NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2019

Check out the latest Islanders and Panthers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During a Thursday appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690, insider Pierre LeBrun said he believes New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello will be busy this summer. He notes they currently have the fourth-most salary-cap room for 2019-20 and thinks they want to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents like center Brock Nelson and captain Anders Lee but not everyone. LeBrun feels they’ll have room to pursue a big-ticket player like Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin via free agency. They could also be active in this summer’s trade market or maybe even go the offer-sheet route.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Islanders building a young “core four” of promising defensemen in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, and Devon Toews, Arthur Staple suggests veteran blueliner Nick Leddy could become expendable. He notes Leddy no longer leads Islanders rearguards in ice time and offense and feels he could become a trade candidate to bring in a forward.

Has Nick Leddy become expendable on the New York Islanders’ blueline (Photo via NHL Images).

While acknowledging Lamoriello could pursue Panarin or Columbus’ Matt Duchene, the Isles remain a tough sell for free agents, meaning he could be forced to go the trade route. Staple cites a team executive not affiliated with the Islanders or Edmonton Oilers suggesting perhaps a new Oilers GM might be interested in swapping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Leddy. Staple also wondered if the Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs, or Winnipeg Jets would have interest in Leddy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree the Islanders might not be a destination of choice for many top UFAs, but the presence of Lamoriello in the front office, Barry Trotz behind the bench, and the opportunity to skate alongside young center Mathew Barzal could be enticing selling points.

Of course, the biggest is money, and if Lamoriello is willing to spend to land a free-agent star, someone like Panarin might be tempted. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $47.7 million invested in 16 players. If ownership is willing to spend up to the projected $83 million cap ceiling for 2019-20, Lamoriello will have over $35 million to work with, more than enough to re-sign his key free agents and to pursue additional depth. 

I also concur with Staples’ assessment that Leddy is a solid No. 3 defenseman and should attract interest if Lamoriello shops him for a forward. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million and lacks no-trade protection. However, if the new Edmonton GM swapped Nugent-Hopkins for Leddy, Oilers fans will mutiny.

The Leafs and Jets both face a cap crunch this summer and will want to shed salary. Lamoriello would have to pick up part of Leddy’s salary to make him attractive to those two clubs. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): George Richards reports the Florida Panthers could make moves to add to their roster and/or to free up salary-cap space. GM Dale Tallon intends to be aggressive in the free-agent market, generating speculation he’ll pursue Columbus Blue Jackets UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

Despite this season’s setback, the Panthers are stocked with good young talent and are considered a team on the rise. Sunny weather, quality of living, and lack of a state tax could prove attractive to those UFAs, plus the club has a reputation for its first-class treatment of its players. 

Richards notes Panthers don’t intend to spend all their available cap space in the free-agent market. They’ll also consider re-signing their own, such as Troy Brouwer and Riley Sheahan. The latter was acquired in a trade last month with Pittsburgh. Earlier this month, Richards reported Tallon was happy with Sheahan, who’s interested in re-signing with the Panthers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For this summer’s UFA talent, the Panthers could be a preferable destination over Long Island for all the reasons Richards cited. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $61 million invested in 14 players for 2019-20. As Richards noted, they’ll have around $22 million in cap space assuming an $83-million ceiling.

Ownership has given Tallon the green light to spend this summer and it’s clear the Panthers GM intends to do so. It wouldn’t surprise me if Panarin and/or Bobrovsky end up with the Panthers.

As for players who could be shopped before July 1, I expect current backup James Riemer could be on the move. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $3.5 million and lacks a no-trade clause. Winger Mike Hoffman also surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list and has one season left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.187 million.

Winger Jonathan Huberdeau was the subject of trade chatter but I don’t see the Panthers parting with one of their top scorers, especially one carrying an affordable $5.9-million AAV through 2022-23. With 74 points in 70 games, the 25-year-old Huberdeau is entering his playing prime. 

Penguins Trade Brassard to Panthers in Multi-Player Deal

Penguins Trade Brassard to Panthers in Multi-Player Deal

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded centers Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, along with a second-round pick and two fourth-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, to the Florida Panthers for centers Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

The Pittsburgh Penguins trade Derick Brassard to the Florida Panthers in a multi-player swap (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford makes his much-anticipated move to bolster his depth at forward while moving out Brassard, who struggled as Pittsburgh’s third-line center since joining the club prior to last year’s trade deadline. 

As TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted, by taking on pending free agents like Brassard and Sheahan, the Panthers will free up salary-cap space for additional moves in the offseason. It’s rumored they could take a run at signing Columbus Blue Jackets Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency.

Depending on how Brassard and Sheahan perform with the Panthers, perhaps they might be re-signed after this season provided they seek reasonable new deals. Otherwise, they’ll be allowed to walk on July 1 as the Panthers chase bigger fish in the UFA pool. Perhaps one of them might be flipped elsewhere before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. 

McKenzie also said this deal allows the Penguins to swap two players on expiring contracts for two younger players without taking an immediate step backward. Bjugstad is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $4.1 million while McCann is signed through next season with a $1.25-mlllion AAV. 

