NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2024

Penguins lose Jake Guentzel in loss to the Panthers, the Flyers name a new captain, plus the latest on Morgan Rielly, Brendan Gallagher, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists while Anton Lundell tallied twice for the 34-15-4 Panthers, who sit second in the Eastern Conference standings with 72 points. The Penguins (23-20-7) dropped their third straight game and also lost winger Jake Guentzel in the third period with an upper-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting seven points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins’ playoff hopes are fading. That could push general manager Kyle Dubas to become a seller by the March 8 trade deadline. Guentzel has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill as a trade candidate but his value in the trade market could suffer if he’s sidelined long-term. There was no update following the game regarding his status.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped 17 shots to shut out the San Jose Sharks 1-0. Morgan Barron scored the only goal for the Jets (32-14-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 69 points. Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 38 shots for the 14-33-5 Sharks.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fourth straight win with a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and an assist for the 25-23-5 Wild (55 points) as they moved to within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Logan Cooley scored for the Coyotes (23-25-4), who also lost goaltender Connor Ingram for seven to 10 days after he left the game following the second period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ promising play over the first three months of this season has disappeared in recent weeks. They’ve been in a nosedive in the standings over the past several weeks, winning just twice in their last 10 games and tumbling out of a wild-card spot in the process.

HEADLINES

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers named Sean Couturier as their new team captain with Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny as their alternate captains. Couturier is the 20th player in franchise history to become captain and the first since Claude Giroux was traded to Florida in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The timing of this announcement was puzzling as teams tend to name captains before the start of the season. One reader suggested perhaps they were waiting to see if Couturier, who missed all of 2022-23 recovering from back surgery, would be healthy enough to play out this season. Whatever the reason, Couturier was the obvious choice as he’s been their leader throughout this season.

Speaking of the Flyers, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be sidelined for two-to-three weeks due to a minor procedure for an upper-body injury.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly intends to appeal his five-game suspension for cross-checking Ottawa Senators center Ridly Greig last Saturday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of suspensions, Brendan Gallagher returns to the Canadiens lineup for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. He served five games for an illegal hit to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech.

TSN: Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Tampa Bay Lightning forward Michael Eyssimont.

DAILY FACEOFF: Calgary Flames forward Jakob Pelletier is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: A league source confirmed the NHL will stage a Stadium Series game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, March 1, 2025, at Ohio Stadium. It will be the Blue Jackets’ first outdoor game in franchise history.

ESPN: A union representing junior hockey players has filed a lawsuit against the NHL as well as the Canadian Hockey League and its affiliated junior hockey leagues and clubs. The suit alleges the development system for professional prospects violates antitrust laws.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2024

More info on the Devils’ attempt to acquire Jacob Markstrom, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams denies shopping Casey Mittelstadt, Boone Jenner wants to remain with the Blue Jackets, plus the latest on the Flyers and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

REPORT CLAIMS DEVILS AND FLAMES WERE CLOSE TO A DEAL ON MARKSTROM

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cites Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting Calgary Flames management recently approached goaltender Jacob Markstrom about waiving his no-movement clause to accept a trade to the New Jersey Devils.

Seravalli doesn’t think there were any issues on Markstrom’s part about joining the Devils. Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that the two sides were in agreement on a deal that would’ve worked for both sides, with Devils forward Alexander Holtz believed to be part of the return to the Flames.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (NHL Images).

Friedman indicated the deal fell apart over the issue of the Flames retaining part of Markstrom’s $6 million average annual value through 2025-26. Seravalli doubts the deal can be revived as the Devils are looking elsewhere for goaltending help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Markstrom were an unrestricted free agent this summer or next perhaps the Flames might’ve been more agreeable to retaining part of his salary cap hit. Having part of his cap hit on their books for the remainder of this season plus the next two wasn’t something they seemed keen to do.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams denied recent speculation claiming he was shopping Casey Mittelstadt.

Appearing Tuesday on “Schopp and the Bulldog”, Adams praised the versatile 25-year-old forward, who leads the Sabres with 43 points this season. He also indicated that he hopes to work toward a contract for Mittelstadt and get him signed.

Mittelstadt is due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt’s contract status plus the fact several of his teammates have already signed long-term contracts sparked speculation he could be shopped because the Sabres didn’t want to sign him.

Adams could be tempted if a rival GM made an enticing pitch for Mittelstadt. However, I’m taking him at face value when he says he wants to re-sign him. Bear in mind that Mittelstadt’s RFA status means his rights still belong to the Sabres so Adams is under no pressure to move him by the March 8 trade deadline.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Speaking of the Sabres, Lance Lysowski reports Victor Olofsson is remaining patient while awaiting a trade. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and has been the subject of trade speculation this season.

