Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

More Penguins speculation, two of the players involved in yesterday’s Hurricanes-Senators trade shouldn’t get too comfortable, and an update on Derek Stepan in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MORE PENGUINS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently examined the big decisions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins following their hiring of Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

Sources close to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin confirm both players endorsed the Burke-Hextall partnership. Team co-owner Mario Lemieux has long expressed to confidants and previous GMs that he wants both players to retire as Penguins.

Malkin’s contract expires at the end of next season. The Penguins can open contract extension talks this summer. Rossi noted Malkin stated in September 2019 his preference to signing a three-year extension to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He believes the Penguins will keep Malkin as that was the understanding when Burke and Hextall signed on.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits outside of Pittsburgh wondered about Malkin’s future (and Crosby’s) under the Penguins’ new management. It appears neither he nor Crosby will be going anywhere based on Rossi’s report. The situation could change but if ownership wants Malkin and Crosby to retire as Penguins then that’s what’s going to happen.

Kris Letang’s contract also expires at the end of next season. Rossi reports Lemieux is believed to prefer retaining the veteran defenseman. However, Burke and Hextall weren’t told Letang couldn’t be traded, only that any trade “must be done the right way for respect for all he’s done.”

Rossi also cited sources saying former GM Jim Rutherford placed calls to many teams to gauge interest in Letang. However, a deal to move him was never in place and wasn’t the reason behind Rutherford’s decision to step down. It remains to be seen if Letang wants to re-sign or what the Penguins might get in return if they trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred trade destinations. It’s difficult to say what his value could be but given his age (34) and UFA status next summer they might not find many takers in the trade market.

The logjam on the left side of the Penguins’ blueline could become Hextall’s priority to address before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Rossi speculates either Mike Matheson or Juuso Riikola will have to go.

Parting with Matheson could require Hextall to package the blueliner with a draft pick, prospect or a player off the current roster. The Penguins cannot afford to carry an extra defenseman with Matheson’s contract ($4.875 million AAV through 2025-26).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson lacks no-trade protection this season but his modified no-trade (eight-team no-trade list) goes into effect next season. Moving him this season is preferable but his cap hit and poor play make him a tough sell.

COULD GALCHENYUK AND DZINGEL BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports anyone involved in yesterday’s trade between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senator shouldn’t get too comfortable in their new locations.

Johnston doesn’t consider it out of the question that Alex Galchenyuk’s stay with the Hurricanes will be short given he’s bounced around a lot in recent years and could be on the move again in the near future. Meanwhile, the Senators have a decision to make with Ryan Dzingel. He’s in the final year of his contract and could be flipped for a draft pick at the Apr. 12 trade deadline if they decide not to keep him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cedric Paquette was the centerpiece of that deal. The Hurricanes intend to keep him for the playoffs given his gritty style of play and postseason experience. Galchenyuk saw limited action with the Senators while Dzingel wasn’t playing up to expectations with the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes could flip Galchenyuk to another club at some point before the trade deadline. Dzingel could also be moved if he fails to regain the scoring touch he had during his previous tenure with the Sens.

UPDATE ON STEPAN

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan reported Friday center Derek Stepan could be among the first Senators moved before the trade deadline. He’s among several players eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer who could be useful pieces for a contending team.

Scanlan reported the team and the player seem to regret the trade that brought him to Ottawa. The veteran center is missing his family in Arizona but GM Pierre Dorion insisted Stepan hasn’t requested a trade. Nevertheless, Scanlan feels it’s clear Stepan is hoping the Senators can move him closer to home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance by Stepan in the coming weeks could improve his trade value. His annual average value is $6.5 million but he’s earning just $2 million in actual salary after being paid a $3 million signing bonus by the Arizona Coyotes before his acquisition by the Senators. Still, the Sens might have to pick up part of his AAV to make him attractive to cap-strapped contenders.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2021

Are the Predators and Bruins interested in Canucks forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette? What’s the latest on the Senators and Blue Jackets. Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Nashville Predators are among the teams interested in Vancouver Canucks winger Adam Gaudette. He also indicated the Boston Bruins were among the clubs checking out Canucks winger Jake Virtanen but he doesn’t know where that stands. He also said the San Jose Sharks had an interest in Virtanen during the offseason.

Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Province’s Patrick Johnston recently reported the Canucks have been trying to move either (or perhaps both) Virtanen and Gaudette. However, sources say interest in the pair is “lukewarm at best.” He suggested Gaudette’s lower salary-cap hit makes him “somewhat more appealing” than Virtanen.

Johnston doubted either player would fetch much of a return that provides immediate help for the struggling Canucks. Any player they acquire from an American club would be unavailable for two-to-three weeks due to quarantine restrictions. Gaudette, meanwhile, claims he’s unconcerned about the trade speculation.

Speaking of the Predators, Friedman noted forward Nick Cousins was a healthy scratch from their 6-1 loss earlier this week to Tampa Bay. Cousins has had a rough start in Nashville and Friedman believes there would be interest from other clubs depending on what the Predators do.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Cousins for Gaudette? Discuss…

Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators were looking to ease their crowded blueline once Erik Brannstrom got up to speed. He felt Mike Reilly was the most likely to move but that may have changed now that Brannstrom is sidelined. He also claims they’re trying to move center Derek Stepan closer to his family in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ian Mendes commented on Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s remarks about Stepan during his appearance yesterday on TSN 1200. Dorion said the center hasn’t requested a trade to be close to his family. However, Mendes also pointed out Dorion, when asked point-blank about Stepan’s status, merely replied he’s a member of the team.

Mendes feels there might be a team interested in Stepan’s services. However, he doesn’t expect the Senators would get much back in return. My guess is a draft pick or prospect.

Friedman said the sudden retirement this week of Mikko Koivu has the Columbus Blue Jackets considering all options at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will include trades and waivers. Hey, Nick Cousins is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. Hmmm…










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 7, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 7, 2021

Are the Maple Leafs interested in Flames forward Sam Bennett? Are the Canucks shopping Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette? What’s the latest on Senators center Derek Stepan? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LEAFS INTERESTED IN BENNETT?

SPORTSNET: NHL insider Chris Johnston appeared on Hockey Central on Friday where he was asked about the trade status of Sam Bennett. The 24-year-old Calgary Flames forward was a healthy scratch from Thursday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, stoking speculation he could be moved soon.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Sam Bennett from the Calgary Flames? (NHL Images)

Johnston didn’t feel a trade was imminent but didn’t rule out the possibility. He believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have some level of interest in Bennett but wasn’t sure if they had the right trade piece to tempt the Flames.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Leafs could use a player like Bennett to bring an edge to their third line. He doesn’t expect they could land him in a one-for-one swap of Alex Kerfoot but suggested adding a sweetener could get the deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some suggestion Bennett could be considered as having played his final game with the Flames if he was scratched from Saturday’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers. He was back in the lineup for that contest, scoring his first goal of the season. Perhaps they were showcasing him in that game for a trade or maybe he was scratched to send a message that he needs to pick up his play.

Cap Friendly indicates the Flames don’t have much salary-cap space. Bennett carries an annual average value of $2.55 million and becomes a restricted free agent this summer while Kerfoot is signed through 2022-23 with an AAV of $3.5 million. If the Leafs are interested in Bennett, the sweetener suggested by Simmons should be picking a big chunk of Kerfoot’s cap hit. However, that might not be possible given the Leafs’ cap situation.

CANUCKS FLOATING VIRTANEN & GAUDETTE IN TRADE MARKET

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports the struggling Vancouver Canucks have floated the names of forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette in the trade market. Given their poor performances, however, there doesn’t seem to be any interest in either player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That isn’t surprising. Virtanen has potential as a second-line scorer but his inconsistency has damaged whatever trade value he may have had. Gaudette showed some promise last season with 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games but he had a disappointing effort in the 2020 playoffs and hasn’t improved since.

