NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2019

The Oilers’ re-signing Mikko Koskinen could see Cam Talbot hit the trade block, plus updates on the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

CHANGES COMING FOR THE OILERS?

EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson believes the Oilers re-signing goaltender Mikko Koskinen leaves fellow netminder Cam Talbot’s future in limbo. Talbot’s performance slipped following a stellar 2016-17 campaign leading to the Oilers signing Koskinen last summer. If the Oilers fall out of playoff contention leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline, Matheson believes they’ll shop Talbot, who has a 10-team trade list. Possible destinations include 

Goalie Cam Talbot’s days appear numbered with the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Talbot is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there could be openings in Florida, New Jersey, St. Louis, Columbus, and Ottawa. His potential departure will mean the Oilers will have to pursue a backup via trade or free agency. Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry could become a trade target while Brian Elliott and Cam Ward could be available in the UFA market. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 yesterday, Elliotte Freidman speculated over what other moves Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli might have up his sleeve. Besides re-signing Koskinen yesterday, Chiarelli also placed forwards Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers.

Friedman wondered if Chiarelli is trying to clear some salary-cap room to make a move. Rattie’s entire salary ($800K) won’t count against the Oilers’ cap if he heads to the minors, while they would save $1.05 million if Spooner ($4 million) is demoted.

Friedman said he’d heard some rumors they might be interested in Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but “somebody threw cold water on that to me today.” He also doesn’t see them parting with young assets for a rental player. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ moves yesterday stoked criticism of general manager Peter Chiarelli and calls for his firing by unhappy fans. However, re-signing Koskinen to a three-year deal and placing Rattie and Spooner on waivers suggests he’s not in danger of losing his job…yet. That could change if the Oilers collapse in the standings in the coming weeks.

Talbot’s days are numbered now in Edmonton. The Koskinen contract indicates he won’t be re-signed this summer.  Chiarelli could see if there’s a market for him before the trade deadline and call up veteran backup Al Montoya from the Oilers’ AHL affiliate. 

I agree with Friedman that the Rattie and Spooner moves could indicate Chiarelli is trying to free up cap space to perhaps acquire a player, one who is either signed through next season or a potential restricted free agent this summer. Burakovsky would fit that profile but reports out of Washington claim the Capitals aren’t ready to give up on him. 

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TSN: Darren Dreger said he doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent losses are increasing the sense of urgency for general manager Kyle Dubas to make a trade. Citing the William Nylander signing, he pointed out Dubas is a patient GM.

Noting the calls for the Leafs to add a right-side defenseman, Dreger pointed out the market for a top blueliner is very expensive right now. While St. Louis Blues rearguards Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko surfaced in trade speculation earlier this season, the Blues’ recent improvement suggests they might want to add, not subtract. 

Last week, Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie said the Leafs’ 2019 first-round pick could be in play. He also suggested a young forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would have to be part of the deal for a good defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs aren’t in danger of falling out of a playoff spot, though that could change in the coming weeks if the losses keep mounting. Still, Dubas has time to examine the market and try to find the right fit. With the All-Star break coming up, he could use that period for some face-to-face discussions with some rival GMs. 

UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS

DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa recently reported Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall would feel duty bound to listen if GM Ken Holland approached him about a trade. The 38-year-old has a modified no-trade clause, giving him some control. He expressed his surprise about a couple of recent reports suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in him. 

Krupa’s colleague Ted Kulfan reported on defenseman Nick Jensen’s improvement this season following a shaky training camp and being scratched from the season opener. The 28-year-old is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and could be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. With Kronwall likely to retire at season’s end, Kulfan feels Jensen would be a low-cost, dependable option for the Wings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall has hinted this season could be his last and his preference to retire as a Red Wing. Still, if a rival club made a reasonable pitch, Holland could ask him to waive his no-trade. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kronwall finishes this season in Detroit. Jensen has surfaced as a possible trade option but Holland could consider him worth retaining on a reasonable contract. 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2018

The NHL Christmas trade freeze has ended. Check out the latest on the Blues, Hurricanes, and Leafs in your NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST BLUES CLUES

STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon believes if the St. Louis Blues decided to ship out talents such as Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko or Colton Parayko, they must get talent back. 

