Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 25, 2020

A look at some intriguing offseason trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently listed 6 intriguing players who could still get traded this offseason.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (NHL Images).

He begins with Shayne Gostisbehere, noting the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly made the puck-moving defenseman available earlier in the offseason. Matt Niskanen’s sudden retirement and the Flyers’ subsequent addition of Erik Gustafsson (who plays a similar style to Gostisbehere) leaves the 26-year-old blueliner’s status uncertain in Philadelphia. Wegman suggested the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings as potential landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ and Jets’ limited cap space means the Flyers would have to take back some salary to move Gostisbehere to either of those clubs. Cap Friendly indicates he has three years remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million annually. The Kings can afford him but general manager Rob Blake already acquired Olli Maatta from Chicago and could be content to promote from within.

Wegman noted the trade speculation swirling around Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. He pointed out Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will want either a top-six center or top-four defenseman as part of the return. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres landed Taylor Hall via free agency so I doubt they’re in the market for Laine. The Hurricanes could be a good fit but I don’t see them parting with any of their top-four defensemen plus they lack the depth in centers to pry Laine away from the Jets. The Wild need a proven top-line center, not a left-winger, so I don’t think they’re a fit.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they reportedly placed Jake Gardiner on the trade block. He’s tumbled down their depth chart and carries a $4.05 million cap hit, but could be a top-four defenseman for clubs like the Jets, Florida Panthers or New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner’s contract runs through 2022-23 so the Hurricanes will either have to absorb part of that cap hit or take back salary to make this work. The Panthers and Jets are looking for more defensive-minded options, plus the latter has limited cap space. I don’t see the Rangers taking on his contract.

Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors for some time, prompting Wegman to wonder if new Sabres GM Kevyn Adams might find a taker for him. The Sabres have a logjam at right defense and moving one of their right-side blueliners to the left side isn’t ideal. Wegman suggested the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Jets as possible landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports out of Buffalo on Ristolainen suggested he was no longer on the trade block because head coach Ralph Krueger thinks highly of him. If so, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s need to shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev have Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson on Wegman’s list. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list, making him somewhat easier to move. Johnson has a full no-trade clause but is willing to work with the Lightning to work out a trade, but there were no takers for his $5 million AAV when he was placed on waivers. They’ll have to include a sweetener to move him. The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators or Panthers could be destinations for one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit has the salary-cap space plus former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is now the Red Wings’ GM. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Killorn or Johnson would accept a trade to a rebuilding club like the Wings or the Senators.

The Panthers also have the cap space but could be unwilling to spend much higher than they already have. They could also be trying to woo back free agent Mike Hoffman. We also don’t know if Killorn or Johnson would accept getting traded to the Lightning’s less-successful rival.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Flyers, Islanders and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is still actively talking to teams, but the flattened salary cap is making it difficult to add players to his roster.

This is the most difficult offseason that I’ve ever seen,” said Fletcher. He feels the NHL is entering the Flat Cap Era. “As crazy as it is right now out there, I think next summer could be even worse in terms of having some paralysis in the market, and having just too many teams having to move money.”

Fletcher is also focused on the long term. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim will be restricted free agents next summer while Scott Laughton is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Sean Couturier is two years away from UFA eligibility.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (NHL Images).

Carchidi observers forwards such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou remain available in the UFA market. However, he doesn’t know if Fletcher will pursue one of them.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wondered what the Flyers’ recent signing of Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract means for Shayne Gostisbehere. Both defensemen play a similar offensive-minded style. While Gustafsson’s addition doesn’t guarantee Gostisbehere will be traded, Hall suggests it increases the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could make it more difficult for the Flyers to move Gostisbehere. As per Cap Friendly, the 27-year-old blueliner has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports unrestricted free agents Andy Greene and Matt Martin are expected to return with the New York Islanders. The Isles could also be in the market for a bargain third-line winger. He listed Derick Brassard, Carl Soderberg, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Sheahan among forwards who might be available for the right price.