LATEST ON STEPAN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Ottawa Senators are exploring trade possibilities for Derek Stepan. Friedman feels it’s more to do with family issues than performance. “He’s away from his family and I think they want to get him closer.” The Senators acquired Stepan from the Arizona Coyotes before the season began. He left his family in Arizona when he joined the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet insider Nick Kypreos and Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch first broke this report last week. They also indicated this was being considered for family reasons. There’s no indication where they could ship Stepan. It’s unlikely he’ll return to the Coyotes as they traded him as a cost-cutting measure.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 4, 2021

A list of several clubs possibly interested in Tony DeAngelo plus the latest on Keith Yandle and Derek Stepan in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLAMES, RED WINGS, KINGS AND DUCKS LINKED TO DEANGELO

Several teams are reportedly interested in New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

NBC SPORTS (via Mike Gould of Flames Nation): Bob McKenzie reported at least four or five teams were “kicking tires” and doing due diligence to see if Tony DeAngelo is a worthwhile reclamation project. The Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are among the clubs potentially interested in the 25-year-old New York Rangers defenseman.

McKenzie said the Rangers’ Plan B if a trade isn’t possible is to buy out DeAngelo at the end of the season. They’re not prepared to retain a huge portion of his $4.8 million annual average value nor are they willing to take on a huge contract coming back the other way. They’d only face a $300K penalty for buying him out next season and $800K the season after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo was banished from the Rangers following an altercation with teammate Alexandar Georgiev over the weekend. He’s at home while his agent and the Blueshirts attempt to find a suitable trade partner.

Gould also cited Sportsnet 960’s Dean Molberg reaching out to the Flames regarding McKenzie’s report. Based on that conversation, Molberg doesn’t expect they’ll make a move to acquire DeAngelo.

The Red Wings and Kings are rebuilding while the Ducks should be. The Wings and Ducks desperately need more offensive punch, which the puck-moving DeAngelo could provide from the blue line. The Kings could use some more experienced skill on their blueline, though DeAngelo’s shaky defensive game might not fit into their plans.

Cap Friendly indicates the buyout numbers are over $383K in 2021-22 and over $883K in 2022-23. Because he doesn’t turn 26 until October, his buyout is calculated at one-third the remaining value over twice the remaining term.

LATEST YANDLE SPECULATION

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards said he thinks one reason the Panthers would like to move Keith Yandle is his no-movement clause means he’d be among the three defensemen they’d have to protect in this summer’s expansion draft. They could ask him to waive it thinking Seattle wouldn’t claim him because of his contract.

Richards was also asked about the possibility of the Panthers swapping Yandle for St. Louis’ Vince Dunn or Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere. He said the veteran blueliner doesn’t want to leave the Panthers, pointing out his NMC gives him full control. While there’s been talk linking Yandle to the Flyers, Richards doesn’t know if he’d agree to be traded to Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The more likely scenario could be the Panthers asking Yandle to waive his clause for the draft. Given what transpired last month when they were reportedly thinking of benching him before the start of the season, he could be unwilling to oblige them.

COULD STEPAN BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cites a report from Nick Kypreos indicating the Senators are willing to move Derek Stepan. The 30-year-old center was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes before training camp but hasn’t made the impact the Senators would like.

Former NHL GM Doug MacLean wondered if Stepan might want to be moved because he’s not happy with his role under Senators coach D.J. Smith. He also mentioned perhaps the veteran center is missing his family back in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan lacks no-trade protection so the Senators could send him anywhere they want. If he does want out of Ottawa, perhaps they’ll try to deal him to a team closer to his Arizona home. It won’t be the Coyotes as they moved him to shed salary.










Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2020

Mike Hoffman joining the Blues and two significant trades by the Senators highlights this roundup of the notable Christmas holiday weekend news in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues signed free agent Mike Hoffman to a professional tryout offer. Hoffman can negotiate with other clubs while training with the Blues. However, Rutherford believes the two sides have in place a one-year deal worth between $3.5 million and $4.5 million, and they’re waiting to officially announce it because of salary-cap implications.

