NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2021

Check out the latest on Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Conor Garland, Nick Foligno and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators could face a decision between trading Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis, who is currently sidelined. The latter was considered among their untouchables but there could be considerable value in the highly-regarded defenseman.

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (NHL Images).

Players with Ellis’ contract (six years remaining with an annual average value of $6.25 million) are difficult to move now but Friedman suggests the Preds blueliner could be an exception. He believes Ellis could be a good long-term fit with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Friedman is also curious about what the Predators might do with Calle Jarnkrok. He has one season remaining on his contract worth $2 million and was last week’s NHL player of the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Ellis would attract plenty of interest if Predators general manager David Poile is willing to listen to offers. However, I don’t believe they can move him during the trade deadline with so many capped-out clubs seeking affordable rentals. If Ellis is to be traded that move probably happens in the offseason when interested clubs have more cap space.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mattias Ekholm remains the big name on the trade bait list. Sources tell LeBrun the Predators are seeking three assets in return: a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset that could take on different forms.

Part of the reason behind that asking price is Ekholm’s under contract for another year. They must determine if the best offer they’ll get is at this trade deadline or after this summer’s expansion draft when interested clubs no longer have to worry about protection lists.

Frank Seravalli believes Predators winger Mikael Granlund is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target in their search for a top-six forward. However, there are some complicating factors.

The Leafs are awaiting clarity on whether the current 14-day quarantine period for players from American teams joining Canadian clubs will be reduced to seven games. There could also be some hesitation by the Predators to sell as they’re gaining ground on the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile isn’t under pressure to move Ekholm at this trade deadline. Interested clubs could be more willing to pursue him in the offseason following the expansion draft.

Granlund is probably the most affordable forward linked to the Leafs in terms of return and salary. If that quarantine period isn’t reduced they’ll have to acquire him before the end of this month if he’s to be effective for them over the remainder of the season.

TRADE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Leafs have checked around on goalies (“Arizona makes sense”) but doesn’t see a long list of potential healthy options to acquire in a sensible trade. He also dismissed the rumors linking the Leafs to Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darcy Kuemper is a terrific starter but the Coyotes netminder remains week-to-week with a lower-body injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Kuemper’s certain to be back before the trade deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll be moved before the trade deadline. He’s under contract for another season and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Oft-injured backup Antti Raanta was recently placed on injured reserve.

The speculation about the Leafs acquiring Quick sounds like a desperate fever dream from the more deranged of Frederik Andersen’s critics. The 35-year-old Kings goalie is past his prime, carries a $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two years and has a long injury history.

Acquiring Quick would make the Leafs older, eat up valuable cap space for next season that could be better invested in a younger player, and wouldn’t resolve their goaltending concerns.

Following on his report from last Saturday that the Coyotes could consider moving winger Conor Garland, Friedman said they’re not interested in multiple late-round picks. The Boston Bruins need scoring depth and he speculates they could have interest in the former junior Bruin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could wait until the offseason if he doesn’t find any suitable offers before the trade deadline.

Friedman wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will consider acquiring Kings winger Dustin Brown to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 36-year-old Brown is having a good bounce-back performance from last season’s disappointing effort. He’s got a year remaining on his contract ($5.875 million cap hit) but I don’t think he’s a fit with the Islanders from a contract standpoint.

Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $75.9 million invested in 15 players next season. Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin are restricted free agents seeking raises on their next contracts.

The Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll shop pending UFA defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline or hold onto him for the playoffs. The Jackets have risen back into the postseason chase in the Discover Central Division. Friedman also isn’t sure the Jackets want to trade captain (and pending UFA) Nick Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could move Savard for the right price if his club slides further out of playoff contention. I’ll be surprised if he shops Foligno, who is believed keen to re-sign with the Jackets. Trading their captain at the deadline would be a gut punch to their playoff hopes.

The Vancouver Canucks playoff math isn’t good but they want to compete as long as they can before becoming deadline sellers. They’ve taken calls on pending unrestricted free agent defenders Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic (both have no-move clauses) and Jordie Benn, who has a five-team no-trade clause. There’s been some action on Benn and at least one Eastern American club asked about Hamonic.