Moving Olofsson could be tricky. His production is down this season, he’s been a frequent healthy scratch and he carries a $4.75 million cap hit.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael DeRosa cited The Fourth Period claiming the Colorado Avalanche have been linked to Olofsson. They need depth at center but DeRosa thinks they could also use more scoring among their bottom six.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres might have to retain half of Olofsson’s cap hit to move him by the March 8 trade deadline. Even that might not fetch much of a return.

JENNER WANTS TO STAY WITH THE BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner has become a wanted man in this season’s trade market. However, the 30-year-old forward made it clear that he doesn’t want to be traded.

Jenner said he wants to be part of the rebuilding roster’s development. He acknowledged there’s a lot of work to be done but believes they can get it done.

A versatile, hardworking forward, Jenner carries an affordable $3.75 million AAV through 2025-26. That contract along with his style of game makes him attractive to playoff contenders. However, Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said it would take an over-the-top offer before he would consider trading his captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jenner also seems keen to spend his entire NHL career with the Blue Jackets. That might change in a couple of years when he becomes eligible for UFA status if the Jackets haven’t improved by then.

If Kekalainen gets replaced at the end of this season a new GM could have designs on trading Jenner, who carries an eight-team no-trade clause. For now, however, it seems unlikely that he’ll be moved by the March 8 trade deadline.

THE LATEST ON SEAN WALKER

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella recently said that his club isn’t shopping defenseman Sean Walker. However, Tortorella thinks they’d be dopes if they didn’t listen to offers, adding they’d move him if it made sense for the organization.

Walker’s been the Flyers most consistent defenseman this season. Moving him would hurt their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ acquisition of Jamie Drysdale has heightened anticipation that Walker could be traded. However, Kurz cited Tortorella saying the 21-year-old Drysdale remains a work in progress.

Kurz noted the Flyers have been carrying eight defensemen. One way to address this would be to trade Rasmus Ristolainen while attempting to re-sign Walker and defense partner Nick Seeler. While Ristolainen is on The Athletic’s trade board, any deal would involve the Flyers retaining part of his $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. Walker, however, is simply more valuable in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decision would be easier for Flyers management if the club was out of playoff contention. However, they’re holding on to third place in the Metropolitan Division. GM Daniel Briere said that wouldn’t affect his decision to make trades for the future but he could be feeling pressure from ownership to keep this group intact for the rest of the season.

I’ll be very surprised if Briere can find a taker for Ristolainen. While his play has improved under Tortorella’s coaching, his cap hit is a significant obstacle in the path to a trade.

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s recent appearance on “Oilers Now” telling Bob Stauffer that Oilers top prospect Philip Broberg could factor into the club’s plans for the trade deadline.

Seravalli wasn’t talking about the Oilers shopping Broberg, who’s spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Instead, he believes that Brober is now NHL-ready. That could give them the flexibility to move out other players.

Staples speculates blueliner Brett Kulak could be that player. While the Oilers like Kulak, Daily Faceoff pointed out that replacing him with Broberg represents an immediate $2 million in cap savings.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

The Sabres are rumored to be shopping Casey Mittelstadt, speculation over Max Pacioretty’s future, two Canadian clubs could have an interest in Alexandre Carrier, plus the latest on the Flyers and Sharks in the NHL Rumor Mill.

REPORT: SABRES ACTIVELY SHOPPING MITTELSTADT

AFTER THE WHISTLE: Andrew Peters said Friday that he’d heard “from a very reliable source” that Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is “shopping Casey Mittelstadt hard” because he doesn’t want to pay the 25-year-old forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million. The versatile forward enjoyed a 59-point breakout performance last season and currently leads the Sabres in scoring with 42 points in 50 games.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Peters’ source didn’t know what Adams’ asking price would be for Mittelstadt but indicated that he’s looking for a goaltender. “They don’t trust the three that they have,” said Peters.

SPORTSNET: On Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about Mittelstadt’s contract situation. He believes Mittelstadt would not be happy not to get a lucrative new contract when several other teammates did. “If you’re not going to pay him, you almost have to move him.”

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Peters’ claiming the Sabres are shopping Mittelstadt. He believes the Flyers should pursue him and suggested offering up right-shot defenseman Sean Walker as part of the return.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal also noted Peters’ report about Mittelstadt. He believes the Sabres forward would be a good candidate for the Avalanche’s second-line center position. However, a young forward under team control for a few more years would be expensive to acquire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes last month suggested Mittelstadt could be available if Adams didn’t want to sign him to a long-term extension. He shrugged off the speculation while Adams has not spoken about it.

