NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at five pending unrestricted free agents who could turn strong postseason performances into big paydays this summer.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy believes Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell and Ilya Mikheyev, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues, Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky and New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp could cash in big this summer if they have strong performances in the upcoming 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While regular-season performance is often the benchmark in contract negotiations, a strong postseason effort is also a determining factor in what the final deal looks like.

With an annual cap hit of $1.65 million, Campbell is already underpaid as a bona fide NHL starter. While there’ve been some health concerns, the 29-year-old goaltender could earn a considerable raise if he backstops the Maple Leafs on a deep playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell is going to earn a significant pay increase. How much he gets (and whether he gets it from the Leafs) could depend on his performance in the 2022 playoffs. Winning their first series since 2004 could earn him $6 million annually on a long-term contract. If he backstops the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967, he could push for $8 million annually, forcing the cap-strapped club to choose between slashing payroll to retain him or watch him get signed by another club.

Mikheyev ($1.645 million) has shown promise as a potential top-six winger this season. However, he’ll have to carry that over into the postseason. He’s played in 12 NHL playoff games but has yet to register a point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $73.6 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23. If the Leafs can sign Campbell to an affordable cap hit (under $5 million annually), they’ll have enough to ink Mikheyev to a decent raise ($3 million?) on his next contract. That would mean shedding salary elsewhere to free up cap room to fill out the remainder of the lineup. Otherwise, Mikheyev will have to seek his raise in this summer’s open market.

Rodrigues is enjoying a career-best with 18 goals and 42 points in 75 games. However, he’s yet to put together consecutive productive campaigns. The 28-year-old forward also has limited playoff action, appearing in just two postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rodrigues is on a one-year, $1 million contract. His biggest annual average value was $2 million on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2019-20. As Kennedy points out, he could cash in on the open market this summer as a middle-six winger with a solid playoff performance.

Kennedy believes Burakovsky could price himself out of the Avalanche’s market if he has another strong postseason outing as he did in 2020 with 17 points in 15 games. The 27-year-old winger is enjoying a career-high performance this season with 20 goals and 53 points in 70 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky’s annual cap hit is $4.9 million. The Avs have almost $56 million invested in 13 players with Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri also slated to become UFAs this summer and superstar Nathan MacKinnon due for a major raise after next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s skating with another club next season.

Copp is a consistent, versatile middle-six forward with a current cap hit of $3.64 million. He’s played a solid two-way game in the postseason but he’s managed just 12 points in 34 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Kennedy that Copp’s going to get paid. A strong postseason effort with the Rangers will certainly help him in the UFA market.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

It was a day of hat tricks for the Penguins and Rangers, Nathan MacKinnon extends his points streak, the three stars and rookie of the month for December are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their eighth straight win by holding off the San Jose Sharks 8-5. Penguins forwards Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust led the way with three goals each as the club played its first game in 13 days due to COVID postponements. Rust also collected two assists to finish the game with five points. Sharks forward Timo Meier picked up three assists while James Reimer got the hook after giving up six goals on 17 shots.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust (NHL Images).

Speaking of hat tricks, Mika Zibanejad tallied three times as the New York Rangers blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Igor Shesterkin made 38 saves for the shutout while Lightning goalie Andre Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 21 shots in his first game since returning from COVID protocol.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with three assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Linemate Mikko Rantanen also had three points with a goal and two assists as the Avs played their first game in 16 days. Ducks forward Max Comtois and defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the lineup from recent injuries.

A three-point performance by Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) powered the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jacob Markstrom turned aside 30 shots for the Flames.

The Boston Bruins scored five straight goals to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Charlie McAvoy and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist as the Bruins (34 points) vaulted over the Wings into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Kyle Connor’s overtime goal lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4. Playing their first game in 13 days, the Jets blew a 4-2 lead as Mattias Janmark scored two unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame.

