Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 23, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 23, 2021

What’s the future of J.T. Miller with the Canucks? Could Panthers coach Joel Quenneville have his eye on the Kraken’s coaching job? Could the Flames make a management change? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

MILLER NOT SEEKING A TRADE FROM CANUCKS

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reported there were lots of questions last week about J.T. Miller’s future with the Vancouver Canucks. He reached out to a source who indicated Miller doesn’t want to be traded and has no intention of leaving the Canucks.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

SPECTORS’ NOTE: Earlier in the week, Friedman speculated one or two members of the “upset” Canucks players could ask for a trade. I don’t have the context as to what those players would be upset about. It could be the way the season turned out or perhaps unhappiness that Jim Benning is staying on as general manager.

Miller has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.25 million. He’s one of the Canucks top players and among their leadership core. His outspoken concern over the way the NHL was handling the club’s return to action from a COVID-19 outbreak forced the league to move that date ahead by a few days to allow the Canucks more time to adjust.

Benning indicated some changes will be coming this summer. I don’t see Miller being part of them unless he requests a trade. We now know that’s not something he wants to do.

IS QUENNEVILLE EYEING KRAKEN COACHING GIG?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports of speculation suggesting Florida Panthers bench boss Joel Quenneville could have his sights set on becoming head coach of the Seattle Kraken when this season is over. Brooks thinks that might be the reason why Kraken GM Ron Francis is moving so slowly to reach a decision.

If Quenneville departs for Seattle, Brooks feels it would be money-related. He thinks that would also be a reason to rethink whether the Panthers would re-sign captain Aleksander Barkov before his UFA eligibility next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Quenneville is signed through 2023-24 earning a league-high $5.25 million per season. He’d have to break that contract to join the Kraken and that could get legally complicated. The Kraken would also have to make it financially worth his while.

The Panthers could fire Quenneville if they lose their first-round series to the Lightning. However, I don’t see that happening after he guided them to their best regular-season performance in years.

FRONT OFFICE CHANGE COMING TO THE FLAMES?

FLAMES NATION: Ryan Pike cited former TSN insider Frank Seravalli suggesting there could be management change coming to the Calgary Flames. During his recent appearance with Jason Gregor on the DFO Hockey Rundown podcast, he disagreed with general manager Brad Treliving’s end-of-season assessment that his club was a good team that had a bad year.

Seravalli pointed out the Flames have had the same core for a while. They doubled down on it last year by adding Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev but it didn’t pan out. He feels the Flames need a new look, be it a change in management or blowing up the core by moving Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication thus far as to whether Treliving returns as general manager. He reportedly has two more years left on his contract. Ownership could give him at least one more year to try and get this club back on track.

If they intend to dump Treliving and hire a new general manager they must act soon. The expansion draft is July 21, the NHL Draft follows soon afterward (July 23-24) and the free-agent market opens on July 28. His replacement needs time to prepare for those important off-season events.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.

The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.

Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.

They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.

Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.

LATEST ON THE KINGS

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.

Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.

They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.

The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.

Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.










Summer Of Change Could Be Coming For the Calgary Flames

Summer Of Change Could Be Coming For the Calgary Flames

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

The Lightning still needs to make a cost-cutting trade despite Nikita Kucherov heading to LTIR, talk of Coyotes center Derek Stepan possibly heading to the Senators, and the latest on the Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LIGHTNING COULD STILL NEED A COST-CUTTING TRADE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark reports losing cornerstone winger Nikita Kucherov for the regular season to hip surgery helps the Tampa Bay Lightning address their need to become salary-cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Bolts still have to sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli and were trying to shop winger Tyler Johnson in a cost-cutting deal. Placing Kucherov and his $9.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve could free up sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli without having to move Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to trade Tyler Johnson earlier in the offseason (NHL Images).

However, Lightning general Julien BriseBois said he will seek opportunities to free up more cap room. He indicates he still doesn’t have sufficient maneuverability and is speaking with a couple of teams. BriseBois revealed he had been working with a team after the playoffs on a deal for Johnson that would’ve involved a third club taking on part of the winger’s $5 million cap hit but it proved too expensive to be feasible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.89 million. Contract talks continue with the Cirelli camp. Placing Kucherov on LTIR will leave the Lightning with less than $3 million to lock up Cirelli. He has no leverage coming off his entry-level contract but his agent can justifiably argue that his client is worth more than that.

Perhaps BriseBois will still try to move Johnson or maybe Alex Killorn and his $4.45 million cap hit. Maybe he’ll consider another option. Whatever he’s got in mind will have to not only ensure sufficient room to sign Cirelli but also enough for other moves as required over the course of the season.

STEPAN TO THE SENATORS?

TSN 1200’s Shawn Simpson tweeted he’s hearing the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators are discussing a deal involving Coyotes center Derek Stepan. He has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million but his actual salary is $5 million.

The Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren points out Stepan’s actual salary for this season consists of a $3 million signing bonus. The Coyotes lack picks in the first and third rounds of the 2021 NHL draft. The Senators have three second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan also lacks no-trade protection so the Coyotes can peddle him to any NHL club without his permission. The Senators would only be on the hook for $2 million of his actual salary if this goes through. He’d provide some welcome experience and leadership to their checking lines.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

TSN: Salim Valji reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving recently said discussions about player movement have picked up as teams prepare for the start of the season on Jan. 13. He expects we’ll see some trade activity in the weeks leading up to the season opener.

