NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2020

Could the Flyers attempt to acquire Jets winger Patrik Laine? Will the Bruins sign Mike Hoffman? Should the Senators bring back Anthony Duclair? Travis Hamonic to Vancouver? Corey Perry to Toronto? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall cites a source claiming the Flyers “have had interest” in Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. He also pointed out The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported in early October the Flyers and Jets held trade discussions but those talks cooled.

Could the Philadelphia Flyers revisit their interest in Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine? (NHL Images)

Hall expects the Laine trade speculation will continue throughout 2020-21 due to the winger’s restricted free agent status at season’s end. He anticipates the Flyers’ interest could pick up depending on team needs, the value of trade chips and a greater feel for the season in general.

Landing Laine won’t be easy because of the Jets’ asking price and the Flyers’ ability to make room for the sniper. The flattened salary cap will complicate things, especially with goalie Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim due for new contracts next summer and Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier eligible for UFA status in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The struggles of the Flyers’ leading scorers during the 2020 playoffs could account for general manager Chuck Fletcher’s rumored interest in Laine. He’d be a good replacement for Giroux if the Flyers let him depart via free agency in 2022.

The Jets will set a high asking price for Laine, especially if he has a strong performance this season. It’s believed they’ll want a top-pairing defenseman in return or a young blueliner with top-two potential as part of a package deal.

Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with over $2.2 million in cap space. They’ll have to give up a salaried player to create room for Laine’s $6.75 million cap hit. Flyers fans will pitch Shayne Gostisbehere but Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could ask for Ivan Provorov straight up or Philippe Myers as part of a package deal.

The Jets could move Laine before the season opens in mid-to-late January, but I believe they’ll hang onto him and see how things unfold during the 2021 offseason. His unhappiness over his second-line role with the Jets could change once he’s reunited with Paul Stastny as his center.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan wonders what’s taking so long for the Boston Bruins and Mike Hoffman to hook up. He believes a one-year deal would suit both sides well, citing TSN’s Dave Poulin considering Hoffman a good fit with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins’ second line. Brennan acknowledged they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Hoffman but believes GM Don Sweeney could pull it off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brennan and Poulin aren’t the only pundits floating the notion of Hoffman signing with the Bruins. Wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak could miss the start of the season recovering from offseason injuries but they won’t be out of action for long.

The Bruins have over $2.9 million in cap space but he’s reportedly seeking a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. That explains why the two sides haven’t “hooked up” yet. The bigger concern for the Bruins could be a blueline weakened by the departure of Torey Krug to St. Louis and uncertainty over Zdeno Chara’s status.

Brennan also cited Poulin suggesting Anthony Duclair should pick up the phone and call Senators GM Pierre Dorion. He agrees with Poulin that the Senators remain the best fit for the 25-year-old winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out Duclair returning to the Senators but it’ll certainly be on their terms. He had his chance to get a reportedly reasonable short-term deal in Ottawa but decided to act as his own agent and test the market. Maybe he’s already got a deal lined up with another club that’s awaiting word on the start of the season before officially announcing the contract. We’ll find out soon enough.

Poulin also sees UFA defenseman Travis Hamonic joining the Vancouver Canucks and advised UFA winger Corey Perry to home to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Join Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton and have some fun. They won’t need you until the playoffs anyway.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could get some wiggle room to sign Hamonic by placing Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million AAV) on LTIR. They could also demote trade or demote one of their 15 forwards in a cost-cutting move for Hamonic. However, I still think the Manitoba native could end up signing with the Jets when they place Bryan Little ($5.29 million AAV) on LTIR.

The Leafs have Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds and Jimmy Vesey as their right wingers for this season. Nylander or Vesey could shift to left wing to make room for Perry, but the Leafs are already above the cap by over $1.04 million. They’ll get under the cap by demoting a player or two but that still won’t leave room for Perry unless they do some more cap juggling, maybe by acquiring an LTIR contract or a cost-cutting trade.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2020

A look at the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance observes it’s been nearly eight weeks since an NHL trade was made and a month since the last unrestricted free agent signings (Dominik Kahun with the Edmonton Oilers). However, there’s still discussion and negotiation going on among general managers and player agents.

