NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2020

How will the Bruins replace Zdeno Chara? Are any moves coming for the Penguins before the season opens? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HOW WILL THE BRUINS REPLACE CHARA?

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins could go with one of the younger defensemen within their system to fill the gap on their blueline left by the departure of Zdeno Chara. The former Bruins captain yesterday signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.

The Boston Bruins are said to be interested in free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen (NHL Images).

The Bruins have three young left-shot defensemen in Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Urha Vaakanainen. Shinzawa observes they’ve played a combined 44 NHL games. He also noted team president Cam Neely last week indicating the Bruins were studying the trade market for help on defense, something they’re liable to keep doing as cap-strapped clubs seek to shed salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could also look to free agency for affordable options. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited sources saying they’re interested in Sami Vatanen and Karl Alzner, while his colleague Joe Haggerty recently reported they’re looking at Ben Hutton.

Management will likely evaluate the roster during training camp to determine if they need to make a move. Given Neely’s remarks and the rumors they’re checking out free-agent options, it wouldn’t be surprising if they add a veteran left-side rearguard before the season opens on Jan. 13.

THE LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently observed the Penguins weren’t in on affordable free agents Carl Soderberg or Erik Haula to bolster their third-line center position. He wonders if GM Jim Rutherford is saving his cap space to perhaps swing an impact trade during the regular season.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Rutherford doesn’t intend to make any trades before the season opens on Jan. 13. “I would say it’s highly unlikely,” said the Penguins GM, adding he wants to see his club play and see what they have.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is a proven wheeler-dealer so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll make a trade before the season begins. That probably won’t happen, however, until he gets an opportunity to evaluate his roster in training camp.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2020

A look at the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance observes it’s been nearly eight weeks since an NHL trade was made and a month since the last unrestricted free agent signings (Dominik Kahun with the Edmonton Oilers). However, there’s still discussion and negotiation going on among general managers and player agents.

UFAs like Mike Hoffman could be waiting a while for new contracts (NHL Images).

Drance cites an NHL player agent saying those markets have slowed of late because of ongoing uncertainty over when the 2020-21 season will begin. “We want to see what develops out of this,” said the agent. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to do something until we know what things look like.”

The agent, who represents one of the top UFAs, said teams remain interested in his client but some of them are waiting. Clarity on provisional rules, such as recalling players from the minors, could also affect UFA signings. There’s talk of allowing teams to use a so-called “taxi squad” of players this season who can be re-assigned and disappear from a team’s cap payroll, perhaps without having to pass through waivers.

Drance believes a second wave of trade and free-agent signings will begin once the league and NHLPA agree to a start date for the season. He notes there are five UFAs who produced at least 30 points last season (such as Mike Hoffman) as well as some decent depth forwards like Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry and Andreas Athanasiou. Defense options include Zdeno Chara and Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Drance on the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets and when we can expect business to resume. There’s still enough decent UFA talent available, which also includes Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen and Erik Haula, to draw interest among general managers. Most of those UFAs, however, could be forced to accept inexpensive one-year deals given the few teams with cap space to invest in the free-agent market.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rob Rossi reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is bracing for the possibility of limited trade activity during the 2020-21 season. He hopes to tweak his roster before the puck drops on the new season.

Rutherford, one of the league’s notable in-season wheeler-dealers, doesn’t know how the trade market could be affected by a shortened season or if there could be restrictions that limit player movement. He feels it might be best to get as many players in place before the season begins because it might not be as easy once the schedule is underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford said he doesn’t have any inside information for his opinion of what the coming season’s trade market could look like. He’s taking the same “wait-and-see” approach as the rest of his colleagues.

Drance noted trades will have to be made by some cap-strapped clubs before the season begins. We’ll likely see a flurry of deals before and during the training camp period as teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to shed salary to re-sign key players and/or to become cap compliant when the season opens.

There’s also usually plenty of activity leading up to the annual trade deadline. This season, however, could be different depending on what provisional rules are implemented and how much cap flexibility teams have as the deadline nears.

