NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and Jack Eichel plus updates on the Stars and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE HURRICANES, DEVILS, ISLANDERS INTERESTED IN TARASENKO?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford speculates the St. Louis Blues’ signing left winger Brandon Saad yesterday might spark a trade of Vladimir Tarasenko. The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have an interest in the 29-year-old right winger, and there are signs the New York Islanders could get back into the mix.

Could the St. Louis Blues be closer to trading Vladimir Tarasenko? (NHL Images)

Having signed Saad for less than expected, perhaps Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will be more willing to retain part of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit. That could be enticing for the Islanders, who have $17.6 million in cap space but must also re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Beauvillier, 24, has also been mentioned as a trade candidate. The Islanders remain on Tarasenko’s list of preferred destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been quiet on the Islanders’ front. As usual, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to tip his hand as to his plans for his RFAs or for UFAs Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, though there’s plenty of conjecture suggesting he intends to re-sign them or already has them under contract but hasn’t officially announced them yet. There’s also talk he’s signing Zach Parise.

If the Isles are in the mix for Tarasenko the Blues must retain some salary and/or take back a contract as part of the return. Parting with an RFA like Beauvillier would also work but we don’t know if Armstrong has any interest in him.

The Hurricanes have almost $14 million in cap space but they must re-sign RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Owner Tom Dundon could prefer keeping the payroll as far below the $81.5 million cap as possible. With over $22 million in cap room and five more roster spots to fill, the Devils are best positioned to swing a deal for Tarasenko. However, they could be on his no-trade list.

THE LATEST ON EICHEL

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams feels no pressure to trade Jack Eichel. He explained he’ll make that move if he gets an offer that makes sense for his club but won’t ship out the 24-year-old center simply for the sake of doing so.

However, Vogl points out Eichel wants out and his agents’ only discussions with Adams center on trade requests. He feels Eichel can’t show up in training camp as captain as it would damage the fresh start with a young core. The Sabres GM still believes there’s a market for his captain.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Mika Zibanejad would accept a six-year contract extension from the Rangers worth between $9 million and $9.5 million annually. “Wouldn’t that be enough to put an end to the Jack Eichel narrative as relates to the Rangers?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Adams is going to publicly say he feels no pressure to move Eichel. He’s not going to admit that it could get difficult to move the unhappy center with the NHL Draft and the start of free agency behind them.

While Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years and the Sabres’ high asking price are sticking points, his neck injury remains the main issue. If he was healthy, he’d probably be with another team (like the Rangers?) by now. But interested parties are understandably reluctant to part with assets for a player who might not be able to participate in a full schedule next season.

Still, it’s not too late for the Sabres to trade Eichel, or the Blues to move Tarasenko. Three years ago, the Ottawa Senators traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks and the Montreal Canadiens shipped Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights just before training camp opened in September. The Eichel and Tarasenko trade situations could be resolved in the same time frame.

COULD THE STARS SHOP A GOALTENDER?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars signing Braden Holtby on Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $2 million raised questions about their overcrowded crease that already features Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Stars GM Jim Nill said Bishop’s status for next season remains uncertain as he continues to recover from last fall’s knee surgery. The Stars could send Oettinger back to the AHL as he remains waiver-exempt but that might not be best for potentially the best healthy goalie in the organization. DeFranks speculates they could also shop Khudobin, who’s under contract for two more seasons at $3.33 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill told DeFranks his club would wait to figure out their situation before opting to move one of their surplus goalies. Bishop’s career could be over if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to the rigors of NHL action.

Oettinger is their goalie of the future coming off a solid NHL debut (11-8-7, 2.36 GAA, .911 SP) last season. Khudobin could be the odd man out here. There will be teams on the lookout for a goalie during training camp.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators could still try to add a center and a winger through a trade. They’re still in the mix for New York Rangers center Ryan Strome. They kicked tires on Jack Eichel but his contract and the asking price make that prohibitive. They could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait. Victor Mete or Erik Brannstrom could become trade candidates if GM Pierre Dorion decides to go that route.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2021

