NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

Check out the latest on the Detroit Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings season may be over, but general manager Steve Yzerman faces a busy off-season.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman (Photo via NHL.com).

One of his first decisions will be whether to pick up the option year in head coach Jeff Blashill’s contract or find a new bench boss. Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert (former Yzerman teammates) could be among the candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for guiding the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup in their expansion season. He could become the front-runner if the job becomes available.

In addition to deciding which of his free agents to re-sign, Khan speculates Yzerman could look to this year’s unrestricted free agent market for affordable second- and third-tier talent on short-term deals as stop-gap measures during the roster rebuild. He believes the Wings need a winger with scoring ability, a pair of defensemen, and a backup goaltender.

Khan also anticipates Yzerman will make low-risk value trades similar to his acquisitions of Robby Fabbri and Brendan Perlini.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Fabbri acquisition worked out well, but Perlini struggled throughout this season and probably won’t be back. Nevertheless, Yzerman will likely keep his eye open for once-promising players struggling with other clubs who could benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently posted a three-part series examining potential UFA targets to address the Red Wings’ roster needs.

He doubts Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall or Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will be interested in joining a rebuilding clubs like the Wings. He also expects the St. Louis Blues will re-sign Alex Pietrangelo while Michigan native Torey Krug could be re-signed by the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits suggested Krug might be willing to return home if he can’t sign with the Bruins. While we shouldn’t rule it out, I think he’d prefer playing for a contender.

Kulfan’s list of proposed forward options includes Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, or Erik Haula, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, or the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.

Blueline possibilities could include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, or the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene.

Goaltending targets could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, but the term and price would have to be worked on). Others include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Calgary’s Cam Talbot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. Once Yzerman re-signs key free agents like Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha, he’ll have plenty of cap room to bring in a couple of quality veteran free agents on short-term deals.

With the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million and several clubs looking to pinch pennies, that could work in Yzerman’s favor. If he sticks to affordable short-term options, he’ll have plenty to choose from once the notable names are snapped up.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2020

Check out the recent Canucks, Penguins, and Red Wings’ speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vancouver Canucks need a lot of help on defense. He also pointed out they’re top-heavy on offense. Starting goalie Jacob Markstrom is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, while backup Thatcher Demko is only signed through next season.

O’Brien believes general manager Jim Benning will try to use the draft and the trade market to bolster the supporting cast around Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. He also wondered if they’ll break the bank to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli or sign 30-year-old pending free agent blueliner Chris Tanev to a risky contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance think Tanev, Jordie Benn, and Sven Baertschi are the Canucks most likely to move on. Moving Benn and Baertschi would free up valuable salary-cap space. They also suggest Brandon Sutter could be a realistic ordinary course buyout candidate. Moving veteran winger Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) could be difficult, while it’s uncertain if the Canucks can re-sign Toffoli.

Will the Vancouver Canucks re-sign goaltender Jacob Markstrom? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how the Canucks struggled when Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, re-signing him should be their priority, followed by boosting their blueline corps. With over $63.4 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, they’ll have around $18 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million next season. There’s enough to re-sign Markstrom, but it will cut deeply into their available payroll.

A couple of cost-cutting moves will help, but finding a suitable deal under a flat cap won’t be easy. It’ll certainly make the chances of moving Eriksson more difficult, even with his actual total remaining salary dropping to $5 million after his signing bonus is paid out on July 1. A compliance buyout would help here, but there’s no certainty the league and the NHLPA will implement that measure in the off-season.

PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh recently examined the Pittsburgh Penguins’ free agents. He feels it wouldn’t be unreasonable for RFA goalie Matt Murray to seek a hefty contract extension comparable to Tampa Bay’s Andrej Vasilevskiy ($9.5 million AAV) or Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16 million AAV) because he’s had better postseason success. However, it’s also not unreasonable for the Penguins to consider a more affordable option such as re-signing fellow RFA Tristan Jarry.