The New Jersey Devils blew a 3-1 lead but still managed to upset the Washington Capitals 4-3 on an overtime goal by Nico Hischier. It was Hischier’s second goal of the game as his Devils picked up their third straight victory. The Capitals, however, moved past the Lightning into first place in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin were among the latest players to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko were the NHL’s three stars for December 2021. Ducks forward Trevor Zegras was named the rookie of the month.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for three games for an illegal hit to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

TSN: Speaking of the Canadiens, their search for a new general manager is reportedly underway. Pierre LeBrun reports they’ve been reaching out to NHL clubs to seek permission to speak with potential candidates. Roberto Luongo, Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere are believed among the Habs targets.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2021

The latest on the Penguins and Stars plus an update on Jakub Chychrun in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski observes the solid performance of Evan Rodrigues this season could force Penguins coach Mike Sullivan to rethink his lineup when everyone is fully healthy. The versatile 28-year-old forward has 10 goals and 23 points in 30 games as he’s thriving with the extra ice time while filling in for sidelined teammates.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (NHL Images).

Kingerski wondered if Rodrigue’s play could make Jason Zucker expendable. The 29-year-old left winger has 11 points in 30 games. He also noted contract talks between the Penguins and pending free agent Bryan Rust have been shelved for the time being.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker’s been a disappointment for the Penguins since his acquisition from the Minnesota Wild midway through the 2019-20 campaign. A leg injury hampered his performance last season but even when healthy he’s had difficulty finding the back of the net.

Moving Zucker, however, won’t be easy. He’s signed through 2022-23 with a $5.5 million annual cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause plus he’s earning $6.25 million in actual salary this season. His declining production won’t help his trade value.

As for Rust, I don’t see the Penguins shopping him while they’re in the playoff hunt. They’ll keep him as an “own rental” and risk his departure via free agency next summer. Rodrigues is also a UFA but he’d be a more affordable re-signing for the Penguins and could become Rust’s permanent replacement after this season.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman observed Tyler Seguin’s relief when he scored in the Dallas Stars 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday. “The stress is on in Dallas,” said Friedman. “Change is coming if the Stars don’t surge over the second half of the season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What form could those changes take? The obvious would be shopping pending unrestricted free agents such as John Klingberg, Alexander Radulov, Joe Pavelski and Braden Holtby at the trade deadline.

Maybe restricted free agent winger Denis Gurianov also hits the trade block. Perhaps they try to shed the hefty contracts of Seguin and Jamie Benn in the offseason. Maybe they give head coach Rick Bowness his walking papers.

One thing I don’t see them doing is parting with younger talent such as Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Jake Oettinger. Those four will likely form the nucleus of a new core in Dallas.

Friedman also said he thought Edmonton would make perfect sense as a destination for Jakob Chychrun. However, sources said it’s very unlikely the 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman will be heading to the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said the same thing earlier this week on his “32 Thoughts” podcast. He didn’t elaborate as to why but I suspect the Oilers’ limited cap space and the talk of the Coyotes setting a “massive” asking price for Chychrun are the reasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2021

Connor McDavid achieves a points milestone while Ryan Getzlaf is on the verge of reaching one of his own. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid became the sixth-fastest player to reach 600 points during his club’s 5-4 win over the St. Louis Blues. McDavid had a goal and an assist to reach that milestone in 421 games and now has 601 points. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and Kailer Yamamoto netted the game-winner with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. Robert Thomas collected three helpers for the Blues.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drasaitl (31 points) opened a four-point lead over McDavid atop the NHL points leader board.

The Anaheim Ducks won their seventh straight game by downing the Vancouver Canucks 5-1. Trevor Zegras scored twice, Troy Terry (one assist) extended his points streak to 14 games, and Ryan Getzlaf collected two assists to reach 999 career points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf had 17 points in 48 games last season. The 36-year-old center has the same number of points in just 16 games thus far this season.

