NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2018

With the NHL holiday trade freeze commencing at 11:59 pm ET tonight, here’s the latest on Jeff Carter, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrik Berglund plus some Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETICWith the Los Angeles Kings floundering in the standings, center Jeff Carter has surfaced in recent trade speculation. However, Lisa Dillman reports Carter wants to stay put. 

Jeff Carter hopes to remain with the Los Angeles Kings (Photo via NHL Images).

Carter lacks no-trade protection and has three years remaining on his contract with an annual $5.272-million cap hit, though in actual dollars he’ll earn a total of $7 million over those final three seasons. He missed most of last season with a cut ankle tendon and has just one goal in his last nine games and one even-strength goal since Oct. 11.

Dillman notes Carter and his family are “solidly entrenched in Southern California.” Still, if the Kings want to rebuild and if there’s interest in the veteran center, they would have to find a way to make it attractive for Carter to accept a move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings can send Carter anywhere they want without his permission. But if they do that, there’s speculation suggesting he could decide to retire. That would leave the Kings facing a $2.75-million annual salary-cap recapture penalty over the remaining term of his contract. He never hinted at that during his interview with Dillman but it’s clear he’s not warm to the idea of a trade.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During an interview Monday with Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, Elliotte Friedman talked about the recent trade speculation surrounding St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Citing Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit over the next four years, Friedman suggests that’s now a good contract for a player who can score as he can.

Friedman also cited a former Blue saying Tarasenko is a great player on the ice but he’s not a leader, which some people on the team use to deflect away from their own issues. Friedman said he could see a club in need of scoring, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, pursuing the winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko would help a team struggling to score, though it appears he’s not suited for a leadership role. However, moving players with hefty contracts like him usually doesn’t happen during the season.

The Blues will want a substantial return, probably comparable to what the Toronto Maple Leafs got from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade three years ago. They won’t just give him away.

Tarasenko’s no-trade clause kicks in next July. If the Blues trade him, they’ll likely do it in late-June, when teams have more cap space and a willingness to swing deals for expensive talent. 


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently examined some possible options for the Edmonton Oilers to replace sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom. He notes there’s plenty of internet proposals suggesting a deal involving St. Louis Blues rearguard Colton Parayko. Most involve swapping Darnell Nurse for Parayko but that won’t address the Oilers’ blueline needs. “A deal for Parayko could be made with a young forward (Jesse Puljujarvi?) and a pick (first rounder in 2019?) that might satisfy the Edmonton side, but there’s no evidence the Blues are entering a rebuild phase,” said Mitchell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mitchell advocates exploring all options, including a trade, but didn’t propose any trade targets. I agree with his take on a Parayko swap.

The Carolina Hurricanes are loaded with defensemen but they need a proven scoring forward. The Oilers don’t have much depth to offer up in that regard. Feel free to weigh in with your suggestions in the comments section, Oilers fans.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington took note of forward Patrik Berglund’s ongoing suspension by the Buffalo Sabres over his refusal to report. Berglund saw reduced playing time as the season progressed and was a healthy scratch at times for his poor play. Neither the Sabres or Berglund’s agent have shed any light on his situation.

If it’s a case of Berglund being unhappy with the Sabres, Harrington suggests Sabres GM Jason Botterill should attempt to trade him. However, he acknowledged Berglund’s contract ($3.85-million annual cap hit through 2021-22) and poor play probably has his trade value close to nil. “Skipping out on a winning team might force the Sabres to keep some of his money to get rid of him,” writes Harrington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could become a difficult situation to sort out. Harrington also suggests the Sabre could attempt to void Berglund’s contract but notes the NHLPA is watching this closely and could step in on his behalf if needed. If they can’t trade him or void his contract, they could attempt to buy him out in June. 


NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2018

Latest on Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues, Charlie Coyle, Jimmy Howard and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo continues to feature prominently in the NHL rumor mill. (Photo via NHL Images)


SPORTSNET: Noting colleague Nick Kypreos recently wondered if St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was a fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Elliotte Friedman guesses the Blues may have put Pietrangelo in discussions with the Leafs over William Nylander but they opted to retain the winger. One reason why the Leafs would’ve passed is they might be unable to re-sign Pietrangelo to a contract extension next summer. Their preference could be for a defenseman with some affordable term on his contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports word around the league is Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is in open-minded listening mode. He doesn’t sense Pietrangelo’s name being mentioned in trade talks but doesn’t rule out the possibility. LeBrun reminds us the Blues captain has a no-trade clause and there’s no indication he’s unhappy in St. Louis. Still, all bets are off regarding the Blues core players as Armstrong considers possible roster shake-up options.

