Latest on Sebastian Aho, Ryan Spooner, the Canucks’ hockey operations department and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes and Sebastian Aho has open contract extension talks. The 21-year-old forward is in the final season of his three-year entry-level contract. While he didn’t reveal details, Aho said he’s hopeful of signing a long-term deal.
Carolina Hurricanes talking contract extension with Sebastian Aho (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following a solid 24-goal, 49-point NHL debut in 2016-17, Aho led the Hurricanes last season with 29 goals and 65 points. Should he reach or exceed those numbers in 2018-19, he could earn something akin to the five-year, $6.1-million deal recently signed by Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin.
OTTAWA SUN: New York Rangers forward and Ottawa-area native Ryan Spooner recently participated in a ride-along with local police. He expressed interest in joining the police force when his playing career is over. Spooner earned praise and support from the Ottawa police and the NHLPA.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to “George” for the link. Thumbs up to Spooner for supporting law enforcement in his hometown.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid, Nashville’s Jusse Saros and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer as five backups who could play their way into starting jobs with their respective teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mrazek is the understudy for Scott Darling, who stumbled badly during his first season as an NHL starter. The others are backing up aging or injury-prone veterans. At least one of them should end up taking over a starter’s job this season.
VANCOUVER SUN: Following the recent departure of Trevor Linden as Canucks president of hockey operations, general manager Jim Benning said not to expect any further changes in the hockey ops department.
TORONTO SUN: John Bartlett has replaced Paul Romanuk as the Maple Leafs’ new TV play-by-play man on Sportsnet.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes will have a new a high-definition videoboard installed at Gila River Arena.
Update on Patrick Eaves, Rangers re-sign Ryan Spooner, Bruins to retire Rick Middleton’s number and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves missed most of last season to a post-viral syndrome. (Photo via NHL Images)
SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves is looking forward to returning to action in 2018-19 after missing all but two games last season to a post-viral syndrome and a nagging shoulder problem.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with forward Ryan Spooner as the two sides agreed to a two-year, $8-million contract. The annual average value is $4 million.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Gustav Forsling underwent surgery on his right wrist yesterday and will be sidelined for at least 14 weeks. He’ll miss training camp and could return to the lineup by early-November.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the Winnipeg Jets re-signed center Nicolas (Nic) Petain to a one-year, two-way deal worth over $874K at the NHL level.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins will retire Rick Middleton’s No. 16 at a pregame ceremony on Nov. 29.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Middleton spent 12 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Bruins from 1976-77 to 1987-88. Nicknamed “Nifty” for his dazzling offensive skills, he tallied 40-plus goals five times and 80-or-more points six times. In 1,005 NHL contests, he scored 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points, along with 100 points in 114 playoff games.
TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman “says the league wants a cut of gambling profits if its intellectual property, data or video from games are used.”
SEATTLE TIMES: Renovations for KeyArena will now cost an estimated $700 million. The $100 million price increase is considered necessary to ensure for upgrades needed to turn the arena “into a “top-third” revenue producer for both the NHL and NBA.”
The ongoing Erik Karlsson trade watch saga plus the latest on the Islanders and an update on Patrick Maroon in your NHL rumor mill.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are reportedly no closer to acquiring Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (Photo via NHL Images)
KARLSSON TO TAMPA NOT A CERTAINTY
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators aren’t any nearer to shipping defensman Erik Karlsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning after reports on Thursday suggested a trade could be close. He also reports the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks remain interested in the 27-year-old blueliner. While the Lightning have the assets to tempt the Senators, the word around the league is Tampa Bay executives don’t feel at this point they’re close to a deal, though that could always change.
Making the dollars work appears to be an issue. It was assumed the Lightning might try to ship Ryan Callahan ($5.8-million annual average value) back to the New York Rangers, but the Senators would still have to take on some salary in the deal. The Bolts would need sufficient cap space to both take on Karlsson’s $6.5-million AAV and also negotiate a contract extension.
