NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2020

Could the Penguins trade Kris Letang? Are the Blackhawks trying to re-sign Corey Crawford? Could Wayne Simmonds join the Leafs? What’s the latest on the Canucks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE PENGUINS TRADE LETANG?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Rob Rossi reports Kris Letang would like to retire as a Pittsburgh Penguin but feels the club could try to trade him. Neither ownership nor management feels the club would be better without Letang and the return of Todd Reirden as an assistant coach could benefit the 33-year-old defenseman.

Nevertheless, Rossi cites multiple team sources saying Letang expects to be traded. League sources claim Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was gauging the market value of the veteran blueliner but he’s not actively shopping him. Rutherford reportedly confided to associates that the right thing is for Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to retire as Penguins-for-life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t dismiss the possibility of Letang getting traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s suiting up with the Penguins next season.

Letang’s contract won’t be easy to move. He has two years remaining on his contract worth $7.25 million per season. He also has an 18-team no-trade list and a no-movement clause preventing him from being demoted to the minors. The flattened salary cap for 2020-21 will also affect his trade value.

I don’t fault Rutherford for exploring the trade market to see what’s out there for Letang. He probably doesn’t think he’ll find a suitable deal but it doesn’t hurt to consider that option. Maybe a club on the blueliner’s list of preferred trade destinations makes an offer too good to pass up.

BLACKHAWKS MAKE OFFER TO CRAWFORD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks are believed to have offered Corey Crawford a one-year contract worth around $3.5 million. The 35-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford’s completing a six-year, $36-million contract worth $6 million annually, but he knows he’s not getting that much for an annual average value again. The netminder is also aware of the Hawks’ cap constraints. Maybe he takes the hometown discount on a one-year deal, especially if that $3.5-million offer is the base salary for a bonus-laden deal.

SIMMONDS EXPRESSES INTEREST IN JOING THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports Wayne Simmonds believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are a team where he could have an impact right away. The 32-year-old winger is a UFA on Oct. 9 and spent last season split between the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. He recently moved his family north of Toronto and spends a lot of time in the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds also indicated he’s open to everything as free agency approaches. “Whoever wants to choose me, I’ll be waiting. I’ll definitely be ready to go,” he told LeBrun. He’s also aware of the cap constraints facing the Leafs and other teams for next season.

Injuries hampered Simmonds’ performance over the past two years, limiting his effectiveness as a power forward. Still, he could be an affordable signing for clubs seeking veteran grit and leadership. Maybe a cap-strapped club like the Leafs comes calling.

THE LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports re-signing goaltender Jacob Markstrom is the top priority for Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning. It’s believed the Markstrom camp seeks over $6-million annually while the Canucks are believed to have countered with $5.5 million per season.

Re-signing Markstrom could affect the rest of the roster. Johnston also points out the Canucks are unlikely to keep Markstrom and promising goalie Thatcher Demko in next year’s expansion draft.

Johnston also reports Jake Virtanen could be shopped in the trade market. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, but with Benning hoping to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli, Virtanen would be demoted to third- or fourth-line duty. Benning indicated they’ve been patient with Virtanen but was expecting more production from the winger, especially in the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $64.4 million invested in 16 players next season, a deal worth over $6 million annually for Markstrom will bite deeply into the Canucks’ remaining cap space. So will a new contract for Toffoli.

Trading Virtanen would allow money that would’ve gone to him be put toward re-signing Toffoli or another player. However, Benning still must shed salary to absorb new contracts for Markstrom and Toffoli and leave sufficient room for other moves.

Benning’s reportedly attempted to move winger Loui Eriksson ($6-million annually through 2021-22) without success. Brandon Sutter ($4.35 million) could be another trade candidate. The Canucks GM might get some wiggle room if Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million AAV through 2022-23) starts the season on long-term injury reserve, but he’ll have to make cap room for Ferland’s return.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2020

The latest on Kyle Palmieri, a busy off-season faces Sabres new GM Kevyn Adams and a brief note on Chris Tanev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PALMIERI HOPES TO REMAIN A DEVIL

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri (Photo via NHL Images).

NORTHJERSEY.COM/NJ.COM: Nick Gantaifis and Randy Miller report Kyle Palmieri hopes to remain part of the New Jersey Devils’ rebuilding plans. The 29-year-old winger is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Without a doubt,” Palmieri said Tuesday in a media conference call. “I do love being in New Jersey. I love being close to home. And I have a ton of belief in this organization moving forward as to what we’re building, and I hope to be a part of it.”

Gantaifis notes Palmieri and the Devils might ordinarily open contract extension talks on July 1. Given the uncharacteristic and premature start to the off-season, that target date remains uncertain.

It’s a big unknown,” Palmieri said. “Obviously, the calendar and important dates haven’t really been set yet. There’s so much up in the air and so much to figure out as far as the return to play and figuring all that stuff out.”

Miller suggests Chris Kreider would be a good comparable for Palmieri. The New York Rangers winger signed a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in February. Both are the same age and have roughly similar stats. Kreider’s averaged 23 goals and 46 points over the past five seasons, while Palmieri’s averaged 26 goals and 50 points since 2015-16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider is a fair comparison for Palmieri. With over $36 million invested in eight players for 2021-22, the Devils can easily afford to pay Palmieri over $7 million annually.

Of course, that figure will rise this year because of their anticipated re-signings of key free agents such as Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt. It could go significantly higher if they bring in talent via trades or free agency in the off-season A flat salary-cap for 2021-22 could also affect the Devils cap room.

Palmieri’s contract talks also remain in limbo because ownership hasn’t decided if interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald will stay in that role on a full-time basis. A new GM could have a different opinion of Palmieri’s value. If so, we could hear his name mentioned a lot as the 2021 trade deadline rolls around.

NEW SABRES GM FACES A BUSY OFF-SEASON

THE SCORE: John Matisz examined a lengthy to-do list for Kevyn Adams, who was named earlier this week as the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.

Re-signing winger Sam Reinhart and goaltender Linus Ullmark to fair deals, being cautious with pending UFAs like Wayne Simmonds and Michael Frolik, and sorting out the future of defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are among the key issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart and Ullmark are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. As one of the Sabres’ leading scorers, Reinhart will likely seek a multi-year deal worth around $6 million annually. Ullmark has less of an established body of NHL work on his resume, giving Adams more leverage in negotiations.

Matisz pointed out Adams has no previous ties to Simmonds and Frolik. He could opt to cut them loose and pursue better UFA options.

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger recently expressed his wish to coach Ristolainen again next season. We’ll find out soon enough how much sway he has with his new boss.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2020

Should the Oilers re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Which notable players should the Sabres retain? Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.

SHOULD THE OILERS RE-SIGN NUGENT-HOPKINS ASAP?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell called upon the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once this season is over. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Should the Edmonton Oilers attempt to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the off-season (Photo via NHL Images).

Mitchell cited Nugent-Hopkins’ improved offensive game skating on the wing alongside Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. A big offensive performance next season could make re-signing him more difficult. He suggested inking Nugent-Hopkins to a six-year, $45-million extension, which would equate to an annual average value of $7.5 million.

Mitchell believes the idea of moving Nugent-Hopkins at next season’s trade deadline is noxious to Oilers’ fans. He feels the Oilers will never get full value back by moving him as a playoff rental. He thinks there’s no one in the Oilers’ system to adequately replace the versatile forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the previous two seasons. His solid play this season and the Oilers’ improvement in the standings silenced that chatter for the most part. However, he could resurface in next season’s rumor mill he’s still unsigned as the trade deadline approaches.

As Mitchell observes, the salary cap will determine what the Oilers can afford to re-sign Nugent-Hopkins. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $48 million invested in nine players for 2021-22.

Some of that cap room will be taken up this year by re-signing or replacing such notables as Mike Smith, Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis, and Riley Sheahan. Yamamoto, Alex Chiasson, Adam Larsson, and Kris Russell will be among those due for new contracts in 2021.

Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for 2021-22, there should be enough to accommodate a $7.5 million AAV for Nugent-Hopkins. His performance next season will also be a determining factor.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski and Mike Harrington weighed in on which notable players the Sabres should retain.

