NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.

The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.

The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.

BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.

Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.

Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.

Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.

The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.

I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2021

Check out the latest on the Ducks, Blackhawks and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently wondered if this season will be the last for Ryan Getzlaf. The 35-year-old Anaheim Ducks captain becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. He and general manager Bob Murray intend to meet following this season to discuss his future.

Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf (NHL Images).

Murray has indicated he’s interested in bringing Getzlaf back but Stephens wonders if that’s a good idea. The Ducks are rebuilding with younger players, Getzlaf’s best seasons are behind him, he was slowed by a bad back this season and no longer skates among their top-six forwards or their top power-play unit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season was the worst in Getzlaf’s 16-season career, tallying a career-low 17 points in 47 games. He could face three choices. He returns for a final season with the Ducks, he considers signing elsewhere, or retirement.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently examined which forwards are expected to be in the Chicago Blackhawks lineup next season. Dylan Strome fell into the category of “most likely” while Pius Suter’s future was unknown.

Strome faces an uncertain future with the Blackhawks after struggling this season. Powers believes he’ll return next season in part because his trade value is low coming off a down year plus he’ll require a new contract after next season. He could be exposed in this summer’s expansion draft.

The Blackhawks would like to keep Suter but that could depend on his contract negotiations. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He played well this season but benefited from a larger role with other key players sidelined. Powers speculates the Blackhawks could trade him or let him walk via free agency if a new contract isn’t worked out early in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hawks could try to trade Strome if they feel they could lose him for nothing to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. A rival club seeking depth at center could make a pitch for him but I agree with Powers’ assessment. The Kraken could pass on him too.

Suter’s contract situation could get dicey if the two sides reach a stalemate that could require an arbiter to sort it out. However, this could end up quickly sorted without much hassle. If negotiations go sideways I expect the Hawks would shop him in the trade market in hope of getting a decent asset in return.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell pointed out Michael Bunting became an important player for the Arizona Coyotes in recent weeks. The 25-year-old winger is slated to become a Group VI free agent (UFA) this summer unless the Coyotes re-sign him. Head coach Rick Tocchet sang Bunting’s praises, calling him “a guy we sorely need in this organization”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bunting has 10 goals and 13 points in 20 games since joining the Coyotes’ roster in late March. He would be an affordable re-signing on a one-year “show-me” contract. Bunting could also become a worthwhile, low-risk signing by another club on the open market.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2021

Flyers chairman Dave Scott weighs in on his club’s performance plus the latest on the Blackhawks and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers chairman Dave Scott shares the frustrations of his club’s fans over the course of this season but doesn’t believe radical change is necessary. “We’re closer than our record shows,” said Scott, pointing out this year’s core group is the same that played well under difficult circumstances during the 2020 playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images)

Scott feels the Flyers need another scorer and a top-pairing defenseman. He also hinted a backup goaltender could be on their wish list. The chairman believes general manager Chuck Fletcher will have sufficient salary-cap space to add some key pieces even if he doesn’t trade a high-salaried player like Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk or lose one of them in the expansion draft.

Head coach Alain Vigneault and his staff have Scott’s support though the chairman wasn’t thrilled by the job they did this season. He also suggested February’s COVID-19 outbreak among several players could account for the club’s difficulties once they returned to action.

Scott said he hasn’t lost faith in Fletcher and looks forward to playing a full 82-game schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to “CraddyShack” for the link. Landing a scorer, a top-pairing defenseman and a backup goaltender will be costly. Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with $70.2 million invested in 18 players under a flattened salary cap for 2021-22. Goalie Carter Hart, defenseman Travis Sanheim and forward Nolan Patrick are restricted free agents.

I don’t see how the Flyers can bring in some key pieces without shedding salary unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or shopping Hart, Sanheim and Patrick. Feel free to weigh in with your proposals in the comments section below.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers considers center Dylan Strome likely to return with the Chicago Blackhawks next season despite his struggles this season and uncertain future. His trade value could be low coming off a down year. There’s a chance he could be selected in the expansion draft if the Blackhawks expose him.

