NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2021

On the eve of the free-agent market, the Avalanche re-sign Gabriel Landeskog, the Lightning trade Tyler Johnson to the Blackhawks and the Canucks ship Nate Schmidt to the Jets. Get the details plus other signings and trades in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed Gabriel Landeskog to an eight-year, $56 million contract. The annual average value is $7 million.

The Colorado Avalanche re-sign captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big name off the market just hours before free agency begins at noon ET today. The cap hit isn’t too bad but the term is lengthy for a forward turning 29 in November. Still, it should be worthwhile during the first half of the deal if Landeskog’s performance doesn’t decline during that period. It could get costly over the latter half of the contract if his skills deteriorate.

Landeskog is the Avs’ captain and their first-line left-winger. They need his skill and leadership to remain a Stanley Cup contender over the next four years. His cap hit, however, leaves the Avs with $12.3 million in cap space for 2021-22. That could make it difficult to re-sign goaltender Philipp Grubauer and to fill out the remaining roster spots.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Tampa Bay Lightning trade winger Tyler Johnson to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Brent Seabrook’s contract and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning were expected to trade Johnson this summer to free up salary-cap space. By taking on the permanently sidelined Seabrook’s contract, they’ll free up around $5 million in cap space by placing him on long-term injury reserve. That contract is worth an annual average value of $6.875 million through 2023-24.

Johnson’s contract also expires in ’23-’24 and he carries a $5 million annual cap hit. The Blackhawks now have around $2.5 million in cap room, though they can get $3.9 million more if necessary by placing permanently sidelined forward Andrew Shaw on LTIR.

THE PROVINCE/WINNIPEG SUN: The Vancouver Canucks trade defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A salary dump by the Canucks, shedding $5.95 million through 2024-25 from their books. With over $26 million in cap space, they have sufficient room to re-sign young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. It should also allow them to fend off any offer sheet attempts for Pettersson.

The Jets, meanwhile, add their second defenseman in as many days after acquiring Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals. A lack of depth among their top-four blueliners was an area of concern last season. Schmidt and Dillon should help them address that issue.

THE ATHLETIC: The Seattle Kraken are expected to sign winger Jaden Schwartz when the free-agent market opens at noon ET today.

SPORTSNET: Patrik Laine is accepting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ $7.5 million qualifying offer for 2021-22.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new contract for center David Krejci.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins have re-signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a three-year deal worth $3 million per season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Joel Armia to a four-year, $13.6 million contract. The annual average value is $3.4 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are reportedly re-signing defenseman Brandon Montour to a three-year deal worth $3.5 million per season.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers are expected to sign defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year, $900K contract. Yandle was bought out of his former contract by the Florida Panthers.

NEW YORK POST: The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to sign former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

WGR550.COM: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Drake Caggiula to a one-year, $750K contract.

TSN: The Winnipeg Jets re-signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a one-year, $750K deal.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks bought out the final season of goaltender Braden Holtby’s contract.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks bought out the remaining three years of goaltender Martin Jones’ contract.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers bought out the remaining two years of winger James Neal’s contract. They’re also believed to be working on a four-year contract extension for defenseman Darnell Nurse.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche acquired defenseman Kurtis MacDermid from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a 2023 fourth-rounder.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 pm ET. Check out all the latest speculation leading up to the start of round one in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks are taking another run at acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets without parting with Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in return. It’s believed the Blackhawks are one of the teams that could secure a long-term contract extension from Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the New York Rangers are trying to put together an offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. They’ve been calling teams that hold a pick in the top-10 in this year’s draft.

In other Rangers speculation, they’ve been trying to move Pavel Buchnevich for some time. Ryan Strome has been linked to the Seattle Kraken. Seravalli wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might be interested given their need for centers.

The Rangers have sought suitors for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a first-round pick as the asking price. He pondered the possibility of the Rangers attempting to acquire Jonathan Marchessault or Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also reported the Rangers are shopping Buchnevich, in part to ensure sufficient long-term cap space. He believes they must find suitable linemates for third-line forward Barclay Goodrow after signing him yesterday to a six-year contract.


STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he can envision a scenario whereby Vladimir Tarasenko returns with the club next season. Armstrong is attempting to fulfill Tarasenko’s trade request but this could be his way of signaling to the Tarasenko camp and the rest of the league that he’s not giving the winger away.


