NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2022

With a new general manager in place, what roster changes could be coming for the Canadiens? What’s the latest on Claude Giroux, Jakob Chychrun and John Klingberg? Will the Rangers and Leafs make moves at the deadline? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wondered what other changes are coming for the Montreal Canadiens now that they’ve hired Kent Hughes as their new general manager. He’s like to know how Hughes’ hiring will affect their amateur scouting department, which current roster players are untouchable and if there have been any conversations with the core players over who wants to stay or go?

DAILY FACEOFF: Mike McKenna and Tyler Yaremchuk discussed the Canadiens options for some of their free agents. They agree pending UFA defenseman Ben Chiarot could fetch a nice return. Yaremchuk felt restricted free agent forward Artturi Lehkonen could also get something decent at the trade deadline while UFAs Cedric Paquette and Brent Kulak could get a lower pick.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (NHL Images).

If the Canadiens want to kickstart their rebuild they will have to do more than just trade pending free agents. Yaremchuk suggested trading someone like Jake Allen or perhaps a bigger piece. McKenna wondered if they could make a hockey trade involving Carey Price or Jonathan Drouin to bring in some much-needed defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the March 21 trade deadline just over two months away there’s still plenty of time for Hughes and Hockey Ops VP Jeff Gorton to start fielding trade offers or shopping players who don’t fit into their long-term plans or those who want to leave. Moving the pending free agents is the easy part, trying to move those with expensive contracts like Price and Drouin might have to wait until the offseason when teams usually have more cap space and a willingness to take on players with term remaining on their deals.

As for their amateur scouting department, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gorton has already begun laying the groundwork for changes there. He’ll work in tandem with Hughes to bring in the people they need before the draft in July.

UPDATES ON GIROUX, CHYCHRUN, KLINGBERG , LAINE AND MORE

TSN: Pierre LeBrun observed Claude Giroux’s name has floated around the rumor mill but the Philadelphia Flyers have not spoken to rival clubs about moving their captain. Management hasn’t spoken to the 34-year-old center about waiving his no-movement clause nor has he approached them about getting traded.

LeBrun points out the March 21 trade deadline is nine weeks away and there’s still plenty of time for the slumping Flyers to improve their fortunes. However, he acknowledged that trade discussion between management and Giroux could take place if they remain out of playoff contention. With his no-movement clause, he’ll control his fate as the deadline approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. There’s no rush to move Giroux on the Flyers’ part right now. Let’s see where they’re at once the calendar flips to March.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are teams that believe the Florida Panthers are interested in Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. It’s an “all-in” year for the Panthers.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan addressed a recent comment by Friedman suggesting if the Coyotes trade Chychrun it’ll be to an Eastern Conference team. He doesn’t think that’s accurate, doubting the Coyotes would limit their trade options when trying to secure the best deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could prefer trading Chychrun to an Eastern team so his club would only have to face the blueliner once or twice per season. Nevertheless, I concur with Morgan that Armstrong likely won’t spurn a pitch from a western club that meets his asking price of a good young NHL player, a high draft pick and a top prospect.

The Dallas Stars have stepped up efforts to trade defenseman John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several playoff contenders could pursue him as a rental player. The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings have been speculated as potential suitors.

Friedman wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets will consider it worthy of their resources for now and down the road to sign winger Patrik Laine to a hefty contract extension. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a decision that might have to wait until the offseason for an answer.

Rasmus Ristolainen could be worth watching. Friedman wondered if the Flyers pending UFA defenseman will consider testing the market this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on the outcome of this season, the Flyers could make that decision for him. Perhaps there will be a change in management if they miss the postseason.

The New York Rangers could be stealthy near the trade deadline. He also said the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t against clearing cap space to prepare for a deadline addition.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers GM Chris Drury has plenty of salary-cap space and lots of promising young assets within their system to dangle as trade bait if he wishes. I wouldn’t be shocked if he made one or two significant moves to load up for the playoffs.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2022

​​Will the Flyers trade Claude Giroux? Will the Oilers pursue a goaltender with term on his contract? What could the Flames and Ducks do? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently examined four NHL clubs facing critical roster decisions over the remainder of this season.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

Boylen believes real questions about the Philadelphia Flyers’ core have to be asked. He cites colleague Elliotte Friedman recently saying they have questions about their identity and where they’re headed after last summer’s moves failed to bring about any improvement this season.

