NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2022

Speculation is growing suggesting the Canucks could trade J.T. Miller. Could the Capitals or Penguins be among the suitors? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston cited CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Vancouver Canucks are once again listening to trade offers. He added he checked with the 29-year-old center’s representatives, who weren’t surprised by the news.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Miller is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s coming off a career-best 99-point performance this season. He carries a $5.25 million cap hit on his current contract and is in line for a big pay raise.

Johnston spoke with Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, who indicated the club would like to keep Miller, However, he warned that it might not make sense for both sides. “We’d like to do it but we’ve got to be careful,” said Rutherford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller was a fixture in this season’s rumor mill leading up to the March trade deadline. The Canucks retained him in part because they were still jockeying for a playoff berth.

It doesn’t hurt to gauge Miller’s value in the trade market but it doesn’t mean he’s certain to be moved. Nevertheless, if the cost of re-signing him proves too high or if he’d prefer to test next summer’s trade market, it’s best to move him this summer (preferably before free agency opens on July 13) when teams have the cap space and the willingness to make deals for players like him.

Better to move Miller for the best possible return now than have his eventual departure hang over the Canucks next season. It would be an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction for him and the team.

There’s no guarantee hanging onto Miller for the trade deadline will result in a better return. If he gets injured, his value plummets. If it’s a season-ending injury, they’ll at worst lose him for nothing to free agency next July or at best get a conditional draft pick if they shop his rights before the free-agent market opens.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Dhaliwal that the Washington Capitals have been linked to Miller and Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. The Capitals are searching for a suitable replacement for Nicklas Backstrom, whose future is in doubt after undergoing potential career-ending hip resurfacing surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller would be the better choice for the Capitals. He’s locked in for one more season at $5.25 million. Kadri is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and in line for a big raise over his current $4.5 million annual average value.

Whether the Capitals can afford the Canucks’ asking price is another matter. I suspect they’ll want a first-round pick or a top prospect plus a young, promising NHL player in return.

Replacing Backstrom isn’t the only issue facing the Capitals this summer. Silber points out they need a proven starting goaltender, a scoring winger and blueline depth.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson reports the New Jersey Devils have been mentioned as a suitor for Miller. They’re willing to part with their 2022 first-round pick (second overall) for the right price. He also mentioned the Pittsburgh Penguins could be interested if Evgeni Malkin departs via free agency next month.

Simpson suggested Capitals winger Conor Sheary might be enticing to the Canucks brass, as they remember him well from their days with the Penguins. The Caps also have a right-shot prospect defenseman in Coquitlam native Vincent Iorio who could interest them.

Penguins defenseman John Marino could be an attractive option for the Canucks. Winger Kasperi Kapanen could be another option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller can play wing or center, which could work for the Devils in their quest for an impact player to play alongside their young forwards. However, they might prefer assurances they can re-sign Miller before parting with that second-overall pick. Otherwise, they risk losing him for nothing next summer.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m skeptical that the Capitals have enough to offer up to the Canucks for Miller. Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin know the Penguins’ depth pretty well from their tenures there. Whether a deal can be made there, however, is another matter.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

The Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put off contract discussion, Mikael Granlund returns to the Predators, the Lightning sign Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta, the Capitals sign Conor Sheary, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have agreed to put contract talks on the back-burner. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There were reports in October that the two sides were making progress on a contract extension.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could resume negotiations at some point during the season. The flattened salary cap for the foreseeable future will affect the value of Nugent-Hopkins and his peers in next summer’s UFA market. He’s earning $6 million per season on his current contract. The longer he goes unsigned, however, the more likely his name could pop up in trade rumors.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed winger Mikael Granlund to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised by this signing because of Granlund’s offensive struggles during his previous season and a half with the Predators and reports he was seeking a long-term deal. It was rumored the Preds were interested in winger Mike Hoffman to boost their scoring punch. Both sides evidently decided it would be worthwhile to give it another go.

It’s an affordable deal for the Predators that would leave them with $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) for the coming season. That will provide general manager David Poile with considerable flexibility to put toward another UFA signing or to make trades as needed over the course of the season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.95 million. They also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jan Rutta to a two-year deal worth $1.3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These signings push the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.15 million with RFA center Anthony Cirelli still to be signed. The Bolts have until Jan. 13 to become cap compliant. They’re expected to make a cost-cutting trade or two but could get some flexibility if winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) ends up on long-term injury reserve because of a nagging hip ailment.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed UFA winger Conor Sheary to a one-year, $735K contract. He’s expected to skate on their third line. The signing leaves the Capitals with $2.2 million in cap space.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland announced his NHL retirement yesterday. He was one of the original Golden Knights selected in the 2017 expansion draft and the club’s unofficial leader. The 38-year-old blueliner also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames during his 11 NHL seasons, tallying 127 points in 671 regular-season games. He won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2018 as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Engelland in his future endeavors.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former Toronto Maple Leafs center Frederik Gauthier is considering a professional tryout offer with the Arizona Coyotes. He spent parts of the last five seasons with the Leafs.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed UFA forward Jordan Nolan to an AHL contract earlier this month. He could have a shot at cracking the roster in training camp next month. Nolan spent six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning two Stanley Cups. He also played for the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. He spent last season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings intend to name their first captain in three years. Dylan Larkin is considered the front-runner for the captaincy. The role has been vacant since former captain Henrik Zetterberg’s playing career was ended by nagging back injuries in 2018.

