NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

Updates on Taylor Hall, Alex Ovechkin and Tuukka Rask plus the latest on the Canucks and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HALL INTERESTED IN RE-SIGNING WITH SABRES

NHL.COM: cited a report in The Buffalo News in which Taylor Hall said he’s willing to sign another contract with the Sabres despite a disappointing performance by himself and the team this season. Hall said he’s enjoying his time in Buffalo, praising his teammates and coaching staff, adding he and his agent are “open to anything.”

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not doubting Hall’s sincerity and perhaps Sabres management would be interested. Given the club’s current plight, however, I don’t think there’s a deal to be had unless the Sabres are willing to pony up a hefty long-term contract.

The Sabres have already been soaked with the Jeff Skinner deal. Unlike Hall, Skinner had a solid performance in his contract year. Team owners Terry and Kim Pegula could be reluctant to risk a similar investment on Hall.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS AND BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie reporting Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin could resume contract talks with management in April. Ovechkin (who represents himself in contract talks) met with Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan earlier this season but the two sides agreed to table talks until later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, both sides want to get a contract extension done but how much and for how long could make it challenging. Ovechkin will be 36 when his new contract begins next season and at some point won’t be a $9.5 million player anymore.

MacKenzie also reported the Capitals could be in the market for an experienced goaltender given the lack of experience of their current tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Their limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals added Craig Anderson as a third goalie. However, the 39-year-old is past his prime and only appeared in two games this season.

McKenzie also reports the Boston Bruins could explore new contracts for pending free-agent goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins also have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to add a significant player before the April 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have limited options available to replace Rask and Halak via this summer’s UFA market. It would also be difficult to find suitable replacements via the trade market. Re-signing both to reasonable short-term contracts could be their best option.

The Bruins need an experienced top-four, left-side defenseman and a reliable second-line scorer. They’ve been linked to Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS AND FLAMES

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vancouver Canucks could shop pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson if unable to re-sign him before the April 12 trade deadline.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reported the Arizona Coyotes have had a longstanding interest in Pearson stretching back to last October’s trade talks with the Canucks regarding Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He suggests it’s best the Canucks move Pearson for something handy as they face re-signing young stars such as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in the near future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Pearson could be traded if the cost of retaining him could affect the cap space necessary to re-sign the Canucks’ top young players. Maybe the Coyotes could revisit their interest if they become buyers at the trade deadline.

Ben Kuzma recently reported there’s been some trade buzz surrounding Canucks center Brandon Sutter. A pending UFA like Pearson, Sutter wants to stay in Vancouver but Kuzma points out he could also be a good rental solution for the Edmonton Oilers as a replacement for the disappointing Kyle Turris on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sutter has a 15-team no-trade list but the Oilers might not be on it. They have limited cap space so the Canucks would have to pick up a healthy chunk of Sutter’s remaining salary. They could try to swap Turris for Sutter but I doubt the Canucks would do it as Turris has another year remaining on his contract with a $1.65 million cap hit.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports the Calgary Flames are in the market for a right-winger. They’d like to move Elias Lindholm from the top line to center the second line, which would create a need to replace him on the right side. They’ve tried several players in that role this season but haven’t found the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli recently listed Detroit’s Bobby Ryan and Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen on his updated trade-bait list. Both are affordable but Ryan would be the better option if the Flames seek a rental player. Kyle Palmieri could be a better one if the New Jersey Devils become sellers at the trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 25, 2021

Could the Flyers pursue Mattias Ekholm? What’s the latest Bruins speculation? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD FLYERS PURSUE EKHOLM?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi recently suggested Mattias Ekholm might be a fit on the Philadelphia Flyers’ blueline. He considered the 30-year-old Nashville Predators blueliner as “the most interesting veteran defenseman who might be on the market.”

Would Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm be a good fit with the Philadelphia Flyers? (NHL Images)

Carchidi observed the 6’4”, 215-pound Ekholm can be a first- or second-pairing defender with an affordable $3.75 million cap hit and can log over 21 minutes per game. The downside is he’s a left-shot rearguard, acquiring him could interfere with the Flyers’ protection list for this summer’s expansion draft and it would probably take a high draft pick and quality prospect to acquire him.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor and Adam Vingan pointed out colleague Pierre LeBrun included the Flyers on his list of four possible landing spots for Ekholm, with the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals as the others.

Despite being a left-hand shot, Ekholm played on the right side last season when Predators’ d-man Ryan Ellis was sidelined. One reason the Predators could trade him is to protect Ellis, Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro in the expansion draft. O’Connor believes the Flyers might prefer acquiring a rental defenseman on an expiring contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm would be a good fit with any of those four teams suggested by LeBrun. The Bruins might be the best one as they’ve been using younger players on the left side of their defense corps this season. It’s going well so far but injuries to Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon could have them considering an experienced, affordable short-term addition.

Speaking of the Bruins…

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa recently examined the Boston Bruins’ options if long-time center David Krejci departs this summer via free agency. He suggested there would be “turbulence” if Charlie Coyle, Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic slot in at center behind Patrice Bergeron as rival clubs would attack those centers just as they’ve done this season with the Bruins’ young defensemen. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney tends not to re-sign pending UFAs.

In a recent mailbag segment, Shinzawa dismissed the notion of the Bruins using their cap space next season to take on a bad contract to gain extra draft picks and/or prospects. He also believes they’ll attempt to shore up their depth at center over the next couple of years via the draft and perhaps the trade market.

Bruins management and coaching staff might share the fans’ frustration over Jake DeBrusk’s development thus far but Shinawa feels the 24-year-old winger still has too much to toss aside, citing the risk he might blossom elsewhere. He also believes they’d be selling low at this point. He sees the Bruins’ signing goaltender Tuukka Rask to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be interesting to see what the Bruins do with Krejci. If he’s willing to take a pay cut on a short-term deal they’ll keep him. The question is whether he thinks he can get a better deal in a free-agent market where the salary cap is expected to remain flattened. I have my doubts that he wants to move on from the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

DeBrusk’s name has floated in the rumor mill for some time. However, if he had suitable value that would help the Bruins he would’ve been traded by now.

Most speculation I’ve read and heard suggests they would want a good NHL player in return and not a draft pick/prospect package. There was some talk of a DeBrusk-for-Jake Virtanen swap with Vancouver but I don’t see that happening. Virtanen wouldn’t be an improvement over DeBrusk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action include Leon Draisaitl’s six-assist performance, the Rangers placed Tony DeAngelo on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl collected six assists and Connor McDavid netted five points (one goal, four assists) as the Edmonton Oilers rolled to an 8-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. James Neal scored twice and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a three-point performance. Brady Tkachuk and Colin White each had two points for the Senators, who remain winless since their season-opening victory over Toronto last month.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid (22 points) and Draisaitl (21) sit one-two in the NHL’s scoring race. They’ve each have five straight multi-point games.

The New Jersey Devils downed the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Michael McLeod and Miles Wood each scored twice while goaltender Eric Comrie made 30 saves for his first win in nearly three years. Sabres captain Jack Eichel and winger Victor Olofsson each had two assists.

A shootout goal by Vincent Trocheck gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars. Jordan Staal led the way with a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes picked up their fourth straight win. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored and added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury in his club’s season-opener.

The Florida Panthers extended their points streak to six games by holding off the Detroit Red Wings 3-2, leaving the latter winless (0-4-2) in their last six games. Panthers goalie Chris Driedger made 32 saves while teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle each had two assists. Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi missed the game with an upper-body injury.

Two turnovers by Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins resulted in goals by Pius Suter and Patrick Kane as the Chicago Blackhawks rolled to a 3-1 victory. Blackhawks rookie goalie Kevin Lankinen got the win with 32 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are hanging tough despite the absence of several key players to injury and illness. They’re also getting strong goaltending from Lankinen, who’s gone 3-1-2 in his first six games with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

Kevin Hayes scored in overtime, Joel Farabee netted a hat trick and James van Riemsdyk collected four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 4-3. The Isles forced overtime on third-period goals by Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal but remain winless in five games (0-3-2).