Friedman believes Flyers captain Claude Giroux could be traded to a Stanley Cup contender with the possibility of returning to Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Boylen also speculated pending UFA defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen seems likely to be moved by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the question to be asked is whether Chuck Fletcher is the right general manager to fix this club. They showed some promise in 2019-20 but have since been on the downslide.

Fletcher was applauded for acquiring Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators last summer and cannot be faulted for Ellis missing most of this season to injury. However, he gave up a first-round pick to acquire Ristolainen.

Giroux could agree to be moved to a contender by the trade deadline but one wonders if he’ll want to return to a club that’s been spinning its wheels for most of the last 10 years. He could decide to finish his playing career elsewhere.

The Flyers also need a new coach. They continue to flounder under interim Mike Yeo after firing Alain Vigneault several weeks ago.

Boylen also explored the Edmonton Oilers’ current season-threatening tailspin. Given their precarious position in the standings, he doubts GM Ken Holland will pursue a rental player, citing his unwillingness to part with a first-round pick or one of his top prospects for a quick fix.

Holland could prefer adding a player with term remaining on his contract. Boylen believes adding a defenseman like Jakob Chychrun isn’t a pressing need when they require a reliable starting goalie. He points out someone like the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov or Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Allen makes a lot of sense on the surface.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland has to be feeling the heat from ownership and fans to do something to reverse his club’s fortunes. However, he’s aware he’s dealing from a position of weakness and will have to give up more than he’s comfortable with to address his goaltending.

The Islanders and Canadiens are in worse straits than the Oilers right now but their respective managements probably aren’t feeling the same pressure as Holland. I doubt Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is being goaded to move Varlamov or Canadiens hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton is being pushed to shop Allen. That doesn’t mean those goalies aren’t available but acquiring either one could cost a draft pick or prospect that Holland would prefer to keep.

Boylen also wondered what the Calgary Flames will do with pending UFA Johnny Gaudreau. The winger is having a terrific season so it might make sense to extend him how. However, if they do that and the Flames miss the playoffs or get bounced in the first round again, they’re right back where they started. If they wait and he plays well in the postseason he could decide to test the market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen believes much of what the Flames do with their roster will depend on their performance this season. Another disappointing effort could see Gaudreau hit the open market this summer. Gaudreau’s declined to talk about his contract and his agent and Flames management are maintaining a cone of silence on the matter.

The Anaheim Ducks have several veterans like Hampus Lindholm who are slated to become UFAs this summer. However, they’re also contributing to the club’s better-than-expected effort this season. They also have an interim GM in Jeff Solomon while they search for a full-time replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks could retain those UFAs if they’re still in the thick of the playoff chase. However, they’ve struggled in recent weeks and could slide out of contention if they don’t get back on track soon. A slide down the standings could lead to guys like Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell hitting the trade block by the March 21 trade deadline.










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 pm ET. Check out all the latest speculation leading up to the start of round one in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS STILL TRYING TO LAND SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks are taking another run at acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets without parting with Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in return. It’s believed the Blackhawks are one of the teams that could secure a long-term contract extension from Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

RECENT RANGERS SPECULATION

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the New York Rangers are trying to put together an offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. They’ve been calling teams that hold a pick in the top-10 in this year’s draft.

In other Rangers speculation, they’ve been trying to move Pavel Buchnevich for some time. Ryan Strome has been linked to the Seattle Kraken. Seravalli wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might be interested given their need for centers.

The Rangers have sought suitors for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a first-round pick as the asking price. He pondered the possibility of the Rangers attempting to acquire Jonathan Marchessault or Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also reported the Rangers are shopping Buchnevich, in part to ensure sufficient long-term cap space. He believes they must find suitable linemates for third-line forward Barclay Goodrow after signing him yesterday to a six-year contract.

TARASENKO COULD STAY IN ST. LOUIS

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he can envision a scenario whereby Vladimir Tarasenko returns with the club next season. Armstrong is attempting to fulfill Tarasenko’s trade request but this could be his way of signaling to the Tarasenko camp and the rest of the league that he’s not giving the winger away.

SABRES SET ASKING PRICE FOR REINHART

WGR 550: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are receiving plenty of interest in center Sam Reinhart. Their asking price is said to be a first-round pick and a prospect. Reinhart, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and winger Zach Hyman but some believe the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t out of it yet. If the Oilers want that eighth year in Hyman’s contract it will have to be a sign-and-trade with the Leafs.

Dreger also reports they’re continuing to discuss a possible re-signing with defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all have interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the Oilers could be a dark horse candidate for Carolina Hurricanes free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They’re expected to clear cap space by buying out James Neal and there’s talk of moving winger Zack Kassian. He’s also not sold on Ethan Bear being in Edmonton for the long haul.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are once again trying to trade winger Tyler Johnson. He has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million and 22 teams on his partial no-trade list.

The Montreal Canadiens have spoken to the Sabres about Rasmus Ristolainen. They could also have some interest in the Lightning’s pending UFA defenseman David Savard if his asking price isn’t too costly. The Habs are looking to plug a hole in their blueline with Shea Weber expected to be sidelined for all of next season and possibly longer.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez is mulling a contract offer from the club. He’s slated to become a UFA on July 28.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports free agent Ryan Suter could decide as early as Monday over which team he’ll sign with. The former Minnesota Wild defenseman has drawn interest from the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

It’s believed the Vancouver Canucks have given Braden Holtby’s representatives permission to speak with other teams about a possible trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports hearing San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier could be in play. He wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested in uniting Meier with countryman Nico Hischier.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he’s had teams calling to inquire about defenseman Nate Schmidt. He said he didn’t put Schmidt out there in the trade market nor has the blueliner requested to be dealt.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes are working to find a new home for defenseman Jake Bean. There’s also interest in Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick and dirty rumor list today as I prepare for the opening round of the draft this evening. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s speculation.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 21, 2021

The latest on Dougie Hamilton, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Rasmus Ristolainen in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HAMILTON CAMP TALKING TO OTHER NHL CLUBS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reported Saturday it sounds like there’s a lot of conversations between agent J.P. Barry (who represents Dougie Hamilton) and other NHL clubs. The 28-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Hamilton and his agent have been granted permission by the Hurricanes to speak with other teams on a deal that could work into a sign-and-trade situation. However, Johnston gets the feeling this won’t be resolved quickly, suggesting it could take several weeks, perhaps close to the July 28 start date of free agency.

Luke Fox suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs should at least consider attempting to acquire Hamilton. Doing so, however, could mean trading away Morgan Rielly to free up sufficient salary-cap space to sign Hamilton to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Next month’s NHL expansion draft (July 21) is probably a big reason why a possible sign-and-trade scenario for Hamilton would take weeks. The acquiring club would have to include him on their player protection list.

If the Leafs aren’t trading any of their high-priced forwards, trading Rielly seems the most logical way to clear cap space to sign Hamilton. Slated to become a UFA next summer, Rielly will seek a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.

That might not be the best move on the Leafs part. They would get deeper on the right side of their blueline by signing Hamilton, but moving out Rielly leaves a big gap on the left side.

THE LATEST ON EKMAN-LARSSON

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan confirms reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes will explore trade options for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 29-year-old defenseman is also more open to that possibility compared to last fall when he was willing to waive his no-movement clause for only the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.

Ekman-Larsson has six more seasons left on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.25 million. Morgan points out the blueliner’s performance has declined over the past several seasons. A change of scenery might do him good after years of losing in Arizona and carrying the burden of the captaincy.

Morgan indicated Ekman-Larsson has not provided the Coyotes with a list of preferred trade destinations. However, the plan is for the club to seek whatever trade option are available and present them to the defenseman’s camp to see what ones are acceptable. The Coyotes could look for comparable contracts that other clubs are trying to move. Perhaps some of those could have a little less term. They could also retain part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Ekman-Larsson’s contract wouldn’t be easy under normal circumstances. It could be more difficult under a flattened salary cap this summer.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Coyotes can work something out. Retaining part of his salary could be more enticing for other clubs, but it still means the Coyotes would be carrying that portion for six more years.