WGR 550: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are receiving plenty of interest in center Sam Reinhart. Their asking price is said to be a first-round pick and a prospect. Reinhart, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and winger Zach Hyman but some believe the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t out of it yet. If the Oilers want that eighth year in Hyman’s contract it will have to be a sign-and-trade with the Leafs.

Dreger also reports they’re continuing to discuss a possible re-signing with defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all have interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the Oilers could be a dark horse candidate for Carolina Hurricanes free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They’re expected to clear cap space by buying out James Neal and there’s talk of moving winger Zack Kassian. He’s also not sold on Ethan Bear being in Edmonton for the long haul.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are once again trying to trade winger Tyler Johnson. He has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million and 22 teams on his partial no-trade list.

The Montreal Canadiens have spoken to the Sabres about Rasmus Ristolainen. They could also have some interest in the Lightning’s pending UFA defenseman David Savard if his asking price isn’t too costly. The Habs are looking to plug a hole in their blueline with Shea Weber expected to be sidelined for all of next season and possibly longer.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez is mulling a contract offer from the club. He’s slated to become a UFA on July 28.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports free agent Ryan Suter could decide as early as Monday over which team he’ll sign with. The former Minnesota Wild defenseman has drawn interest from the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

It’s believed the Vancouver Canucks have given Braden Holtby’s representatives permission to speak with other teams about a possible trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports hearing San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier could be in play. He wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested in uniting Meier with countryman Nico Hischier.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he’s had teams calling to inquire about defenseman Nate Schmidt. He said he didn’t put Schmidt out there in the trade market nor has the blueliner requested to be dealt.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes are working to find a new home for defenseman Jake Bean. There’s also interest in Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick and dirty rumor list today as I prepare for the opening round of the draft this evening. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s speculation.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2021

An update on Seth Jones, the latest on the Canadiens, possible destinations for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and recent Canucks speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

NOTE: A freeze on trades, waivers and contract signings goes into effect at 3 pm ET today and runs through 1 pm ET on Thursday, July 22. Teams are required to submit their expansion draft protections lists by 5 pm ET today.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are letting it be known they don’t have to trade Seth Jones this summer. They’ve set a high asking price, seeking a combination of young NHL players, prospects and draft picks. However, it doesn’t appear they’re getting any offers to their liking for the 26-year-old defenseman.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Portzline, however, still believes Jones will be moved this summer, in part to avoid the risk of a season-ending injury before next season’s trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are said to be interested in the blueliner, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Jackets have not yet granted any team permission to speak with Jones about a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring something significant today, the earliest Jones could get traded is heading into next weekend’s NHL draft following the expansion draft on Wednesday.


TVA SPORTS: listed six candidates for the Montreal Canadiens to pursue as a potential replacement for Shea Weber. The 35-year-old defenseman could miss all of next season recovering from various injuries.

Seth Jones topped the list, following by Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie and Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton. Edmonton’s Adam Larsson, Calgary’s Mark Giordano and Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen rounded out the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones, Giordano and Ristolainen would be available in the trade market. Barrie, Hamilton and Larsson are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

Jones would be the best option but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could balk at their asking price. Jones’ apparent unwillingness to ink a contract extension takes him out of the equation.

Giordano would be a worthwhile short-term addition but his status remains uncertain. The Flames could leave him exposed in the expansion draft, where the Seattle Kraken could claim him. That’s assuming he isn’t moved before today’s trade freeze.

Barrie and Hamilton would provide plenty of offense from the blueline but their respective defensive games are average at best. Each will cost a lot to sign. Larsson would be a good fit defensively but the Oilers are said to be working on a new contract for him. Ristolainen could be available but it’s uncertain if he could handle the pressure of playing in Montreal. Like Jones, he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.

TSN 690 reported it could prove expensive for the Canadiens to swing a side deal to ensure the Seattle Kraken don’t select Jake Allen. The asking price is said to be a quality prospect and a second or a third-round pick. The Kraken would also accept a first-round pick and a selection later in the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Bergevin paid either price to keep Allen in the fold. He could also attempt to trade the backup to another club before today’s trade freeze if he’s that concerned about losing him to the Kraken.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday he thinks the Canadiens will let Phillip Danault test the free-agent market. They’re willing to keep the door open to him to come back after he’s heard from other clubs. They made an offer last offseason but it was rejected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That offer was reportedly a six-year, $30 million contract extension. He might get more than that on the open market after his strong defensive play in the postseason.


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo suggested the New York Islanders could be a destination for former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise. He has a soft spot for the Islanders as his late father, J.P. Parise, played for them in the 1970s. The Vegas Golden Knights may have also reached out to him.

