NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2017

Calgary Flames might have some interest in free agent winger Jaromir Jagr.

Updates on Jaromir Jagr, Drew Stafford, Jason Demers and more in your NHL rumor mill.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on the NHL Network on Monday discussing various topics. Among them was the status of unrestricted free agents Jaromir Jagr and Drew Stafford.

Friedman believes the Calgary Flames are among the clubs that “kind of looked at” the possibility of signing Jagr, noting Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan is one of Jagr’s former coaches. He also said he checked into speculation the Anaheim Ducks also had interest in the 45-year-old winger but found that’s not the case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames are looking at Jagr, perhaps it’ll be in a second or third line role at right wing. I expect Michael Frolik will skate on the first line at that position, which would leave Jagr jockeying with Troy Brouwer for the second-line spot. Of course, for now we don’t know for sure if the Flames intend on signing him. 

Friedman said he’d heard a couple of teams had interest in Stafford around July 1. He notes there’s been some conversations with the Stafford camp over the past week and they’re hopeful of getting something done. Friedman added he’s surprised the winger hasn’t been signed at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman points out, Stafford is never going to be a big scorer but he has the skills to chip in as a depth forward. The 31-year-old has reached the 20-goal, 40-point plateau four times in his 11 NHL seasons. With the right club, perhaps he could hit those numbers again in 2017-18.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers declined to comment on rumors earlier this summer he spiked a trade to the Vancouver Canucks. He carries an eight-team no-trade clause and was left unprotected by the Panthers in June’s expansion draft.  “That’s between my agent and me and Dale, but I’m going to camp right now a Panther,” Demers said, adding he’s going to be with the club for four more years. He also acknowledged he and the team have to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t sound as though Demers will be going anywhere for the time being. If he and the Panthers have better performances this season, it’ll further dampen any trade speculation about the 29-year-old blueliner. But if he or the club struggle again, his name could resurface in the rumor mill. 

WGR 550: Agent Brian Bartlett, who represents free-agent defenseman Will Butcher, said it could take another week for his client to reach a decision over where he’ll sign.




NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2017

Will the Avalanche trade or retain Matt Duchene?

Latest on the Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill. 

CBS SPORTS: Cody Benjamin recently listed reasons why the Colorado Avalanche should and shouldn’t trade forward Matt Duchene.

The frequency of the trade speculation, its possible distraction carrying over into 2017-18 and the Avs’ struggles with Duchene in the lineup are among the reasons why he should be dealt.

On the other hand, the Avs inability to find a suitable return and an opportunity to rebuild around a refocused Duchene could make retaining him a worthwhile option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic remains unwilling to reduce his asking price, Duchene won’t be moving anytime soon.  While it’s possible the 26-year-old could be dealt before the start of 2017-18, it’s looking likely that he’ll be starting the season with the Avs.

If that happen, Duchene and Sakic must discuss his role and the club’s direction for the upcoming season. A solid bounce-back effort from Duchene, who’s signed through 2018-19, could improve the Avs but also bolster his trade value, making it tempting for Sakic to move him. 

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland anticipates having to make a move to clear some salary-cap space if everyone is healthy to start the upcoming season. The Wings currently sit at around $77.5 million. They’ll get around $3.95 million in cap relief by placing Johan Franzen on LTIR, but they still have to re-sign restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s adopting a wait-and-see approach, meaning he probably won’t make a move until sometime in September. He could trade a salaried player or perhaps demote a waiver-exempt player. Much will depend upon how much it costs to re-sign Athanasiou and the status of those recovering from offseason surgeries. 

CSNNE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty said the Boston Bruins remain in contact with unrestricted free agent winger Drew Stafford, who they acquired at last season’s trade deadline. Haggerty thinks Stafford could be a good insurance policy if some prospects fail to pan out at training camp. However, he thinks the Bruins should invite him to training camp on a tryout basis. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Stafford remains unsigned as training camp approaches, accepting a professional tryout offer from the Bruins or another club could be his only option for remaining in the NHL.  


NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2017

Can the Detroit Red Wings afford to bring back Thomas Vanek?

Another look at Sportnet’s list of the top-10 remaining UFAs in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: With defenseman Andrei Markov heading to Russia, Luke Fox recently updated his list of the top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. Left wing Thomas Vanek tops the list. He’s been in touch with the Detroit Red Wings but they must re-sign restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou first and have limited salary-cap space. 

Forwards Jaromir Jagr and Mike Fisher are second and third on the list. The 45-year-old Jagr recently skated with his hometown club of Kladno and still believes he can play in the NHL this season. As for Fisher, the Predators hope to learn more about his future plans next week. The 37-year-old could return with the Preds for one more season or opt for retirement. 

Puck-moving defenseman Cody Franson was linked to the Chicago Blackhawks as a possible tryout candidate in September. The New Jersey Devils need  blueline depth but reportedly aren’t interested in the 29-year-old Franson.

