NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2022

A look at some potential contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KASSIAN, MURRAY TOP DAILY FACEOFF’S BUYOUT CANDIDATES LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian and Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray topped Frank Seravalli’s list of this offseason’s potential contract buyout candidates. The first contract buyout window is from July 1 – 12.

Kassian has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.2 million. Murray also has two seasons remaining with a $6.25 million AAV.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Seravalli that Kassian could be bought out as he could prove difficult to move this summer via trade. The Senators, however, are reportedly willing to carry three goaltenders (including Murray) into next season.

That’s understandable given Murray’s cap hit. While the Sens have the cap space to absorb the two-thirds’ buyout for four seasons, that’s a long time to carry dead cap space, especially the $2.5 million per season over the final two years.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, St. Louis Blues rearguard Marco Scandella and Vancouver Canucks winger Jason Dickinson fill spots three, four and five on Seravalli’s list. Vlasic has four more years at $7 million AAV left on his contract, Scandella has two more seasons at $3.275 million annually, and Dickinson has two more with an AAV of $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vlasic’s buyout will sit on the Sharks’ books for eight years, with years three and four biting deeply into their cap space. Nevertheless, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak said in a recent mailbag segment that he considered a Vlasic buyout more likely than trading a blueliner like Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson. As Seravalli observed, carrying the full $7 million of the fading Vlasic’s contract for four more years would be worse than the buyout cost.

I see Scandella and Dickinson as buyout candidates if their respective teams can’t find anyone to trade their contracts off their hands in the trade market.

Nashville Predators defenseman Philippe Myers, Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker are six, seven and eight respectively on the list. Myers has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $2.55 million. Johnson has two more seasons at $5 million annually remaining while Zucker has a year left at $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers appears a likely buyout candidate. As Seravalli points out, the blueliner is 25 so his buyout is one-third the remaining value instead of two-thirds. Because his contract is also backloaded, the Predators would get a cap credit of over $616K for this season and be charged only $633K the following season. Seravalli suggests that could make Myers’s contract enticing in the trade market for cap-strapped clubs.

I think the rebuilding Blackhawks can afford to carry Johnson’s contract for at least one more season. The Penguins could also ride out the remaining year of Zucker’s deal if they can fit new contracts for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin into their current cap space. They could also retain up to half his cap hit in a trade or attempt to move him for another player with a comparable contract.

New York Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth and Boston Bruins winger Nick Foligno round out the top 10. Nemeth has two more years left with an AAV of $2.5 million while Foligno has one season remaining at $3.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could attempt to trade Nemeth but the way his contract is structured could make a buyout likely. The cap hit is $1 million for each season except for the second year, where they won’t be charged anything. As for Foligno, Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins aren’t leaning that way.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 26, 2021

Does Vladimir Tarasenko still want to be traded? Could the Wild trade Kevin Fiala? What is the latest on Evander Kane? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if Vladimir Tarasenko still wants a trade from the St. Louis Blues. The 29-year-old winger made the request this summer.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Despite rumors suggesting Tarasenko’s had a change of heart, Rutherford cited a source close to the situation saying the winger is standing by his trade request. Regarding Tarasenko’s return to form (16 points in 19 games) improving his trade value, Rutherford said it’s not enough to convince Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to move him before the March trade deadline “or even next summer”.

Rutherford also observed Tarasenko continues to blend well with his teammates. His situation hasn’t become a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that changes if the Blues fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline. For now, there’s little reason for Armstrong to trade him until he gets a worthwhile offer.

Tarasenko’s contract is also a sticking point. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million but earns $9.5 million in actual salary this season and $5.5 million next season. That’s why I think a Tarasenko trade is more likely to take place next summer, as interested clubs would prefer taking on that lesser actual salary.

Rutherford was also asked about what the Blues might do with Marco Scandella. He knows they’re “pretty disappointed” the defenseman hasn’t become the player they thought they were signing. He believes they’ll try to trade Scandella but the remaining two years on his contract ($3.75 million annual cap hit) won’t be easy to move.

EXCERPTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman commented on the latest trade speculation swirling around the Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala. He doesn’t believe GM Bill Guerin will trade the 25-year-old winger just because he’s in a slump. With the Wild on top of the Central Division, Friedman feels Guerin would trade Fiala only for a return that improves his club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala was mentioned as a possible trade chip for the Wild to pry versatile forward J.T. Miller away from the free-falling Vancouver Canucks. Time will tell if anything comes of that. Fiala could get peddled elsewhere or Guerin would remain patient with the winger in the hope he’ll regain his scoring form.

Friedman indicated Evander Kane has been skating in San Jose for the past two weeks. The Sharks are keeping mum on the 30-year-old winger’s status as the end of his 21-game suspension approaches. Friedman theorizes they could send him to the AHL for a few games. He also said the club is willing to retain some of Kane’s salary in a trade but doesn’t see much of a market for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt there’s any market for Kane given his personal baggage and reputation as a dressing room cancer.

Friedman believes the Buffalo Sabres have to be looking for a goaltender with Aaron Dell and Dustin Tokarski struggling and sidelined Craig Anderson’s return date still uncertain. With so many teams still in the playoff picture, he wonders how many of them would make any goalies available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be keeping an eye on the Dallas Stars. They could be forced to shop a goaltender whenever Ben Bishop is finally ready to return to action. That, however, remains up in the air.

With Jake Oettinger playing well, they could also try to move Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby. Khudobin, however, has a four-team no-trade list and the Sabres could be on it. Holtby lacks no-trade protection but he’s also played better than Khudobin.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, Capitals fined as four players violate the league’s COVID-19 rules, plus updates on Mika Zibanejad, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl’s third period snapped a 1-1 tie as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Auston Matthews had tied the game earlier in the period before Draisaitl tallied the winning goal. Leafs center Joe Thornton is expected to miss some time after leaving the game early in the third period with an apparent wrist injury.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was hyped as a showdown between Matthews and Oilers star Connor McDavid but it turned out to be a disappointingly dull contest that failed to live up to its billing. Oilers fans will be happy with the win following back-to-back losses to the Montreal Canadiens. Leafs fans will be unhappy over their club’s disorganized performance.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick wasn’t enough to defeat his former team as they fell 6-5 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two goals and an assist, with Horvat also scoring the winner in the shootout frame. It was a costly win for the Canucks as defenseman Alexander Edler left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The return of J.T. Miller (three assists) to the lineup also played a crucial role in the Canucks’ victory. The Canadiens were their own worst enemies as their undisciplined play resulted in three power-play goals on six attempts for the Canucks. There was no post-game update on Edler’s status.

The Vegas Golden Knights rolled to their fourth straight victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Alex Pietrangelo tallied his first goal with the Golden Knights while teammate Shea Theodore tallied twice and winger Alex Tuch scored and collected two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo has wasted little time adjusting to the Golden Knights after signing with them last October as a free agent. His addition to the lineup is a contributing factor to their strong start to this season.

Tomas Hertl scored the only goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1. The Blues’ Brayden Schenn and the Sharks’ Marcus Sorensen tallied the only goals in regulation. Blues defenseman Marco Scandella missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on a third-period goal by Joel Eriksson Ek. Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves in his first game of the season while Ryan Miller kicked out 29 shots.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL fined the Capitals $100K for a violation of its health and safety protocols by four players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov recently gathered together in one hotel room without wearing proper facial coverings, which is prohibited by the league’s COVID-19 protocols for this season. Players must each have their own rooms on road trips and are not permitted to gather in each other’s rooms.

The four players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 absence list but it doesn’t mean they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. Players can be added to the list as a precaution from possible exposure. It’s unknown if they’ll miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals and Ovechkin released statements acknowledging the incident, with the club expressing disappointment in the players’ actions and Ovechkin saying he regretted what happened and will learn from the incident.