Staple added there’s nothing new regarding a recent rumor suggesting the Isles were close to trading defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV for next season. He speculates perhaps the Isles could interest the New Jersey Devils in winger Leo Komarov, who has a $3 million cap hit for the next two years. Staple also thinks Andrew Ladd is a likely LTIR candidate given his recent injury history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have $8.9 million in cap space, but a new contract for RFA center Mathew Barzal will likely eat up most of that, while defenseman Ryan Pulock is also due for a significant raise. Pulock has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.

GM Lou Lamoriello must shed salary to re-sign Barzal and Pulock and bring back Greene and Martin. Moving Boychuk could alleviate much of that cap concern, but Lamoriello could be forced to include a draft pick, prospect or young NHL player in the deal.

WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson believes the Buffalo Sabres should revisit the idea of trading defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to provide themselves sufficient salary-cap flexibility for next season. The Sabres have a projected $13.645 million available but most of that will be taken up re-signing RFAs such as Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Linus Ullmark and perhaps bring back Dominik Kahun after he wasn’t extended a qualifying offer.

Ristolainen, 25, has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.4 million. Wilson feels it may be worthwhile under the current economic conditions to move the blueliner for less than market value, pointing to the Vegas Golden Knights accepting a third-round pick in 2022 from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ristolainen trade rumors had the Sabres attempting to move him in exchange for a scoring forward. That need has been addressed with the additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.

It might be easier to move Ristolainen for a draft pick in a cost-cutting deal, but that’s assuming GM Kevyn Adams is willing to move him. Head coach Ralph Krueger apparently thinks highly of the Finnish blueliner and his opinion seems to carry considerable weight within the Sabres’ organization. Ristolainen probably won’t be shopped if Krueger wants him in the fold for next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

What next for the Golden Knights following their playoff elimination? How are Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks going? What’s the latest on the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Vegas Golden Knights must sort out their goaltending drama. Marc-Andre Fleury was supplanted in the starting goaltender role by Robin Lehner. Wyshynski reported a source claimed Lehner and the Golden Knights have a handshake agreement on a five-year contract extension. He wondered if the Golden Knights are prepared to invest a lot of money in Fleury and Lehner, or if Fleury even wants to stay.

Wyshynski also believes they should reexamine the center position, pointing out Paul Stastny is no longer a reliable second-line center. Unless Chandler Stephenson or Cody Glass can develop into that role, Wyshynski feels they should consider addressing that issue, potentially by moving out Stastny and his $6.5-million cap hit.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculates a new contract for Lehner could be a five-year, $25-million deal. With over $76.5 million invested in next year’s payroll, they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Lehner and restricted free agents like Stephenson and Nick Cousins. He also suggests Fleury as a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the 35-year-old Fleury is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $7 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Even if he agrees to narrow that list, his cap hit and age could make him difficult to move given the current economic conditions and the flooded market for goaltenders.

I’m not saying Fleury can’t be traded. However, the Golden Knights might have to pick up part of that cap hit or perhaps bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect to facilitate a deal.

Stastny has one year left on his contract. Like Fleury, he has a 10-team no-trade list. At 34, he’s no longer as effective as he once was. His age and cap hit could also be a sticking point but having just one year left on his contract might make him a little easier to move.

PIETRANGELO DISAPPOINTED IN PROGRESS OF CONTRACT TALKS

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Alex Pietrangelo has found it “a little disappointing” that he and the St. Louis Blues haven’t reached an agreement yet on a new contract. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

Pietrangelo indicated there hasn’t been much progress in contract discussions. While he wants to stay in St. Louis, he understands the difficulty the Blues face re-signing him with just $5 million in salary-cap space. “I think you have to be willing to accept the fact that there may be a change one day,” said Pietrangelo. “Whether it happens or not, it certainly changes your mindset and makes things a little easier if you ever get to that point.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo would prefer staying in St. Louis because his wife is from there and they’ve raised a family there. However, he also noted a number of players have moved on after spending most of their careers in one city. It sounds like he and his wife are preparing for that possibility. There’s still enough time for Pietrangelo and the Blues to hammer out a deal, but that’ll depend upon his asking price and how much cap space they can free up.