UFAs like Mike Hoffman could be waiting a while for new contracts (NHL Images).

Drance cites an NHL player agent saying those markets have slowed of late because of ongoing uncertainty over when the 2020-21 season will begin. “We want to see what develops out of this,” said the agent. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to do something until we know what things look like.”

The agent, who represents one of the top UFAs, said teams remain interested in his client but some of them are waiting. Clarity on provisional rules, such as recalling players from the minors, could also affect UFA signings. There’s talk of allowing teams to use a so-called “taxi squad” of players this season who can be re-assigned and disappear from a team’s cap payroll, perhaps without having to pass through waivers.

Drance believes a second wave of trade and free-agent signings will begin once the league and NHLPA agree to a start date for the season. He notes there are five UFAs who produced at least 30 points last season (such as Mike Hoffman) as well as some decent depth forwards like Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry and Andreas Athanasiou. Defense options include Zdeno Chara and Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Drance on the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets and when we can expect business to resume. There’s still enough decent UFA talent available, which also includes Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen and Erik Haula, to draw interest among general managers. Most of those UFAs, however, could be forced to accept inexpensive one-year deals given the few teams with cap space to invest in the free-agent market.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rob Rossi reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is bracing for the possibility of limited trade activity during the 2020-21 season. He hopes to tweak his roster before the puck drops on the new season.

Rutherford, one of the league’s notable in-season wheeler-dealers, doesn’t know how the trade market could be affected by a shortened season or if there could be restrictions that limit player movement. He feels it might be best to get as many players in place before the season begins because it might not be as easy once the schedule is underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford said he doesn’t have any inside information for his opinion of what the coming season’s trade market could look like. He’s taking the same “wait-and-see” approach as the rest of his colleagues.

Drance noted trades will have to be made by some cap-strapped clubs before the season begins. We’ll likely see a flurry of deals before and during the training camp period as teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to shed salary to re-sign key players and/or to become cap compliant when the season opens.

There’s also usually plenty of activity leading up to the annual trade deadline. This season, however, could be different depending on what provisional rules are implemented and how much cap flexibility teams have as the deadline nears.

The rumors among pundits and fans over possible trades and free-agent signings will continue as they always do. However, we could see fewer significant moves this season compared to other years.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

Recent speculation on Noah Hanifin, Eric Haula, Jimmy Howard and Corey Perry in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW (subscription required): Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Calgary Flames might shop left-side defenseman Noah Hanifin to bring in a right-side defenseman and to shed some cap space. The sources he spoke with believe Hanifin isn’t been shopped but didn’t rule out Flames general manager Brad Treliving listening to a “hockey trade” offer.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

The Flames have over $1 million in cap space, with Hanifin having four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.95 million. Murphy suggests the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets as teams that could initiate calls.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins might have to part with Brandon Carlo ($2.5 million), the Red Wings with Filip Hronek ($714K), the Sabres with Brandon Montour ($3.85 million), and the Blue Jackets with David Savard ($4.25 million).

The Bruins would have to find a suitable right-side replacement if they swap Carlo for Hanifin. I don’t see the Wings trading away the promising Hronek. Savard is a UFA next summer and won’t provide much cap savings this season for the Flames. Montour is also slated to become UFA after 2020-21 and the Flames could prefer someone with more term left on their contract.

The Dallas Stars suffered a double-whammy with goaltender Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin sidelined for five months following recent surgeries. Murphy cites an NHL source claiming they’ve circled back to free-agent center Erik Haula. He also wondered if they might consider adding free-agent goaltender Jimmy Howard, pointing out Stars GM Jim Nill’s ties to Howard during their time with the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could put Bishop and Seguin on long-term injury reserve to make an affordable signing or two to offset their absences on a short-term basis. It could depend, however, on when the 2020-21 season begins. Bishop and Seguin could be good to go if the season opens in March.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked about the possibility of Corey Perry returning with the Stars. He believes the 35-year-old winger would have to take a pay cut on the $1.5 million in base salary and $1.75 million in bonuses that he was paid last season. He cited recent rumors linking Perry to the Ottawa Senators and noted the Stars want to inject some youth into their forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve believed Perry could return to the Stars for another season. I’m not so sure now after reading DeFranks’ take. They have the cap space to sign him but he might be reluctant to accept a pay cut. We’ll see.










NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – November 8, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – November 8, 2020

The Bruins’ Stanley Cup odds, the Ducks sign another first-rounder and the latest Red Wings, Canadiens and Capitals speculation in today’s NHL morning headlines and rumors.

HEADLINES

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins aren’t as good as they were last season but they remain a Stanley Cup contender. They lost defenseman Torey Krug to free agency, Zdeno Chara has yet to sign, and forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak could miss the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. Nevertheless, oddsmakers in Las Vegas give them 14-1 odds to win the Cup. Only the Colorado Avalanche, the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Vegas Golden Knights have better odds.

The Boston Bruins remain a Stanley Cup favorite in 2021 thanks to stars like David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins still have a solid goalie tandem in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, one of the top offensive lines in Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, two very good young defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, and a solid supporting cast featuring David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie Coyle. They’re not an overwhelming Cup favorite anymore but we shouldn’t underestimate them.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Jamie Drysdale to a three-year entry-level contract. They selected Drysdale with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second signing of a top prospect by the Ducks in recent days. On Thursday, they signed winger Jacob Perreault (26th overall in this year’s draft) to an ELC.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Defenseman Ian Mitchell, winger Lukas Reichel, and center Philipp Kurashev sit atop Ben Pope’s ranking of the Blackhawks’ top-10 prospects.

RUMOR MILL

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons wonders why the Detroit Red Wings haven’t attempted to sign Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. He suspects Red Wings general manager (and former Lightning GM) Steve Yzerman has too much respect for his former employer, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could be one reason. Another could be Cirelli might not be interested in an offer sheet. If he was, perhaps he’s not keen to join a rebuilding team when he’s currently a member of a Stanley Cup champion that has a good chance of winning again over the next two or three years. Maybe Yzerman isn’t keen to invest most of his remaining cap space into one player and give up the compensatory draft picks if the Bolts fail to match the offer.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked what he thought Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin intends to do with Paul Byron. He was also asked if the Habs might pursue a gritty veteran winger like Corey Perry.

While Byron has dropped down the Canadiens’ depth chart, Engels doesn’t see him getting traded. He feels the veteran forward has more value to the Habs as a player than what he might fetch in a trade. However, Bergevin could attempt to package him with a draft pick to the Seattle Kraken to ensure another player on the Habs roster isn’t selected in the expansion draft.

As for Perry, Engels thinks he’s the type of player who could help the Canadiens. He’d be an affordable addition who could be a fringe player in the regular season to save him for the playoffs when they’d need him the most.

Engels was also asked if the Canadiens might bring back Ilya Kovalchuk. Unless one or two of their forwards are sidelined during training camp, he’d be shocked if Kovalchuk returned to Montreal. He also doesn’t expect the Habs will try to trade defenseman Brett Kulak given Bergevin’s preference for as much NHL-quality depth on the blueline as possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Engels on most of his assessments here. My only quibble (and it’s not much of one) is regarding Perry, as I suspect he’ll be back with the Dallas Stars next season.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked which member of the Washington Capitals was most likely to be traded. He feels the Caps don’t have to make a trade but if forced to weigh salary versus role, Nick Jensen could be the likely candidate, though he stressed he’s not saying Jensen will be shopped.

Asked about any news on trading Jensen or Richard Panik, El-Bashir notes it won’t be easy to move their contracts. Jensen ($2.5 million annual average value) and Panik ($2.75 million AAV) each have three years remaining on their deals. He also doesn’t see the Capitals signing a free-agent forward like Anthony Duclair without freeing up some cap space first.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals are above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.024 million. However, there’s no reason to make a salary-dumping deal because Michal Kempny ($2.5 million cap hit) is sidelined six-to-eight months following Achilles tendon surgery. They’ll simply place him on long-term injury reserve to become cap compliant for 2020-21.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2020

A look at the latest list of notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: updated their list of noteworthy unrestricted free agents as the calendar flipped to November. Winger Mike Hoffman, center Erik Haula, and wingers Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund, and Anthony Duclair fill out the top five.