Some observers questioned why the league is cracking down on players gathering in hotel rooms when they’re in close contact in the dressing room and on the ice during practice and games. The difference is the players stand a greater chance of catching COVID-19 away from the arenas, which are under strict health and safety controls to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The NHL is doing everything it can to stage a 56-game schedule in the midst of a pandemic. Its’ COVID-19 protocols follow federal guidelines in Canada and the United States. They don’t want the possibility of repeated protocol violations potentially putting the season at risk if they fail to adequately prevent or minimize community spread.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes’ next two games against the Florida Panthers have been postponed after five of their players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zibanejad left Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils with an undisclosed ailment.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) remains doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (arm) should be ready to play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated in practice with his teammates yesterday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed defenseman Julius Honka on waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2020

Potential revenue streams for playing in empty arenas, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Gretzky, Connor Hellebuyck and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL could make between $400 million and $500 million USD through various media deals and sponsorships if the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs were staged in empty arenas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association are examining every option to safely resume this season during the summer. Last month, the league reportedly informed the PA of potential losses up to $1.1 billion if the entire season was scrapped. If it’s at all possible to cut those losses in half, they’ll look into it.

ESPN.COM: Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said the three Avs players who tested positive for COVID-19 are feeling better. The trio adhered to the guidelines and self-isolated.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (Photo via NHL Images).

SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will face off against Wayne Gretzky in an NHL 20 game broadcast live on the Capitals’ Twitch channel on April 22, with the proceeds going toward COVID-19 relief benefits.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Speaking of virtual hockey, Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is among several NHL players to team up with professional esports gamers to hold a 14-day live streaming virtual hockey marathon called Hockey2Help to benefit the coronavirus relief efforts. Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Columbus’ Zach Werenski and the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad are among the participants.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is considered the front-runner to win the 2020 Vezina Trophy, but he’d rather have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. “It would be a great milestone and it would definitely be one of my goals achieved but at the end of the day, what I truthfully want is the Stanley Cup and a chance to win it,” he said.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed defenseman Marco Scandella to a four-year, $13.1-million contract extension. Scandella, 30, appeared in just 11 games with the Blues after being acquired in February from the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Scandella’s small body of work with the Blues, general manager Doug Armstrong was impressed enough to pay the veteran blueliner $3.275 million annually over the next four seasons. The 30-year-old rearguard took a pay cut from his current $4 million AAV but he obviously felt it was worthwhile sticking with the defending Stanley Cup champion. Given the uncertainty over the effect of the pandemic upon league revenue and this summer’s free-agent market, it was probably a wise decision.

The problem, however, is the Blues now have over $78.5 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21, with captain Alex Pietrangelo slated to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. Either Armstrong intends to let Pietrangelo depart, or he’ll have to make a cost-cutting trade and/or buyout to free up sufficient cap payroll to keep his captain in the fold.

TVA SPORTS: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov has announced his retirement as a professional player. He spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Canadiens, tallying 119 goals and 453 assists for 572 points, as well as 32 points in 89 playoff contests. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL. Markov sits sixth among the Canadiens’ all-time leaders in games played. He’s also tied with Guy Lapointe for second in all-time points among Habs defensemen and sits second among their blueliners in all-time assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Markov in his future endeavors.










Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

The Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft (originally belonging to Colorado) and a conditional third-rounder in 2021. The Sharks retain half of Dillon’s $3.27 million annual average salary. If the Capitals win the 2020 Stanley Cup, the 2021 third-rounder becomes the 2020 third-rounder that originally belonged to Arizona.

The Washington Capitals acquire defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s a big, physical rearguard logging over 19 minutes of ice time per game. He’ll bring some welcome grit to the Capitals’ blueline down the stretch and into the postseason.

The Sharks appear to be getting started on selling off their UFAs to restock their prospect pipeline. With Dillon gone, perhaps forward Melker Karlsson and goaltender Aaron Dell could be next. This move could also stoke speculation over the fates of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets were in the market for some experienced blueline help. DeMelo is a reliable depth rearguard carrying an affordable $900K AAV. He’s also due to become a UFA this summer. TSN’s Darren Dreger speculates Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might not be done adding to his defense corps before deadline day.

