NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2023

Could Coyotes such as Clayton Keller or Nick Schmaltz follow Jakob Chychrun out of Arizona? How will the Red Wings fix their imbalanced blueline? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently examined the Arizona Coyotes’ offseason plans. He wondered how many of their core players will want to spend their prime playing years with the rebuilding club.

Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller (NHL Images).

That frustration drove Jakob Chychrun to request a trade, prompting Morgan to ponder if others such as Clayton Keller and Lawson Crouse might do the same if the club “follows the same lather, rinse and repeat formula for the next two seasons”.

If the Coyotes stick to that program, Morgan wondered why they would keep a player such as Nick Schmaltz around. The 27-year-old forward won’t be in his prime when the rebuild is over, his trade value has never been higher and his salary significantly increases over the next three seasons.

Morgan mused over whether the Coyotes could get more assets by peddling Schmaltz and 26-year-old goaltender Karel Vejmelka. He also wondered if doing so would upset their other core players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be up to Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong and head coach Andre Tourigny to sell their younger stars like Keller on their program and keep them motivated to be part of it. If those guys lose faith over the next couple of years they could follow Chychrun’s example and ask to be traded.

Schmaltz and Vejmelka are in a different situation given their ages and where they could fit within their rebuild. That would explain why their names surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to the March 3 trade deadline. Armstrong could shop one or both this summer but, as Morgan observed, it comes with the risk of upsetting those younger core players.

I think it’s more likely Schmaltz and Vejmelka get traded than Keller and Crouse. That doesn’t mean that I believe Armstrong is going to trade those two older players this summer. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if they pop up in the trade speculation leading up to the NHL Draft on June 28-29.


THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman wondered how the Detroit Red Wings intend to address their imbalanced blueline. Most of their defense prospects are left-handed shots. He anticipates general manager Steve Yzerman will make one or two additions to the right side of their defense corps.

Free agent options could include the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson, the New York Islanders’ Scott Mayfield, Boston Bruins’ Connor Clifton or the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 22, 2022

Should the Oilers or Jets attempt to acquire Jakob Chychrun? Are the Senators interested in the Blackhawks’ Seth Jones? What’s the latest on James van Riemsdyk, Jordan Staal and Vladislav Gavrikov? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Ryan Nugent-Bowman noted that the Edmonton Oilers have been linked to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, the Montreal Canadiens’ Joel Edmundson, the Nashville Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg in the rumor mill.

However, Nugent-Bowman thinks they should attempt to acquire Jakob Chychrun. He believes the Arizona Coyotes defenseman would bolster the Oilers’ blueline and alleviate pressure from Darnell Nurse.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Nugent-Bowman acknowledged the Coyotes’ high asking price for Chychrun as well as the blueliner’s injury history. However, he pointed to his solid performance when healthy as well as his affordable $4.6 million cap hit through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Bowman doesn’t believe Oilers management shares his opinion on Chychrun. General manager Ken Holland could surprise us but I think there’s a better chance of seeing Edmundson, Gavrikov or Klingberg suiting up for the Oilers by the March 3 trade deadline.

I don’t think the Predators intend to part with Ekholm. GM David Poile is stubbornly sticking with his veterans.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jacob Stoller suggests Chychrun could be the missing piece to put the Winnipeg Jets over the top.

Along with Josh Morrissey, Chychrun would give their blueline two top-pairing caliber players. He thinks this could be this version of the Jets’ best opportunity to make a run at the Stanley Cup with Connor Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun would certainly provide a big boost of talented skill to the Jets’ defense corps. However, I’ll be surprised if Kevin Cheveldayoff, their usually cautious general manager, pays the Coyotes’ asking price to get him.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators’ re-signing of Artem Zub doesn’t mean they’re still not seeking a right-side defenseman. Friedman mentioned the Chicago Blackhawks’ Seth Jones but said it appears that was as much due diligence as anything else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones’ hefty $9.5 million average annual value through 2029-30 aside, any trade involving the 28-year-old defenseman depends on his willingness to waive his no-movement clause. Things are rough for the rebuilding Blackhawks right now but there’s no indication Jones wants out. He could become their next captain if Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane don’t return next season.

Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers are eyeing Vladislav Gavrikov. He believes the Columbus Blue Jackets would set a high asking price for the 27-year-old defenseman, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector elaborated that it would likely be a first-round pick plus a third or fourth-rounder.

The New Jersey Devils have a very nice right-side defense with Dougie Hamilton, John Marino and Damon Severson. The latter is eligible for UFA status next summer and his situation could be worth watching but the Devils are trying to win now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Severson’s drop to the third pairing and his free-agent eligibility has made him the occasional topic of media trade speculation. I think the Devils will hang onto him for the playoffs unless their season goes off the rails before the March 3 trade deadline.

Friedman thought Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk might make sense for the Calgary Flames. However, he no longer thinks that’s a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk is a UFA in July and is reportedly available in the trade market. The Flames, however, are pressed against the salary cap. Even if the Flyers retained half of JvR’s $7 million cap hit, the Flames would have to move out a player to make the dollars fit.

No one is expecting Jordan Staal to leave the Carolina Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal is a UFA next summer coming off a 10-year, $60-million contract. The 34-year-old center isn’t going to get $6 million annually again but perhaps he’ll accept something between $4.5 million and $5 million on a two or three-year deal to stay in Carolina.

Friedman considers the chances of the Vancouver Canucks trading defenseman Quinn Hughes to be low. He also thinks Ethan Bear will get a contract extension while a decision has to be made regarding Jack Rathbone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Quinn asks for a trade he’s not going anywhere.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 11, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 11, 2022

Will the Devils make a splash at the trade deadline? Could the Flyers buy out Kevin Hayes? Are the Canadiens interested in Brock Boeser? What’s the latest on the Oilers and Jesse Puljujarvi? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the New Jersey Devils have the assets to swing a major move by the March 3 trade deadline if they wish.

Top prospects Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec would probably be off-limits but Seamus Casey and Alexander Holtz could be available. He also suggested shopping pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Damon Severson and his $4.1 million cap hit to create some cap space.

Brooks acknowledged the Devils’ salary-cap restrictions plus the eventual return of sidelined winger Ondrej Palat could eliminate the need to seek a high-end rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The high-flying Devils could be worth watching as the trade deadline approaches. They could make a move or two if they decide to go all-in for a Cup run. Then again, they could stick with their current lineup or only make a tweak or two with an affordable rental player.

Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed that Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes has three seasons remaining on his contract with an average annual value of over $7.14 million. He believes a buyout is inevitable unless the Flyers can move Hayes while retaining 50 percent of his cap hit. The buyout would cost between $1.6 million and $4.75 million against the cap for the next six seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the breakdown is $2.25 million for 2023-24, jumping to $4.75 million for 2024-25 and 2025-26 before dropping to $1.6 million per season for the final three seasons of the buyout.

We don’t know what plans Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has in mind for Hayes or anyone else on his roster. Heck, Fletcher might not even be the GM by the end of this season.

Nevertheless, a buyout seems more likely than a trade even at retaining half of Hayes’ contract. The Flyers would also likely have to include a draft pick or prospect in that deal.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: cited the Dec. 9 episode of the Sekeres and Price Show podcast during which NHL insider Rick Dhaliwal said the Montreal Canadiens have had a longstanding interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser.

Dhaliwal said he’s heard that former Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin offered up defenseman Alexander Romanov plus a draft pick for Boeser and would’ve also taken on a bad contract in return. However, then-Canucks GM Jim Benning said no.

