NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

The latest on Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos, plus a look at yesterday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

UPDATES ON JOHNSON AND STAMKOS

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson cleared waivers yesterday. The Lightning had hoped a rival club would claim Johnson and clear his $5 million annual average value from their books.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts hope to shed some salary to create cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Trading Johnson is still possible but the Lightning will have to include a sweetener in the deal like a quality draft pick, prospect or young player. He has a full no-trade but has reportedly submitted a list of preferred trade destinations.

TSN: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair an abdominal core muscle. He’s expected to make a full recovery before the start of the 2020-21 season.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos will have plenty of time to recover. The NHL and NHLPA have targeted Jan. 1 for the start date of next season. I believe March 1 could be a more realistic start date, depending on the course of the second wave of COVID-19.

NOTABLE UFA SIGNINGS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman Tyson Barrie to a one-year, $3.75-million contract and brought back goaltender Mike Smith on a one-year, $2-million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Barrie addition is an affordable short-term acquisition to address Oscar Klefbom’s anticipated lengthy absence as he deals with a nagging shoulder injury. Bringing back Smith, however, doesn’t improve their goaltending, which is their biggest weakness. After failing to find an upgrade via free agency, GM Ken Holland seems unwilling to take a chance in the trade market.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are reportedly close to bringing back winger Patrick Marleau for a third stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau’s had a long, productive NHL career, most of it with the Sharks. However, the 41-year-old winger is well past his prime. This could be based more on sentimentality than what he can actually bring to their lineup.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild opted not to re-sign their long-time captain after the 37-year-old Koivu dropped down their depth chart last season. His best days are behind him but he could still have one decent season left as a fourth-line center with the Jackets.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Thomas Greiss to a two-year deal with an annual average value of $3.6 million and defenseman Troy Stecher to a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two decent short-term deals bringing some much-needed goaltending and blueline depth to the rebuilding Wings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed winger Craig Smith to a three-year deal with a $3.1 million AAV.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Jesper Fast to a three-year deal ($2 million AAV).

SPORTSNET: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a two-year, $4.5-million contract.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1-million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Johan Larsson to a two-year, $2.8-million contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a one-year, $800K contract.

NOTABLE RFA SIGNINGS

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The Sharks re-signed winger Kevin Lebanc to a four-year deal worth an AAV of $4.725 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Lebanc’s reward for only taking a one-year, $1-million contract last year when the Sharks were facing a salary-cap crunch. His production was down last season but that could be due to the Sharks’ overall poor performance last season. This could be a worthwhile contract for the Sharks if Lebanc regains his 56-point form from 2018-19.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed wingers Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin to two-year contracts. Burakovsky’s AAV is $4.9 million while Nichushkin’s is $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Both forwards were key contributors to the Avalanche last season. Burakovsky enjoyed a career-best 20 goal, 45 point performance in 58 games last season while Nichushkin has turned into a versatile checking-line forward.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a one-year, $3.85-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour was the frequent topic of trade speculation last season. It’ll be interesting to see if he has a future in Buffalo beyond next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Jordan Greenway to a two-year, $4.2-million contract.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The Ottawa Senators acquired forward Austin Watson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick.

NHLPA: 26 NHL players filed yesterday for salary arbitration. The arbitration period begins Oct. 20 and concludes Nov. 8.

Boston Bruins

Matt Grzelcyk

Buffalo Sabres

Victor Olofsson

Sam Reinhart

Linus Ullmark

Calgary Flames

Andrew Mangiapane

Carolina Hurricanes

Clark Bishop

Haydn Fleury

Warren Foegele

Gustav Forsling

Colorado Avalanche

Ryan Graves

Detroit Red Wings

Tyler Bertuzzi

Florida Panthers

MacKenzie Weegar

Minnesota Wild

Kaapo Kahkonen

New York Islanders

Joshua Ho-Sang

Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews

New York Rangers

Tony DeAngelo

Alexandar Georgiev

Brendan Lemieux

Ryan Strome

Ottawa Senators

Connor Brown

Christian Jaros

Nick Paul

Chris Tierney

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Mikheyev

Vancouver Canucks

Jake Virtanen










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Vancouver Canucks

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Vancouver Canucks

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

A look at TSN’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak, and Edmonton Oilers winger Andreas Athanasiou top Frank Seravalli’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in the offseason, based on the financial or salary-cap implications facing each club.

Kessel is owed just $5.95 million in total real dollars through 2021-22. Despite the drop in his production this season, a re-energized Kessel could be helpful to a Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s $5-million signing bonus for 2020-21 has already been paid out, which explains why his actual salary will be so low. His full cap hit is $8 million but the Coyotes are only carrying $6.8 million because the Toronto Maple Leafs are picking up $1.2 million in retained salary as the condition for trading him to Pittsburgh in 2015.

That might make Kessel enticing for clubs seeking experienced scoring depth on right wing. However, he has a reputation as a high-maintenance player, which could hurt his trade value almost as much as this season’s sudden decline in his production.

