NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2020

Check out the latest Max Pacioretty speculation and how the Capitals could find a short-term replacement for Henrik Lundqvist in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked about the recent trade rumors about Max Pacioretty. He doubts the Golden Knights will trade the winger, citing how much the Golden Knights gave up to the Montreal Canadiens two years ago to acquire him as one reason.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Granger cited sources indicating Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon called around the league to gauge interest in Pacioretty, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Jonathan Marchessault. However, those talks didn’t progress as McCrimmon was merely testing the waters to see what might be out there. Granger also dismissed the notion that Pacioretty requested a trade.

If the Golden Knights were to trade Pacioretty or Marchessault, Granger speculates they could attempt to bring back Erik Haula, who could welcome a return to the city where he had his best NHL season.

Granger also doesn’t believe the Boston Bruins would entertain parting with winger Jake DeBrusk in a package deal for Pacioretty. The 24-year-old DeBrusk is younger than the 32-year-old Pacioretty, carries a more affordable contract and is a restricted free agent when it expires in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pacioretty trade chatter provided welcome grist to the NHL rumor mill. While anything’s possible, it seems unlikely he’ll be moved. In addition to the reasons listed by Granger, the Golden Knights are built to win right now. They have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Pacioretty in the lineup this season.

I also agree with Granger’s take regarding Pacioretty to the Bruins. I don’t think they want to acquire a winger approaching his mid-thirties carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons. While they want to keep their championship window open for this season, they’re at the stage where they must also keep an eye on the future.

THE WASHINGTON POST: In her latest mailbag segment, Samantha Pell was asked if she expects the Capitals to make a trade before the season begins. She believes they could, citing a crowded blue line (“especially on the right side”) and the need to replace Henrik Lundqvist, who’s out for the season receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Pell suggested Nick Jensen as a possible trade candidate but could be retained in case another defenseman is injured.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron listed several options for the Capitals to replace Lundqvist. One could be signing an unrestricted free agent such as Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson or Jimmy Howard. Another could be trading for a goalie, though he doesn’t see them taking on an expensive netminder such as Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals could surprise us by going the trade route. However, I concur with Maron that they’ll either sign a UFA or promote from within their system.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2020

Check out the latest on Max Pacioretty, Zdeno Chara, and Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites three NHL management sources and two scouts claiming that if Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon isn’t shopping Max Pacioretty, he’s at least listening. Recent rumors claim the Golden Knights were looking into moving the 32-year-old winger’s $7 million annual average value, but team owner Bill Foley denied the reports.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty isn’t worried about recent trade speculation (NHL Images).

One source told Murphy the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins have circled back to Pacioretty. The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Buffalo Sabres are also said to be interested.

THE SCORE: cites Pacioretty telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’s unconcerned about those trade rumors. “I played in Montreal for 10 years, so this is lightweight stuff,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot worse…This is nothing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those clubs listed by Murphy could be doing due diligence by checking into Pacioretty’s availability. Nevertheless, I doubt he’ll land with any of them.

Given the Golden Knights’ desire to shed salary, they won’t want much in return and won’t want to absorb a significant chunk of Pacioretty’s cap hit. That rules out the Penguins, as Cap Friendly shows them with $1.3 million in cap space. They would get $1 million more by placing Zach Aston-Reese on long-term injury reserve but unless they’re getting creative by getting a third team involved I don’t see how they can pull it off.

The Devils have plenty of cap space but if they’re on Pacioretty’s 10-team no-trade list I don’t see him agreeing to leave a Stanley Cup contender to join a rebuilding team. The same goes for the Kings, who attempted to acquire Pacioretty two years ago but have since gone into rebuild mode.

Pacioretty isn’t a fit with the Rangers as they have Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere among their left wingers. The Sabres already made their big offseason move by signing Taylor Hall.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if it’s time for the Boston Bruins to move on from former captain Zdeno Chara. There are teams like the New York Rangers reportedly interested in the 43-year-old free-agent defenseman.

