NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2020

Entering the second day of the 2020 Draft, here’s a look at the latest trade and free agent speculation in the NHL rumor mill.


THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the agent for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will stick with the Arizona Coyotes if a trade to the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks doesn’t materialize by Friday.

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

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t give Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong much time to hammer out a deal with the Bruins or Canucks. It could also affect what type of return he could get. Depending on how much pressure Armstrong’s getting from Coyotes ownership to move Ekman-Larsson’s contract, he could end up getting a lot less than he hoped.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan believes Armstrong seeks a combination of draft picks and prospects for Ekman-Larsson. He cites two sources claiming Armstrong sought goalie Thatcher Demko as part of the return from the Canucks but that’s a non-starter. Morgan also noted the Bruins have two good young players in winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Brandon Carlo that could interest the Coyotes if they’re looking to do more than just shed salary and look for a brighter future down the road.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall notes the latest trade speculation linking the Flyers to Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine but he thinks we should pump the brakes on that speculation. He believes it could cost the Flyers a good young defenseman such as Travis Sanheim or Philippe Myers or possibly a good young center off their roster or in their system. The economic uncertainty facing the league going forward could also make it difficult for the Flyers to re-sign Laine, who’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher probably inquired into Laine’s availability but he could face paying a steep price. The Jets need a second-line center and a top-four defenseman and the asking price for Laine could include one or both of those pieces. The young sniper could also seek a significant raise over his current $6.75 million cap hit.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun acknowledged the speculation that Steven Stamkos isn’t listed among the Tampa Bay Lightning’s untouchables. However, he considers it unlikely Stamkos will be moved, citing his expensive contract (with a full no-movement clause) and his value to the Lightning as their captain.

However, the Lightning are pressing on with other possible moves. LeBrun reports Tyler Johnson’s agent has presented general manager Julien BriseBois with five or six teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for, though nothing is currently imminent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Stamkos is traded. Johnson, on the other hand, sounds more of a trade possibility now that he’s provided Bolts management with a list of preferred trade destinations. Now BriseBois has to determine if any of those teams are interested in Johnson, who has four years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million. The Lightning are looking to shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev.


Frank Seravalli reports moving goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the No.1 priority for the Vegas Golden Knights. GM Kelly McCrimmon is trying to shed salary and he’s been engaged with a number of teams (including the Carolina Hurricanes) to act as a third party to take on some of Fleury’s salary to facilitate a trade to another club. The Golden Knights are willing to offer up a second-round pick to that third team if they’ll eat up to half of Fleury’s salary, but Seravalli believes that price would have to be a first- and a second-round pick.

Seravalli also reported the Golden Knights had had trade talks regarding defenseman Nate Schmidt over the weekend. They could also consider moving Paul Stastny or Jonathan Marchessault.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could have an easier time moving Schmidt, Stastny or Marchessault than they would shipping out Fleury if it takes a three-way trade to do so. Trying to put together that deal would be a complicated endeavor at the best of times. It’s more difficult now under a flattened salary cap. The Golden Knights will either have to add more sweeteners or pick up part of Fleury’s salary themselves and then make another cost-cutting move involving a different player.


LeBrun said he’s keeping an eye on Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday and is likely headed to market. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are said to be interested in Simmonds for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun claimed the Canadiens were still interested in Simmonds despite the acquisition yesterday of Josh Anderson. The right price could be a one-year contract worth around $1.5 million.

Seravalli also wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will buy out center Alexander Wennberg before the contract buyout window closes at 5 pm ET on Thursday. A buyout would save the Blue Jackets $10.7 million in actual cash and $4.46 million in cap savings over the next three years.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Craig Custance reporting Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli is likely headed to the UFA market on Friday.


NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

What next for the Golden Knights following their playoff elimination? How are Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks going? What’s the latest on the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Vegas Golden Knights must sort out their goaltending drama. Marc-Andre Fleury was supplanted in the starting goaltender role by Robin Lehner. Wyshynski reported a source claimed Lehner and the Golden Knights have a handshake agreement on a five-year contract extension. He wondered if the Golden Knights are prepared to invest a lot of money in Fleury and Lehner, or if Fleury even wants to stay.

Wyshynski also believes they should reexamine the center position, pointing out Paul Stastny is no longer a reliable second-line center. Unless Chandler Stephenson or Cody Glass can develop into that role, Wyshynski feels they should consider addressing that issue, potentially by moving out Stastny and his $6.5-million cap hit.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculates a new contract for Lehner could be a five-year, $25-million deal. With over $76.5 million invested in next year’s payroll, they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Lehner and restricted free agents like Stephenson and Nick Cousins. He also suggests Fleury as a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the 35-year-old Fleury is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $7 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Even if he agrees to narrow that list, his cap hit and age could make him difficult to move given the current economic conditions and the flooded market for goaltenders.

I’m not saying Fleury can’t be traded. However, the Golden Knights might have to pick up part of that cap hit or perhaps bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect to facilitate a deal.

Stastny has one year left on his contract. Like Fleury, he has a 10-team no-trade list. At 34, he’s no longer as effective as he once was. His age and cap hit could also be a sticking point but having just one year left on his contract might make him a little easier to move.


THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Alex Pietrangelo has found it “a little disappointing” that he and the St. Louis Blues haven’t reached an agreement yet on a new contract. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

Pietrangelo indicated there hasn’t been much progress in contract discussions. While he wants to stay in St. Louis, he understands the difficulty the Blues face re-signing him with just $5 million in salary-cap space. “I think you have to be willing to accept the fact that there may be a change one day,” said Pietrangelo. “Whether it happens or not, it certainly changes your mindset and makes things a little easier if you ever get to that point.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo would prefer staying in St. Louis because his wife is from there and they’ve raised a family there. However, he also noted a number of players have moved on after spending most of their careers in one city. It sounds like he and his wife are preparing for that possibility. There’s still enough time for Pietrangelo and the Blues to hammer out a deal, but that’ll depend upon his asking price and how much cap space they can free up.

LeBrun listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Pietrangelo if he hits the open market. He acknowledged those three clubs have salary-cap issues but didn’t rule out one of them trying to find a way to sign the Blues captain.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl noted a recent report by TSN indicating the Buffalo Sabres could have an internal salary cap in the $70-million range. He suggested selling low on defenseman Brandon Montour, find a taker for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, and perhaps re-sign some of their restricted free agents to cost-effective one-year deals with the promise of raises next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres currently have over $48.2 million committed to 10 players. Vogl points out re-signing key RFAs like Montour, goalie Linus Ullmark, and forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Dominik Kahun could cost a combined $24.5 million, pushing them over $70 million and leaving little room for additions.

Moving Montour for a draft pick and perhaps a prospect will help. Vogl noted they couldn’t find an acceptable for Ristolainen and his $5.4-million cap hit plus head coach Ralph Krueger likes the blueliner’s game.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2020

Check out some recent Golden Knights and Ducks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NHL.COM: Danny Webster reports Robin Lehner hopes to speak with Vegas Golden Knights’ management soon about re-signing a new contract. Acquired at the February trade deadline, the 28-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Does Robin Lehner have a future with the Vegas Golden Knights? (Photo via NHL Images)

I’m sure we’ll have some discussions (with general manager Kelly McCrimmon) after the season and see what happens,” said Lehner on Wednesday. He added he’s had a really good impression about the team in his short time with them.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger recently examined how a flat salary cap of $81.5 million will affect the Vegas Golden Knights. They already have over $75 million committed to next season’s payroll with 16 players under contract.

The Golden Knights cannot afford to make expensive additions as they’ve done in their short history. They must instead improve their roster with younger, cheaper options. It will also make it difficult to retain Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner’s status gave rise to speculation suggesting the Golden Knights could attempt to trade Fleury if Lehner outplays him in the upcoming playoff tournament. Easier said than done. Fleury, 35, carries a 10-team no-trade list plus an annual average value of $7 million through 2021-22.

If McCrimmon wants to keep both goalies, he’ll have to slash salary elsewhere to free up sufficient space. Assuming Lehner signs for $6 million annually, it would mean shopping someone like Paul Stastny ($6.5 million AAV through 2020-21, 10-team no-trade) or William Karlsson ($5.9 million through 2026-27, with a 10-team no-trade kicking in next season). Considering how many other clubs are affected by a flat cap, finding takers for either guy could prove difficult.

Other trade options could include wingers Reilly Smith or Jonathan Marchessault. Both carry $5 million AAVs beyond next season with modified no-trade clauses. Young winger Alex Tuch ($4.75 million through 2025-26) lacks no-trade protection and has power-forward potential, though injury hampered his performance this season.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag, Eric Stephens was asked if the Anaheim Ducks should move players like Josh Manson, Jakob Silfverberg, or Adam Henrique for picks or to move up in this year’s draft.

Stephens doesn’t see that happening, pointing to GM Bob Murray’s belief that the team is much better than it showed last season. Nevertheless, he believes Murray should at least listen on offers for Manson, who needs a bounce-back season. If promising Trevor Zegras is ready, perhaps an Henrique deal will be considered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson would attract attention if he hits the trade block. He carries an affordable $4.1 million AAV through 2021-22, but also a 12-team no-trade list. For the right offer (a scoring forward), perhaps Murray would consider it, provided it from one of the clubs on Manson’s list of preferred destinations.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2020

The latest Jets speculation plus an update on Oilers’ winger Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Murat Ates was asked if the Winnipeg Jets might bring back Paul Stastny, who briefly skated with them in 2018 before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights. Stastny spent part of this season on the third line.

Could the Winnipeg Jets bring back Paul Stastny? (Photo via NHL Images)

Despite the recent decline in Stastny’s ice-time and production and his $6.5 million annual average value, Ates still believes he’d have value as a second-line center. Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he believes the Jets would have to shed salary to take on Stastny’s contract.

