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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2022

Two Blackhawks tally hat tricks in a win over the Devils, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick reaches a milestone for US goaltenders, the Avalanche remains dominant in the overall standings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel each tallied a hat trick as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 8-5 to end a seven-game home losing skid. Alex DeBrincat and Seth Jones each collected three assists for the Blackhawks. Jesper Bratt scored twice while Jack Hughes and Jonas Siegenthaler each had a goal and two assists for the Devils.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (NHL Images)

The Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots to become the fourth US-born goaltender to reach the 350 win plateau in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Adrian Kempe tallied two goals and added an assist as the Kings moved into second place in the Pacific Division with 63 points. The Ducks (59 points) remain just outside the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Speaking of hat tricks, Gabriel Landeskog scored three goals to lead the Colorado Avalanche over the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. Nathan MacKinnon netted two goals and Mikko Rantanen had three assists as the Avalanche opened a four-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings with 80 points. The Jets, meanwhile, remain six points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 59 points.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with 76 points by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0, snapping Jackets winger Patrik Laine’s 11-game points streak. Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen made 19 saves for the shutout while Jackets netminder J-F Berube kicked out 46 shots. The Hurricanes sit one point up on the Florida Panthers.

St. Louis Blues winger Jordan Kyrou scored two goals and set up another as his club held off the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Ivan Barbashev had three helpers and Ville Husso made 35 saves for the Blues as they hold a three-point lead with 68 points over the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

The Arizona Coyotes got a 43-save performance by goaltender Scott Wedgewood to upset the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. Nick Schmaltz’s two unanswered third-period goals sealed the deal for the Coyotes. With 62 points, the Golden Knights have dropped four of their last five contests and slide to third in the Pacific Division.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin voiced his concern yesterday over the war in Ukraine during a post-practice meeting with reporters. Referencing his family in Russia and friends in Ukraine, he expressed hope for the war to end soon. “Please, no more war,” said Ovechkin. “It doesn’t matter who is in the war – Russia, Ukraine, different countries – I think we live in a world, like, we have to leave in peace and a great world.

Ovechkin, 36, has been an outspoken supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. When asked if he still supports Putin, the Capitals captain replied he’s not into politics and hoped the situation would end quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s previous support of Putin was going to draw questions from the media (and criticism from some) regarding his opinion on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, he also has to worry about the well-being of family and close friends back in Russia, a concern likely shared by other Russian NHLers about their own loved ones.

One need only recall what happened to New York Rangers’ left winger Artemi Panarin last season for his outspoken criticism of Putin. A former Russian coach (and Putin supporter) accused Panarin of assaulting a young woman over a decade ago during his tenure in the KHL. The allegations were quickly discredited but Panarin had to take time away from the Rangers to deal with the situation.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens provided an update on the status of sidelined goaltender Carey Price. His off-ice workouts are said to be going well but he’s not expected to return to the ice in the upcoming week. The 34-year-old Price has yet to play this season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until we hear differently, it appears Price is still hoping to return to action at some point this season. His return won’t save the Canadiens’ season but could help him gauge his performance and the health of his knee for next season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Matheson also carries a $4.875 million cap hit. If he ends up on long-term injury reserve and is out for the season, perhaps the Penguins will use that to bolster their roster leading up to the trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Sean Avery’s attempt at a professional hockey comeback ended yesterday when the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears released the 41-year-old from the contract he signed just two days before. The former NHLer last played pro hockey in 2011-12.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2022

Claude Giroux to the Avalanche? What goaltending options are available to the Capitals? Do the Penguins need to shop for a backup? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON GIROUX

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW’S Adrian Dater yesterday tweeted he was told Claude Giroux has informed Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher he wants to go to the Colorado Avalanche. Failing that, the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues would be acceptable alternatives.