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA announced its medical protocols and critical dates for the coming season. They also revealed a change to the offside rule (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) indicating a player’s skate will not have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be on-side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only change to the previously reported critical dates is the last possible date for awarding the Stanley Cup was changed to July 9 from July 15, though it comes with a note indicating that date could change. The same goes for the May 11th start of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals are the first teams to unveil helmet ads on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads are on the side of the helmets where the team logos used to be. They’re not garish or create an unnecessary distraction. Based on the photos provided in the link, I daresay the other NHL clubs will follow their lead.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2020

The latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and an update on the Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Jose M. Romero reports Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has returned to Arizona and hopes to join a group of his teammates on Monday working out at Gila River Arena. He maintains he’s “really glad” he’s a Coyote, which is why he signed his eight-year contract with the club. However, the 29-year-old defenseman acknowledged it’s been a difficult offseason after he was part of trade talks between the Coyotes and the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause but only agreed to waive it for the Bruins and Canucks. The Coyotes’ efforts to trade him fell through when a deal couldn’t be reached with either club before his self-imposed deadline on Oct. 9.

The long-time Coyotes blueliner said he understood this was a business decision. He denied any suggestion of tension with new general manager Bill Armstrong and doesn’t expect any strain going forward with their relationship.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Ekman-Larsson explained why he choose Boston and Vancouver. He said the Bruins had an interest in him before he signed his current contract. He also spent a lot of time in Boston when he played in Portland, Maine during the 2012-13 lockout. His Swedish friends enjoyed playing and living in Vancouver plus his agent lives there. He also believes the Canucks have a promising young team.

Asked if he envisioned the Coyotes approaching him again about a trade, Ekman-Larsson left that up to Armstrong. He maintains he’s happy in Arizona but would deal with that issue if it came up again. He repeated he has no issue with what recently went down but expects at some point he’ll sit down with management and talk it through. Ekman-Larsson defended Armstrong, pointing out he arrived at a tough time for the club and had a job to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A deal couldn’t be reached sending Ekman-Larsson to Boston or Vancouver because Armstrong understandably set a high asking price. It’s also believed the Coyotes weren’t willing to absorb part of the blueliner’s $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit. Perhaps the Bruins or Canucks would’ve taken on his full cap hit during a normal offseason, especially if the salary cap rose to between $84 million and $88 million as projected before the pandemic.

Ekman-Larsson’s name could resurface in the rumor mill if the Coyotes struggle during the coming season or if ownership wants to shed more salary. However, his no-movement clause will continue to give him full control over the situation. His annual average value through 2026-27 will also make him very difficult to move, especially if the Coyotes remain reluctant to pick up part of it to facilitate a trade.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan recently examined the Capitals’ options to bring in a third-line winger. He expects Daniel Sprong is the strongest candidate if they look to promote from within.

If the Capitals look to external options, their limited cap space (less than $1.5 million) means they could afford two players at barely over the league’s minimum salary. If they can free up some cap room, free agents such as Conor Sheary, Andreas Athanasiou and Melker Karlsson could be realistic possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regan believes the Capitals could move a defenseman, such as Nick Jensen, to a club with salary-cap space (such as Detroit or New Jersey) to free up room to add via free agency. The Wings need blueline depth but they could also squeeze the Capitals to include a sweetener.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2020

A look at the latest list of notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: updated their list of noteworthy unrestricted free agents as the calendar flipped to November. Winger Mike Hoffman, center Erik Haula, and wingers Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund, and Anthony Duclair fill out the top five.

Could Corey Perry sign with the Ottawa Senators? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely reported Hoffman seeks a one-year, $6 million contract and is willing to be patient to get the deal he wants. The Nashville Predators are rumored to be among his suitors.

There’s some recent speculation linking Haula to the Pittsburgh Penguins but they’ve got $80.1 million invested in 23 players. Unless they shed salary there’s no room for another UFA addition.

Perry’s been linked to the Ottawa Senators but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to the Dallas Stars on a one-year deal. Nothing new on Granlund and Duclair, though that doesn’t mean there’s no interest in either winger.

Defensemen Sami Vatanen and Zdeno Chara, winger Andreas Athanasiou, center Carl Soderberg and blueliner Travis Hamonic round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing of note regarding Vatanen, Athanasiou, Soderberg and Hamonic but Chara’s future remains a topic of interest. It was assumed the long-time Bruins captain would return for another season in Boston. However, that’s no longer a certainty as he intends to take his time before reaching a decision.

Wingers Ilya Kovalchuk, Matt Martin, Conor Sheary, Michael Frolik and Colin Wilson fill spots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk is reportedly hoping to sign with a contender and is waiting for the right offer. There was talk earlier this year that the Montreal Canadiens might try to bring him back but their offseason acquisitions of Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli make that unlikely.

The New York Islanders are working to bring back Martin. It’s rumored the San Jose Sharks have spoken with Sheary. Nothing new about Frolik while hip surgeries may have ended Wilson’s playing career.

Other notables on the list include Andy Greene and Karl Alzner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There speculation the Islanders could bring back Greene. Alzner, meanwhile, was recently linked to the Boston Bruins as insurance if Chara doesn’t return.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins