NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

How much would it cost to acquire Sabres captain Jack Eichel? How will a flat salary cap affect the Capitals? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


WGR550: Joe DiBiase weighs in on the cost for interested clubs to acquire Jack Eichel. He was inspired by the recent musings from some fans and pundits over what it would take to acquire the Buffalo Sabres captain.

What would it cost to acquire Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images)

DiBiase dismisses the recent talk of Eichel supposedly being frustrated with the Sabres as speculation. He believes there’s “no way in hell” the 23-year-old superstar is getting traded now. Nevertheless, he decides to show why it will be difficult for rival clubs to pry away Eichel from the Sabres.

DiBiase believes the asking price to be a young No. 1 center and something of significance. He quickly dismissed 19 of the 31 NHL clubs as lacking the necessary components to make that trade.

For the rest, here is what DiBiases believes are fair asking prices:

Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and a first-round pick.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid.

Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, Spencer Knight, and a first-round pick.

New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and two first-round picks.

New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, and two first-round picks.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin.

Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Far-fetched? Outrageous? Completely unlikely to happen? You bet, but those returns make more sense than most of the Eichel trade scenarios floating around in cyberspace. Google “Eichel Trade Rumor” to see what I mean. Some folks seem to think they can get the Sabres’ captain for a package of draft picks, prospects, and cast-offs.

Eichel is a great player on a bad team. He’d be even greater on a good one. And no, your favorite club won’t be able to take advantage of the Sabres’ dysfunctional front office to steal away their captain. Unless Eichel forces the issue, and there’s no indication he’s going to anytime soon, they have no intention of trading their franchise player.


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: JJ Regan examines what a flat cap of $81.5 million means for the Washington Capitals over the next two seasons. They have 11 forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie under contract for 2020-21, with a little less than $10.4 million in cap space remaining.

Their unrestricted free agents include goaltender Braden Holtby, defensemen Brenden Dillon and Radko Gudas, while winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Jonas Siegenthaler and Travis Boyd are their restricted free agents.

Does this ensure the end of Holtby’s time in Washington? Does the team wait on a long-term extension for Ovechkin to get a better idea of where the salary cap may be in a few years? Can the team afford to keep any of its UFAs? Does the team leave (TJ) Oshie exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby was expected to depart via free agency even when the salary cap was projected to rise to between $84-$88 million. Gudas and Kovalchuk aren’t expected back. Re-signing Dillon could eat up between $4-$5 million annually. That won’t leave much to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could wait on an extension for Ovechkin until they see how things look beyond next season. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $57 million invested in 13 players, with Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov also to re-sign. They could be forced to leave Oshie or another comparable salary exposed in next year’s expansion draft to free up sufficient space for Ovechkin, Vrana, and Samsonov.

NHL Most Important Players: Washington Capitals

NHL Most Important Players: Washington Capitals


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2019

The latest on Elias Pettersson, T.J. Oshie, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson said he’s worked on improving his conditioning and the strength and power in his legs this summer. The 2019 Calder Trophy winner admitted he found games tougher late last season and hopes to avoid hitting that wall again in his sophomore campaign.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is looking forward to his sophomore NHL campaign (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson dazzled through most of 2018-19 but his production notably declined down the stretch. With improved strength and conditioning, the 20-year-old center should exceed last season’s 28-goal, 66-point performance. 

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Canucks, they officially announced yesterday the three-year contract extension for general manager Jim Benning.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie said he’s recovered from the broken collarbone that ended his 2018-19 campaign. He’s put more emphasis on building up the muscles in his shoulder and upper body.

THE ATHLETIC: The Boston Bruins have opened contract extension talks with head coach Bruce Cassidy. Over the past three seasons, he’s sported a record of 117-52-22.

The Bruins reached the playoffs in each of those seasons and reached the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Cassidy was a finalist last season for the Jack Adams Award.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM:  The Carolina Hurricanes unveiled their new road jerseys for 2019-20.


EAGLETRIBUNE.COM: Former hockey writer Russ Conway died at age 70 of coronary disease. In 1992, Conway was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his stories that exposed corruption at the highest levels of professional hockey.

