NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2024

More on the Leafs’ goaltending situation plus the latest Senators speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran believes Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is considering his goaltending options after placing the struggling Ilya Samsonov on waivers yesterday. Martin Jones will fill the starter’s job as the Leafs await the return of sidelined netminder Joseph Woll, who is weeks away.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (NHL Images)

Given Samsonov’s difficulties this season, he’s expected to clear waivers and report to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. It’s expected they’ll continue working with him during his tenure with the Marlies to help him improve his game.

The Leafs could call up Dennis Hildeby or Keith Petruzelli from the Marlies. They could also claim Eric Comrie off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres or fill the void with a trade. The options are few and far between in the trade market. McGran noted that Jake Allen of the Montreal Canadiens and former Leaf James Reimer of the Detroit Red Wings are believed to be available for the right price.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel also weighed in on possible goalie trade targets for the Leafs. He pondered whether they could land a “big bet” netminder such as Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Anaheim’s John Gibson.

In addition to Allen, Comrie and Reimer, Siegel also mentioned such options as San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen and Nashville’s Kevin Lankinen, as well as unrestricted free agent Jaroslav Halak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that the Leafs are reluctant to acquire a goalie right now as they hope to ride it out with Jones as their starter. They want to work with Samsonov to improve his performance. They could call up Hildeby for one or two games as well.

If the Leafs go the trade route they’ll likely pursue an affordable short-term option. They lack the cap space to land someone such as Markstrom, Merzlikins and Gibson, who each earn over $5 million annually on long-term contracts. Markstrom has a full no-movement clause while the other two have partial no-trade clauses. It’s believed that every Canadian team is on Gibson’s no-trade list.


OTTAWA SENATORS: Now that Steve Staios is the full-time general manager of the Senators, Bruce Garrioch believes Staios and his new staff will make plans on what roster moves they might want to make before the March 8 trade deadline. Staios is reportedly looking to add some veteran toughness and leadership to their third and fourth lines.

Garrioch also noted that Staios and his staff have no history with core players such as Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Jake Sanderson, Thomas Chabot and Shane Pinto. They won’t be afraid to make changes among that group if necessary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt we’ll see any major shakeup to the Senators’ core by the trade deadline if they decide to become sellers. They’ll move out pending unrestricted free agents such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik.

If (and that’s a big “if” at this stage) they shop a core player or two it’ll likely happen during this summer when teams have more cap space and willingness to make big trades. Of that group listed by Garrioch, I think Norris, Chabot and Pinto would be the more likely trade candidates unless any of the others start asking to be moved.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2023

The annual holiday roster freeze is from Dec. 20-27. Check out the latest on the Penguins and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski weighed in on how recent comments by Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas sparked speculation about whether he’d consider rebuilding if his struggling club didn’t improve soon.

Kingerski doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Dubas peddling Erik Karlsson, who agreed to be traded to Pittsburgh this summer because he wanted to win. He can also see pending free-agent winger Jake Guentzel getting shopped by the March trade deadline. Rickard Rakell, Reilly Smith, Lars Eller, Noel Acciari or Ryan Graves could be trade bait if Dubas decides it’s time for a change.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

However, Kingerski doesn’t see Dubas attempting to move long-time core stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. He believes the Penguins are getting the best out of those three while the rest of the roster is struggling. The only one he thinks might accept a trade is Malkin, as he was ready to move on as a free agent in 2022 because it felt like the previous management didn’t want him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way I see Crosby, Malkin or Letang getting traded right now is if they ask for it. Maybe one of them might want out in a couple of years. Perhaps Crosby will move on when his contract expires in 2025. However, if they insist on finishing their careers in Pittsburgh, their no-movement clauses will ensure that they stay put.


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the Edmonton Oilers could pull off another big splash at the March 8 trade deadline comparable to their acquisition of Mattias Ekholm before last season’s deadline.

Mitchell suggests the Oilers could do it without having to include Jack Campbell in the deal. They could package a first-round pick, a promising player such as Philip Broberg or Dylan Holloway, and a player such as Warren Foegele or Brett Kulak.

Trade targets could include a defenseman such as the Calgary Flames Chris Tanev or the Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Sean Walker, or a goaltender like the Detroit Red Wings’ James Reimer, the Flames’ Daniel Vladar or the Nashville Predator’s Juuse Saros, though Mitchell acknowledged he’d be “an extreme long shot.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Oilers rolling the dice again at the trade deadline if they’re in playoff contention by March 8. They’re in “win-now” mode and could be willing to sacrifice a first-rounder, especially if it’s for a player they could retain beyond this season. Broberg, Holloway, Foegele and Kulak have surfaced in the rumor mill at various times in recent months.

Mitchell’s colleague Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes the Oilers need another goaltender to relieve Stuart Skinner and push him for the starter’s job. They also need improvement among their top-four defense, depth at center and among their middle-six forwards.

As for Mitchell’s suggested targets, trades between the Flames and Oilers are rare but they do happen, with the most notable recent example being Milan Lucic getting swapped for James Neal in 2019. Nevertheless, I see Walker or Reimer seem to be more likely targets than Tanev or Vladar.

Saros isn’t going anywhere. Earlier this season, Predators GM Barry Trotz indicated he wants to open contract extension talks next summer. With his club having battled back into playoff contention thanks in part to Saros, Trotz has no reason to trade his starting goaltender.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2023

The annual holiday trade freeze is from Dec. 20-27. Check out the latest goalie speculation plus updates on the Blues and Avalanche in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said the goalie market is starting to heat up. He noted the Carolina Hurricanes placed Antti Raanta on waivers on Saturday so they’re “definitely looking around.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the same thing yesterday though he claims that “nothing appears imminent at the moment.”

Los Angeles Kings goalie Pheonix Copley underwent an MRI after leaving practice with an injury on Friday. It’s believed he’ll be sidelined for a bit of time so the Kings might be looking for a backup for Cam Talbot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve recalled David Rittich from their AHL affiliate. They’ll likely see if he can fill the gap until Copley can return.

Friedman noted that call-up Calvin Pickard has been playing really well for the Edmonton Oilers. While they’ve been taking a look at things, he’s not convinced that they’re going to make a trade for a goalie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That seems to be the case following their recent surge up the standings. There was talk of Jack Campbell returning from their AHL affiliate at some point but for now, they appear content to stick with the tandem of Pickard and Stuart Skinner.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (NHL Images).

Turning to trade candidates, Friedman noted the Montreal Canadiens have an extra goalie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He didn’t say which one could be traded but it likely comes down to Jake Allen or Cayden Primeau. The Canadiens recently signed Sam Montembeault to a three-year contract extension as he’s taking over the starter’s job in Montreal.

Friedman also mentioned Spencer Martin of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were reportedly scouting the Blue Jackets’ goalies in late November. Martin’s name surfaced as a trade candidate around then.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Christian Larsen listed the Canadiens’ Jake Allen, the Detroit Red Wings’ James Reimer, the San Jose Sharks’ Kaapo Kahkonen and the Arizona Coyotes’ Karel Vejmelka could help playoff contenders in the new year.

Larsen believes the experienced Allen, who’s signed through 2024-25 on a team-friendly contract, could be a good fit on a better club like the Oilers or Hurricanes. The Kings could be a logical fit for Reimer as they have a few million in cap space.

The rebuilding Sharks are near the bottom of the league and have two prospects in Eetu Makiniemi and Magnus Chrona knocking at the door. That leaves little reason for them to retain Kakhonen, who’s on an expiring contract.

Vejmelka began this season as the Coyotes’ starter but he’s lost playing time to Connor Ingram. The rebuilding club is looking to add draft picks and have the cap space to take on a bad contract like that of the Oilers’ Jack Campbell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong made those kinds of moves before this past summer. Since then, however, he’d made deals to bring more immediate help to his roster.

The Coyotes’ pipeline is now well-stocked with draft picks and prospects. With his club jockeying for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference, he might not be interested in taking on another bad contract in return for futures.