Rorabaugh doesn’t expect UFA winger Patrick Marleau to return to the Penguins after this season. Justin Schultz‘s difficult 2019-20 season and the emergence of rookie defenseman John Marino likely signals the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Rorabaugh doesn’t rule out the Pens re-signing Conor Sheary if the price is right.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.2 million tied up in 15 players for next season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Murray and Jarry.

Ideally, GM Jim Rutherford would probably sign both to short-term contracts and take more time to evaluate their performances before settling on which one should be their starter. With both goalies carrying arbitration rights, that might be possible, but all concerned might prefer avoiding that route. If they have to part with one or the other, Casey DeSmith is ready and able to step into the backup position.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports acquiring a new starting goaltender is among the off-season tasks facing Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. The Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby is the best of this summer’s UFA goalies, but St. James believes he’d be reluctant to join a rebuilding club like the Wings.

More realistic options could include the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot, the Boston Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot and Markstrom have more recent starter experience. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are better backup options for clubs with a skilled starter. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap room ($46.2 million committed to 11 players) to make a substantial bid for one of them. Whether they’ll accept it, or if Yzerman intends to go the UFA route to boost his goaltending, remains to be seen.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2020

The NHL schedule remains paused but the off-season trade and free-agent speculation keep churning. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS LIMITED CAP SPACE COULD HAMPER EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE BLUELINE

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the biggest off-season questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Improving the blueline remains a pressing need, especially on the right side. Landing a dependable right-shot blueliner via free agency, like Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Tanev, Travis Hamonic, Justin Schultz, or Radkos Gudas, is a long shot. General manager Kyle Dubas could be forced into the trade market for someone like Matt Dumba, Rasmus Ristolainen, Colin Miller and Josh Manson.

Could Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen become an off-season trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Leafs penalty kill also needs help. Fox believes that rings back to their need for more experienced stay-at-home defenders and a reliable face-off man. Their limited salary-cap space means Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson and/or Alexander Kerfoot could become trade candidates. The trio lack no-trade protection in their respective contracts.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the possibility of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season spells big trouble for the Leafs. They have around $77 million invested in 17 players, with restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, Frederik Gauthier and Denis Malgin to re-sign. Veteran forwards Jason Spezza and recently-acquired Kyle Clifford are unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas surprised many observers last summer (including me) with his ability to juggle his limited cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner to a lucrative long-term contract. He was able to do that in part because he could place permanently sidelined forwards Nathan Horton and David Clarkson on long-term injury reserve.

As Fox observed, Dubas won’t have that option this summer. He could gain some flexibility by acquiring another club’s permanent LTIR player. That’s what he did last summer by reacquiring Clarkson’s rights, but there’s no certainty he can pull off a similar deal again.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot often surfaced in this season’s rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. Dubas resisted moving either guy, but he could end up peddling one of them this off-season for a right-side defenseman. I don’t see either of those guys being sufficient to land Dumba or Manson, and the Sabres could be reluctant to send Ristolainen or Miller to a division rival.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined the long-term outlook for the Boston Bruins. Their biggest challenges this off-season are re-signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug and restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk. Gretz feels there’s enough salary-cap space to re-sign both, though there could be some pressure to keep Krug around the $6.5 million mark that the other core players receive.

Starting goalie Tuukka Rask recently hinting at retiring next year at the end of his current contract could be worth keeping an eye on. Backup Jaroslav Halak is a UFA this summer and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug suggested last fall he’d be willing to consider a hometown discount, but we haven’t heard anything further about that possibility. Perhaps a front-loaded deal in which Krug earns $7.5 million in actual salary at the start of a seven-year deal that gradually declines to $5 million by the final year would be acceptable to him. It would keep his cap hit around that $6.5-million range.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2020

Check out the recent speculation about Jacob Markstrom and Justin Schultz, plus a look at what the Coyotes must address in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CAN THE CANUCKS AFFORD TO RE-SIGN MARKSTROM?

VANCOUVER SUN: Ed Willes recently reported on how Jacob Markstrom‘s absence from the Canucks’ crease exposed the club’s porous defense. The Canucks struggled after Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, threatening their playoff hopes. Backup Thatcher Demko was decent, but his play wasn’t at Markstrom’s level.