Russo believes former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will have more options via free agency than Parise. He’s still a capable top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Suter’s a proud American so it would be surprising if he signed with a Canadian team.

Possible destinations could include the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche. Others could include the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

Arthur Staple thinks Suter would be a good fit with the Islanders following their Friday trade of Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings. He played for Isles coach Barry Trotz during their days with the Nashville Predators. However, he could prove more expensive to sign him compared to Parise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also speculated over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins reuniting Parise and Suter with Brian Burke in their front office. However, I don’t think that’s something GM Ron Hextall will pursue.

The Islanders attempted to acquire Parise at the 2020 trade deadline but the deal fell through because they couldn’t get the dollars to work with the Wild. I can see him inking an affordable one-year deal with the Isles provided there’s enough cap space after re-signing Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, Ilya Sorokin and perhaps Casey Cizikas.

Suter won’t lack suitors. He’ll want to sign with a Stanley Cup contender and could be a fit for those with limited cap space. I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t signed with someone by the end of the opening day of free agency on July 28.


THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby is drawing interest from the Seattle Kraken and other teams around the league. At least one team from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference are believed among the suitors.

Holtby’s salary for next season could be a stumbling block. He carries an annual average value of $4.3 million but he’ll earn $5.7 million in actual salary in 2021-22. The Kraken are said to have inquired if the Canucks will retain some salary in a side deal.

The Canucks are said to have a real interest in Zach Hyman. The Toronto Maple Leafs left winger is slated to become a UFA on July 28 and has been granted permission to speak with other clubs. Contract term, however, is said to be an issue.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s looking to make a trade to “move some money.” It’s understood the Canucks are trying to find a new home for defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was acquired last fall from the Vegas Golden Knights. Holtby and perhaps Loui Eriksson could be trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s performance has declined in recent years but some clubs could see him as an experienced backup option. The Canucks might have to absorb some salary or take back a bad contract to move him. Maybe they can swing a three-team deal where they bundle a draft pick with Holtby to another team to pick up part of his cap hit.

Hyman, 29, could seek a maximum seven-year contract. That’s a risky signing for any team given his age. Schmidt should have some value among clubs seeking blueline depth but his contract ($5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and 10-team no-trade list) could be a tough sell.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Matthew Tkachuk, Pavel Buchnevich, Reilly Smith and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added some new names to his NHL summer trade targets list.

Debuting at No. 3 is Vladimir Tarasenko. Seravalli reported last month the 29-year-old St. Louis Blues winger provided the club with a list of preferred trade destinations. It’s a mutual parting of the ways. After two botched shoulder surgeries, Tarasenko is now fully healthy after a third surgery conducted by doctors outside the Blues’ organization.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas wondered if the Blues might package their 2021 first-round pick (16th overall) with Tarasenko. He believes the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and possibly the New York Islanders might have an interest in the former 30-goal scorer. He also pondered the possibility of the Blues bundling that first-round with defenseman Vince Dunn and another sweetener to the Calgary Flames for winger (and St. Louis native) Matthew Tkachuk.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple cites two sources claiming Tarasenko would be open to a trade to the Islanders. He also said the winger’s list of teams he’s willing to be traded to is “double digits.” Find room to absorb Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value won’t be easy for the cap-strapped Islanders.

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

It won’t be as easy as trading winger Jordan Eberle and another player, as Eberle has three more years left on his contract. Acquiring Tarasenko post-expansion if Nick Leddy is traded or selected by the Seattle Kraken would make more sense. A package of Tarasenko and Vince Dunn to the Islanders would also be difficult as there would be a lot of moving parts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko will draw interest in the trade market. However, a limited number of clubs can comfortably afford his cap hit and have sufficient assets to interest the Blues. I’m not suggesting it won’t take place but finding the right fit could take time.

As for the Blues acquiring Tkachuk, reports out of Calgary denied rumors he wanted a trade to St. Louis. It could take more than Dunn, a first and another sweetener to pry him away from the Flames.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith checks in at No. 6. Seravalli believes the 30-year-old winger could be shopped to improve the Golden Knights’ depth at center. He has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas will be seeking someone to center one of their top-two lines and improve their power play. Finding such a forward won’t be easy. Those willing to part with one could prefer Alex Tuch rather than Smith in return.

