NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2020

The latest on Taylor Hall, Semyon Varlamov, Mikael Granlund, Evgeni Malkin, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman believes the Arizona Coyotes offered Taylor Hall a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $7.25 million. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Friedman doesn’t think that’s their final offer. He also feels situation means as much to Hall as anything. He noted rumors are linking the Coyotes to former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli but doesn’t see that happening while re-signing Hall is an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s market value before the pandemic was considered between $9 – $10 million annually. The Coyotes’ offer could reflect the new economic landscape even if it is an opening pitch. Assuming they’re willing to pay much more, Hall must believe the Coyotes are poised to become a perennial playoff club before agreeing to sign. He’s appeared in only one post-season round during his career.

Chiarelli traded Hall to New Jersey in 2016. That move didn’t sit well at the time with the winger.

Friedman wondered if the Edmonton Oilers can find room to squeeze Andreas Athanasiou into their tight cap space. The winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the off-season. Athanasiou’s performance in the upcoming tournament could determine his number.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is earning $3 million AAV on his current contract. Even if the winger plays well, Oilers GM Ken Holland could try to convince him to accept a one-year deal for the same AAV with the promise of a better deal after next season.

New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss is a UFA at season’s end while Semyon Varlamov still has term on his contract. If Greiss outplays Varlamov in the upcoming tournament, Friedman wonders if the Isles might attempt to re-sign him to a friendlier deal and try to trade Varlamov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but Varlamov is seen as a mentor for promising young Ilya Sorokin, who recently signed an entry-level deal with the Isles. Despite their cap constraints, I think the Isles intend to go with Varlamov and Sorokin as their tandem next season.

Friedman wondered if Mikael Granlund can ramp up his value in the upcoming tournament. The Nashville Predators winger is a UFA at season’s end and is a talented player during a time of fiscal tightness.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund struggled after joining the Predators in a trade with Minnesota late last season. However, his play improved once John Hynes took over as head coach in January. A solid performance in the playoff tournament could bolster his free-agent value.

The Florida Panthers are expected to cut payroll next season. Friedman notes wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are due to become unrestricted free agents in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their tournament play could determine whether they get re-signed by the Panthers. Even then, they might only attempt to keep one of them. How much they’re seeking on their next contracts will also be a factor.

Friedman will also be watching the goaltending situations in Pittsburgh and Calgary. Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents. GM Jim Rutherford hinted there are ways to move around some money to re-sign both goalies. Meanwhile, the play of Flames netminders David Rittich and Cam Talbot will determine whether management tries something bold between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has proven he can make moves to free up sufficient cap room to acquire or retain key players and keep his Penguins among the Stanley Cup contenders. It’ll be interesting to see what he does under a flat cap this time around.

Rittich has yet to establish himself as a reliable NHL starter. Talbot is a UFA at the end of this season and could seek a starter’s role elsewhere if the Flames remain committed to Rittich.

Rutherford was also asked if there will be any trade rumors involving Evgeni Malkin this summer. “Only if somebody makes them up,” he replied.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ok, folks, let’s see your best Malkin trade rumor in the comments section. They can’t be any worse than some we’ve seen over the years.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2020

Game recaps, Avalanche coach accuses Stars of cheating in the faceoff circle, All-Star Game updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Zack Smith scored twice and Patrick Kane picked up his 998th career point as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. The Blackhawks (50 points) kept their playoff hopes alive by moving within four points of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane netted his 998th career point in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).

Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek scored in overtime as his club edged the St. Louis Blues 4-3, snapping the latter’s nine-game home winning streak. The Blues rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra period. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart missed last night’s game against the Blues with an abdominal strain. He’s expected to be sidelined two-to-three weeks.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar accused the Dallas Stars of cheating in the faceoff circle. Singling out Stars centers Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin, Bednar claimed they do a better job cheating on faceoffs than the Avs do. “We don’t feel like the linesmen were doing a good enough job (Tuesday), sort of holding (the respective teams) accountable to make it a level playing field on the faceoffs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams cheating in the faceoff circle is an ongoing issue. The league has attempted to address this in the past and could revisit the problem.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender David Rittich will replace sidelined Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Flames, Sportsnet’s Eric Francis believes Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have to fight Milan Lucic when the two clubs face each other on Jan. 29. This stems from Kassian’s recent on-ice altercation with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the fallout from that incident (including Kassian receiving a two-game suspension) and the anticipation for the next game between the two clubs, the league could attempt to diffuse this situation before the home-and-home series at month’s end.

The Oilers, meanwhile, re-signed defenseman Caleb Jones to a two-year, $1.7-million contract.

THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte revealed he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. “It’s not necessarily about telling my story,” Motte said. “It’s about to help that one person or those handful of people that need to know they’re not alone in it.”

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Former Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman suited up in goalie gear and took shots from Alex Ovechkin during a recent Washington Capitals practice.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins placed Brett Ritchie on waivers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2019

Update on Mitch Marner plus the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will have Mitch Marner re-signed on the opening day of the 2019-20 season. He’ll miss all of training camp and perhaps the first few games of the regular season but it’ll be a better outcome than William Nylander’s contract standoff a year ago.

Could it take until the start of the regular season for the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Mitch Marner? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out that possibility. I doubt Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wants another season where one of his best young players isn’t signed until December and I don’t think Marner’s keen on that possibility.

By reacquiring all-but-retired David Clarkson, Dubas can place his $5.25-million salary-cap hit and that of Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) on LTIR to start the season. That’ll provide sufficient cap space for Marner’s next contract. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with David Rittich, re-signing the goaltender to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $2.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable bridge deal for Rittich, allowing the Flames sufficient time to evaluate his performance to determine if he’s ready to become a full-time starting goalie.

This signing also affects the Flames’ salary-cap space for 2019-20 and their efforts to re-sign power forward Matthew Tkachuk. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section. 

DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.COM: Defenseman Marcus Pettersson won’t be re-signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins until the club frees up sufficient salary-cap space. His agent, Peter Wallen, said the Penguins are currently up against the $81.5-million salary-cap ceiling and lack the money to re-sign his client. “I guess we’re waiting for them to make some room,” said Wallen. The Penguins currently sit just over $157K over the cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wallen said he’s had cordial negotiations with Penguins management and acknowledged there’s sufficient time to get a deal done. However, he’d like to have a new contract in place for Petterssen before training camp opens in September.

Depending on how much it’ll take to re-sign Petterssen, the Penguins could bury a couple of contracts in the minors or make a trade to free up cap room. Petterssen completed his entry-level contract last season so he doesn’t have much leverage. He also shouldn’t be too expensive to retain. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Mike McCarron to a one-year, two-way contract.



NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2019

Latest on the Oilers and Stars plus updates on Sergei Bobrovsky, Brett Pesce, Chris Kunitz, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers “checked in” on Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but a couple of sources “threw cold water on that.” The Capitals are seeking “a couple of mid-to-high” draft picks for Burakovsky. Friedman also said the Oilers like speedy Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou but there’s no guarantee the Wings will move him, plus the asking price would be expensive.

There’s also speculation they were talking to the Chicago Blackhawks “about something bigger” and could be trying to shed winger Tobias Rieder to free up salary-cap space. A rumor suggesting a team was interested in Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard went nowhere. Friedman also suggests Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen’s new contract could be used as a comparable by Calgary Flames netminder David Rittich. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson recently said his club won’t peddle the future for quick fixes, which likely means they won’t be making significant moves before the trade deadline. Burakovsky could cost the Oilers one or two of those assets to acquire. Interesting that the Capitals apparently seek a couple of draft picks as earlier speculation suggested they wanted a player who could help their roster right away. 

Athanasiou is poised for a 30-goal, 55-point performance. He would be costly to acquire and I don’t see the Wings moving him now. The time for that was during his contract standoff during the summer of 2017. Seems like he and Wings management are on better terms now. 

Rieder carries a $2-million cap hit on a one-year deal. Maybe a playoff contender will take a chance on him regaining his form.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky won’t comment on his future plans (Photo via NHL Images).

While there’s an understanding Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would “consider other situations”, there’s a theory he and his agent haven’t committed them to paper yet. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Bobrovsky might be willing to waive his no-trade clause but he may not have submitted a written list to Jackets’ management. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky isn’t commenting on his future plans.GM Jarmo Kekalainen maintains they’re hoping to convince Bobrovsky and fellow UFA Artemi Panarin to re-sign, though acknowledging they could face difficult decisions if keeping them beyond this season isn’t possible. 

Friedman speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs were watching Brett Pesce, not Dougie Hamilton, during their recent scouting of the Carolina Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed the Hurricanes seek a scoring forward in exchange for one of their right-shot rearguards. Friedman said, however, the Leafs aren’t willing to part with Kasperi Kapanen or blueline prospect Rasmus Sandin.

While contract negotiations are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Friedman said there doesn’t seem to be much discussion with winger Ryan Dzingel. He could fetch a decent return if the Senators decide to shop him. 

Friedman believes a few playoff contenders are considering Chicago Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz. He suggests the Calgary Flames would be a good fit. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kunitz’s performance has steadily declined since 2013-14. The Flames already have one fading veteran on the roster in James Neal. They don’t need another. 

Friedman cited BSN’s Adrian Dater reporting the New York Rangers were scouting the Colorado Avalanche. While it could be tied to Rangers like Kevin Hayes or Vladislav Namestnikov, New York’s interest could be in a top prospect like Shane Bowers or much more. The Avs, however, will “zealously protect” their best draft assets. Friedman also believes the Avs will explore defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s trade value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation out of Colorado suggesting Hayes would be a good fit for the Avalanche, who need secondary scoring. But if the Avs won’t part with a good young asset, the Rangers could look elsewhere for a suitable trade partner. 