LeBrun listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Pietrangelo if he hits the open market. He acknowledged those three clubs have salary-cap issues but didn’t rule out one of them trying to find a way to sign the Blues captain.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl noted a recent report by TSN indicating the Buffalo Sabres could have an internal salary cap in the $70-million range. He suggested selling low on defenseman Brandon Montour, find a taker for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, and perhaps re-sign some of their restricted free agents to cost-effective one-year deals with the promise of raises next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres currently have over $48.2 million committed to 10 players. Vogl points out re-signing key RFAs like Montour, goalie Linus Ullmark, and forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Dominik Kahun could cost a combined $24.5 million, pushing them over $70 million and leaving little room for additions.

Moving Montour for a draft pick and perhaps a prospect will help. Vogl noted they couldn’t find an acceptable for Ristolainen and his $5.4-million cap hit plus head coach Ralph Krueger likes the blueliner’s game.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

Check out the latest on the Golden Knights, Bruins, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ GOALTENDING

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports the salary cap remaining frozen at $81.5 million for next season makes it tougher for the Vegas Golden Knights to re-sign Robin Lehner. Acquired at the trade deadline, the 28-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Can the Vegas Golden Knights afford to re-sign Robin Lehner? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Golden Knights have over $74.6 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21. Lehner will be seeking security after spending the past three seasons on one-year contracts. He could command around $6 million annually on the open market.

If Lehner departs, the Golden Knights must find a backup goalie for Marc-Andre Fleury. It could be recently re-signed Oscar Dansk, an affordable free agent, or perhaps trading for a promising netminder like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger last week suggested the Golden Knights pursue goalies in the trade market who could be left exposed by their current clubs in next summer’s NHL expansion draft. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen were among his proposed targets.

Andersen won’t be available next season but Murray and Raanta could be. Murray is a restricted free agent so his next contract will take up a big chunk of the Golden Knights’ payroll, meaning they’ll have to send salary the other way. Same goes for Raanta, but the Coyotes wouldn’t want salary back if they’re moving him to clear cap room to re-sign Taylor Hall.

The Golden Knights might prefer more affordable options. Trading for a young, affordable goalie like Georgiev might be the best move.

NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNT FOR DEBRUSK?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports the agent for Jake DeBrusk brushed aside talk of his client accepting a hometown discount. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent who’s average 20 goals and 40 points in each of his first three NHL campaigns.

DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, said they’re not considering taking less than market value at this stage. He also pointed to his client’s performance in big games during the playoffs, noting he’s been a top-six winger almost from the moment he first stepped on NHL ice.

During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston Zoom last week, Edmonton Oilers analyst Bob Stauffer suggested DeBrusk was worth between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. That gives Bruins management leverage to ink him to an affordable bridge deal if necessary. Much will depend on whether they can re-sign defenseman Torey Krug and the cost of keeping him off the UFA market at season’s end.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked about Brandon Montour‘s future with the Sabres. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent who could cost $5 million annually to re-sign. Given their abundance of right-shot defensemen and their need for help on their forward line, Lysowski feels Montour has enough value to fetch a good return via trade.

Asked about whether Rasmus Ristolainen might be traded, Lysowski noted the coaching staff spoke highly of the blueliner. With head coach Ralph Krueger considering Ristolainen a core player, he probably won’t be moved.

Lysowski also doesn’t see the Sabres shopping their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft. He also suggests they sign a UFA goalie to a short-term contract and attempt to find a team that will take the final year of Carter Hutton’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors because of his difficulties in adjusting to Krueger’s defensive system. He was acquired by now-former general manager Jason Botterill, so I don’t think new GM Kevyn Adams would have any qualms about shopping him for a second-line scoring forward.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

Which players could the Devils pursue in the off-season? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if he saw the New Jersey Devils signing any big-name free agents or try to pull off any offer sheets in the off-season. He doesn’t see them going the offer-sheet route because they don’t have their second-round pick in 2021.

