NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2022

Looking ahead at the 2023 free-agent class in your NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak top Ryan Dixon’s recent listing of the top unrestricted free agents of 2023.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are next on Dixon’s list. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry is the notable goaltender in the group.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, New Jersey Devils blueliner Damon Severson, Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin and Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews round out Dixon’s list.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary also put out a listing of his notable 2023 UFAs with most of the same names as Dixon’s. This was published before Jonathan Huberdeau’s signing with the Flames, which explains why he’s on that list.

Several notables on O’Leary’s list include Canucks center Bo Horvat and forwards Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars, Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings, James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers and Max Pacioretty of the Carolina Hurricanes.

O’Leary’s defensemen include the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg, the Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin, the New York Islanders Scott Mayfield, Florida Panthers’ Radko Gudas, Washington Capitals Dmitry Orlov and the Flames’ MacKenzie Weegar.

The noteworthy goaltenders include the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick, the Red Wings’ Alex Nedeljkovic, the Ottawa Senators’ Cam Talbot and the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slow day for trade and free-agent rumors as we endure the dog days of the NHL offseason. So it’s a good time to review these lists and offer up my two cents on which players will hit the open market next summer and which ones won’t.

I don’t see MacKinnon, Pastrnak, O’Reilly, Severson, Larkin, Horvat, Pavelski, Orlov and Weegar being available by next July. They’ll likely sign contract extensions with their current teams.

Jarry, Pacioretty, Bertuzzi, Dumoulin, Mayfield, Nedeljkovic, Talbot and Allen fall into the “maybe” category for me. Much will depend on their respective performances in the coming season, what they’ll seek on their next contracts, and whether their current clubs can afford to sign them.

I anticipate the remainder will become UFAs. There will still be enticing talent available such as Kane, Miller, Dumba, Tarasenko, Klingberg, and Quick for teams to pursue. Toews could sign with another club but I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires. Monahan’s hip surgeries could bring a premature end to his playing career.

O’Leary also published a list of next summer’s notable restricted free agents. His top forwards include the Senators’ Alex DeBrincat and Tim Stutzle, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, the Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Canadiens’ Cole Caufield, the Stars’ Roope Hintz, the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, the New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere and the San Jose Sharks’ Timo Meier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but DeBrincat, Dubois and Meier will be re-signed. The trio will be a year away from UFA status next summer. They could hit the trade block if they’re unwilling to make a long-term commitment with their current clubs.

Notable RFA defensemen include the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller, the Edmonton Oilers’ Evan Bouchard, the Seattle Kraken’s Vince Dunn, the Hurricanes’ Ethan Bear, and the Ducks’ Jamie Drysdale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but Bear seem certain to be re-signed by their current teams. He struggled last season with the Hurricanes partly because of the effects of COVID-19. However, a healthy bounce-back performance this season could ensure a longer term for him in Carolina.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov, the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman and the Panthers’ Spencer Knight are the top RFA goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov has to make a good impression with the Leafs this season or he could be traded or cut loose next summer. Another solid performance by Swayman this season should ensure he receives a contract extension.

Knight’s situation, however, could be tricky. On the one hand, I expect the Panthers want to re-sign him. On the other, they’ve got Sergei Bobrovsky eating up valuable cap space and playing time. The Panthers can afford to re-sign Knight but maybe he’ll be open to an offer sheet. His situation will be worth monitoring.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

What’s the latest on Filip Forsberg and Jeff Petry? Could the Devils attempt to move Jesper Bratt? What will the Capitals do about their goaltending? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL FORSBERG RE-SIGN WITH THE PREDATORS?

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Nashville Predators would like to bring back Filip Forsberg. However, it’s not clear at this point if they’ll be able to do that. He said there hasn’t been much progress in contract extension talks since March and both sides seem entrenched in their current positions.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan recently examined three options for the Predators to replace Forsberg if he hits the open market on July 13. The bold move could be attempting a major trade to acquire David Pastrnak if he’s reluctant to sign a contract extension with the Boston Bruins.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

They could attempt to sign Valeri Nichushkin if the Colorado Avalanche winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next month. Another option is acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers as a reclamation project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for Forsberg and the Predators to work out a deal. However, if there hasn’t been any progress in talks when the calendar flips to July, the more likely it’ll be that the 27-year-old left winger goes to market.