LeBrun’s colleague Jeremy Rutherford dismissed a rumor attributed to him claiming the Blues had informed teams that all players were available, including Vladimir Taranseko. “Armstrong is listening to anything. To my knowledge, the Blues have NOT called teams or informed teams that everyone is available. But some clubs are under the impression that Army would consider trading anyone, including Tarasenko.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights as possible destinations for Pietrangelo.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites TSN’s Darren Dreger’s Wednesday appearance on NBCSN discussing the Blues. “My sense from talking to managers around the National Hockey League is that Armstrong isn’t willing to part with any of his core, young pieces. Again, he can see the future in St. Louis in some of these young guys like Jaden Schwartz, but he is willing to consider just about anything else.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong may be listening to offers but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trade most of his best players. If he got an incredible offer for one of them he could act on it, but those type of deals are rare during the season. If he’s going to move a guy like Pietrangelo or Tarasenko, I think that happens in the offseason when teams are flush with extra salary-cap dollars and more willing to spend. 

Pietrangelo, who remains sidelined with a hand injury, would attract considerable interest around the league if the Blues are willing to move him. That, however, depends upon his willingness to waive his no-trade clause, something he might not be keen to do. He’s also carrying a $6.5-million annual salary-cap hit through 2019-20, which won’t be easy to move during the season. The Blues would likely have to take back a contract or two as part of the return. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle brushed off ongoing rumors linking him to the Montreal Canadiens. “I’ve been [getting traded] to Montreal since five years ago. So it really means nothing,” said Coyle. Friedman cites Coyle’s versatility, fitness, and work ethic among the factors that could make him an attractive trade chip. While he won’t score a lot of goals, the Wild resisted moving him because they know his value. They told interested teams last summer they wanted to package Coyle with a contract they wanted to move, making it difficult to move him.

Friedman notes the Boston Bruins have been linked to Coyle. He also wonders if the Bruins might consider LA Kings forward Jeff Carter.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun cites a recent report from colleague Michael Russo claiming the Wild were listening to offers for Coyle, listing the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins as potential suitors. He doesn’t think there’s much there with the Canadiens and Senators but believes the Bruins may have “kicked tires” on Coyle.

During a subsequent appearance on Montreal’s TSN Radio 690, LeBrun reports the Wild may be talking to teams about Coyle but it doesn’t mean they’re going to move him. He feels the Canadiens are no longer involved.

NBC SPORTS: Joe Haggerty feels Coyle could make a lot of sense for the Bruins if the price is right but thinks there will be bigger and better options available to the Bruins at the trade deadline. He believes the Bruins need a scoring winger on David Krejci’s line once he returns to the second line when sidelined center Patrice Bergeron returns to action. Coyle doesn’t fit that role at this point in his career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Paul Fenton may be willing to discuss Coyle with other clubs but it doesn’t mean he’ll find what he’s looking for. My guess is he wants a more reliable young scoring forward, or at least one with the potential to fill that role.  He could still try packaging him with a contract he wants to move (Nino Niederreiter, perhaps?), which will only complicate things and ensure Coyle stays in Minnesota.

The Canadiens were linked to Coyle last season. However, the latest speculation out of Montreal suggests their focus has shifted toward an experienced top-four defenseman. As for the Bruins, Haggerty would prefer they pursue Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds. 


SPORTSNET: Looking at the Philadelphia Flyers’ efforts to find an upgrade between the pipes in a weak trade market for goaltenders, Elliotte Friedman reports the Detroit Red Wings have made it clear they want a first-round pick in return for goaltender Jimmy Howard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Wings are serious about moving Howard. He’s played a big role in their overcoming a lousy start to climb back into playoff contention this season and could earn himself a short-term contract extension.

If they do trade him they might not get a first-round pick for him. However, a Wings fan reminded me that Detroit GM Ken Holland managed to get three draft picks, including a first rounder, from the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar last season. So perhaps a first for Howard isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings would consider trading their starting goaltenders as they look to the future. While Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and Kings netminder Jonathan Quick have had injury questions they could be big improvements in goal for a number of teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford has a no-movement clause but that ensures he can’t be demoted. He carries a 10-team trade list and an annual cap hit of $6.5 million through 2019-20.  Quick lacks no-trade protection but he carries a $5.8-million annual cap hit through 2022-23, which could be almost as effective as a no-trade clause. Don’t see either guy going anywhere for the foreseeable future. 

The Kings have field inquiries from teams seeking help on defense. Friedman said a rumor linking Jake Muzzin to the Tampa Bay Lightning was debunked. He suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins (among others) could check out Muzzin or currently sidelined Alec Martinez.

Friedman doubts the Edmonton Oilers will move center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers are playing well of late and Nugent-Hopkins has “quietly turned into a really good player.” If Leon Draisaitl is going to remain on Connor McDavid’s line, they need Nugent-Hopkins production behind them.

The Bruins have been linked to New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He could also be a good fit with the Colorado Avalanche.

If the Buffalo Sabres make a move to bolster their playoff chances it won’t be for a rental player. “Maybe for a younger player under team control for a while, but not for a rental.”