New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich is No. 8. Sources claim Blueshirts GM Chris Drury is talking about the possibility of moving the 26-year-old winger. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a career-best 20-goal, 48-point performance in 54 games. Seravalli anticipates he’d get more than $4.54 million via arbitration, which would also take him up to UFA status next summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports it’s uncertain if Drury is shopping Buchnevich or if teams are making inquiries. The Rangers have over $22 million in projected cap space and will get more when they buy out Tony DeAngelo.

However, Drury must spend that cap room wisely because he must ensure he has sufficient space over the next couple of years to re-sign Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko and Igor Shesterkin. Carpiniello also suggested the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres but dismissed the notion of swapping Buchnevich for Vladimir Tarasenko. They also have two promising wingers in Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drury is willing to examine all his options with Buchnevich. Moving him now while his value is high could fetch a solid return for the Rangers. The deal would also make room for Kakko and Kravtsov to move up on right wing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nate Schmidt comes in at No. 12. The Canucks denied a report claiming the 29-year-old blueliner wanted out of Vancouver, but Seravalli notes his first season with the Canucks didn’t go well.

Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is No. 15. If not for a season-ending back injury, Seravalli believes there would’ve been plenty of suitors for the 26-year-old. His back surgery in April and his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could scare off possible suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently said the Leafs had an interest in Bertuzzi before his back injury. Perhaps they’ll revisit that option if they lose Zach Hyman to free agency.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot is No. 20. It’s believed the Seattle Kraken could select Kerfoot if he’s left exposed in the expansion draft. Seravalli wonders if the Leafs will try to trade him elsewhere before the expansion draft.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2021

The latest Vladimir Tarasenko speculation plus rumbling the Canucks could shop Nate Schmidt in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Jeff Gordon believes Blues general manager Doug Armstrong can’t waste time trading Vladimir Tarasenko. They don’t want the unhappy winger’s situation becoming an unnecessary distraction heading into next season.

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

Armstrong faces an uphill battle. He’s not dealing from a position of strength because rival teams know there’s an urgency to move Tarasenko. The winger will only waive his no-trade clause for certain teams, he’s coming off three shoulder surgeries in two years and carries a $7.5 million annual average value for the next two years, earning $9.5 million in actual salary for 2021-22.

Gordon wonders if Armstrong will have to absorb part of Tarasenko’s cap hit or package him with draft picks and prospects to make him more enticing to other clubs. He can, however, use the freed-up cap space from a Tarasenko trade to re-sign free-agent Jaden Schwartz or Mike Hoffman, though the latter didn’t win over Blues coach Craig Berube this season.

Jim Thomas believes Armstrong will try to move Tarasenko before the July 17 expansion draft trade freeze (July 17-21) so as not to complicate his own protection list. Interested clubs, however, might prefer waiting until after the expansion draft to acquire him.

NEW YORK POST: David Lazar reports the New York Islanders have been mentioned as a potential destination for Tarasenko. However, they have just over $5 million in salary-cap space with several key free agents to re-sign or replace.

The New York Rangers could be another landing spot. Tarasenko is good friends with Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin and the two share the same agent.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty looks at whether acquiring Tarasenko would work for the Bruins. His cap hit and no-trade clause are among the hurdles but the Bruins have $28 million in cap space.

Tarasenko’s injury history and the presence of several other stars (Jack Eichel, Seth Jones, Johnny Gaudreau) in the trade market could make him more affordable. Haggerty wonders if an offer of a first-round pick, Jake DeBrusk and perhaps St. Louis native Trent Frederic would entice the Blues.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber floats the notion of the Capitals swapping Evgeny Kuznetsov for Tarasenko. The club is reportedly tired of Kuznetsov’s off-ice antics and could move the 28-year-old center this summer. They can afford to move him given their depth at center, including the promising Connor McMichael.

The Capitals could benefit from an additional scorer. However, Tarasenko’s age (29), injury history and cap hit could complicate things. Silber feels their focus should be on improving their defense corps. Still, swapping Kuznetsov for Tarasenko wouldn’t be the worst thing they could do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong might have to toss a sweetener or two into the deal to move Tarasenko before the expansion draft. He could have better luck trading him heading into the NHL Draft weekend (July 23-24).

Lou Lamoriello is among the league’s craftiest general managers but I don’t think the Isles GM can pull off acquiring Tarasenko with his limited cap space. His focus will be on re-signing restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Locking up those three will take a big bite out of their cap space, even with putting permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV on long-term injury reserve and having a player selected in the upcoming expansion draft.

