Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

A look at several players facing uncertain futures in this summer’s free-agent market in the Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined several of this summer’s 30-or-older UFA  goaltenders, as well as several veteran UFA defensemen and forwards facing uncertain futures.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is among several pending UFAs facing uncertain futures (Photo via NHL Images).

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford isn’t far removed from recent career-threatening injuries and there appears to be some front-office turmoil in the organization. He’s also 35, which will hamper efforts for a multi-year term. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could re-sign him.

Jimmy Howard’s days with the Detroit Red Wings are likely over. Despite a brutal season, he could become a backup option for another club. Meanwhile, 38-year-old Mike Smith’s NHL career could be winding down after two sub-par seasons, though his size and puck-handling skills could still make him enticing.

O’Brien expects Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss will attract considerable interest. Ryan Miller’s future depends on his choices and his wish to remain in California. Brian Elliott must keep his expectations modest to stay in the NHL. Maybe 39-year-old Craig Anderson regains some of his form on a more hopeful team. Aaron Dell’s struggles over the past two seasons could hurt his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Blackhawks land an established starter via trade or free agency, they’ll probably re-sign Crawford to a 35-plus, bonus-laden deal. Howard’s experience could help him land a backup role. Some Edmonton pundits suggest Smith could return for one more season with the Oilers.

I expect Khudobin and Greiss will be quickly signed if they hit the open market. Elliott could return for another season with the Flyers. It’s probably the end of the road for Miller and Anderson, while Dell could have difficulty finding a new NHL club. 

O’Brien wondered if former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will resume his NHL career and at what cost. Questions about his injured ankle will also be a factor.

Age and declining performance could hurt the stock of blueliners Mike Green and Roman Polak. Andy Greene, however, could have some value as a defense-first rearguard, while puck-moving Kevin Shattenkirk could be worth a low-risk contract.  O’Brien wondered if a desperate club might take a chance on Dmitry Kulikov or Zach Bogosian.

UFA blueliners who could retire due to age or health issues include Jonathan Ericsson, Jay Bouwmeester, Deryk Engelland, or perhaps Andrej Sekera.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien will attract lots of attention if he decides to return. He won’t get an expensive long-term deal, but probably a 35-plus contract full of bonus clauses. Shattenkirk revived his career with the Lightning and shouldn’t have much difficulty finding another NHL team. Greene will also probably get a one-year deal.

Green and Polak, on the other hand, are likely done as NHL defensemen. The same goes for Kulikov, Bogosian, Ericsson, Bouwmeester, Engelland, and Sekera.

Aging former star forwards like Corey Perry and Jason Spezza also face uncertain futures following this season. Spezza’s defensively responsible play could earn him another contract.

Ryan Reaves’ gritty style could also ensure he remains in the NHL for another season. Carl Soderberg’s underlying stats were underwhelming this season. O’Brien noted 35-year-old checking-line forward Nate Thompson still remains in demand. Questions about Patrick Maroon’s health could leave him twisting in the wind for another off-season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s no longer as effective as he once was. The Stars took a chance on him this season and it didn’t pan out. He might not get another opportunity elsewhere. Spezza, on the other hand, earned praise for his leadership and defensive skills with the Leafs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to bring him back for another season.

Soderberg is 35 and his best seasons are behind him, but he still managed decent offensive stats with the Coyotes. He’ll probably get a one-year deal elsewhere. Reaves’ style of play will help him land another contract with another club. Despite his age, Thompson’s style of play should ensure he gets another NHL deal. I also wouldn’t rule out Maroon landing with another team. 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 10, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 10, 2019

The latest Taylor Hall speculation plus an update on Jason Spezza in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEVILS’ CHANCES OF RE-SIGNING HALL COULD BE BLEAK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman considers it unlikely the New Jersey Devils will get Taylor Hall re-signed during this season. While the two sides met recently in Calgary, Hall’s agent Darren Ferris has a history of telling his clients to wait until as late as possible to determine their true market value. Friedman feels it’s up to Devils general manager Ray Shero to decide on his club’s course of action.

It’s looking unlikely Taylor Hall will re-sign with the New Jersey Devils during this season (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman’s colleague Rory Boylen recently listed eight NHL teams that Hall could conceivably sign with by next July. The Devils are on that list but Boylen suggests their slow start could jeopardize their chances of re-signing him.

Boyle believes the Colorado Avalanche have the salary-cap space to sign Hall to a big contract. He also included Hall’s former club, the Edmonton Oilers, on this list but considers his return to Edmonton a long shot. He also wonders if the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, and Pittsburgh Penguins could be landing spots for Hall.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater examined the pros and cons of the Avalanche acquiring Hall near the trade deadline as a playoff rental. Acquiring him could be expensive. Dater speculates the asking price could be “Tyson Jost/J.T. Compher/Nikita Zadorov/all of the above, plus a first-round-pick and maybe another pick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s name will remain a fixture in this season’s rumor mill if his camp is determined to wait until June to evaluate his free-agent value. Money won’t be an issue for the Devils. With over $57 million invested in 14 players, they can afford to re-sign Hall to an expensive new contract. I believe it boils down to whether he believes the Devils will provide him the best chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender. In the short term, there’s no indication they’re heading in that direction.

Hall’s only made one postseason appearance in his career. Approaching his 28th birthday, he’s at the stage in his career where he might be unwilling to wait on a rebuilding team for that opportunity.

Shero will set a high asking price if he shops Hall before the trade deadline. Interested parties will attempt to wait him out in hopes he’ll drop that price as the deadline nears.

The Avalanche could express interest but it’ll depend upon where they are in the standings and how long top-line forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog remain sidelined. They do have the cap space to re-sign him but must consider how that could affect efforts to re-sign some key players within the next two or three seasons.

SPEZZA ODD MAN OUT WITH THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have to clear a roster spot to activate Zach Hyman this week. It appears center Jason Spezza could be the odd man out.

Spezza’s missed three straight games as a healthy scratch (nine overall so far this season). Johnston said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and coach Mike Babcock have had a constant dialogue with the veteran center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston also suggested that situation could change if Mitch Marner is sidelined for any length of time. Marner left last night’s game against Philadelphia with an apparent ankle injury. No word yet as to his status. If Marner is ok, the Leafs could place Spezza on waivers or attempt to trade him.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2019

The latest on the Red Wings, Senators, and Maple Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHANGES COMING FOR THE RED WINGS?

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports outside sources believe the Detroit Red Wings will be a team with hand raised high for Torey Krug if the Boston Bruins defenseman tests next summer’s free-agent market. The Wings are Krug’s hometown team and he played for Wings coach Jeff Blashill in the USHL. They are also desperate for a power-play quarterback.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently reported the Red Wings’ mounting losses is generating speculation about Blashill’s future in Detroit. General manager Steve Yzerman hasn’t commented about his coach’s status. Citing Yzerman’s tenure as Tampa Bay Lightning GM, Kulfan observed he is normally patient and not given to making rash decisions. Despite the Wings’ poor start, the players remain supportive of Blashill.

Could the Detroit Red Wings pursue Torey Krug in next summer’s UFA market? (Photo via NHL Images).

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire told TSN radio Ottawa not to be surprised if Yzerman attempts to shop 2018 first-round pick Filip Zadina. McGuire was critical of the young winger’s play without the puck.

Zadina was drafted by former Wings GM Ken Holland. McGuire thinks it’s fair to say he shouldn’t have been selected as high as he was (sixth overall) in that draft.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently wondered if Yzerman might make a move to improve the Wings’ performance and provide some hope for the fanbase. For now, the plan is to once again unload contracts at the trade deadline for draft picks.

Their rental players (Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Mike Green) won’t have much value. Others signed beyond this season (Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Bernier) will be almost impossible to move.

Khan believes Andreas Athanasiou could be the Wings’ biggest trade chip. He wonders if Yzerman will shop him at the trade deadline or before the 2020 NHL Draft for an additional first-round draft pick.

As for Blashill, Khan believes Yzerman could stick with him for the rest of the season unless the team completely falls apart. He also think Yzerman will continue to chip away at his roster with value-seeking deals leading up to the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings weren’t expected to be a playoff contender this season but it was hoped they’d show improvement. If these disheartening losses keep piling up, Yzerman could give Blashill the hook.

Yzerman can’t be happy with what he’s seeing right now. Making a significant move to turn things around will be difficult at this point in the season. Rival GMs are likely more interested in young core players like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha than those carrying expensive or expiring contracts.

If Athanasiou doesn’t pick up his play I can see Yzerman fielding trade offers later in the season. Playing for a deeper club could help the speedy forward regain his spark. I agree with McGuire it wouldn’t be surprising if Zadina was moved. It’s not a certainty but Yzerman could gauge his trade value.

Yzerman could get into the bidding for Krug if he hits the open market next summer. Krug, however, might not be keen to join a rebuilding club. He’ll draw plenty of interest around the league.

