NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 20, 2022

More Patrick Kane trade speculation (yes, again!) plus a look at how the Leafs can acquire Jakob Chychrun and the latest on Wayne Simmonds in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

MORE PATRICK KANE TRADE SPECULATION

TSN: Earlier this week, Craig Button listed two teams in each NHL conference that might benefit from acquiring Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Starting with the Western Conference, Button suggested the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings. Kane could offset some of the offense the Flames lost during the offseason. He could also help the Kings progress in their development.

Turning to the Eastern Conference, Button believes the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers could benefit from Kane’s services. He thinks the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner could bolster the Penguins’ production in the postseason. Kane could also help improve the Rangers’ Stanley Cup chances.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Button reminds us that Kane carries a hefty $10.5 million cap hit plus a full no-movement clause giving him full control over where he might go. Those will be crucial factors that determine where he ends up if he agrees to be traded.

I don’t see Kane heading to Pittsburgh or Calgary unless they’re willing to move a fair chunk of salary to the Blackhawks as part of the return. Even then, it would probably take a three-team deal to spread his cap hit around.

Kane’s experience and offensive skills would certainly help the Kings. However, acquiring a player like him as a postseason rental is a move usually made by a Stanley Cup contender, not a club emerging from a rebuilding phase but isn’t yet a legitimate Cup hopeful. It’s not a good idea to waste those future assets that could help you become a contender within a couple of years on a rental player simply to win a playoff round next spring.

The Rangers, of course, have been linked to Kane for months. Some in the New York media share the belief that the Blueshirts could make a play for him by the March 3 trade deadline. However, there are also those encouraged by the performance of young Rangers like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko to suggest perhaps they might not need Kane after all.

Button also doesn’t believe the Edmonton Oilers or Toronto Maple Leafs will attempt to acquire Kane. He felt those clubs have no problem scoring goals but must instead add defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos believes the Maple Leafs can acquire Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes without having to clear Jake Muzzin’s salary from their books or giving up top prospect Matthew Knies in return.

Kypreos reports the Coyotes told the Leafs and Ottawa Senators that if a trade cannot be made involving prospects like Knies or the Senators’ Ridly Greig that one could be built around two first-round picks. He thinks the Coyotes would also want one of Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren or Topi Niemela.

To balance the cap hit, the Coyotes would have to accept Alex Kerfoot and his $3.5 million cap hit. A solid performance by Nick Robertson in the coming weeks could make Kerfoot easier to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kypreos acknowledged Chychrun’s injury history and the concerns over his feel for the game. Nevertheless, he also felt that the blueliner’s $4.6 million cap hit through 2024-25 fits well within the Leafs’ payroll plus his powerful shot and ability to log big minutes would take some of the burden off Morgan Rielly.

Kypreos also pointed out that other clubs (Senators, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets) have been linked to Chychrun in the rumor mill. He suggested the Leafs acquire the Coyotes’ rearguard sooner rather than later or risk seeing him shipped to another team.

The Senators still strike me as the more likely destination for Chychrun. They’ve got the cap space to absorb most of his contract and wouldn’t have to send much back salary-wise to make the dollars fit. They’ve also got plenty of promising talent to use as trade bait to outbid the other clubs.

THE ATHLETIC: Joshua Kloke observed Wayne Simmonds remains in limbo with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They currently have no room for him within their current forward lines and haven’t had any luck yet finding a suitable trade partner for him.

The 34-year-old winger’s best seasons are now behind him but Kloke suggests the intangibles he brings would be invaluable to “teams in transitory stages with rosters stocked with young players.”. He suggested the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators as two examples, along with perhaps returning to one of his former teams like the Los Angeles Kings or Philadelphia Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds has a 10-team no-trade list and it’s believed he wants to play for a contender at this stage of his career. He might agree to go to one of those clubs if they come calling. So far, however, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2022

The Leafs sign Rasmus Sandin and could try Mitch Marner on defense, Devils captain Nico Hischier suffers a hamstring injury, an update on MacKenzie Weegar’s contract talks with the Flames, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs signed Rasmus Sandin to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $1.4 million. His deal is similar to that of teammate Timothy Liljegren. The 22-year-old defenseman missed the start of training camp due to his contract negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sandin camp reportedly reached out to Leafs management to expedite this situation as injuries have already sidelined blueliners Liljegren, Jake Muzzin, Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing puts the Leafs over the $82.5 million salary cap by $2.89 million but they can garner some temporary relief by placing Liljegren on long-term injury reserve and demoting another player. Sooner or later, however, they could be forced to make a cost-cutting trade.

