Check out the latest on the Capitals and Sharks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber recently cited Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan telling a local radio show that one of his off-season goals will be to bring in a top-six winger.
Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan (NHL.com).
Silber noted that Alex Ovechkin is the only Capital to reach the 20-goal plateau with a team-leading 36. T.J. Oshie is second with 16 goals. MacLellan intends to use some of the draft picks acquired before the trade deadline to potentially make some moves in the offseason. Free agency could also provide some options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $10 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 15 roster players under contract. All of their core players are under contract but adding a top-six winger could eat up a big chunk of that cap space. MacLellan could include a salaried player in a trade packaged with a draft pick to bring in that scoring winger.
Silber also reported that Conor Sheary was relieved that he wasn’t moved at last Friday’s trade deadline. An unrestricted free agent on July 1, Sheary hopes to re-sign with the Capitals but said there hasn’t been much progress on a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheary is completing a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.5 million. He should be an affordable re-signing but that could depend on how much cap space the Capitals have if they find that aforementioned top-six winger.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently indicated that an unnamed team made a “real, legit offer” for Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro. Despite struggling at times this season, the 24-year-old remains a talented and competitive blueliner. Sharks GM Mike Grier is said to have set a high asking price for Ferraro.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferraro is also in the first season of a four-year contract with a cost-effective $3.25 million AAV. He would be a valuable trade chip if the Sharks intend to engage in a complete roster rebuild. Then again, Grier could see him as a valuable part of a rebuilding roster.
Why didn’t the Flyers trade James van Riemsdyk on deadline day? Were the Predators willing to move Roman Josi and Juuse Saros? What went on with the Hurricanes, Capitals and Sharks? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WHY DIDN’T THE FLYERS TRADE VAN RIEMSDYK ON DEADLINE DAY?
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said he spoke with other clubs for three weeks leading up to the March 3 trade deadline. He was willing to take on a player with an expiring contract, one with a one-way contract in the minors and was also willing to retain salary but couldn’t find a buyer.
Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).
Fletcher said he didn’t get an offer for James van Riemsdyk until 1:40 pm ET on deadline day. He said it was a conditional offer that required the interested club to move one of its forwards to another team in order to finalize the deal for van Riemsdyk.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi cited reports claiming the Flyers had a deal with the Detroit Red Wings for van Riemsdyk but it fell through. Fletcher said he tried to move the winger to a playoff contender and hope to get a draft pick in return. The Seattle Kraken were rumored to be interested but nothing came of it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher was pilloried by Flyers fans on social media following the deadline. He said he’s not worried about his job but he and the front office have faced increasing heat since last summer from fans and pundits over the club’s questionable moves and an apparent lack of direction.
The Flyers finally admitted earlier this week that they weren’t going to make the playoffs and would be sellers at the deadline. They could finally admit to themselves that a much-needed roster rebuild is required. Whether Fletcher and his front-office staff will be part of it remains to be seen.
PREDATORS CONSIDERED JOSI AND SAROS AS UNTOUCHABLE
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile said defenseman Roman Josi and goaltender Juuse Saros were considered off-limits during trade discussions leading up to Friday’s deadline. He indicated that his club was making changes that he hoped were short-term “to make our long-term future very bright.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi’s name didn’t come up in trade rumors but a few pundits mentioned Saros as a possible trade candidate. Poile’s recent moves (shipping out Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Mattias Ekholm and Tanner Jeannot for draft picks and prospects) indicate his successor Barry Trotz will be rebuilding around Josi and Saros.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, CAPITALS AND SHARKS
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell indicated there was one major trade his club was in on but couldn’t pull off. He said that trade discussions often started with his club giving up a first-round pick or one of their younger players, which he was unwilling to do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell limited himself to acquiring winger Jesse Puljujarvi from Edmonton and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from Arizona. He said the front office believes the team is good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup led by head coach Rob Brind’Amour.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber reports the Capitals received trade offers for winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk leading up to the deadline. GM Brian MacLellan opted to retain them because he sees the pending free agents as players his club could retain after this season.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Max Miller reports Sharks goaltender James Reimer was disappointed not to be traded to a playoff contender before the deadline. Sharks GM Mike Grier reported a trade was never close for the 34-year-old netminder. Once Jonathan Quick and Joonas Korpisalo got traded, Grier said there wasn’t a big market for goalies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coyotes announce they will have a limited capacity of fans for home games.
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.