I don’t anticipate the Bruins shopping Pastrnak as both sides seem open to working out a contract extension starting on July 13. Sure, it’s possible talks could stall and the Bruins could start listening to offers but I’d say the odds of that happening are low right now.

Nichushkin won’t replace Forsberg’s offense or star power. Nevertheless, he’d be a more affordable option and his two-way game could be a good fit in the Predators’ system.

Puljujarvi’s trade value is low right now and he could be available given the Oilers’ limited cap space. It shouldn’t cost very much to acquire him if the Predators are interested.

CANADIENS WORKING ON PETRY TRADE

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens are working on trading Jeff Petry though there’s no guarantee a deal will take place. Five or six teams have expressed an interest in the 34-year-old defenseman.

The Dallas Stars are among those clubs, especially if they lose blueliner John Klingberg to free agency next month. LeBrun said it appears Klingberg could test the UFA market as there have been no contract talks of late with the Stars. The Detroit Red Wings are another potential destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Petry-to-Dallas speculation has been around since March when there was talk the Stars looked into acquiring him before the trade deadline. As for the Wings, they have plenty of salary-cap space to absorb the Michigan native’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and are in need of experienced blueline depth.

A LOOK AT DAILY FACEOFF’S UPDATED TRADE TARGETS LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added five new names to his NHL offseason trade targets list.

New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt is the notable new name, checking in at No. 10. Seravalli noted Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently said the 23-year-old winger is a big part of the club’s future. However, sources said Bratt was available at the trade deadline and there’s been no contract extension talks to this point. He also noted Fitzgerald’s pursuit of “hard skill” this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bratt completed a career-best 73-point season and is coming off his second NHL contract. Fitzgerald can take his time negotiating with him though Bratt does have arbitration rights and is in line for a big raise.

I’m skeptical that Bratt will get traded but I don’t rule it out. It will depend on what type of skill player Fitzgerald is pursuing this summer and if Bratt would be a trade chip necessary to acquire that type of player.

Speaking of the Devils, Seravalli has Mackenzie Blackwood at No. 20. There’s a sense they’re losing faith in the 25-year-old goaltender after two seasons of injury and inconsistent play. He could be a bounce-back candidate in tandem with a veteran on a deeper club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Improving the goaltending depth is a must for Fitzgerald this summer. He could shop Blackwood but could also keep him as a backup to be mentored by whoever he brings in as a starter.

New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen were also added to the list. Beauvillier came in at No. 15, Martinez at 14 and Kapanen at 18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three have previously surfaced in trade speculation mostly as cost-cutting candidates.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently examined possible goaltending candidates for the Capitals if they part ways with Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek this summer. He suggested monitoring the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov and Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Both have a year remaining on their respective contracts. He also doesn’t anticipate they’ll be among the bidders for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell if he tests the open market in July.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber recently cited Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming the Florida Panthers are shopping starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hard, so much so they’re willing to retain as much as 50 percent of his $10 million annual cap hit.

Silber wondered if the Capitals would be interested. She also suggested the Capitals could prefer keeping their options open with Campbell, Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and St. Louis’ Ville Husso possibly available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov might approve a trade back to where his career began but I don’t see the Capitals investing in him unless they can get him signed to a contract extension. The Kings could stick with Quick for his final season before passing the full-time goalie duties to Cal Petersen.

Bobrovsky’s contract expires in 2026. Even at $5 million annually, that’s a lengthy investment in a 33-year-old goaltender who struggles at times with consistency. I think the Capitals will test their luck in the UFA market and make a cost-cutting deal if necessary to add a goalie.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites a report out of Russia claiming Alex Ovechkin called Evander Kane earlier this season to encourage him to sign with the Capitals following his contract termination by the San Jose Sharks. Kane ultimately signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m including this one just for fun. And no, I don’t see Kane signing with the Capitals. They already have a first-line left winger (hello there, Ovechkin) and they’ll likely invest their limited cap space in improving their goaltending and perhaps their blueline depth.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2022

The Lightning, Oilers and Hurricanes advance to the second round. Check out the recaps of Saturday’s action in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Nick Paul tallied both goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for the Lightning as they took the series four games to three. Morgan Rielly replied for the Maple Leafs.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a well-earned victory for the Lightning as they continue their quest to become the first team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups since the 1982 New York Islanders. Vasilevskiy seemed ordinary through most of this series but he stepped up in Game 7. With their best scorers neutralized, the Bolts got timely goals from Paul, a depth player acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline.