The Rangers have plenty of cap space ($23 million) to acquire Tarasenko and still re-sign RFAs Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil. However, they could have their sights set on Jack Eichel, putting them out of the Tarasenko sweepstakes. If they spurn Eichel for Tarasenko they must ensure sufficient long-term cap space to re-sign Mika Zibanejad before his UFA eligibility next summer.

While the Bruins will have lots of cap room with Tuukka Rask and David Krejci coming off their books, both players could return on cheaper short-term deals. Factor in the cost of re-signing defenseman Brandon Carlo and left winger Taylor Hall, and there might not be enough room for Tarasenko. Besides, the Bruins’ focus seems to be on shoring up the left side of their blueline.

Tarasenko for Kuznetsov would be a big-time “hockey trade”. However, I don’t think Kuznetsov would be a fit into the blue-collar, hardworking style favored by Blues coach Craig Berube.


SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the Vancouver Canucks are exploring potential trade partners for Nate Schmidt. They acquired the 29-year-old defenseman last fall from the Vegas Golden Knights but his season in Vancouver proved as disappointing to him as it was for his team. He has four years and $23.8 million remaining on his contract.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston also took note of the recent Schmidt trade talk. While the blueliner hasn’t requested a trade, sources say he’d be amenable to a change of scenery.

There was speculation of swapping Schmidt for Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes could be among the teams Schmidt would agree to be dealt to while the Canucks were linked to Ekman-Larsson last fall.

However, a Canucks source dismissed the idea of a Schmidt-for- OEL deal. The price tag for the Coyotes blueliner and his declining performance make him a poor fit in Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will the Coyotes want Schmidt? GM Bill Armstrong appears to be getting ready to shake things up by shopping some veterans such as Ekman-Larsson and Phil Kessel. Maybe he’d prefer a young defenseman than a soon-to-be 30-year rearguard with four more seasons at $5.95 million annually on his contract.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2021

Will the Blue Jackets trade Seth Jones this summer? Could the Blues leave Vladimir Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft? Will the Canucks consider shopping Nate Schmidt? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports sources said the Columbus Blue Jackets are likely to trade Seth Jones this summer, perhaps by the NHL Draft in late July. The 26-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Jones informed the Jackets he intends to test the market.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Portzline reports John Davidson, the Jackets president of hockey operations, declined to confirm Friedman’s report. However, Davidson indicated the club won’t take the same approach with Jones as they did two years ago with winger Artemi Panarin.

Panarin was due to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 season. The Jackets, however, opted to keep him throughout the season. Davidson said the club felt at that time felt they had a chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup. That’s not the case this time around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jones changes his mind, it’s clear he feels his future isn’t with the Blue Jackets. That leaves them little option but to move him this summer, rather than have his free-agent status hover over the club throughout next season.

Jones will draw plenty of interest in this summer’s trade market. Portzline expects the return will be loaded with draft picks and prospects. Rather than a reload for next season, he feels the Jackets could be heading for a rebuild.

The Jackets have witnessed a steady departure of talent over the past three years. Fairly or not, it’s given the team and the city of Columbus a reputation as a place players want to avoid. It’s up to Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to change that culture.


STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas recently wondered what the St. Louis Blues will do with Vladimir Tarasenko in this summer’s expansion draft. Injuries hampered the 29-year-old winger over the last two seasons, hurting his offensive production. He has two years left on his contract worth an annual average value of $7.5 million.

Tarasenko’s recent injury history and offensive struggles generated speculation outside the organization over whether they’ll expose him in the expansion draft. If the Seattle Kraken claims him, the Blues could use the salary cap savings on re-signing other key players. However, there’s the risk would regain his high-scoring form in Seattle. If he’s exposed and not claimed, it could create a rift between the winger and Blues management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leaving Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft would be a bold move. According to Thomas, however, GM Doug Armstrong’s comments on the subject suggest he’s not considering that tactic.

The preference is for Tarasenko to rest and prepare for next season. If he’s healthy in 2021-22 he should return to this 30-goal form.

Blues management still believes their championship window remains open. They stand a better chance of winning the Cup with a healthy Tarasenko in the lineup.


THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston suggested Nate Schmidt could become a trade candidate this summer. The 29-year-old defenseman struggled in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks. He noted there’s been trade speculation about Schmidt of late.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmidt’s contract could make him difficult to move this summer. He has four years remaining with an annual cap hit of $5.95 million, plus a 10-team no-trade list.

However, the Golden Knights were able to trade Schmidt to the Canucks last fall in a cost-cutting move. Perhaps another club would be interested in him. While his production was down this season with the Canucks, he had three straight 30-plus point seasons in Vegas.