Bozak could be a trade candidate in a retained salary transaction if the Blues decide to shed salary to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s list was published before last night’s report indicating contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo had broken off. While they still could attempt to move Bozak to give them some additional wiggle room, there won’t be as much urgency to do so if Pietrangelo departs.

Seravalli reports the Oilers are trying to trade Athanasiou before he’s due a $3 million qualifying offer on Oct. 7. However, teams think GM Ken Holland could let him walk, which would hurt Athanasiou’s trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples believes Holland is in a bind given he parted with two second-round draft picks to acquire Athanasiou. He’s not worth $3 million, and Staples thinks Holland believes he can find a better winger than Athanasiou at a lower price. If so, he might have to let him walk and try to replace those two draft picks via the trade market.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher and center Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist, and Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop fill spots four through seven on Seravalli’s list.

Stecher is a restricted free agent who could become a UFA if the Canucks opt not to qualify his rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but their pipeline of promising blueliners and salary-cap constraints could rule out a long-term commitment. Sutter, meanwhile, could be easier to move than Loui Eriksson if the Canucks are willing to retain a bit of his $4.375-million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could re-sign Stecher if they part ways with pending UFA blueliner Chris Tanev. Given GM Jim Benning’s failed efforts last year to move Eriksson, I agree that Sutter could become a trade candidate. He carries a 15-team no-trade clause, which will hamper those efforts.

Seravalli considers Hornqvist the odd man out for the Penguins as a third-line winger with a $5.3 million AAV, but noted the remaining three years on his contract could be an issue. He feels they might have to retain salary to make that work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I don’t see many clubs interested in picking up that full cap hit for the next three years. Another sticking point is Hornqvist’s full no-trade clause for 2020-21, though perhaps he might waive it for the right team.

Seravalli wonders where Bishop fits into the Stars’ plans, pointing out he seems to be injured when it matters most. He thinks they could find a taker for Bishop as he’s owed just $8 million in real cash over the remaining three years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That low actual salary could be enticing, but Bishop’s injury history also screams, “Buyer beware!” He also has a 10-team no-trade list, plus a no-movement clause over the remainder of his contract, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft unless he agrees to waive it.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad, and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky round out Seravalli’s list.

Johnson could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal, though he has a full no-trade clause. Saad could also be a cost-cutting casualty as the Blackhawks need to re-sign Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome plus find a starting goalie. A chronic wrist injury has likely ended Dubinsky’s career but his $5.85-million cap hit for next season could be attractive for clubs looking to use long-term injury reserve to manipulate their salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s NTC could rule him out as a trade candidate. Most of the speculation surrounding the Lightning suggests it could be Alex Killorn (who has a modified no-trade) who could be on the moves.

Saad has a year remaining on his contract and a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be attractive to rival clubs seeking a top-six winger, but The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus said in a recent mailbag segment he’s not convinced the Blackhawks could trade him. He felt they could find extra cap room by trading or buying out Olli Maatta and Zack Smith.

The Jackets could indeed attempt to move Dubinsky’s contract to a club either looking to use LTIR to go over the cap to add another player or by a budget club looking to reach the cap floor. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list but that shouldn’t be an issue if his playing days are over.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 2, 2020

Some suggested off-season blueline targets for the Leafs, the Rangers’ goalie situation, and the best remaining UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OFF-SEASON BLUELINE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently looked ahead at this summer’s potential trade and free-agent targets to shore up the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defense corps. He doubts general manager Kyle Dubas can go into next season with Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren and Joseph Duszak as right-side defensemen. He also expected Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci will depart via free agency in July.

If Alex Pietrangelo tests the UFA market, can the Toronto Maple Leafs afford him? (Photo via NHL Images)

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo tops this summer’s UFA market for defensemen, following by second-tier options like Sami Vatanen, Travis Hamonic, Mike Green, Dylan DeMelo, Justin Schultz, Chris Tanev and Kevin Shattenkirk. The Leafs had previous interest in Hamonic and Tanev.

The thin free-agent market combined with the Leafs’ limited salary-cap space could push Dubas into the trade market. Options could include Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Vancouver’s Troy Stecher, and Buffalo’s Brandon Montour and Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $77 million tied up in 16 players for 2020-21, the Leafs won’t have much room to bid for the best UFA rearguards unless Dubas sheds salary before the start of next season. Even then, he doubt they could afford Pietrangelo, who could seek over $9 million annually if he hits the open market. Hamonic ($3.857 million) and Tanev ($4.45 million) could be more affordable, especially if they go unsigned beyond the opening weeks of free agency.

Forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alexander Kerfoot was often suggested as trade candidates for a defenseman this season. I daresay we’ll see their names floated in the off-season rumor mill.

Dumba, Manson and Ristolainen carry annual average salaries of $4 million or more. Montour ($3.387 million) and Stecher (2.325 million) are more affordable trade options. The Sabres could be reluctant to trade Montour to a division rival like Toronto. Stecher was linked to the Leafs before the trade deadline, so perhaps there’s a possibility there.

Fox rules out the possibility of the Leafs pursuing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who could be traded or have his contract terminated this summer.

WHAT WILL THE RANGERS DO ABOUT THEIR GOALTENDING?