Mittelstadt will draw plenty of interest in the trade market if Adams is indeed peddling him. Finding a reliable, established starting goaltender, however, won’t be easy as the pickings are slim right now.

Maybe Adams could offer up Mittelstadt to the Calgary Flames for Jacob Markstrom provided the latter would waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros provided he’s willing to sign a contract extension on July 1. Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson’s been a fixture in the rumor mill stretching back to last season but the Sabres could be on his 10-team no-trade list.

COULD THE CAPITALS ATTEMPT TO MOVE PACIORETTY?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their pending unrestricted free agents include Anthony Mantha, Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty carries a full no-movement clause giving him and his agent complete control over his situation. However, LeBrun believes he could waive it for the right fit and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

LeBrun thinks Mantha could be difficult to move even with retaining some salary. Edmundson’s playoff pedigree, meanwhile, could make him enticing to a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million plus another $2 million in performance bonuses. The six-time 30-goal scorer has seven points in 14 games thus far in his comeback with the Capitals.

LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about possible trade-deadline moves for the Philadelphia Flyers.

They believe they are contemplating retaining Sean Walker and moving Rasmus Ristolainen. The latter would be easier to trade in the offseason for financial as well as hockey reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 29, lacks no-trade protection but carries a $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. He would be easier to move this summer when teams have more money to absorb that type of cap hit. However, he could still be a difficult sell unless the Flyers are willing to retain some salary.

They also believe Scott Laughton’s time with the Flyers could be drawing to a close. It could happen at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laughton, 29, is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He carries an affordable $3 million AAV through 2025-26 and lacks a no-trade clause. He could attract a fair bit of interest in the trade market.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Mikael Granlund might fetch the best return for the San Jose Sharks in the trade market.

Peng noted that the 29-year-old two-way center has bounced back this season with 29 points in 38 games. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and lacks no-trade protection.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Julian Gaudio cited The Fourth Period recently claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are interested in Anthony Duclair.

The 28-year-old Sharks winger has just 17 points in 46 games this season with San Jose but was a productive middle-six forward for the Florida Panthers during their run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He’s in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3 million.

Gaudio’s colleague Max Miller cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there are teams with an interest in Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. The pending UFA has put up good underlying numbers this season but doesn’t have a resume in high-pressure games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Duclair seems the more likely to move given his cap hit and his performance in last year’s playoffs.

Granlund’s cap hit remains difficult to move unless the Sharks retain part of it. Having used up two of their three salary-retention slots on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, I doubt they’ll keep any part of Granlund’s cap hit to facilitate a trade.

Kahkonen’s inexperience in playoff action will be an issue for contenders shopping for goaltending depth.

OILERS & CANUCKS COULD BE INTERESTED IN ALEXANDRE CARRIER

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might be looking at Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier as a trade option. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently mentioned Carrier as a trade target for the Vancouver Canucks.

Gallagher noted that Predators GM Barry Trotz isn’t necessarily shopping Carrier but is willing to listen to trade offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carrier could be an attractive option for contenders with limited cap space looking for an affordable defenseman. He carries a $2.5 million cap hit, lacks a no-trade clause and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

Gallagher also noted the Predators are trying to move blueliner Tyson Barrie following his trade request back in December.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2024

Zach Parise could soon sign with the Avalanche plus the latest on the Flyers, Bruins and Kraken in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

REPORT: PARISE COULD SIGN WITH THE AVALANCHE

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo speculating winger Zach Parise could soon sign with the Colorado Avalanche.

Appearing on the “Talk North” podcast, Russo said that he expects the 39-year-old Parise to sign within the next couple of days and make his debut following the All-Star break.

Unrestricted free agent winger Zach Parise (NHL.com)

I think he’s going to Colorado, by the way,” said Russo, though he also mentioned the Boston Bruins as a potential landing spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rawal noted the Avalanche’s need for depth on the wing with Valeri Nichushkin last week entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. Parise would be an affordable signing for the Avs or the Bruins. Perhaps we’ll know for certain by the end of this week.

FLYERS WON’T SACRIFICE FUTURES FOR QUICK FIXES

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reported Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere admitted to being pleasantly surprised by his club exceeding expectations by holding a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Nevertheless, he maintains that his eye remains fixed on the club’s future.

