NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2017

The Edmonton Oilers have yet to re-sign forward Leon Draisaitl.

Updates on Leon Draisaitl, Matt Duchene and Ryan Spooner in your NHL rumor mill. 

TSN: If Edmonton Oilers fans are nervous about Leon Draisaitl’s contract situation, Dave Poulin says they have nothing to worry about. The 21-year-old restricted free agent has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal but Poulin believes it’s just circumstances.

Poulin feels the buzz surrounding Connor McDavid’s recent new contract (eight years, $12.5 million annually) put additional focus on Draisaitl’s negotiations. He believes a deal will get done. While a bridge contract seems logical, Poulin feels it’s better if the Oilers lock him up for the long term. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl’s contract status prompted a bit of chatter speculating he could receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Several weeks ago, however, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said he’ll match any offer for the young forward. It’s possible Draisaitl might not be receptive to an offer sheet, which could also explain why there hasn’t been a big pitch made toward him yet.

This could take some time and there’s lots of speculation suggesting Draisaitl could get between $7 – $9 million annually. I doubt he’ll end up with a bridge contract. If he’s unsigned by September I expect we’ll start seeing some trade speculation but I don’t believe the Oilers will go that route. 

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers recently fielded some questions about the Colorado Avalanche from his readers. Regarding center Matt Duchene, the fact he’s still on the market suggests he could open the season with the Avs. Chambers thinks Duchene could fetch a top-four defenseman.

Regarding college prospect Will Butcher, Chambers thinks he’ll become an unrestricted free agent next month. As for defenseman Nikita Zadorov, while he reportedly has a deal in place with a KHL team, Chambers believes the Avs will re-sign him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing really new here regarding Duchene. Butcher, winner of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, isn’t garnering as much attention as Jimmy Vesey did last summer in the rumor mill. Probably because Vesey’s rights were dealt by the Nashville Predators to the Buffalo Sabres before he become an unrestricted free agent. 

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently made the case for the Boston Bruins to retain forward Ryan Spooner. The 25-year-old has a salary arbitration hearing slated for July 26 and was frequently mentioned in trade rumors last season. He notes veteran center David Krejci is slowing down and suggests sliding Spooner into the number two center role at some point.

Haggerty expects Spooner more than doubles his salary in arbitration and centers the Bruins third line this season if management can’t find a suitable return for him in the trade market. 


Updates on the Bruins & Stars – May 7, 2017

Updates on the Bruins & Stars – May 7, 2017

The Boston Bruins could attempt to trade forward Ryan Spooner this summer.

Looking ahead to potential offseason options for the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty believes the Boston Bruins should avoid free agency this summer to address their roster needs. He noted Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t anticipate his club will be very busy chasing free agents. Haggerty thinks that’s a good thing, noting the mixed results they got from the expensive signings of Matt Beleskey and David Backes over the last two years.

It sounds as though the Bruins are leaning toward trades to bolster their defense. He advocates they wait for things to settle down with the expansion draft and free agency and use “some of their treasure trove of prospects to swap for a left winger like Gabriel Landeskog or a left-side defenseman like Cam Fowler.” However, in a recent mailbag segment, he expressed doubt that Fowler will be leaving the Ducks.

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy believes Bruins restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner could have some value in the trade market, especially if he’s packaged with another asset. If Spooner isn’t traded before the expansion draft, Conroy suggests placing him on the Bruins list of protected players, rather than lose the winger for nothing.

If Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes are unprotected, Conroy doubts the Vegas Golden Knights will be interested in either guy with a sweetener coming from the Bruins. Defensemen Adam McQuaid or Colin Miller could be left unprotected.

Conroy also notes Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t expect to be very busy in the UFA market. However, the pundit suggests Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino could be worth pursuing if he becomes available on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neely and Sweeney could be engaging in some misdirection with their comments about unrestricted free agency, but I think Haggerty’s correct in his assumption that they’ll likely look toward the trade market. They’ve got the assets in draft picks and prospects and could targets clubs at risk of losing a good left wing or defenseman via the expansion draft. That could take them out of the bidding this summer for Washington Capitals UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS:  Mike Heika believes next month’s expansion draft offers the Dallas Stars a good opportunity to upgrade their goaltending. While Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi each have a year remaining on their respective contracts, both could be left exposed in the draft. Heika doesn’t expect either guy will be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.