They also have pending UFA forwards Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter to deal with as well as winger Jake Virtanen’s situation to sort out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Edler could be unwilling to leave Vancouver. The Jets have been linked to Hamonic, who might entertain the opportunity to play in his home province. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Canucks could soon start contract extension talks with Pearson.

Friedman thinks the Flyers could consider someone like Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal if they don’t go the Ryan Ellis route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Flyers are buyers. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor makes the case that the slumping club hasn’t done much to warrant being aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher might even become a seller if his club doesn’t reverse its fortunes soon.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

A look at some potential goalie trade bait, the obstacles facing teams in this year’s trade market plus the latest on the Hurricanes, Jets, Islanders, Penguins and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill. 

POTENTIAL GOALIE TRADE BAIT

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin included Florida’s Chris Driedger, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick on his list of 10 goaltenders who could get moved at the NHL trade deadline. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Antti Raanta are the others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s a pending unrestricted free agent but I don’t see the Panthers trading him while they’re among the top three clubs in the Discover Central Division. The same goes for Korpisalo and Merzlikins as the Jackets remain in the playoff chase. Besides, they both have a year left on their contracts so there’s no rush to move either guy at the deadline.

If the Coyotes trade Kuemper I believe that happens in the offseason when they could get a better return from a club with cap space. If Miller wanted one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup he would’ve signed with a contender instead of the Ducks. He’s happy in Anaheim and I doubt he has any intention of leaving.

Quick has two more years left on his contract worth $5.8 million. I don’t see much interest in him given the current cap situation. Even if the Kings picked up half of his cap hit he’s still a declining asset with a long injury history.

Bernier, Dubnyk and Raanta are pending UFAs and thus more likely to move. Khudobin could be intriguing to some clubs and he carries an affordable $3.33 million annual average value, but he’s 34 and that contract has two more years on it.

TEAMS FACING OBSTACLES IN TRADE MARKET

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports most NHL clubs are still trying to navigate through quarantine protocols and a flat salary cap as the April 12 trade deadline approaches. He also adds the cost of top rental players such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri could be a high draft pick and a top prospect. Those in the rumor mill with term on their contracts, such as Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, could be more expensive.

Asking prices could be expensive for rental players such as New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri (NHL Images)

Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, are in the market to add players before the deadline. The Islanders have additional salary-cap flexibility after placing captain Anders Lee (knee injury) and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any significant movement by Canadian teams could come by the end of March. If they wait until the deadline any player acquired from American franchises will be unavailable until April 27 after they’ve cleared the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people crossing the US border into Canada. That won’t leave them much time to adjust to their new teams before the playoffs open on May 11.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, JETS AND SHARKS

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and Dougie Hamilton’s camp have agreed to table contract extension talks until the season is over. Hamilton is in the final season of a six-year, $34.5 million contract and is slated for UFA eligibility this summer.

Waddell also said he believes his club is close to a contract extension for head coach Rod Brind’Amour. He could be willing to tinker with his roster before the trade deadline, citing a need for a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell doesn’t have to make any significant moves with his club battling for first place in the Central Division. However, he alluded to team owner Tom Dundon’s competitive nature and desire to ice the best team possible. The Hurricanes will be worth watching as the trade deadline nears. Dundon’s wish to turn them into a Stanley Cup contender could push Waddell into the market.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe reports the expectation remains the Winnipeg Jets will try to add a defenseman to play on one of their top-two pairings. The best trade target remains Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. Columbus’ David Savard could be out of the picture given the Blue Jackets’ recent rise into playoff contention in the Central Division.

Another option could be Anaheim’s Josh Manson. Like Ekholm, he has a year remaining on his contract. The asking price for Ekholm will be high while injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Wiebe also suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets must be careful taking on a defenseman with term on his contract (Ekholm, Manson, Ristolainen) as that could complicate their expansion draft protection list for their blueline. A rental such as Savard or perhaps Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic might be the way to go here unless they work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken before the expansion draft.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Alex Didion cited a report by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz indicating Patrick Marleau would be open to a trade that sends him to a playoff contender before the April 12 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are playoff contenders open to acquiring a fading winger like the 41-year-old Marleau at the trade deadline? He has just five points in 30 games this season.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND DUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports acquiring a first-line winger remains the New York Islanders’ priority. He believes Columbus’ Nick Foligno could be off the Isles’ list of targets owing to the Jackets’ recent rise in the Central standings. Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson has been sidelined a month, curtailing the Canucks’ trade options.