Briere insisted that he’s not going to trade prime assets like first and second-round picks to make a run for the playoffs this season. Noting that he traded Cutter Gauthier recently to the Anaheim Ducks, Briere said that was a different situation and he got a return (Jamie Drysdale) that helps his team now as well as in the future.

The Flyers do hold some potential trade chips in pending free-agent defensemen Sean Walker and Nick Seeler. Meanwhile, blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen and forward Morgan Frost have appeared on various media trade boards. Nevertheless, Briere said he won’t be making trades just for the sake of doing so and a lot would depend on the marketplace.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Briere might consider a low-cost playoff rental or two but his focus is more on adding long-term assets. He could also be content to stand pat if the Flyers are still playing well by the trade deadline.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss noted the speculation suggesting the Bruins might focus on adding a middle-six forward with some scoring punch. However, the recent increase in their offensive production could shift their focus toward bolstering their blueline.

Goss believes the Bruins could use a shutdown blueliner who can play tough minutes in the playoffs. He noted that promising Mason Lohrei’s defensive game remains a concern, Matt Grzelcyk has trouble handling heavy forechecks in the postseason and Derek Forbort has missed plenty of games with injuries. Adding another quality defenseman would also help reduce the heavy workload on Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That type of defenseman could be more affordable for the cap-strapped Bruins than adding a middle-six forward. Of course, they might be able to address the latter more cheaply if Zach Parise opts to sign with them.

KRAKEN COULD RETAIN THEIR THREE GOALTENDERS

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker noted the Kraken hold three potential No. 1 goaltenders in Philipp Grubauer, Joey Daccord and Chris Driedger.

It’s been assumed the Kraken might peddle Driedger by the trade deadline as his contract expires at the end of this season. However, Grubauer’s injury history has Baker suggesting they’d be better off retaining Driedger for the remainder of the season as they push for a playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Kraken management shares Baker’s assessment.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2024

Could the Ducks trade Trevor Zegras? Will the Senators shop Jakob Chychrun? Could Penguins winger Jake Guentzel hit the trade block? What’s the latest on Sharks forwards Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli updated his NHL Trade Targets list on Tuesday, adding several notable new names.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the entire list by following the link. I’m not including everyone as most of the names, such as Calgary’s Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin, have already frequently appeared in the rumor mill this season and will likely continue to do so leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. Today, I’m more interested in the new players on Seravalli’s list.

Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).

In the wake of the Anaheim Ducks shipping Jamie Drysdale to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday for Cutter Gauthier, Seravalli wondered if Trevor Zegras could be next. He noted that Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek has put together a solid prospect base with Gauthier, Leo Carlsson, Mason McTavish, Pavel Mintyukov and Lukas Dostal.

Seravalli had Zegras sitting at No. 4 on his list. He cited sources claiming Verbeek mentioned Zegras in trade discussions this season though it’s unclear how far those talks went. He thinks the 22-year-old center doesn’t mesh with the style of play Verbeek envisions for the Ducks, citing their tough contract talks that saw Zegras miss training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger last night indicated Zegras isn’t being shopped but there had been some level of interest in the young forward. He believes the Ducks will continue to work on improving Zegras’ overall game but suggested this situation could come to a head in the offseason.

Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun sits at No. 10. Less than a year after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes, Seravalli reports teams have expressed an interest in the 25-year-old defenseman and the Senators haven’t told them that he’s not available. They have a log jam in left-shot defensemen with Chychrun, Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun was acquired by former Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. New GM Steve Staios isn’t beholden to any players acquired by his predecessor. He may not be shopping Chychrun but, understandably, he’s willing to at least listen to offers. Despite the Senators’ struggles this season, however, there’s no indication that he wants out of Ottawa.

St. Louis Blues center Kevin Hayes checks in at No. 15. Seravalli believes his improved play could make him enticing in the trade market if the Blues would retain half of the $3.57 million of his $7.14 million cap hit that they’re carrying. He could fetch a decent return from a playoff contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are still in the chase for a Western Conference wild-card berth. I daresay they’ll hang onto Hayes if they’re in a playoff spot by March 8. He’s still carrying a 12-team no-trade clause which could complicate things.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov is at No. 20. If Joseph Woll regains his early-season form on his return from an ankle injury, the Leafs could move Samsonov to another club that thinks he can reboot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, I suppose, but the fact Samsonov recently cleared waivers says all we need to know about his potential trade value. No NHL club will touch him unless his performance improves or the Leafs add a lot of sweeteners in the deal.

