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?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba collected three points (a goal and two assists) against his former team as the Rangers downed the Winnipeg Jets 6-4. Teammate Mika Zibanejad had a four-point performance for the Rangers.  Nikolaj Ehlers had three assists and Blake Wheeler potted two goals for the Jets.

New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba enjoyed a three-point performance against his former club in a 6-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets (Photo via NHL Images).

The Tampa Bay Lightning spoiled the Florida Panthers debut of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and coach Joel Quenneville with a 5-2 victory. The Bolts tallied three unanswered third-period goals. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov – the reigning league scoring leader and MVP – tallied a goal and an assist.

Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi scored twice as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had two points each for the Flames. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced general manager Brad Treliving signed a contract extension.

The Nashville Predators netted four unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Matt Duchene collected three assists in his Predators debut while teammates Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg each had two points.

A 28-save performance by Tuukka Rask carried the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Brett Ritchie and Danton Heinen scored for the Bruins. Boston center David Krejci missed the game due to a lower-body injury. Stars forwards Blake Comeau and Jason Dickinson and defenseman Roman Polak left the game with various injuries. Comeau (lower body) is expected to be sidelined for weeks and Dickinson (upper body) for a week. Polak was stretchered from the game and a further update on his condition is expected today.

Connor Sheary scored twice against his former club to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the Sabres’ first regulation win against the Penguins in over six years.

Dougie Hamilton’s shootout goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens placed defenseman Gustav Olofsson on waivers.

John Gibson kicked out 28 shots as the Anaheim Ducks edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. Winger Phil Kessel had an assist in his Coyotes’ debut.

IN OTHER NEWS…

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson suffered a broken bone in his foot or ankle during the club’s season-opener against Vancouver on Wednesday. He’s been placed on long-term injury reserve. The club called up Evan Bouchard from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larsson’s absence creates a big hole in the Oilers’ defense corps. However, it also provides an opportunity for young Bouchard to prove himself at the NHL level.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schmidt suffered the injury following a knee-on-knee collision with San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture on Wednesday.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Good news for the Red Wings as first-line center Dylan Larkin expects to be good to go for his club’s season-opener on Saturday against Nashville. Larkin was shaken up earlier in the week when he crashed into the boards during practice.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson missed his club’s season-opener on Wednesday as his wife was giving birth to a daughter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Karlssons lost a child to miscarriage last year. My congratulations on the birth of their healthy baby girl.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 26, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 26, 2018

Updates on the Flames and Wild plus a new Erik Karlsson rumor for the final Sunday of August 2018 in your NHL rumor mill.

FLAMES GM TRELIVING FACING MOMENT OF TRUTH? 

THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson recently suggested the coming season could be Brad Treliving’s last as GM of the Calgary Flames if the club fails to significantly improve. While Wilson acknowledges Treliving’s good work in re-signing players and improved drafting, he’s dealt away part of the club’s future for “dubious present-day benefits” such as Travis Hamonic, Mike Smith, Michael Stone and Curtis Lazar. Wilson considers Treliving’s inability to resolve the Flames’ shaky goaltending “the biggest blight on his resume to date.” 

This season could be make-or-break for Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a certainty Treliving could lose his job if the Flames miss the playoffs next spring but he’ll certainly be on shaky ground. He made several significant moves this summer, shipping Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, hired former Hurricanes coach Bill Peters as the Flames’ new bench boss and brought in veteran leadership and right-wing depth by signing James Neal.

The goaltending, however, remains their biggest question mark. If Smith can stay healthy throughout this season the Flames should reach the playoffs. If not, it could be a struggle to stay in contention. I think Treliving will keep a close eye on his netminders and on available goalie options in the trade market. 

WHY NO MAJOR WILD MOVES THIS SUMMER?

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Rand explains why the Minnesota  didn’t make any significant trades during this offseason, their first under new general manager Paul Fenton. Though he suggested he’d consider all options to improve his club, including big trades, Fenton did little to shake up his roster.

When asked why at a recent Wild fan festival, he explained there haven’t been any good deals to make because his rivals were trying to take advantage of a team in transition. Rand believes the February trade deadline could be Fenton’s best chance to swing a blockbuster move after he’s had most of the season to evaluate his roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much of the trade chatter focused on defenseman Matt Dumba and forwards Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Dumba and Zucker were re-signed to long-term contracts while the trade chatter about Coyle and Niederreiter faded throughout the summer. I concur with Rand’s take that Fenton will take most of the coming season to assess his roster’s strengths and weaknesses before deciding if a big trade is necessary. 

KARLSSON TO THE DEVILS?

PUCKS AND PITCHFORKS: Nick Villano examines a rumor kicking around claiming the New Jersey Devils are offering up an attractive offer to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Villano does a good job dissecting this one. Sure, anything’s possible, but I doubt we’ll see Karlsson landing in New Jersey via trade.

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2018

Updates on Jonathan Drouin, Kris Letang, Tom Wilson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin isn’t concerned about what position he’ll play in 2018-19. He thinks he’ll be skating at center again, adding that he’s more comfortable in that spot now. If he plays on the wing, he’ll be fine with that too.

Jonathan Drouin expects to return to center with the Montreal Canadiens in 2018-19. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Canadiens lack of skilled depth at center, they likely have little choice but to employ Drouin at that position again.

YAHOO SPORTS: Speaking of Drouin, he made his comments during his participation in Kris Letang’s second annual charity hockey tournament in Montreal. The event raised “$120,000 to help sick children at the Ste-Justine Hospital.”

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Washington Capitals winger and North Toronto native Tom Wilson spent his day with the Stanley Cup at the arena where he played his youth hockey. Wilson posed for photos and took questions from the young players in attendance. 

NBC SPORTS: Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving could pay the price if his club fails to reach the playoffs next spring. Treliving’s made several risky decisions this summer, including replacing head coach Glen Gulutzan with Bill Peters, trading Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, signing 30-year-old winger James Neal and not adding a reliable backup for aging goaltender Mike Smith. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving’s rolled the dice this summer with his bold moves. If they don’t pan out, it could cost him his job.  

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan proposes the New Jersey Devils waste no time next summer getting Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier signed to contract extensions. The trio will be entering the final seasons of their respective contracts in 2019-20. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, re-signing Hall will likely be GM Ray Shero’s top priority. If the winger has another season comparable to his Hart Trophy performance in 2017-18, Shero must be prepared to pony up at least $12 million annually.