COULD RISTOLAINEN BRING MORE PHYSICALITY TO PENGUINS BLUELINE?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggested Rasmus Ristolainen as a possible trade target for the Pittsburgh Penguins to add a physical defenseman to their blueline. The 26-year-old rearguard impressed Kingerski with his play against the Penguins this season, especially on Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.

Kingerski speculates offering up a second-round draft pick, plus more, could get it done, or perhaps a team could get away with a solid prospect. The New Jersey Devils are also said to be interested in Ristolainen, who wouldn’t object to getting traded.

The Penguins would need to clear some cap space for Ristolainen’s $5.4 million cap hit. However, they could get some relief from the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins management made it clear during the season and after the playoffs that they’re looking to add more size and grit to their lineup. Ristolainen could help but they could also have other options in mind.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton, Patrik Laine, Rasmus Ristolainen and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’s asked around to see if the Buffalo Sabres gave other clubs permission to speak with Jack Eichel but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He added the club and its captain are negotiating the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his neck. Sources indicate if the Sabres shop Eichel or Sam Reinhart that we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up with another high pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski predicted the Sabres will grant permission for interested clubs to speak to Eichel. That will be necessary because of the treatment Eichel requires to treat his injury. If a rival club is willing to allow him to undergo the surgery he seeks and offers the right trade package, Lysowki believes the Sabres will make the deal sooner rather than later.

THE ATHLETIC/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins will pass on Eichel because of his neck injury. “A $10 million player has to be a sure thing,” he wrote. Joe Haggerty dismissed any talk of the Bruins acquiring Eichel as “fantasy stuff.”

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Seattle Kraken could use the prospect they select with the second-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of a package offer for Eichel. One NHL executive said he was told Kraken general manager Ron Francis checked in on the Sabres captain.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports hearing the New York Rangers are not likely, or much less likely now, to get into the bidding for Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s neck injury will determine the number of teams with interest in the Sabres captain. Some could be willing to take a chance on him having surgery on his herniated disk, a procedure that’s never been performed before on an NHL player. However, I think most general managers share Shinzawa’s opinion. If you’re going to invest assets and cap space acquiring an expensive talent like Eichel, you better be sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy.

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Philadelphia Flyers might not aggressively pursue Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The Hurricanes are allowing Hamilton to speak with other teams.

Friedman indicated the Flyers’ interests in addressing their blueline needs appear to be elsewhere, speculating they could target Columbus’ Seth Jones or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also suggested the Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils could make sense for Hamilton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes it would cost the Flyers “multiple high draft picks and either Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers for starters” to acquire Hamilton, and only if they can get him to sign a long-term contract extension. He feels the Flyers would have difficulty fitting him under the cap unless Jakub Voracek headed the other way.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall speculates the Flyers could consider more affordable options if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones. He pointed out they had an interest in Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak before tumbling out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. Hall also mentioned Vegas’ Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh’s Cody Ceci as other UFA options.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Florida Panthers are expected to be aggressively pursuing improvement this offseason. He’s curious if they ask the Columbus Blue Jackets about Patrik Laine. He and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether the Jackets are going for a full-scale rebuild. A shake-up is probably coming after Seth Jones indicated his intent to test next summer’s free-agent market but it could be a retooling rather than a teardown.

I don’t see the Panthers being keen to take on the potential headache of Laine’s contract negotiations. It will cost $7.5 million to qualify his rights.

The Jackets could decide not to qualify him and let him depart as an unrestricted free agent. However, that would leave them with little to show for shipping Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg.

He cited Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reporting the New Jersey Devils had an interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He wonders if they might also consider Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere if the Flyers included a sweetener in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski pointed out the Devils have the assets in picks and prospects to make a bid for Ristolainen, who indicated last month he’d be open to a trade. The issue here is he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Devils could acquire him and see how next season plays out or they could insist on him signing a contract extension first.

A scout suggested to Friedman that interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique could pick up following his solid play for Canada at this year’s World Championships.

Friedman doesn’t put much stock into recent rumors suggesting Jared Bednar could lose his job as Colorado Avalanche head coach. Despite the club’s disappointing playoff exit, the team still believes in Bednar.

The San Jose Sharks have given pending UFA forward Kurtis Gabriel permission to speak with other teams.