NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2024

Check out the latest on Leon Draisaitl, Jeremy Swayman, and Jacob Markstrom in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Following the Toronto Maple Leafs’ of re-signing William Nylander, Mark Spector believed Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl will be the next big Canadian contract to watch.

Draisaitl, 28, will be entering the final season of his eight-year, $68 million contract on July 1, which is the earliest that the Oilers can open contract extension talks with him. His current deal became the most team-friendly among the Oilers given his rise as an NHL superstar.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Entering that final season, Draisaitl will have to choose between another eight seasons with the Oilers or perhaps moving on to a bigger market such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston or New York as an unrestricted free agent once his current deal is done.

Draisaitl could sign a short-term deal with the Oilers but Spector considered that to be unlikely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor but it is worth noting Draisaitl’s contract situation.

Speculation about Maple Leafs forwards Mitch Marner and John Tavares has already started but there’s been very little regarding Draisaitl, who is a much bigger star. Where he plays following this contract and how much he’ll earn on his next deal will become hot topics for media conjecture later this year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if Jeremy Swayman was sending a shot across the bow of Bruins management regarding his comments about being selected for the 2024 All-Star Game by NHL fans.

Swayman first praised his teammates for putting him in this position. However, he also revealed that his arbitration process last summer was not a pleasant experience, talking about having to deal with what he went through and “hearing things that a player should never hear.”

Murphy noted that Swayman got a one-year, $3.47 million contract award via arbitration. He also pointed out that the process is an uncomfortable one for players and teams. The 25-year-old netminder and his agent have declined to talk with the media this season about his contract negotiations with the Bruins.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently speculated that Swayman could re-sign with the Bruins in January. Murphy wonders if the goalie’s comments suggest things haven’t gone as Friedman expected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Arbitration is bruising to a player’s ego and can sometimes cause irreparable damage to his relationship with management, greasing the skids for his departure to another club via trade or free agency.

Swayman is slated to once again become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. It’ll be worthwhile to monitor his situation if he hasn’t re-signed by then.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols believes Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom is an unlikely trade target for the Devils. He reached that decision after hearing Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s report on Saturday indicating it will take a lot for the Flames to consider parting with their starting netminder.

Friedman noted Markstrom carries a full no-movement clause and the Flames have no intention of asking him to waive it unless it’s to a destination he wants to go to. Nichols thinks there could be more desirable locations than New Jersey for Markstrom.

The Flames’ asking price is also a sticking point. Nichols speculates they could ask for promising defenseman Simon Nemec or forward Dawson Mercer as part of the return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils can free up $9 million in cap space by placing sidelined defenseman Dougie Hamilton on long-term injury reserve. They could afford Markstrom’s $6 million average annual value but not what would be a significant asking price from the Flames. If they go goalie shopping they could consider more affordable short-term options.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 2, 2024

Check out the latest on Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jeremy Swayman, Michael McLeod and Kaapo Kahkonen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: On New Year’s Eve, Sammi Silber reported trade rumors are picking up for Evgeny Kuznetsov with the latest speculation suggesting the 31-year-old center could be moved in the offseason.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

Kuznetsov is signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $7.8 million and a 10-team no-trade list. With the salary cap expected to jump by over $4 million this summer, there could be more of a trade market for him.

The Capitals were reportedly going to move Kuznetsov last summer to the Nashville Predators. However, the deal fell through.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov’s production has been in decline since reaching 78 points in 2021-22. He managed 55 points in 2022-23. At his current rate of production (11 points in 30 games), he’s on pace for around 30 points this season. That won’t help his value in this summer’s trade market unless the Capitals are willing to retain salary in the deal.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy last week cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noting that Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman is among several restricted free agents on one-year contract who can be signed to extensions as of Jan. 1.

Given Swayman’s performance, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins re-sign the 25-year-old goaltender, who’s eligible for salary arbitration in July. Murphy noted that Swayman repeatedly said he wanted to remain with the Bruins last summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have over $25 million in projected salary-cap space for next season with 14 active roster players under contract. They can afford to pay Swayman a significant raise over his current $3.475 million.

Murphy wondered if an extension for Swayman could come as early as this week. Whether this week or this summer, I believe the Bruins will get him signed to a lucrative new deal.

After that, expect plenty of speculation over Linus Ullmark’s future in Boston. Swayman’s goalie partner has a year remaining on his contract with a 15-team no-trade clause for next season and an average annual value of $5 million.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols reported on New Year’s Eve that forward Michael McLeod has come up in trade rumors as Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald scours the trade market to bolster his defense and goaltending.

Citing an NHL source, Nichols reported that teams were calling about McLeod and the Devils might be willing to part with the 25-year-old center. He’s on an affordable $1.4 million contract for this season and is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. With seven goals and 14 points in 35 games, he’s on pace for a career-best performance.

Nichols clarified his report after the Devils denied they were willing to part with McLeod. While his sources insist there is strong interest in the center, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Devils will trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Kristy Flannery explains why teams are interested in McLeod. He’s made significant improvement this season thanks to a boost in confidence from his play in the 2023 playoffs. In addition to his current offensive production, he plays a physical game and leads the league in faceoff win percentage. Those traits are also why the Devils prefer to retain him.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted that Kaapo Kahkonen has found his form with the San Jose Sharks. However, the 27-year-old goaltender is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and his value in the trade market is growing.

Miller listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild (Kahkonen’s former club) and New Jersey Devils as possible suitors for Kahkonen. The cap-strapped Maple Leafs would likely need to shed salary to take him on. The Wild could need help if Filip Gustavsson should be sidelined long-term. There’s a recent trade history between the Sharks and the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kahkonen carries a $2.75 million cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Still, he’d be a difficult acquisition for the Leafs given their cap situation.

Gustavsson is reportedly out for a week so the Wild won’t have to plunge into the trade market for a short-term replacement. The Devils can afford Kahkonen but his lack of playoff experience could send them looking elsewhere.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2023

The latest on contract talks involving the Leafs’ William Nylander and the Canucks’ Elias Pettersson, an update on Patrick Kane, and why the Bruins shouldn’t break up their goalie tandem in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON NYLANDER AND PETTERSSON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s ongoing dialogue between Toronto Maple Leafs management and William Nylander’s representatives regarding a contract extension. Both sides remain tight-lipped as they keep the discussions out of the media.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

They’re hoping to get a deal done before July 1. However, it’s difficult to do so as Nylander’s strong performance this season is pushing up his leverage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember the speculation suggesting Nylander’s asking price could be $10 million annually? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s now around $11 million per season. If the Leafs can’t or won’t pay it, another team happily will, especially with the salary cap rising by a projected $4 million for 2024-25.

Nylander’s been underpaid for some time now and he wants fair market value on his next contract. No “hometown discounts”.

Darren Dreger said there’s less of a sense of urgency between the Vancouver Canucks and Elias Pettersson compared to what’s going on in Toronto with Nylander.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July whereas Nylander is slated to become an unrestricted free agent

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said this week that there’s been good communication with the Pettersson camp. However, they haven’t yet reached the stage where they’re swapping numbers regarding dollars and terms. Dreger thinks there’s a chance this could get done during the season but we’ll have to wait and see.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you think Nylander’s asking price is gonna be high, wait until you see what Pettersson gets if he’s willing to agree to a long-term deal with the Canucks. He’s currently jockeying with teammates Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller for the points lead among this season’s NHL scorers. If Pettersson wins the Art Ross Trophy, his next contract could be between $12 million and $13 million annually.

UPDATE ON PATRICK KANE

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli pointed out the reason why the New York Rangers won’t be getting into the bidding for Patrick Kane. The way their salary-cap payroll for this season is currently structured they lack sufficient cap space to sign the 34-year-old winger.

Seravalli also indicated that Kane wants to sign soon, hopefully by the end of next week so he can stop answering this question.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane reportedly isn’t lacking for possible suitors. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked to the future Hall-of-Famer, with the Sabres and Panthers said to have kept in touch since the offseason.

WHY THE BRUINS WON’T SPLIT UP THEIR GOALIE TANDEM

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss pointed out that the Bruins goaltending tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman has been bailing out the club’s leaky defense of late. That’s why it would make little sense to trade one or the other for a top-six center or a top-six winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams in dire need of a goaltending upgrade (hello there, Edmonton Oilers!) have been mentioned as possible trade partners if the Bruins were willing to part with Ullmark or Swayman. However, Bruins GM Don Sweeney is unlikely to move either guy.

Before the start of this season, Sweeney said that maintaining his goalie tandem would keep his club competitive as they adjust to the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Ullmark and Swayman have held up their end of the bargain thus far. They’re a big reason why the Bruins are jostling with the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the overall standings.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2023

Why didn’t the Bruins trade a goalie this summer? Could they pursue Jets center Mark Scheifele? Could Tomas Tatar end up with the Islanders? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

98.5 THE SPORT HUB: Ty Anderson offered up his thoughts on the Boston Bruins with training camps opening later this month. Despite an offseason that saw the departures of key talent such as Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, he believes the Bruins could still be competitive in the Atlantic Division this season.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images)

Regarding why the Bruins didn’t trade a goaltender to address their needs at center, Anderson pointed out that Linus Ullmark had a no-trade clause that required his consent to be dealt to half the league. There was some scuttlebutt claiming that a team offered up a fair market offer for Ullmark. However, it would’ve meant “a corresponding trade that never happened” as well as Ullmark waiving his NTC.