Earlier in July, there was reportedly mutual interest between winger Drew Stafford and the Minnesota Wild but they must first re-sign RFAs Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Marcus Foligno. The Boston Bruins also had some interest earlier in the month. 

Aging forwards Brian Gionta, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan haven’t ruled out playing next season. Iginla and Doan, as well as Fisher, recently received invitations to join Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team if they don’t land NHL contracts for 2017-18. Doan’s agent said he’s spoken with four or five NHL teams but declined to name them. 

Former LA Kings forward Andrei Loktionov is returning to the club on a professional tryout offer. Center Matt Cullen is pondering his future. The 40-year-old could retire but it’s also possible he could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Minnesota Wild also expressed some interest in signing him. So far, he’s yet to reach a decision. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much change in the status of these players since the last time Fox updated this list. Many of these players could be waiting until September to secure NHL contracts, especially older guys such as Jagr, Iginla, Doan and Gionta. As for Fisher, he’ll likely retire if he doesn’t sign with the Preds. Given his personal ties to Nashville, I don’t see him signing elsewhere. 

The Wings will be under the cap by around $900K once they place Johan Franzen on injured reserve. If defenseman Ryan Sproul (knee) joins him, that’s an additional $600K. However, that won’t be enough to re-sign Athanasiou, let alone to bring back Vanek. 

Some observers are surprised Franson hasn’t signed  yet. Perhaps he’s hoping to land with the Blackhawks via tryout. If Cullen decides to return to the Penguins they’ll still need to pursue a decent third-line center. Given Cullen’s age, I don’t see him filling that role.

The Wild could sign Cullen or Stafford, but that’ll depend upon how much cap space they’ve got left once Niederreiter, Granlund and Foligno are under contract. They’ve got over $15 million in cap space, but new deals for those three will eat up most of it.

Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Will Butcher could soon be added to Fox’s UFA list. The 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner intends to test the market on Aug. 15. The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports a source said the Detroit Red Wings will pursue Butcher. Custance also lists the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks as potential suitors. Others could include the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. 


NHL UFA Update – July 15, 2017

NHL UFA Update – July 15, 2017

Andrei Markov is among the notable players still available in the NHL UFA market.

Reviewing Sportsnet’s latest breakdown of the NHL’s top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the NHL’s top-10 remaining UFAs. Topping the list is defenseman Andrei Markov, who is representing himself and sought a two-year, $12 million contract from the Montreal Canadiens, who countered with a one-year deal. A rumored report out of Montreal linking the 38-year-old to the Philadelphia Flyers were quickly refuted by Philly GM Ron Hextall. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are going younger on the blueline so there’s no fit there for Markov. The Canadiens’ recent offer of a one-year deal to 39-year-old Mark Streit cast further doubt on the possibility of Markov returning to Montreal unless he’s willing to lower his asking price. 

Left wing Thomas Vanek remains in contact with the Detroit Red Wings, but they could lack sufficient salary-cap space to bring him back. They still must re-sign restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou. A reunion with the Buffalo Sabres isn’t likely.  Right wing Jaromir Jagr attracted some interest from NHL teams but no serious offers yet. If he’s unable to land with an NHL club, the ECHL’s Florida Everblades are keen to sign him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings will have around $6 million in cap space (once they place Johan Franzen on LTIR). Unless they free up more space, I doubt they’ll have enough room to re-sign Tatar and Athanasiou and still bring back Vanek. It could take a while for Vanek and Jagr to land with new NHL clubs. Wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t signed until September. 

Nashville Predators center and captain Mike Fisher is taking time to decide if he’ll return or retire. The Predators would likely bring him back on a one-year contract at a reduced rate. Teams have contacted defenseman Cody Franson, who could be a good third-pairing rearguard. Fox wonders if the Chicago Blackhawks would try to bring back blueliner Brian Campbell if they can find the cap room. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’s either returning with the Preds or retirement for Fisher. I don’t see him signing elsewhere. Looks like another long summer searching for a contract for Franson. Two years ago, it took until September before he landed a contract. Could take that long again this year. I don’t see Campbell returning to the Hawks, who are pressed against the cap ceiling. 

The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild reportedly have some interest in winger Drew Stafford. The Montreal Canadiens pitched a one-year contract to blueliner Mark Streit. The Buffalo Sabres and winger Brian Gionta haven’t fully closed the door on his possible return, but the recent return of Jason Pominville makes that unlikely. Right wing Jarome Iginla is taking the summer to spend with his family and using the time to decide if he wants to return next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Stafford will land with an NHL club at some point this summer. If the Habs can’t work out a deal with Markov, Streit is their obvious “Plan B”. The playing careers of Gionta and Iginla could be over. 


List of NHL Trade Deadline Deals – March 1, 2017

List of NHL Trade Deadline Deals – March 1, 2017

Detroit Red Wings ship winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers.

The list of notable deals made leading up to today’s NHL trade deadline at 3 pm Eastern Time. I’ll have analysis of the day’s most notable trades tonight in my Soapbox

Winnipeg Jets trade winger Drew Stafford to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a conditional sixth round pick in 2017. 