Speaking of the Coyotes, ESPN’s Kevin Weekes said Vejmelka is drawing interest from several clubs looking to upgrade their goaltending. Perhaps he’ll be the one who gets moved first.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the St. Louis Blues were believed to be a team looking to do things in the trade market. He speculates that might calm down a bit since making their coaching change last week but they were definitely looking at what was out there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong acknowledged this during his press conference explaining his decision to replace Craig Berube as head coach with Drew Bannister.

Following the Colorado Avalanche trading Tomas Tatar last week to the Seattle Kraken, Friedman claims there are teams “paranoid” that the Avs are looking to add to their roster though they have limited salary-cap space to do so right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate as to what the Avalanche are looking to add. My guess is a reliable second-line center but that could be a move that takes place closer to the March 8 trade deadline.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2023

Check out the latest on the Oilers and Flames in today’s NHL Rumor Roundup.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli suggested five options for the Edmonton Oilers to target in order to upgrade their goaltending.

Topping his list is James Reimer of the Detroit Red Wings. Mackenzie Blackwood of the San Jose Sharks and Jake Allen of the Montreal Canadiens were next, followed by the Arizona Coyotes’ Karel Vejmelka and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood and Allen appear the more likely to be available. The Sharks are going nowhere fast while the Canadiens could opt to move Allen if they decide to go with a tandem of Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau (which I think they should).

Speaking of Blackwood, TSN’s Darren Dreger said he’d be looking at the Sharks netminder if he were the Oilers general manager. When Oilers GM Ken Holland is doing so remains to be seen.

Like the Canadiens, the Red Wings are carrying three goalies but they’re also trying to reach the playoffs this year. They could opt to hang onto Reimer.

The same goes with Vejmelka and Hart. Their respective clubs are off to better-than-expected starts this season and they could be reluctant to move their starting goalies right now. Perhaps that changes if they fall out of contention as the season goes along.

A lot would also depend on how much the Oilers are willing to overpay for one of those goalies.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault (NHL Images).

Seravalli also dismissed the notion of the Boston Bruins parting with Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark. He also rejected speculation about Nashville Predators’ starter Juuse Saros, pointing to Predators general manager Barry Trotz’s desire to sign Saros to a contract extension next summer.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited TSN’s Darren Dreger speculating over what it might cost the Oilers to acquire Sam Montembeault from the Montreal Canadiens.

Dreger believes the Canadiens would want a “substantial” return for Montembeault, who’s earning $1 million this season and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He thinks prospect Xavier Bourgault would have to be part of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve also heard speculation suggesting the only way the Oilers can swing a trade for a goalie is to find someone who’ll take struggling former starter Jack Campbell and his $5 million average annual value through 2026-27 off their hands.

Maybe that’s possible but it would take a hell of an offer with a lot of sweeteners bundled with Campbell to make it happen. Right now, I don’t see that sort of deal happening. Maybe in the offseason leading up to the draft but not during a season where most teams are pressed against the $83.5 million cap.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Julian McKenzie was asked if there was any scenario he could see where the Calgary Flames could shed higher-salaried players such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, MacKenzie Weegar and Jacob Markstrom should they decide to rebuild.

Such moves would require some salary retention on the Flames’ part. Given Huberdeau’s hefty contract, they would likely have to include a draft pick or a prospect to tempt another club into taking him off their hands.

McKenzie said he would be very surprised if those four players were shipped out this season. He believes the Flames should focus on bringing in younger, better players (like Conor Zary) to build around the expensive core.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with the salary cap projected to rise significantly over the next two or three seasons, Huberdeau, Kadri, Weegar and Markstrom would still be difficult to move. All but Markstrom are in the first year or two of their long-term deals while Markstrom has two more seasons left on his contract.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently cited NHL analyst Pierre McGuire telling the Eye Test Podcast that he thinks the Flames and Boston Bruins seem like trade “dance partners.” He noted that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has long coveted Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That dance might take place near the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of playoff contention by that point. Given the Bruins’ limited trade deadline cap space ($2.6 million), perhaps Sweeney will wait until the offseason when he could pursue Hanifin via the free-agent market.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichol cited a report from The Fourth Period claiming the New Jersey Devils are among four teams interested in Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov. The others were the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are struggling defensively of late and Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald has shown a willingness to make big moves during the season. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him landing Tanev or Zadorov at some point this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2023