St. Louis Blues rookie goalie Ville Husso made 25 saves for his first career NHL win in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Brayden Schenn tallied twice for the Blues.

The Minnesota Wild overcame a 3-2 deficit to nip the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. Victor Rask scored twice, including the game-tying goal that set the stage for Jonas Brodin’s winner in the extra frame. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had two assists but left the game after two periods with an unspecified injury. Earlier in the day, Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, defenseman Matt Dumba was placed on IR with a lower-body injury and Mats Zuccarello (upper body) was placed on long-term injury reserve.

NEW YORK POST: In a surprising move Sunday, the Rangers placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on waivers. Head coach David Quinn declined to comment on social media reports about a post-game altercation Saturday between DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. The rumors were confirmed by Post reporter Larry Brooks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation suggests the altercation between DeAngelo and Georgiev ended when winger Chris Kreider stepped in and punched the defenseman in the face. DeAngelo has struggled on the ice this season while also drawing unwanted attention for what Brooks described as the blueliner’s “agitating presence on social media”.

It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Brooks feels this latest incident is the last straw for the Rangers. He doesn’t believe they can keep DeAngelo on the team any longer.

If DeAngelo’s unclaimed by noon today Brooks speculated the Blueshirts could terminate his contract but it’s unclear if they’ll go that route. Trading the rearguard with his personal baggage and $4.8 million annual average value through 2021-22 could also prove difficult.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens assistant general manager has pulled out of the Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new GM. Mellanby was considered a candidate to replace Jim Rutherford, who abruptly stepped down last week.










Ovechkin Tops NHL’s 2021 UFA Class

Ovechkin Tops NHL’s 2021 UFA Class

 










Some Early Odds for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy

Some Early Odds for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021

Some noteworthy pending unrestricted free agents to watch this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently looked at several high-profile pending UFAs to watch during this upcoming season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

LeBrun reported Alex Ovechkin didn’t seem too concerned about his contract situation with the Washington Capitals when training camp opened last week. The long-time Capitals superstar noted there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin sounds like he wants to stay with the Capitals and they want to keep their franchise player. The question, of course, is how much and for how long.

LeBrun noted contract talks between the two sides were shelved during the summer. His colleague Frank Seravalli last week indicated Ovechkin’s pre-pandemic asking price was $12.5 million annually.

Taylor Hall surprised the NHL world last fall by signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Playing alongside Sabres superstar Jack Eichel this season could boost his value as he seeks a long-term deal this summer. LeBrun thinks Hall could stick with the Sabres if he and Eichel develop solid chemistry and the club improves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Sabres with $45.6 million invested in 10 players for 2021-22. They’ll have plenty of room to keep Hall in the fold. However, that depends on how much he’ll seek on his next contract and how well the Sabres perform this season.

LeBrun wondered what the future holds for Tuukka Rask with the Boston Bruins. While the goaltender’s agent said his client is happy living and playing in Boston, offseason rumors had Bruins general manager Don Sweeney taking calls about Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney may have been listening to calls on Rask but that doesn’t mean he was keen to move him. The Bruins don’t have anyone in their system to replace Rask after this season.

They could seek a replacement via free agency but the options could be limited to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Nashville’s aging Pekka Rinne, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Arizona’s injury-prone Antti Raanta and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer. Unless the Bruins find a better choice via the trade market, they could have little choice but to sign Rask, especially if he plays well this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton’s representatives have had preliminary contract discussions. LeBrun speculates the Hamilton camp could seek something comparable to Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo’s $8.8 million annual average value. The Hurricanes could counter with some similar to St. Louis’ Torey Krug’s $6.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton was considered a contender for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman until suffering a season-ending leg injury last January. If an agreement isn’t reached between the two sides soon, a healthy, Norris-worthy performance by Hamilton this season could push his asking price into Pietrangelo’s range or higher.