Asked about how general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff plans to restock the defense corps, Ates speculated re-signing Dylan DeMelo is a priority and sign a veteran blueliner for the top four, perhaps from among their own UFAs. He doubts Cheveldayoff will pursue a big-ticket rearguard this year because they’re currently well-positioned to survive next year’s Seattle expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $73.3 million invested in 15 players next season, the Golden Knights could be forced to dump some salary. Stastny could become a cap casualty. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list, but the Jets might not be on it. As Ates pointed out, Stastny waived his no-trade on his last contract to accept a trade to Winnipeg. 

Ates noted the Jets have sufficient cap space to re-sign all their restricted free agents, re-up DeMelo for $3.5 million, and have over $4 million remaining. He’s right when he said they’ll have to shed salary to bring back Stastny or acquire someone similar. Asking the Golden Knights to pick up part of his cap hit could involve parting with an extra draft pick or someone like Jack Roslovic. 

Perhaps Cheveldayoff envisions Roslovic moving into the second-line center role to start next season. He could see how the 23-year-old center performs in that role before looking outside the organization to fill that spot.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports hearing some NHL clubs kicked the tires on Jesse Puljujarvi but the Oilers never heard anything close to fair market value. A recent report out of Finland indicating Puljujarvi isn’t ruling out returning to the Oilers had Leavins speculating the 22-year-old winger may have realized he received some bad advice about requesting a trade.

EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson also weighed in on Puljujarvi’s apparent change of heart. He said the Oilers still consider him a third-line winger until he proves he’s better. Puljujarvi reportedly showed some maturity in his play this season in Finland.  If Puljujarvi returns to the Oilers, Matheson believes it’ll be on a one-year, $874K qualifying offer. Otherwise, he could be looking at options in Finland, the KHL, or perhaps Sweden or Switzerland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Puljujarvi returns to the Oilers, he’ll have to start as a third-line and earn top-six minutes as the season progresses. He still has plenty of time to develop into the scoring winger he was projected to become. How he fares is up to him now.

As for fair market value in a trade, the Oilers won’t get a first-round pick if Puljujarvi’s seen as a third-liner. It might be best for both sides for him to return next season and see how things unfold. If he finally blossoms into a scorer, it will improve his trade value if he still wants out of Edmonton. If he wants to stay, he’ll provide an additional boost to the Oilers’ offensive depth.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2020

Next season’s salary cap could affect the Golden Knights’ roster, Jesse Puljujarvi could become a more attractive trade candidate, and an early draft will affect the Canadiens’ efforts to rebuild. Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger recently examined how the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million for 2020-21 could affect the Vegas Golden Knights roster. They have over $72 million already invested in 17 players, with over $46 million committed to 10 forwards, over $20 million in six defensemen, and $7 million invested in goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

A flat salary cap could hamper the Vegas Golden Knights’ potential effort to re-sign goalie Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images).

If the Golden Knights hope to re-sign free-agent goalie Robin Lehner, they’ll have to shed salary unless he agrees to a significant hometown discount. If the NHL implements compliance buyouts this off-season, Granger doesn’t think they’d use it on key players like Fleury, Paul Stastny, or Max Pacioretty. If worst came to worst, they still have significant trade value. Should the cap decline, the Knights would have to let Lehner walk or shed a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports I’ve read and heard indicate the NHL and NHL Players’ Association don’t intend to let the cap decline. It’s believed they’ll maintain it at $81.5 million and see what next season’s revenue looks like. Under that scenario, we might not see compliance buyouts. 

I don’t see how the Golden Knights can afford Lehner under a flat cap. After getting one-year contracts from the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, he’ll want a lucrative long-term deal this time around. They’ll have to shed one of their forwards in a cost-cutting deal or attempt to move Fleury if they intend to re-sign Lehner.  


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer and Sportsnet’s Mark Spector speculating Jesse Puljujarvi’s trade value could increase if the NHL stages an early draft next month. Under that proposed scenario, the league could allow draft picks, prospects, and players outside the league whose rights remain owned by NHL clubs (like Puljujarvi) to be traded during the draft.

Puljujarvi spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade from the Oilers. He remains a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. With no NHL veterans available as trade bait during the draft, the young winger could be more valuable to clubs seeking a second- or third-line winger next season, especially those with a surplus of draft picks in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss that possibility. Interested teams might prefer seeing Puljujarvi play next season before taking a chance on him. Nevertheless, a club with lots of picks in this year’s draft, like the Ottawa Senators or Montreal Canadiens, might be willing to take the gamble if they can sign him to an affordable one-year deal. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arpon Basu believes holding the draft before resuming the season throws a monkey wrench into Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin’s efforts to retool his roster. Under a normal draft, Bergevin could peddle those picks to cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

The Canadiens have 14 picks in this year’s draft and had 21 in the last two years. They face having 35 prospects enter their system, pushing them very close to the league maximum of 50 players under contract in a given season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most observers, I believe Bergevin loaded up with draft picks in this year’s draft to use some of them as trade bait to bolster his roster for next season. Those deals won’t be possible if the draft is held before the season resumes in July unless the league allows for a second trade deadline. Bergevin could use the prospects he selects as trade candidates, but draft picks tend to be more attractive than prospects in the trade market. 

NHL Injury Outlook – The First Bye Week

NHL Injury Outlook – The First Bye Week