Sean Gentille, Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t shopping defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Despite their left-side blueline depth, they’re reluctant to move a blueliner given the schedule and need for depth to secure a playoff spot. They also rejected a rumor linking the Penguins to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, citing the club’s lack of cap space and available assets to pry him away from the Sabres.

Pierre LeBrun reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray could attempt to trade a few veteran players between now and the start of next season as he transitions his roster toward younger players. However, most of those moves might not come until the offseason. Murray admits things are quiet in the trade market due to the pandemic, the flattened salary cap, and this summer’s expansion draft.

Murray doesn’t have many rental players to shop. The Ducks GM could instead look for a hockey deal, with LeBrun suggesting winger Rickard Rakell making the most sense. Rakell is a good two-way winger with an affordable $3.78 million cap hit through next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 22, 2021

The latest on the Leafs, Bruins and Devils plus an update on Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE ANDERSEN?

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports there’s talk the Maple Leafs should shop Frederik Andersen before the upcoming trade deadline despite his history of regular-season success. He’s battling a lower-body injury and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Backup Jack Campbell has put up better numbers in limited action this season but has also had his injury woes this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (NHL Images).

Zwolinski speculates Andersen could be in a backup role in the coming spate of games to work with goaltending coach Steve Briere. After that, he feels Andersen should return to the starter’s role or be dealt before the April 12 deadline. “There’s no sense keeping a $5 million-a-year goalie in the backup role for long.” However, he acknowledged the risk that Andersen could help another team make a long playoff run.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby doesn’t see Andersen going anywhere. The Leafs lack an experienced third option within their system as witnessed by Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistent play. The 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American clubs leaves little time to break in a new acquisition, there’s limited salary-cap space and management is focused on a top-six forward and blueline depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s critics don’t care about those points raised by Hornby, they just want him gone. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, however, probably doesn’t share that view for exactly the reasons espoused by Hornby. Besides, it’ll take a fair bit of creativity and salary-cap gymnastics to ship out Andersen, bring in a suitable replacement and still pursue a top-six winger and perhaps a defenseman.

If the Leafs were to attempt to trade Andersen there might not be much of a market for his services. Many contenders have limited salary-cap space and more pressing issues elsewhere on their roster.

NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes recently reported sources claiming interest in heating up in Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier (though he’s currently sidelined) and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk. Those options could be more palatable to teams seeking goaltending depth for the playoffs.

WHAT WILL THE BRUINS DO AT THE DEADLINE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked what the Bruins will do to address their anemic secondary scoring and injury-battered blueline. He cautions against giving up too much for a short-term fix for a club that might not be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season.

Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit on the Bruins’ defense but he won’t move the needle offensively. He doesn’t consider Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall a pure goal scorer. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell might be a better option but Haggerty is leery of taking him on, pointing to the Ducks’ offensive woes and low position in the standings. Other trade targets could be Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, Anthony Mantha or Marc Staal or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Dmitry Kulikov.

Jimmy Murphy recently reported multiple sources claiming the Bruins are scouting Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. GM Don Sweeney is also continuing to monitor the situation with Ekholm and St. Louis Blues rearguard Vince Dunn. The Predators and Blues recently scouted the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is being lambasted daily by his critics as Boston clings to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $5.9 million in trade deadline cap space. However, their lack of sufficient tradeable assets makes it difficult to outbid other clubs in the trade market.

Haggerty made a great point that it might not be worthwhile wasting futures on short-term fixes on a club whose Stanley Cup window may be closed. That’s something Sweeney must carefully consider. Sacrificing the future for immediate returns that might not advance their Stanley Cup hopes will only cost them down the road, especially when they have aging core players like Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.

WILL THE DEVILS MOVE PALMIERI OR SUBBAN?