THE DENVER POST: Sean Keeler believes Avalanche GM Joe Sakic must make a trade to improve his club’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup this year. He considers Giroux the best choice but also suggested Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski as an option if they can’t land the Flyers captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have less than $1.7 million in projected trade deadline cap space. Pulling this off will require the Flyers to retain a healthy chunk of the remainder of Giroux’s $8.25 million cap hit. That could mean involving a third team to broker the deal and spread the cap hit around.

The same goes for Pavelski ($7 million cap hit) though he might not be as costly to acquire as Giroux, provided the Stars are willing to deal with a division rival. They’re still very much on the hunt for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference and could be reluctant to part with him.

WHAT GOALIE OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO THE CAPITALS?

THE ATHLETIC: A reader asked Tarik El-Bashir what the Washington Capitals will do to address their inconsistent goaltending which has contributed to their recent slide in the Eastern Conference standings. He wondered if they’re in the market for a rental such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury or target a veteran starter under contract beyond this season such as the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick or the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli last week reported the Capitals made a “full-court press” for Fleury but it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen, prompting observers to speculate the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner nixed a trade to Washington. The Kings are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race so I don’t see them parting with Quick, whose performance has improved this season.

Varlamov, however, could be available if the Islanders fail to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings, provided he’ll waive his 16-team no-trade clause to return to the team where he began his NHL career. The Capitals, however, only have just over $1.9 million in deadline cap space. They might have to move some salary to accommodate the remainder of Varlamov’s $5 million cap hit for this season or convince Isles GM Lou Lamoriello to retain some salary in the deal.

DO THE PENGUINS NEED TO SHOP FOR A BACKUP?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently reported the improved performance of Casey DeSmith over his last two games could lessen the need for the Penguins to pursue a reliable backup if he can maintain that level of play. It would also free up assets for GM Ron Hextall to pursue a middle-six winger or a defensive blueliner.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2022

Check out the latest on the Canadiens, Stars, Canucks, Ducks, Panthers, Predators, Wild, Kings and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST PETRY SPECULATION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports a league source suggested a scenario that the Dallas Stars could become a team with interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry if they move John Klingberg, a pending free agent who has requested a trade. The idea would see them replace Klingberg with the 34-year Petry.

LeBrun added the Canadiens are telling teams they don’t have to move Petry, who’s signed through 2024-25. They’re also not moving him at a discount simply because he’s struggling this season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a few teams have indicated they see a Petry move being more likely to occur in the offseason than at the March 21 trade deadline. Despite his difficulties and those of the Canadiens this season, he put up good stats last season and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry’s stats could improve playing on a better team. However, he’s a 34-year-old defenseman carrying a $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and a 15-team no-trade clause. Meanwhile, the salary cap is flattened for the foreseeable future. If the Canadiens don’t intend on retaining part of his cap hit or agree to take back a toxic contract, they’ll have to include a sweetener to convince an opponent to pick up the full remainder of his contract.

The Stars acquiring Petry as a replacement for Klingberg would make sense if they were a Stanley Cup contender. They’re not. They’re a struggling club with $19.45 million invested in past-their-prime forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin through 2024-25. They’ve already got nearly $18 million invested in blueliners Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter. Restricted free agents Jason Robertson, Denis Gurianov and Jake Oettinger must be resigned while UFAs Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov must be re-signed or replaced.

Finding a deal that works for the acquiring club, the Canadiens, and Petry is easier said than done. It will be quite an accomplishment for Habs rookie GM Kent Hughes if he can pull it off.

RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Vancouver Canucks could be considering re-signing J.T. Miller instead of trading him. That’s one reason why other names like Conor Garland have surfaced in the rumor mill. Canucks president Jim Rutherford wants to create room and that’s why he’s exploring all possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman is referring to cap flexibility, something the Canucks haven’t had for a while. It doesn’t mean Rutherford’s going to engage in a fire sale of his best players or make cost-cutting deals before the trade deadline. However, that could change if his club fails to gain ground in the playoff chase by the March 21 deadline.

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (NHL Images).

