NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2017

Trade rumors continue to dog Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk.

Updates on Alex Galchenyuk, Matt Duchene, Sami Vatanen, Dion Phaneuf and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Darren Dreger’s appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing Alex Galchenyuk’s status with the Montreal Canadiens. Dreger notes the recent trade rumors about Galchenyuk stems from his “curious development” with the Canadiens, prompting the belief he could benefit from a change. Dreger said he hasn’t heard anything yet to indicate Galchenyuk’s in the trade market.

Dreger also said he hasn’t heard anything new regarding the Nathan Beaulieu trade speculation.  He dismisses the notion that Carey Price could be moved, but thinks the Habs should look at every piece (other than Price) and determine the value in the trade market.

He also notes rumors continue to link Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene to the Canadiens. He knows the Avs won’t trade defenseman Tyson Barrie unless they get a blueliner in return. “So that’s just wild speculation, but those are the conversations that are taking place.”

Regarding the possibility of the Chicago Blackhawks shopping a key player, Dreger doubts they’ll move Brent Seabrook as he remains very valuable to the club. He said Niklas Hjalmarsson’s name is “kind of out there”, but thinks there’s a connection involving the Vegas Golden Knights and Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Galchenyuk and Beaulieu could be traded by the Canadiens this month. Some rumors suggest packaging the duo to Colorado for Duchene, though that could be simply wishful thinking by some Habs followers. I certainly don’t see the Avs agreeing to a swap of Duchene and Barrie for Galchenyuk and Beaulieu. Even if they did, the Habs would be taking on $10 million in combined salary, leaving little room to re-sign Alexander Radulov and to fill out the rest of the roster.

The Blackhawks will definitely be trading somebody. They could be forced to move more than Kruger and van Riemsdyk if the salary cap ceiling fails to significantly rise for next season. My guess is it could be Artem Anisimov ($4.5 million cap hit) if they’re unwilling to move Seabrook or Hjalmarsson. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports defenseman Marc Methot’s future with the Senators could be in doubt if Dion Phaneuf doesn’t waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. The Sens have indicated they’ll protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.  Garrioch suggests they might have to consider protecting eight skaters and a goalie to protect Methot, Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson and Cody Ceci, though that means they risk losing a forward such as Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Derick Brassard.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion could leave Methot exposed and offer up a draft pick to the Golden Knights to ensure they don’t select him. Otherwise, it might make more sense to trade Methot before the draft for an asset rather than lose him for nothing. They could leave Methot exposed and accept the possibility of losing him, or they could attempt to trade Phaneuf to one of the teams on his 10-team list of preferred destinations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phaneuf has until Friday to reach his decision, though it sounds as though he already has. I can see Dorion trying to swing a deal with Vegas to ensure Methot isn’t selected in the draft. I’ll be surprised if he trades Phaneuf, though we can’t full dismiss the possibility. 

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough lists the New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible suitors for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen before the expansion draft. Acquiring Vatanen could affect their respective player protection lists. The Devils could be forced to choose between Ben Lovejoy or John Moore, the Lightning between Andrej Sustr or Jason Garrison and the Leafs Connor Carrick or Martin Marincin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Brough points out, landing Vatanen means losing one of those players to the expansion draft wouldn’t be a big deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites NHL insider Mark Spector suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames or Vancouver Canucks could outbid the Oilers for pending UFA defenseman Kris Russell. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell’s free-agent value will be better than it was a year ago. Spector believes Russell, who skated on a one-year, $3.1 million deal, is a $4 million per season defenseman now. I daresay he won’t have to wait as long for a new contract as he did last year and could get a multi-year deal for over $4 million annually. Remains to be seen if the Leafs, Flames or Canucks pursue him. Depends upon how things shake out in the trade market over the next couple of weeks. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2017

Nick Ritchie (left) celebrates his goal with Ryan Getzlaf in Game 2 of the 2017 Western Conference Final.

Ducks win Game 2 of Western Conference Final, plus updates on Carl Hagelin, Kris Russell & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Ryan Getzlaf collected three assists as the Anaheim Ducks overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The series is now tied at one game apiece.