The free-agent market opens at noon ET today. Check out the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Getzlaf, Darcy Kuemper and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO FLEURY FLIP TO PENGUINS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman didn’t acquire goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the Vegas Golden Knights to flip him to another club. There was speculation he could end up in Pittsburgh as that’s where his career began.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel reports a source said the Penguins aren’t looking to acquire Fleury. They’re still interested in upgrading their goaltending but Fleury’s age (36) and cap hit ($7 million) makes no sense for the Penguins given their limited cap space ($7.4 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey world still awaits Fleury’s decision on his future. There’s talk he could retire rather than head to Chicago. If he retires, there is no cap recapture penalty because that applies only to exceedingly long contracts signed before 2012-13 and Fleury’s doesn’t fall into that category. The Blackhawks would not be charge his $7 million cap hit.

LATEST ON HAMILTON

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have offered defenseman Dougie Hamilton a deal comparable to that of St. Louis’ Torey Krug: seven years with an annual average value of $6.5 million. If Hamilton departs, Friedman expects the New Jersey Devils will make a big pitch for him.

Is Dougie Hamilton heading to market today? (NHL Images)

RUMORED DESTINATIONS FOR GETZLAF

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s possible Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf could sign with another club. The Edmonton Oilers could top his list of potential destinations. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars could also be in there.

UPDATE ON THE NHL GOALIE MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers have been in touch with the Arizona Coyotes regarding goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Frederik Andersen hasn’t received a contract offer from the Leafs and appears headed to market. The Avalanche could be interested depending on what happens with Philipp Grubauer. So are the Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek and Martin Jones could be two options for the Leafs.

The Canucks could be interested in Jaroslav Halak after buying out Braden Holtby yesterday. Jonathan Bernier hasn’t worked out a deal yet with the Hurricanes and could head to market. The Devils could be interested in him.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER’s Sam Carchidi speculates the Flyers could sign Holtby, citing his friendship with Carter Hart.

IN OTHER FREE-AGENT RUMORS…

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen wondered what’s next for the Golden Knights after shipping Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago yesterday in a cost-cutting move. Speculation links them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers general manager Chris Drury could be pondering the possibility of shipping out center Ryan Strome and replacing him via free agency with Phillip Danault.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdy cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting the Oilers are getting closer to a multi-year contract with Tyson Barrie. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds they could be in the mix for Cody Ceci. Meanwhile, Jim Matheson speculates they could target goaltender Linus Ullmark.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars have zeroed in on Ryan Suter as a potential replacement for Jamie Oleksiak, who was chosen by the Seattle Kraken in last week’s expansion draft.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski suggests the availability of affordable young forwards such as Nick Ritchie, Ryan Donato and Pius Suter could change the Maple Leafs’ plans to acquire depth via trades. Twitter was also buzzing yesterday over a rumor suggesting Joshua Ho-Sang could be headed to Toronto on a two-way contract.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Muzitani expects the Minnesota Wild will target Alex Goligoski, Nick Foligno, Jake McCabe and Derek Stepan in the UFA market. They could also bring back Ian Cole if he doesn’t find any suitable offers via free agency.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators will seek a center and a defenseman when the UFA market opens today. Options could include Alex Wennberg, Andrew Copp or Casey Cizikas. They’ve also shown an interest in Rangers center Ryan Strome.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to pursue Ohio native Sean Kuraly, who’s expected to hit the open market after four years with the Boston Bruins.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

The Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the Devils, the Panthers buy out Keith Yandle, Ben Bishop agrees to waive NMC for the expansion draft, Leafs give Zach Hyman permission to speak to other clubs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST/NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Colorado Avalanche last night traded defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.

The Colorado Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche risked losing Graves to the Seattle Kraken for nothing in next week’s expansion draft. They get a promising young forward in Maltsev and replace the second-round pick they shipped to the New York Islanders last fall for Devon Toews. The move also gives the Avs some much-needed salary-cap relief, replacing Graves’ $3.21 million annual average value with Maltsev’s $925K for 2021-22.

Graves, 26, established himself as a quality top-four defenseman during his tenure with the Avalanche. The 6’5”, 220-pounder brings a good mix of size, physical play and a solid defensive game to the Devils’ blueline.

