NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2022

A look at some potential contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KASSIAN, MURRAY TOP DAILY FACEOFF’S BUYOUT CANDIDATES LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian and Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray topped Frank Seravalli’s list of this offseason’s potential contract buyout candidates. The first contract buyout window is from July 1 – 12.

Kassian has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.2 million. Murray also has two seasons remaining with a $6.25 million AAV.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Seravalli that Kassian could be bought out as he could prove difficult to move this summer via trade. The Senators, however, are reportedly willing to carry three goaltenders (including Murray) into next season.

That’s understandable given Murray’s cap hit. While the Sens have the cap space to absorb the two-thirds’ buyout for four seasons, that’s a long time to carry dead cap space, especially the $2.5 million per season over the final two years.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, St. Louis Blues rearguard Marco Scandella and Vancouver Canucks winger Jason Dickinson fill spots three, four and five on Seravalli’s list. Vlasic has four more years at $7 million AAV left on his contract, Scandella has two more seasons at $3.275 million annually, and Dickinson has two more with an AAV of $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vlasic’s buyout will sit on the Sharks’ books for eight years, with years three and four biting deeply into their cap space. Nevertheless, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak said in a recent mailbag segment that he considered a Vlasic buyout more likely than trading a blueliner like Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson. As Seravalli observed, carrying the full $7 million of the fading Vlasic’s contract for four more years would be worse than the buyout cost.

I see Scandella and Dickinson as buyout candidates if their respective teams can’t find anyone to trade their contracts off their hands in the trade market.

Nashville Predators defenseman Philippe Myers, Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker are six, seven and eight respectively on the list. Myers has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $2.55 million. Johnson has two more seasons at $5 million annually remaining while Zucker has a year left at $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers appears a likely buyout candidate. As Seravalli points out, the blueliner is 25 so his buyout is one-third the remaining value instead of two-thirds. Because his contract is also backloaded, the Predators would get a cap credit of over $616K for this season and be charged only $633K the following season. Seravalli suggests that could make Myers’s contract enticing in the trade market for cap-strapped clubs.

I think the rebuilding Blackhawks can afford to carry Johnson’s contract for at least one more season. The Penguins could also ride out the remaining year of Zucker’s deal if they can fit new contracts for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin into their current cap space. They could also retain up to half his cap hit in a trade or attempt to move him for another player with a comparable contract.

New York Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth and Boston Bruins winger Nick Foligno round out the top 10. Nemeth has two more years left with an AAV of $2.5 million while Foligno has one season remaining at $3.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could attempt to trade Nemeth but the way his contract is structured could make a buyout likely. The cap hit is $1 million for each season except for the second year, where they won’t be charged anything. As for Foligno, Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins aren’t leaning that way.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2022

An update on Jakob Chychrun plus the latest on the Blackhawks plus in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GOPHNX.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan was asked about Jakob Chychrun’s future with the Arizona Coyotes. He believes once rumors got out that teams were calling about the 24-year-old defenseman that his camp became open to the idea of a trade.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Morgan doesn’t think Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25, wants to sacrifice three seasons of his playing prime in a rebuild. He doesn’t see Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong budging from his high asking price. If teams aren’t willing to pay it this summer (and Chychrun’s subpar season didn’t help), Armstrong won’t trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The passing of last month’s NHL trade deadline brought an end to the seemingly endless Chychrun trade speculation that had been ongoing since last fall. Things are quiet now but we can expect the rumors to ramp up again as teams are eliminated from the playoffs, reaching another fever pitch approaching the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7 and 8.

Despite the decline in Chychrun’s production this season, his age, puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million contract will ensure he remains an attractive trade candidate this summer. A number of the clubs that were linked to him before the trade deadline, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues could revisit their interest when the offseason begins.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers recently speculated over the potential rebuilding plans of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson in the upcoming offseason. If they end up with one of the top two picks in this year’s draft following next month’s draft lottery and send their 2023 first-round to Columbus as part of the Seth Jones trade, perhaps Davidson will have some incentive to improve the club next season. He won’t want that pick to turn into a generational talent for the Jackets if he tanked next season.

On the other hand, if the Blackhawks don’t get that top-two placement and send their 2022 pick to the Blue Jackets, Davidson could commence a major teardown to improve his club’s chances of winning next year’s draft lottery. That could mean letting restricted free agents Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome walk this summer without bringing in top-six forwards to replace them.