Following the game, Predators center Ryan Johansen was critical of how Ducks center Ryan Kesler was playing against him in the faceoff circle.“It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey, and it sucks when you have to pull a stick out of your groin after every shift.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I understand Johansen’s frustration over Kesler’s style of play, he’s allowed the cagey Ducks center to get inside his head. He cannot let Kesler drive him to distraction in this series and must find a way to overcome his chippy tactics. The Ducks also achieved something in this game that the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues couldn’t earlier in this postseason: score four goals on Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin (day-to-day, undisclosed injury) skated in practice yesterday but remains uncertain when he’ll return to the lineup. The Penguins face off tonight against the Ottawa Senators in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.  

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Viktor Stalberg (undisclosed injury, day-to-day) could be ready to play in Game 2 against the Penguins.

EDMONTON SUN: Pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell hopes to re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman dismissed the notion that his recent firing of assistant coach Mike Kitchen was done as a warning to head coach Joel Qunneville following the club’s swift opening-round elimination by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said there’s no deadline to replace Kitchen but claims Qunneville will play a significant role in the process. 


NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2016

St. Louis Blue defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is still a fixture in the trade  rumor mill.

On the eve of the NHL’s holiday roster freeze, here’s the latest on some of next summer’s top unrestricted free agents.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently listed his top-20 NHL unrestricted free agents for 2017. Among the highlights:

Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks aren’t that far off on a new deal. Custance wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signs a three-year contract for around the same annual cap hit ($6.75 million) of his current deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing two years at no more than $6 million annually. 

While the St. Louis Blues moving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk isn’t a certainty, Custance believes it’s possible if the right hockey deal comes along that helps the Blues’ efforts to win now. 

The trade speculation surrounding Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop could be contributing to his inconsistent performance this season. “One source raised this question: Who says no to a trade between the Blues and the Lightning built around Bishop and Shattenkirk?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues say no, because they’re content with Jake Allen as their starter. The Lightning, on the other hand, would make that deal in a heartbeat. 

There’s been initial contract discussions between Washington Capitals management and defenseman Karl Alzner, but GM Brian MacLellan could find it difficult to re-sign him if the salary cap remains flat for next season. 

Informal contract talks between the Pittsburgh Penguins and center Nick Bonino have taken place. To re-sign him, however, the cap-strapped Pens must move someone. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And we all know who that someone is. Wave to the folks, Marc-Andre Fleury. 

It’s a definite possibility the Edmonton Oilers could work out a contract extension with defenseman Kris Russell. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a second-half collapse in Russell’s play or a ridiculously high asking price on his part, I’d say it’s more than a possibility the Oilers re-sign him. 

If the Arizona Coyotes don’t have center Martin Hanzal under contract as the March 1 trade deadline approaches, he’ll become a strong trade option for playoff contenders. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed term is the sticking point for Hanzal. He wants a long-term deal and the Coyotes prefer a shorter one. 

No serious contract talks yet between the Philadelphia Flyers and goalie Steve Mason.

No contract talks yet between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, Justin Williams and the Washington Capital,Scott Darling and the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks and Sam Gagner and the Columbus Blue Jackets.  

Custance wonders if there’s a chance for Dallas Stars winger Patrick Sharp to one day return to the Chicago Blackhawks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the potential of young Blackhawks forwards such as Ryan Hartman and Tyler Motte, I don’t think the possibility exists for Sharp to return as a player. 

Things are still playing out for the Calgary Flames with goaltenders Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And at this point, Johnson has to be considered the favorite to be re-signed. He’s outperformed Elliott thus far. 

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2016

Could the Colorado Avalanche shop Gabe Landeskog for a defenseman?

Could the Colorado Avalanche shop Gabe Landeskog for a defenseman?