Fox also believes New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton must sort out his goaltending situation in the off-season. The Rangers have carried three netminders – Henrik Lundqvist, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev – since January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With long-time Rangers starter Lundqvist relegated behind Shesterkin and Georgiev, some in the New York media (hello there, Larry Brooks) believe “King Henrik” could be bought out of the final season of his contract in June.

They could attempt to trade him first, provide Lundqvist is willing to waive his no-movement clause. Even then, the Rangers could be asked to absorb part of his $8.5-million annual cap hit.

TOP 2019 NHL UFAS

Fox also listed his ” All Impending UFA Starting Lineup in 2020″ following last week’s trade deadline.

Taylor Hall–Carl Soderberg–Mike Hoffman

Torey Krug–Alex Pietrangelo

Jacob Markstrom

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall, Soderberg, and Hoffman could be the only ones still available when July 1 dawns. I expect Pietrangelo, Krug, and Markstrom will be re-signed by their respective teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 24, 2019

Latest on the Sabres, Senators, Islanders, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE SABRES SHOP SCANDELLA?

Could the Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Marco Scandella? (Photo via NHL Images)

  SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Marco Scandella has become the subject of trade speculation. The Buffalo Sabres are tight against the salary cap. Rasmus Ristolainen, the subject of offseason trade chatter, seems very happy playing under Sabres coach Ralph Krueger. Scandella is in the final season of his contract with an annual average value of $4 million.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Sabres general manager Jason Botterill doesn’t seem interested in moving a defenseman right now. He views his blueline surplus as a strategical advantage, pointing out their depth has helped them cope with a chaotic early schedule and injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres will have to become salary-cap compliant when Zach Bogosian and Brandon Montour return from injury. With Ristolainen seemingly changing his tune about wanting a trade, moving Scandella seems a logical choice. Finding a trade partner willing to take on that cap hit won’t be easy but clubs seeking left-side blueline depth could come calling.

LATEST SENATORS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: With Colin White and Artem Anisimov sidelined, Elliotte Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators are trying hard to find a forward.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Hailey Salvian was asked which pending unrestricted free agents the Senators could move before the February trade deadline. She believes forward Vladislav Namestnikov and Mikkel Boedker could be trade candidates. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo and center Jean-Gabriel Pageau could also hit the trade block if the Senators feel they don’t fit into their plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For now, the Senators have called up Logan Brown. They were believed to be in the market for another experienced forward before White and Anisimov went down.  I can see them retaining DeMelo or Pageau for the right price.

ISLANDERS TRYING TO MOVE HO-SANG

TSN: Darren Dreger reported the New York Islanders are working on trading Josh Ho-Sang. The 23-year-old winger is training and skating in Toronto after clearing waivers and requesting a trade earlier this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact no one has acquired Ho-Sang yet speaks volumes for how much his value has tumbled in the trade market. I doubt the Islanders seek a big return for him. Maybe a struggling club or one riddled with injuries will take a chance on him at some point.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2019

Updates on the Predators, Senators, and Canucks, plus a look at possible trade destinations for Taylor Hall in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract extension talks between the Nashville Predators and Roman Josi hit a snag before the start of training camp. There was a meeting last week between the defenseman’s agent and Predators general manager David Poile. LeBrun believes Josi’s camp wants him to become the third-highest paid defenseman in the league but the Predators aren’t there.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi could seek a substantial raise on his next contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun pointed out San Jose’s Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million annual average value) and Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty ($11 million) are the highest-paid blueliners. The Josi camp could seek something between $10.5 – $10.9 million. With over $58.9 million invested in 13 players, the Predators’ cap payroll would be pushed to nearly $70 million, leaving little room to fill out the rest of the roster.

LeBrun also believes defenseman Troy Stecher’s situation is worth monitoring. He’s dropped out of the Vancouver Canucks’ top-four blueline pairings. Stecher’s in his contract year and LeBrun speculates teams could reach out to the Canucks at some point. For now, however, they are finally happy to have blueline depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Stecher’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If he remains out of their top four they might test his trade value. That could depend upon his performance and where the Canucks are in the standings later in the season. If they’re in playoff contention they’ll likely hang onto him.

Darren Dreger reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is shopping for help for his rebuilding roster. He’d like to make an affordable addition to his forward lines similar to his recent acquisition of Vladislav Namestnikov. Dreger said the Senators’ front office know they have to be patient with their young players but would like to be a little more competitive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators landed Namestnikov because the New York Rangers wanted to shed salary. I daresay Dorion will be contacting cap-strapped clubs looking to move out a player or two.

POTENTIAL TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR HALL

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently proposed the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, and Anaheim Ducks as possible trade destinations for Taylor Hall if the New Jersey Devils move him before the trade deadline. The three clubs have the salary-cap space to pick up Hall’s $6 million salary-cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox isn’t ruling the Devils out of the playoff race despite their slow start and he’s not saying Hall won’t re-sign. He’s just spitballing over the winger’s future. If Hall becomes available, the Avs, Canadiens, and Ducks have the cap space and depth in prospects and young players to entice the Devils. Much will depend, however, on whether Hall wants to re-sign with the team that acquires him.