The Blackhawks would like to keep center Pius Suter but Powers is uncertain if they can afford to re-sign him. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. If a contract cannot be worked out the Blackhawks could trade him or let him walk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have $74.3 million tied up in 20 players next season. They can get over $10 million in cap relief by placing the permanently sidelined Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on long-term injury reserve. That would provide plenty of space for Suter but the Hawks will prefer keeping him on an affordable short-term deal.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka listed a lack of scoring punch among five reasons the San Jose Sharks will miss the playoffs this season. He feels management’s priority is to address this issue in the offseason or the club will head down the same path next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently reported the Sharks have some decisions to make regarding restricted free agent forwards like Rudolfs Balcers, Ryan Donato, Noah Gregor, Alex True, Joachim Blichfeld, Jeffrey Viel and Dylan Gambrell.

Balcers is the only one probably assured of returning in the opening lineup next season because of his solid play among their top-six this season. Donato is the most expensive of the group ($1.9 million) but he’s tumbled down the depth chart this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Addressing that scoring depth issue won’t be easy with the Sharks carrying $68.5 million committed to 13 players for 2021-22. Maybe a couple of those RFAs get packaged into a deal for a scorer but it’ll take something else of significance in that package to get it done. They also have a number of veterans carrying expensive contracts that could be difficult to move this summer.










Rick Nash Trade Tree Continues to Sprout Roots for Rangers

Rick Nash Trade Tree Continues to Sprout Roots for Rangers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

Connor McDavid widens his lead in the NHL scoring race, Mikko Rantanen enjoys a four-point performance and Robby Fabbri tallies a hat trick. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have the same number of points (40) as the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division but the latter hold three games in hand. McDavid (58 points) extended his points streak to eight games and leads the NHL scoring race by nine points over teammate Leon Draisaitl.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is on pace for 98 points in 56 games this season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and added two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists as Colorado peppered Wild goaltender Cam Talbot with 55 shots. Avs defensemen Cale Makar and Bo Byram returned from upper-body injuries that had sidelined each from multiple games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche (38 points) moves one point up on the Wild into second place in the Honda West Division.

A hat trick by Robby Fabbri enabled the Detroit Red Wings to hold off the Dallas Stars 3-2. It was a costly victory for the Wings as goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game in the second period with an apparent injury to his right leg. An update is expected on his condition today.

The New Jersey Devils held off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 thanks to goaltender Scott Wedgewood’s 40-save performance. Devils forward Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist. Wedgewood got the call after starter Mackenzie Blackwood suffered an upper-body injury during warmups. No update was provided for his status. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed forwards Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger (undisclosed) on injured reserve. The Pens sit in third place in the MassMutual East Division with 37 points.

A new head coach didn’t change the Buffalo Sabres fortunes as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in their first game with Don Granato behind the bench. The Sabres fall to 0-11-2 in their last 13 games. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Penguins in the East Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers (33 points) moved to within three points of the Bruins by edging the New York Islanders 4-3. The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but got the win on Oskar Lindblom’s second goal of the game late in the third period. Travis Konecny had three assists for the Flyers while Isles defenseman Nick Leddy had three helpers. Before the game, the Flyers announced defenseman Robert Hagg would be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. The Islanders (42 points) remain in second place in the East.

An overtime goal by Seth Jones lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. It was Jones’ second goal of the game. Carolina center Sebastian Aho countered with two goals. The Hurricanes remain in third place in the Discover Central Division with 42 points while the Jackets (31 points) climbed to within two points of the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves for his 10th straight victory while Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist. The Lightning (44 points) opened a two-point lead over the Hurricanes and Florida Panthers for first place in the Central Division. Chicago center Dylan Strome scored in his first game since being sidelined a month ago by a concussion. The Blackhawks have dropped three straight.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Calle Jarnkrok and a 40-save effort from Juuse Saros to edge the Panthers 2-1. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, who remain in second place in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks rookies Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras each scored their first NHL goals in a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Drysdale finished the game with two points while Adam Henrique tallied the game-winner. Clayton Keller and Conor Garland replied for the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drysdale and Zegras offer what could be a promising look at the Ducks’ future depending on what moves management makes to rebuild the roster.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen admits he’s been battling a nagging lower-body injury for the past six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news won’t silence Andersen’s critics but it explains his struggles since returning to action from the same injury that sidelined him for two weeks in the second half of February.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.

NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.