DeMelo could be the start of another UFA selloff by the Senators. Expect the conjecture about center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s trade status to ramp up in the coming days.

The St. Louis Blues acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of teams selling off UFAs, this could be just the start for the Canadiens. Ilya Kovalchuk and Nate Thompson could be next out of Montreal before the deadline. This deal means the Habs have three second-rounders and 12 picks overall in this year’s draft.

Scandella appears to be a replacement for Jay Bouwmeester, who’s on long-term injured reserve recovering from a cardiac incident last week.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens, Islanders, Flames, Predators, Penguins, and Avalanche in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE CANADIENS BECOME SELLERS?

SPORTSNET: If the Montreal Canadiens fail to climb back into playoff contention, Elliotte Friedman wonders if general manager Marc Bergevin will move some of his veterans by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Jean-Francois Chaumont examined Bergevin’s options if he goes into sell mode. The expensive contracts of goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber makes them unlikely to be dealt. Weber’s leadership remains invaluable to the Habs.

Could Canadiens forward Max Domi price his way out of Montreal? (Photo via NHL Images)

Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry are playing well and could fetch solid returns, but Petry’s value to the Habs blueline means it’ll take a significant offer to part with him. Chaumont also speculates Bergevin could listen to offers for Max Domi if the pending RFA proves too expensive to re-sign. It would be surprising if the Habs part ways with winger Artturi Lehkonen.

Chaumont suggests depth players such as Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins, and Brett Kulak could be peddled for draft picks. Recent acquisitions Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella could also have some value if they play well for the Habs in the coming weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Barring a miraculous turnaround between now and the trade deadline, they’re not going to reach the playoffs this season.

I don’t see Bergevin getting into a massive sell-off of assets but he could put UFAs like Kovalchuk, Scandella, and Thompson on the trade block. Price, Weber, Domi, and Petry aren’t going anywhere. Tatar has a year left on his contract, but Bergevin could gauge his value in the trade market. He’s not shopping any of his promising youngsters.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports defenseman Adam Pelech’s season-ending Achilles injury is a huge loss for the New York Islanders.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently reported Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was succinct when asked about trade options to replace Pelech. “You don’t replace an Adam Pelech at the trade deadline,” he said.

Nevertheless, Staple speculates Lamoriello may still have to consider adding a veteran blueliner. Options could include San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, New Jersey’s Andy Greene, or Toronto’s Ben Harpur.

Staple also examined how the Islanders could address their scoring drought on the wing. He suggested Ottawa’s Tyler Ennis and Vladislav Namestnikov, Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli, Buffalo’s Conor Sheary, and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello will assess his roster over the next several weeks to determine if a move or two is necessary. For now, they’re using Noah Dobson as a third-pairing defenseman, while coach Barry Trotz continues juggling his forward lines. If there’s no significant improvement, the Isles GM could enter the trade market in February.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has told potential trade partners he prefers players with term on their contract over rentals. If Elias Lindholm stays at center, Treliving will seek a winger. If not, he could go in a different direction.

Friedman also said there’s a sense change is coming to the Flames if they don’t improve. They’re happy with younger players like Rasmus Andersson, Dillon Dube, and Andrew Mangiapane but not as thrilled with some of their top dogs like Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Treliving wants a player with term, perhaps he’ll look at Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once he returns from his recent ankle injury. Friedman recently claimed there’s talk Saad could be available.

If the Flames fail to improve this season, a major change such as moving Gaudreau won’t happen until the offseason. That’s assuming Treliving wants to go that route.

Friedman also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the market for a replacement for sidelined winger Jake Guentzel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And you can read my take here and here.

He also reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile could become a seller at the trade deadline if his club fails to gain ground in the standings. Center Kyle Turris has been shopped. Others could include Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, and perhaps Nick Bonino.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My take on the Predators here.

UPDATE ON THE AVALANCHE