Anderson thinks the Bruins weren’t keen to move Jeremy Swayman. There was a rumor claiming the 24-year-old netminder wanted a trade in order to be closer to his parents in Alaska. That speculation was “bogus” as Swayman’s parents no longer live in Alaska.

If the Bruins end up being a fringe playoff club by the trade deadline, Anderson hopes that they go into sell mode. Of their eight pending unrestricted free agents, only Jake DeBrusk should be considered an automatic re-signing. He believes the rest (including Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Grzelcyk) should be shopped as their value at the trade deadline could be higher than in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting tidbits regarding Ullmark and Swayman. The Bruins appear determined to ride their goalie tandem this season as they try to cope with the loss of their top two centers.

The trade rumors surrounding Ullmark and Swayman have died down in recent weeks. Still, they could resurface at some point this season if the Bruins can’t adjust to the absences of Bergeron and Krejci.

Given Swayman’s eligibility as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, they could be forced to choose between one or the other at some point. Much will depend on how both goalies perform this season.

I expect the Bruins will be sellers if they’re a borderline playoff club or out of postseason contention leading up to the trade deadline. As Anderson points out, the 2024 first-round pick they sent to the Detroit Red Wings last season for Tyler Bertuzzi is top-10 protected. A selloff of pending UFAs at the trade deadline, if they’re already out of contention, could ensure that they retain that pick, meaning the Wings get the 2025 pick.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted that the Bruins have been linked to Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele since Bergeron and then Krejic announced their retirements.

He cited Mark McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press suggesting Boston could make sense for the 30-year-old Scheifele, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. McIntyre wondered what the Bruins could offer up for the Jets, who would be interested in retooling their roster rather than rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy questions if Scheifele would be a good fit with the Bruins given his reputation as difficult to coach. I have my doubts that the Bruins have sufficient depth in tradeable assets to make a competitive bid for him if he hits the trade block.

Even if they did land Scheifele, it remains to be seen if he would significantly improve the Bruins. It could work out well, providing them with the inside track to re-signing him. If not, they’ll end up squandering their precious few assets on a rental that didn’t work out.

COULD TATAR END UP WITH THE ISLANDERS?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Stefen Rosner noted there hasn’t been much news of late regarding Tomas Tatar. The 32-year-old winger is coming off a 48-point performance last season with the New Jersey Devils but remains available in this summer’s UFA market.

Rosner wonders if Tatar might already have a contract in hand with an NHL club but it hasn’t been officially announced yet. He points out that New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has a reputation for such stealth signings during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the Tatar speculation had him linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far, however, there’s no indication yet that he’s close to signing with them.

We can’t dismiss the possibility of a club like the Isles having already signed him but not announcing it until training camp begins. With training camps opening on Sep. 21, we’ll find out soon enough.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2023

Some of this summer’s notable short-term free-agent signings could get shopped by this season’s trade deadline. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski recently listed several notable players on short-term contracts who could become bargaining chips by this season’s NHL trade deadline.

Jason Zucker topped Wyshynski’s list. The 31-year-old winger signed a one-year, $5.3 million contract. If he plays well, he could earn a contract extension with the Coyotes. At worst, he plays well enough to get shipped to a contender if the Coyotes retain a bit of salary.

Zucker wasn’t the only Coyote on a short deal this season who could become trade bait. Defenseman Matt Dumba (one-year, $3.9 million) and forward Alex Kerfoot (two years, $3.5 million average annual value) could also interest playoff contenders later this season.

Ottawa Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three could be on the move by the trade deadline if the Coyotes are in their usual spot near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Vladimir Tarasenko could be deadline trade bait if the Ottawa Senators season goes sideways. A six-time 30-plus goal scorer, the 31-year-old winger is on a one-year contract with a reasonable $5 million cap hit. He also carries a full no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A return to form by Tarasenko will make him among the most pursued players in the trade market if the Senators decide to move him by deadline day. His NTC will be a bit of an obstacle.

Corey Perry could also be of interest to playoff-bound clubs. The 38-year-old winger signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. His postseason play since 2020 will make him an enticing option for contenders seeking an agitating veteran leader with a decent scoring touch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Wyshynski observed, the rebuilding Blackhawks can also pick up part of Perry’s cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection so he’ll likely draw lots of interest if he shows he still has something left in the tank this season.

Washington Capitals winger Max Pacioretty is another who could be on the move by the trade deadline. He’s recovering from a twice-torn Achilles tendon that limited him to just five games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season.

