NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2020

Check out the latest on the Devils and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Corey Masisak recently examined how next season’s flat salary cap of $81.5 million could benefit the New Jersey Devils. He observed they’ll have over $27 million in cap space and lots of roster holes to fill.

Part of that will be taken up re-signing restricted free agents such as goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, defenseman Mirco Mueller, and forward Jesper Bratt. They could also promote two or three players like Nick Merkley, Janne Kuokkanen, and Ty Smith.

Assuming around $14 million of remaining cap space following re-signings of key players and promotions, general manager Tom Fitzgerald will have sufficient flexibility to bring in some skilled veterans via trades and free agency.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn in the off-season? (NHL Images)

Masisak looked at several cap-strapped clubs in the Eastern and Western Conferences that could be possible trade partners or have players that become available via free agency.

Among his suggested Eastern targets were Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, and Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Western options could include St. Louis Blues defensemen Vince Dunn, Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In an ordinary year, I’d make the case that a rebuilding club like the Devils might not be a desirable destination for free agents or players with no-trade clauses. However, it could be a different story under the new economic landscape.

Players that otherwise wouldn’t be available via trade could become expendable for teams trying to shed salary, while free agents seeking lucrative contracts could find the Devils more appealing. Perhaps one or two of those on Masisak’s list will be sporting Devils jerseys next season.

That depends, of course, on how much Devils ownership is willing to invest next season. Just because they’ll have lots of cap room doesn’t mean they’re going to spend to the cap.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked about the odds of the Los Angeles Kings signing a restricted free agent such as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to an offer sheet. She considers those odds virtually nil, as that rarely-used tactic seldom pans out. The Kings have other plans and ideas for rebuilding their roster.

Asked if the Kings might take on a bad contract for assets from a cap-strapped club, Dillman pointed out they’ve never been aggressive in complex deals like those. She also noted that’s not something GM Rob Blake has pursued in the past. She also doesn’t seek the Kings making a big splash in this year’s UFA market, though they could look at some bargain signings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake and the rest of the Kings’ front office have put their focus on rebuilding with youth, primarily from within their system. Their prospect depth is considered among the best in the league right now. Blake could keep his powder dry for next summer’s UFA market when there could be better options available.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

The latest Lightning and Jets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked several questions about how the Tampa Bay Lightning could address their salary-cap crunch for next season.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (Photo via NHL Images).

Smith feels many teams, including the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild, would be interested in center Anthony Cirelli. He also believes there will be plenty of interest in young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Both are restricted free agents at season’s end.

Smith suggests the asking price for either player could be at least a strong prospect and one or more high picks. Asked if the Bolts could get a player in return like Wild defenseman Matt Dumba for Cirelli, he doesn’t see how that player’s contract  ($6 million annual average value) would fit within their limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli or Sergachev could be shopped if Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois feels he can’t afford to keep both players. However, I believe his priority is to re-sign them and move out one or two other players to free up sufficient cap room for their new contracts.

Both are coming off entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights. BriseBois could use that leverage to sign both to affordable short-term contracts, but one of them could sign an offer sheet with another club.

Smith feels Alex Killorn is the most likely to be shopped in the off-season. His value is high, he’s got only a few years left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million AAV, and his limited no-trade clause provides some flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Killorn will help but the Bolts could be forced to shed another salary. Speculation suggests Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, or Yanni Gourde, but they carry full no-movement clauses. Smith suggested they could deal away one of the RFAs. He felt contract buyouts would be the last resort.

Asked about what the Lightning’s threshold would be if Sergachev signed an offer sheet, Smith feels $7 million is their cutoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many clubs lack sufficient cap space to go the offer-sheet route this summer, but some have the cap space to make that pitch. However, that depends on Sergachev’s willingness to sign one. He could stick with the Lightning on a short-term bridge deal with the promise of greater riches down the road. The same goes for Cirelli.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked if there was any word on the Winnipeg Jets re-signing Dylan DeMelo. The Jets acquired the 27-year-old defenseman in February. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season.

Re-signing DeMelo is likely a priority for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Despite the flat salary cap, he’s got more short-term flexibility to make a move or two this summer. While DeMelo could seek long-term stability, Wiebe speculates he might take a short-term deal in hope league economics improve in a few years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe reported DeMelo indicated there hasn’t been much conversation regarding a new contract, but he feels he’s fit in well with the Jets and would welcome a chance to re-sign.

Most contract talks are on hold for now as teams prepare for the upcoming playoff tournament. If Cheveldayoff is interested in re-signing DeMelo, and I think he could be, those discussions will likely begin once the playoffs are over.

DeMelo’s earned $900K annually on his current contract and will be seeking a significant raise. Provided his asking price is reasonable – around $3 million annually – he could remain with the Jets.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Three teams and five pending UFAs hurt the most by a flat cap in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues as the three teams hurt the most by the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21.

The Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll, the Lightning $76.1 million, and the Blues $79.425 million.

Notable Leafs due for new contracts include Jason Spezza, Kyle Clifford, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev. Defensemen Tyson Barrie and Codi Ceci are all but certain to depart via unrestricted free agency. The limited cap room could also be a problem next year when goaltender Frederik Anderson becomes eligible for UFA status.