The Senators also have to determine if they can move winger Bobby Ryan and his $7.25-million cap hit to another club. Garrioch wonders if the Lightning are trying to get a third team involved in the deal to take Ryan. He also reminds us the Senators are willing to be patient to find the right deal. “A deal could happen, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, during training camp or just before the next NHL trade deadline in February.”
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Greg Auman lists defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, winger Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson and Cal Foote among the notables the Lightning might have to part with in a three-team deal to land Karlsson.
NJ.COM: With a rumor floating around claiming the New Jersey Devils could be the third team involved in the Karlsson trade talks, Chris Ryan observes they have the cap space and assets to be part of the deal. He suggests they could take on Bobby Ryan while likely getting another asset in return, or acquire Ryan Callahan or Dan Girardi along with another assets from the Lightning.
THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith last night tweeted we shouldn’t expect a Karlsson to Tampa Bay deal anytime soon. ” Not saying it won’t happen eventually, but nothing imminent or close.”
SPORTSNET’s John Shannon tweets there’s still a belief the Dallas Stars have a chance to land Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a lot of moving parts in a possible trade sending Karlsson to Tampa Bay. The Lightning must shed salary to make the deal work and the Senators hope to dump Ryan’s contract, which means bringing a third club into the mix. That team will want a sweetener to take on Ryan, Callahan or Girardi.
Meanwhile, the Senators want a solid return for Karlsson but there’s likely some assets the Lightning aren’t willing to part with. At some point, they could get this worked out, perhaps as early as today. However, it could also prove too complicated, which could send the Senators back to the Stars or considering other offers from Vegas or San Jose.
UPDATE ON THE ISLANDERS
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman lists Ottawa’s Matt Duchene or Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Chicago’s Artem Anisimov and the New York Rangers’ Ryan Spooner as possible trade options for the New York Islanders if they wish to replenish their depth at center via trade.
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross recently suggested Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk as a possible trade target to bolster the Islanders’ blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s been overlooked because of all the trade chatter regarding Erik Karlsson, but his future with the Senators could also be in doubt. Like Karlsson, he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could be reluctant to stick around. If so, he could be available in the trade market, though perhaps not until the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches. Pageau, on the other hand, is a center the Senators are reportedly keen to keep.
As per Cap Friendly, Johnson carries a full no-trade clause. He reportedly hasn’t been approached yet by Lightning management to waive it. There’s no certainty he’d accept getting dealt to the Islanders. Ditto Anisimov, who has a 10-team list of preferred trade destinations. Spooner, who’s currently a restricted free agent, might be available but I’m not sure the Rangers would ship him to a rival like the Isles.
As Gross observed, the Hurricanes could consider moving Faulk after signing former Islander Calvin de Haan. Their recent addition of Dougie Hamilton could also make Faulk expendable. Acquiring him won’t be cheap as the Canes will want a decent return. The Chicago Blackhawks are also reportedly interested in him.
Gross also suggested Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba as a possible trade option but I don’t think the Jets intend to part with him.
The Blues are making a hard push to sign UFA forward and native St. Louisan Pat Maroon. Maroon’s camp is staying patient and weighing their options and a deal does not appear imminent . #stlblues
Latest on the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.
Could the Nashville Predators consider trading Pekka Rinne? (Photo via NHL Images)
COULD THE PREDATORS TRADE RINNE?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examines the possibility of the Nashville Predators trading goaltender Pekka Rinne. While acknowledging Rinne is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season, the 35-year-old failed to provide the Predators with clutch goaltending as they fell to the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Rinne is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and backup Juuse Saros is considered his heir apparent.
Larkin also points out Predators general manager David Poile has a recent history of making bold moves, including swapping Shea Weber for P.K. Subban, Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen and acquiring Kyle Turris in a rare three-way trade. By moving Rinne and his $7-million cap hit, it would free up cap room to pursue one of the top forwards in this summer’s UFA market or perhaps bring in a cheaper option in return for Rinne.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At first glance, trading Rinne seems preposterous. He’ll likely win the Vezina, he has the full support of his teammates and Cap Friendly indicates he has a $7-million salary-cap hit with a modified no-trade clause. I doubt Poile will go that route as he could be content to tweak his roster instead of making a big trade. Still, it’s an intriguing notion. The Predators GM has made audacious deals in the past and could do surprise us again this summer.
LATEST ON THE RANGERS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doubts the Rangers will trade a center like Kevin Hayes or Mika Zibanejad unless they get ” a legit top-four righty defenseman (now or future)” in return. They’d love to pry Jacob Trouba away from the Winnipeg Jets but considers him “probably out of reach”. He notes the Calgary Flames have a surplus of blueliners and need depth at center. While Dougie Hamilton might be obtainable, Brooks wonders if the Rangers would target Flames college prospect Adam Fox.
Brooks also doubts restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner fits into the Rangers’ long-term plans. They’ll have to decide if they’ll sign him to a one-year contract (possibly worth $3.5 million) so he’ll be a trade-deadline candidate or allow him to depart this summer via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes or Zibanejad aren’t enough to land Trouba or Hamilton.
Latest on Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty plus updates on the Rangers and Blackhawks in your NHL rumor mill.
NO KARLSSON TRADE AT DRAFT, SAYS SENATORS GM
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said team captain Erik Karlsson won’t be traded during the 2018 NHL Draft weekend (June 22-23) in Dallas. He intends to table an eight-year contract extension for Karlsson on July 1. Dorion made the comments during a town hall meeting yesterday with 300 Senators season-ticket holders. Karlsson has one year remaining on his current contract, generating considerable speculation that he could be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing prevents the Senators from shopping Karlsson after July 1 if the blueliner proves too expensive to re-sign. Teams that pursued Karlsson leading up to the trade deadline could revisit their interest in him this summer. Indeed, I wouldn’t surprised if some of them contact Dorion during the draft weekend to lay the groundwork for a possible deal in case contract talks with Karlsson fall through in early-July.
Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty still faces an uncertain future heading into the offseason (Photo via NHL Images).
IS A PACIORETTY TRADE POSSIBLE THIS SUMMER?
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Darren Dreger’s appearance yesterday on Montreal’s TSN 690 discussing the future of Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty. Dreger doesn’t rule out the possibility of Pacioretty being dealt in the offseason, perhaps during the NHL Draft. He cited the trade speculation surrounding the Canadiens left winger leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
To Dreger’s knowledge, the Canadiens didn’t receive a formal trade offer but they did set a significant asking price involving “multiple pieces.” Pacioretty has a year remaining on his contract and will be eligible next July to become an unrestricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s offseason plans, Pacioretty could return next season. However, I have a feeling Bergevin could be looking to move the winger in hopes of landing a good young center. Easier said than done, I know, but given the Habs’ poor performance this season, changes appear likely and Pacioretty could be part of them.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently speculated on the future of Rangers center Kevin Hayes, suggesting he’ll either get a four-five year contract worth between $4.5-$5.25 million annually or become the centerpiece of a trade to bring in a much-needed top-pairing right defenseman. He also thinks forward Ryan Spooner could get a one-year, arbitration-awarded contract worth between $3.7-$4.1 million and later used as a trade-deadline rental player next season. Brooks also believes the Rangers need a stud or two if they hope to stage a quick turnaround next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could package Hayes with a couple of draft picks and perhaps a prospect, but I doubt that’ll be enough to land a top-pairing defenseman. I expect he and Spooner will be back next season. I don’t rule out the possibility of Rangers management shopping around for a top-two right rearguard but I don’t see them selling the farm to get one. Perhaps they’ll look at pursuing Washington’s John Carlson via free agency.
COULD THE BLACKHAWKS SHOP ANISIMOV?