NOTHING NEW REGARDING PAGEAU’S CONTRACT TALKS

TSN: Ian Mendes reports Jean-Gabriel Pageau said he’s had no contract extension discussion lately with the Ottawa Senators. The 26-year-old center is off to the best statistical start of his NHL career. Pageau said he’s focused on his game and hasn’t given much thought to his contract. If he doesn’t fit into the rebuilding Senators plans he could be shopped at the trade deadline.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren also wonders about Pageau’s future with the Senators. His two-way skills would be attractive to playoff contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mendes and Warren believe it’ll come down to how much the Senators are willing to pay and how much Pageau believes his services are worth. Considering the Senators’ current rebuild, they could be unwilling to pony up big bucks for their pending UFA stars. Don’t be surprised if he’s playing elsewhere by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports the Maple Leafs placed Nic Petan and Martin Marincin on waivers yesterday to free up salary-cap space for Zach Hyman’s return from knee surgery on Saturday. Petan and Marincin will be assigned to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate if they clear waivers at noon ET today.

Once those two are claimed or demoted, the Leafs must take one more salary off the roster. He lists Nick Shore, Jason Spezza, and Dmytro Timashov as prime candidates to be waived or traded. All have salary-cap salaries of around $700,000.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch considers it unlikely the Senators will try to bring Spezza back to Ottawa with a waiver claim. While he’d be a good mentor in the dressing room, the Sens don’t want an aging player taking a roster spot from their younger players.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2019

The latest Maple Leafs speculation plus an update on Josh Ho-Sang in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran wonders what’s next on the trade front for the Maple Leafs. If they need to get something, and McGran feels a backup goaltender is a priority, they’ll have to move someone off their roster or from their AHL affiliate. General manager Kyle Dubas could be reluctant to trade any more draft picks after giving up his 2020 first-rounder to Carolina in June’s Patrick Marleau deal.

Is a reunion possible for Jason Spezza and the Ottawa Senators? (Photo via NHL Images)

McGran also points out Dubas will have to move a player or two or three to free up salary-cap space for Zach Hyman’s imminent return. Nic Petan was recalled into the lineup against the Los Angeles Kings. McGran suggests perhaps he was being showcased for a trade. He also wonders if Dubas “can package two or three of his spare parts and get something more meaningful than cap space back.”

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas could put one or two players (like Jason Spezza) on waivers but one of them could be plucked away for nothing by another club. He could try to peddle Petan for a backup goalie but there might not be many decent options available right now. He could end up waiting until the New Year before the market improves.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman yesterday reported teams contacted the Leafs to see if they were willing to move a big contract. However, they want to evaluate their roster when it’s fully healthy before making any decisions on a larger move. I don’t see him moving one of his expensive players. A forward like Alexander Kerfoot, Kaspari Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson will draw more interest and fetch a better return. They’re all signed beyond this season with reasonable annual average salaries.

Spezza’s been a good solider thus far but he’s been a frequent healthy scratch with the Leafs. The Senators are reportedly seeking another experienced forward. Maybe they’ll consider a reunion with Spezza. His contract (one-year, $700k) is affordable for the budget-conscious Sens.

LATEST ON HO-SANG

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has been your weekly Ho-Sang update. Tune in again next week for probably more of the same.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2019

The New Jersey Devils need a goaltending upgrade, the Senators could acquire another forward, and the Leafs need to make room for Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE DEVILS PURSUE COYOTES’ RAANTA?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the New Jersey Devils need a goaltending upgrade as Cory Schneider and MacKenzie Blackwood struggle between the pipes. He wonders if the Arizona Coyotes could be enticed to part with Antti Raanta, who’s recovered from the lower-body injury that sidelined him for most of last season. Raanta has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million and is backing up Darcy Kuemper.

Should the New Jersey Devils pursue a deal for Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is speculating here. He’s not saying the Devils are pursuing Raanta or that the Coyotes are willing to part with him. Still, it might be worthwhile for Devils general manager Ray Shero to inquire into Raanta’s availability. When he’s healthy he’s outstanding but his injury history is an issue. Coyotes GM John Chayka isn’t under any pressure to move Raanta and could keep his goalie tandem intact for the season.

SENATORS SEEK ANOTHER FORWARD

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is searching for a forward who can help their roster. Calling up Filip Chlapik means little-used winger Mikkel Boedker’s days in Ottawa are numbered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boedker could draw some interest from clubs seeking depth at right wing. Cap Friendly indicates he’s carrying an annual salary-cap hit of $4 million. Dorion might have to pick up part of that to move the 29-year-old winger.

THE LEAFS MUST MAKE ROOM FOR HYMAN AND DERMOTT

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports the Maple Leafs must make room for the return of sidelined winger Zach Hyman and defenseman Travis Dermott. Trading winger Nic Petan ($775K) could be one option as he’s appeared in just four games this season. Petan and defenseman Kevin Gravel both cleared waivers earlier this month and could be assigned to the Marlies. Fourth-liners Jason Spezza, Dmytro Timashov, and Nick Shore “live with the possibility that they could be moved at any time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petan would probably attract more interest in the trade market. So what do you think, Leafs fans? Which fourth-liner should be traded or demoted to make room for Hyman and Dermott? Weigh in with your opinions in the comments below.