Teams hoping to pry Vladimir Tarasenko away from the St. Louis Blues should be prepared to pay a hefty price. (Photo via NHL Images)

Gordon wondered what would be a fair price for Parayko, a player many general managers would love to have on their rosters. He dismissed the notion that an offer of an unproven player, such as Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, would be enough to tempt the Blues. 

Gordon acknowledged an all-around defenseman such as Pietrangelo, with a year remaining on his contract ($6.5-million annual salary-cap hit), could help a club like the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. However, he rejected the idea of the Blues accepting a role player such as Andreas Johnsson or a blueliner like Nikita Zaitsev as part of the return, suggesting someone such as Mitch Marner would be more appropriate.

As for Tarasenko, Gordon noted the Carolina Hurricanes need scoring. He felt the only forwards worth discussing in a trade of that magnitude are Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov and the Hurricanes aren’t parting with those two.

Gordon’s colleague Jim Thomas touched on the recent spate of Blues trade rumors during his latest live chat with Blues fans. 

Noting Tarasenko is second to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in goals over the past “four-plus” seasons, Thomas believes it would take “a heck of a deal” to pry him away from the Blues. 

Thomas thought there was more talk about Parayko last offseason compared to now. Given the Blues’ underachievement this season, it’s understandable why he’s come up in trade rumors. 

A lot of teams would be interested in Brayden Schenn but Thomas felt trading him would be a mistake. He also believes Tyler Bozak’s contract would make him difficult to trade, noting his $5 million per season for the next two years is expensive for a third-line center. 

He doesn’t expect veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will fetch much at his age before the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Blues general manager Doug Armstrong intends on blowing up the roster before the trade deadline and engaging in a major roster rebuild, he’s probably not accepting offers composed of draft picks, prospects, and unproven young players. He’ll want talent that can help his club now and over the long term.

Yes, NHL history is rife with instances of general managers making bad trades, but that doesn’t mean Armstrong will do the same. Moving top players such as Tarasenko and Pietrangelo will be blockbuster moves, and he’ll want a quality return for each guy. Same goes for Parayko and Schenn. 

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY:  During an appearance yesterday on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Darren Dreger said the Carolina Hurricanes remain a club he’s keeping an eye on leading up to the NHL trade deadline. He notes Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has talked openly about their need to acquire a scorer, while team owner Tom Dundon said he doesn’t value or covet high-end defense when going into a draft. 

Dreger believes they’ll continue to link the Hurricanes with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He pointed out their previous interest in William Nylander before he re-signed with the Leafs, and they’re said to be interested in Leafs winger Kaspari Kapanen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two clubs seem, as Dreger pointed out, to be a good fit. The Leafs need to bolster their blueline, especially on the right side. The Hurricanes need scoring forwards. The Leafs have good young offensive forwards while the Hurricanes have depth in quality defensemen.

Both sides appear to be slow-dancing toward a possible deal in the coming weeks. Then again, perhaps they’ll find other options to address their respective needs. 

POTENTIAL LEAFS TRADE TARGETS

SPORTSNET: On Dec. 22, Luke Fox noted Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas saying he’d explore an upgrade on defense prior to the trade deadline if he didn’t see enough gains from his blueline before then. He wondered if Dubas might find a quality rearguard this season like the Washington Capitals did last season when they acquire Michal Kempny.

Assessing the list of veteran defensemen who might become available by the deadline, Fox listed Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, St. Louis’ Jay Bouwmeester, Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall or Nick Jensen, New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy, and Dallas’ Marc Methot as potential rental options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Except for Edler, I can hear most of Leafs Nation replying, “Oh, hell no!” to these other options. Apart from the 28-year-old Jensen, the rest are in the mid to late thirties with a lot of mileage on them.

Edler 32, remains a skilled puck-moving defenseman who can still log big minutes. He could be a decent fit with the Leafs, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.  










NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

Are the Flyers on the verge of replacing coach Dave Hakstol with Joel Quenneville? Get the details plus the latest Leafs and Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

Are the Philadelphia Flyers on the verge of firing head coach Dave Hakstol? (Photo via NHL.com)

QUENNEVILLE REPLACING HAKSTOL AS FLYERS COACH?

COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac yesterday cited “multiple sources” claiming the Philadelphia Flyers would announce the firing of head coach Dave Hakstol “Sunday night or Monday morning.” Those sources also said Hakstol’s replacement would be former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss Joel Quenneville.

Following Isaac’s report, TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter reporting there was “No communication with Joel Quenneville, yet. Anything is possible.”

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Dave Scott, the CEO of the Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor, said it wasn’t true that Quenneville had been hired.

NBC SPORTS: John Boruk and Jordan Hall report two team sources said no moves have been made regarding the club’s coaching staff. They also cited FOX Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reporting Quenneville hadn’t taken the job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Isaac isn’t a rumor monger and I don’t doubt his sources. However, the Flyers moved quickly to deny Quenneville was replacing Hakstol. Of course, we can’t rule out the possibility that the embattled Hakstol could be replaced and perhaps the Flyers have their eye on Quenneville. We’ll find out soon enough. 

WHICH DEFENSEMAN MIGHT BEST HELP THE LEAFS?

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Tulloch recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the defensemen linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the rumor mill to determine which one would best suit their needs on the right side. Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues is a legitimate No. 1 defenseman but the asking price could be comparable to what the New York Rangers got for Ryan McDonagh last season, which included two key prospects plus a first-round draft pick and a second rounder.

Tulloch considers Blues rearguard Colton Parayko one of the better two-way blueliners in hockey. He feels Parayko’s defensive skills could improve the Leafs’ shot suppression and cut down opponents’ scoring chances. The cost could be Kaspari Kapanen, prospect Timothy Liljegren and a 2019 first-round pick.

Tulloch also examined more defensive blueliners such as Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks, Mark Pysyk of the Florida Panthers, and Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers, noting the decline of their respective performances. Other options include Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes, Nick Jensen of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tulloch isn’t saying the Leafs are actively pursuing any of the aforementioned. He was also being realistic over the potential cost to acquire guys like Pietrangelo or Parayko. Time will tell if the Leafs attempt to bring in players of that caliber or opt instead for more affordable short-term options. 

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington isn’t impressed with recent trade proposals by some in the Toronto media involving the Buffalo Sabres. He noted a recent Sportsnet column including the Sabres among potential trade destinations for Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, proposing “a deal of Conor Sheary, Marco Scandella, Lawrence Pilut and the 2019 first-round pick originally acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan O’Reilly deal in exchange for Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.” Harrington considered it  “insanity” that the Sabres would give up so much for a player carrying a $6.5-million annual cap hit who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.  

Harrington also noted a recent proposal in The Hockey News in which the Sabres acquire Buffalo native Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Brendan Guhle, Victor Olofsson and three first-round draft picks. “No truth to the rumor the deal also includes a partridge in a pear tree,” he scoffed, pointing out Kane’s $10-5-million annual cap hit for the next four years would be a problem. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize the good folks at Sportsnet and The Hockey News were merely spitballing about players who’ve popped up in the trade-rumor mill. Still, Harrington makes a good point about the silliness of those Sabres trade proposals.  

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 15, 2018

A review of TSN’s updated trade-bait board (which includes such notables as Colton Parayko, Jeff Carter, Kevin Hayes, and Jimmy Howard) in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, Los Angeles Kings blueliner Jake Muzzin, New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, Carolina Hurricanes rearguard Brett Pesce, and Kings center Jeff Carter top Frank Seravalli’s updated trade-bait board.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko tops TSN’s recently updated NHL trade-bait board. (Photo via NHL Images)

While there’s a lot of attention lately on the futures of Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo, Seravalli claims there are teams willing to line up to land Parayko, who could fetch the Blues a significant return. He suggests the Edmonton Oilers consider pursuing the 25-year-old d-man.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Bob McKenzie made the observation that if Blues general manager Doug Armstrong could be listening to offers for “just about everybody” (including Tarasenko), it doesn’t mean he’s trading he’s trading everybody. Still, that hasn’t stopped the growing speculation over the futures of some of the Blues best players, including Pietrangelo.

Sportsnet’s Josh Beneteau listed the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights as five clubs that could make a trade for Pietrangelo.

The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, meanwhile, reports the Blues aren’t believed actively shopping anyone and echoes McKenzie’s opinion that just because they’re willing to consider a big move doesn’t mean they’re going to do it. While there’s a belief the Leafs and Blues had a casual chat about Pietrangelo, Rutherford cites another source saying that speculation probably generated from the Leafs need for a top defenseman and Pietrangelo would make a lot of sense if available.

What’s interesting is that Parayko hasn’t generated nearly as much chatter in the rumor mill as Pietrangelo and Tarasenko, even though he’d probably be the most likely of that trio to move if the Blues opt to swing a major deal. He’s a little younger (25) than the other two, lack no-trade protection and carries a reasonable annual average value ($5.5 million) through 2021-22.

Maybe Parayko’s struggles this season have dampened his trade value, or maybe it’s a case where a guy who doesn’t garner as much media attention ends up being the one who gets traded. If the Oilers take Seravalli’s advice, I expect the asking price could be Darnell Nurse or a package including winger Jesse Puljujarvi. 

Turning to the Kings, Seravalli suggests Muzzin and perhaps currently sidelined defenseman Alec Martinez are prime candidates to become part of a shake-up trade. So could Carter, who lacks a no-trade clause but could use the threat of retirement as a means of picking his next destination. If he were to retire, the Kings would be hit with a salary-cap recapture penalty.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings need younger talent so I can certainly see any one of those three being shopped if the return includes a promising young NHL player. The Athletic’s Craig Custance also suggested Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Quick as possible trade options if they were to follow the blueprint the Boston Bruins used in trading Milan Lucic, a move that allowed to Bruins to quickly restock with young talent. 

As for Carter, Custance’s colleague Fluto Shinzawa suggested Carter could be a good short-term fit for the Bruins to bolster their depth at center. Young Bruins such as Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork could be part of the Kings’ asking price. 

It seems to be only speculation at this point that Carter would use the retirement threat as a measure of no-trade protection. If he were to retire, Cap Friendly yesterday informed me that the Kings would get tagged with a $2.75- million cap hit per season for the remaining three seasons of his contract, with the Columbus Blue Jackets (Carter’s former team) getting tagged for over $180K over the same period.

The Philadelphia Flyers, the team that signed Carter to his current contract, traded him before the deal went into effect. I’m guessing that’s why they won’t also get hit with a cap recapture penalty.

Turning to Hayes, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and Winnipeg Jets could target him as a depth option at center. He also thinks the Nashville Predators could pursue Hayes’ teammate Mats Zuccarello, who (like Hayes) is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. 

Seravalli also feels Pesce or Justin Faulk could be peddled by the Hurricanes for a scoring forward, suggesting Leafs winger Kaspari Kapanen could be among their trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could be reluctant to move Kapanen, preferring to retain their embarrassment of riches up front for the remainder of this season. 

Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle, Detroit Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist, Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland, Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, and Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene round out the top 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports claim Coyle could be available, linking him to the Bruins, Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Trade speculation over the futures of Nyquist and Howard has died down with the Wings staying in playoff contention, though they might pick up if they fall out of the postseason chase before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.

Seravalli believes Ferland could be dealt because he’s on a pace this season that could put him in line for a Tom Wilson-type contract (six years, $31 million) and that’s rich for the Hurricanes. However, there’s no certainty he will remain on that pace. Let’s see how things shake out with him between now and the trade deadline.

