NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2020

The latest on the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently examined the Edmonton Oilers’ restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents. He speculated recently-acquired Andreas Athanasiou could receive a one-year contract, but there’s a slight chance he could be traded.

Could Edmonton Oilers winger Andreas Athanasiou become an off-season trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

UFA goaltender Mike Smith‘s strong play since Christmas could earn him a new deal with the Oilers. Mitchell also suspects Tyler Ennis, Riley Sheahan, and perhaps Mike Green could also be back.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reported the Oilers would like to bring back winger Anton Slepyshev. The 25-year-old winger signed with the KHL two years ago. However, he anticipated they won’t offer Slepyshev more than $1.5 million, viewing him as a bottom-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $70 million invested in 15 players, the Oilers could have around $11 million available if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million. Fortunately, most of those players could be affordable re-signings.

The priority signing is Ethan Bear, but he’s coming off his entry-level contract. General manager Ken Holland will likely use that leverage to ink him to an affordable bridge deal.

Athanasiou could seek a raise over his current $3 million annual average value. He’s got arbitration rights, but his poor production this season will hurt his efforts to land a more lucrative deal. It could also hurt his trade value, especially if he seeks a big pay bump.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported the Stars will have around $19.4 million in salary-cap space if it remains at $81.5 million. They have to re-sign restricted free agents Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov, as well as re-sign or replace UFA goaltender Anton Khudobin.

With Corey Perry and Mattias Janmark due to become UFAs, DeFranks speculated the Stars will be in the market for a depth forward unless Jason Robertson or Ty Dellandrea is ready to crack the roster full-time. Defensemen Roman Polak and Andrej Sekera are also UFAs, meaning the Stars will need a depth blueliner unless Thomas Harley is ready to make the jump.

The caliber of those additions will depend on how much cap space is available to them. That could also be affected by how much performance bonus money ends up carried over into next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be facing similar issues during the off-season. DeFranks assumed it could cost around $12 million for the Stars to re-sign those key free agents, with probably around $3 million in performance bonuses carrying over against next season’s cap hit.

That won’t leave much for them to find suitable replacements for Perry, Janmark, Polak, and Sekera. They could be forced into the trade market or to look to within their system.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2018

Could Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf be on the move by the Feb. 26 trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board and more in your NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane tops Frank Seravalli’s list of the top-20 trade bait heading toward the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon, Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman and Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty round out the top five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprises here, as all of them have featured prominently in the rumor mill for several weeks. Of these, the most likely to move are Kane, Green and Maroon.

I don’t dismiss the possibility of Hoffman and Pacioretty being dealt by the deadline. Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger thinks the market is “really strong” for Hoffman, suggesting the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues as possible trade destinations.

Hoffman and Pacioretty, however, are under contract beyond this season and their respective clubs will want significant returns. They’re under no pressure to move them this season.  If Hoffman and/or Pacioretty get traded I think those moves take place in the offseason, when there are more teams with available cap space and a willingness to spend. 

In sixth to tenth spots are Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek, Canadiens winger Alex Galchenyuk, Canucks blueliner Erik Gudbranson, Senators left wing Zack Smith and Vegas Golden Knights forward James Neal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek and Gudbranson are likely goners. Smith could also be on the move if the Sens fail to find a decent offer for Hoffman. Galchenyuk’s surfaced several times since last season in the rumor mill, but like Pacioretty and Hoffman, he seems a more likely summer-trade candidate.

Neal is an unrestricted free agent and the Golden Knights could have difficult re-signing him. However, their better-than-expected performance this season and his selection to the 2018 All-Star Game likely ensures he’ll finish the season in Vegas. They’ll need his experience and leadership in the playoffs. 

Golden Knights winger David Perron, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole, Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw, Oilers center Mark Letestu and New York Rangers winger Rick Nash fill positions 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Neal, Perron’s a UFA this summer. However, I think Vegas will retain him for the playoffs and attempt to re-sign him before July 1. Cole and Letestu could be on the move by the deadline.  Dreger mentioned several teams are talking about Shaw but he doesn’t know if the Canadiens are shopping him. The decline in Nash’s performance could prompt Rangers management to gauge his value in the trade market, but there’s no certainty they’ll find a taker. 

Chicago Blackhawks rearguard Cody Franson, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner, Senators blueliner Dion Phaneuf, Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek and Colorado Avalanche d-man Tyson Barrie are in spots 16 to 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Franson recently went unclaimed on the waiver wire but there’s a belief he could still have value as an affordable trade option. Until the Sabres are fully confident in promising goalie Linus Ullmark I don’t see them moving Lehner. Mrazek’s poor play won’t make him an enticing trade option for clubs seeking goaltending help.