They were split on Rasmus Ristolainen, as Lysowski pointed to the regression in the blueliner’s play. Moving him could fetch some scoring help and free up cap room to sign a free-agent rearguard like Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen often comes up as a Sabres’ trade candidate. However, general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Ralph Krueger indicated last week they still consider the 25-year-old defenseman among their core players. If so, that suggests Ristolainen won’t be shopped.

Both believe Brandon Montour should be traded. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent and they feel there’s no room for his style of play in Krueger’s system. He could bring the Sabres a second- or third-line forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have depth on the blueline but need more on their forward lines. If Ristolainen isn’t shopped, Montour could become the likely candidate. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and has arbitration rights this year. Ristolainen, on the other hand, is under contract through 2021-22.

They also split on Jimmy Vesey, with Harrington believing he’s not the scoring winger he was projected to become.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Harrington on this one. A highly-touted college player, Vesey’s struggled in the NHL.

Both believe the Sabres should re-sign UFA winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal, part ways with UFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Michael Frolik, and Vladimir Sobotka, and attempt to trade goalie Carter Hutton.










NHL Trade & Free Agent Candidates – Buffalo Sabres

NHL Trade & Free Agent Candidates – Buffalo Sabres

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2020

The latest on the Blackhawks and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope recently reported the Blackhawks will finish the season with Corey Crawford and Malcolm Subban as their goalie tandem, but the future between the pipes appears murky. General manager Stan Bowman said his club will have a proven NHL goalie signed for next season, but didn’t shed light on who it’ll be.

Will the Chicago Blackhawks re-sign Corey Crawford? (Photo via NHL Images)

Pope doesn’t expect Subban fits into the Blackhawks’ future. All eyes will be upon Crawford, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and has a concussion history. If Crawford departs, Bowman’s options in the UFA market could include Brady Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Jaroslav Halak, Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, Mike Smith, and former Blackhawk Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford is 35 now and his best seasons are behind him. Perhaps he’ll agree to a one- or two-year deal for less than his current $6-million annual average value. If he agrees, I can see the Hawks trying to land an affordable backup via trade or free agency.

If they part ways with Crawford, I doubt they can afford Holtby or Markstrom. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are experienced backups, but they’ll try to get the best deal possible if they hit the open market. Smith, 37, is in the twilight of his career. Lehner didn’t sound happy over his dealings with Blackhawks management this season and could seek a long-term deal elsewhere.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers speculates it could get expensive for the Blackhawks to re-sign Dominik Kubalik. The 24-year-old winger leads all rookies with 29 goals and is tied with Patrick Kane for the lead among Blackhawks scorers.

Kubalik’s completing a one-year contract worth $925K and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. The Blackhawks’ limited salary cap space will be a factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks’ goaltending situation could also affect what they can comfortably afford for Kubalik. Powers said both sides sound like they don’t want to go the arbitration route. Perhaps a one-year deal around $3 million can be worked out, with the promise of a more lucrative contract if Kubalik builds upon his rookie season.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE SABRES’ OFF-SEASON

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy examined potential off-season moves following another disappointing season for the Buffalo Sabres. Bolstering their offense could be the priority. The Sabres will free up a lot of salary-cap space if they allow Michael Frolik, Jimmy Vesey, Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson to walk this summer. Wayne Simmonds might be worth retaining for toughness and leadership for the right price. Recent acquisition Dominik Kahun could be an affordable re-signing.

Kennedy feels they need to improve their penalty killing, suggesting Derek Grant and Vladislav Namestnikov as possible UFA targets. He advocates giving the starter’s job to Linus Ullmark but also suggests checking to see if Robin Lehner would be open to returning to Buffalo, or pursuing Jacob Markstrom if he doesn’t re-up with the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres currently have just over $47 million invested in 10 players. Part of their cap space will be taken up re-signing RFAs like Kahun, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Brandon Montour, and Lawrence Pilut. Nevertheless, they’ll have enough to address some of their needs via trades or free agency.

I anticipate GM Jason Botterill will be busy in both markets, with bringing in a top-six scorer (preferably a center) his priority. I daresay we’ll also see defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen resurface in the trade rumor mill.










The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

New York Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $6.5 million

Not a trade, but Kreider was considered the top trade bait entering deadline day. Reports out of New York this morning suggested he was likely to be moved. The Rangers bent on the term, as they reportedly offered a six-year deal. Perhaps the Kreider camp gave a little on the dollars. The 28-year-old left-winger gets the long-term deal to stay put, but time will tell if this deal pans out over the long term for the Blueshirts.