SPORTSNET: With their defense corps already depleted by injuries, the Leafs are considering having All-Star winger Mitch Marner take some shifts on the blue line. The 25-year-old right winger is among the NHL’s best defensive forwards.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall-of-Fame forwards Bob Gainey and Sergei Fedorov also used to sometimes play defense in certain circumstances. It might not be a bad idea to experiment with Marner on defense during preseason play to see how he fares in that role until their blueline is healthy again.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier suffered a hamstring injury in preseason play and will be re-evaluated in 10 days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hischier has been hampered by injuries for most of his young NHL career. The 23-year-old center is coming off a career-best 60-point performance in 70 games last season.

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports MacKenzie Weegar and his agent are pushing to get a contract extension done with the Calgary Flames before the start of the upcoming regular season. Acquired from the Florida Panthers in July, the 28-year-old defenseman netted a career-best 44 points last season and is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis expects Weegar could earn more than $6.5 million annually if he hits the open market on July 1. Both sides reportedly remain optimistic so there’s a chance an agreement could be hammered out before the Flames open their season on Oct. 13.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks are still awaiting word as to the severity of Trevor Zegras’ upper-body injury. The 21-year-old sophomore center left Wednesday’s preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes after receiving a thunderous bodycheck by Jan Jenik.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild forward Tyson Jost admitted he found it difficult watching the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup this year. Jost, 24, spent nearly six seasons with the Avs until he was traded to the Wild before last season’s trade deadline.

It was just tough to watch, and now you’ve got to live with that,” he said, crediting his mother for helping him through that emotional time. He also deleted his Instagram account for a time after several Avs fans trolled him by leaving him messages saying their club wouldn’t have won the Cup if he’d still been with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re so used to players saying how happy they are for their former teammates when they win the Cup. That feeling may be sincere but some of it could also be for public consumption. Privately, it has to affect them in some way to have missed out on winning hockey’s holy grail.

Jost doesn’t have any ill will toward the Avalanche. He’s also in a good position to play a larger role with a promising team in Minnesota than he did in Colorado. Maybe he’ll get his opportunity to win the Cup with the Wild.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings forward Jacob Doty will have a hearing on Friday with the NHL department of player safety for interference on San Jose Sharks forward Jeffrey Viel. The incident occurred during a preseason game on Wednesday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Ty Dellandrea broke a bone at the tip of one of his fingers after blocking a shot during Thursday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Wild. He’s expected to be sidelined for two-three weeks.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

A recent look at the notable remaining restricted free agents in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of the remaining notable restricted free agents.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

Topping his list is the Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson. The 23-year-old winger has blossomed into a first-line scorer who was the Calder Trophy runner-up in 2021. Fox wonders if the Stars will attempt to sign Robertson to a long-term deal that could look like a bargain down the road or ink him to a bridge deal that hands the winger more leverage for his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be a bridge deal, pointing out the Stars couldn’t do a long-term deal for Jake Oettinger, who recently signed a three-year, $12 million contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Stars carrying $6.3 million in cap space with 22 players under contract. My guess is Robertson agrees to a two-year deal worth $5 million annually to put himself in line for a major pay raise in 2024. That’s when the salary cap is expected to significantly increase.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi and Ottawa Senators winger Alex Formenton are second and third on Fox’s list. He reported Kings general manager Rob Blake continues to negotiate with the Durzi camp. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion said his discussions with Formenton’s agent were positive and he expects the 22-year-old will be under contract prior to training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, the Kings re-signed blueliner Mikey Anderson to a one-year, $1 million contract. With $1.3 million remaining in cap space, I wouldn’t be surprised if Durzi gets a similar deal. Both rearguards completed their entry-level contracts last season.

NHL training camps will start by Sep. 21 so look for the Senators to have Formenton’s new contract sorted by then.

Fox cited Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reporting center Barrett Hayton should have a new deal before training camp. He doesn’t see the two sides being far apart. Fox pointed out the Coyotes have plenty of salary-cap room. He recommended a bridge deal but observed the club has a tendency of signing their promising young players to long-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikey Anderson was also on Fox’s list but he was re-signed on Saturday by the Kings.

Rasmus Sandin’s contract talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly remain at a standstill. Meanwhile, Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon recently said re-signing defenseman Nicolas Hague before training camp was his top priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I covered Sandin’s situation in yesterday’s Rumor Mill. As for Hague, McCrimmon reportedly has had little dialogue with Hague’s representatives since early July.

Both defensemen are coming off ELCs and have no leverage other than refusing to report to training camp. We’ll find out within the next 10 days if they’ll end up signing bridge deals before camps open on Sep. 21.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod and Calgary Flames forward Adam Ruzicka complete Fox’s list. He reported there’s little concern in Edmonton over getting McLeod signed before training camp. Meanwhile, Fox believes Flames GM Brad Treliving must decide if Ruzicka is ready to be a full-time NHLer or if he will sign him to a two-way contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2022

A look at the latest Leafs speculation as training camp approaches in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel wondered when the Toronto Maple Leafs and Rasmus Sandin will finally reach an agreement on a new contract. The 22-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights, giving him little leverage except to not report to training camp.