As for Duchene, there’s been some optimistic talk of late suggesting he and the Senators could be working toward a contract extension. Those discussions are expected to resume in January. 

Zuccarello, Blues forward Alex Steen, Anaheim Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg, Faulk, Philadephia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds, Martinez, Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, Wild winger Nino Niederreiter, Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov, and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky fill positions 11 to 20 on Seravalli’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steen has a full no-trade clause and could be unwilling to leave St. Louis. Silfverberg is due for UFA status in July but the Ducks could hang onto him if they remain in the playoff race. Simmonds is also a pending UFA and has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill. If the Flyers fail to gain ground in the standings, he could be a goner by the trade deadline.

I don’t see any market for the aging, banged-up Bouwmeester. Niederreiter, like Coyle, is thought to be someone Wild GM Paul Fenton might be willing to move but Fenton appears to be staying patient with both players.

Namestnikov surfaced earlier this season as a trade candidate but his improved play since then has largely quieted that talk. The 25-year-old is under contract through 2019-20 at $4 million annually. As long as the Blue Jackets remain in playoff contention, Bobrovsky’s not going anywhere this season. 

Kapanen and fellow Leaf forward Andreas Johnsson, Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, Senators defenseman Cody Ceci, Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin, Vancouver Canucks blueliner Michael Del Zotto, Florida Panthers rearguard Alex Petrovic, Chicago Blackhawks defender Brandon Manning, Canucks center Sam Gagner, and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel fill positions 21-30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs seek a top-pairing defenseman, Kapanen and Johnsson could be part of the asking price. The recent improvement of Talbot and the Oilers quieted any suggestions that he could become available. Ceci’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, which likely explains his placement on his list. Like Bobrovsky, Panarin’s going nowhere this season as long as the Jackets are a playoff club. 

The Athletic’s George Richards recently reported Petrovic felt like he’s been pushed aside in Florida. He could be on the move before the trade deadline. He’s a UFA at season’s end. Kessel’s name recently popped up in the rumor mill. Unless an interested club is willing to part with a hefty return, don’t expect to see him moving this season. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2018

Could the Sharks pursue Mitch Marner next summer? Could the Bruins trade Torey Krug to Edmonton for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? What’s the latest on the Penguins and Wild? Read on for the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE SHARKS TARGET MARNER NEXT SUMMER?

THE MERCURY NEWS: If Erik Karlsson decides not to re-sign with the San Jose Sharks, Paul Gackle suggests general manager Doug Wilson consider pursuing Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. With the Leafs facing a potential cap crunch next summer attempting to re-sign Marner and Auston Matthews, it’s a situation Wilson could exploit. Marner would bring a valuable injection of youth, speed, and playmaking skills to the Sharks’ forward lines.

Could the San Jose Sharks attempt to pry Mitch Marner away from the Toronto Maple Leafs next summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

If Wilson were to go the offer-sheet route he would have to swing deals with the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres to regain the first-round draft picks he gave up in the trades for Karlsson and Evander Kane. Those picks would be part of the necessary compensation to the Leafs if they were unwilling to match that offer for Marner. 

Gackle acknowledged the difficulty of pitching an offer sheet for Marner. He suggests a more likely scenario is a trade before July 1 if the Leafs feel they cannot afford Marner and Matthews, allowing Wilson to swoop in as he did with Karlsson and Kane. While the cost of acquiring Marner in terms of return and salary would be expensive, Gackle believes it would be worth it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind this is merely speculation on Gackle’s part. It would take considerable creativity on Wilson’s part to go the offer sheet route and I doubt he could make all the pieces fit. A trade is a more likely option but there’s no certainty the Leafs will be entertaining offers for Marner. Still, it will be worthwhile monitoring how the Leafs address that coming salary-cap conundrum. If they decide to re-sign Matthews and move Marner, Wilson would probably be among the suitors. 

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Bob McKenzie was asked about the trade status of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel during an appearance Saturday on Ottawa’s TSN 1200. He believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has only two untouchables: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While Rutherford might not necessarily want to trade Kessel, he might be open to it for the right offers. If he went down that road, however, the asking price would be expensive. Kessel has three years remaining on his contract and still carries a modified no-trade clause.

McKenzie also believes some teams may have called Rutherford about injured starting goaltender Matt Murray. Like Kessel, he doesn’t think moving Murray is something the Penguins would move into lightly. “I think in a perfect world what the Pittsburgh Penguins would like is for Matt Murray to come back healthy from his injury and play at the top of his game, and not have any issues in goal whatsoever.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could the Penguins trade Kessel or Murray? Sure. Will they? Not this season and probably not for the foreseeable future.

It’ll take a significant offer to convince Rutherford to part with Kessel. Given the “win-now” mentality in Pittsburgh, a package of draft picks and prospects won’t cut it. As for Murray, they won’t trade him unless Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry show they’re capable of stealing the starter’s job away from him. I don’t think they’ve reached that level yet. 

KRUG FOR NUGENT-HOPKINS?

BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter wonders if the Boston Bruins could trade defenseman Torey Krug to the Edmonton Oilers for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He notes the Bruins could use “an experienced, highly skilled attacker,” while the Oilers could use playmaking help, especially on the blueline.

Porter also points out the Oilers had some interest in Krug last summer and he could look more attractive now. He also believes Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be fired if his club fails to reach the playoffs this season.

Porter suggests sweetening the pot by including a promising forward such as Edmonton native Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen. Krug has a modified no-trade clause but maybe he’d waive it to play with one of the game’s greats in Oilers center Connor McDavid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time a Boston pundit has floated the notion of swapping Krug for Nugent-Hopkins (hi, there, Joe Haggerty!) but I don’t believe that deal will ever materialize. All the things Porter listed that make Nugent-Hopkins attractive to the Bruins  (playmaking skills, defensive play, skating, and anticipation) are also what makes him valuable to the Oilers, who’ve recently rebounded under new head coach Ken Hitchcock and climbed back into the playoff race

WILD SHOPPING COYLE

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently reported that “multiple sources” claim the Minnesota Wild are dangling forward Charlie Coyle in the trade market. It’s believed the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Boston Bruins have at least shown interest and are watching Coyle closely. Russo also said there’s “little doubt” Wild GM Paul Fenton would trade three-time 20-goal scorer Nino Niederreiter, who’s struggled with injury and consistency this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having lost center Matt Duchene indefinitely to a recent injury, the Senators could be very interested in Coyle, who could also prove a decent insurance policy in case Duchene departs next summer via free agency. The Canadiens’ interest in Coyle stretches back to last season but their priority this season could be bolstering their top-four defense depth. I can see Coyle being a more reasonable trade option for the Bruins than Nugent-Hopkins. He certainly wouldn’t cost themTorey Krug. 

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 9, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 9, 2018

Are the Leafs pursuing Alex Pietrangelo? Could Auston Matthews be targeted for an offer sheet? Get the latest in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LEAFS INTERESTED IN PIETRANGELO?

SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the struggling St. Louis Blues could face some difficult decisions regarding some of their core players. He notes defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has a year remaining on his contract ($6.5 million) and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Despite a poor start to this season and a hand injury, he’s still highly regarded around the league as an elite defenseman.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly interested in St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (Photo via NHL Images).

Kypreos doesn’t think Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is shopping Pietrangelo but teams are making inquiries. He believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of them, suggesting perhaps the Leafs should try to see if they can get the Blues “to possibly bite on (Nikita) Zaitsev’s contract – which is owed another five years at $4.5 million.” Kypreos suggests if they can exchange right-shot defensemen, perhaps a package can be put together for Pietrangelo involving ” a draft pick, a prospect, and then the likes of a young, fast player for St. Louis in the likes of (Kasperi) Kapanen or (Andreas) Johnsson.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo isn’t the only Blues defenseman garnering interest around the league, as the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports teams are calling about Colton Parayko, who’s signed through 2021-22 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Armstrong is probably willing to consider all options but I don’t see him biting on Zaitsev as part of a return from the Leafs for Pietrangelo. If he did, that package also better contain Kapanen and either a top draft pick or top prospect. 

