NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2019

The latest Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Sabres general manager Jason Botterill must find a way to free up some salary cap room. Following the recent re-signings of Linus Ullmark and Jake McCabe, they’re sitting over $1 million above the $81.5-million salary cap.

One way could be using their second buyout window (which opens today) to shed a contract. Lysowski suggested forward Vladimir Sobotka or defenseman Marco Scandella as possible buyout candidates. Buying out Sobotka would free up $2 million in cap space for the coming season while a Scandella buyout would save over $3.1 million in 2019-20.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

Lysowski speculates Botterill is likely trying to free up cap room via the trade market. Sobotka would have little trade value but Scandella or Matt Hunwick ($2.25 million) could draw interest from clubs seeking blueline depth. Moving either guy won’t address their logjam of eight right-side rearguards.

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for months and seems the most likely to be moved. The Sabres would want a top-six forward in return and that would offset Ristolainen’s $5.4-million cap hit. Lysowski speculates they could also try to buy time until Zach Bogosian is healthy and then attempt to move him.

THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin reports veteran winger Jason Pominville would prefer returning with the Sabres this season. He’s spent most of his career in Buffalo and is reluctant to move his school-age children.

Botterill hasn’t ruled out bringing back Pominville, who’s an unrestricted free agent. If that isn’t possible, his agent suggested his client might be receptive if the Montreal Canadiens came calling. The Canadiens haven’t really replaced winger Andrew Shaw, who was shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks in late-June.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Sobotka buyout makes the most sense to free up cap space. We’ll find out soon if Botterill goes that route.

I still believe Botterill’s acquisition of so many right-side defensemen is in preparation of moving Ristolainen for a top-six forward. He has the most value and would attract plenty of interest in the trade market.

If Botterill is shopping Ristolainen, it could take some time to find the right deal. Perhaps that move comes next month when training camps open and teams begin to assess their rosters.

Botterill could also attempt to move Bogosian when he returns to the lineup. However, his injury history and $5.14-million cap hit could hurt his trade value.

Pominville turns 37 in November but he could still have some value to the Sabres or another club in a checking-line role. He knows he won’t be getting a lucrative multi-year contract. I can see him accepting a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a base salary of around $1.25 million.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2019

Updates on Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk, Alex Ovechkin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said contract negotiations with winger Mitch Marner remain status quo.

“I think the reality is, it’s the status quo with all these types of players throughout the league. There doesn’t seem to be anything really transpiring, and as it gets into August, it’s kind of into a bit of a slog where there doesn’t seem to be any real progress. You don’t even hear of any progress in any of the other situations.”

Marner, 22, is a restricted free agent. He’s indicated he won’t attend training camp without a contract though his preference is to be there.

No progress to report in Mitch Marner’s contract negotiations with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Status quo would apply to all of this summer’s top restricted agents. Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving recently expressed his hope of getting winger Matthew Tkachuk under contract before training camp opens next month but had nothing new to report. 

Treliving’s view is likely shared by his peers with RFA stars of their own to re-sign. Those include Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Winnipeg’s Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor, Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, Columbus’ Zach Werenski, and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. 

Money and contract term are likely the main sticking points. Marner is believed seeking a four-to-five year deal comparable in salary to Auston Matthew’s $11.6 million annual average value. Tkachuk and Rantanen could each receive over $9 million per, Point over $8 million and Laine over $7 million. The Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma recently told TSN Radio Vancouver that Boeser’s camp seeks $7 million annually.

The expectation is everyone’s waiting to see what happens with Marner. I expect they’ll only wait so long. Once the calendar flips to September, we could see most of these RFAs rush to sign new contract before training camp opens. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin received a warm welcome as he was greeted by fans upon his arrival in China. He’s in that country this week serving as an NHL ambassador.

SPORTSNET: Goaltender Cam Talbot reflected upon a difficult 2018-19 campaign that saw him lose the starter’s job in Edmonton, leading to a trade to Philadelphia where he saw little playing time with the Flyers. Talbot hopes to get his career back on track this season with the Calgary Flames.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2019

Game recaps, Alex Ovechkin reaches 50 goals again, Islanders clinch a playoff berth, Flyers eliminated from the postseason race, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain and NHL goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin scored twice and reached the 50-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career to lead his club to a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie each scored twice and collected an assist.

With the win, the Capitals (102 points) maintain a three-point lead over the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly loss for the Lightning, as defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the first period after being struck in the face by the helmet of Capitals winger Carl Hagelin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have more 50-goal seasons (nine each) than Ovechkin, who narrowly missed the cut with 49 goals last season. It’s a remarkable achievement by one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history.

For the eighth time in his career, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has scored 50 goals (Photo via NHL Images)

The New York Islanders clinched a playoff spot by downing the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. Robin Lehner made 31 stops and Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals. Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka missed the game with an upper-body injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Entering this season, the Islanders weren’t expected to be in the playoff chase following the offseason departure of John Tavares to Toronto. Credit the coaching of Barry Trotz and his staff,  a career season by goaltender Robin Lehner, and the determination of the players for the Isles surprising performance. 

The Philadelphia Flyers are out of the playoff race after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. Teuvo Teravainen and Brock McGinn each tallied a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (93 points) who remain one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Columbus Blue Jackets maintained their hold on the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot by beating the Nashville Predators 5-2. Cam Atkinson scored twice for the Jackets. The Predators activated defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who missed over a month with a leg injury.

The Montreal Canadiens (92 points) kept pace with the Blue Jackets by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Jordan Weal had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who remain tied with the Jackets but sit outside the final Eastern wild-card spot. 

The San Jose Sharks (97 points) secured home-ice advantage in the opening round of the upcoming playoffs by edging the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on an overtime goal by Brent Burns. The Sharks also snapped a seven-game losing skid. 

Vince Dunn scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Robert Thomas had a goal and an assist for the Blues (92 points), who moved within two points of the Nashville Predators for second place in the Central Division. 

Roberto Luongo made 30 saves and Evgenii Dadonov scored two goals as the Florida Panthers upset the Boston Bruins 4-1. The Bruins (103 points) remains six points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Eastern Conference. 

Craig Anderson kicked out 42 shots and Anthony Duclair scored twice as the Ottawa Senators upset the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. The loss prevented the Leafs (97 points) from clinching a playoff spot. Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki missed the game with an upper-body injury. 

Markus Granlund scored the only goal in a shootout to give the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves for the win. The Stars (89 points) maintain a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the first wild-card berth in the West.

Rickard Rakell tallied a natural hat trick to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The loss keeps the Oilers (77 points) eight points out of a playoff spot in the West.

The Chicago Blackhawks (79 points) dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Los Angeles Kings but moved within six points of the Avalanche for the final Western wild-card berth. Drew Doughty tallied the game-winner for the Kings. 

The Detroit Red Wings are expected to announce a two-year contract extension for head coach Jeff Blashill in the coming days. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Wings general manager Ken Holland has frequently supported Blashill’s efforts and recently indicated his intention to negotiate a new contract for his bench boss. The improvement of their young players under Blashill’s coaching is the main reason for this move. 

The Arizona Coyotes re-signed center Nick Schmaltz to a seven-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s worth $40.95 million ($5.85-million annual average value) with a modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) starting in 2023-24. It’s a big raise for the 23-year-old Schmaltz coming out of his entry-level contract. His tenure with the Coyotes has been short thus far, playing in just 17 games after being acquired earlier in the season from Chicago.

A knee injury finished his season but Coyotes management obviously liked what they saw from him and feel confident he’ll be their first-line center going forward. Schmaltz had 52 points last season with the Blackhawks and 14 points with the Coyotes before his injury. 

Sabres Trade O’Reilly to the Blues

Sabres Trade O’Reilly to the Blues

The Buffalo Sabres have traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Tage Thompson, plus a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-rounder in 2021.

The Buffalo Sabres trade center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues get themselves one of the best two-way centers in the league. The Sabres get a return that helps them now and for the future.

The Blues had already taken steps to bolster their depth at forward via free agency today by bringing back left wing David Perron and signing center Tyler Bozak. They now have O’Reilly, Bozak and Brayden Schenn at center, with promising Robert Thomas waiting in the wings. In one day, they’ve turned a weakness into a strength.

O’Reilly, 27, plays well at both ends of the ice and has exceeded 50 points in six of the last seven seasons. The former Lady Byng Trophy winner can also play on the power-play or penalty kill. He should be a welcome addition to a Blues team trying to get back into Cup contender status following a disappointing 2017-18 performance. 

Sobotka and Berglund should provide some much-needed veteran depth to the Sabres’ checking lines. The 31-year-old Sobotka is a hardworking defensive forward. Berglund,30, can play center or either wing and has decent offensive skills, though he does have an injury history.

Thompson,20, could become part of the Sabres’ long-term future. He made his NHL debut last season, tallying just nine points in 41 games. A promising young winger with good size (6’5″, 215 pounds) and offensive potential, Thompson could get an opportunity to shine in Buffalo. 

Even though the Blues take on O’Reilly’s $7.5-million annual cap hit, by shedding the combined salaries of Berglund, Sobotka and Thompson, they actually save $775K in cap space. They now have just over $71 million invested in 18 players for 2018-19. 


NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2018

The Blues and Senators could be talking trade, updated TSN trade bait list, the latest on the Bruins and more in your NHL rumor mill.

The St. Louis Blues are reportedly interested in Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman (above) and teammate Derick Brassard (Photo via NHL Images).


SPORTNET: Josh Beneteau cite’s NHL.com’s Lou Korac reporting a source claiming the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators are engaged in strong trade discussions regarding Senators forwards Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard. If a deal is done, the Blues would acquire one or the other but not both. A potential package from the Blues to the Sens could include forwards Vladimir Sobotka, Patrick Berglund and Robby Fabbri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has indicated he’s seeking “hockey trades” rather than rentals. In other words, he wants players with term remaining on their contracts rather than pending UFAs who could bolt this summer. Hoffman or Brassard would fit the bill and could help bolster the Blues’ offense. 

I can understand the Senators interest in Fabbri, but his back-to-back knee injuries are a concern. Frequent reports out of Ottawa claimed the Senators wanted to get younger, but taking on the 30-year-old Sobotka and the 29-year-old Berglund flies in the face of that plan. The only reason I can see why the Senators would want those two is they carry reasonably affordable contracts


TSN: Frank Seravalli added four new names to his 40-name trade-bait list in Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard (fourth), teammate Bobby Ryan (39th), Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi (11th) and Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette (26th). Brassard could be an attractive option in a market thin on quality centers. The Coyotes aren’t actively shopping Domi but “as many as 20 teams” are believed to have investigated his availability.

He also dropped Vegas Golden Knights forwards James Neal and David Perron as they seem likely to stay put at the deadline. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf was also dropped following his trade this week from Ottawa to Los Angeles, while it’s unlikely the Buffalo Sabres will trade forward Sam Reinhart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ottawa pundits have consistently expressed the view that Brassard might not be available, but that could change if the Sens get a significant offer for him (see above). Unless the Sens are willing to pick up a big chunk of Ryan’s $7.25 million annual cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return, I doubt he’ll be moved.

Given Domi’s struggles this season I don’t think the Coyotes will move him while his value is low. He’s a restricted free agent this summer lacking arbitration rights so they’re not under any pressure to trade him. If the Ducks become sellers they could test Vermette’s trade value before the Feb. 26 deadline.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON/THE BOSTON GLOBE: Joe Haggerty cites a reports by the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson saying he’s heard the New York Rangers would want young Boston Bruns forward Jake DeBrusk included in any potential deal involving Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Haggerty also believes the Blueshirts would want defenseman Brandon Carlo and a first-round pick included in the deal.

The Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont also noted Matheson’s report, adding rumors have also linked the Bruins to Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon and Vancouver Canucks forward Thomas Vanek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty cautions Bruins GM Don Sweeney to tread carefully in the trade market and not do anything to significantly alter a Bruins’ roster that’s challenging for the Presidents’ Trophy. Removing multiple players to add someone like McDonagh could adversely affect team chemistry. Sweeney could make a bold move at the deadline, but with his club playing very well over the past three months, there’s really very little reason for him to do so. If he adds, it could be for an affordable depth forward.


WGR 550: TSN’s Darren Dreger said Friday he thinks the Buffalo Sabres could move veteran defenseman Josh Gorges at the trade deadline. He’s in the final season of his contract the Sabres are willing to absorb half of his $3.9-million cap hit. He speculates the St. Louis Blues could seek a depth defenseman and believes the Winnipeg Jets have kicked the tires.




NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2017

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid celebrates a goal against the Vancouver Canucks.

Game recaps, McDavid wins Art Ross Trophy, opening-round playoff match-ups determined and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.com: Connor McDavid collected two assists to become the only player to reach 100 points this season as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. McDavid is the first Oiler to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer since Wayne Gretzky in 1987. Oilers winger Jordan Eberle netted a hat trick.

The Anaheim Ducks picked up their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title by downing the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in overtime. Shea Theodore scored the game winner for the Ducks. 

The Detroit Red Wings closed out the Joe Louis Arena with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Wings forward Riley Sheahan scored twice to snap a season-long goalless streak. 

In his final NHL game, Bryan Bickell scored in a shootout and Brock McGinn netted the winning goal as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. Multiple sclerosis has forced Bickell into retirement. 

Three unanswered goals by Matt Calvert, Josh Anderson and Cam Atkinson lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. James van Riemsdyk scored twice for the Leafs. 

Brayden Point scored twice and set up another as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. 

Brock Nelson had a goal and two assists and Anders Lee netted his 34th over the season in the New York Islanders’ 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. 

Vladimir Sobotka scored in his first NHL game since 2014 as the St. Louis Blues edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. 

James Reimer had a 38-save shutout performance as the Florida Panthers blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0. 

Magnus Hellberg made 22 saves for his first NHL win backstopping the New York Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The opening-round postseason series have now been determined. In the Western Conference, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Nashville Predators, the Minnesota Wild vs the St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks vs the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers vs the San Jose Sharks. In the Eastern Conference, it’s the Washington Capitals vs the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Montreal Canadiens vs the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators against the Boston Bruins.  

The opening round schedule of the 2017 NHL playoffs has been released. The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 pn ET),  New York Rangers meet the  Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET); Boston Bruins face the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET); St. Louis Blues square off against the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET); and San Jose Sharks meet the Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET).

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars announced Lindy Ruff won’t be returning as their head coach next season.