NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus updates on the Predators, Sabres, Coyotes, Kings, Red Wings and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley appearing on Andy Strickland and Cam Janssen’s podcast where he said he doesn’t want goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be traded. “He never came close to be part of a deal,” said Foley. “I would’ve had a big problem with it if that had been presented to me.” Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to reacquire Fleury through another team and they thought they were close to a deal.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman indicated if Foley doesn’t want Fleury traded then that’s the end of it. The 36-year-old goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Friedman believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers and management wants to keep him. The biggest challenge is the economic landscape is recovering more slowly than expected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the salary cap is likely to remain at $81.5 million for next season, affecting how much the Oilers can comfortably afford to invest in a long-term extension for Nugent-Hopkins.

Following up on his Saturday report regarding the Nashville Predators’ trade speculation, Friedman said their deep respect for aging goaltender Pekka Rinne means they want him to retire in their uniform. They have no desire to move defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. They’re willing to listen to trade offers but it will be difficult to pry away Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators most likely to be traded are pending unrestricted free agents like Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula or those on affordable contracts (Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok) that expire at the end of 2021-22. They’ll entertain offers for expensive underachievers such as Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen but I doubt there will be much interest in either guy.

The Buffalo Sabres are making Brandon Montour available. The 26-year-old defenseman is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes are looking for a center. They could also be interested in a rental player like Montour or a winger like the Vancouver Canucks’ Tanner Pearson if he becomes available.

Don’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to become buyers if they remain in playoff contention by the trade deadline. General manager Rob Blake intends to stick with his rebuilding plan.

UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS AND FLAMES

TSN: Frank Seravalli believes three Detroit Red Wings – Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening and Marc Staal – could draw attention from rival clubs as the Apr. 12 trade deadline approaches. Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, said the Calgary Flames’ recent slump sparked speculation whether GM Brad Treliving was up to something. However, it seems all’s quiet on the Flames front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Ryan, Staal and Glendening could be playing elsewhere by Apr. 12. As for the Flames, Treliving is remaining patient with his roster but his hand could be forced if they don’t show significant improvement. Complicating things, of course, are the COVID protocols and travel restrictions for any players acquired from American teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2021

Analysis of a list of early potential trade-rental candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the potential trade-rental candidates among this year’s NHL cellar-dwelling teams. He considers the pickings slim for those pending unrestricted free agents who could become available at the Apr. 12 trade deadline.

The notable names on the Buffalo Sabres include Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Brandon Montour. Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal are among the Detroit Red Wings’ pending UFAs. Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Pekka Rinne are the noteworthy Nashville Predators while the Ottawa Senators’ list includes Derek Stepan and Ryan Dzingel.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Hall is the standout in this group and Fox is skeptical he’ll sign an extension with the struggling Sabres. He feels Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams must move Hall if he hasn’t re-signed by Apr. 11.

Eric Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list. Centers are always in demand and he carries a reasonable $3.25 million salary-cap hit. Brother Marc, meanwhile, could help clubs in need of a dependable, stay-at-home defenseman.

Fox feels Stepan and Haula could help a contender seeking a third-line center. Montour, a right-handed shot, is only 26 and should still have better days ahead.

Granlund could be more successful playing sheltered minutes on a good team’s third line than trying to produce on a bad team’s top line. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were willing to take a chance on Alex Galchenyuk then someone should be willing to take a chance on Dzingel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Fox’s assessment of the limited trade options available for contenders seeking quality playoff rental options. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a few points.

Fox published this list of pending UFAs prior to Friedman’s report last Saturday listing Rinne among the Predators’ three untouchables along with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. It sounds like Nashville GM David Poile wants the 38-year-old to finish his NHL career with the only team he’s ever played for. His age, $5 million cap hit and declining performance would significantly hurt his trade value even if he was available.

Ryan could be an affordable gamble for a club seeking an experienced depth forward. He’s on a $1 million contract and has nine points in 19 games with the rebuilding Red Wings. He turns 34 next month and his best years are behind him. However, a playoff contender could gamble on him rising to the occasion the way Corey Perry did for the Dallas Stars in last year’s postseason.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last week linked Granlund with the Leafs, noting they tried to sign him last fall but couldn’t make the dollars fit. Perhaps they’ll try to acquire him if they still want to add a top-six forward before the deadline.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

More Jack Eichel speculation, almost everyone on the Predators could be available in the trade market, and Ethan Bear’s trade value in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Jack Eichel era is heading toward a cliff in Buffalo. The Sabres captain was disgruntled over the club’s direction before last year’s front-office purge, the team isn’t scoring and Larkin expects rival clubs could soon start making trade offers for their franchise player.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel remains a hot topic for trade conjecture (NHL Images).

Larkin cites recent comments by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating Eichel was unhappy over his situation last summer. While he didn’t request a trade, rival teams did make inquiries. Larkin wonders how much more Eichel will endure before he wants out.

Eichel’s no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until after the 2021-22 season, giving the Sabres a window of opportunity to trade him to any team. They would get significant offers because the 24-year-old center is in the prime of his playing career.

Larkin acknowledged the idea of moving Eichel and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall hurts. However, if the Sabres aren’t improving with those two in the lineup it might be best to hit the reset button.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos also wonders if it’s time for the Sabres to trade Eichel. He points to this being the center’s sixth season in the league with a team showing no sign of progress. Traikos pondered the possibility of Eichel following the same path as Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois and ask his agent to request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres shopping Eichel before the trade deadline if they haven’t climbed into playoff contention by then. However, I expect ownership and management will sit down with their captain to discuss the club’s situation and his future in Buffalo.