The New York Islanders acquire and sign center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau

The Islanders address a glaring need on their forward lines with Pageau, a skilled two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing. They overpaid to get him, sending a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a 2020 second-rounder, and a conditional third in 2022 to the Ottawa Senators. That was offset by re-signing Pageau to a six-year, $30-million contract extension. The rebuilding Senators got a fine return, leaving them with potentially 13 picks in the 2020 Draft, with nine of those in the first three rounds.

Carolina Hurricanes acquire Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils

The Hurricanes shored up their banged-up blueline by parting with a first-round pick for Skjei and shipping forward Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional second-round pick to the Devils for Vatanen. With Dougie Hamilton out for several more weeks with a broken leg and Brett Pesce sidelined by an upper-body injury, Skjei and Vatanen should help fill the gaps.

Florida Panthers trade Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes

The Panthers were rumored for weeks to be in the market for a top-four defenseman and Trocheck recently surfaced as a trade candidate. Instead, they swap him for checking-line forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark plus two prospects. Trocheck, meanwhile, should provide the Hurricanes with some welcome depth at center.

Vegas Golden Knights acquire goaltender Robin Lehner

Big pickup there for the Golden Knights, shipping Malcolm Subban, a prospect and a second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist. Lehner will share the duties with starter Marc-Andre Fleury, providing Vegas with a solid one-two punch between the pipes.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire forwards Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made a significant move earlier this month by acquiring Jason Zucker from Minnesota. He wasn’t done tinkering with his forward lines, bringing in three key playoff rentals. They got Marleau for the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-rounder and shipped center Dominik Kahun to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. In the twilight of his career, Marleau gets a final shot at winning the Stanley Cup. It’s Sheary’s second go-around with the Penguins, winning Cups with them in 2016 and 2017. Rodrigues had requested a trade from the Sabres earlier in the season.

Edmonton Oilers deal for winger Andreas Athanasiou

The Oilers sent Sam Gagner and two second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings for one of the fastest players in the league in Athanasiou, prompting speculation he’ll become a new linemate for Connor McDavid. If those two mesh well together, Athanasiou will regain the 30-goal form that he’s been lacking this season. Failing that, perhaps he’ll be a better fit on their second line with either Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers also acquired winger Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Mke Green from the Red Wings.

Calgary Flames bring in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort

With Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic still sidelined, the Flames sent a third-round pick in 2020 to the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustafsson and a conditional fourth in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for Forbort. Gustafsson is a mobile blueliner and Forbort will bring a physical edge to the Flames defense corps.

Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds

The Sabres sent a fifth-rounder in 2021 to the New Jersey Devils for Simmonds. He’ll provide leadership and experience, but won’t address their ongoing need for a scorer. At least they didn’t pay much to get him, plus the Devils picked up half of his $5-million salary-cap hit.

Boston Bruins trade winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie

This is a swap of two young forwards who needed a change of scenery. Ritchie was the Ducks first-round pick (10th overall) in 2014 but struggled to play up to expectations as a power forward. Heinen had a promising rookie performance (47 points) in 2017-18, but his production has eroded since then.

Colorado Avalanche land Vladislav Namestnikov

With their forward lines depleted by injuries, the Avs sent a 202 fourth-rounder to the Ottawa Senators for the versatile Namestnikov. The 27-year-old is a solid two-way forward who can skate at center or on the wing. He should fit in well on their checking lines.

Philadelphia Flyers add Derek Grant and Nate Thompson

The Flyers had an interest in Jean-Gabriel Pageau before the Senators shipped him to the Islanders. They instead went a more affordable route, sending a minor-league forward and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Anaheim Ducks for Grant, and a 2021 fifth-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for Nate Thompson. The two veterans will provide the Flyers with experienced depth up the middle.

Vancouver Canucks acquire Louis Domingue

With starting goalie Jacob Markstrom sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, the Canucks sent minor-league goalie Zane McIntyre to the Devils for Domingue. He’ll split the duties with Thatcher Demko and should provide some additional insurance once Markstrom returns.