NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 21, 2020

The latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and an update on the Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Jose M. Romero reports Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has returned to Arizona and hopes to join a group of his teammates on Monday working out at Gila River Arena. He maintains he’s “really glad” he’s a Coyote, which is why he signed his eight-year contract with the club. However, the 29-year-old defenseman acknowledged it’s been a difficult offseason after he was part of trade talks between the Coyotes and the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

Ekman-Larsson has a full no-movement clause but only agreed to waive it for the Bruins and Canucks. The Coyotes’ efforts to trade him fell through when a deal couldn’t be reached with either club before his self-imposed deadline on Oct. 9.

The long-time Coyotes blueliner said he understood this was a business decision. He denied any suggestion of tension with new general manager Bill Armstrong and doesn’t expect any strain going forward with their relationship.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Ekman-Larsson explained why he choose Boston and Vancouver. He said the Bruins had an interest in him before he signed his current contract. He also spent a lot of time in Boston when he played in Portland, Maine during the 2012-13 lockout. His Swedish friends enjoyed playing and living in Vancouver plus his agent lives there. He also believes the Canucks have a promising young team.

Asked if he envisioned the Coyotes approaching him again about a trade, Ekman-Larsson left that up to Armstrong. He maintains he’s happy in Arizona but would deal with that issue if it came up again. He repeated he has no issue with what recently went down but expects at some point he’ll sit down with management and talk it through. Ekman-Larsson defended Armstrong, pointing out he arrived at a tough time for the club and had a job to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A deal couldn’t be reached sending Ekman-Larsson to Boston or Vancouver because Armstrong understandably set a high asking price. It’s also believed the Coyotes weren’t willing to absorb part of the blueliner’s $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit. Perhaps the Bruins or Canucks would’ve taken on his full cap hit during a normal offseason, especially if the salary cap rose to between $84 million and $88 million as projected before the pandemic.

Ekman-Larsson’s name could resurface in the rumor mill if the Coyotes struggle during the coming season or if ownership wants to shed more salary. However, his no-movement clause will continue to give him full control over the situation. His annual average value through 2026-27 will also make him very difficult to move, especially if the Coyotes remain reluctant to pick up part of it to facilitate a trade.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan recently examined the Capitals’ options to bring in a third-line winger. He expects Daniel Sprong is the strongest candidate if they look to promote from within.

If the Capitals look to external options, their limited cap space (less than $1.5 million) means they could afford two players at barely over the league’s minimum salary. If they can free up some cap room, free agents such as Conor Sheary, Andreas Athanasiou and Melker Karlsson could be realistic possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regan believes the Capitals could move a defenseman, such as Nick Jensen, to a club with salary-cap space (such as Detroit or New Jersey) to free up room to add via free agency. The Wings need blueline depth but they could also squeeze the Capitals to include a sweetener.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.

Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.

Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.

While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.

TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.

Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:

The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.

The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.

No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.

The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.

Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.

Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.

TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.

There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2019

Updates on Jonathan Drouin, Julius Honka, Daniel Sprong, and Luke Schenn in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DROUIN TRADE SPECULATION COOLING DOWN

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently weighed in on the trade rumors swirling around Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin. A poor performance in a preseason game sparked the speculation, prompting Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to deny Drouin was on the block. 

All quiet on the Jonathan Drouin rumor front (Photo via NHL Images).

Larkin noted a report about Drouin’s name being “out there” (on the trade block) but his sources claim otherwise. Larkin acknowledged the Canadiens could use a mobile top-four defenseman and suggested Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders as one option. However, the Habs don’t have a surplus of wingers to spare.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted last week, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bergevin is willing entertain trade offers but I doubt he’s trying to move the 24-year-old winger. A player’s preseason performance usually isn’t indicative of what to expect in the regular season. Consistency remains an issue for Drouin but he still has the potential to become a reliable scorer. I believe Bergevin will remain patient. 

COULD THE SABRES CLAIM SPRONG OFF WAIVERS?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington suggests Anaheim Ducks winger Daniel Sprong could be enticing to the Sabres. The 22-year-old tallied 14 goals in 47 games with the Ducks last season but was placed on waivers yesterday. He was a second-round pick (2015) of the Pittsburgh Penguins “and thus has a relationship with both Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill and assistant GM Randy Sexton from their days in Pittsburgh.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sprong has solid scoring abilities but his defensive play leaves much to be desired. He wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh and now with the Ducks. Sprong can play either wing and the Sabres reportedly seek depth on the right wing. He could be an affordable waiver gamble.

UPDATE ON HONKA

TSN’s Bob McKenzie (stick tap to Account4hockey) reports the Dallas Stars seek “a 2nd round pick or 3rd round pick or young player for Julius Honka.” The 23-year-old restricted free agent defenseman is skating in Finland awaiting a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Media trade chatter linked Honka to the Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. The Habs were reportedly willing to do a player-for-player swap but there’s no indication who they could offer up in return. Given the decline in Honka’s value, I doubt the Stars will find a club willing to meet their asking price.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2019

A look at several notable names on the waiver wire plus updates on Evander Kane, Brock Boeser, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC SPORTS: New York Islanders winger Joshua Ho-Sang, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith, and Anaheim Ducks winger Daniel Sprong are among several notable name to hit the NHL waiver wire yesterday.