Dallas Stars acquire minor-league defenseman Dillon Heatherington from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for left wing Lauri Korpikoski.

Philadelphia Flyers trade defenseman Mark Streit to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for center Valtteri Filppula, a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017.

The Lightning flip Streit to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round draft pick in 2018. 

Pittsburgh Penguins trade forward Eric Fehr, minor-league defenseman Steve Oleksy and a 2017 fourth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Frank Corrado, 

Ottawa Senators trade forward Curtis Lazar and minor-league defenseman Mike Kostka to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka and a second-round pick.

New Jersey Devils trade winger P-A Parenteau to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2017. 

New Jersey Devils trade defenseman Kyle Quincey to the Columbus Blue Jackets for blueliner Dalton Prout. 

Montreal Canadiens trade winger Sven Andrighetto to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for left wing Andreas Martinsen.

Colorado Avalanche trade right wing Jarome Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018. The Avalanche also retained half of Iginla’s $5.33 million cap hit. 

Los Angeles Kings trade forward Dwight King to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018. 

Detroit Red Wings trade left wing Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The Wings also pick up half of Vanek’s $2.6 million cap hit. 

Vancouver Canucks trade winger Jannik Hansen to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for minor-league forward Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth-round pick in the  2017 NHL Draft.

Detroit Red Wings trade forward Steve Ott to the Montreal Canadiens for a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft. 

NHL Rumor Mill – February 28, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – February 28, 2017

Could the Colorado Avalanche move Matt Duchene on deadline day?

Latest on Matt Duchene, Thomas Vanek, Marc-Andre Fleury, Shane Doan and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the asking prices haven’t changed for Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, that being three or four high-end pieces, with one of them being an NHL-ready young defenseman. Conventional wisdom suggests they’ll likely get that return in the offseason. 

Darren Dreger reports the New York Islanders have some interest in Duchene. He suggests offering up blueliner Travis Hamonic as part of the return might interest the Avs, noting Hamonic has resurfaced in the rumor mill. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles have been linked to Duchene since November. Acquiring him would be a significant move and would also send a message to captain John Tavares and disgruntled Isles fans that ownership wants to win. Whether they can afford that big asking price at the deadline or this summer, however, is another matter. GM Garth Snow could be focused on more affordable options right now. 

Pierre LeBrun reports the trade market hasn’t heated up yet for Detroit Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek, perhaps because of his poor playoff performance a couple of years ago with the Montreal Canadiens. LeBrun expects interest will grow leading up to deadline day. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the limited depth in available scorers at the deadline, interest in Vanek should pick up between now and the 3 PM ET deadline tomorrow. Playoff contenders in need of scoring include the LA Kings, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks. 

Dreger reports there isn’t much interest in Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, leaving Pens management somewhat baffled. However, they’re also willing to retain him for the remainder of the season and deal with this issue in the offseason. 

LeBrun reports Montreal Canadiens are still shopping for offensive help at forward. 

McKenzie said the Detroit Red Wings are talking contract with pending UFA blueliner Brendan Smith. If unable to re-sign him, the Wings could put him on the trade block. The New York Rangers could be interested in Smith. 

McKenzie also suggests the rights to St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, who’s currently in the KHL, could be available. He still owes the Blues a year. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the St. Louis Blues attempted to create a bidding war between the Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was ultimately dealt last night to the Capitals. Brooks claims the Blueshirts will turn their attention toward a depth defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC.COM: J.J. Regan speculates the Capitals might not be done dealing, as they need to bring in some forward depth in case there’s an injury over the remainder of the season. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Bill West reports Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he’s been talking with GM Jim Rutherford regarding his options leading up to the trade deadline. “We’ve been talking,” Fleury said of himself and general manager Jim Rutherford. “We’ll keep talking until Wednesday. We’ll see what happens.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the report last night by TSN’s Darren Dreger is any indication, Fleury could still be a Penguin when the deadline passes tomorrow. Not much of a market right now for starting goalies. Fleury also hold a modified no-trade clause on a contract that runs through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million, which isn’t easy to move in-season. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports deadline day could be quiet for the Arizona Coyotes. Having already shipped out Martin Hanzal, Michael Stone and Ryan White, there’s speculation wingers Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata could be next. However, the Coyotes haven’t asked Doan to waive his no-movement clause and expressed no desire to trade him. Teams interested in him are either playoff bubble clubs or interested in acquiring him as a depth forward, neither of which are attractive to Doan. Vrbata’s situation is murkier, for while he could be attractive to clubs seeking a scoring winger, his bonus clauses could complicate a trade. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports Jets winger Drew Stafford could interest clubs seeking depth at forward, such as the Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders. Wiebe believes the Jets would have to pick up part of Stafford’s remaining cap hit ($4.35 million) on his expiring contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries limited Stafford to just 12 points in 39 games this season, but he’s only a year removed from tallying 21 goals in 2015-16.