Whoever becomes the new Anaheim Ducks general manager faces a big decision regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Friedman doesn’t believe the Ducks can afford to keep him post-deadline even if they’re in playoff contention unless they know he’s staying. He also mentioned the Ducks have many options with UFA blueliner Josh Manson, including keeping him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can also see them retaining Lindholm, Manson and fellow UFA Rickard Rakell as “own rentals” if they’re still holding a playoff spot by deadline day.

The Ducks haven’t been in the postseason since 2018. Like every team, they’ve endured revenue losses during this pandemic. Ownership could be unwilling to jeopardize potential playoff money this season by trading away a key player or two even at the risk of losing them to free agency this summer.

Friedman cited colleague Jeff Marek recently mentioning Florida Panthers forward Owen Tippett as a possible trade candidate. He also suggested Frank Vatrano as another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers’ focus is reportedly on bolstering their blueline depth. It wouldn’t be surprising if they draw on their forward depth to address that need.

Nashville Predators GM David Poile said he likes his team and doesn’t want to make many changes. “We’re content where we are,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s understandable given the Predators’ improvement this season. It’s probably safe to say Poile won’t be shopping pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg, who’s played a key role in the Preds’ performance. Poile could be a buyer by deadline day but it will probably be a minor move or two.

There have been no current contract discussions between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kevin Fiala, who is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake will meet with winger Dustin Brown during the all-star break to discuss his future. The Kings have no desire to move goaltender Jonathan Quick. They are in the market for a big left-shot defenseman. Blake declined to comment about Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brown is a UFA this summer while Quick has a year remaining on his deal. I can see Blake signing Brown to an affordable one-year deal. Chychrun would be a terrific fit with the Kings but the Coyotes seek a good young NHL player, a first-round pick and a top prospect in return.

COYOTES ARE ONCE AGAIN WILLING TO TAKE ON CONTRACTS

TSN: Chris Johnston reports teams in need of salary-cap relief could be in touch with the Arizona Coyotes before the trade deadline. The Coyotes have let it be known they’re willing to take on contracts or money in exchange for future assets like they did last summer. It will depend upon the length of the contract and the type of player being brought in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could also become a third-party broker between two clubs, retaining part of a player’s cap hit in exchange for a draft pick or prospect.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 16, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 16, 2022

The latest on John Klingberg and Evander Kane plus some suggested goalie options for the Capitals in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON JOHN KLINGBERG AND EVANDER KANE

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports the Dallas Stars are stepping up efforts to move John Klingberg before the March 21 trade deadline. This comes a week after the 29-year-old defenseman expressed his frustration over his stalled contract extension talks with Stars management. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Marek believes Klingberg is going to get traded. “Hard to exactly when, but Dallas does seem aggressive in wanting to get something done soonish,” he said. Klingberg’s ice time has been declining over the past five games. He carries a $4.25 million cap hit for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believed the Stars would be reluctant to part with Klingberg as long as they remained in the playoff chase. That no longer seems to be the case.

With 38 points, the Stars are four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. They possess one of the worst road records (4-12-1) in the league this season, including losing their last seven away from home.

A shakeup could be coming to the Stars if their fortunes don’t change soon. Klingberg lacks no-trade protection and his affordable cap hit would make him an enticing rental player for postseason contenders like the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings or Nashville Predators.

Elliotte Friedman reports there are a couple of teams hoping for “clarity” on whether Evander Kane will face any further penalty for allegedly crossing the border from the United States into Canada on Dec. 29.

The 30-year-old winger was with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate at the time. He tested positive for COVID-19 and then flew to Vancouver on Dec. 29, when he would’ve still been in the AHL’s 10-day COVID protocol. The NHL and the Canadian Border Services are investigating but there’s no timetable when the investigation will conclude.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland acknowledged speaking to Kane’s agent last week. One report suggested the Oilers could already have him signed to a one-year, prorated deal but there’s been no confirmation of this. The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are also said to be interested in the former Sharks forward.

PROPOSED GOALTENDING OPTIONS FOR THE CAPITALS

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir recently observed the inconsistency of goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov could be a concern for the Washington Capitals. He speculated GM Brian MacLellan could trade for an upgrade if they don’t improve in the coming weeks.