A shootout goal by Chris Kreider gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko picked up his first points of the season with a goal and an assist. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood left the game in the third period and entered concussion protocol. Rangers forward Sammy Blais suffered an injured leg following a collision with Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.

The Washington Capitals scored twice in the second period and two more in the third in a 6-1 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Conor Sheary Garnet Hathaway and Daniel Sprong all collected two points. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was held scoreless in his first game since returning from COVID protocol. Earlier in the day, the Capitals announced center Nic Dowd signed a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.3 million.

A four-goal third period lifted the Boston Bruins over the Montreal Canadiens 5-2. Charlie McAvoy and Charlie Coyle each scored twice for the Bruins while teammate Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced goaltender Jake Allen was listed as day-to-day with a head injury.

Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar made 27 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan each had two points. The Senators were playing with 10 regulars on COVID protocol as Drake Batherson was the latest to make the list yesterday.

The NHL department of player safety fined Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski $5,000.00 for high-sticking Seattle Kraken winger Jordan Eberle on Saturday. Buffalo Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues was fined $2,500.00 for a dangerous trip of Ottawa Senators forward Zach Sanford.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

The Canucks crush the Senators, last week’s three stars are announced, the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and David Pastrnak, plus injury/illness updates and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brandon Sutter tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks thrashed the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Bo Horvat collected two assists while Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist. The Senators have dropped five straight games.

Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Canucks as their recent struggles were cause for concern among their followers. The two clubs meet again on Wednesday and finish their three-game series on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli, Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 24.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen refuted any notion that last year’s contract negotiations with Pierre-Luc Dubois led to the 22-year-old center being traded on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets.

Dubois suggested in a recent interview that those discussions led in part to his trade request. “That’s just flat out not true at all and he knows that, so I don’t know why he would say that or even insinuate something like that, because it’s not true,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The real reason for Dubois’ trade request will be a hot topic for some time. Some believe it was his relationship with Jackets coach John Tortorella but Dubois has denied this.

There are also lots of guessing behind the trade request of Patrik Laine, who the Jackets swapped for Dubois. Some condemn Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Paul Maurice and Jets leaders Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for creating a supposed toxic atmosphere that drove Laine away. Others blame the winger’s perceived lackadaisical approach.

CBS SPORTS: David Pastrnak could return to action with the Boston Bruins as soon as Saturday. The 24-year-old winger has been sidelined by offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for a Bruins’ offense that has been inconsistent without their leading goal scorer.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Monday. There’s no confirmation either player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

THE SCORE: The NHL postponed Tuesday’s games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the fourth consecutive Hurricanes game to be postponed. The club currently has five players on the COVID-19 protocol list with three confirmed to have tested positive. The league has released new dates for each of the postponed contests.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Greg Pateryn were placed on waivers Monday. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mitchel Stephens is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury while defenseman Erik Cernak is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues is sidelined indefinitely with an apparent lower-body injury suffering during a collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Sunday.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Former Coyotes GM John Chayka has been suspended to the end of 2021 by the NHL for conduct detrimental to the league and the game. The suspension is reportedly due to Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes last summer.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators goaltender Connor Ingram will be away from the club for an indefinite period as he voluntarily entered the league’s player assistance program.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Goaltender Scott Darling has signed a professional tryout offer with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, Illinois. Darling spent three seasons with the Blackhawks from 2014-15 to 2016-17, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2015.










The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

New York Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $6.5 million

Not a trade, but Kreider was considered the top trade bait entering deadline day. Reports out of New York this morning suggested he was likely to be moved. The Rangers bent on the term, as they reportedly offered a six-year deal. Perhaps the Kreider camp gave a little on the dollars. The 28-year-old left-winger gets the long-term deal to stay put, but time will tell if this deal pans out over the long term for the Blueshirts.

