NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2019

The potential effect of recent RFA signings, the Oilers options to replace the sidelined Adam Larsson, and updates on Joshua Ho-Sang and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun suspects the rash of recent signings by players slated to become restricted free agents in 2020 could be a sign of a trend. After watching the negotiations for many of this summer’s top RFAs drag on well into training camp, some teams are moving aggressively to re-sign their pending top RFAs coming off entry-level contracts. 

Could Alex DeBrincat’s new contract with the Blackhawks lead to other 2020 RFAs, like the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, getting re-signed during this season? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks were the latest, re-signing winger Alex DeBrincat to an extension yesterday. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard, Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller, and Ottawa Senators blueliner Thomas Chabot were also re-signed in recent weeks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We could see more over the course of this season. Those in the final season of their ELCs include DeBrincat’s linemate Dylan Strome, the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal (pictured), New Jersey’s Nico Hischier, and Columbus’ PIerre-Luc Dubois. 

Bob McKenzie believes the Edmonton Oilers aren’t opposed to going outside their organization to find a potential replacement for sidelined defenseman Adam Larsson. However, he doesn’t think there’s a comparable defenseman available.

He pointed out New York Islanders rearguard Thomas Hickey is available and was recently on waivers but he’s not a top-pairing blueliner. Hickey also carries a $2 million cap hit. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers recalled defenseman Evan Bouchard from their AHL affiliate. If he struggles to fill the void, perhaps general manager Ken Holland will explore the trade or waiver wire. 

Speaking of the Oilers, Darren Dreger observes a few teams expressed interest in Jesse Puljujarvi. The 21-year-old RFA winger is playing in Finland as he waits for the Oilers to honor his trade request. He’s playing well overseas but there’s nothing doable for the Oilers so far. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there’s growing interest in Puljujarvi but the Oilers asking price of a draft pick and prospect could be more than those clubs are willing to pay. Maybe one of those teams will get desperate if injuries strike or they struggle to score. 

Dreger also notes New York Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang has requested a trade. He wants a fresh start elsewhere and isn’t averse to playing for another team’s AHL club. However, his fate remains in the hands of Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple doubts Ho-Sang will fetch much in return. Because he’s already cleared waivers he can be sent directly to the AHL if acquired via trade by another team. 

McKenzie believes it’s not a question of if the Dallas Stars move defenseman Julius Honka but when. The restricted free agent is in Finland awaiting a trade. The issue with him isn’t money but an opportunity and a fresh start after three seasons in the AHL. Teams are speaking to Stars GM Jim Nill. McKenzie expects the Stars will get a draft pick in return. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens were reportedly interested in Honka, who’s also been linked to the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets. 

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2019

The effect of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s new contract upon the Lightning’s cap space, plus the latest on Mitch Marner and Kevin Shattenkirk in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ATHLETIC: John Romano and Joe Smith examined the effect Andrei Vasilevskiy’s new eight-year. $76-million contract will have upon the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap payroll for 2020-21. Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Ryan McDonagh have annual average values between $6.75 million and $9.5 million. Restricted free agent Brayden Point could receive a minimum of $8 million, leaving the Bolts with six players taking up nearly 60 percent of their salary cap.

Could Tyler Johnson become the Tampa Bay Lightning’s next salary-cap casualty? (Photo via NHL Images)

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois acknowledged he’ll have tough decisions to make next summer. Last month, he shipped forward J.T. Miller to Vancouver in a cost-cutting deal.

Romano speculates that could mean parting ways with someone like Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat or Tyler Johnson. Smith, however, observes their respective no-trade clauses, and that of forward Yanni Gourde could make it challenging to move one of them for cap flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Lightning have over $67.3 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. Assuming Point is re-signed to a new deal paying him $8 million annually, they’ll be sitting at over $75 million committed to 14 players. Should the cap rise to $84 million next season, that won’t leave enough to re-sign RFAs like Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, Mathieu Joseph, and Anthony Cirelli and still provide room to fill out the rest of the roster.

Johnson frequently surfaced in trade speculation over the past two years and could become their prime trade candidate. He has a full no-trade clause, which will significantly hamper efforts to move him. Killorn, Palat, and Gourde would also attract interest if available but, like Johnson, their NTCs could handcuff BriseBois’ efforts to shed salary.


THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting a source saying player agents of high-profile RFAs are waiting for Mitch Marner to set the market for their clients. Marner is among several young stars coming off entry-level contracts. Others include Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Marner gets doesn’t mean the others will be getting the same. It’s believed he could receive around $10.5 million annually. Whatever he does receive, however, could raise the ceiling for the rest.

It’s assumed Point could get around $8 million, in part because he plays where there’s no state tax. The decline in Laine’s production last season could keep him in the $8 million per season range. Rantanen and Tkachuk are expected to receive around $9 million while Boeser could come in around $7.5 million.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: If the New York Rangers buy out defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk within their current second buyout period, David Staples wonders if he’d be a worthwhile fit with the Oilers. He examined the strengths and weaknesses in Shattenkirk’s game, suggesting he might be worth it on a short-term deal within the range of $1.5 million annually. That being said, he feels it would be a longshot for the Oilers to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out very soon, probably by tomorrow at the latest, if the Rangers intend to buy out Shattenkirk. If they do, he’ll attract interest in a free-agent market that’s been picked almost clean of decent veteran talent. But as Staples observes, Shattenkirk’s preference for playing in the Boston-New York area could make him reluctant to sign with a Western team.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2016

What will the Pittsburgh Penguins do about their goaltending this season?

What will the Pittsburgh Penguins do about their goaltending this season?

 Latest on the Penguins goalie situation plus an updated status of currently unsigned restricted free agent stars in your NHL rumor mill.

TSN 690 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie was questioned Wednesday about how the goaltending situation between veteran Marc-Andre Fleury and young Matt Murray plays out in the coming season. Citing Fleury’s no-movement clause and Murray’s rise to prominence as a No. 1 goalie, McKenzie believes the Penguins want a little more time for things to shake out.

Depending upon how things go over the course of the season with injuries and overall team performance, one of them could be moved before the trade deadline. While the Penguins at some point could approach Fleury about waiving his movement clause and going to a team where he’ll be the starter, McKenzie doubts that’ll happen before the start of this season. He believes it could take a couple of months, perhaps even up to the trade deadline for this to sort itself out. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As McKenzie points out, the Penguins also like the insurance of having two capable starters. However, if Murray continues playing well and sees the bulk of the starts this season, I think it’s only a matter of time until Fleury gets dealt. If not at the trade deadline, he could be traded before the expansion draft in June.

Teams can only protect one goalie, and players with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive their clause. Fleury can list 18 teams he’ll accept being dealt to, which gives the Penguins some flexibility with his trade status. If they do decide to move him, they’ll obviously try to move him where he’ll want to go. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox provided an updated status listing of 10 key unsigned restricted free agents. 

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman remains hopeful of re-signing winger Nikita Kucherov before the start of the season. The Calgary Flames and winger Johnny Gaudreau are reportedly $1.5 million apart in contract talks. The Gaudreau camp seeks up to $8 million per season.

The Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Jacob Trouba’s camp are keeping mum on the status of their contract talks, while negotiations between the Buffalo Sabres and blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen have reportedly ground to a halt.

Nothing new on contract talks between the Anaheim Ducks and d-man Hampus Lindholm, while illness has knocked forward Rickard Rakell out of the World Cup of Hockey. 

Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov sounded uncertain about the possibility of being re-signed before the start of the season. Dallas Stars RFA winger Valeri Nichushkin was reportedly in talks with his former KHL club Traktor Chelyabinsk, but Moscow Dynamo owns his KHL rights and set too steep a price for Chelyabinsk to buy back his rights. 

The Arizona Coyotes continue playing hardball with forward Tobias Rieder. The New York Islanders have a rule that players who aren’t signed by the start of training camp will sit out the season. That could affect RFA forward Ryan Strome. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not really much new here, other than Nichushkin’s talks with his old KHL team and the reminder of the Isles rule about unsigned RFAs at the start of training camp. Otherwise, still a lot of staredowns going on. In most cases, the late start of training camps and the participation of some players in the World Cup of Hockey are likely why these negotiations are dragging on. Most of the World Cup participants (Kucherov, Gaudreau, Ristolainen, Lindholm, Orlov, Trouba) probably won’t be re-signed until after that tournament is over.