NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

The latest on the Bruins and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In his latest mailbag, Joe Haggerty was asked if the Bruins will sign a free agent. Right now, he doesn’t think so but that could change once the dates for next season are sorted out.

Will the Boston Bruins re-sign or trade Jake DeBrusk? (NHL Images)

It also hinges on their remaining moves, such as whether they’ll re-sign winger Jake DeBrusk or trade him. If they do the latter in exchange for a young defenseman, it could free up space to pursue a scorer like Mike Hoffman on a one-year deal. Either way, they could also be in a position to sign winger Anthony Duclair on a short-term contract.

Haggerty also mentioned the possibility of swapping DeBrusk for a defenseman when asked if the Bruins would trade for a rearguard to fill the gap left by Torey Krug’s departure. He also noted they were willing to part with Urho Vaakanainen and other assets (including a high draft pick) for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. However, he thinks the Bruins would have to convince the other club to absorb part of a defenseman’s salary or take back someone like John Moore in return.

Ultimately, Haggerty thinks the Bruins could go into next season with their current blueline corps. He has his doubts Zdeno Chara will be back, though Chara’s agent said his client is waiting on a season format before re-upping with the Bruins.

Speaking of Chara, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports there’s speculation linking the big blueliner to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins re-sign DeBrusk, which I expect they will, they’ll have to go into the bargain bin for a free-agent left-side defenseman or stick with their current blueline and see how things unfold during the season.

The Bruins have over $6.6 million in cap space, which should be enough to get DeBrusk signed to an affordable two-year bridge deal and leave some wiggle room for other additions. Depending on when the season begins, they could get some early cap relief by placing sidelined wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve and use it to add a player or two. However, they would have to shed salary to become cap compliant when those two return.

As for Chara, I don’t see how the Lightning, Leafs or Islanders could fit him in even if he accepted a bargain basement deal.

The Lightning must shed salary to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. The Isles must re-sign RFA center Mathew Barzal. Once that’s done, they are expected to officially announce the signings of Cory Schneider, Matt Martin and Andy Greene, which will use up whatever cap space they’ve got left. The Leafs, meanwhile, are over the cap by $1 million but are expected to bury salary in the minors.

Unless those clubs make a cost-cutting trade or acquire a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to exceed the cap, they don’t have room for Chara or anyone else.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello looked ahead at possible moves by the New York Rangers at next year’s trade deadline. He expects they’ll be sellers again, suggesting center Ryan Strome as a prime trade chip, especially if he has another big year skating alongside Artemi Panarin.

Carpiniello speculates the Rangers could attempt to package defenseman Tony DeAngelo for either a second-line center or a first-pair right-side blueliner. Rearguards Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson could also be shopped. Winger Pavel Buchnevich could also hit the trade block if youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko earn top-six minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s far too early to determine which Rangers will be trade candidates by the deadline. Much will depend upon where they are in the standings by then. I doubt they’ll shake things up too much if they’re holding onto a playoff spot. The play of Strome, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, Smith and Johnson will determine how much value they might have in the trade market by the deadline.

If we’re going to play the guessing game, Buchnevich could be the most likely to move. The Rangers have a surplus of wingers and he could slip down the depth chart, especially if Lafreniere is moved to right wing and plays well at that position. However, that’s not a certainty as we don’t know how well the youngster will adjust to the NHL level, let alone getting used to skating on his wrong wing.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

An update on Jake DeBrusk plus the latest on the Rangers and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WILL DEBRUSK’S NEW CONTRACT LOOK LIKE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty speculates Jake DeBrusk’s next contract with the Bruins could be between what Ryan Strome signed with the New York Rangers and what Jake Virtanen and Denis Gurianov signed with their respective clubs.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Strome, 27, signed a two-year, $9 million contract this week, with an annual average value of $4.5 million. Virtanen agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal ($2.55 million AAV) with the Vancouver Canucks. Gurianov inked a deal similar to Virtanen’s with the Dallas Stars.

Haggerty suggested DeBrusk could get a two-year bridge deal worth between $3.5 million and $4 million annually. That will put him in line to seek a more lucrative deal in two years’ time when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was the subject of some trade speculation in recent weeks. However, I doubt the Bruins part ways with him. While his production can be streaky, he still provides meaningful secondary scoring to the Bruins. They also hold the hammer in contract negotiations and will ink him to an affordable bridge deal.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers completed their offseason business after signing Brendan Lemieux on Friday to a two-year contract. While they made no significant acquisitions via trades or free agency, they shed some salary by trading Marc Staal to Detroit and buying out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. The Blueshirts also avoided arbitration with Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev.