Latest on Gabe Landeskog, Dougie Hamilton (yes, again!), Anthony Duclair, Kris Russell and more in your NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports of “rumblings” the Colorado Avalanche would trade left wing and captain Gabe Landeskog for a quality defenseman. For those dismissing that notion, he reminds us of last summer’s Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson deal. He wonders about offering Landeskog to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic, or to the Anaheim Ducks for Cam Fowler. He also claims there’s a belief Avs center Matt Duchene could also be available for a “minute-munching young defenseman.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the Avs recent loss, GM Joe Sakic claimed he wasn’t planning on any major changes, insisting he still believes in the club’s core players. Landeskog and Duchene belong to that group. However, if they don’t improve soon, Sakic could reconsider his position. 

Matheson believes the Pittsburgh Penguins will try to move goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury before the March 1 trade deadline. He wonders if Fleury might accept a trade to the Buffalo Sabres, where he’ll be reunited with former Pens coach Dan Bylsma. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, but I suspect the Penguins would prefer dealing Fleury to a Western Conference club, such as Calgary or Dallas. 

If the Calgary Flames were to trade Dougie Hamilton for a scoring forward, where do they find another blueliner? Dennis Wideman is an unrestricted free agent next summer and Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are their only defensive locks. 

Don’t bet on Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan seeking a trade at the NHL deadline. 

Matheson also wonders what the Edmonton Oilers will do with defenseman Kris Russell, who’s helped stabilize their blueline this season. Russell’s a UFAnext summer, but if the Oilers re-sign him, they’ll have to protect him in next June’s expansion draft. Matheson suggests the possibility of the Oilers and Russell reaching a verbal agreement on a new contract and waiting until after the draft to announce it. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights could pass on Russell if he’s still unsigned before the draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers go that route, it could be a costly decision. League deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that teams who violate the rules of the expansion draft would lose their first-round draft pick. A verbal agreement with a pending UFA could be interpreted as skirting those rules. 

TSN.CA:  Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes offered up winger Anthony Duclair and a draft pick to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Dougie Hamilton during the 2016 NHL Draft. The offer was swiftly rejected by the Flames. Dreger claims the Coyotes continue to make the 21-year-old Duclair available. He’s currently struggling through his sophomore season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting change on the Duclair situation, as it was originally believed the Coyotes were listening to offers but not shopping him. It was thought they’d want a good young player, preferably a center, in exchange for Duclair. If they were willing to move him back in June, it suggests general manager John Chayka doesn’t have much confidence in the young winger. It was Chakya’s predecessor (Don Maloney) who acquired Duclair as part of the return for shipping Keith Yandle to the Rangers in 2014-15. 

Pierre LeBrun reports the Ottawa Senators aren’t interested in Duclair but are working the phones in search of a bottom-six forward. 

LeBrun also notes the Dallas Stars depth in young defensemen could attract interest from other clubs over the course of the season. For now, the Stars are content to wait until everyone’s healthy before deciding on possible moves going forward. 

THE ATHLETIC: David Alter speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs could need an improvement in their backup goaltender if Jhonas Enroth continues to struggle. So far, Enroth is 0-3-1 with a save percentage of.872. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2016

The Edmonton Oilers traded Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues.

The Edmonton Oilers traded Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues.

Oilers trade Nail Yakupov to St. Louis and sign Kris Russell. Details and more in your NHL morning headlines. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL/STLTODAY.COM: The Edmonton Oilers traded right wing Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for minor-league winger Zach Pochiro and a conditional draft pick in 2007. It’s a third-round pick but could turn into a second rounder if Yakupov nets 15 or more goals this season with the Blues.

The Oilers also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell to a one-year, $3.1 million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move could be a good opportunity for the 23-year-old to get his NHL career back on track. Selected first overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, Yakupov struggled to play up to lofty expectations. 

The Oilers had reportedly spoken to other clubs about Yakupov, but the Blues were willing to take on his full $2.5 million cap hit for this season. The return isn’t much, but at this stage in Yakupov’s career, his trade value wasn’t high. Getting him off the roster and his salary off the books was of more importance for the Oilers.

Acquiring Yakupov is an affordable short-term gamble for the Blues. If he doesn’t pan out, they can expose him in the expansion draft or let him walk as a UFA in July. 

