Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 10, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 10, 2023

Questions about the futures of the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras and the Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine, trade speculation regarding several Flyers defensemen and the Canucks’ Andrei Kuzmenko and growing interest in free-agent blueliner Ethan Bear. Details and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek took note of the Anaheim Ducks’ collapse in the standings following their strong start to the season. Among the few bright spots is the solid performance of rookie center Leo Carlsson in limited action.

Should the Ducks end up winning the 2024 NHL Draft Lottery and select prospect center Macklin Celebrini, Duhatschek wondered if they would consider moving Trevor Zegras. The 22-year-old center has been on injured reserve since Nov. 10 with a lower-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

The Ducks already have Carlsson and Mason McTavish who are projected to become first-line centers. If they land Celebrini, where would that leave Zegras?

Turning to the floundering Columbus Blue Jackets, Duhatschek singled out Patrik Laine’s sometimes disinterested play this season. He acknowledged the 25-year-old forward was sidelined for several games by a concussion earlier in this campaign but noted he wasn’t playing well before he got hurt.

Laine appears to be lacking confidence in his game. Duhatschek wondered if landing in Washington as the potential successor to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin might be the change of venue he needs to regain his scoring touch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek isn’t saying that Zegras or Laine will be traded but he does raise interesting questions about the two forwards.

Zegras was considered the Ducks’ Golden Boy, a highly-skilled scorer whose dazzling feats made him a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2021-22 while earning him a trip to that season’s All-Star Game. He has two straight 60-plus point seasons under his belt before 2023-24 but his sophomore campaign was still considered a disappointment.

His contract negotiations dragged on through training camp and preseason before reaching an agreement on a three-year bridge deal on Oct. 2. That cost him valuable prep time for this season and likely contributed to his current injury.

If the Ducks land Celebrini in next year’s draft perhaps they would consider moving Zegras but they could simply shift him to the wing or do the same with McTavish or Carlsson. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t listen to offers for Zegras, especially with the salary cap projected to jump by $4.2 million next season, making his $5.75 million cap hit through 2025-26 easier to move. Still, I think they’ll stay patient and see how things turn out regardless of what might happen in next year’s draft lottery.

Laine, meanwhile, was expected to provide the Blue Jackets with badly-needed scoring punch following his acquisition from the Winnipeg Jets in 2021. Despite injuries, he had 56 points in as many games in 2021-22 and 52 points last season in 55 contests. This season, however, Laine seems to have lost his competitive fire.

With an average annual value of $8.7 million through 2025-26 and a 10-team no-trade clause, Laine won’t be easy to move during this season. Given the anticipated increase in the cap for next season, that could be a move to consider for next summer when teams will have more cap space to work with and perhaps a willingness to take a chance on Laine.


SPORTSNET: During Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman expressed his belief that at least one team contacted the Philadelphia Flyers asking about the defense pair of Sean Walker and Nick Seeler to see if they’d be interested in dealing them together when the time comes. He indicated the Flyers are playing well right now and aren’t in any rush to make moves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Maple Leafs recently looked into acquiring Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames but that fell apart over how much of their salaries the Flames were willing to retain Zadorov was subsequently traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps Leafs general manager Brad Treliving has shifted his focus toward the City of Brotherly Love.

Walker and Seeler have surfaced in the rumor mill in recent weeks. They’re not the only Flyers defensemen to be mentioned as trade candidates. Philly Hockey Now’s Jonathan Bailey pointed out that TSN had Walker and Seeler at Nos. 6 and 7 on their latest Top-20 Trade Bait list along with Rasmus Ristolainen at No. 15.

Bailey pointed out that Ristolainen is the only one on TSN’s list with three or more years remaining on his contract beyond this season. I don’t doubt that the Flyers would like to move his contract but that could be a deal made in the offseason depending on his performance this season. Walker and Seeler, on the other hand, will be much easier to move before the March 8 trade deadline given their affordable salaries and free-agent status next July.

Friedman also reported there’s an “emerging situation” with Vancouver Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko. He’s been playing under 15 minutes per game in five of his last six games and has been sat twice. Other teams have called the Canucks to inquire about the 27-year-old’s status.

The Canucks are always looking to clear salary-cap room. Kuzmenko carries a $5.5 million average annual value through 2024-25 with a 12-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzmenko was a big hit with the Canucks in his first NHL season, scoring 39 goals and 74 points in 2022-23. He currently has just four goals and 15 points in 25 games as he seems to be in head coach Rick Tocchet’s doghouse.