NBC SPORTS: The Florida Panthers have bought out the remaining two years of Keith Yandle’s contract. The 34-year-old defenseman had an annual average value of $6.35 million. The first year of the buyout will count as $2.34 million against the Panthers’ cap for 2021-22, jumping to $5.3 million for 2022-23, and dropping to $1.24 million annually for the final two seasons.

They also re-signed winger Anthony Duclair to a three-year, $9 million contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a three-year, $7.98 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things were coming to a head between Yandle and the Panthers this season. He was nearly a healthy scratch to start the season, which would’ve threatened his Ironman consecutive games streak. He was scratched from three postseason games. This move freed up immediate cap room to address other needs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. That will allow the Stars to protect goalie Anton Khudobin as promising Jake Oettinger is exempt from the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop missed all of this season recovering from a knee injury. His lengthy injury history likely means the Kraken will pass on selecting him in next week’s draft.

THE SCORE: cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs are allowing Zach Hyman to speak with other teams. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a chance the Leafs could match the best offer but that appears slim. I’ll have more on Hyman in today’s Rumor Mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates Shea Weber’s situation could end in a dispute between the NHL and NHLPA if the league doesn’t allow the Canadiens to put the 35-year-old defenseman on long-term injury reserve. Weber’s career is in jeopardy from the effects of multiple injuries suffered over the past four seasons. He’s reportedly expected to miss the entire 2021-22 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone is waiting for clarity on this before deciding what to do next. Weber is reportedly getting a second medical opinion. Dreger indicated the timing of this situation is what’s clouding the issue with the expansion draft coming up.

THE SCORE: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said Matiss Kivlenieks died a hero during the memorial service for his late teammate. Kivlenieks died at age 24 from chest trauma from a fireworks mortar blast. The tube tilted and started firing toward a hot tub. Merzlikins and his pregnant wife were nearby. He said the young goaltender sacrificed his life to protect others

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Matiss, your last save was your biggest.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed winger Brett Ritchie to a one-year, $900K contract.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Dylan Gambrell to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2021

The Islanders and Lightning commence their third-round series today, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois addresses Nikita Kucherov’s LTIR, an update on the Canadiens, some expansion draft details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:The third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs begins this afternoon at 3 pm ET as the New York Islanders face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa Bay.

SPORTSNET: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois defended his team’s handling of Nikita Kucherov’s recovery from hip surgery and placing his contract on long-term injury reserve for the entire season.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

We had a player who was injured, needed surgery with about a five-month expected rehabilitation time. It just so happened with this season, because of the extraordinary circumstances, the regular season was only lasting four months,” BriseBois said in a press conference Saturday. “So he was able to have surgery, miss the entire season, we were able to get some cap relief during the season, and he was able to come back a little sooner than expected.”

BriseBois also confirmed the NHL investigated the Lightning’s handling of Kucherov’s contract status and found no rules were broken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics suggest the Lightning somehow cheated the system because Kucherov returned in time for the playoffs when the salary cap isn’t applicable. However, they cannot be faulted for following the LTIR rules within the CBA, which apply to every NHL club. Cap Friendly and PuckPedia have the breakdown of LTIR frequently asked questions. 

It’s legalized cap circumvention which the league and the NHLPA are willing to live with and have done so for years. Perhaps this will be raised in the next round of negotiations in 2026.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans is making progress in his recovery from the concussion he suffered in the previous round. He’s been skating on his own and could return at some point in the upcoming series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported the Seattle Kraken will be allowed to sign players acquired prior to the July 21 expansion draft to eight-year contracts before the opening of free agency on July 28.

The Kraken also has an exclusive three-day window from 10 am on July 18 to 10 am on July 21 to speak with and potentially sign pending free agents left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. If they sign that player before the expansion draft, it will count as their pick from that player’s former club.

The earliest the Kraken can buy out players is 2022.

July 13 is the latest date a team can ask a player to waive their no-movement clause to be exposed in the expansion draft. The deadline for the player to waive that clause is July 16.

A trade freeze will be in place from 3 pm ET on July 17 to 1 pm ET on July 22 among the 31 NHL teams. The Kraken are allowed to make trades with any club during that period.

The deadline for protection list submission is 5 pm ET on July 17. The Kraken must submit their selection list to the league by 10 am ET on July 21. That’s the same deadline for them to submit contracts of players they signed during the free-agent interview period.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson and are expected to interview St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn for their vacant head-coaching position.