Bjugstad, 26, is a big center (6’6″, 215 pounds) who can also skate on the wing and has two 40-plus point seasons on his resume. He’s been plagued at times by injuries and has just 12 points this season but could regain his offensive touch with the Penguins. McCann, 22, is a two-way center who can also play on the wing.

This move also leaves the Penguins with less than $500K in salary-cap space. If Rutherford has any other moves planned they’ll have to be dollar-for-dollar or he’ll have to dump salary first. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2018

Latest on Nikita Kucherov, Seth Jones, Alex Galchenyuk and more in your NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov sidelined by lower-body injury. (Photo via NHL Images)

  TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov left yesterday’s preseason game against the Florida Panthers with a lower-body injury. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the move was precautionary and doesn’t expect Kucherov to be sidelined long term.

CBS SPORTS: reports Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also suffered a lower-body injury in yesterday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. No indication as to the severity of Jones’ condition or if he’ll remain out of the lineup.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes center Alex Galchenyuk is listed as “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury and isn’t expected to be in the Coyotes lineup for their season opener next week.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators raised eyebrows yesterday by placing versatile veteran forward Zack Smith on waivers. If he’s unclaimed it could be because of his $3.25-million annual salary-cap hit. The move didn’t go down well with Smith’s teammates. “I’ll be honest, it’s a kick in the balls for us,” said Matt Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move prompted further criticism of the Senators’ front office, who’ve come under fire by fans and pundits in recent months. I’ll have more on this situation later this morning in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: Veteran winger Joel Ward was released from his professional tryout offer by the Montreal Canadiens. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the end of Ward’s NHL career. It’s possible, however, he could sign with another club. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny suffered an upper-body injury in yesterday’s preseason contest with the St. Louis Blues. No word yet as to the severity. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Riley Sheahan has returned to action following a lower-body injury that sidelined him for the past 10 days. 

TSN: Former NHL coach Mike Keenan is battling prostate cancer. He underwent surgery last week for a form of treatment known as brachytherapy seed implants, a form of radiation therapy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Keenan for a swift recovery. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2018

Reviewing a busy day for the Penguins, an update on Logan Couture, the latest signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The PIttsburgh Penguins yesterday traded winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019.

Defenseman Jack Johnson could be signing a five-year deal as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move was a straightforward salary dump as the Penguins shed over $5.2 million in salary-cap payroll. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Sources say Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson intends to sign a five-year contract with the Penguins when the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1. The annual average value is expected to  be between $3 million to $3.5 million. The Penguins also yesterday announced they re-signed center Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $2.1-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sheary-Hunwick deal was seen as Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford creating room to bring in a defenseman and a winger. It appears he’s accomplished the first if Johnson indeed signs on July 1.

I like the cap hit for Johnson but not the term, as five years is a long time to invest in a 31-year-old defenseman who lost the confidence of his coach in Columbus. Still, the Penguins have a reputation for successful reclamation projects with blueliners (Justin Schultz, Jamie Oleksiak, Trevor Daley) and could strike gold again with Johnson.

The Penguins had declined to make a qualifying offer to Sheahan, thus avoiding arbitration and getting him signed to an agreeable short-term deal. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: cites reports by TSN claiming the San Jose Sharks are expected to announce an eight-year contract extension this weekend for forward Logan Couture, who has one year remaining on his current contract. Financial terms weren’t reveal. Couture, 29, is currently earning an annual average value of $6 million on his current deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Sharks intend to re-sign Couture, who’s one of their best players. An eight-year deal will take him up to age 38, which is a long time to invest in a player whose best seasons will soon be behind him. It’s safe to assume his new deal could be worth at least as much annually as his current one, though I daresay it’ll probably be higher. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a two-year, $2.75-million contract. He’ll earn $1.25 million in 2018-19 and $1.5 million the following season. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, $1-million contract

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks traded goaltender Jean-Francois Berube to the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Jordan Schroeder. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday completed “a $135 million financing of a “six year senior term debt with a syndicate of financial institutions.” It’s a move that could indicate team owner Eugene Melnyk has no intention of selling the club. 

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee “has been charged with a new count of harassment stemming from his May 31 arrest in Buffalo after a hotel shuttle driver complained of unwanted sexual advances.”


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2017

Game recaps, injury updates and the Red Wings make two trades. Details in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Anze Kopitar scored twice and Dustin Brown collected four points to give the Los Angeles Kings a 6-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Kings remain the only team unbeaten in regulation this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since changing to a more offensive style under new head coach John Stevens, the Kings are a different team compared to the club that struggled to score last season under Darryl Sutter’s defensive system. After finishing 24th in goals for per game last season (2.43), the Kings are currently third (3.86).  

William Karlsson’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. The expansion Golden Knights have won six of their first seven games. However, they’ve lost another goaltender to injury as Malcolm Subban left the game with a lower-body injury.

Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey each had a goal and an assist as the New York Rangers snapped a five-game losing skid by doubling up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Filip Forsberg also had a goal and an assists for the Predators. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist collected his 407th career NHL win, moving into a tie with Glenn Hall for ninth on the all-time list.

Lance Bouma scored the game winner as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Coyotes remain winless (0-7-1) this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A season that began with so much promise for the Coyotes following a summer of roster and coaching changes has quickly gone off the rails. Could a front-office shakeup be next? 

Steven Stamkos netted four points and Nikita Kucherov scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning crushed the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1.

Ryan Suter collected three points and Alex Stalock kicked out 35 shots to give the Minnesota Wild a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames, who also lost winger Jaromir Jagr to a lower-body injury.

Derrick Brassard and Mark Stone each had two goals and an assist as the Ottawa Senators held off a third-period rally by the Toronto Maple Leafs to emerge with a 6-3 victory. Auston Matthews and William Nylander each had a goal and an assists for the Leafs. Senators winger Bobby Ryan fractured his right index finger blocking a shot and will be sidelined for a month.

James Reimer made 41 saves as the Florida Panthers ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Before the game, the Panthers announced goaltender Roberto Luongo was placed on injured reserve (right hand) and will be out at least a week.

Ryan O’Reilly scored in overtime as the Buffalo Sabres overcame a three-goal deficit to edge the Boston Bruins 5-4. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each scored twice for the Bruins, who placed center David Krejci and defenseman Kevan Miller on injured reserve.

John Tavares scored a goal and set up two others while Anders Lee tallied twice to give the New York Islanders a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Logan Couture scored all of the Sharks goals.

Wayne Simmonds’ late third-period goal gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Tyler Pitlick scored twice and Ben Bishop made 36 saves as the Dallas Stars nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Jeff Skinner scored twice for the Hurricanes.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings made two trades Saturday to free up salary-cap space and clear a log jam on their blueliner. They shipped center Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round selection to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing Scott Wilson and a third-round pick in 2018. They also dealt blueliner Ryan Sproul to the New York Rangers in exchange for winger Matt Puempel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheahan ($2 million cap hit) was moved to create salary-cap space for winger Andreas Athanasiou’s one-year, $1.38) million contract.  The Pens were in the market for an affordable third-line center and were linked to Sheahan in the rumor mill since the summer. 

Sheahan’s struggled offensively since last season but perhaps he’ll regain his scoring touch with a deeper roster. His defensive ability, size (6’3″, 226 lbs) and versatility (he can also play on the wing) are the attributes that made him attractive for the Penguins. Sproul will report to the Rangers AHL affiliate in Hartford while Puempel is headed to Grand Rapids. 


Latest on the Red Wings & Golden Knights – September 27, 2017

Latest on the Red Wings & Golden Knights – September 27, 2017

No progress yet on the Detroit Red Wings efforts to re-sign Andreas Athanasiou.

Updates on Andreas Athanasiou and Riley Sheahan plus the Golden Knights could shop a defenseman. The latest in your NHL rumor mill.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James recently reported there’s been “nothing but silence” since Detroit Red Wings free-agent forward Andreas Athanasiou met with management over 10 days ago.

Athansiou received a one-year, $2.5 million contract offer from KHL team AK Bars Kazan. Wings GM Ken Holland said he wouldn’t negotiate against the KHL. He’s offered Athanasiou a one-year. $1.25 million contract or two years at $1.9 million per season.

It doesn’t appear as though he’ll accept the KHL offer and St. James said it’s unclear what his next move will be. St. James suggests it’s possible he could seek a trade. Given his limited NHL resume, the Wings are unlikely to do that.

THE ATHLETIC: Prashanth Iyer examines how Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan’s poor performance last season is hurting his trade value. He notes Sheahan has come up in trade speculation, notably in a rumored deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins involving defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who has limited NHL experience.

The Wings’ priority is to shed salary to free up salary-cap room to re-sign Athanasiou, but the Wings can’t be certain they’ll get fair value for Sheahan. If there’s a deal to be made with the Pens, Iyer suggests the return should be Pouliot plus a second- or third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the silence regarding Athanasiou could be tied to the Wings efforts to shed salary and free up sufficient cap space to re-sign him. If he was going to the KHL he would’ve done so by now.

As for the potential return for Sheahan, the Wings could find themselves in a “beggars can’t be choosers” scenario. His poor stats last season hurts his trade value and they must free up cap room to re-sign Athanasiou.

Unless Holland has another deal up his sleeve to address that issue, he could have little choice but to take whatever he can get to clear most of Sheahan’s cap hit from his books. 

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen cites Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee saying he’s returning some calls from clubs interested in acquiring one of his 11 defensemen. Boylen suggests veteran Jason Garrison, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, could make a decent trade candidate. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For weeks there’s been anticipation McPhee could trade a blueliner so it’s unsurprising that he’s starting to talk with other clubs after evaluating his roster during training camp and preseason play. That move could occur in the coming days.

It remains to be seen, however, if it’ll involve the 32-year-old Garrison. He carries a $4.6 million cap hit and a no-trade clause, making him difficult to move.