Could a flat salary cap force the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Leafs general manager Kyle Duba will make a cost-cutting move or two. The Toronto Sun’s Michael Traikos believes a forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or even William Nylander and his $6.9 million cap hit could be traded in the off-season.

Dubas supposedly promised Nylander he wouldn’t be traded as long as he was the GM, but an unexpected flat cap could provide the perfect excuse. There would be considerable interest in Nylander, but perhaps not that much in his cap hit. 

The Lightning has two good young players in defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and center Anthony Cirelli as restricted free agents in the off-season. A new contract for Cirelli alone could take up all of their cap room. Boylen points out winger Alex Killorn’s full no-trade clause becomes a 16-team no-trade at the end of this season, suggesting the Lightning might have to explore those 14 trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn seems the most likely Lightning trade candidate when this season ends. Some have also suggested Tyler Johnson or Yanni Gourde but they’ve got full no-trade clauses and could be unwilling to waive them.

The Blues will have to make a couple of salary-dumping deals if they hope to re-sign defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn. Boylen wonders if Colton Parayko, Tyler Bozak, David Perron, or Jake Allen hit the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen seems a likely trade candidate now that Jordan Binnington’s secured his place as the Blues’ No.1 goaltender. Bozak and Perron have modified no-trade clauses. Of the two, the 32-year-old Perron would have more value than the 34-year-old Bozak, but Perron also has two years (at $4 million annually) left on his contract while Bozak has just one year at $5 million.

Lots of clubs would line up to land Parayko but I don’t think Blues GM Doug Armstrong wants to move him. In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proposed winger Jaden Schwartz as a possible trade option if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of Pietrangelo, Ryan Kennedy recently lists the Blues’ captain among five free agents who could get hurt by the flattened salary cap. The others include Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner, and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Sami Vatanen.

Kennedy speculates those five won’t enjoy the big-money free-agent bonanza they would otherwise get in a normal off-season. Some, like Pietrangelo or Markstrom, might have to accept a hometown discount on short-term deals if they wish to stay with their current clubs. The others might also end up having to accept a shorter term or less money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They won’t be the only unrestricted free agents likely to be disappointed by what they’ll likely get in the open market. A few, like Pietrangelo, could still get top dollar but could find those offers coming from rebuilding clubs with plenty of salary-cap space. Those players could be unwilling to join those clubs and instead accept shorter contracts for less money from contenders. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 21, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 21, 2020

Check out the latest on the Devils and Stars plus an update on Jesse Puljujarvi in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


THE ATHLETIC (Subscription required) In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak speculated Andy Greene could return to the New Jersey Devils if they see a veteran defenseman to mentor their young blueliners. He also doubts they’ll pursue this summer’s top UFAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greene spent nearly 14 full seasons with the Devils before he was shipped last February to the New York Islanders. If he’s still available later in the off-season perhaps he’d be willing to return to New Jersey on a one-year, bonus-laden deal.

Could the New Jersey Devils target a defenseman like Anaheim’s Josh Manson in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Turning to the trade market, Masisak looked at several defensemen that could be on the Devils’ off-season radar. His list of good options included Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Colin Miller, Columbus’ David Savard, St. Louis’ Vince Dunn, and Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak published a long list of options, but I wanted to focus on the notables.

I believe it’ll cost the Devils a scoring forward to acquire Manson, Miller, or Savard because their respective clubs need secondary scoring. Dunn and Sergachev made his list largely because of the cap constraints faced by their respective teams. However, it’s assumed the Blues and Lightning will make cost-cutting moves to free up salary-cap space to re-sign those two.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes Jesse Puljujarvi will sign a one-year contract extension with Karpat of the Finnish Professional League. He expects that deal will include an NHL opt-out clause.

Puljujarvi spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade from the Edmonton Oilers. While the young winger hasn’t ruled out returning to the Oilers, Leavins wondered if his recent change of heart was to rehabilitate his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt it’ll make Puljujarvi more attractive in the trade market. The Oilers reportedly listened to trade offers but didn’t get anything worthwhile.

Most teams consider the former fourth-overall pick to be at best a third-line winger. They’re unwilling to part with a first-rounder or a good young player to get him. Puljujarvi will likely have to return to the Oilers if he hopes to salvage his NHL career and boost his trade value.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Sean Shapiro said he believes the Stars will do everything they can to re-sign goaltender Anton Khudobin. They know they won’t make the playoffs next season without a competent backup for Ben Bishop.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $62 million invested in 15 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Stars have sufficient cap space to re-sign Khudobin.

They must also re-sign RFAs Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Radek Faksa. Hintz and Gurianov lack arbitration rights, giving Stars management sufficient leverage to re-sign both to affordable bridge deals.