Leafs winger William Nylander’s performance is pushing up the cost of his next contract, a look at the goalie market for the Oilers plus an update on the Avalanche in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Travis Yost believes William Nylander’s torrid scoring pace will raise the cost of his next contract if he maintains his production throughout this season. He pointed out that the 27-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs winger had closed the gap with teammates such as Mitch Marner, including outperforming them in the playoffs.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman observing that the difference between Leafs management and the Nylander camp over the summer was thought to be around $1 million per season in the $8 million to $9 million range. “I just do not think that’s realistic anymore,” said Friedman. Hornby noted that talks are continuing between the two sides.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran wondered if Nylander has priced himself out of Toronto. “Looks like the supposed $10-million-a-year ask over the summer might have been a bargain,” he writes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun spoke to team executives in rival front offices across the NHL to get their views on what they felt would be a fair contract extension for Nylander. The numbers came in with an average annual value between $8.5 million to $12.25 million on a seven or eight-year contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the AAV is below $10 million on his next contract if he maintains his current level of performance throughout this season.

Nylander is the Leafs’ leading scorer thus far and among this season’s league leaders. He’s on pace to reach 100 points for the first time after two seasons between 80 and 87 points. He’s earned far less than teammates Marner and Auston Matthews. His summer asking price indicates that he wants fair market value.

I think Nylander’s asking price is now between $11 million and $12 million. Maybe he accepts a little less if he wants to stay in Toronto but I doubt that number goes below $10 million. If the Leafs won’t pay up, plenty of other clubs will line up to do so if he hits the open market on July 1.


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the Edmonton Oilers’ salary-cap constraints mean they must find a way to shed the contract of struggling goalie Jack Campbell to free up cap dollars for an upgrade between the pipes.

Mitchell believes it’ll cost the Oilers at least three good prospects/draft picks being bundled with Campbell as sweeteners. He wondered if they could find a team that would accept their 2024 first-round pick, top prospect Xavier Bourgault and a “more established asset” such as Philip Broberg or the sidelined Dylan Holloway packaged with Campbell.

Mitchell then looked around at possible options in the trade market. They include Montreal’s Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen, St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington, Calgary’s Dan Vladar and Detroit’s James Reimer. He felt Vladar was the right choice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a very bad state with their goaltending right now. I concur with Mitchell regarding what it would cost them to entice a rival team into taking Campbell off their hands. That club could then buy him out next summer if he doesn’t improve over the remainder of this season.

Nevertheless, I still think moving out Campbell’s contract is very difficult with so many teams pressed for cap space this season. The Oilers have no leverage which other clubs will attempt to exploit.

Mitchell mentioned Montembeault and Allen because of recent reports indicating the Oilers had scouted the Canadiens goalies. Binnington’s come up because of rumored concerns in St. Louis over his performance in recent years (though he’s playing better this season) as well as the difficulty of carrying his $6 million AAV. Like the Canadiens, the Red Wings are carrying three goalies which is why Reimer got mentioned. Meanwhile, the Flames could be willing to move Vladar to bring up promising Dustin Wolf.

Binnington, however, has a full no-trade clause while Allen carries a seven-team no-trade list for this season. Given the Oilers’ struggles this season, the attraction of playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl might not be enough of a selling point to convince either guy to come to Edmonton.

The Red Wings and Canadiens could have the room to take on Campbell’s contract but I don’t think they’re keen to do so even if they got a package of sweeteners in the deal. The Flames, meanwhile, lack the cap space plus I don’t see them and the Oilers making a deal unless a third team gets into the mix. Indeed, it could take a three-team deal to spread Campbell’s cap hit around to make this happen.