It was a costly win for the Lightning, however, as Braydon Point suffered a leg injury late in the first period and spent the remainder of the game on the bench. No word yet as to whether he’ll be sidelined for their upcoming series against the Florida Panthers but it would be a significant loss for the Bolts if he is.

As for the Leafs, their postseason series drought is now at 18 years. This disappointing loss, however, is unlike this current group’s previous ones. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, they were a young team on the rise going up against better, more experienced opponents in the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. They underachieved against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2020 playoff bubble while overconfidence cost them last year against the Montreal Canadiens.

This time, the Leafs pushed the defending Stanley Cup champions to the limit with their best players performing well. It was a very entertaining series but the Leafs failed to put the Lightning away in this contest and in Game 6 when they held a 3-2 series lead.

There were calls last year from fans and pundits for the Leafs to make big changes following their stunning collapse against the Canadiens. The front office ignored those cries and focused instead on building up around the core. It’ll be interesting to see what they do this time. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL rumor mill.

Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist while Mike Smith kicked out 29 shots to shut out the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in Game 7 of their first-round series. Cody Ceci also scored for the Oilers, who will face off against the Calgary Flames or Dallas Stars in the second round. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 39 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could’ve won this 6-0 if not for Quick’s outstanding goaltending. They dominated the Kings with McDavid leading the way as they advance to the second round for the first time since 2017. There were concerns before this game whether Leon Draisaitl would play following a leg injury in Game 6 but he was in the lineup and picked up an assist on the Ceci goal.

The Kings exceeded expectations in this series, pushing the favored Oilers to the limit. Their performance in this series can be used as a building block going forward. However, it marks the end of Dustin Brown’s 18-season NHL career, all of them spent with the Kings. He announced last month that he would retire following the postseason. The former Kings captain leaves as one of the best players in franchise history after leading them to two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.

The Carolina Hurricanes are marching on to the second round after holding off the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 7 of their opening-round series. Max Domi scored twice and Antti Raanta made 27 saves in his first Game 7 appearance. Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak replied for the Bruins. Having taken this series four games to three, the Hurricanes await the winner of the New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Penguins series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The home team won each game in this series. Raanta was the series MVP for the Hurricanes, filling in for sidelined starter Frederik Andersen and shaking off an injury suffered in Game 2. The Hurricanes got clutch scoring from a trade deadline acquisition in Domi, who finished this contest with three points in what was perhaps his best performance as an NHL player.

Among the questions facing the Bruins heading into the offseason is the future of captain Patrice Bergeron. The long-time Bruins star is an unrestricted free agent this summer and remains among the league’s best two-way forwards. However, there’s speculation the 36-year-old center could retire or perhaps sign elsewhere if he and the Bruins fail to reach an agreement on a new contract. I’ll have more about that in today’s rumor mill.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

The Lightning, Bruins, Kings and Blues tie their best-of-seven first-round series at two games apiece. Check out the details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 5-0 lead after two periods over the Toronto Maple Leafs on route to a 7-3 victory, tying their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series at two games apiece. Ross Colton scored twice while Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel each collected two assists. William Nylander tallied two goals for the Leafs while teammate Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up five goals on 16 shots. The series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are learning the hard way that the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning rises to the occasion when their backs are to the wall. At least the Lightning hasn’t held a lead in this series but that could change if the Leafs come out with another flat effort in Game 5.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored twice and set up three others to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 to square their first-round series at two games each. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak scored and picked up a helper. Jeremy Swayman got the win with a 24-save performance while Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed this game due to COVID protocol. Game 5 is in Carolina on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ill-disciplined play proved costly for the Hurricanes as the Bruins went two-for-nine on the power play. Marchand was also his usual pesky self, getting into the head of Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo by appearing to call him a racist during a heated exchange. Meanwhile, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour was frustrated when his challenge of Jake DeBrusk’s tying goal in the second period for goalie interference was ruled as incidental contact while attempting to make a play with the puck loose in the crease.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 31 saves to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 to tie their series at 2-2. He set the playoff shutout record (10) for American-born NHL netminders. Carl Grundstrom scored two goals and collected an assist while Trevor Moore and Troy Stecher each had a goal and an assist. The series shifts back to Edmonton on Tuesday night for Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings looked done like dinner following lopsided losses in the previous two games. Quick’s superb goaltending and the Kings’ veteran leadership were crucial in this series-tying win. The Oilers played as though they were expecting another easy victory. This game should be a wake-up call that they’re facing an opponent they cannot take lightly.

The St. Louis Blues got a 28-save effort from Jordan Binnington in his 2022 postseason debut to tame the Minnesota Wild 5-2 and even their series at two games apiece. Jordan Kyrou scored two goals while Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each picked up three points. Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy replied for the Wild. The two sides face off in Minnesota for Game 5 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues’ revolving door blueline continued in this game as Scott Perunovich returned to action for the first time since January while Marco Scandella left this game with a lower-body injury. It’s possible Nick Leddy, Robert Bortuzzo or both could return for Game 5.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper escaped a serious eye injury on Saturday but swelling could keep him out of Game 4 against the Nashville Predators on Monday. The injury occurred in Game 3 when the blade of Predators center Ryan Johansen’s stick accidentally poked through the cage of Kuemper’s mask. Johansen was remorseful over the incident and was glad to hear the Avs goalie wasn’t seriously hurt.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Teresa Walker reports Predators coach John Hynes said starting goalie Juuse Saros will not be playing in Game 4 against the Avs. He’s been sidelined since April 26 by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Predators down 3-0 in this series it would be folly to put Saros in net if he’s not fully recovered.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane during Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov received the same fine for a similar infraction against Florida Panthers forward Noel Acciari in Game 3 of their series on Saturday.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, winger Tom Wilson remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. An update on his status is expected later today before Game 4 against the Panthers.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

The Devils are open to trading their 2022 first-round pick plus a look at the Sabres’ roster needs in the NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD PEDDLE THEIR 2022 FIRST ROUNDER

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicating his willingness to put his 2022 first-round pick into play in this summer’s trade market. The Devils currently hold the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

Fitzgerald said he’d be open to using that pick to acquire a player “that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for.” The Devils GM believes it is time for his young team to start contending for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald’s comments have already prompted some observers to muse over what type of player the Devils would want in exchange for that pick. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson recently examined the pros and cons of the Canucks’ offering up J.T. Miller if they’re unable to sign him to a contract extension.

Simpson is merely spitballing here as there’s no indication Miller is on the trade block. Nevertheless, you get the idea of the type of player it could take to pry that first-rounder away from the Devils, especially if they win the draft lottery. Fitzgerald would probably prefer someone with more than a year of term remaining on their contract.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

Speaking of the Devils, THE ATHLETIC’s Shayna Goldman believes Pavel Zacha is the most likely of their current roster to be traded in the offseason. The 25-year-old spent most of this season on the wing but prefers playing center. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who isn’t worth much more than his current $2.25 million annual average value.

Goldman also believes the Devils face a big decision regarding Mackenzie Blackwood. Injuries have hampered his development as a starting goaltender over the past two seasons. They must determine if there’s still room for improvement or if he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. She suggested it could depend if a UFA goaltender like St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper is willing to sign with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s name popped up around midseason linking him to the Canucks. Its’ believed they’ll be seeking affordable talent in the early-to-mid twenties. We’ll find out at some point this summer if there’s a potential fit for him in Vancouver.

Goaltending was the Devils’ undoing this season. Blackwood cannot be faulted for his injury history and his struggles attempting to regain his form upon his return to action. Nevertheless, this franchise needs an upgrade between the pipes to have a fighting chance of becoming a playoff contention next season. It’s up to Fitzgerald to address that issue, be it shipping out Blackwood or putting him in a backup role to an established starter.