He speculates the Stars could acquire another goalie via trade and leave Lehtonen and Niemi exposed. Goalies who could be available are ” Joonas Korpisalo of Columbus, Antti Raanta of the Rangers, Philipp Grubauer of Washington, and one of Pittsburgh’s two goalies – Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury.” Heika wonders if the Stars will take this opportunity or ” simply buy out Niemi, keep Lehtonen, and sign a free agent like Ben Bishop or Steve Mason?

Heika also wonders if the Stars could leave forward Cody Eakin exposed in the expansion draft. He also speculates that they could shop Eakin or Antoine Roussel before the draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars cannot return next season with the tandem of Lehtonen and Niemi. I expect they’ll either try to acquire a goalie before the expansion draft, target clubs with goaltending depth looking to shed salary or pursue Ben Bishop via free agency. I think they’ll be looking at the trade market first. 

Heika notes the Stars new head coach Ken Hitchcock intends to keep Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin at center. With Radek Faksa considered a lock as their third-line center it could mean either moving Eakin to the wing (where he’s less effective) or exposing him in the draft. 


Latest on the Capitals, Bruins & Hurricanes – May 5, 2017

Latest on the Capitals, Bruins & Hurricanes – May 5, 2017

Should the Washington Capitals trade Alex Ovechkin this summer?

Should the Washington Capitals trade Alex Ovechkin this summer? Are the Boston Bruins shopping Ryan Spooner? What’s next for the Carolina Hurricanes? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: With the Washington Capitals facing another early playoff exit, TVA Sports hockey insider Renaud Lavoie wonders if management might consider “thinking the unthinkable” and see if they can move captain Alex Ovechkin for a good return.

“I’m thinking about a big trade that’s going to be help two franchises,” said Lavoie. “Is it possible, is it feasible in the cap era? I don’t know. But they need to think about that, because they have so many good things. They have unbelievable players.”

Lavoie acknowledged Ovechkin isn’t solely responsible for the Capitals playoff woes. However, if things aren’t working, perhaps a change is in order.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Lavoie isn’t saying Ovechkin will be dealt. He’s merely suggesting the Caps should consider that prospect. Could Ovechkin be traded? As the old saying goes, if Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can. But there’s significant factors working against such a move.

First and foremost, it needs the blessing of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who has a good relationship with Ovechkin and could be unwilling to move his franchise player. If he’s against it, the deal won’t happen unless Ovechkin requests a trade.

Ovechkin’s contract is a significant stumbling block. He’s got four years remaining on his deal at an annual cap hit of over $9.5 million ($10 million annually in actual salary) with a 10-team no-trade clause. With the cap ceiling not expected to significantly rise for next season, good luck finding a team on Ovechkin’s list of acceptable trade destinations willing to take on that cap hit.

Third, the potential return. Swinging a deal that benefits both teams is a difficult task. The Capitals will seek a significant return that could potentially gut the roster of their trading partner.  

Add those factors up and it’s unlikely we’ll see a blockbuster deal this summer involving Alex Ovechkin. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Ryan Kennedy reports the Boston Bruins are entertaining offers for restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner. “I’ve heard New Jersey, Vancouver and Vegas as potential destinations,” said Kennedy.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty speculates the Bruins will look outside their organization for a left-side defenseman to skate alongside promising blueliner Charlie McAvoy. However, they’ll face competition from clubs such as the Tampa Bay Lightning seeking a similar defenseman. While Spooner could have some trade value it won’t trump what the Lightning could offer, especially if they’re willing to part with left wing Jonathan Drouin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins hope to use Spooner to acquire a decent defenseman they might have to include a draft pick or prospect as a sweetener. Spooner will still have some value but clubs will now look at him as a reclamation project. Perhaps the Bruins can target teams that risk losing a defenseman in the expansion draft or those in need of shedding salary this summer. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock believes Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis is entering a critical summer in his rebuild of the club. Francis has yet to swing a major trade for an elite player. His club needs a center who can play on one of the top two lines, a scoring winger and a third-pairing defenseman or two.