SPORTSNET (via NHL WATCHER): During his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said Artturi Lehkonen’s injury is pretty significant. He added the Colorado Avalanche are in the market to add some depth scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on who they might pursue and what they’re willing to offer. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the coming days.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2023

The Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be announced today, the Canadiens re-sign Sean Monahan, an update on Carey Price, the Flames allow Milan Lucic to speak with other teams, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.com: The Hockey Hall of Fame will vote on its Class of 2023 inductees today. They will be announced at 3 pm ET.

Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (NHL.com)

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be among that group. This is his first year of eligibility.

Other former NHL stars among the candidates include Tom Barrasso, Rod Brind’Amour, Corey Crawford, Patrik Elias, Theo Fleury, Sergei Gonchar, Curtis Joseph, Reggie Leach, Alexander Mogilny, Chris Osgood, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Pierre Turgeon, Mike Vernon, Justin Williams and Henrik Zetterberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I will continue stumping for Butch Goring until he’s inducted or I shuffle off this mortal coil, whichever comes first.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens yesterday re-signed Sean Monahan to a one-year, $1.985 million contract extension. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After several injury-plagued years in Calgary, Monahan was enjoying a bounce-back performance this season until suffering a season-ending lower-body injury in December. He was a good addition to the rebuilding Canadiens, acting as a mentor to their young players while providing experienced depth at center.

This signing allows Monahan to continue playing a prominent role with the Canadiens and perhaps improve his stock in next summer’s free-agent market. He could also become a valuable asset for the Habs at next year’s trade deadline if he has a healthy and productive season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, long-time goalie Carey Price and his family have put their Montreal-area home up for sale and are moving to Kelowna, BC. Price, 35, has three years remaining on his contract but is unofficially retired because of a knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price carries an average annual value of $10.5 million. It’s expected the Canadiens will place him on long-term injury reserve, providing them with additional cap space to spend on other players this summer. There’s also speculation that Price could take up a player development role with the Habs.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames are allowing Milan Lucic to speak with other clubs about a new contract. The 35-year-old winger is slated to become a UFA on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lucic is no longer the dominating power forward of his youth but he played a significant leadership for Canada during their gold-medal run at the 2023 IIHF World Championships. That could entice playoff contenders seeking veteran leadership and toughness to sign him to an affordable one-year contract.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan cites a “well-placed source” dismissing rumors of the Maple Leafs buying out defenseman T.J. Brodie. He has one season left on his contract with an AAV of $5 million and a full no-trade clause until July 1 when it becomes a 10-team no-trade clause for 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone in the media was likely musing over how the Leafs could garner some cap relief and suggested buying out Brodie. It got shared on social media and twisted around into the Leafs buying him out.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports it will take until September before the sale of the Senators to incoming owner Michael Andlauer is completed. Until then, he cannot make any changes to the club. That means he will have no say over possible offseason roster moves by general manager Pierre Dorion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dorion’s biggest potential move is his anticipated trade of Alex DeBrincat. Garrioch reports the Senators would like a first-round pick as part of the return for the 25-year-old winger, who refuses to ink a long-term extension with the club.

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: The Sabres have signed forward Zemgus Girgensons to a one-year contract extension worth $2.5 million. This move was made to preserve the club’s leadership group.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girgensons is the longest-serving active member on the Sabres roster, having played nine seasons.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday placed forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Patrik Nemeth on waivers for the purpose of buying out their contracts.

TSN: Player agent Ray Petkau confirmed clients James Reimer of the San Jose Sharks and Thomas Greiss of the St. Louis Blues will be hitting the UFA market on July 1.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman doesn’t anticipate trading his two first-round picks in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft (June 28-29) in Nashville. The Red Wings hold picks No. 9 and No. 17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman could change his mind if a rival GM makes a tempting offer but it doesn’t appear as though he’s actively shopping those picks.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders signed restricted free agent defenseman Samuel Bolduc to a two-year, one-way contract worth an AAV of $800K.