Missing playing time could put Sandin at risk of falling behind his teammates. Siegel suggests the young blueliner accept a one-year deal that would provide him with arbitration rights next summer or a two-year deal similar to the one Timothy Liljegren signed in June with an average annual value of $1.4 million.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Sandin camp handles this. Missing training camp (and preseason play) almost always hampered a player’s performance upon his return to the lineup.

The Leafs are currently over the $82.5 million salary cap for the coming season by roughly $1.5 million. General manager Kyle Dubas could be forced to make a significant cost-cutting move to accommodate whatever Sandin is seeking. Taking the one-year deal and garnering arbitration rights next summer would give the young blueliner the leverage to secure better terms on his next contract.

Siegel also noted the Leafs wouldn’t necessarily have to do anything to get under the cap until Sandin signs. They could ice a 20-man roster to start the season if need be. He acknowledged that defenseman Justin Holl has surfaced as a trade candidate but doesn’t see the sense in trading him while Sandin remains unsigned. Dubas could also place Holl on waivers but there’s the risk of losing him to another club for nothing.

The Leafs signing Zach Aston-Reese to a professional tryout offer also caught Siegel’s eye. Among the reasons could be to provide options in case they want to move a forward such as Alex Kerfoot, though he doesn’t see Aston-Reese as an improvement over Kerfoot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kerfoot carries an AAV of $3.5 million and he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Moving him would put them under the cap by $2 million, providing sufficient wiggle room to ink Sandin.

However, the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan is skeptical about a Kerfoot trade. “If Dubas had true designs on moving Kerfoot, you would think it would’ve happened by now.”

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked about what it might cost for the Leafs to acquire Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The reader wanted to know if “2 firsts, Sandin and Robertson” might get it done. Fox considered that a load to surrender for a playoff rental. He suggested “a first-round pick, a mid-round pick, a quality prospect, and a roster player.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming Kane waives his full no-movement clause to go to Toronto. And Dubas convinces the Blackhawks to retain half of Kane’s $10.5 million salary-cap hit. And he finds a third team willing to help him divide the remaining $5.25 million in half to squeeze the winger within the Leafs’ limited cap payroll. Provided, of course, Dubas outbids other clubs for Kane’s services.

Let’s revisit this at the 2023 trade deadline and see if it works out.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2022

Speculation persists linking the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun to the Senators plus the latest on J.T. Miller and Rasmus Sandin in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

MORE RUMORS LINKING CHYCHRUN TO THE SENATORS

THE WALLY AND METHOT SHOW: Brent Wallace reported earlier this week that he’s been told the Ottawa Senators remain in pursuit of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. “There have been talks this week,” tweeted Wallace, who indicated the Coyotes’ asking price remains “two 1st round picks and a high-end prospect plus Arizona would also take (Nikita) Zaitsev.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

TSN’s Shawn Simpson reported the Coyotes asking price for Chychrun was huge at the trade deadline and at the draft. He’s sure other teams are interested in the 24-year-old Coyotes blueliner but everyone knows “Ottawa wants the player, and the player would prefer the Sens.” Simpson believes the Senators should offer nothing more than “a top D prospect, a 1st and a 2nd.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s worth remembering why the Coyotes are setting such a high asking price.

There’s plenty of interest in Chychrun despite his injury history. Teams look at what he’s capable of when healthy, as well as his youth and reasonable $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25, and see him as a good fit.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is rebuilding his roster. He’s got a valuable trade chip in Chychrun but he’s under no pressure to move the blueliner. Chychrun has three more seasons on his contract at an affordable cap hit. There’s no indication he’s requested a trade. Even if he did, he still must go out and perform to the best of his ability with the Coyotes until a club steps up to meet Armstrong’s price.

The Coyotes’ asking for Zaitsev is to replace Chychrun on the blueline and on their cap payroll. That’s assuming, of course, that they aren’t on his 10-team no-trade list. Trading Chychrun would put them under this season’s $61 million cap minimum.

Zaitsev has a $4.5 million average annual value through 2023-24, though in actual salary he’ll earn $2.5 million this season as the Senators already paid his $2 million signing bonus for this season. That’s much more palatable for the Coyotes.

As for those draft picks, the Coyotes possess nine picks between rounds two and four in 2024 and four second-rounders in 2025. However, they have just one first-round pick in each of the next three rounds and just one extra third-rounder in 2023. Armstrong would prefer a couple of extra firsts.