I’m puzzled by Seravalli’s inclusion of Barrie, who’s currently sidelined with a hand injury, on this list. Granted, his defensive game leaves something to be desired, but he’s a skilled puck-moving blueliner who could play a key role in the improving Avs’ push for a playoff berth. 

Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Senators checked with the 12 teams on Phaneuf’s list of preferred trade destinations. The blueliner carries a hefty salary-cap hit ($7 million annually) for three more seasons, but it didn’t prove a hindrance when he was dealt to the Senators from Toronto two years ago. We shouldn’t fully dismiss the notion that he could get dealt again. 




NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2017

Latest on the Penguins, Blue Jackets, Senators, Hurricanes and more in your NHL rumor mill. 


 SPORTSNET: Noting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ search for a center, Elliotte Friedman suggests a reunion with the Ottawa Senators’ Derick Brassard. He points out Brassard played well for Jackets head coach John Tortorella during their time with the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion from Friedman. Brassard could be a good fit in Columbus. The Jackets have the cap space to absorb his $5 million annual cap hit, especially if they send a salaried player to Ottawa. Such a move, however, depends upon whether the Jackets are on his no-trade list, as well as the Senators’ asking price. Maybe the Jackets offer up Alexander Wennberg, who tallied 59 points in 2016-17 but is struggling this season and might benefit from a change of scenery. 


Speaking of Brassard, Friedman also notes Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was Tortorella’s assistant during that time and the Pens are also in the market for a center. Some opposing team executives consider the Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent acquisitions of Jamie Oleksiak and Michael Leighton “the tip of the iceberg.”

NBC SPORTS: In the wake of the Pittsburgh Penguins acquisitions of Oleksiak and Leighton, James O’Brien wonders who the Penguins should trade for next. He mentions Toronto’s Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman or Derick Brassard, and Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist or Andreas Athanasiou as possible fits, but doubts those Eastern rivals would want to enrich the Penguins’ roster.

O’Brien also suggests several players on expiring contracts. They include Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Vegas’ James Neal or Jonathan Marchessault, Florida’s Radim Vrbata or Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon or Ryan Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Penguins would jump at the opportunity to land Brassard from the Senators. However, they’ll have to clear sufficient room for his cap hit or convince the Sens to pick up part of it. If Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion decides to move Brassard, I suspect he’ll wait until the trade deadline in hopes of sparking a bidding war for the center. 

Unless the Leafs tumble out of the playoff race I don’t see them moving Bozak or van Riemsdyk, even if it means possibly losing them for nothing to free agency in July. The Senators and Wings could be reluctant to deal with an Eastern Conference club but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it if the Penguins were to make a better offer. The Wings could be willing to move Nyquist but they likely see Athanasiou being part of their unspoken rebuild.

Kane’s a possibility but he won’t address the Pens’ need for a third-line center. Ditto Maroon and Strome. Golden Knights GM George McPhee recently said he wouldn’t stage a fire sale at the trade deadline if his club remained in playoff contention, so don’t expect Neal or Marchessault to be available. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Carolina Hurricanes might shop a defenseman in hopes of adding an impact forward. While it’s believed they kept tabs on Matt Duchene before he was traded by Colorado to Ottawa, LeBrun doubts they were heavily involved in pursuing him. 

LeBrun believes adding a piece up front has to be a priority before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. While they could draw upon their depth on the blueline as trade bait, they don’t want to risk addressing one problem while creating another. He thinks the Canes want to keep their defense corps intact. “Perhaps there’s another way to upgrade up front at some point before Feb. 26.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading one of their defensemen for a scoring forward could create a hole on the blueline that’s tough to fill. Then again, perhaps they can fill that gap from within their system, via waivers or with a cheap trade pickup. If they’re unwilling to take the gamble by moving one of their blueliners, they’ll have to consider shopping their first-round pick and/or one or two of their top prospects. 


 SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports some teams inquired about Senators forward Mark Stone but were told he’s not available. He suspects there will be interest in forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and Zack Smith. Senators GM Pierre Dorion could be seeking young NHL players, draft picks and/or prospects.

Friedman has a hunch the Vancouver Canucks could make an increased effort to trade pending free agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He also speculates the Edmonton Oilers could move forward Anton Slepyshev.

Friedman thinks some teams have asked Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin about his plans for goaltender Charlie Lindgren. While it’s difficult to know because Bergevin doesn’t discuss trade possibilities, “the fact nothing’s happened tells you something.”

The Winnipeg Jets sent a note around the league last week indicating forward Shawn Matthias is available.