Brooks believes any roster restructuring will have to wait. He noted there was a limited trade market, if any, for DeAngelo, Strome, and Pavel Buchnevich. They have sufficient cap space to promote from within.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the trade market for DeAngelo, Strome or Buchnevich improves over the course of 2020-21. That depends on how they perform and the Rangers’ roster needs. I feel Strome is more valuable to the Rangers right now given his terrific chemistry with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. That could leave DeAngelo or Buchnevich as the more likely trade candidates.

RED WINGS NOT DONE MAKING MOVES?

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has sufficient cap space ($9.5 million) to add talent if he chooses. Yzerman acknowledged this during a recent interview, pointing out a number of players remain available in the free-agent market. He said he would consider adding talent as the start of the regular season draws nearer.

Yzerman also indicated he’d be open to adding via trade. However, he said the market is quiet right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Defensive depth was a big weakness last season for the Wings. Yzerman’s already made moves to address that problem by acquiring Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought in one more experienced blueliner on a one-year deal. He could also look at adding an experienced checking-line winger.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

Alex Ovechkin discusses his future, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Ryan Strome, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Alexander Ovechkin told Russian Television International he’d like to finish his playing career with KHL club Dynamo Moscow. However, he still intends to finish his NHL career with the Washington Capitals. “It is clear, in two, three, four years, maybe five, I will end my career in Washington,” he said.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He is still motivated to win another Stanley Cup, but he’s also chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Ovechkin sits 188 goals behind Gretzky’s 894. He’s also one season shy of tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons (10).

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with Ryan Strome, signing the 27-year-old center to a two-year, $9 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a nice pay raise for Strome over the $3.1 million AAV of his previous contract. Larry Brooks noted the move also provides stability at center for the Rangers, though they could leave Strome unprotected in next year’s expansion draft. Cap Friendly indicates the Blueshirts have over $6.3 million in projected cap space with Brendan Lemieux left to sign. He’s slated for arbitration today. 

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gavrikov, 24, had a solid NHL debut with 18 points in 69 games while averaging almost 19 minutes per game. His contract leaves the Blue Jackets with $9.225 million in cap space with Pierre-Luc Dubois to sign.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed prospect winger Jacob Perreault to a three-year, entry-level contract. Perreault was selected 27th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed winger Marko Dano to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.

 










The Dog Days Have Arrived in the 2020 NHL Offseason

The Dog Days Have Arrived in the 2020 NHL Offseason

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2020

The latest on the notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the latest regarding the remaining notable NHL restricted free agents.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello reportedly hopes to sign center Mathew Barzal to around $7.5 million per season. The young center’s camp would prefer a higher figure. Fox feels it’s highly unlikely a rival club will sign Barzal to an offer sheet worth $10.9 million or more per season as the compensation to the Isles would be four first-round picks.

Speaking of the Isles, Fox considers it a no-brainer they’ll sign defenseman Ryan Pulock after trading Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in a cost-cutting move last month. Pulock’s arbitration hearing is on Nov. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An offer sheet for Barzal remains possible but increasingly unlikely. With Cap Friendly indicating 23 of the Isles rivals have less than $10 million in cap space (22 of those with less than $7 million), the possibility of an offer sheet remains remote.

Whatever Pulock gets on his contract will put a big bite into the Isles’ $8.9 million cap space. They’re allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when next season begins. Lamoriello must shed some salary to sign Barzal and ensure he’s under the cap.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue having difficulty freeing up salary-cap space to sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. GM Julien BriseBois has attempted to move veteran winger Tyler Johnson but his difficulties doing so indicate how hard it is to shed salary under the current economic conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois will have to package Johnson with a good draft pick or a quality prospect as a sweetener. Even then, he might have to pick up part of his $5 million salary-cap hit. He could find it easier trading Alex Killorn but could still be squeezed to add a pick or prospect in the deal.

Contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and center Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen remains unconcerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski didn’t sign last year until just before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. The Jackets also have over $12 million in cap space as a sufficient offer-sheet deterrent. No wonder Kekalainen isn’t worried.

Contract talks between the New Jersey Devils and Mackenzie Blackwood are expected to pick up shortly. The Devils bought out Cory Schneider and brought in a suitable mentor for Blackwood in Corey Crawford. Fox speculates he could seek a deal comparable to the two-year, $8 million contract of Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins. He also doesn’t expect the Devils will have much difficulty signing winger Jesper Bratt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have over $17 million in cap space. Even if they don’t spend to the cap, they’ve got enough for Blackwood and Bratt.

Fox thinks second-line winger Jake DeBrusk’s contract talks have taken a back seat to the Boston Bruins’ attempts to reshape their blueline after losing Torey Krug to free agency. That’s led to DeBrusk popping up in the trade rumor mill. With over $6 million in cap space, the Bruins have room to sign him but they’re also poking around the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk lacks arbitration rights so the Bruins could ink him to an affordable bridge contract. That would leave enough cap room to add a defenseman via the UFA market.

Ryan Strome’s upcoming arbitration case could be worth watching. Fox cited the New York Post’s Larry Brooks back in April speculating the Rangers would prefer signing the center to a one-year contract without going through arbitration. The Rangers had debated not qualifying Strome’s rights before doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks reported Strome filed for a one-year contract worth $5.7 million with an arbitrator while the Rangers countered with $3.6 million. He speculated they could walk away if the arbiter awards Strome over $4.538 million.

Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar surfaced in trade speculation but GM Bill Zito insisted he remains a member of the Panthers. The blueliner is slated for arbitration on Nov. 8. Fox speculates Weegar could use Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s four-year, $14.75 million contract ($3.687 million AAV) as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar’s situation could also bear watching if it takes arbitration to settle his contract. Perhaps Zito attempts to trade the rearguard if an arbiter-awarded salary is more than the Panthers are willing to pay.

Fox suggests St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn could end up with an affordable bridge contract. The 23-year-old is coming off his entry-level deal. The same goes for Edmonton Oilers blueliner Ethan Bear.

Fox also projected the next salary for forward Roope Hintz could come in around $3 million, which will fit within the Dallas Stars’ $4.1 million cap space. It’s expected the Philadelphia Flyers will sign defenseman Philippe Myers to a short-term deal but there could be some benefit to locking him up to a longer-term deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2020

Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop undergo surgeries, the latest on Mark Scheifele and Elias Lindholm, the Red Wings re-sign Anthony Mantha, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop recently underwent surgeries that could sidelined them for up to five months. Seguin underwent surgery on his right hip on Monday while Bishop had right knee surgery on Oct. 21. If the timelines hold, Seguin would return to action on April 2 while Bishop should return on March 21.

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent hip surgery (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin and Bishop might not miss that much playing time should the tentative Jan. 1 start date for next season be pushed into February or March.

SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele said he’s fully recovered from the Achilles injury suffered three months ago during the qualifying round series against the Calgary Flames. “I’m 100 percent, no question, said Scheifele, adding he’s now skating every day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Scheifele was a devastating blow that contributed to the Jets’ demise in that series against the Flames. Having their first-line center healthy will be crucial to their playoff hopes next year.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Flames, Josh Wegman cites head coach Geoff Ward told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis his club could explore whether they’ll have a better lineup with Elias Lindholm moving back to his natural position at center on a full-time basis. Lindholm has a career faceoff win percentage of 52.4 and has received down-ballot votes for the Selke Trophy for his two-way play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wegman looked at what the Flames’ top-two forward lines could look like with Lindholm at center, pointing to the solid five-on-five production he had with Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Anthony Mantha to a four-year, $22.8 million contract. The annual average value is $5.7 million and is the longest and most expensive contract Steve Yzerman has extended to any Wings’ player since taking over as their general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha, 26, has been hampered by injuries but the 6’5, 234-pounder has 30-goal potential. The rebuilding Wings can afford to make that investment in the hope he’ll be a key part of their ongoing development.

Mantha’s signing leaves the Wings with over $71.9 million invested in 22 players with Dmytro Timashov still to sign. There’s enough cap space for Yzerman to target a cap-strapped rival to acquire a quality player under contract for next season, but it appears his roster is set for next season after bringing in Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Thomas Greiss and Vladislav Namestnikov.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Ryan Strome is seeking a one-year, $5.7 million contract through arbitration while the club countered with $3.6 million. His hearing is slated for Nov. 5. The Rangers can walk away from an arbiter award over $4, 538, 958.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one player (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) needed arbitration thus far to settle their contract for next season. Strome’s is one that could be worth watching, especially if he gets an award over $4.539 million.

CAP FRIENDLY: reports the Ottawa Senators avoided arbitration with Christian Jaros, signing the 24-year-old defenseman to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

NHLPA: Four players remain scheduled for arbitration hearings. Ryan Strome is slated for Nov. 5, Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux and New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock on Nov. 6 and Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar on Nov. 8.