The Hurricanes are well-stocked with draft picks and entering a summer where teams face salary-cap pressure and the risk of losing good player to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. There could be no better time for Francis to use his depth in trade bait to land impact players. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis appears to have started that process, having shipped a third-round pick that belonged to the Ottawa Senators to the Chicago Blackhawks for pending unrestricted free agent goalie Scott Darling. With $41 million invested in 14 players, the Hurricanes have plenty of cap space, though their internal cap ceiling may be lower than the league’s. Still, they have the cap room and the depth in picks and prospects to make at least one significant move this summer.


Updates on the Red Wings & Bruins – April 29, 2017

Updates on the Red Wings & Bruins – April 29, 2017

Could the Detroit Red Wings trade Jimmy Howard this summer?

Check out the latest speculation on the Detroit Red Wings & Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In two recent mailbag segments, Helene St. James answered questions about possible offseason moves by the Red Wings. She believes general manager Ken Holland must explore a trade involving one of his goaltenders. Jimmy Howard has two years left on his contract ($5.3 million annual cap hit) while Petr Mrazek has a year left at $4 million. She speculates Mrazek might intrigue Dallas Stars GM (and former Wings scouting director) Jim Nill. Both could also be exposed in the June expansion draft.

St. James also thinks the Wings could take a run at center John Tavares if he doesn’t re-sign with the New York Islanders, but they’ll have to wait until next summer when he’s eligible for UFA status to try and sign him. Moving Howard or Mrazek could add to their current $6 million cap space, with Dallas, Calgary and Winnipeg among the clubs that will be in the market for help between the pipes. The Wings need blueline depth and could target clubs at risk of losing a defenseman via the expansion draft, such as the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild.

MLIVE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Ansar Khan believes Wings forward Tomas Tatar has more trade value than Gustav Nyquist. While he thinks the Wings prefer to retain Tatar, he feels they could trade him and another asset for a defenseman such as Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. Khan doubts they’ll expose Mrazek in the expansion draft. If they decide he’s not their goalie of the future they could try to move him before that draft. He feels Howard is most likely to be made available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could try to trade Howard before the expansion draft rather than lose him for nothing. Still, if the Vegas Golden Knights select Howard, it’ll clear over $5 million in cap room to put toward improving the blueline. I don’t think Howard or Mrazek will interest the Stars, Flames or Jets unless one of those clubs miss out on better talent in the trade and free-agent markets. 

If Holland goes the trade route to bring in a quality defenseman he could dangle Tatar. However, I think clubs will have more interest in forwards such as Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha.

As for pursuing Tavares, I doubt Holland will try to acquire him via trade this summer. If he does, such a move would gut the Wings of their best young players. If Tavares hits the open market, he probably won’t be interested in signing with a rebuilding team. 

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently reported Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney “listed the “middle of the [forward] lineup, transition-minded defensemen and the backup goaltender position” as places he had in mind for offseason upgrades.” Specifically, Sweeney needs to find a left wing to be paired with David Krejci, revamp their underachieving third line, add another top-four  defenseman and find a reliable backup goalie. 

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reported Sweeney also faces a decision with restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner, who regressed this season after putting up 49 points last season. Noting the decline in the 25-year-old Spooner’s performance at the tail end of the last two seasons, Shinzawa doesn’t think he deserves a raise from the Bruins. He also believes the Bruins must add a “No. 2 left wing, No. 3 center, and left-side defenseman.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have over $62 million invested in 18 players for 2017-18. The expansion draft could free up a bit more salary for them, but they still won’t have a lot of room to address those needs. Buying out the disappointing Jimmy Hayes will free up over $1.7 million next season, so I can see them going that route.

I don’t see Spooner being re-signed. He was occasionally mentioned in trade speculation during the season and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins try to shop him before the expansion draft. Whether they find any takers is another matter. 

Pastrnak is coming off an entry-level deal and due for a significant raise. Sweeney could re-sign him to an affordable two-year bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract after that.