The New York Islanders acquire and sign center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau

The Islanders address a glaring need on their forward lines with Pageau, a skilled two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing. They overpaid to get him, sending a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a 2020 second-rounder, and a conditional third in 2022 to the Ottawa Senators. That was offset by re-signing Pageau to a six-year, $30-million contract extension. The rebuilding Senators got a fine return, leaving them with potentially 13 picks in the 2020 Draft, with nine of those in the first three rounds.

Carolina Hurricanes acquire Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils

The Hurricanes shored up their banged-up blueline by parting with a first-round pick for Skjei and shipping forward Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional second-round pick to the Devils for Vatanen. With Dougie Hamilton out for several more weeks with a broken leg and Brett Pesce sidelined by an upper-body injury, Skjei and Vatanen should help fill the gaps.

Florida Panthers trade Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes

The Panthers were rumored for weeks to be in the market for a top-four defenseman and Trocheck recently surfaced as a trade candidate. Instead, they swap him for checking-line forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark plus two prospects. Trocheck, meanwhile, should provide the Hurricanes with some welcome depth at center.

Vegas Golden Knights acquire goaltender Robin Lehner

Big pickup there for the Golden Knights, shipping Malcolm Subban, a prospect and a second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist. Lehner will share the duties with starter Marc-Andre Fleury, providing Vegas with a solid one-two punch between the pipes.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire forwards Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made a significant move earlier this month by acquiring Jason Zucker from Minnesota. He wasn’t done tinkering with his forward lines, bringing in three key playoff rentals. They got Marleau for the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-rounder and shipped center Dominik Kahun to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. In the twilight of his career, Marleau gets a final shot at winning the Stanley Cup. It’s Sheary’s second go-around with the Penguins, winning Cups with them in 2016 and 2017. Rodrigues had requested a trade from the Sabres earlier in the season.

Edmonton Oilers deal for winger Andreas Athanasiou

The Oilers sent Sam Gagner and two second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings for one of the fastest players in the league in Athanasiou, prompting speculation he’ll become a new linemate for Connor McDavid. If those two mesh well together, Athanasiou will regain the 30-goal form that he’s been lacking this season. Failing that, perhaps he’ll be a better fit on their second line with either Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers also acquired winger Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Mke Green from the Red Wings.

Calgary Flames bring in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort

With Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic still sidelined, the Flames sent a third-round pick in 2020 to the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustafsson and a conditional fourth in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for Forbort. Gustafsson is a mobile blueliner and Forbort will bring a physical edge to the Flames defense corps.

Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds

The Sabres sent a fifth-rounder in 2021 to the New Jersey Devils for Simmonds. He’ll provide leadership and experience, but won’t address their ongoing need for a scorer. At least they didn’t pay much to get him, plus the Devils picked up half of his $5-million salary-cap hit.

Boston Bruins trade winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie

This is a swap of two young forwards who needed a change of scenery. Ritchie was the Ducks first-round pick (10th overall) in 2014 but struggled to play up to expectations as a power forward. Heinen had a promising rookie performance (47 points) in 2017-18, but his production has eroded since then.

Colorado Avalanche land Vladislav Namestnikov

With their forward lines depleted by injuries, the Avs sent a 202 fourth-rounder to the Ottawa Senators for the versatile Namestnikov. The 27-year-old is a solid two-way forward who can skate at center or on the wing. He should fit in well on their checking lines.

Philadelphia Flyers add Derek Grant and Nate Thompson

The Flyers had an interest in Jean-Gabriel Pageau before the Senators shipped him to the Islanders. They instead went a more affordable route, sending a minor-league forward and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Anaheim Ducks for Grant, and a 2021 fifth-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for Nate Thompson. The two veterans will provide the Flyers with experienced depth up the middle.

Vancouver Canucks acquire Louis Domingue

With starting goalie Jacob Markstrom sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, the Canucks sent minor-league goalie Zane McIntyre to the Devils for Domingue. He’ll split the duties with Thatcher Demko and should provide some additional insurance once Markstrom returns.