The Sabres will hang onto Eichel if he’s willing to stay put. If one side or the other believes it’s time to move on, an offseason trade makes the most sense. That’s when teams have more cap space and a willingness to make blockbuster moves.

Possible destinations for Eichel could be rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space to absorb his $10 million annual average value and with sufficient assets to help the Sabres rebuild. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers fall into that category and could be among the suitors.

FEW UNTOUCHABLES AMONG THE PREDATORS.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports word is there are only three untouchables – Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne – on the Nashville Predators. He believes they could be willing to listen to trade offers on almost everyone else, including winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman points out Rinne is among the untouchables because he’s coming to the end of his contract. I doubt there would be much of a market for the 38-year-old goaltender given his fading performance and $5 million annual average value.

Just because the Preds are willing to listen to offers on guys like Forsberg and Fabbro doesn’t mean those players will be traded. Those two are among their better players and I doubt they’ll be moved unless there’s a mind-blowing offer for either guy.

The most obvious trade candidates are pending UFAs such as Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson. Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Cousins could also be available as they each have a year remaining on their contracts with affordable salary-cap hits.

Ekholm has been often mentioned in recent days as perhaps their most desirable trade chip. That would change, of course, if guys like Forsberg and Fabbro are available.

COULD THE OILERS SHOP ETHAN BEAR?

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently observed the notion of the Edmonton Oilers shopping Ethan Bear has been floating around. Willis doubts they will move the 23-year-old defenseman because they lack a proper replacement for him, weakening their blue line. He feels any assessment of Bear as a trade chip only makes it clear how important he is to the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t argue with Willis’ assessment. Sure, the Oilers could use him as a trade chip to address another roster issue but doing so would then leave a hole to be addressed on the defense.










NHL Player Tracking: Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 3

NHL Player Tracking: Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 3

 










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Nashville Predators

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Nashville Predators

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2020

Some Central Division speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently posed one offseason question for each NHL Central Division team.

He wondered how far the Chicago Blackhawks can go with their current roster. Given his limited salary-cap space, general manager Stan Bowman doesn’t have many options to bolster the roster. He also doesn’t have a goalie under contract for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having recently received a vote of confidence from team owner Rocky Wirtz, I expect Bowman will continue retooling his roster by adding younger, affordable players. As for the goaltending, I suspect he’ll re-sign Corey Crawford to a cost-effective, short-term deal. He could also shop winger Brandon Saad if the return fetches a young, NHL-ready player.

Alex Pietrangelo’s future with the St. Louis Blues remains uncertain (Photo via NHL Images).

Noting the Colorado Avalanche’s plentiful salary-cap space, O’Leary wondered if GM Joe Sakic might pursue Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall via free agency. He acknowledged it’s probably a “pie-in-the-sky fantasy,” but felt it was feasible enough.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was linked to the Avs in this season’s trade-rumor mill. Nevertheless, I don’t think they need to blow a lot of money on a big-ticket UFA winger when Gabriel Landeskog does a fine job filling the first-line left-wing role. It wouldn’t make sense to overpay for Hall to play a second-line role. Yes, they could move Landeskog down to the second line, but it’s not a good idea to break up his chemistry with Nathan MacKinnon and Miko Rantanen.

O’Leary wondered if Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill will get creative to find a goal scorer. Veterans Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov have had down performances this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could address that issue by peddling a defenseman like Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, or Miro Heiskanen. However, I doubt he’ll make such a bold move. He could be forced to find more affordable options through free agency or within his system.

With the Minnesota Wild having replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason on an interim basis, O’Leary wondered if they’ll splurge on a new bench boss. Mike Babcock, Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette are all available, but GM Bill Guerin said he won’t interview candidates during the league’s hiatus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin didn’t rule out sticking with Evason as the full-time replacement. Nevertheless, we can’t rule the possibility he’ll speak with some of those more experienced coaches.

Could this season be Pekka Rinne’s last in goal for the Nashville Predators? He’s been outplayed by Juuse Saros this season. He also has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on Rinne and GM David Poile. I suspect Rinne will be back. He’s carrying a plus-35 contract, meaning a buyout wouldn’t provide any cap relief. He also has a no-movement clause preventing his demotion to the minors and a 10-team trade list.

Rinne could be a compliance buyout candidate if the league and the PA implement that option for this offseason, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Poile kept him around for one more year.

O’Leary wonders if St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo will hit the open market. He’s the heart-and-soul of the club, but he’s also in a position to command between $8 million and $10 million annually. With limited salary-cap space, GM Doug Armstrong might have to shed salary to re-sign Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Veteran forward Alexander Steen ($5.75 million annual average value) has come up in the rumor mill as a trade candidate, but he’s 36 and also carries a full no-trade clause through Feb. 1, 2021. They could have better luck shopping goaltender Jake Allen, who’s signed through next season with an AAV of $4.35 million.

Will the Dustin Byfuglien saga be resolved?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, a resolution could come soon. “Now the Players Association, the league, the player and the Winnipeg Jets are all aligned on the termination agreement but it hasn’t been executed yet and because of that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t in a position to announce but the detail work between the league and the Winnipeg Jets is expected to be ironed out in the near future.”