The Flames only have around $223K in salary-cap space. Treliving expects his current roster is the one he’ll go to training camp with but indicated he continues having discussions with other teams looking for opportunities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving will probably evaluate his roster during training camp to determine any pressing needs to be addressed before Jan. 13. Given his limited cap space, he could be looking at dollar-for-dollar moves.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2020

The latest on the NHL’s efforts to resume its season, Mitch Marner, Max Domi, and Matt Dumba weigh in with their thoughts, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

UPDATES ON NHL’S EFFORTS TO RETURN TO ACTION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL-NHLPA Return to Play Committee could meet for the third time this week to discuss concepts over what resuming the season would look like. A 24-team play-in involving the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks isn’t sitting well with some players and team executives. Under that scenario, the Canadiens would face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit 15 points above the Habs in the Eastern Conference standings.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s also heard some pushback against the 24-team playoff scenario. There are also questions over the format (Best-of-three? Best of five?) for the opening round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Going the 24-team format allows two of the NHL’s biggest markets (Montreal and Chicago) into the playoffs, which would draw potentially higher television ratings. In his column for The Athletic, LeBrun said the Canadiens and Blackhawks would participate in that format if asked, but they’re not pushing for it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets whittled down to a regular 16-team postseason based on points percentage or a 20-team format where there’s a short-term play-in period for the bubble teams. 

Darren Dreger reports some players expressed concerns about escrow payments going forward. A source told Dreger there’s no indication the return-to-play plans will be tied to the CBA economic issues.

If the border closure between Canada and the United States is extended to June 21, Bob McKenzie wondered how that would affect the return-to-play plans. He said the NHL is in contact with the governments of both countries and it might not be an impediment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that he’s sensing some momentum toward a preliminary plan for resuming the season could be in place by next week. However, he also said that will depend upon the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also believes discussions are going on between the league and the Canadian and American governments. 

LeBrun said he’s been told there are eight or nine teams in the running to become one of the four host cities under the return-to-play plan. Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Minnesota, and Vegas are among those believed in the running.

McKenzie said the prospect of staging the 2020 NHL Draft in June could be fading. The league still thinks it’s a great idea but widespread support isn’t there. “I think the NHL is starting to get the idea that the time, the effort and the political capital that would be required to convince enough teams that it is a good idea, might not be worth it,” said McKenzie.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also said there’s been considerable pushback against staging the draft before the resumption of the season. He indicated half the teams are believed against it, while there weren’t many teams willing to fight for a June draft. 

A decision is reportedly expected sometime next week. NHL headquarters could ignore this and decide to hold it in June, but there’s obviously a growing sense that might not happen. 

LATEST ON MARNER, DOMI, DUMBA, AND GRUBAUER.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner believes safety must be the priority for the NHL’s return to play. “My thought on this is, OK, I’m all down for starting everything back up, let’s rock,” he said. “But what if someone gets sick and dies? What happens? It’s awful to think about, but still.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS:  Ken Campbell believes Marner’s concern is legitimate, one that many NHL players are likely grappling with as the league and the PA discuss resuming the season. Campbell interviewed Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, regarding Marner’s concern. Bogoch believes everyone involved must be fully aware of the risks but noted the risk for the players is relatively low because of their youth and conditioning.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi could be at a higher risk than most players. “Being a Type 1 diabetic, it’s something that raises some concern. But you really don’t know how everyone’s going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn’t change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn’t have it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Marner’s concerns are shared by other players. As long as the league can ensure the health and safety of the players, they’ll approve returning to play this summer.

Speaking of that vote, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported it’s his understanding the 31 player reps will vote on an official return-to-play format.  “The player reps are in constant communication with their teammates so their vote should be reflective of what the players on their respective team want.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba hopes for a chance to resume his season. He felt his game was improving in the weeks before the schedule was paused. Dumba believes he spent too much time last summer rehabbing a surgically repaired pectoral muscle and not enough on other areas of his game.

EISHOCKEY NEWS: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer opted to remain in Denver rather than return to his native Germany to ride out the league’s mandatory self-quarantine period. Unlike other parts of the United States, Grubauer felt the local and state officials in Colorado were doing a good job addressing the pandemic. He’s spent a good deal of time maintaining his conditioning by cycling. 

Grubauer said the league wants the players to be prepared for a possible resumption of play. The longer it takes, the less likely a return will happen, but Grubauer feels optimistic over a possible return. As to what the schedule might look like, he speculated it could be compressed to playing two games in a row, followed by a day off and then two more games.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Simon underwent surgery on his left shoulder April 29 to repair a torn labrum. He is expected to be sidelined six to seven months.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said he underwent a second surgery on his troublesome knee a couple of months ago. He had surgery last year to repair a fractured kneecap and missed this season as he faced setbacks in his recovery. 










What’s Wrong With The Calgary Flames?

What’s Wrong With The Calgary Flames?