Because of his injuries, Pacioretty’s on a one-year deal paying $2 million in base salary plus $2 million in performance bonuses. A return to his 30-plus goal form could fetch a nice return for the Capitals if they drop out of contention by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is expected to miss the start of this season and could be out for at least the first month. He won’t be moved if he helps the Capitals return to playoff contention. However, Wyshynski also observed that he carries a full no-movement clause.

Wyshynski noted the Boston Bruins don’t want to move Jeremy Swayman. The 24-year-old goaltender went through arbitration earlier this summer and was awarded a one-year, $3.475 million contract. He’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. Maybe the Bruins won’t want to commit to an expensive goalie tandem when they’ll have holes in their roster to address.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend on how well Swayman and fellow Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark perform this season. Ullmark was mentioned as a trade candidate this summer but the Bruins intend to stick with both goalies for this season. If they fall out of playoff contention, however, they might decide to peddle one of them, especially if they can get a solid return. Swayman could prove to have more value in the trade market.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Marc Staal is another possible trade option. He’s on a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Detroit Red Wings blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere carries a more expensive $4.125 million on a one-year deal with a 10-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers aren’t expected to be a contender this season. It’s a good bet that Staal gets shopped if he plays well for them. Gostisbehere could also be peddled if the Wings fail to make the cut.

The Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Dante Fabbro to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. His struggles last season generated some trade speculation prior to signing his new deal, including talk of reuniting with college coach Dan Quinn with the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski wondered if new head coach Andrew Brunette and new GM Barry Trotz view the 25-year-old Fabbro differently than the previous regime. A bounce-back performance on his part could help the Predators return to playoff contention or turn him into a trade chip.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2023

What are the Hurricanes’ plans going forward this season? What’s the latest on the Bruins’ goaltending? Are any more big moves coming for the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

HURRICANES FACING MORE QUESTIONS

CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: Bryant Baucom believes the Hurricanes front office still has some questions to address regarding their roster.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (NHL Images).

Baucom thinks their biggest need remains a scoring forward but those are virtually non-existent in the free-agent market. They also have limited cap room to make a significant UFA addition.

General manager Don Waddell must decide if he’s shopping Brett Pesce and/or Brady Skjei. Both defensemen are slated to become UFAs next July. Young forward Jack Drury requested a trade prior to last season and put in a lackluster performance with the Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Baucom also wondered how big the list of Hurricanes untouchables is and how much urgency management has to add another scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend on the Hurricanes’ performance over the course of the upcoming season. They could become more active in the trade market if their scoring fails to improve.

After adding Dmitry Orlov this summer as well as affordable depth defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Caleb Jones, the Hurricanes could peddle Pesce or Skjei before the start of the season. They could also retain them until the trade deadline nears in order to land a scoring forward. Perhaps they’ll hang onto both as “own rentals” for the season.

Drury would be a tempting trade chip for clubs that become sellers this season. On his own, he probably won’t fetch the scoring forward the Hurricanes seek. Bundled with Pesce or Skjei or with a first-round pick, however, it could be a different story.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS GOALTENDERS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss recently explained why the Bruins are keeping their goalie tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman intact. He pointed out that they’ll need strong goaltending this season to reach the playoffs after losing several key players elsewhere from the lineup to free agency and retirement.

Beyond this season is another story. The combined cap hits of Ullmark and Swayman for 2023-24 is $8.475 million. However, a strong performance by Swayman could vault him into the $5 million average annual value range. That could mean trading Ullmark to free up his $5 million cap hit next summer when he has only a year left on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winner of the 2023 Vezina Trophy, Ullmark will also have a 15-team no-trade list for 2024-25. It could hamper efforts to move him but wouldn’t make it impossible. Whether he or Swayman get moved next summer will depend on their respective performances this season.

NO OTHER BIG MOVES PLANNED FOR THE PENGUINS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Following the Pittsburgh Penguins’ acquisition of Erik Karlsson, Nick Horwat cited general manager Kyle Dubas telling reporters that he’s likely done making big moves this summer. Dubas mentioned he could bring in some players on professional tryout offers.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculated the Penguins GM might look into signing free-agent winger Tomas Tatar but Horwat considers that to be unlikely. While Tatar could be seen as an obvious replacement for sidelined winger Jake Guentzel, he’s only expected to miss the first five games of the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I guess that also spikes that silly rumor flying around on social media claiming Dubas was going to sign 51-year-old Jaromir Jagr to a one-year, $1 million contract to return to the Penguins.

Jagr will be playing hockey this season but not in the NHL. He’s reportedly committed to spending another season in Czechia with the Kladno Knights, the club that he also owns.