Dhaliwal suggested Canadiens center Sean Monahan would be the type of player on an expiring contract that the Canucks would be interested in acquiring in a deal for Boeser. He thinks Monahan would help if the Canucks decide to trade Bo Horvat at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks don’t want to retain any part of Boeser’s $6.65 million annual cap hit through 2024-25. They also aren’t interested in adding a sweetener like a draft pick or a prospect to convince another team to take on Boeser’s contract.

However, they are willing to take back a contract (preferably an expiring one) as they want to clear free up cap space beyond this season. They’d also want a draft pick, prospect or affordable young NHL player as part of that return.

Bergevin may have had an interest in Boeser but we don’t know if current Canadiens GM Kent Hughes shares that keenness for the Canucks winger. He might not want to take on Boeser’s cap hit for the next couple of seasons, especially when he’s got rising star Cole Caufield due for a big raise as a restricted free agent this summer.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there was a conversation before the start of the season between Edmonton Oilers management and the agent for winger Jesse Puljujarvi regarding the possibility of moving him if things didn’t go well this season.

Friedman noted Puljujarvi’s comments last week to a Finnish sportswriter regarding his concerns over his performance. He believes a trade could be coming for the Oilers winger but it will take some time. Their roster is banged up and they don’t have a salary-cap issue until Evander Kane returns to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also said that a couple of teams indicated that Puljujarvi seems more comfortable and puts less pressure on himself when he’s not playing alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It could be that he needs a change of scenery to get his playing career back on track.

Puljujarvi’s carrying a one-year contract worth $3 million. However, there might not be many potential trade partners given the high number of teams squeezed for cap space this season.

The Oilers reportedly didn’t find any offers to their liking during the offseason. Given Puljujarvi’s lack of confidence and low production this season, his value in the trade market is probably at rock bottom. They could end up having to bite the bullet and accept whatever they can to make this deal happen.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2022

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus a look at some other potential blueline trade targets for the Leafs in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The New Jersey Devils’ rumored interest in Josh Anderson apparently hasn’t waned since the offseason. Canadiens podcaster and former broadcaster Tony Marinaro reports Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald wants the 28-year-old Canadiens winger badly.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Marinaro wonders if the Devils would part with a promising youngster such as Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec or Alexander Holtz in a package deal. It remains to be seen if Canadiens GM Kent Hughes (no relation to Luke or Devils winger Jack Hughes) would be willing to move Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marinaro also claims there are a couple of teams besides the Devils who would take Anderson. Assuming the Canadiens are willing to move him, they probably aren’t in any rush to do so at this stage in the season.

If there is interest in Anderson, it might be best to wait until the March 3 trade deadline approaches to start considering serious offers. His value in the trade market could be much higher by that point.

Marco D’Amico recently listed Sean Monahan, Joel Edmundson and Christian Dvorak as the Canadiens’ top-three most valuable trade chips.

D’Amico noted TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently linked Monahan to the Colorado Avalanche, who could be among several clubs that will be in the market for a second-line center. Edmundson has apparently been the subject of conversations between Hughes and his peers, while the recent improvement of Dvorak could bolster his trade value.

Speaking of Anderson, D’Amico speculated the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers could present irresistible offers to Hughes at some point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Monahan, Edmundson or Dvorak could be moved before Anderson. Much will depend on where the Canadiens are in the standings leading up to the March 3 trade deadline and what the market is for those players. Given the plethora of defensemen the Canadiens are carrying, maybe Edmundson gets traded first.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens possess a logjam of defensemen with Mike Matheson’s recent return from injury and the rise of promising blueliners like Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic. He also noted there were 19 scouts at Tuesday’s game between the Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those scouts would’ve been there simply because their teams will be playing the Canadiens or Sabres in the near future. However, I daresay some could be there to check out some potential trade bait.


THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently published a list of 10 defensemen the Toronto Maple Leafs could target to bolster their injury-ravaged blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Leary’s list came out before the Leafs acquired promising rearguard Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 23. However, they could perhaps pursue one of his suggested trade targets if Timmins doesn’t pan out or if Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie are sidelined longer than expected.