It’s possible Chychrun gets traded before the coming season begins in October. The Senators could be his destination. But unless Armstrong lowers his price or a team steps up to meet the current one, don’t be surprised if Chychrun’s suiting up with the Coyotes on opening night.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported player agent Brian Bartlett isn’t concerned about how big a story it could be for client J.T. Miller to report to Vancouver Canucks training camp without a contract extension. He claims the 29-year-old center is looking forward to camp next month and doesn’t believe his client’s contract will be a distraction.

The two sides haven’t discussed a new contract since the draft in Montreal last month. The Canucks haven’t given Bartlett permission to speak with other teams about an extension. He indicated he hasn’t spoken to Miller about cutting off contract talks with the Canucks once the regular season begins but doesn’t rule out the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Based on comments made to the media earlier this summer by Miller and Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, it doesn’t appear that the two sides will reach an agreement before the season begins. While Miller would like to stay and management wants to keep him, both sides seem resigned that this season will be his last in Vancouver.

Dhaliwal also reported agent Darren Ferris has been granted permission by the Canucks to talk to other teams about a trade for client Michael DiPietro. A source told Dhaliwal there is interest in the 23-year-old goaltender and there is a deal that could make sense for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could that interested club be the Vegas Golden Knights? They could be in the market for an affordable goaltender after losing Robin Lehner for the coming season due to hip surgery.

UPDATE ON SANDIN

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports contract talks aren’t going anywhere between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Rasmus Sandin. Agent Lewis Gross said he can’t answer why talks are at a standstill for his client.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas declined to comment other than to indicate via text that negotiating contracts through the media “do not create resolutions to private matters.” Fox indicates factors such as money, term and Sandin’s role with the Leafs are in play here. It’s believed the Leafs have offered him a deal similar to teammate Timothy Liljegren’s two-year, $2.8 million bridge contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also pointed out the Leafs have limited salary-cap space right now. They’ll have to create some cap space if they hope to get Sandin under contract before the start of the coming season.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2022

The speculation linking Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Canadiens won’t go away. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs face a cost-cutting trade. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST DUBOIS SPECULATION

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy suggests that Pierre-Luc Dubois accepting a one-year, $6 million qualifying offer with the Winnipeg Jets creases the skids for a potential trade to the Montreal Canadiens.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Dubois, 24, will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights again next summer. Murphy felt his new contract sets up what the center’s qualifying offer will be for 2023-24. It would also allow the Canadiens to sign him to an eight-year contract if they can acquire him before the 2023 free-agent market opens next July.

A source told Murphy that Dubois’ agent, Pat Brisson, is doing everything he can to make a trade to Montreal happen.

TVA SPORTS: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes’ recent trade activity has Canadiens fans expecting another deal, perhaps one that brings Dubois to Montreal.

Within a 10-day period earlier this month, Hughes shipped Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders for the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, flipped that pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Kirby Dach, and traded Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Mike Matheson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets don’t have to move Dubois this summer. However, they risk having the uncertainty over his future becoming an unwelcome distraction at a time when they’re trying to rebound from a disappointing performance last season.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is said to be listening to offers for Dubois. However, he’s also set a high asking price. He won’t waiver after seeing what the Calgary Flames got from the Florida Panthers for Matthew Tkachuk.

It’s rumored Cheveldayoff sought Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield as part of the return from the Canadiens. Both are believed to be off-limits in trade discussions. There’s also talk suggesting Hughes could part with center Christian Dvorak but it’ll take more than him as the centerpiece of a deal to pry Dubois away from the Jets.

Limited salary-cap space is also an issue for the Canadiens. They’re pressed against the $82.5 million cap and continue to await clarity over Carey Price’s recovery from complications arising from last summer’s knee surgery.

Hughes, however, isn’t under any pressure here to acquire Dubois. He was in the middle of rebuilding the roster long before the reports emerged of the center’s desire to one day play for the Canadiens. The Canadiens GM can afford to wait until next summer to try again or kick this down the road to 2024 and attempt to sign Dubois as an unrestricted free agent.

MAPLE LEAFS FACING A TRADE

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs need to make a trade after their recent free-agent signings of Calle Jarnkrok and Pierre Engvall. Sitting a projected $1.4 million over the $82.5 million cap, they must make room to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin.

Signing Sandin would also create a logjam on the blueline. Mirtle doesn’t see Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie or Timothy Liljegren going anywhere.

Mirtle examines whether the Leafs will consider moving Sandin or fellow blueliner. He also suggested forward Alex Kerfoot as the only other cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Holl is the more likely trade candidate. What do you think, Leafs fans? Sandin, Holl or Kerfoot? Or is there a better trade option? Weigh in with your thoughts.