Haggerty points out the Bruins signed Jakub Zboril to a one-year contract and re-signed Kevan Miller to a one-year deal. He also noted their attempt to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s agent said his client is waiting to see what the format for this season will look like before deciding where he’ll play. Some observers believe he’ll return with the Bruins for one more season but others aren’t so sure anymore. We won’t have to wait much longer to find out if the NHL and NHLPA reach an agreement on a Jan. 13 start to this season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks were interested in Travis Hamonic before they acquired Nate Schmidt in October. He believes they’re still interested in the free-agent defenseman but probably don’t have the cap flexibility they had before the Schmidt acquisition. They’ve also signaled an intent to bring more youth into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks above the $81.5 million cap by $1.5 million. They could get cap relief if winger Micheal Ferland ends up on LTIR over his lingering head-trauma symptoms but perhaps not enough to sign Hamonic, who could be targeted by the Winnipeg Jets.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2020

A look at two possible trade partners for the Vegas Golden Knights plus an update on Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Travis Yost suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators as two clubs that could help the Vegas Golden Knights resolve their salary-cap crunch. Both are rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space that could use more scoring punch.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault (NHL.com)

The Golden Knights were reportedly examining the possibility of trading winger Max Pacioretty. They’re also said to be testing the market for winger Jonathan Marchessault. Yost feels Marchessault would be a better fit with the Wings or Senators.

The 29-year-old is three years younger than Pacioretty and carries a more affordable contract. Pacioretty’s annual average value is $7 million while Marchessault’s is $5 million. He also carries an eight-team no-trade clause.

Yost believes Marchessault would immediately improve either club without clogging up a roster spot over the long term. Because the Golden Knights can’t take on salary and remain a Stanley Cup contender, they’ll be looking for a cheaper replacement and futures. “That sort of price is digestible for a 29-year-old signed through 2023-24 and on a back-diving, team-friendly contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Marchessault will earn $5 million in actual salary for 2020-21 and ’21-’22, dropping to $3.5 million annually over the final two seasons. His $5 million AAV would become worthwhile if the Wings or Senators wish to maintain payrolls near the salary-cap minimum in the final years of his deal.

Whether the Wings or Senators see Marchessault fitting into their plans remains to be seen. This could be irrelevant if those two clubs are on his no-trade list and he’s unwilling to waive it

TSN 1040 VANCOUVER: During yesterday’s “Donnie and Moj” show, Bob Marjanovich said he’d heard the Canucks and Calgary Flames were interested in Travis Hamonic. Both clubs have limited cap space, meaning they’d have to shed some salary to sign the free-agent defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are over the $81.5 million cap by $1.5 million while the Flames have just over $1 million in cap space with restricted free agent defenseman Oliver Kylington to sign.

Vancouver could get some cap relief if winger Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million) begins the season on long-term injury reserve because of lingering head trauma symptoms. Signing Kylington will eat up most of the Flames’ cap space.

It’s believed Hamonic will end up with a one-year contract because of the current economic situation. He’ll try to sign with the highest bidder but could prefer staying in Western Canada.

The Manitoba native has been linked to the Winnipeg Jets. They’re above the cap by over $697K but will get $5.29 million in cap relief when Bryan Little (ear) is placed on LTIR. They must also sign Jack Roslovic but there’s talk they could trade the RFA winger. Hamonic could be a fit with the Jets if they don’t Roslovic for a blueliner.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2020

Breaking down some potential moves to watch as the 2020-21 season inches closer in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon examined five lingering issues that must be addressed before the project Jan. 13 start to the 2020-21 NHL season.

The respective salary-cap crunches facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights and New York Islanders dominated the list.

The Lightning sits just above the $81.5 million salary cap and must sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli. Dixon observed some trade speculation arose earlier this fall suggesting Steven Stamkos could become a trade candidate. However, the captain’s full no-trade clause and the limited number of teams that could afford his $8.25 million annual average value pretty much rules out trading him. Winger Alex Killorn (16-team no-trade list, $4.5 million AAV) remains a possible cap casualty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s recent signing of defenseman Mikhail Sergachev prompted conjecture they could have a cost-cutting deal in hand but it has yet to materialize.

They also attempted to shed salary by putting winger Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) on waivers in early October but couldn’t find any takers. He also has a full no-trade but reportedly submitted a list of eight or nine potential destinations to Lightning management.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights are also just above the salary cap, prompting rumors they could be shopping a high-salaried player such as Max Pacioretty, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Fleury won’t be traded while team owner Bill Foley recently dismissed the Pacioretty rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights could move an expensive veteran. Then again, they could also trade or demote a lower-salaried depth player to become cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Islanders still haven’t signed RFA center Mathew Barzal. They will get some cap relief by placing defenseman Johnny Boychuk (eye injury) and his $6 million AAV on long-term injury reserve. Dixon took note of GM Lou Lamoriello’s failed attempt at this year’s trade deadline to ship winger Andrew Ladd to Minnesota for Zach Parise. He wondered if Lamoriello might try to package Ladd with a sweetener to a rebuilding team with the cap space to take on the winger’s $5.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but it could take one heckuva sweetener to convince a rebuilding team to acquire Ladd. While Dixon cited the 35-year-old winger’s experience and leadership, age and injuries have significantly affected his performance.

Dixon also noted the trade rumors swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine and the Arizona Coyotes’ attempt to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move Laine, whose agent suggested earlier this fall it might be beneficial for both sides if his client was moved to a team where he’d get first-line minutes. The winger has a year remaining on his contract and becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. That doesn’t mean GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t trade Laine but he’ll seek a significant return, such as perhaps a top-pairing defenseman.

Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. However, attempts to move him fell through before his self-imposed deadline of Oct. 9.

The Coyotes captain insisted he’s happy in Arizona and wasn’t upset by the club exploring trade options. Nevertheless, this could resurface if the Bruins or Canucks make a pitch to the Coyotes’ liking, provided he’d be willing to waive his clause before the season begins.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2020

Check out some recent speculation on the Red Wings, Bruins and  Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan listing several players the Red Wings could be interested in before the start of this season.

Could the Detroit Red Wings acquire Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson? (NHL Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty are Kulfan’s suggested trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Red Wings’ trading Dmytro Timashov to the New York Islanders yesterday, general manager Steve Yzerman could make another addition to his roster before the season begins. 

A swap between the Wings and Lightning has potential. The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. The Wings have plenty of cap space and general manager Steve Yzerman knows Killorn, Johnson and Gourde from his days as Lightning GM.

Killorn, however, has a modified no-trade list while Johnson and Gourde have full no-trade protection. If the Wings aren’t on their lists of preferred destinations they won’t be going to Detroit.

Pacioretty, meanwhile, has a 10-team no-trade list which could include the Wings. Besides, Yzerman might not be keen to invest in a 32-year-old winger carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons.

Unrestricted free agent targets could include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen, Andy Greene and former Red Wing Andreas Athanasiou.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract worth between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. I don’t think Yzerman will go that high for him. Granlund or Duclair might be affordable options, with Granlund perhaps the better choice depending on his asking price.

Vatanen could be a good addition to the Wings’ defense corps on a reasonable short-term contract. Greene is believed to have a deal with the Islanders that will be made official once they get Mathew Barzal under contract. I doubt Yzerman will bring Athanasiou back to Detroit given his disappointing performance during his contract year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked about the possibility of the Bruins bringing in a player on a professional tryout offer during training camp. He suggested former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as one option. UFA like Anthony Duclair and Mikael Granlund could become PTO candidates but Haggerty feels they’ll eventually sign guaranteed contracts rather than tryouts for training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll likely be aging veterans like Alzner, Ron Hainsey, goaltenders such as Jimmy Howard and Craig Anderson, and forwards like Justin Abdelkader and Michael Grabner could end up signing professional tryout options with the Bruins and other clubs.

Asked if the Bruins are done making moves, Haggerty speculates a trade is more likely than a free-agent signing. If they go the trade route, it’ll be for a top-four defenseman to plug the gap on the left side of their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty noted the Bruins’ efforts to acquire Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson before the blueliner’s Oct. 9 deadline brought that attempt to an end. GM Don Sweeney could attempt a trade for a left-side defender but it probably won’t be a move for someone like Ekman-Larsson at this stage.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined what could be a crucial season for the Calgary Flames. With two years remaining on the contracts of winger Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, he feels the Flames are reaching a pivotal moment.

Another disappointing playoff performance could put pressure on general manager Brad Treliving to shake things up. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels blowing things up could make things worse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The majority of Flames fans (and some Calgary pundits) were calling for change over the summer when the club was bounced from the first round of the 2020 playoffs. Defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic departed via free agency but general manager Brad Treliving ignored the cries for Gaudreau to be shopped following a disappointing postseason effort.

The Flames will face increased pressure this season to shake their recent reputation as a playoff underachiever. Another early exit could prompt a shakeup of the roster core.

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life