Pending unrestricted free agent options include the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, the Washington Capitals’ Dmitry Orlov, the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson, the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy and the Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t see Orlov, Dumba, Severson and Soucy going anywhere as long as their respective teams remain in playoff contention. Gavrikov could be shopped if he hasn’t signed a contract extension before the trade deadline. Schenn will likely become available if the Canucks fail to gain ground in the standings.

Notable defensemen with term remaining on their contracts include the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun, the Boston Bruins’ Mike Reilly and Matt Roy and Sean Walker of the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The high asking price for Chychrun is likely too rich for the Leafs. Reilly could be a good option but the Bruins may be reluctant to trade him to a division rival. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has a trade history with Kings GM Rob Blake so perhaps Roy or Walker would be more likely options here.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2022

The Leafs’ shaky start to this season is a growing concern to their followers. Could it lead to changes in the front office, behind the bench or to the roster? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs 4-4-2 start to this season isn’t something to be taken lightly. He feels the club is heading toward an implosion that could lead to big changes depending on their upcoming performances against the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights.

Simmons puts the blame squarely on the performance of the Leafs players, especially during their losses to three of the worst teams in the league in Arizona, San Jose and Anaheim. He singled out core players Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander for not playing up to expectations.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Simmons acknowledged the Leafs have a banged-up defense corps. Nevertheless, he believes their best players must improve while their worst need to get better. He also criticizes general manager Kyle Dubas for not providing head coach Sheldon Keefe with a roster suitable for success.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the Leafs defenders point out that they were 4-4-2 at the same point in 2021-22 and wound up with a franchise-best 115-point season. Others, however, point to the poor performance of their best players as one of the more concerning issues compared to this time last season.

The Leafs have questionable goaltending and a defense that when healthy isn’t deep enough to make them a serious Stanley Cup contender. Nevertheless, they have sufficient talent to be playing better than they currently are even with an injury-riddled blueline.

Maybe they’ll snap out of their current doldrums and turn things around during that upcoming stretch of games mentioned by Simmons. If they don’t, however, this situation could lead to a coaching change or a roster shakeup.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle suggests the Leafs could need a trade to snap out of their current tailspin. He reminds us that Dubas has had some success with in-season trades, pointing to the acquisitions of Jake Muzzin, Jack Campbell, Ilya Lyubushkin and Mark Giordano. With Muzzin on long-term injury reserve, it frees up a large chunk of his $5.6 million cap hit to put toward acquisitions.

Mirtle suggested Dubas could shop some of his underperforming players to free up more cap space. Justin Holl ($2 million), Pierre Engvall ($2.25 million), Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million) or Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1 million) could be trade candidates, with bigger names perhaps becoming available if the losing continues.

Given the Leafs need to address their puck-moving issues among their defensemen, Mirtle suggested Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun or Anaheim’s John Klingberg as possible options. Others included Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, New Jersey’s Damon Severson or Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were reportedly interested in acquiring Ethan Bear from the Carolina Hurricanes but didn’t want to part with a draft pick. He wound up shipped last Friday to the Vancouver Canucks.

That indicates Dubas is looking around for help in the trade market. Finding a suitable return will be difficult at this point in the season given how many clubs have limited salary-cap space but it’s not impossible. However, it could require some creativity on his part, including parting with a quality draft pick or a promising prospect.

Mirtle acknowledged Chychrun’s injury history well as the Coyotes’ high asking price. Klingberg could be a more affordable option in terms of return and perhaps the Ducks would retain some of his $7 million cap hit for the right offer. However, Jamie Drysdale’s potentially season-ending shoulder injury could force the Ducks to hang onto Klingberg for a while.

Gostisbehere could be a possibility as he won’t cost nearly as much as Chychrun to get from the Coyotes. I don’t see the Blue Jackets parting with Gavrikov given his solid all-around play and value to their blueline. The Devils are off to a terrific start and aren’t under any pressure right now to move Severson.