There was talk of the Canucks peddling Brock Boeser or Conor Garland in cost-cutting deals going back to 2022-23 but those rumors have died away this season. Perhaps they’d consider moving Kuzmenko for a more affordable forward or defenseman who would be a better fit within Tocchet’s system.

Friedman reported Ethan Bear could be getting close to picking a team to play for this season. It’s believed the Washington Capitals have made a strong bid for the 25-year-old free-agent defenseman’s services. Friedman had felt the Vancouver Canucks might bring him back but other clubs have a salary cap advantage over them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A couple of days ago, The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Bear’s agent claimed at least four clubs were interested in his client. The Canucks were among them but Johnston also noted their salary-cap constraints.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2023

The latest Oilers’ speculation, the Flyers are willing to wheel and deal, an update on Patrick Kane and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston said the Edmonton Oilers are exploring their options to save their season. That includes external discussions with other clubs but it will be difficult to find a club as desperate as they are or to avoid a bad trade by overpaying for help.

Johnston believes the Oilers are looking internally as well and that could include bringing back Jack Campbell from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. He had a shutout earlier this week.

Johnston’s colleague Ryan Rishaug expressed his belief that all assets other than Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and their 2024 first-round pick are in play as the Oilers try to find a fix for their problems.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Rishaug acknowledged finding a true goalie fix or a major upgrade on defense is tough to achieve right now. He instead suggested adding a player like the Minnesota Wild’s Pat Maroon as he would bring championship experience, positive energy and physicality to the lineup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also noted the Oilers’ concern about making a bad trade as well as the possibility of recalling Campbell if he’s rediscovered his game. He also cited an NHL general manager saying if the Oilers want to include their first-round pick in a trade they had better put top-of-the-draft protection on it.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Caleb Kerney noted there was some speculation linking the Oilers to Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek. It was based on Mrazek having played for Oilers general manager Ken Holland when they were with the Detroit Red Wings.

Kerney doesn’t think Mrazek would be a fit for the Oilers. He pointed out that the 31-year-old goaltender’s best years are behind him plus he’s frequently sidelined by injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are in a bad place right now. They’re not dealing from a position of strength so they’re going to get squeezed by rival clubs as they try to find a suitable goaltender.

It will be difficult to land any kind of upgrade for their roster without giving up that first-round pick as part of the deal. If they are willing to move it but make it top-10 protected, that could be a deal breaker for most clubs.

The harsh truth is recalling Campbell could be their only solution. They could sign free-agent Jaroslav Halak but at this stage of his career, he’s best suited for backup work. Even then, there’s no certainty that he’d be able to help them. The Lightning placed Matt Tomkins on waivers but he didn’t do enough in his few appearances this season to suggest that he’d be an improvement over Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

I don’t think the Blackhawks are looking at moving Mrazek. If they are, the Oilers could be on his 10-team no-trade list.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in becoming a wheeler or a dealer as they look to build a strong foundation for the future. They’re willing to listen on every position (but not every player). He believes they could entertain offers on defensemen Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman pointed out that Walker has “really impressed in Philadelphia.” He thinks there will be plenty of interest if the Flyers don’t extend him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report will further stoke speculation over the future of Flyers goalie Carter Hart. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer and has surfaced of late as a possible trade target for the struggling Oilers. Flyers GM Daniel Briere has previously said he’ll listen on anybody (including Hart) but that doesn’t mean he’s rushing to move him.


TSN: Darren Dreger speculates that Patrick Kane could reach a decision on where he’ll sign sometime next week. He felt it was a bit of a stretch suggesting that the 35-year-old free-agent winger could decide this week given that he and his family would be celebrating American Thanksgiving.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman ran down the list of potential destinations for Kane. Along with the usual ones (Toronto, Dallas, Florida, Buffalo, Detroit), he also thinks the Colorado Avalanche have made a pitch plus rumors continue to swirl about the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Friedman also suggested that Kane might prefer an Eastern Conference club as he wouldn’t have to travel as much as he would in the Western Conference.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka wondered if there was the possibility of a team with salary-cap space like the Sharks signing Kane to a “somewhat richer contract” (agreed to by Kane and a contending team), and then flipping him to that contender while retaining part of his annual cap hit in exchange for an asset.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said no. Such a series of transactions would constitute salary-cap circumvention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane has the right to take his time to reach a decision over where he’ll play this season. Still, more than a few fans will be glad to see this ongoing media guessing game come to an end.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman observed the Columbus Blue Jackets are going through the same kind of difficulties this season as the Oilers. He noted that Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson expects his veteran players to be much, much better. Friedman thinks the Jackets could ask some of their veterans if they’d prefer playing somewhere else if things don’t turn around soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those veterans include Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. Both have been big disappointments thus far. They carry some form of no-trade protection on their contracts but could be willing to waive them for the right destinations. Then again, their hefty contracts would be difficult to move this season.