Masisak doesn’t rule out anything regarding free agent signings because we don’t know what the market will look like. If prices remain the same for a typical year, he doesn’t expect the Devils to be a factor with stars like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Torey Krug, Washington’s Braden Holtby, or Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom. He also doesn’t see them bringing back winger Taylor Hall.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov via free agency? (Photo via NHL Images)

Regarding their potential UFAs in 2021, Masisak expects they’ll try to re-sign Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev, and Travis Zajac.

NJ.COM: Randy Miller cites Devils TV analyst Steve Cangialosi suggesting Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov could be a fit. He’s averaged 27 goals and 61 points over the past three seasons and would be reunited with former KHL teammate Nikita Gusev. Dadonov won’t be cheap, as Miller speculates Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes (seven years, $50 million) could be comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over all of this is the uncertainty over who will be the Devils general manager when the off-season finally begins. They could remove the interim label from Tom Fitzgerald, or hire a more experienced replacement.

Whoever is sitting in the GM’s chair probably won’t pursue any big-ticket talent regardless of the market. Those players cited by Masisak could prefer signing with playoff contenders. The Devils would have to overpay for their services.

That doesn’t mean the Devils won’t be active in the UFA market. With $55.2 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), they have room to re-sign RFAs like Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt and sign a UFA or two, but I expect they’ll seek affordable second-tier talent.

Masisak also recently examined the risky trade options to improve the Devils’ defense. They included Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Boston’s Brandon Carlo, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, and Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak has also looked at solid blueline targets for the Devils, including Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie, Columbus’ David Savard, Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev, and St. Louis’ Vince Dunn.

Considering the difficulty the Devils could face landing one of those rearguards, they could be forced to consider riskier options. I doubt Fowler or Carlo will be available, and Ristolainen no longer seems a trade candidate for the Sabres. Zadorov is a possibility, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Avs decide to keep him.

That’s not to say the Devils can’t acquire any one of those players. However, the asking prices could be more than they’re willing to spend.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

Check out the latest Buffalo Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ “dumpster fire” might be a good opportunity for the Bruins to look into acquiring Jack Eichel. The Sabres captain was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, providing the Bruins with a local boy possessing superstar potential. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci aging, Eichel would give the Bruins a dominant young center. 

Should the Boston Bruins look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images).

Haggerty noted Eichel’s recent exasperation with the Sabres’ ongoing mediocrity, suggesting perhaps he’s tacitly pining for a change of scenery. Acquiring him would be expensive. Haggerty felt it could cost the Bruins promising young center John Beecher, winger Jake DeBrusk, and a robust high draft pick package. They might also have to include a defenseman like Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo, which would be a difficult decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks may be looking at Eichel’s comments and seeing more than is really there. There’s no question he’s frustrated over the constant losing, and Sabres’ ownership should be concerned if their franchise player isn’t happy. Nevertheless, there’s no indication Eichel wants out of Buffalo…yet.

Another season or two of mediocrity could test Eichel’s patience. If that happens, the Bruins could be among the clubs queuing up to inquire into his availability and the Sabres’ asking price.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently observed Sabres defensemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller didn’t seem to fit into coach Ralph Krueger’s system. He wouldn’t be shocked if new general manager Kevyn Adams moved them in the off-season for some help on the forward lines. Harrington also noted Krueger really likes Rasmus Ristolainen, suggesting the recent change in management could be a good sign for the 26-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, Montour, and Miller frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors. Ristolainen suggested he might be among the first to be moved if then-GM Jason Botterill wanted to make changes, but he also sang Kruger’s praises.

With Botterill gone, Ristolainen might not be a trade candidate after all. Montour and/or Miller, however, seem more likely to be moved by new management, especially if Krueger has any say in the matter.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his Sabres postmortem, Matt Larkin noted the Sabres will have over $34 million in salary-cap space to work with during the off-season. He feels that’s enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Montour, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Dominik Kahun, and Linus Ullmark while leaving enough to go shopping in the free-agent market. Given the current status of the club, however, they could be forced to overpay to attract UFA talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than chase overpriced UFAs, Adams should target clubs looking to shed salary before next season. With 13 teams carrying payrolls of over $70 million for next season, Adams could pluck away a couple of good young players from cap-strapped rivals.