His work led to the downfall and imprisonment of former NHL Players Association director Alan Eagleson. In 1999, Conway was “awarded the prestigious Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalists in the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Conway’s family, friends and colleagues. His book about Eagleson’s activities, Game Misconduct, stoked my interest in the often contentious labor relations between the league and the NHLPA.

During the 2004-05 lockout, I briefly corresponded with Conway. I appreciated his advice, as well as his willingness to help an aspiring hockey writer. 

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2019

The latest on the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz points out the Washington Capitals face some big decisions with some key players before next summer. Goaltender Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July while captain Alex Ovechkin will enter the final year of his contract.

Will this season be Braden Holtby’s last with the Washington Capitals? (Photo via NHL Images)

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan can open contract talks with Holtby and Backstrom now. The club has over $62 million committed to their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll and nearly $50 million for 2021-22.

Of the two, Gretz considers Backstrom, a top-line center and one of the best players in the world, the priority. Re-signing Holtby could be more difficult after Sergei Bobrovsky received a seven-year, $70-million contract from the Florida Panthers. He also believes the cost of re-signing Ovechkin will surely be over $10 million annually.

If the Capitals hope to re-sign Holtby, Gretz believes it’ll take trading a significant player such as Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, or Dmitry Orlov to free up sufficient cap space. Another option would be shipping out some depth players like Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, and Richard Panik. Otherwise, this season could be Holtby’s last with the Capitals.

NBC WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan noted Backstrom opted for security over money when he agreed to his current 10-year, $67-million deal. He can’t see Backstrom holding the team hostage with an outrageous salary demand.

Regan considers Holtby’s future more uncertain, citing the high cost of money and term, the looming Seattle expansion draft, and the Capitals’ top prospect being goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

NBC WASHINGTON/THE WASHINGTON POST: Brian McNally and Isabelle Khurshudyan examine the cost-cutting options for the Capitals in the wake of re-signing Christian Djoos and Chandler Stephenson. They’re sitting over $1.3 million above this season’s $81.5-million salary cap. One option could be waiving or trading Djoos or Stephenson before the start of the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Freeing up that cap space before the season opens will be much easier for MacLellan than what he’s facing with Backstrom and Holtby before next July. Most Capitals observers share Regan’s belief of Backstrom being the more likely to be re-signed.

Maybe one or both will surprise and accept lesser deals to stay in Washington. Maybe they’ll both demand top dollar. Perhaps they’ll decide their respective NHL futures lay elsewhere and opt to test next summer’s UFA market. Unless they’re re-signed before this season begins, questions over their respective futures in Washington will only grow as next July approaches.


NEW YORK POST/NEWSDAY: In the wake of the Rangers re-signed winger Pavel Buchnevich yesterday, Brett Cyrgalis and Colin Stephenson look at possible ways GM Jeff Gorton could shed salary. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the season opens in October. Cap Friendly indicates they’re above the cap by over $4.1 million and still have restricted free agents Brendan Lemieux and Anthony DeAngelo to re-sign.

Cyrgalis speculates winger Chris Kreider, who carries a salary-cap hit of $4.625 million and is a year away from UFA status, could become a trade candidate. Stephenson suggests Kreider, center Vladislav Namestnikov ($4 million), or forward Ryan Strome ($3.1 million) could be shopped.

Stephenson also proposed a buyout of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk ($6.65 million AAV for two more seasons) or Brendan Smith ($4.35 million AAV through 2020-21). However, the way their contracts are structured, the Rangers won’t see much savings in the second year of the buyout.

Like Cyrgalis, Stephenson considers Kreider the prime trade candidate. He doesn’t see teams lining up for Namestnikov or Strome and doubts they’ll find any takers for Shattenkirk or Smith even if they agreed to pick up part of their cap hits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider seems the most likely to move, though we can’t dismiss the possibility of Gorton finding some way to move one of those other guys by adding a sweetener in the deal. They could also bury some contracts in the minors.

If Gorton goes the buyout route, he has 48 hours from Friday’s settlement with Buchnevich, who had filed for arbitration, to do so. Otherwise, the earliest we could see a cost-cutting move by the Rangers could be sometime in September.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2019

The Bruins and Leafs plus the Golden Knights and Sharks are headed to Game 7, Norris Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: A double-overtime, shorthanded goal by Tomas Hertl gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, forcing a seventh and deciding game in their opening-round series on Tuesday in San Jose. Hertl became the first player in NHL history to score a shorthanded goal in a game that required multiple overtimes. Sharks goaltender Martin Jone made 58 saves while Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 27 shots.