The Montreal Canadiens continue to discuss a contract extension with goaltender Sam Montembeault. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Friedman doesn’t see the Canadiens waiting until the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montembeault has been linked to the Oilers as a possible trade target. However, he’s putting up decent stats with the rebuilding Canadiens, who must sort out who will tend their net in the coming years. With Jake Allen aging and Cayden Primeau yet to establish himself as an NHL goalie, I think they’ll get Montembeault signed to a new deal.

Friedman said the injury-depleted Avalanche are looking for scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why he thinks they’ve made a pitch to Patrick Kane.

If the Calgary Flames decide to trade some of their pending UFAs, interested clubs will want to know if they can negotiate with those players beforehand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the type of returns the Flames would get for those players.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Frederik Andersen, Carey Price and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: An upper-body injury to Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen overshadowed their 5-3 defeat to the Florida Panthers. Andersen suffered the injury following a first-period collision with Panthers winger Frank Vatrano. Before that, the Leafs goalie was a bit slow getting re-set after being bumped twice. No word yet regarding his status for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Panthers (63 points) moved into third place in the Atlantic Division, pushing the Leafs out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen suffered an upper-body injury during Monday’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were down 1-0 before Andersen’s injury. They took as 3-1 lead after backup Michael Hutchinson came in, but gave up four straight third-period goals. If Andersen’s sidelined long-term it’ll be a serious blow to the Leafs playoff hopes. It could also push general manager Kyle Dubas into the trade market for help. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

Stephen Johns scored his first goal in nearly two years as the Dallas Stars downed the New York Rangers 5-3. Johns recently returned to action after being sidelined since 2018 by a head injury. Stars center Joe Pavelski scored twice within 16 seconds in the first period.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made 16 saves in a 3-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings. Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Matt Niskanen were the goal scorers. The Flyers (65 points) have won six of their last eight games and hold the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference.


Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, and Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 2.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen revealed his recent one-game benching was due to missing practice on Friday because he overslept.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The flu has sidelined Canadiens netminder Carey Price from tonight’s game with the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg (upper body) was placed on injury reserve. He’s expected to miss three-to-four weeks.

TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks claimed defenseman Nick Seeler off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Local police have cleared Flyers mascot Gritty in the alleged assault of a 13-year-old fan in November.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2020

Game recaps plus updates on Aleksandar Barkov, Quinn Hughes, Filip Zadina, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Matt Murray made 29 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s goal-scoring streak ended at five games while teammate Lars Eller scored two goals. The Penguins (71 points) move to within four points of the first-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.

A three-point effort by Pierre-Luc Dubois carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).

Pierre-Luc Dubois extended his points streak to eight games with two goals and an assist in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The struggling Habs (55 points) remain eight points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jackets (65 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

Shootout goals by Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Carolina winger Andrei Svechnikov tallied his 20th goal of the season. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks as their five-game winning streak came to an end. The Hurricanes (63 points) hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPORTSNET: Results from an MRI on the knee of Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov came back “all good”. He was injured during Saturday’s game against the Canadiens. Barkov is questionable for tonight’s tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers need a healthy Barkov if they hope to clinch a playoff berth. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (39 points) moved ahead of Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar in the NHL rookie scoring race.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until recently, Makar appeared a lock to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as this season’s rookie of the year. Hughes, however, has made this a two-horse race.

MLIVE.COM: Andreas Athanasiou is set to return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup after a 13-game absence with a lower-body injury. Rookie winger Filip Zadina, however, will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with a lower-body injury.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild placed defenseman Nick Seeler on waivers.

TSN: The Blue Jackets signed forward Nathan Gerbe to a two-year, two-way contract extension. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll receive $750K at the NHL level.