Can the Vancouver Canucks afford to re-sign Jacob Markstrom? (Photo via NHL Images)

The 30-year-old starter is an unrestricted free agent. Willes reports of “a discrepancy in the goalie’s perceived value” in contract talks with management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $63 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21. Chris Tanev is their other noteworthy UFA, while Jake Virtanen, Troy Stecher, Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette, and Zack McEwen are restricted free agents.

Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million for next season, it won’t leave much room to re-sign everyone, especially since Markstrom could seek something around $7 million annually. They could attempt to shed salary by trying to move Loui Eriksson and his $6 million AAV, but that could prove easier said than done, especially if the salary cap doesn’t reach the projected $84 million to $88 million.

The Canucks could tap into this summer’s UFA market for a replacement. Washington’s Braden Holtby and Vegas’ Robin Lehner are the notable starters, but both could prove more expensive to sign than Markstrom.

SCHULTZ DONE IN PITTSBURGH?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel recently reported the decline in Justin Schultz‘s performance this season could leave him facing an uncertain future in Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old defenseman is a UFA this summer, but the Penguins have limited salary-cap space to keep him. Given the drop in his play and the emergence of rookie rearguard John Marino, they might not want to re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schultz resurrected his career with the Penguins and was among their top-four defensemen until suffering a serious ankle injury last season. He could still be feeling the effects of that injury as he tries to regain his form. Schultz’s all-around blueline skills should make him a valuable free-agent commodity, but he’ll likely have to settle for less money on a short-term contract. 

COYOTES COULD HAVE A BUSY OFF-SEASON

THE ATHLETIC: Citing the Arizona Coyotes offensive struggles, Craig Morgan recently speculated they could face a busy off-season to address that issue. He feels they need a first-line center unless they want to wait for promising Barrett Hayden to develop. They still need a legitimate goal scorer and more production from their blueline. Their defense corps also lacks a physical presence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their limited salary-cap space will hamper their efforts. They’ve got over $79.9 million tied up in 16 players. They can get cap relief if necessary by placing permanently sidelined winger Marian Hossa ($5.275 million) on long-term injury reserve. Their UFAs include Taylor Hall and Carl Soderberg. If the cap remains at $81.5 million, they’ll have to shed salary to re-sign or replace those two, but it won’t leave enough to bring in outside help.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2020

PHWA midseason award winners, All-Star Game skills competition participants announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the midseason favorite for the Hart Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

The Professional Hockey Writers Association announced their 2019-20 Midseason NHL Award winners. Among them are  Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (Calder Trophy). The PWHA also named Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander as their comeback player of the year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring serious injury or a significant decline in performance, McDavid is a lock for the Hart, Carlson for the Norris, and Makar for the Calder. Hellebuyck’s had an outstanding first half, but he’s struggled of late, which could affect his Vezina chances over the remainder of the season.

Participants for the skills competition for the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis were announced yesterday.

CALGARY SUN: The upcoming All-Star game is a family affair for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. The brothers grew up watching their father Keith play for the St. Louis Blues in the early 2000s until his retirement in 2010.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The effects of Kendall Coyne Schofield’s participation in the skills competition at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game are examined in a new documentary.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner voiced his support of general manager Doug Wilson despite the club’s disappointing season. “While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success,” said Plattner. He pointed to the club’s quick turnaround under Wilson after missing the playoffs in 2015.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Plattner’s confidence of Wilson, but I think the Sharks GM is facing the biggest challenge of his management career. He’s saddled himself with expensive veterans and doesn’t have much to draw upon in the prospect pipeline for trade bait.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs assigned defenseman Jake Muzzin to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin’s imminent return is good news for a Leafs blueline that’s struggled in his absence.

CBS SPORTS: The Pittsburgh Penguins activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve.

TSN: Marc Methot believes his playing career has come to an end. He underwent knee surgery a year ago while with the Dallas Stars, but the knee continues giving him pain. The 13-year NHL veteran spent five seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Methot said he hasn’t made an official decision yet on his future.