Should Sweeney look into the trade market for a second-line left wing or a top-four defenseman it could cost him one of his good young players. You can bet teams will be interested in promising Charlie McAvoy but that will be a deal breaker for the Bruins.

I’ve also heard some recent speculation suggesting pending UFA right wing Jarome Iginla might return to the Bruins because he and his family are moving to Boston, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. Honestly, I don’t see how signing the aging Iginla would address the Bruins’ needs. 


NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2017

James van Riemsdyk’s future is one of the issues to be addressed this summer by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

More on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill. 

TORONTO STAR/TORONTO SUN: Damien Cox wouldn’t be surprised if the Toronto Maple Leafs make only two or three changes in the offseason. He suggests re-signing Roman Polak and perhaps adding another experienced defenseman, but he doesn’t see them pursuing a big-ticket blueliner via trade or free agency. Cox also suggests finding someone capable of playing among their top-nine forwards and thinks they could already have that player in promising Kasperi Kapanen.

With rising stars such as Auston Matthews due new contracts in the next couple of years, Cox advocates being mindful of investing in expensive, long-term deals this summer. They’ll also have to reach a decision on left wing James van Riemsdyk, who’s a year away from UFA status. Cox adds the Leafs will know by mid-summer if they have any shot at landing center John Tavares or if the New York Islanders will re-sign him. 

Lance Hornby speculates the first order of business for the Leafs is completing the rumored seven-year deal for blueliner Nikita Zaitsev. He also wonders if the Leafs will get into the market for a defenseman in July. They avoided pursuing Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline and the other notable UFA options (Andrei Markov, Mark Streit and Dennis Wideman) are well into their 30s. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have no reason to pursue Tavares. None. With Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri, they’re already set at center among their top-two lines. I can see them trying to bolster their defense but probably not via free agency. They have the cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects to swing a trade, either by targeting clubs that must shed cap space or those at risk of losing a defenseman in the expansion draft. If van Riemsdyk won’t commit to a long-term deal this summer, the Leafs could shop him for a blueliner. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE/SPORTSNET: In the wake of the Canadiens early playoff exit, Pat Hickey reports general manager Marc Bergevin has no intention of blowing up his roster. Pending unrestricted free agents Alex Radulov and Andrei Markov expressed their willingness to re-sign with the Habs. So did goaltender Carey Price, who’s a year away from free agency and isn’t concerned about getting a new deal worked out.

Bergevin still faces finding a first-line center, a role Alex Galchenyuk won’t be filling to start next season. Galchenyuk is a restricted free agent and Hickey considers it doubtful he’ll get a long-term extension. The Habs GM flatly dismissed the notion of shopping Price for a center. 

Eric Engels reports Bergevin, in his season-ending press conference, doesn’t discount the possibility of looking outside the NHL to address his scoring needs. Engels speculates KHL winger (and former New Jersey Devil) Ilya Kovalchuk could be an option. The Habs GM also didn’t rule out trying to sign another team’s restricted free agent with an offer sheet if it could help his club. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens definitely need more scoring punch, preferably at center. However, it won’t be easy to do. I doubt Bergevin will go the offer sheet route. He could, but such moves are rare and almost never successful. I can see Bergevin trying to target clubs looking to shed salary or those at risk of losing a good forward via the expansion draft. 

The Habs have over $50 million invested next season in 15 players, though that will be reduced by one player following the expansion draft. Still, with Radulov due a significant raise and Price eligible next summer for a lucrative new deal, Bergevin must invest wisely.

Galchenyuk could be re-signed but he won’t get a big raise over his current $3.1 million actual salary for this season. I still wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shopped in the offseason. 

BOSTON HERALD/BOSTON GLOBE: Among the five things Steve Conroy believes the Bruins must do in the offseason are finding a third-line center, extending Zdeno Chara’s contract and identifying a second-line left wing. He doubts RFA forward Ryan Spooner will be back. Despite Chara’s age, Conroy thinks the 40-year-old, who has a year left on his contract, remains their best blueliner. He suggests a one-year, bonus-laden offer. He suggests the Bruins have sufficient prospect depth to acquire a left wing via trade.