A league source told Powers they wouldn’t be shocked if Davidson shopped Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat this summer. However, there’s no indication the Blackhawks GM has any plans to do that. Davidson is expected to meet with Pat Brisson, the agent for Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews, to discuss his offseason plans.

Meanwhile, Mark Lazerus recently reported Tyler Johnson is willing to embrace a role in the Blackhawks’ rebuild. However, it’s uncertain where he fits in Davidson’s plans.

Johnson is signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5 million. He could fill a veteran leader role if Toews and/or Kane decide to move on from the Blackhawks. Otherwise, Davidson could attempt to move Johnson via trade or buy out the remainder of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks will be one of the clubs worth watching during this offseason. Big changes could be in the works that might involve a core player like Toews, Kane or DeBrincat moving on. Davidson won’t shop those guys just for the sake of making changes. However, as we saw with the Brandon Hagel trade, he’ll be willing to move those players for the right offer.

Toews and Kane are in the final seasons of their respective contracts with $10.5-million annual cap hits and full no-movement clauses. DeBrincat is a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has a $6.4-million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection but is slated to earn $9 million in actual salary next season.

Johnson’s decline in production and injury history could make him a tough sell in this summer’s trade market. He also has a 20-team list of preferred trade destinations. Cap Friendly shows a buyout will count as over $2.6 million next season, $1.66 million in 2023-24, followed by over $1.46 million for each of the final two years.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2022

Check out the latest on the Blackhawks and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope recently wondered if Jonathan Toews can stomach another season of losing as the Blackhawks rebuild their roster. He hasn’t hidden his feelings about his poor performance and that of the club this season.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Head coach Derek King sympathizes with Toews and Patrick Kane. He acknowledged it can’t be easy at this stage of their careers for two players accustomed to winning. The Blackhawks captain has one season remaining on his contract. As far as anyone knows, he hasn’t made a decision on whether to request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Toews wants out it won’t be easy for the Blackhawks to move him. He carries a $10.5 million cap hit and a full no-movement clause that gives him complete control over potential trade destinations.

Toews remains a respected player around the league but the 33-year-old is no longer playing at the same level as he was during the Blackhawks’ glory years. Kane, also 33, has an identical contract but his productivity would make him more valuable in the trade market.

With the salary cap rising by only $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23, there won’t be a lot of teams with the room to take on Toew’s full cap hit. The Blackhawks would have to retain 50 percent of it to facilitate a trade. The same goes for Kane despite his offensive output.

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus recently wondered if Kevin Lankinen will lose his job as the Blackhawks starting goaltender. The 26-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was relegated to backup duty when the Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury last summer and he’s struggled since taking for Fleury following the latter’s trade to Minnesota.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazerus suggests the rebuilding Blackhawks could bring Lankinen back for another season to give him an opportunity to regain his form. Nevertheless, management could let him walk this summer if they feel they can find better goaltending options through trades or free agency.

Lazerus also wondered if Tyler Johnson still has a future with the rebuilding Blackhawks. The 32-year-old is signed for two more seasons with an annual salary-cap hit of $5 million. They have the cap flexibility to retain part of his cap hit if they can find a team that can better utilize him. A buyout is also possible but a trade would be preferable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson would be of better value to a playoff contender seeking a versatile forward with championship experience. Retaining part of his salary, however, would likely be needed to make a deal happen.

UPDATE ON THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will try to sign Andrew Copp to a contract extension given how well he’s adjusted since joining the club in a trade deadline deal from the Winnipeg Jets. He’s fit in well on the second line alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Copp is due to become a UFA in July and is completing a one-year deal worth $3.64 million. The versatile 27-year-old forward will get much more than that on a long-term deal if his solid chemistry with Panarin and Strome carries over into the postseason.

Whether it’s with the Rangers or another club remains to be seen. The Blueshirts must also re-sign or replace Strome this summer. They have over $70 million invested in 16 active players for 2022-23.

Alexandar Georgiev’s solid late-season improvement could allow the Rangers to get something in return for him in this summer’s trade market. A club seeking a potential starting goalie could be willing to take on the $2.65 million qualifier he’s due rather than take their chances in this summer’s free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev’s inconsistency is a sticking point. Nevertheless, a club could take a chance on him on a one-year deal this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2022

The Oilers match their longest home win streak, the Sabres honor long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, the three stars and top rookie for March are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers tied their franchise-record home win streak at nine games with a 6-5 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, who overcame 4-1 and 5-3 deficits to force the extra period. Connor McDavid scored twice, including the game-winner. Zach Hyman also had two goals and Evander Kane had a three-point night for the Oilers (83 points) as they sit one point back of the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Pavel Buchnevich tallied twice for the Blues, who are in third place in the Central Division with 84 points.

Buffalo Sabres honor broadcaster Rick Jeanneret (NHL.com).

The Buffalo Sabres honored long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret with a pre-game banner ceremony before going on to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3. Jeanneret, the voice of the Sabres since 1971, is retiring at the end of this season. Tage Thompson scored twice for the Sabres while Ryan Johansen had two assists for the Predators, who remain in the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 82 points.

Jack Eichel scored two goals to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken. Evgenii Dadonov collected two assists as the Golden Knights regained the second Western wild-card spot with 80 points.

The Tampa Bay Lightning got two goals from Ross Colton to down the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Colton and Nick Paul each finished the night with three points as the Lightning picked up their fourth straight victory to move into second place in the Atlantic Division with 92 points. During a break in the action, the Lightning honored Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson with a video tribute. Johnson was a member of the Bolts for nine seasons before being traded last summer to the Blackhawks.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves to shut out the New York Rangers 3-0. Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Mathew Barzal were the goal scorers. The Rangers (93 points) remain one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 22-save shutout from Anthony Stolarz to blank the Arizona Coyotes 5-0. Trevor Zegras netted his second lacrosse-style goal of the season while Isac Lundestrom tallied twice and picked up an assist as the Ducks snapped their 11-game winless skid.

Ottawa Senators forward Mathieu Joseph scored his first NHL hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Mads Sogaard made 27 saves for his first NHL victory. Lucas Raymond netted both Red Wings goals.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, and Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are the NHL’s three stars for March 2022. Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield was named rookie of the month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi had 28 points in 14 games through March to overtake the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar as the leading scorer among defensemen with 81 points. The Predators captain is making a strong case for his second Norris Trophy. Caufield, meanwhile, continues to blossom since Martin St. Louis took over as Canadiens coach in February, picking up 15 points in as many games last month.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov could break the franchise single-season points record in tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. With 83 points, Kaprizov is tied with Marian Gaborik.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: An illness could bring Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle’s 989-game Ironman streak to an end if he’s unable to suit up tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yandle broke the original Ironman record of 964 earlier this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2022

Jason Robertson makes Dallas Stars history, the Lightning set a franchise record, questionable calls prove costly for the Senators and Sharks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jason Robertson became the first player in Dallas Stars history to tally a hat trick in consecutive games to lead his club over the Minnesota Wild 6-3. Jake Oettinger made 34 saves for the win. The Stars (67 points) have won four straight games and moved ahead of the Nashville Predators into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Kirill Kaprizov scored two goals for the Wild, who’ve dropped eight of their last 10 and cling to third place in the Central Division with 67 points. They activated defenseman Matt Dumba off injured reserve for this game and placed winger Jordan Greenway on IR.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Robertson is also the second player in franchise history to net back-to-back hat tricks, as Bill Goldsworthy did it with the Minnesota North Stars in 1971. The Stars sophomore is a rising talent, with 100 career points in 101 games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning got a franchise-record three goals in 32 seconds by Victor Hedman, Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hedman finished the game with two goals and Sergachev with three points. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome each had a goal and an assist. The Lighting (80 points) sit three points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference.

Speaking of the Conference-leading Hurricanes, they extended their home points streak to 11 games by downing the Seattle Kraken 3-2. Carolina winger Teuvo Teravainen scored the game-tying goal in his 500th career NHL game while Martin Necas netted the winner in the third period. Antti Raanta made 28 saves for the win.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin kicked out 45 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. New York winger Chris Kreider scored twice to reach 38 goals and sits one back of Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the goal-scoring lead. The Rangers are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 77 points and hold second place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets (58 points) are eight points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jack Eichel scored on a power play with five seconds remaining in the third period as the Vegas Golden Knights squeaked past the Ottawa Senators 2-1. The goal was the result of a questionable tripping call on Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot with 46 seconds remaining in the period. Vegas holds third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points. Robin Lehner made 39 saves for the Golden Knights while the Senators’ Anton Forsberg stopped 40 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg got the call as the Senators placed Matt Murray on injured reserve before yesterday’s game.

The Los Angeles Kings got two goals by Andreas Athanasiou and a 19-save shutout by Cal Petersen to blank the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. The win keeps the Kings one point ahead of the Golden Knights in second place in the Pacific Division. Sabres forward Alex Tuch left the game with an injury in the third period.

An overtime goal by Rickard Rakell gave the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Cam Fowler, Troy Terry and Adam Henrique each had two points for the Ducks (63 points) as they sit three points out of a Western wild-card spot. The Sharks have dropped 11 of their last 13 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks head coach Bob Boughner wasn’t happy over Rakell’s goal, claiming the Ducks had too many men on the ice at the time. “It’s a complete, disastrous blown call,” said Boughner, who also chastised the officiating crew for racing off the ice without coming over to the Sharks bench to explain the call.

The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on an overtime goal by Dougie Hamilton. Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko each had two points for the Blues, who sit second in the Central Division with 71 points.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson is pain-free for the first time in four years after undergoing artificial disc replacement surgery (ADR) in December to address ongoing neck pain. It’s the same procedure Jack Eichel underwent last November following his trade to the Vegas Golden Knights from the Buffalo Sabres. Johnson returned to action on March 3.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Carl Hagelin underwent surgery last Tuesday after suffering an eye injury during practice. He’ll be sidelined indefinitely amid concern his vision could be affected by the injury. Meanwhile, winger Joe Snively underwent wrist surgery and will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Hagelin makes a full recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker and defenseman Mike Matheson have resumed skating at the club’s practice facility. No timetable is set for the sidelined players to return to action.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: With goalie Mike Smith suffering from stomach flu, the Oilers have recalled Stuart Skinner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam O’Brien to a two-year contract extension. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $775K.

THE SCORE: The Detroit Red Wings claimed defenseman Olli Juolevi off waivers from the Florida Panthers while the New York Islanders claimed forward Austin Czarnik from the Seattle Kraken.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 4, 2021

A hat-trick performance for Mark Scheifele, Igor Shesterkin injury clouds Rangers win, Canadiens’ hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton meets the Montreal media and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mark Scheifele tallied a hat track to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the New Jersey Devils 8-4. The Devils overcame a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Jets put them away with five unanswered goals. Nikolaj Ehlers also scored twice for the Jets to hand the Devils their third straight loss.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

The New York Rangers’ 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks was overshadowed by Igor Shesterkin’s lower-body injury that forced the Blueshirts goaltender from the game in the third period. Ryan Strome netted the only goal. Alexandar Georgiev made nine saves to preserve the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shesterkin has been stellar this season for the Rangers, ranking among the early favorites for the Vezina Trophy. Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said the training staff indicated his injury wasn’t as serious as it looked when he had to be helped from the ice. He’s listed as day-to-day but there’s concern among some observers that this could be a prolonged absence.

Max Pacioretty scored two goals as the Vegas Golden Knights trounced the Arizona Coyotes 7-1. Shea Theodore and Reilly Smith each collected two points and Laurent Brossoit kicked out 29 shots.

The Seattle Kraken picked up their third straight home victory by holding off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Alex Wennberg’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner while teammate Adam Larsson scored against his former club. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and an assist for the Oilers. The Kraken played without Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle and Calle Jarnkrok as all three are listed as day-to-day.

Shootout goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk gave the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist while Dan Vladar made 31 saves in regulation and overtime. Earlier in the day, the Ducks learned captain Ryan Getzlaf is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf was having a strong start to this season. With 20 points in 23 games, he already exceeded the 17 points he had in 48 contests last season.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jeff Gorton, the Canadiens’ new executive VP of hockey operations, had his first press conference with the Montreal media yesterday. He said he’s looking at all options for the club’s next general manager and acknowledged former Canadiens star Patrick Roy’s interest in the job. However, Stu Cowan believes two other former Habs – Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere – are the leading candidates for the job.

Gorton indicated head coach Dominique Ducharme will remain in his job for the rest of the season. He also said he intends to improve the club’s player development and analytics departments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton made it very clear he and whoever becomes the next GM will be looking at everything with regards to improving the team and its direction. That also includes examining where several players on long-term contracts might fit into their plans. His intention to improve player development is long overdue given how poorly the Canadiens have drafted and developed talent in recent years. 

Speaking of the Canadiens, defenseman Jeff Petry is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson will be sidelined for three months following neck surgery. He underwent artificial disc-replacement surgery, the same procedure Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel had last month. The Blackhawks also placed defenseman Connor Murphy on concussion protocol. There is no timetable for his return.