Tomas Hertl’s shorthanded goal in double overtime gave the San Jose Sharks a series-tying 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling through Games 2 through 4, Jones was solid in the last two games, backstopping his club from a 3-1 series deficit to a chance to win tomorrow night in Game 7 and advance to the second round. Hertl was clutch for the Sharks over those two games, scoring twice in Game 5 as well as the game-winner in Game 6. 

For the third straight time since 2013, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will need a seventh game to decide their opening-round playoff series. Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another as the Bruins doubled up the Leafs 4-2 in Game 6 to tie their best-of-seven series at three games apiece. Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews tallied for the Leafs. Game 7 goes tomorrow night in Boston. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen did all he could to give his club a chance to win, kicking out 37 shots. Tomorrow’s game will be a big test of character for the Leafs, who blew a 4-3 lead to fall 7-4 in last year’s Game 7 matchup. 

San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, and Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Victor Hedman are this year’s finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy. Burns won the award in 2017 while Hedman was last year’s winner. 

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie underwent surgery yesterday to repair a broken right clavicle (collarbone) and is sidelined indefinitely. Oshie suffered the injury during Game 4 of the Capitals’ opening-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

 NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov is doubtful for Game 6 tonight against the Capitals. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2019

Blues eliminate the Jets, the Capitals and Stars take 3-2 leads in their respective series, Vezina Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoff by edging the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 to win their opening-round series four games to two. Jaden Schwartz tallied a hat trick for the Blues, who held off a third-period rally by the desperate Jets. They also held Winnipeg to just six shots through the first and second periods, including just one in the second. 

Jaden Schwartz’s first career playoff hat trick helped the St. Louis Blues eliminate the Winnipeg Jets with a 3-2 Game 6 victory. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  For most of this game, the Blues dominated the Jets, who struggled to get any serious scoring chances on Jordan Binnington. They deserve full marks for exploiting Winnipeg’s defensive breakdowns in this series. For a club that was last in the Western Conference on New Year’s Day, it’s been a helluva run so far for the Blues, who await the winner of the Dallas Stars-Nashville Predators series.

The Jets, meanwhile, brought most of this upon themselves. Not taking anything away from the Blues performance, but Winnipeg blew third-period leads in Games 1 and 5. The last one was a killer as they seemed firmly in control of that game entering the third.  Defensive mistakes killed them in this series and they simply weren’t prepared for a fired-up Blues team in Game 6. 

Braden Holtby made 30 saves for a franchise-record seventh playoff shutout while Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and set up two others as the Washington Capitals blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 6-0. Alex Ovechkin also scored and added two helpers. The Capitals hold a 3-2 lead as the series shifts back to Carolina for Game 6 on Monday. They could be without winger T.J. Oshie for the remainder of the postseason as he reportedly suffered a broken collarbone in Game 4. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a statement game by the defending Stanley Cup champions, dominating the upstart Hurricanes who had battled back to even the series in Games 3 and 4. Another performance like that and the Capitals will move on to face the New York Islanders in the next round. The Hurricanes did get some good news as rookie winger Andrei Svechnikov hopes to return for Game 6 after being sidelined since Game 3. 

The Dallas Stars biggest stars were the main factors behind their 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Alex Radulov scored twice, Jamie Benn had three assists, Tyler Seguin scored a goal and added an assist, and goaltender Ben Bishop kicked out 30 shots. Jason Dickinson also scored twice for the Stars, who take a 3-2 series lead back to Dallas for Game 6 on Monday. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a club carrying one of the deepest bluelines in the league, the Predators were sloppy defensively in this game. Three of Dallas’ goals were the result of turnovers. They’ve also been outplayed by the plucky Stars for most of this series. If the Predators can’t find a winning solution soon, they’ll be hitting the golf course after Monday. 

Speaking of Ben Bishop, he’s one of this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, joining the New York Islanders’ Robin Lehner and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.