WHAT ARE THE SABRES’ OFFSEASON NEEDS?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently examined what roster issues the Buffalo Sabres should address during the offseason.

Goaltending is their most pressing need. Craig Anderson, 40, will take a month or two to decide if he wants to return or retire. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look at all his options. Vogl speculated they could sign a second-tier unrestricted free agent such as Braden Holtby, Casey DeSmith or Martin Jones.

They could also acquire a goalie with a year left on his contract to serve as a bridge to young netminders such as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo. Options could include the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta, Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Adams must also improve his defense corps. Vogl believes they should add a right-handed shot to their heavy left-shot blueline but Adams stressed the importance of finding the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams might have better luck signing one of those second-tier UFA goalies. The Sabres could be part of Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade list, Raanta has a long injury history, the Wild could stick with Talbot ($3.666 million) if they’re unable to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and the Kings’ could allow the 36-year-old Quick to finish his career in Los Angeles.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, an update on Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s contract situation plus some off-season goaltender targets for the Sabres.

UPDATE ON GAUDREAU’S CONTRACT TALKS

CALGARY SUN: On Sunday, Wes Gilbertson reported Flames general manager Brad Treliving promised his club’s fans that he will “move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can” to sign Johnny Gaudreau to a new contract. Gaudreau, 28, becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. He’s in the midst of a career year with 107 points and a key reason why the Flames are sitting atop the Pacific Division as the regular season draws to a close.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

We’re going to do everything we humanly possibly can to have him be back here and be a Flame for a long, long time,” said Treliving. The Flames GM praised Gaudreau for how well he’s performed under head coach Darryl Sutter.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun said Treliving had better move heaven and earth because that’s what it’s going to take to sign Gaudreau. He indicated there’s nothing new regarding his contract talks, pointing out the two sides agreed to pick up those conversations following this season.

LeBrun said there’s been “really good dialogue” all season long and there’s still time to sign him after this season. He also praised both sides for the lack of drama regarding this situation. It hasn’t proved to be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Flames a lot of money to keep Gaudreau in Calgary. His performance this season (sitting third overall in league scoring) has pushed his value much higher than it would’ve been last summer. At that point, I think the Gaudreau camp would’ve sought between $8 and $9 million annually. Now, it could be closer to $10 million annually on a long-term deal. Maybe the Flames can get it close to $9 million by selling Gaudreau on an eight-year contract, something he can’t get on the open market where the limit is seven years.

Complicating things is the Flames’ cap space for next season. Cap Friendly shows them with $55.4 million invested in 12 active players. That gives them plenty of space to re-sign Gaudreau, but they’ve got Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington due for new deals this summer as restricted free agents with arbitration rights.

That’s why there’s speculation the Flames could attempt to trade Sean Monahan, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6.375 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. Muddling things further, however, is Monahan’s declining performance over the past two years and his recent season-ending hip surgery.

Trading Monahan to shed salary could prove very difficult. Buying him out this summer won’t be an option if he hasn’t fully recovered from his surgery during that period and he doesn’t agree to go along with it.

SUGGESTED SABRES GOALTENDER TARGETS

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski examined some potential off-season goalie targets for the Sabres if 40-year-old Craig Anderson decides not to return next season.

The Sabres have the cap space to overpay for an experienced netminder on a short-term deal. However, there are few options in this summer’s UFA market. That list includes Darcy Kuemper, Mikko Koskinen, Jaroslav Halak, Braden Holtby, Ville Husso, Joonas Korpisalo, Casey DeSmith, Tomas Greiss and David Rittich. Most have endured recent struggles while the others might not want to sign with the Sabres.

Lysowski believes they might have better luck in this summer’s trade market. Options could include the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick, New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Sabres have a projected $40 million in cap space for 2022-23. They’ll have to spend to reach a cap floor that could be close to $61 million. Their ongoing struggles and perpetual rebuild could make them a difficult sell to potential free agents or as preferred trade destinations for the others.

Quick lacks no-trade protection but he only has a year remaining on his contract and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kings management lets him finish it in Los Angeles. Varlamov has a 16-team no-trade list and Gibson a 10-team no-trade list. Lysowski suggested Georgiev’s inconsistent play this season might not make him enticing for the Sabres.