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will target Kyle Palmieri before the trade deadline. The New Jersey Devils’ winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lamoriello is in the market to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gross believes Palmieri would be a good fit as he plays the type of hard-edge game Isles coach Barry Trotz prefers. He’s also tallied at least 24 goals in each of his full five seasons with the Devils.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy reports Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is surfacing more frequently in trade rumors. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $9 million salary-cap hit but there’s a sense Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would be willing to pick up a good portion of it. Subban has improved his defensive play while still logging big minutes and can still contribute to the power play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Devils and the two sides are said to have engaged in preliminary discussions. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald could consider moving the veteran winger if the cost of re-signing him proves too expensive. His current cap hit is $4.65 million and he could seek a substantial pay raise.

Murphy also pointed out Subban’s contract could be difficult to move right now even if the Devils picked up half his cap hit. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be moved in the offseason but a trade-deadline deal seems remote.

UPDATE ON BUCHNEVICH

NEW YORK POST: A week after suggesting the Rangers face an important decision on whether to re-sign or move Pavel Buchnevich at the trade deadline, Larry Brooks believes the answer is re-signing the winger. He points out Buchnevich has become a productive top-six winger and a complete player with a strong work ethic at both ends of the ice, suggesting the Blueshirts re-sign him to a four- or five-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see what he and the Rangers eventually agree to.










NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence amid assault allegations levied by his former Russian coach, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Despite a 49-save effort by goaltender Anton Khubodin the Dallas Stars fell 3-1 to the Florida Panthers. Defensemen Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad provided two of Florida’s goals as the Panthers (26 points) sit in first place in the Discover Central Division. The Stars have dropped six straight games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning remains within three points of the Panthers after doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Jesper Fast tallied twice for the Hurricanes, who sit one point behind the Panthers and two up on the Lightning.

A third-period power-play goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau lifted the New York Islanders past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner was a healthy scratch. The Sabres also announced defenseman Jake McCabe will require season-ending surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich turned in a 34-save shutout as his club blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Rittich got the nod as Flames starter Jacob Markstrom was day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Leafs star Auston Matthews was held without a point for the first time in 17 games. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (upper-body injury, day-to-day), forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman (undisclosed, day-to-day) and defenseman Jake Muzzin (broken facial bone) also missed this game. It’s uncertain when Muzzin will return.

Jonathan Quick picked up his 54th career shutout backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Dustin Brown scored twice as the Kings picked up their fifth straight win to remain in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 19 points. Blues forward Sammy Blais returned to the lineup following a false positive test for COVID-19.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Clayton Keller collected two assists for the Coyotes.

Mats Zuccarello had a goal and three assists as the Minnesota Wild thumped the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Victor Rask had a goal and two assists while Marcus Foligno had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the Rangers after his former KHL coach alleged the winger beat up an 18-year-old woman in a bar following a 2011 game in Riga, Latvia. Panarin released a statement through his agent denying Andrei Nazarov’s allegation, calling it a fabrication. The Rangers also expressed their support for their winger, indicating he “unequivocally and vehemently” denied the charge.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Post reporter Larry Brooks cites a source indicating this isn’t a direct retaliatory measure by the Putin government toward the Rangers star but rather Nazarov “going rogue”. He suggests Nazarov, a Putin supporter, is attempting to sully Panarin’s reputation to curry favor within the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Brooks points out Latvian journalist Aivis Kalnins reported a spokesman for the hotel where the alleged incident took place claims it never happened. None of Panarin’s former KHL teammates support Nazarov’s allegation.

Nazarov claimed Panarin was detained by police and there was a criminal case and trial but the incident was covered up by bribing local officials with 40,000 euros. However, Brooks pointed out Panarin at that time was not a high-profile player and had been passed over in two previous NHL drafts. He suggests there would’ve been little reason to engage in bribery and a cover-up for someone who at that time was a run-of-the-mill player.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 21.

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 1000th NHL game during Sunday’s contest against the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Devils fan contacted me yesterday to point out I missed this during yesterday’s morning coffee headlines. I regret the oversight. Congratulations to Zajac on reaching this noteworthy career milestone.

TSN: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list has shrunk to nine players. Six of those are members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced center Dylan Strome has been placed in concussion protocol and defenseman Lucas Carlsson is on injured reserve with a strained groin. Blueline Connor Murphy has been activated from IR after missing six games with a hip injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau is interested in becoming the Seattle Kraken’s bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken aren’t believed to have started interviewing potential coaching candidates yet. Boudreau could be among the contenders given his years of NHL experience.










No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season

No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season