PUCKPEDIA: The Boston Bruins have a $2.02 million in bonus carryover overage cap hit for 2021-22.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2021

What does the future hold for Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? What players could the Blackhawks target via free agency? How will the Stars address their goaltending logjam? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE OILERS RE-SIGN NUGENT-HOPKINS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wonders what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ next contract will look like and whether it’ll be with the Edmonton Oilers. The versatile 28-year-old forward is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off a seven-year deal worth an annual average value of $6 million.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Derek Van Diest wondered if Nugent-Hopkins has played his last game with the Oilers. He claims he’s not thinking about free agency right now, adding his goal is to stay in Edmonton. Nugent-Hopkins was the third-highest paid Oilers behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman believes a new contract for Nugent-Hopkins with the Oilers could get tricky. Oilers general manager Ken Holland must be careful not to offer too much money or term, assuming he brings Nugent-Hopkins back. There were reports of progress in contract talks at various points in the season but nothing got done.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Senators should give Nugent-Hopkins a long look if he hits the open market on July 28. He could be a good fit centering the Senators’ second line alongside winger Tim Stuetzle if they could sign him within a $5 million to $5.5 million range per season on a long-term contract.

Has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played his final game with the Edmonton Oilers? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins’ contract status is the Oilers’ biggest priority this offseason. He could see if he can get a better deal via free agency if the Oilers offer a deal similar to this current salary or less. If that happens, Holland will be scrambling to find a suitable replacement via free agency or the trade market.

The Senators could approach Nugent-Hopkins if he becomes available. If they’re unwilling to come up over Warren’s suggested range, however, they won’t be among the suitors for long.

The flattened salary cap will affect Nugent-Hopkins’ efforts to land a more lucrative contract. Nevertheless, don’t rule out the ability of general managers with lots of cap space to overpay for talent when the free-agent auction fever hits.

POSSIBLE FREE-AGENT TARGETS FOR THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson recently examined some of the Blackhawks’ biggest needs for next season. They require a top defenseman, more consistent scoring threats, and more size in front of the net.

The Blackhawks could still have over $10.8 million in long-term injury salary relief from Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw for next season, though GM Stan Bowman has hinted certain factors could affect that. Nevertheless, Thompson believes they should have sufficient cap space after re-signing affordable young RFAs such as Adam Gaudette, Pius Suter and Brandon Hagel.

Thompson wondered if the Blackhawks would be in the market for a defenseman like Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton or Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie, or forwards such as Toronto’s Zach Hyman or Florida’s Alexander Wennberg. More affordable options could include Arizona’s Michael Bunting, Boston’s Mike Reilly, Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Detroit’s Luke Glendening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman could pursue a big-ticket UFA but I think he’ll seek more affordable veteran options to augment the younger players he’s bringing into the roster. Much of what he’ll do, of course, will depend upon how much cap space he’ll have to work with.

Cap Friendly indicates the Hawks have over $76 million invested in 23 players for 2021-22. Placing Seabrook and/or Shaw on LTIR will help but those factors Bowman alluded to could complicate things. The Blackhawks GM could attempt to get around that by shopping their contracts to teams seeking cap relief or those attempting to stay near the $60.2 million cap floor next season.

STARS HAVE OPTIONS TO ADDRESS CROWDED CREASE

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks examined several options facing the Dallas Stars to address their crowded goal crease. They currently carry three goaltenders in Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger. Khudobin and Oettinger were their regular tandem this season while Bishop recovered from knee surgery that sidelined him the entire season.

One option is the Seattle Kraken select Khudobin in the expansion draft. Bishop has a no-movement clause and there’s no indication he’ll waive it to be exposed in the draft. Oettinger is exempt from the expansion draft.

Sending Oettinger back to the AHL next season is another option as he’s waiver-exempt until he plays 24 more NHL games. They could also trade or waive Khudobin, carry all three goalies next season, or return with the Khudobin-Oettinger tandem if Bishop isn’t ready to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oettinger is the Stars’ future starter and outplayed Khudobin this season. GM Jim Nill could prefer the youngster as Bishop’s backup for next season.