Russell has his critics, but he will bring experienced depth to an Oilers blueline lacking those qualities. Like Yakupov with the Blues, Russell is an affordable short-term gamble the Oilers can simply cut loose next summer if he doesn’t work out. 

CSN BAY AREA:  Contract extension talks have reportedly started between the San Jose Sharks and top defenseman Brent Burns, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings could start the season without top defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has lingering pain in his left knee. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER’s Eric Stephens reports Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner cleared waivers yesterday and remains with the team. 

NEWSDAY:  The New York Rangers placed forwards Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe on waivers Friday. 

PHILLY.COM:  Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto is sidelined four-five weeks with a knee injury. 

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward will miss the club’s final two preseason games with a lower-body injury. He’s expected to return to the lineup in time for their regular-season opener. 

CSNNE.COM:  Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is listed as day-to-day with a “middle-body injury”. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER:  Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Murphy will miss the next three-four weeks with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues released defenseman Mike Weber from his professional tryout contract. 

STARTRIBUNE.COM:  Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and his wife wound up with damaged belongings and stolen valuables during their move to Minnesota this summer. 

YAHOO SPORTS:  The NHL must decide by Jan. 15, 2017 if they’ll participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2016

Don't expect Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov to receive an offer sheet.

Don’t expect Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov to receive an offer sheet.

Latest on Nikita Kucherov and Kris Russel, plus an update on the Anaheim Ducks in your NHL rumor mill.

TSN 690 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie looks at the potential cost to the Tampa Bay Lightning if restricted free agent right wing Nikita Kucherov signed an offer sheet with a rival club. Should the Lightning match, it would create a salary-cap nightmare for them, giving the Bolts limited cap space to re-sign Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat next summer.

The cost for a rival club signing Kucherov to a deal worth between $7-$7.5 million annually would be a first, second and third round pick. The Lightning would also have to shed considerable salary to become cap compliant before the season opens next week.

McKenzie also notes the rarity of offer sheets these days, in part because a team that goes that route could one day find themselves in the same situation as the Lightning right now. He also points out a number of teams already have limited cap room for the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames have sufficient cap space to offer up a $7 million per season offer sheet to Kucherov. Of those clubs, the Panthers are well-stocked with scoring right wingers, the Oilers need blueline depth and the Jets, Sabres, Ducks and Flames have key RFAs of their own to re-sign. While the Hurricanes and Devils could certainly use a winger like Kucherov, they’re not expected to pitch an offer sheet to him or any of the other unsigned RFA forwards.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell and his agent overestimated this summer’s free agent market. With the start of the NHL season only a week away, Russell remains unsigned. Spector notes only 13 teams have more than $4 million in salary-cap space, and some of those (Calgary, Buffalo, Anaheim) still has prominent restricted free agents to re-sign. While Russell could end up signing with a club in the coming weeks, he won’t receive the same money that he might’ve gotten in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No question about it, Russell and his agent blew it. There’s talk the Flames want to bring him back, but that depends upon how much cap space they have left once they get young superstar winger Johnny Gaudreau under contract.

Of the teams that could afford Russell, rule out the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers, as they’re already deep on defense. The Stars have no interest in bringing him back. That leaves the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and maybe the Buffalo Sabres as possibilities. 

NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford believes the Anaheim Ducks are primed to make a move. He notes RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell remain unsigned, NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire telling TSN 1040 last week the Ducks were in trade talks with an Eastern Conference team to unload a “significant salary”, the club giving plenty of preseason playing time to young blueliners Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson, plus the club’s already limited salary cap space.

With Lindholm expected to be re-signed, the Ducks could shed a blueliner. One possibility is Cam Fowler, who was linked this summer in trade rumors to the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. Simon Despres could be another option as he lacks a no-trade clause. Veteran Kevin Bieksa’s age (35) and no-movement clause makes him difficult to trade. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Buffalo Sabres were also very interested in Fowler back in June. I daresay the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers might be interested in him. Fowler would net the Ducks the best return, but the Ducks can’t afford to take on significant salary in return. Moving Despres and his $3.7 million annual cap hit through 2020-21 might be the better option. Trading Bieksa is possible, but also unlikely at this stage of his career.