Mike Hoffman joins the St. Louis Blues on a professional tryout offer (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubted the Blues would sign Hoffman unless he was willing to reduce his rumored asking price of between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. He’s apparently done so to join a Stanley Cup contender.

Hoffman will provide some much-needed short-term offense with sniper Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery. A solid performance could improve Hoffman’s chances of a more lucrative deal in next year’s UFA market.

Cap Friendly shows the Blues with $1.175 million in cap space with Vince Dunn to be signed. They will get cap relief by placing Alexander Steen and his $5.75 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season.

Rutherford points out having Hoffman on a PTO gives Blues general manager Doug Armstrong time to determine how much it’ll cost to re-sign Dunn. It could also allow time to make a cost-cutting trade, though they could also get some wiggle room if necessary by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million AAV) on LTIR.

ARIZONA SPORTS/OTTAWA SUN: The Senators were busy in the trade market on Sunday. Their first move saw them ship a 2021 second-round draft pick (originally owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for center Derek Stepan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good move by both clubs. The Coyotes wanted to shed some salary and the rebuilding Senators sought some short-term experience and leadership at center.

PuckPedia pointed out this deal gives the Coyotes a projected $3.7 million in salary-cap space without having to place Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). They can accrue cap space to put toward this season’s trade deadline and their performance bonuses earned won’t automatically carry over into next season. That extra second-rounder will offset their lack of a third-round pick in the ’21 draft.

Some folks wondered why the Senators took on Stepan when (in their minds) they could’ve pursued better options. One reason is Stepan will get more playing time with the Sens than he was getting with the Coyotes. Another is he lacked no-trade protection. His actual salary is another factor. While his annual average is $6.5 million annual average value for this season (the last of his contract), his actual salary is just $2 million.

Critics feel the Senators gave up too much for Stepan by parting with a second-round pick. This, however, was a move they could afford to make. They still have two second-round picks in the ‘21 draft and could land another second-round pick if they decide to peddle Stepan at the trade deadline. Failing that, they could get a third-rounder. Some will scoff at that notion but one must never underestimate the willingness of general managers to overpay at the deadline.

OTTAWA SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Senators’ second deal saw them send the contracts of winger Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Braydon Coburn, forward Cedric Paquette, and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaborik hasn’t played since 2017-18 while Nilsson is expected to miss this season with concussion symptoms. The Lightning will place their combined salaries ($7.5 million) on LTIR, allowing the club to become cap compliant when this season begins.

Like Stepan, Coburn and Paquette will provide the Senators with short-term experience and leadership. Both will be unrestricted free agents next summer, though there’s a chance the Sens could sign the 27-year-old Paquette to an extension if he plays well this season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators also signed top prospect Tim Stuetzle yesterday to a three-year entry-level contract. He was given his release by Adler Mannheim in the German league Sunday in order to sign with the Sens.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: This signing isn’t surprising considering how well Stuetzle’s performed for the COVID-ravaged German squad thus far in the 2021 World Junior Championship. The 18-year-old winger is expected to finish the tournament with Germany and join the Senators’ training camp following a seven-day quarantine in Ottawa.

TSN: Ilya Kovalchuk has officially signed a two-year contract with KHL club Avangard Omsk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should bring Kovalchuk’s second tenure in the NHL to a permanent close. He’s no longer the scoring threat he once was, bouncing last season from the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed free-agent center Carl Soderberg to a one-year contract worth $1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes after Blackhawks promising young center Kirby Dach suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada at the World Juniors.

THE SCORE: The Capitals signed free-agent goaltender Craig Anderson to a professional tryout contract. This signing comes less than two weeks after Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined for the season by a heart condition.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed free-agent defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year contract worth $850K.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a professional tryout contract. He’ll compete for either a roster spot or a place with the Jackets’ taxi squad.

TSN: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson has opted out of playing the 2020-21 NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for player opt-outs was Dec. 27.

THE SCORE: Forward Mark Letestu announced his retirement yesterday after 11 NHL seasons. He tallied 93 goals and 210 points in 567 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Letestu in his future endeavors.