Others include veterans like Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn, and Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Click the above link for the complete list. These players will be demoted to their teams’ respective AHL farm clubs if unclaimed by noon ET today. A few, however, could be plucked off the waiver wire before then. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane could face a lengthy suspension for shoving an on-ice official during a preseason game (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Evander Kane’s abuse of an official penalty carries an automatic 10-game suspension. “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will have to confirm and officially enforce the suspension,” write Dreger. The incident took place during a pre-season game between Kane’s San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights. 

SPORTSNET: Brock Boeser has been cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion last week. The Vancouver Canucks winger was injured after being hit from behind by Ottawa Senators forward Chris Tierney during a pre-season game. 

NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues received their 2019 Stanley Cup championship rings.

THE TENNESSEAN:  The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone announced the naming rights extension for Bridgestone Arena to 2030. 

NHL.COM: The NHL announced a two-year marketing and promotional platform with the rock group Green Day. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the league is taking the longview in this partnership. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres suspend Berglund, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each scored twice and linemate Nathan MacKinnon had a four-point game as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 6-4. Rantanen’s personal point streak has reached 14 games. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There seems no stopping the Avalanche’s top line. Rantanen (56 points) and MacKinnon (52 points) sit one-two in the NHL scoring race while MacKinnon and Landeskog (21 goals apiece) sit among the league’s leading goal scorers. 

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick powered his club to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo via NHL Images)

Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs, who overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force the extra frame. The Leafs have dropped four of their last five games, including two overtime defeats.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal in his last three games to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Ovechkin now has a league-leading 29 goals. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice in a losing cause. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced forward Patrik Berglund was suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the teams. It’s unknown when or if he’ll return and the reason behind the suspension is unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berglund joined the Sabres this summer from St. Louis as part of the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.85 million. Berglund spent most of this season on the checking lines and was a healthy scratch for a couple of games. It remains to be seen if he’ll return to the club later this season or if we’ll find out the reason behind his suspension. 

The Calgary Flames picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a fight-filled contest. Matthew Tkachuk tallied the winner in the third period. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. An update on his status is expected later today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a two-goal lead but Phil Kessel’s overtime tally gave them a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 38 saves in his first start since Nov. 17. Penguins winger Tanner Pearson commemorated his first game against his former club with a goal. Earlier in the day, the Penguins revealed defenseman Kris Letang (left-leg injury) is listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news on Letang comes as a relief for the Penguins, as there were fears his injury would sideline him for a lengthy period. With Justin Schultz out of the lineup until March, they cannot afford to lose their best defenseman. 

Four unanswered third-period goals gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and head coach Claude Julien his 600th career NHL victory. Habs captain Shea Weber potted the game-winning goal after Artturi Lehkonen’s goal was overturned on a questionable diving call.

A three-goal first period enabled the Vancouver Canucks to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Canucks winger Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist. Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss is stoking speculation over head coach Dave Hakstol’s future with the struggling club.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal scored the only goal in a shootout to give his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Barzal also had a goal and an assist in regulation play. Red Wings winger Thomas Vanek had a three-point night, including the game-tying goal.

Daniel Sprong scored twice to give the Anaheim Ducks a 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, Sprong seems rejuvenated with the Ducks, netting three goals in five games. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Jusse Saros kicked out 33 shots in regulation and overtime and Ryan Johansen potted the game-winner in a shootout to defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will miss six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair an injured finger. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.375 million. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight pay bump from the $1.15-million AAV of his current contract. This should also put to rest any speculation suggesting he could be a trade candidate. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Erik Haula underwent knee surgery last month and is unlikely to return this season. 

THE SCORE: A fan at the United Center got into a scrap with Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk following the club’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Police were notified and the team is looking into the incident. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tommy Hawk gave a good account of himself in this slobber knocker. You know the Blackhawks season is going poorly when a fan starts taking out his frustrations on the mascot. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2018

Game recaps, latest Forbes rankings of NHL teams, and more in your morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Oscar Klefbom’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Connor McDavid’s game-winner as the Edmonton Oilers edged the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in a shootout.

Connor McDavid tallied the winning goal in a shootout to give the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. (Photo via NHL Images)

San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 39 saves backstopping his club to a 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Joe Thornton and Timo Meier each collected three points.

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 to extend the latter’s losing skid to five games. Daniel Sprong scored his first goal of the season, which was also his first since being acquired by the Ducks from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ondrej Kase tallied the winning goal.

FORBES.COM: The New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens top the annual list of most valuable NHL franchises. The Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals round out the top-10. The Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Arizona Coyotes fill the bottom five. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might be surprised to see the Jets near the bottom in the rankings, but that’s attributable to playing in the league’s smallest venue in the league’s smallest market. 

THE SCORE: Days after finally signing a six-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, winger William Nylander is expected to make his season debut tonight on home ice against the Detroit Red Wings. 

NBC SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves won’t face supplemental discipline for his blindside hit on Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson. 

LAS VEGAS SUN: Reid Duke, the original Golden Knight, was called up by the club yesterday from their AHL affiliate on Wednesday. He could be in the lineup for tonight’s contest against the Chicago Blackhawks. Duke was the first player ever signed by the Golden Knights. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators made a minor-league trade yesterday. The Penguins shipped winger Tobias Lindberg and defenseman Stefan Elliott to Ottawa for center Ben Sexton and defenseman Macoy Erkamps.