Friedman reports the Dallas Stars are dangling Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin and Mattias Janmark.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are in need of secondary scoring. Perhaps one or two of those guys will be used as trade bait to address that issue. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2019

Game recaps, three stars and the top rookie for December revealed, All-Star Game rosters released, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks rookie center Elias Pettersson scored in overtime to complete his first NHL hat-trick performance in a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Canucks defenseman Alex Edler collected three assists.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson’s first career hat trick carried his club to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, Pettersson was named NHL rookie of the month for December 2018. He previously received that honor for October 2018. The Canucks also shipped goaltender Anders Nilsson and forward Darren Archibald to the Senators in exchange for goalie Mike McKenna, forward Tom Pyatt, and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The win also pushed the Canucks to within one point of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Thanks in part to Pettersson’s efforts, they’ve overcome a lousy November performance that threatened to scuttle their playoff hopes. As for the trade between the two clubs, the Senators need an experienced NHL netminder after starter Craig Anderson was recently sidelined by a concussion. 

A four-point effort (one goal, three assists) by Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau powered his club to a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, who’ve dropped six straight games. Elias Lindholm had a goal and two assists for the Flames. 

The surging Pittsburgh Penguins won their seventh straight contest by crushing the New York Rangers 7-2, chasing Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist from the game after he gave up six goals on 18 shots. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist. He also honored his hometown of Magnitogorsk, Russia, with messages of support written on his skates following an apartment explosion that killed 33 people on Dec. 31.  

Two-goal efforts by Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen helped the Dallas Stars edge the New Jersey Devils 5-4. It was a costly win for the Stars as captain Jamie Benn left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period following a late hit by Devils wingers Miles Wood. 

Center Joe Pavelski and defenseman Brent Burns each had a goal and three assists to give the San Jose Sharks a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Tyson Jost scored twice for the Avs, who’ve now lost six games in a row. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun left the game with an injured right leg

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs are now clinging to a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they don’t reverse this slide soon they’ll tumble out of playoff contention. 

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice and set up another in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, snapping his club’s six-game losing skid. 

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are the NHL’s three stars for the month of December 2018

Kucherov, Gaudreau, and McDavid are also among the players selected to participate in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose on Jan. 26, 2019. San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture and defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson were also selected for the game. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said he will skip the game to take advantage of the extra time off for rest. As a result, the league will suspend him for one regular-season game. 

“First of all, thanks for all the fans who voted for me,” Ovechkin said Wednesday. “I know it’s a tough decision, obviously. I like to be part of all the events, but right now I think that time of the year and my age we decide to take a one-week break. It’s hard, but it’s better for me.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans and pundits have no problem with Ovechkin’s decision while others feel he’s shirking his obligation to attend after being selected by the fans. After attending 10 of these meaningless pond hockey-style contests that tend to be swiftly forgotten by NHL fans, he’s more than fulfilled his duty to the league and his contract. Coming off a year in which Ovechkin led his club to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship, and facing another potentially long grind attempting to repeat as champions, he’s earned the right to take a little extra time off. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price revealed he’s been nursing a lower-body injury for several weeks. After missing the late three games, Price is expected to play in tonight’s tilt with the Vancouver Canucks. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames have recalled goaltender Jon Gillies after David Rittich was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

TSN.CA: The Chicago Blackhawks placed recently-acquired defenseman Jason Garrison on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract after he didn’t report to the AHL affiliate in Rockford. Garrison was traded to the Blackhawks by the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. The Blackhawks also placed blueliner Brandon Davidson on regular waivers. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2018

Update on Auston Matthews, Islanders hire goalie guru Mitch Korn, latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

SPORTSNET: Auston Matthews said contract discussion between himself and the Toronto Maple Leafs are underway. Matthews, 20, is entering the final season of his entry-level contract and will become a restricted free agent without arbitration rights next summer.

Contract talks are reportedly underway between Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews scored a Leafs rookie record 40 goals and 69 points in 2016-17 on route to becoming the first Leaf since Brit Selby in 1966 to the Calder Memorial Trophy. He followed up with 34 goals and 63 points in 62 games and would’ve easily exceeded his rookie numbers had he not missed 20 games to injury.

Don’t expect Matthews to get an affordable bridge deal. Getting his signature on a new contract could cost at least $10 million annually for seven-or-eight years.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders have hired Mitch Korn as their director of goaltending. Korn, 60, held the same position with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In recent year, goaltending was a significant weakness for the Islanders. The addition of Korn, who worked with Islanders head coach Barry Trotz in Washington and Nashville, should go a long way toward addressing that issue. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday re-signed goaltender Tristan Jarry to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $675K. The first year of the contract is a two-way deal and the second year is one way. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with goaltender David Rittich as the two sides agreed to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.