Assuming Khudobin isn’t seeking a significant raise over his current $2.5 million, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stuck around in Dallas for at least another year.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 7, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 7, 2020

Should the Buffalo Sabres listen to trade offers for Jack Eichel? Should the Canadiens target Mikhail Sergachev, Pierre-Luc Dubois, or Torey Krug? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag, Dan Rosen was asked if he thought any of the non-playoff NHL clubs might attempt to acquire Jack Eichel. Rosen doesn’t believe the Buffalo Sabres’ captain is on the trade block. He also thinks it would take a significant offer (high draft picks, top prospects, at least one high-end NHL player) to get him.

Should the Buffalo Sabres listen to offers for Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images)

If the Sabres were willing to trade Eichel, Rosen doubts they’d limit their market to just the six non-playoff clubs. Nevertheless, he thinks those teams (New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks) should at least ask about Eichel’s availability. He also believes it costs nothing for the Sabres to hear what other clubs feel their 23-year-old captain is worth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has any plans to move Eichel unless he requests a trade. And no, I don’t believe Eichel’s reached that point where he wants out of Buffalo.

I agree it doesn’t hurt for Botterill to at least listen to offers for Eichel or for those clubs to inquire into his availability. But unless the Sabres front office has decided to tear down their roster and start another rebuild, I don’t see Eichel going anywhere. He’s their cornerstone player, the guy they have to build around if they hope to become a playoff contender next season.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if he’d prefer seeing the Montreal Canadiens sign Mikhail Sergachev or Pierre-Luc Dubois to an offer sheet, or Torey Krug via unrestricted free agency.

Basu doesn’t see the Canadiens prying Dubois away from the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have lots of cap space and love the 21-year-old center’s game. If Krug doesn’t re-sign with the Boston Bruins, he’d love to see the Canadiens sign the 29-year-old defenseman.

He thinks the Tampa Bay Lightning would have a difficult time matching an offer sheet for Sergachev, making the 21-year-old blueliner a tempting target if Habs GM Marc Bergevin fails to make progress with Krug.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, the Canadiens stand a better chance of signing Krug than Sergachev or Dubois. That’s assuming, of course, he’s willing to sign with the Habs if he tests the UFA market.

Dubois’ not going anywhere. Neither is Sergachev. While the Bolts have limited cap space, it’s assumed they’ll shed a salary or two to clear up cap space for Sergachev and fellow RFA Anthony Cirelli. We also shouldn’t assume Sergachev is open to an offer sheet.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens and an update on Tyson Barrie in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked what he thought Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was doing in Colorado before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic dismissed the speculation at the time, pointing out Bergevin’s daughter attends Colorado University, but Engels indicated that didn’t explain why Canadiens’ assistant GM Scott Mellanby accompanied him on that trip.

Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi (Photo via NHL Images).

Engels believes something was brewing between the two clubs before the deadline, though he’s not certain what might’ve been discussed. “What I would say, however, is that some seeds were likely planted and we could see something materialize between these teams at some point this off-season,” he said. “There are multiple scenarios that make them good trading partners.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin’s visit to Colorado sparked plenty of wild speculation before the trade deadline. Canadiens like Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry, Max Domi, Jonathan Drouin, and even Carey Price were bandied about in the rumor mill, while Philipp Grubauer, Tyson Jost, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, and Nikita Zadorov were mentioned as potential Avs trade candidates.

Maybe the Canadiens and Avalanche will hammer out a major deal before next season, or maybe their rumored trade talks in February will come to nothing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Asked about the possibility of the Canadiens bringing back Mikhail Sergachev by signing the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to an offer sheet, Engels thinks it would be too expensive, perhaps costing around $8 million annually plus the loss of a first, a second, and a third-round pick as compensation if the Bolts didn’t match. Instead, the Habs could keep an eye on which players the Lightning might shop in a cost-cutting deal to free up the cap room to re-sign Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sergachev would have to be receptive to signing an offer sheet in the first place. If he isn’t, it’s a waste of time pursuing that plan. As Engels points out, the Habs could instead look at acquiring someone like Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde, or Tyler Johnson if the Bolts put one of them on the trade block. Those four, however, have no-trade protection, meaning one of them would have to agree to be traded to Montreal.

Engels was asked about the long-term futures of Domi and Tatar in Montreal. He feels if Domi, a restricted free agent, was trending toward a one-year deal before the season was paused, it’s difficult to imagine he’ll get a longer-term offer now. Tatar, a UFA next summer, may have been on his way to pricing himself out of Montreal, but a flat cap beyond next season could make it difficult for him to get that type of deal. Engels likes the chances of both staying in Montreal next season.


THE SCORE: Matt Teague reports Tyson Barrie admitted he’s facing uncertainty following this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, but the current pause of the schedule means it’s yet to be determined when he’ll be heading to market. “It’s a weird time to be heading into free agency,” Barrie said, adding his current focus is on helping the Leafs make a playoff run whenever this season resumes.

Regarding possible destinations as a free agent, Barrie indicated he’ll be seeking a team looking for a defenseman with his skills. “A good team headed in the right direction and a good organization,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of right organizations that tick those boxes.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks could be one of those clubs. Barrie was born in Victoria, BC, and makes his off-season home there. He was linked to the Canucks before the trade deadline.  He could be a fit as a right-side defenseman if they part ways with Chris Tanev or Troy Stecher in the off-season.