Could Corey Perry sign with the Ottawa Senators? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely reported Hoffman seeks a one-year, $6 million contract and is willing to be patient to get the deal he wants. The Nashville Predators are rumored to be among his suitors.

There’s some recent speculation linking Haula to the Pittsburgh Penguins but they’ve got $80.1 million invested in 23 players. Unless they shed salary there’s no room for another UFA addition.

Perry’s been linked to the Ottawa Senators but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to the Dallas Stars on a one-year deal. Nothing new on Granlund and Duclair, though that doesn’t mean there’s no interest in either winger.

Defensemen Sami Vatanen and Zdeno Chara, winger Andreas Athanasiou, center Carl Soderberg and blueliner Travis Hamonic round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing of note regarding Vatanen, Athanasiou, Soderberg and Hamonic but Chara’s future remains a topic of interest. It was assumed the long-time Bruins captain would return for another season in Boston. However, that’s no longer a certainty as he intends to take his time before reaching a decision.

Wingers Ilya Kovalchuk, Matt Martin, Conor Sheary, Michael Frolik and Colin Wilson fill spots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk is reportedly hoping to sign with a contender and is waiting for the right offer. There was talk earlier this year that the Montreal Canadiens might try to bring him back but their offseason acquisitions of Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli make that unlikely.

The New York Islanders are working to bring back Martin. It’s rumored the San Jose Sharks have spoken with Sheary. Nothing new about Frolik while hip surgeries may have ended Wilson’s playing career.

Other notables on the list include Andy Greene and Karl Alzner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There speculation the Islanders could bring back Greene. Alzner, meanwhile, was recently linked to the Boston Bruins as insurance if Chara doesn’t return.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2020

The latest on the notable remaining unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Mike Hoffman remains atop the list of players still available in the 2020 unrestricted free agent market. The 30-year-old winger tallied 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games last season with the Florida Panthers.

Mike Hoffman remains atop the list of the best remaining NHL unrestricted free agents (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Adam Vingan reports Hoffman’s agent claims 13 teams are interested in his client, with five or six that he considers serious. However, he feels those clubs are paralyzed a bit by the flattened salary cap. He also said the winger has no issue signing a one-year contract.

Vingan speculates the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators could be among those suitors. He thinks Hoffman could draw a salary between $5 million and $8 million on a one-year deal.

NBC Sports’ James O’Brien, however, lists Hoffman among his “buyer beware” players. He suggests his offensive impact is overstated while he contributes little defensively.

Center Erik Haula and wingers Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund and Anthony Duclair round out the top five. Defensemen Sami Vatanen and Zdeno Chara, winger Andreas Athanasiou, center Carl Soderberg and defenseman Travis Hamonic complete the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien also includes Duclair and Athanasiou in his “buyer beware” category, saying teams will be getting some offense at the expense of abysmal defense from those players. Granlund, however, is considered a safe free-agent bet.

Chara was expected to return for another season with the Bruins, but GM Don Sweeney seems to be leaving that up to the big blueliner, whose agent claims other clubs have expressed an interest in his client. No word on what’s going on with Perry but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns for another season with the Stars.

The Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators have been suggested as destinations for Vatanen but there’s no indication he’s in discussions with those teams. Nothing of note regarding Hamonic, though the speculation linking him to the Winnipeg Jets hasn’t gone away.

Other notables still available include Ilya Kovalchuk, Matt Martin, Conor Sheary, Michael Frolik, Colin Wilson, Alex Galchenyuk, Andy Greene and Drake Caggiula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Montreal Canadiens would bring back Kovalchuk but their acquisitions of Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli probably puts an end to that idea. Martin is reportedly in talks with the New York Islanders, who’ve indicated Greene could also return next season.

Sheary, Wilson and Caggiula should land somewhere on inexpensive one-year deals. Frolik and Galchenyuk have declined in recent years and could have difficulty drumming up interest in their services around the NHL.