Latest on the Oilers and Rangers – October 31, 2017

Latest on the Oilers and Rangers – October 31, 2017

Edmonton Oilers reportedly shopping several players plus the New York Rangers were on a scouting trip to Ottawa on Monday.

 SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is working the phones in search of help for his struggling club. He cites a source claiming Chiarelli is willing to move left wing Anton Slepyshev to boost his scoring at right wing.

One team has expressed interest in defenseman Matt Benning. While there’s no evidence Chiarelli is shopping Benning, the 23-year-old could be the asking price if the Oilers GM is targeting younger blueliners.

As for forward Ryan Strome, Spector thinks the Oilers would “absolutely” consider moving the 24-year-old, but his current difficulties suggests they won’t get a worthwhile return. 

Spector’s colleague Chris Johnston reports the Oilers are willing to move forward Jussi Jokinen, who joined them in the offseason as a free agent. Jokinen only has one assist in nine games thus far. Johnston cites sources saying the Oilers sent a note to rival clubs to gauge interest in the 34-year-old. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Benning might have a little more value than the rest because of his puckmoving abilities. Jokinen’s best days are behind him and his trade value is probably rock bottom.

Strome is now three seasons removed from his 50-point sophomore campaign and doesn’t look like he’s ever going to regain that form. Slepyshev has some offensive skill but is showing no sign of breaking through as a scorer.

I don’t see see Jokinen, Strome, Slepyshev or Benning fetching much of a return for the Oilers. Whatever they get for any of those guys isn’t likely to immediately improve their defense or boost their secondary scoring.

Johnston also reports the New York Rangers had team president Glen Sather, assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld, consultant Doug Risebrough and scout Gilles Leger taking in Monday night’s Montreal Canadiens-Ottawa Senators game. He wonders if they were scouting Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, who’s had his struggles early this season with the Habs. While Johnston cautions not to read too much into it, he suggests this could mean the Rangers are looking for help after their terrible start to this season. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also noted the presence of Sather and company at last night’s Senators-Canadiens match. He also speculates they could’ve been looking at the 23-year-old Galchenyuk. He also suggests gritty winger Andrew Shaw may also be a person of interest for the Blueshirts, as he plays center or wing and has an abrasive, edgy style currently lacking among their forwards. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite being banished to the Habs fourth line, Galchenyuk’s scored in three of their last four games. However, he’s playing solely as a left winger, while the Rangers need depth at center. Perhaps they were eyeing Shaw, though he can at times be a loose cannon who takes bad penalties at the wrong time. I don’t see how either guy can significantly improve the Rangers right now. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2017

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could be sidelined until the end of December.

Latest on Ryan Ellis, Nick Bonino, Cody Franson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could be sidelined for the first two or three months of the upcoming NHL season because of knee surgery he underwent back in June. General manager David Poile said the usual timeline for recovery is four to six months and it appears Ellis will be out for the full six months. He anticipates Ellis’ return could be late-December.

New Predators center Nick Bonino isn’t expected to play with his new club during preseason. He’s still recovering from a broken left tibia suffered during this year’s Stanley Cup Final. It’s believed he’ll be ready to play when the Predators open the season on Oct. 5. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators anticipated Ellis’ absence would be a lengthy one. That’s why they acquired defenseman Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 1. Still, the Preds will feel Ellis’ absence. He’s a key part of their defense corps. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  The Blackhawks signed free-agent defenseman Cody Franson to a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprising development. It was reported in July that Franson could join the Hawks on a PTO contract. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed free-agent blueliner Tim Erixon to a PTO contract. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: An ankle injury could prevent Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev from participating in training camp. 

NBC SPORTS: The NHL announced former enforcer George Parros as the new senior vice-president of its Department of Player Safety. Parros vows to crack down on slashing and will seek longer suspensions for non-hockey infractions. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Parros, I’ll believe it when I see it. The NHL Department of Player Safety is a joke. Few folks take its pronouncements seriously. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired former defenseman Stephane Robidas as an assistant director of player development. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will consider this Robidas’ reward for not kicking up a fuss when the Leafs buried him for salary-cap relief during the final two years of his contract. However, since 2016 he was in a consulting role for the Leafs, working with their AHL affiliate. 

Mark your calendars, folks. TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie yesterday reported the 2018 NHL trade deadline is 3 pm ET on Monday, February 26, 2018. 

OTTAWA SUN: After suffering the embarrassment of reduced attendance numbers and empty seats at Canadian Tire Centre last season, the Senators are reducing their seating capacity from 18,500 to 17,000. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you can’t fill your building, reduce your seating. What a novel way to address the issue. You know, if an American Sun Belt team did that, some pundits and fans would be calling upon the league to relocate that club to a better hockey market.