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils will get very little salary-cap relief with this move. They’re painting this as a way for Schneider to see more playing time and regain his once-stellar form. He’s been hampered by injuries in recent years, taking a toll on his performance.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Kyle Okposo has suffered his fourth concussion since joining the club in 2016 and his second in this calendar year. The club also announced Tage Thompson is sidelined three-to-five weeks with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report reminds us Okposo was hospitalized in 2017 due to post-concussion symptoms and reaction to medication. Given the frequency of his head trauma, it might be time to seriously consider retirement. Here’s hoping he makes a quick recovery from his latest injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens will be without two key forwards for a lengthy period. Jonathan Drouin underwent wrist surgery while Paul Byron will require knee surgery. Drouin’s agent claims his client will be sidelined eight weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will feel their absence. Drouin was off to his best start since joining the Habs in 2017 with 15 points in 19 games. Byron, meanwhile, is among their best-skilled two-way forwards.

SPORTING NEWS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. He’s undergoing concussion protocol since being struck in the head by a shot from Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson on Saturday. He has not yet been diagnosed with a concussion.