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Mark Lazerus and Satchel Price examined possible off-season options for the Chicago Blackhawks, who enter the postseason with what Price called “a level of cap flexibility that it hasn’t had in years.” That’s in part because the salary cap is expected to rise to between $78 million -$82 million for 2018-19. Given the importance of re-signing promising youngsters Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz down the road, GM Stan Bowman expects to be prudent with his cap space.
Lazerus and Price observe center Artem Anisimov’s full no-movement clause becomes a partial no-trade on July 1. It’s possible the Blackhawks could attempt to shed his $4.55 million cap hit, perhaps to pursue another forward, defenseman or backup goaltender via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect a major shakeup for the Blackhawks but there could be some changes coming. Anisimov,29, is signed through 2020-21 and could have value for clubs seeking experienced depth at center. Moving him would provide some additional wiggle room under the cap to bolster their depth elsewhere.
Could the New York Rangers pursue Erik Karlsson or Ilya Kovalchuk this summer? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis noted there’s been some speculation over the possibility of the New York Rangers pursuing Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson this summer via trade, perhaps by the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas. However, he dismissed that notion, suggesting a hefty contract extension for Karlsson wouldn’t fit into the Rangers’ rebuilding plan. Cyrgalis doesn’t see much upside in trading prime assets to acquire the Senators’ superstar blueliner and expressed concern over Karlsson’s “limited explosiveness” this season, the result of a late start to the season owing to recovery from offseason heel surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are committed to a rebuild. While they might consider adding one or two short-term veteran options, I don’t believe they’ll seriously consider pursuing a trade this summer for Karlsson. The cost in assets and in retaining him beyond next season isn’t worth it.
Could the New York Rangers pursue former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk this summer? (Photo via NHL.com)
Cyrgalis’ colleague Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should pursue former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk when he become eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 1. Brooks feels their young players would benefit from a veteran leader such as Kovalchuk, citing Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur recently calling the Russian sniper ” one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.” Brodeur believes the Russian star be a good addition to whatever NHL club signs him this summer. Brooks acknowledged Kovalchuk could seek more than a one- or two-year contract, but noted the Rangers “refreshed feeder system” is lacking goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks also said the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers could also pursue Kovalchuk this summer. Still, there’s been suggestions he might prefer playing in New York. If so, the Rangers would be the front-runners for his services. Even on a three-year contract, if his cap hit isn’t extravagant they could be willing to bring him aboard to provide experience and perhaps mentor some of their promising young players.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Rick Carpiniello was asked about the chances of the Rangers signing New York Islanders center John Tavares this summer. While agreeing Tavares would accelerate the Blueshirts’ rebuilding efforts, he’s doubtful the Isles captain would leave one rebuilding club to join another.
Carpiniello doubted the Rangers can re-sign all of their restricted free agents. He suggested one or more could be shopped at or before the draft. He also thinks they could shop veteran winger Mats Zuccarello if they can get a good return for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larry Brooks also doesn’t see Tavares going from one rebuilding club to another. While anything’s possible, I’ll be surprised if the long-time Islander joins his current club’s most hated rival. Cap Friendly lists forwards Ryan Spooner, Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey, as well as defensemen Brady Skjei, Rob O’Gara and John Gilmour as the Rangers’ RFAs this summer.
Despite missing several games to injury this season, Hayes reached 20 goals for the first time in his career. Considering how difficult it is for find quality center, the Rangers could retain him.
Spooner and Namestnikov were acquired before the recent NHL trade deadline. Spooner’s been on fire since coming over from the Boston Bruins, netting 13 points in 10 games. Namestnikov, however, has only three points in nine games, which is a significant drop from the 44 points in 62 games he had with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Vesey, meanwhile, hasn’t shown much improvement in his sophomore season. Perhaps he could be the one on the trade block. As for their blueliners, I don’t see Skjei going anywhere while it won’t be expensive to re-sign O’Gara or Gilmour