In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some potential offseason trade candidates for the Flyers plus the latest on Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to offload James van Riemsdyk in order to shed some salary this summer. He noted the club needs to free up cap space to make additions in the offseason, pointing out the 32-year-old winger is a $7 million player whose production has regressed.
Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).
Finding takers for van Riemsdyk won’t be easy. The Flyers could be forced to add a sweetener to make him more enticing in the trade market. It might be easier if they retain half of his salary though it means only saving $3.5 million. A contract buyout won’t clear the full $7 million from their books next season.
Cam Atkinson could be a sell-high trade option given his bounce-back performance this season. However, O’Connor senses the Flyers could prefer retaining him. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim could also be cost-cutting options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk has one year left on his contract. So does the 26-year-old Sanheim at $4.675 million. Konecny, 25, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.5 million while the 25-year-old Provorov carries a $6.75 million AAV for three more seasons.
As O’Connor observed, those younger players would have more trade value than van Riemsdyk. Depending on this summer’s trade market, those guys probably won’t have to be packaged with someone else or have salary retained to move them.
That’s not to suggest van Riemsdyk can’t be moved this summer. He lacks no-trade protection and will carry an actual salary of $4 million next season after the Flyers pay his $1 million signing bonus. A club seeking to reach the cap floor next season could have an interest in him, provided the Flyers include a draft pick or a prospect in the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Predators will revisit their interest in Kessel this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? The 34-year-old winger should prove to be an affordable signing at this stage in his career.
Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres would like to bring back 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson for 2022-23. The club is willing to wait on his timetable and see how he feels after this season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Colorado Avalanche are interested in Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, “but there’s a preference for the Panthers, although it doesn’t look like anything is close”. The Flyers haven’t been impressed with offers thus far but it’s expected the real negotiations start following Giroux’s 1,000th game tonight. The 34-year-old forward controls this process.
Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure if Friedman is referring to the Panthers as Giroux’s or the Flyers’ preference. Regardless, I’m not surprised that he hasn’t been moved yet. He and the Flyers wanted to have him reach his 1,000th game as a Flyer. He could be moved over the weekend.
Friedman also addressed rumors suggesting the Flyers might shop Travis Sanheim after re-signing defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen last week. He noted the two played together so it would make sense to keep them. He also wondered what the Flyers will do with talented rearguard Ivan Provorov given his struggles this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d be more shocked if the Flyers move Provorov than I would if they move Sanheim. While general manager Chuck Fletcher will consider his options, I think he’ll keep those two defensemen.
TVA SPORTS: As Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak returns from injury, Renaud Lavoie believes the club’s goal is to trade him. He considers the 26-year-old Dvorak more of a Western Conference player. Lavoie said several teams were interested in Dvorak, including the Minnesota Wild, but it remains to be seen if they’re willing to compromise to get him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman said he’d heard the Wild had a prior interest in Dvorak but they can’t fit him into their lineup now. The Wild will be facing a salary-cap crunch after this season. Dvorak’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.
UPDATE ON THE LEAFS AND BLUE JACKETS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t want to part with any of his top prospects or his first-round pick for a rental player. Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm is their top target but they’ve also looked at the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, the Flyers’ Justin Braun, the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg, and the San Jose Shark’s Jacob Middleton.
If the Leafs decide to pursue Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury it’ll come down to whether Fleury believes he can win in Toronto. Friedman also dismissed the possibility of the Leafs acquiring John Gibson from the Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Leafs a top prospect and/or a first-round pick as part of the return for Lindholm, Giordano and Klingberg, though the latter isn’t going anywhere with teammate Miro Heiskanen sidelined by mononucleosis. Those guys are all slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. I also don’t see Chara agreeing to a trade to the Leafs.
Fleury’s situation is so muddied we don’t know if he’s staying or going. At this point, I’ll be surprised if there’s a deal that will work well enough for the Blackhawks to approach him about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs end up sticking with the goalies they already have and hope for the best.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are the Stars willing to move him? They’re not believed to be in sell mode as they jockey for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Radulov also might not be the best fit for the Rangers. The 35-year-old winger has been hampered by injuries in recent years and his production is down this season with just 18 points in 52 games.
Two sources expressed doubt to Friedman that New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov will be going anywhere by the trade deadline. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck’s name has come up in the rumor mill quite a bit of late.
Keep an eye on the St. Louis Blues. Friedman expects they’ll be busy in the trade market. They were interested Ben Chiarot before he was traded to the Panthers and are linked to the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are pressed for cap space so it might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move, or a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around if they intend to add a notable defenseman.
The Capitals continue to monitor the goalie market.
Flyers avoid arbitration with Travis Sanheim plus the latest on Juuse Saros, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Svechnikov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers avoided salary arbitration with Travis Sanheim by signing the 25-year-old defenseman to a two-year, $9.35 million contract.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was another quiet offseason for arbitrators. All of the 19 players scheduled for hearings wound up settling with their respective clubs.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have just over $281K in remaining cap space. They could shed some salary to create some additional wiggle room for the coming season.
THE TENNESSEAN: With a new contract signed, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros is training in Helsinki with several other Finnish NHL players in preparation for the 2021-22 season. Saros inked a four-year, $20 million deal earlier this month.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Chicago Blackhawks created a minor buzz on Twitter with a photo of the jerseys of their offseason acquisition with Marc-Andre Fleury’s last name misspelled. The tweet was later removed and replaced with one showing his name spelled correctly. Fleury was acquired by the Blackhawks last month from the Vegas Golden Knights.
MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov signed a one-year AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose. He’ll attend the Winnipeg Jets training camp on a professional tryout offer in hope of securing a one-year, two-way deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round pick (19th overall, 2015), Svechnikov struggled to crack the rebuilding Red Wings’ roster. The Wings decided not to qualify his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Seattle Kraken prospect Matty Beniers is returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. Beniers was the second-overall pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Owen Power (first overall, Buffalo Sabres) and Kent Johnson (fifth overall, Columbus Blue Jackets) are also returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. The trio is keen to win the national championship before moving on to their NHL careers.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Former Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj has returned to the franchise as a development goalie coach.
Kevin Fiala and Travis Sanheim headed to club-selected arbitration, an update on Igor Shesterkin’s contract talks, the Avalanche sign Ryan Murray, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim are being taken to salary arbitration by their respective teams. Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between August 11-26.
Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As when a player files for arbitration, the players and teams in these cases can continue to work toward new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings. In most instances, the arbitration date is used as a deadline to working out a new deal, avoiding negotiations dragging on for weeks.
NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Igor Shesterkin’s decision not to file for salary arbitration suggests he and the New York Rangers are making progress toward a new contract. The 25-year-old goaltender is two years away from qualifying for unrestricted free agent status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker indicated Rangers general manager Chris Drury could attempt to sign Shesterkin to a cost-effective four-to-six year deal. Shesterkin is projected to cost between $5 million and $6 million annually. She speculates a new deal for the netminder could come in closer to $5.75 million.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $2 million contract.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL and the International Olympic Committee failed to secure an expanded media rights agreement for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, the league still intends to send players to those Games. Talks are reportedly ongoing between the league, IOC, NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The NHL apparently lost leverage for a bigger media rights deal when it left NBC, which hosts the Winter Olympics, to sign new broadcasting agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports.
THE MERCURY NEWS: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s probe into gambling allegations leveled at Evander Kane will be done before the start of training camp next month. Kane’s estranged wife took to social media accusing the 30-year-old San Jose Sharks winger of betting on NHL games, including throwing games to win money.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to publicly release the findings of its investigation into sexual assault allegations against the team’s former video coach. The investigation has been ongoing since June.
Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest injury and COVID-19 updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Scott Laughton tallied his first career NHL hat trick while a returning Sean Couturier scored twice and added an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 7-4. Joel Farabee collected three assists for the Flyers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others while Tom Wilson had a four-point game.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton (NHL Images).
Before the game, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in rapid testing of both clubs. Once those tests returned negative the game was allowed to proceed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly looking into implementing more rapid testing league-wide in hope of flattening the rising COVID-19 curve among the teams. The Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils are currently sidelined because a number of their players are on the COVID protocol list.
A third-period goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Stephenson scored twice while teammate Zach Whitecloud tallied his first NHL regulation goal. Kings’ rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan netted his first career NHL goal. The Kings played without forward Martin Frk as he was unavailable due to a lower-body injury.
Alex DeBrincat scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Patrick Kane had two assists and Malcolm Subban kicked out 31 shots for the win.
The Detroit Red Wings upset the Florida Panthers 4-1, handing the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Wings forward Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad following Smith’s hit to the head of Panthers’ blueliner MacKenzie Weegar. No word if Smith will face supplemental discipline. Wings forward Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch from this contest.
A controversial offside call in the second period overshadowed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Officials overruled an offside challenge by the Jackets on a goal by Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck and assessed the Jackets a bench penalty. The officials subsequently decided the play was offside after all and waved off the final 45 seconds of the Hurricanes power-play but still allowed Trocheck’s goal to stand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Usually outspoken Jackets coach John Tortorella declined to offer his opinion following the game. “You know what? I’m gonna let the league explain it,” said Tortorella. Jackets winger Patrick Laine, who scored twice in the game, didn’t shy away from expressing his view. “I think that’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” said Laine.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forwards Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar and Casey Mittelstadt joined teammates Taylor Hall, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder and Jake McCabe on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Brad Hunt joined teammates Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Marcus Johansson, Jared Spurgeon and Nico Sturm on the COVID protocol list.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds could be sidelined up to six weeks after getting hit in the hand with a shot during Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
SPORTSNET: The Leafs signed forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabourin signing is a further indication Simmonds could miss significant time.
SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers activated goaltender Mike Smith off long-term injury reserve.
TSN: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek was fined $5,000.00 for spearing Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.
FOX SPORTS MIDWEST: The St. Louis Blues activated defenseman Robert Bortuzzo off injured reserved, placed winger Robert Thomas (broken thumb) on IR and recalled winger Jacob de la Rose.
NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Ralph Backstrom died Sunday at age 83 following a lengthy illness. Backstrom won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1959 and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. He tallied 278 goals and 639 points in 1, 032 NHL games with the Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, as well as 214 points in 234 games in the WHA.
Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver, scouted for the St. Louis Blues and founded the Colorado Eagles, now the AHL farm club of the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom lived a full, productive life in hockey and the game is better for it. My condolences to his family, friends, teammates and associates.