Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Mika Zibanejad plus some Dallas Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker recently reports Mika Zibanejad isn’t giving anything away about his contract extension talks with the Rangers or allowing it to get in the way of his preseason preparation. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Walker speculates Zibanejad could be in line for a seven- or eight-year extension. It’s believed his camp’s initial ask is $10 million annually while Rangers management will likely look at something in the $7 million to $9 million range.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wondered if Rangers general manager Chris Drury will play a game of chicken with Zibanejad if he can’t get him signed before the March trade deadline. There’s also the Rangers’ unstated wish to upgrade at center, including rumors of their interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Blueshirts can afford two high-priced centers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad told reporters he’s happy in New York and likes the team’s direction. How long he remains part of it remains to be seen.

The Rangers will either commit to a long-term deal for Zibanejad or turn to the trade market or free agency next summer to replace him. It’s as simple as that.

Carpiniello’s correct in his assessment that they cannot afford to carry two expensive centers, especially with 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becoming a restricted free agent at the same time. Talk of Zibanejad and a healthy Eichel on the Blueshirts was a pipe dream. It’s either one or the other. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks’ 10 questions facing the Dallas Stars this season included speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the club. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July after completing a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

Considering how much several notable defensemen (including teammate Miro Heiskanen) received this summer, Klingberg could prove too expensive for the Stars. With Heiskanen earning $8.45 million annually, Esa Lindell making $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million, re-signing Klingberg would give the Stars one of the most expensive bluelines in the league.

Turning to the trade deadline, DeFranks suggested players on expiring contracts like Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov could become trade bait if the Stars are out of playoff contention by then. If the Stars are close and they retain them past deadline day, they risk losing those players to free agency for nothing next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Stars with over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 with Klingberg, Pavelski, Radulov and Braden Holtby as their notable UFAs and forwards Denis Gurianov and 2021 Calder Trophy finalist Jason Robertson becoming restricted free agents.

Klingberg’s going to cost at least as much as Heiskanen, probably more. As DeFranks observed, they probably can’t afford to keep him. Pavelski and Radulov are aging and don’t have many productive seasons left while Holtby’s past his prime.

Gurianov has arbitration rights and will seek a substantial raise if he hits 20 goals and 40 points this season. Robertson will be coming off his entry-level contract but a strong sophomore season will result in a hefty raise for him as well.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

Could the Canadiens target the Sabres Jack Eichel or the Coyotes’ Christian Dvorak if they don’t match Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet? Which centers could the Penguins target if the need arises this season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE CANADIENS BE SHOPPING FOR KOTKANIEMI’S REPLACEMENT?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the Carolina Hurricanes signing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet on Saturday. Friedman said the Hurricanes had discussed the possibility of a trade for Kotkaniemi with the Canadiens but couldn’t work out a deal. He thinks the Hurricanes informed the Canadiens of their intention to sign Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet, probably within 24 hours of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet took most observers by surprise. Some suggested Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was caught off-guard, chiding him for not signing Kotkaniemi when he had the chance to avoid this situation.

Based on Friedman’s reporting, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Habs GM still didn’t seem fully convinced Kotkaniemi was fully prepared for second-line center duty. He was using his leverage to attempt to sign the youngster to a two-year bridge deal worth around $2.5 million annually.

Bergevin also had plenty of advance warning of Carolina’s interest in Kotkaniemi. While the Hurricanes’ PR team played up the revenge angle on Twitter to great amusement on social media, that seems to be merely a secondary factor. Why engage in trade talks if they intended to do the offer sheet all along? And why inform the Habs of their plan and provide Bergevin an opportunity to get Kotkaniemi under contract?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels speculates Bergevin could target Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Habs GM will have some extra draft capital with the first- and third-round picks he’d get from the Hurricanes as compensation. The Coyotes showed a willingness over the past month to collect as many high-end picks as possible.

Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (NHL Images).

Dvorak, 25, would be a good fit. The 6-foot, 200-pound two-way center has averaged a half-point per game and carries a cost-effect annual cap hit of $4.45 million over the next four seasons.

Engels also wonders if Bergevin could use those picks as part of a package deal for Jack Eichel. They’d have to live with the risk of the 24-year-old center becoming the first player to have an artificial disc-replacement procedure before he played his first game with them. Bergevin could also attempt the offer-sheet route with Elias Pettersson but doubts he’ll target the Vancouver Canucks center.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault also thinks Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will be working the phones to find a suitable, affordable replacement. He speculates he’ll target teams that have to reduce payroll before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has seven days to match the Hurricanes offer for Kotkaniemi. If he has no intention of matching he’s already calling around looking to package those compensatory picks for a replacement or an upgrade.

Dvorak reportedly drew considerable interest around the league but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Maybe he’d be swayed if Bergevin offered up a first and a third. PuckPedia shows the Habs currently have two picks in the third, fourth and seventh rounds of next year’s draft. Bergevin could include one or two of those along with the compensation from the Hurricanes or add a prospect or two to sweeten the pot.

Much has been made of Bergevin’s cozy relationship with Eichel’s new agent, Pat Brisson. However, the Sabres are still reportedly seeking four assets comparable to first-round picks. Unless that asking price is lowered, I don’t see the Habs getting into the bidding for the Sabres captain.

Bergevin could attempt to sign Pettersson to an offer sheet but I don’t think the young Canuck is interested. As Engels points out, the expensive price to do so would be difficult to squeeze within the Canadiens’ salary-cap limits.

COULD THE PENGUINS TARGET A RENTAL CENTER?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently examined four possible rental centers for the Penguins if Evgeni Malkin should be sidelined by knee surgery longer than expected. That could create a problem with the Penguins lacking depth at center beyond their top four. The club was also wracked with injuries last season plus Malkin and Jeff Carter are unrestricted free agents next summer.

The first is San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl. Kingerski speculates he could be had for a similar cost the Carolina Hurricanes paid for Vincent Trocheck, which was two bottom-six forwards and a promising prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Sharks intend to move Hertl or he intends to test the market. There could be mutual interest in working out an extension. If the Sharks do shop him I suspect they’ll seek a better return than what the Florida Panthers got for Trocheck.

Other options include Columbus’ Max Domi, Dallas’ Joe Pavelski if the Stars are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, or swapping defenseman Marcus Pettersson’s bad contract for the Minnesota Wild’s Victor Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski acknowledged Domi is sidelined by shoulder surgery until December. He also pointed out the Blue Jackets’ own lack of depth at center. Pavelski has a three-team trade list and could prefer staying out west.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

The Hurricanes clinch first place in the Central Division, the Panthers and Lightning will face each other in the playoffs, the Blues clinch a postseason berth, the Stars stay alive and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz had three points. With 58 points, the Stars sit two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Thanks to the Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched first place in the Discover Central Division. The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have an opportunity to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. They have 80 points with two games remaining while the Vegas Golden Knights have 78 points with three games left.

The Panthers-Lightning will be facing each other for the first time in postseason competition. I’m looking forward to watching their opening-round series. These rivals are evenly matched, with each team have won three of their six games thus far in their season series. We’ll get a first-round preview as their final two games of the schedule (today and Monday) are against each other with playoff seeding on the line.

The Washington Capitals remain two points out of first place in the MassMutual East Division after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wade Allison scored two goals for the Flyers. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body injury) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID-19 protocol list). With 73 points, the Capitals have a game in hand over the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins (75 points), who play their final game of the schedule today against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Sabres, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks all have one game remaining in their respective schedules.

The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot in the Honda West Division despite falling 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Golden Knights, who hold a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were in danger of missing the playoffs in early April following a seven-game losing skid. Their current eight-game points streak (including five wins) put them over the top.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 30th goal of the season as his club held off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury in what appeared to be a precautionary move by head coach Jared Bednar. Earlier in the day, the Kings announced winger Dustin Brown will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kaprizov has 27 goals on the season as the Wild sits one point back of the Avalanche in third place with 73 points.

Phil Kessel collected his 900th career point as his Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Kessel had a goal and an assist while teammate Conor Garland collected three points. The Sharks were without captain Logan Couture, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

A three-goal outburst in the second period rallied the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice, Valtteri Filppula collected three assists and Joe Veleno tallied his first NHL goal.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Friday he’s hopeful of returning to action for his club’s postseason opener. Stamkos has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since April 8.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) has been working out on the ice at the Habs’ practice facility but there’s no timetable for his return. Shea Weber and Paul Byron are each listed as day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb) has resumed skating while Jonathan Drouin remains on an indefinite leave of absence.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL department of player safety handed a one-game suspension to Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen for kneeing Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse on Thursday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Ondrej Kase returned to Bruins practice for the first time in four months after taking a high hit from New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood back in January. He hasn’t ruled out returning for the Bruins’ final two games of the season.










Five Aging NHL Players Exceeding Expectations This Season

Five Aging NHL Players Exceeding Expectations This Season

 










Five Surprises So Far From the NHL Central Division

Five Surprises So Far From the NHL Central Division

 










Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season