Three options who’ve won Stanley Cups are the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury, the Dallas Stars Braden Holtby (who won with the Capitals in 2018) and the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Fleury would make the most sense given his solid play behind a lousy Blackhawks club. However, he has a 10-team no-trade clause. The Blackhawks could be in the market for futures in return.

Holtby would be a sentimental favorite whose performance has improved this season with the Stars. However, there’s no certainty they’ll part with him. Meanwhile, Quick is enjoying a resurgence in his play while the Kings are in the midst of the Western Conference playoff chase.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If any of those goalies were available the struggling Edmonton Oilers would be all over them given their weakness between the pipes. Perhaps one of them hits the trade block before the March 21 trade deadline but the Capitals could be stuck with their current tandem for the remainder of this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation and a look at possible goalie trade candidates this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked which club makes the most sense for the Buffalo Sabres to trade Jack Eichel to get the best return.

Assuming Eichel eventually gets healthy and returns to form, Duhatschek feels it’ll take a team willing to make a bold move in order for the Sabres to get full value for him. He rules out the Los Angeles Kings as too conservative and unwilling to part with prospect Quinton Byfield. Also ruled out are the Boston Bruins as there doesn’t appear to be a fit in salary or the player/draft choice combination heading the other way.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Duhatschek feels the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jarmo Kekalainen and the Minnesota Wild’s Bill Guerin are two general managers with the courage to wade into an Eichel deal. Both clubs need a genuine No. 1 center. He also considers the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks as long shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never with the Kings but I agree with Duhatschek’s take. Anze Kopitar is still their first-line center and the signing of Phillip Danault suggests they’re buying time until Byfield and Alex Turcotte are ready to join the roster on a full-time basis.

The Bruins certainly could use hometown boy Eichel but there just isn’t a fit there unless GM Don Sweeney gets very creative by bringing in a third team to pull off the swap. He could instead set his sights on a more affordable short-term option such as San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

I’ve also suggested the Blue Jackets as a destination. They have over $10 million in cap space, carry potentially two first-round picks in next year’s draft and have some promising players in their system (Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakhov, Liam Foudy) that could tempt the Sabres. Kekalainen has made bold moves in the past but I’m not sure he’s willing to pursue a big fish like Eichel.

The Wild’s cap space will shrink considerably once winger Kirill Kaprizov is under contract unless Guerin pulls a swerve and becomes willing to part with the young winger in a package for the Sabres’ center. While the Wild need a bonafide first-line center, I don’t think they’ll pursue Eichel.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving reportedly looked into an Eichel swap but it doesn’t appear things got too far. Unless Treliving intends on a dramatic roster shake-up this season I don’t see Calgary as a serious bidder. The Ducks have lots of cap space and promising youngsters such as Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale but GM Bob Murray probably won’t part with those guys.

Duhatschek was also asked which goaltenders could surface in the trade rumor mill by the Olympic break in February. He points out the Dallas Stars’ depth between the pipes could make them the first place to call, especially if Ben Bishop returns from knee surgery. He doesn’t see Jake Oettinger getting moved as he’s their future starter but Braden Holtby could be an affordable option.

Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo could also get moved. He and Elvis Merzlikins are unrestricted free agents next summer but Merzlikins is the better goalie. Others could include Detroit’s Thomas Greiss, Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Stars’ goalie situation shakes out. The uncertainty over Bishop’s career is why they brought in Holtby. They could go with him and Anton Khudobin as their tandem to start the season and send Oettinger down to the minors as he’s waiver-exempt. They could also put Khudobin on the trade block.

It’s expected the Blue Jackets will retain Merzlikins and move Korpisalo by the March trade deadline. It was assumed Korpisalo would get shopped this summer but that plan was shelved by the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks in July.

Greiss and Koskinen are UFAs this summer and could become rental players at the deadline. Quick, however, has another season on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. Given his age (35) and injury history, there might not be many takers for him.