The rumors among pundits and fans over possible trades and free-agent signings will continue as they always do. However, we could see fewer significant moves this season compared to other years.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2020

Could the Penguins make a trade to offset the loss of Jake Guentzel? Could the Blackhawks use their newly-gained salary-cap space to bolster their roster for the rest of the season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS OPTIONS TO OFFSET GUENTZEL’S ABSENCE

THE ATHLETIC: With high-scoring Jake Guentzel sidelined four-to-six months by a shoulder injury, Rob Rossi examined some creative ways the Pittsburgh Penguins could offset the winger’s absence. By placing Guentzel on long-term injury reserve, they have an additional $6 million to bolster their roster. General manager Jim Rutherford has said he’ll probably wait until the Feb. 24 trade deadline to make any moves.

Should the Pittsburgh Penguins shop goaltender Matt Murray for a scoring winger? (Photo via NHL Images).

Rossi speculates Rutherford could shop his first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, suggesting New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider could be his top trade target. With Tristan Jarry playing well and Casey DeSmith in the minors, Rossi also suggested shopping goaltender Matt Murray, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. That could be a risky move if Jarry’s current hot performance should cool over the second half of the schedule.

Free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk is another option, but Rossi claims Rutherford isn’t interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Penguins continue playing well, Rutherford could take his time and evaluate the trade market leading up to the deadline. They’ll get a big boost when sidelined captain Sidney Crosby returns to the lineup soon. Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer, so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll look into making a move or two in the coming weeks.

WILL THE BLACKHAWKS USE THEIR CAP SPACE TO BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER?

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield notes the Blackhawks have an additional $10 million at their disposal with defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan sidelined for the remainder of the season. As their salaries go back to counting against the Blackhawks cap payroll next season, the Blackhawks would have to pursue players on expiring contracts.

Greenfield suggested Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, or New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen as possibilities. He also pointed out the Blackhawks aren’t trading promising youngsters Kirby Dach or Adam Boqvist, and they probably won’t move their first-rounder. They also lack a second-round pick in the 2020 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That lack of tradeable assets could make it difficult for the Blackhawks to get into the bidding for a decent playoff rental player. That’s assuming they’re still in the postseason chase by next month’s trade deadline. If they fail to gain ground in the standings by the end of this month, I doubt GM Stan Bowman will become a major buyer.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 19, 2019

The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2019 is officially inducted, the three stars of the week, Cory Schneider on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The six newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame were officially inducted on Monday night in Toronto. Entering the Hall are former NHL stars Sergei Zubov and Guy Carbonneau, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, hockey pioneers Hayley Wickenheiser and Vaclav Nedomansky, and Boston College coach Jerry York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Class of 2019. I was touched by Wickenheiser’s induction speech in which she spoke of the difficulties and resistance she overcame as a girl playing hockey in the 1980s. She remains a role model for thousands of aspiring female hockey players.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected two points in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images).

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson extended his points streak to seven games with two assists in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 15th goal of the season. Washington winger Garnet Hathaway could face supplemental discipline after being ejected for spitting on Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson following their on-ice scrap.

Antti Raanta turned in a 31-save shutout as the Arizona Coyotes downed the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Conor Garland tallied his team-leading 10th goal of the season and added an assist.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle are the NHL stars for the week ending Nov.17, 2019.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on waivers and recalled Louis Domingue. Given his $6 million annual salary-cap hit on a contract that runs through 2021-22, it’s unlikely anyone will claim him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils will get very little salary-cap relief with this move. They’re painting this as a way for Schneider to see more playing time and regain his once-stellar form. He’s been hampered by injuries in recent years, taking a toll on his performance.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Kyle Okposo has suffered his fourth concussion since joining the club in 2016 and his second in this calendar year. The club also announced Tage Thompson is sidelined three-to-five weeks with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report reminds us Okposo was hospitalized in 2017 due to post-concussion symptoms and reaction to medication. Given the frequency of his head trauma, it might be time to seriously consider retirement. Here’s hoping he makes a quick recovery from his latest injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens will be without two key forwards for a lengthy period. Jonathan Drouin underwent wrist surgery while Paul Byron will require knee surgery. Drouin’s agent claims his client will be sidelined eight weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will feel their absence. Drouin was off to his best start since joining the Habs in 2017 with 15 points in 19 games. Byron, meanwhile, is among their best-skilled two-way forwards.

SPORTING NEWS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. He’s undergoing concussion protocol since being struck in the head by a shot from Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson on Saturday. He has not yet been diagnosed with a concussion.










Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes

Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes