Could the Islanders make a couple of offseason cost-cutting moves? Were the Bruins close to moving Jeremy Swayman at the trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner believes the New York Islanders will have to move out a couple of contracts in the offseason if they intend to add some high-end talent for next season.
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).
One of them would have to be winger Josh Bailey, who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. Another could be goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who also carries a $5 million cap hit and has a year left on his deal. However, it sounds like the Isles want to keep Varlamov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey, 32, lacks no-trade protection but the decline in his production over the last couple of seasons could make him difficult to move. The 33-year-old Varlamov garnered interest leading up to the trade deadline but the Isles opted to retain him. His 16-team no-trade list is also a significant sticking point.
Rosner recently suggested inconsistent winger Anthony Beauvillier could become a trade candidate if he doesn’t step up his play over the remainder of this season. Like Bailey, the 24-year-old Beauvillier lacks no-trade protection and is signed through 2023-24 but carries a slightly more affordable cap hit of $4.15 million.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported a rumor linking Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman to the Arizona Coyotes leading up to the trade deadline. The Bruins wanted to acquire defenseman Jakob Chychrun but Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong insisted the 23-year-old Swayman be part of the return. Bruins GM Don Sweeney wouldn’t budge with Armstrong or other Gms interested in Swayman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising Sweeney didn’t move Swayman. They still see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders and Swayman’s outperformed Linus Ullmark this season. He’s on a two-way contract through 2022-23 at an affordable $925K so I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere for a while.
Will Marc-Andre Fleury accept a trade? Should the Wild acquire Shea Weber’s contract? What’s the latest on the Penguins? Could the Bruins pursue Jakob Chychrun? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL FLEURY ACCEPT A TRADE?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports a source claims Marc-Andre Fleury has told the Chicago Blackhawks he doesn’t want to be moved at the trade deadline. “That basically removes Fleury from the trade deadline, unless of course he changes his mind,” writes Simmons.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES Ben Pope took to Twitter to counter Simmons’ report, saying his understanding is the Fleury situation remains “up in the air.” He doesn’t think the goalie has ruled it out.
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pope added it’s believed Fleury wants to stay in Chicago and could even re-sign with the Blackhawks if he doesn’t retire. Still, he believes a Fleury trade remains possible. Stay tuned…
Assuming Weber’s playing career is over, his $7.857 million annual salary cap hit through 2025-26 could provide the Wild a way out of salary-cap hell for the next three seasons after they bought out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last year. It could free up room to sign Kevin Fiala to a contract extension or delve into this summer’s free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion. It remains to be seen if Wild general manager Bill Guerin will act on that or if he has other plans to find some much-needed salary-cap space beyond this season.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski noted the Penguins have scouted the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks over the past week. He believes Penguins GM Ron Hextall won’t “go big” at the March 21 trade deadline but instead seek affordable options for a middle-six winger or blueline depth.
Kingerski wondered if the Penguins could give up a left-hand defenseman (and retain salary) because they’re deep on that side. He noted Toronto winger Nick Robertson has struggled to crack the Maple Leafs lineup.
He also downplayed the “Brock Boeser for Kasperi Kapanen” speculation regarding the Canucks and doesn’t see them parting with J.T. Miller. He wondered instead if Hextall could interest Vancouver hockey ops president (and former Penguins GM) Jim Rutherford in a prospect such as Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Nathan Legare or Samuel Poulin, suggesting Canucks winger Conor Garland or defenseman Travis Hamonic as trade options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall surprised everyone at last year’s trade deadline by acquiring Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings. It was a move that worked out well for the Penguins.
I anticipate Hextall will try to boost his roster at the trade deadline, though it might not be a splash as big as the Carter acquisition. The Penguins have no games scheduled against the Leafs or Canucks so perhaps there’s a deal to be made with one of those clubs.
TIDBITS FROM DAILY FACEOFF’S RECENT “ICEBREAKERS”.
Speaking of Chychrun, Seravalli noted the Boston Bruins were also interested in the Coyotes blueliner. He wondered if Bruin goalie Jeremy Swayman could be part of the proposed transaction. The Bruins would then need a backup for Linus Ullmark, prompting Seravalli to suggest perhaps someone like Philadelphia’s Martin Jones might work.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch speculated about the Bruins perhaps packaging winger Jake DeBrusk as part of a deal for Chychrun. However, I think the Coyotes will stay patient on offers for him. With Chychrun signed beyond this season, they can wait until this summer to move him if they don’t get any offers to their liking by March 21. I think the Bruins prefer keeping their goalie tandem intact for the remainder of the season to see how things shake out.
Ottawa Senators forward Nick Paul would draw considerable interest from playoff contenders seeking affordable forward depth. Sources say there’s been little contract between the Senators and Paul on a contract extension.
The Carolina Hurricanes have started contract extension talks with Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s on a one-year. $6.1 million contract. Seravalli wonders if a six- or seven-year deal at a lower annual average value between $4 million and $4.5 million might work for both sides.
The Vancouver Canucks must also soon reach a decision on trading or retaining forward Tyler Motte. He’s slated to become a UFA this summer. Sources said there haven’t yet been substantive contract discussions.
Recaps of Tuesday’s action, stars and rookie of the month for February, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson’s plans, the latest on Filip Forsberg and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The league-leading Colorado Avalanche became the first club to reach 40 wins this season by downing the New York Islanders 5-3. Devon Toews had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche hold a five-point lead over the second-place Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings with 84 points. Avs defenseman Jack Johnson also reached a notable milestone by playing his 1,000th NHL game.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on an overtime goal by Lucas Raymond. Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves for the win over his former team. The Hurricanes (79 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)
The Lightning, meanwhile, overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Brayden Point had a goal and three assists while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the win. The Lightning (76 points) hold a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom kicked out 32 shots to backstop his club to 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund each had two-point performances. The Flames have won 12 of their last 13 games and hold a five-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division with 70 points. The Wild remain in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.
The Vegas Golden Knights got two goals by Reilly Smith to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Robin Lehner made 16 saves in his first game since being sidelined for a month with an upper-body injury. It was Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer’s 500th career NHL victory. Sharks goaltender James Reimer left the game with a lower-body injury. With 64 points, the Golden Knights are third in the Pacific Division. The Sharks, however, are nine points out of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 54 points.
Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen picked up his first shutout since 2019 with a 39-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored his 37th goal of the season to tie Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead. With 63 points, the Oilers hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith returned to action after suffering a concussion on Feb.9. However, the club also revealed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered last week.
Trevor Zegras scored with 22 seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Anaheim Ducks over the Boston Bruins 4-3, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists as the Ducks (61 points) remain two points behind the Oilers. The Bruins still hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Winnipeg Jets kept their playoff hopes alive with an 8-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois each had three points for the Jets. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson tallied a hat trick. With 57 points, the Jets are six behind the Oilers.
Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves for the win. Devils center Jack Hughes scored to extend his points streak to eight games.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine were the NHL’s three stars for February 2022. Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman was named the rookie of the month for February 2022.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: New Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he’s looking more at a rebuild than a retool of his roster. “There are some things that we really need to fix that are going to take time,” he said, adding he’s not going to put a timeline on how long it’ll take to complete the rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s going to provide fodder for speculation over his trade deadline plans and where certain veterans such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the club’s long-term plans. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.
NHL.COM: Nashville Predators GM David Poile maintains his intent is to re-sign Filip Forsberg before the March 21 trade deadline. He added he’s not trying to trade the pending free-agent winger. Poile also indicated a deal isn’t done yet but they’re working on it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg became fodder for trade speculation following a report last week claiming Poile was shopping the winger. He quickly denied it but there’s conjecture he’s conducting “due diligence” in case he decides a contract extension won’t be reached by the trade deadline.
TSN: CCM Hockey announced it will stop using Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars in any of its global marketing. The move comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.