Sitting at No. 25 is Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Seravalli said the 29-year-old pending free-agent left winger isn’t in play yet with the Penguins having clawed their way back into the wild-card race in the Eastern Conference. If they fall out of the chase, however, Guentzel might become available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel’s situation could be worth monitoring if the Penguins stumble. As Seravalli pointed out, he could become the most prized rental player in the trade market by March 8.

LATEST ON HERTL AND COUTURE

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports he’s not sure a whole lot will happen with San Jose Sharks forwards Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture by the March 8 trade deadline.

He spoke with Hertl yesterday following the Sharks’ morning skate and he’s focused on helping his team and being a good leader rather than on the trade deadline. Couture, meanwhile, is centered more on returning from an injury than the trade deadline.

LeBrun noted that Hertl has a full no-movement clause. Couture has three more years left on his contract but LeBrun believes he’s the type of leadership player that could have a few teams calling about.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also addressed Hertl and Couture in his column with The Athletic, suggesting any conversation about their futures is more likely to occur in the summer. They’re both carrying term on expensive contracts with no-trade protection. Moving those types of players rarely takes place leading up to the trade deadline.

UPDATES ON THE FLYERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to get more interest in defensemen Sean Walker and Nick Seeler. They’re still willing to retain 50 percent of their average annual values.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey believes more moves are coming for the Flyers following their acquisition of Jamie Drysdale from the Anaheim Ducks. They now have eight defensemen on their roster.

Bailey noted that Walker has been the subject of trade speculation for some time. He pointed out that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated Rasmus Ristolainen is a target of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also cited a recent report by Friedman indicating that at least one team attempted to acquire Walker and Seeler.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Daniel Briere remains focused on his rebuilding plans despite his club being in the thick of the playoff chase. Adding Drysdale could make it easier for him to part with Walker or Seeler. Both carry affordable cap hits and if the Flyers are willing to retain half it could make them easier to peddle.

As for Ristolainen, the only way I see him moving is if the Flyers retain half of his $5.1 million AAV through 2027 or they get a player with an equivalent cap hit in return. Otherwise, that’s a move they try to make in the offseason.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2024

Check out recent speculation on the Flames, Flyers and Rangers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CALGARY SUN: Daniel Austin wondered how busy Flames general manager Craig Conroy will be leading up to the March 8 trade deadline.

Trading pending unrestricted free agents such as Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev means Flames fans will be in for a couple of seasons of watching a young, developing team. That could also raise questions over whether veterans Nazem Kadri and Mikael Backlund will want to stick around.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Re-sign those three and the Flames will be making a long-term commitment to a core that has underachieved over the past two seasons.

If one of those three gets traded it could create a domino effect for the other two. With players like Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau on long-term contracts, Conroy could prefer returns of young NHL-ready players rather than loading up on draft picks and prospects.

Austin also wondered if Conroy will listen to calls for backup goalie Dan Vladar. Moving him would create room for promising Dustin Wolf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a roster retool rather than a full-fledged rebuild is in the works for the Flames. Lindholm, Hanifin and Tanev will likely be peddled for young players who can help this club stage a turnaround within the next couple of seasons.

The Flames already have some good young talent in Wolf, Yegor Sharangovich, Connor Zary, Matt Coronato and Jakob Pelletier. Adding some more to that group could give them a crop of youth that could develop into a more reliable core of talent.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz listed defensemen Sean Walker, Nick Seeler, Rasmus Ristolainen and Marc Staal and center Morgan Frost as the players most likely to be moved by the Philadelphia Flyers if they become sellers by the March 8 trade deadline. He also thinks Carter Hart, Ryan Poehling and Scott Laughton would be moved only in the right deal.

The Flyers’ better-than-expected performance thus far this season could complicate things. Jettisoning too many players risks upsetting the team culture. Kurz believes Flyers GM Daniel Briere is keeping his eye on the future. However, it would also help the Flyers from a business standpoint if they make the playoffs this season with a young and improving crop of players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have played well thus far but are showing signs of wobbling. If they fall out of contention by February, Briere will likely start shopping some of those players mentioned by Kurz. If they’re still in the thick of things, however, he could decide to keep his roster intact to give them a shot at reaching the postseason.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes a scoring top-six winger could be on the Rangers’ wish list. Blake Wheeler only has four goals while Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko have been sidelined by injuries.

The Rangers’ strong performance thus far proves their depth as a team. However, Walker believes they need reinforcements and upgrades to advance in the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Options could include Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko, San Jose’s Anthony Duclair, Washington’s Anthony Mantha and St. Louis’ Jakub Vrana. Not the deepest pool of potential scoring wingers that could be available in the trade market. Perhaps it will improve closer to the March 8 trade deadline.