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW (stick tap to NHL Watcher): Elliotte Friedman believes Auston Matthews will sign a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. He doesn’t necessarily believe it’ll be a long-term deal.

Friedman is concerned about things going off the rails. He doesn’t believe the 24-year-old center is currently unhappy but felt the Leafs have to “constantly take his temperature”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest Matthews can sign with the Leafs is July 1, 2023. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent a year later. It’s interesting that Friedman believes he’d sign a short-term extension. Perhaps it would be a three-year deal taking him up to age 30.

Of course, as Friedman also points out, it will depend on whether Matthews is happy with the direction of the Leafs. If things do go off the rails, he could decide to test the market on July 1, 2024.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest Canadiens speculation, a look at which defensemen the Canucks might target, and the Golden Knights owner weighs in on how his club could invest next season’s cap space.


SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked how the Montreal Canadiens might address the void in goal if Carey Price’s knee injury brings an end to his playing career.

The club will likely try to identify future starting goalies in the 2023 draft while attempting to develop the prospects within their system. However, Engels anticipates a trade is the most likely way to bolster that position.

With Jake Allen signed for two more seasons, Engels felt there was no immediate need to address that position. Given the type of team they’re trying to develop, they might not need to depend on a goalie the way they did in the past with Price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they might only need a reliable goalie who can rise to the occasion in big-game situations rather than one who can dominate at that position.

That strategy worked for the Colorado Avalanche last season as well as the St. Louis Blues in 2019 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. Those clubs, of course, were loaded with stars at other positions. They needed a good goaltender, not a great one.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

However, it’s also worth noting that the star-studded Tampa Bay Lightning won two straight Stanley Cups in part because they also possess a superstar netminder in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Asked about Sean Monahan’s future with the Canadiens, Engels believes it’ll be a short one. He speculated the Habs could get a first-round pick for the 28-year-old center at the trade deadline if he stays healthy and plays well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan’s looked good in the early going for the Canadiens. He could fetch a first-rounder at the trade deadline from a playoff contender provided he maintains his current level of performance throughout this season.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently reported the Canadiens are still searching for a right-shot defenseman despite the recent addition of Jonathan Kovacevic off waivers. They’re still seeking a veteran presence on the blueline for at least the short term.

D’Amico believes they’re not going after a big fish like the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun. They are exploring various options as their lineup is too congested at forward to provide any roster flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe they’ll consider shopping Monahan for that defenseman? Or perhaps Jonathan Drouin if he also has a healthy and productive early season? Granted, their respective cap hits make them expensive to move at this point in the season. Monahan’s is $6.375 million while Drouin’s is $5.5 million.


SEKERES AND PRICE: TSN analyst Darren Dreger was asked which defensemen the Vancouver Canucks might target in the trade market.

Dreger said the problem is so many teams are looking at the same type of defenseman, namely the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun. However, Chychrun is currently unavailable as he’s still recovering from off-season surgery. Teams will want to see him play before making offers but the Coyotes are still setting a high asking price.

Short-term options could include Danny DeKeyser, Thomas Hickey or Jason Demers. In the long-term, perhaps Chychrun becomes more affordable at the trade deadline. The Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg could be another deadline option as well as the Ducks’ Kevin Shattenkirk or Dmitry Kulikov, the Coyotes’ Shayne Gostisbehere and Troy Stecher, the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy, and the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t appear as though there are any quality options available right now to the Canucks or any other club in the market for blueline help. Many of those players Dreger rattled off could certainly become obtainable at the deadline but that could be too late to help the struggling Canucks.


THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger recently interviewed Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. At one point, Granger indicated that next season’s salary cap could rise by $4 million and asked Foley how that might affect the club’s plans.

The Golden Knights owner replied that it would give them the opportunity to pursue “another really quality forward.” He felt they were fine at center but could use more depth among their top-nine forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something for Golden Knights fans to keep in mind if the cap does rise by $4 million next summer.