Kevin Paul Dupont suggests wingers Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes could be buyout candidates, doesn’t see RFAs Ryan Spooner and Joe Morrow returning and doubts pending UFAs Drew Stafford and John-Michael Liles will be re-signed. He also wonders if UFA forward Dominic Moore will be  back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins should wait and see how Chara plays next season before investing in one more year. It’ll also depend upon how much the big blueliner feels he’s got left to give. If he wants to continue playing beyond next season, the Bruins will be his first choice. I expect they’ll go shopping for a scoring winger. Given their depth in promising young defensemen, they can bolster their defense from within. 

NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2017

Could the Montreal Canadiens consider trading Carey Price this summer?

Latest speculation on the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE/LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Pat Hickey believes it’s important for the Montreal Canadiens to determine the intentions of superstar goaltender Carey Price as soon as possible. Price, who turns 30 in August, is a year away from eligibility for unrestricted free agency. The Habs can open contract discussions with him on July 1.

If Price wants to stay, re-signing him will prove expensive. The current highest-paid goalie in the league is Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers ($8.5 million annually). If Price isn’t re-signed before next season, Hickey believes the Habs must shop him, as he could fetch a top-line center plus a starting goalie to fill the gap left by Price’s absence until promising Charlie Lindgren provess ready for prime time. 

Meanwhile, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News suggested the Dallas Stars should inquire into Price’s availability, perhaps by offering up Tyler Seguin, Jamie Oleksiak and Kari Lehtonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of speculation over Price’s trade status in the coming weeks. But unless he asks to be traded or intends to test free agency next year, he’s not going anywhere.

If Price wants to stay put, Bergevin will pony up $9-$10 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal to keep him, or maybe he convinces the goalie to accept a little less ($8 million annually) to leave some cap room to address other roster needs. If Price won’t commit to a new deal, then Bergevin will have little choice but to look into moving him. 

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Toronto Maple Leafs must add a top-four defenseman, re-sign blueliner Nikita Zaitsev and shore up their backup goaltending in the offseason. The Leafs have the salary-cap space to pursue a  big-ticket rearguard such as Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk, but Custance suggests a better option is to shop left wing James van Riemsdyk (who’s a year away from UFA eligibility) “in a deal that brings a defenseman back on a contract that doesn’t extend too far into the future.” He also feels the Leafs can invest in a reliable backup without investing too much. 

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby suggests the futures of Leafs UFA blueliners Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak will depend upon if the club loses a defenseman via the expansion draft and who the club pursues in the offseason market. Re-signing center Brian Boyle seems a priority while backup Curtis McElhinney worked well with starter Frederik Andersen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding a skilled top-four blueliner should be the Leafs’ priority this summer. They have the cap space and the depth in draft picks and prospects to dangle as trade bait, perhaps by targeting clubs in need of shedding cap space or teams in danger of losing a good blueliner (Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild) to the expansion draft. Moving van Riemsdyk is an option if they’re unable to re-sign him before next season. McElhinney is a UFA and could be an affordable re-signing, but that depends on whether he impressed Leafs management enough. 

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance suggests the Boston Bruins must make a decision about interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, re-sign winger David Pastrnak to a contract extension and bolster their blueline depth. One option to address the latter could be pursuing Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk via free agency. “The better solution might be to trade for a defenseman with a lower price tag and shorter term to help bridge the transition to the young defensemen in the system,” said Custance, who also suggests the Bruins look into the market for aging captain Zdeno Chara. 

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy suggests this season could be the last with the Bruins for restricted free agent forward Ryan Spooner, who was a healthy scratch from the final two games of their series against the Ottawa Senators. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Bruins’ improvement under Cassidy when he took over in February from Claude Julien, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns as their full-time head coach. Pastrnak will be re-signed, but with him coming off an entry-level deal, they could push for an affordable two-year bridge deal with the promise of a bigger deal after that.

I doubt they’ll find many takers for Chara, whose career is winding down. They could chase Shattenkirk but I agree with Custance that a better option is to look into the trade market.