COULD MATTHEWS RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET?

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports there’s a “widespread feeling within the industry” that Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews could become the rare player to be targeted by an offer sheet next summer. Matthews is in the final season of his entry-level contract and becomes a restricted free agent in July. Johnston reports there’s been no contract discussions of late between the Leafs and the Matthews camp. He feels the Leafs will have to decide one way or the other how this plays out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two things to remember here. First. Matthews must be willing to sign an offer from another club. Just because he will be eligible next July to receive an offer sheet doesn’t mean he’ll be receptive. If he isn’t, an offer sheet is no threat to the Leafs.

Second, assuming a cap of $83 million for 2019-20, the Leafs could have over $26 million in cap space. That gives them more than enough room to match what would be a league-maximum $16.6 million per season offer.  Whoever makes that offer will have to hope the Leafs burn up a good chunk of that cap space before re-signing Matthews.

Granted, matching an offer sheet for Matthews could make it difficult for the Leafs to re-sign Mitch Marner and address their other free agents. Still, if the scenario presents itself, they’ll match a Matthews offer sheet and worry about the other free agents later. 

UPDATE ON DUCHENE

SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos believes the Ottawa Senators will approach center Matt Duchene for a decision regarding his future plans. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Kypreos said there was a feeling a few weeks ago that the two sides might be moving closer toward a contract extension but no numbers were exchanged. If he doesn’t intend to re-sign, Kypreos feels the Senators will need all the time they can to trade him before the February 25, 2019, deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There at least appears a willingness on Duchene’s part to consider staying in Ottawa. The Senators will have to compensate him well to make it happen, perhaps a seven- or eight-year deal worth over $8 million per season. It could come down to erratic team owner Eugene Melnyk’s willingness to pay that much (or more) to keep him. 

SEVERAL TEAMS BUSY SHOPPING AROUND

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are some teams looking and some teams looking to add in the NHL trade market. Among them include the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t get into specifics other than to say those clubs had different reasons to be in the trade market. In my opinion, the Kings, Wild, Bruins and Penguins are still looking for offense while the Flyers, Blues and Panthers seek goaltending help. The Blues could also be looking for a defenseman, as could the Blackhawks. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM “GARRIOCH SUNDAY”

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Philadelphia Flyers have limited options to address their goaltending. He noted Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky has surfaced in the rumor mill. “It would be hard to believe the Jackets would trade him to a conference rival, but if the Jackets have no chance to sign him, then who knows?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but with the Blue Jackets jockeying with the Washington Capitals for first in the Metropolitan Division, I don’t see Bobrovsky going anywhere unless they tumble out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. 

Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake is believed working the phones looking for a deal before the Dec. 19 holiday trade freeze. He’s not happy with a lot of underachievers on his roster and nobody would be surprised if more changes are coming after moving Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh last month. They’re getting lots of inquiries about forward Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli, 26, is a skilled two-way forward who’s exceeded 20 goals and 40 points three times in the previous four seasons, though his production is off that pace (five goals, 13 points in 31 games) this season. Still, if the Kings are looking to move him there would be considerable interest in his services. That being said, I don’t see Blake moving Toffoli unless he’s looking at doing a major roster rebuild. 

The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly shopping blueliners Jan Rutta and Brandon Manning but the changes might not stop there. There’s talk center Artem Asimov is being discussed. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $4.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anisimov had a modified no-trade clause listing 10 teams he can be traded to. The Blackhawks might prefer waiting until next summer to move him, as his clause expires at season’s end. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing better of late but GM Jim Rutherford is still believed shopping around for help.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon wouldn’t mind adding another defenseman as his club attempts to remain in the playoff chase.