Nill could attempt to trade Khudobin before the July 21 expansion draft rather than lose him to the Kraken for nothing. While he backstopped the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, his struggles this season could hurt his value in the trade market. It could also make the Kraken think twice about selecting him unless Nill offers up an incentive like a draft pick or prospect in a side deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2021

Could the Coyotes trade Phil Kessel or Oliver Ekman-Larsson this summer? Could the Flyers pursue Jack Eichel? What’s the latest on the Stars and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD KESSEL OR EKMAN-LARSSON BE ON THE MOVE THIS SUMMER?

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Arizona Coyotes could trade Phil Kessel now that Rick Tocchet is no longer their head coach. He believes the Coyotes would’ve done that whether Tocchet remained behind the bench or not. The fact he isn’t their coach anymore suggests they want to build around their younger players and could seek a younger coach to grow with them.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Kessel is 33 and is a year away from unrestricted free agent status. If he stays, he could become a rental option for a contending team at the 2022 trade deadline. Trading him could fetch the Coyotes some much-needed draft picks, though he won’t bring in a first-rounder.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan also believes Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong could shop Kessel, speculating the winger could be open to that option. He’s due a $5 million signing bonus on July 1, after which he’s only due $1 million for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes could try moving Kessel before July 1 but interested parties will prefer waiting until after then. He’s coming off a solid bounce-back performance and could be a good fit with a contender seeking experienced scoring depth on the wing.

Kessel still carries an eight-team no-trade list. He has a no-movement clause but that’s to ensure he cannot be demoted to the minors or left exposed in the expansion draft.

Morgan was also asked if the Coyotes could attempt to shop Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s not sure yet if their captain will expand his no-trade list but knowing the front office wants to move him can’t be a comforting thought. They would have to take back a big salary as Ekman-Larsson is due to earn $10.5 million annually in real salary over the next three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but moving Ekman-Larsson could be more difficult than it was last fall when the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks explored that possibility. His performance has declined over the past three seasons. If a swap of expensive contracts isn’t possible, the Coyotes could be forced to absorb part of his cap hit or attempt to get a third team involved in order to find a creative way to make it work.

COULD THE FLYERS PURSUE EICHEL?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Philadelphia Flyers could be busy during the offseason following their disappointing performance this season. He thinks GM Chuck Fletcher is determined to make this offseason count.

LeBrun can see the Flyers looking into Jack Eichel’s situation with the Buffalo Sabres. He also thinks they could reach out to the Nashville Predators to inquire again about Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis. They could also have interest in Seth Jones if the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t able to sign the blueliner to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Flyers have the young pieces necessary to make a big trade. For me, the sticking point is their cap space.

Cap Friendly shows them with over $69 million invested in 17 players. That’s not much room to take on a high-salaried star such as Eichel unless they’re willing to offer up a young player like Travis Konecny ($5.5 million AAV) or Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million) as part of the package. The other option is finding someone to take an expensive veteran such as Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million AAV) or James van Riemsdyk ($7.14 million) off their hands.

I’m not suggesting such moves are impossible. As we’ve seen in recent years, general managers can find creative ways to move players with hefty contracts. Finding a trade partner will to do so, however, is the hard part.

Predators GM David Poile would probably prefer someone taking expensive underachievers like Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene off his hands rather than move Ekholm or Ellis. Jones will attract plenty of interest if he doesn’t sign an extension this summer but Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicated he’ll still keep him for next season.

UPDATES ON THE STARS AND OILERS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Stars GM Jim Nill didn’t dismiss the idea of adding another scoring forward. He feels his club has the cap space to make that move if the right player can be found.

DeFranks estimates the Stars could have between $4 million and $5 million to work with after re-signing key players such as Miro Heiskanen. They could also have more room if the Seattle Kraken select goalie Anton Khudobin in the expansion draft. He wondered if that would be enough to bring in someone like Mike Hoffman, Blake Coleman or Alex Wennberg.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the recent rumors suggesting the Oilers could be close to signing Adam Larsson to a new contract could signal the end of Tyson Barrie’s tenure in Edmonton.

Re-signing Larsson, the presence of Ethan Bear and the potential elevation of Evan Bouchard next season would give the Oilers a shutdown defenseman and two right-side puck-passers for under $7 million combined.