NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2017

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee will be a busy man this month.

The Vegas Golden Knights are open for business. Here’s the latest speculation on which UFAs they should pursue and more in your NHL rumor mill.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Steve Carp recently reported Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee could acquire a veteran player with a huge contract in the expansion draft. McPhee said he’s had a lot of teams calling him looking to shed big contracts. He’s willing to do so if the teams include draft picks for this year and beyond.

McPhee also said he could make his first trade within the next few days and shot down a rumor suggesting he look into acquiring Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed Anaheim’s Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Radim Vrbata, Boston’s Drew Stafford, Buffalo’s Dmitri Kulikov, Carolina’s Jay McClement, Florida’s Thomas Vanek, Minnesota’s Martin Hanzal, Ottawa’s Mike Condon, San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, Toronto’s Matt Hunwick, Vancouver’s Ryan Miller and Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk as 12 unrestricted free agents the Golden Knights should target with his 72-hour exclusive negotiating window.

Fox also recently listed the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues as five cap-strapped clubs in need of shedding salary. He included the Golden Knights with the Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes among teams with the cap space to help out those clubs by taking on a toxic contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McPhee will be a very busy general manager over the remainder of this month. He’s obviously not having any difficulty finding a general manager willing to talk trade.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli last week reported McPhee could be close to a deal whereby he select Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft on the condition he also acquire center Marcus Kruger via trade. Seravalli’s colleague Pierre LeBrun also reported a team was trying to tempt the Golden Knights GM into taking on a toxic contract by including a first-round pick in the deal.

Fox’s colleague Elliotte Friedman recently said the Columbus Blue Jackets were trying to get McPhee to take the contract of all-but-retired winger David Clarkson off their hands.

Of those free agents listed by Fox, Eaves, Kulikov, Vanek, Hanzal, Condon and Shattenkirk are the best of the bunch. I doubt McPhee will have much success wooing Shattenkirk, as the New Rochelle, New York native could prefer signing with an East Coast playoff contender.

Condon could be a good addition if the goalie market in the expansion draft proves thinner than expected. Hanzal, who spent most of his NHL career in Arizona, might consider Vegas as an option. If Kulikov has fully recovered from the back injury that hampered him last season, he could prove a worthwhile affordable signing. 


NHL Free Agent Update – September 5, 2016

NHL Free Agent Update – September 5, 2016

With training camp approaching, several veterans, such as Alex Tanguay, remain unsigned.

With training camp approaching, several veterans, such as Alex Tanguay, remain unsigned.

 A list of still-unsigned NHL unrestricted free agents, plus an update on Alex Tanguay. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Justin Dickie lists defenseman Matt Bartkowski, right wing David Jones, left wing Lauri Korpikoski, defenseman Kyle Quincey, goaltender Karri Ramo, blueliners Kris Russell and Dennis Seidenberg, center Jarret Stoll, left wing Alex Tanguay and defenseman James Wisniewski as 10 unsigned free agents who could still contribute to NHL teams. 

LA PRESSE: Marc-Antoine Godin reports Alex Tanguay’s agent said there are two or three teams interested in his client. The 36-year-old is willing to accept a one-year contract. While some of his peers accept professional tryout offers, Tanguay’s believes netting 35 points in 70 games last season puts him in a position to receive more than a PTO. While Tanguay contacted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin earlier this summer to express his willingness to return to the Habs, they’re not among those three potential suitors. .  

Meanwhile, the agent for UFA forward Steve Bernier claims no fewer than seven teams had expressed interest in his client. It’s unknown if he’ll a get a one-way, two-way or tryout contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s tough for those remaining UFAs right now. Whatever leverage they had disappeared followed the opening days of free agency in early July.  They must now wait for teams to clear some salary-cap space, or for positions to open up in training camp. Of those still available, I’d say Russell, Wisniewski, Quincky, Tanguay and Korpikoski are the best of the bunch. 

NHL Mid-August 2016 Musings

NHL Mid-August 2016 Musings

Patrick Roy's temperamental nature didn't help to improve the Colorado Avalanche.

Patrick Roy’s temperamental nature didn’t help to improve the Colorado Avalanche.

 As a goaltender, Patrick Roy was among the best in NHL history. He backstopped two teams (Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche) to four Stanley Cups, winning three Vezina Trophies as top goalie and becoming the only player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP three times.

As coach, general manager and owner of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, he guided that club to the 2006 Memorial Cup championship. They also topped the Eastern Division in three straight seasons from 2009 to 2011.

In Roy’s first season (2013-14) as an NHL coach, he guided the Avalanche to their first playoff appearance since 2010. As a result, he won the Jack Adams Award in 2014 as the league’s coach of the year.

For all those accomplishments, however, Roy probably did himself no favors by abruptly resigning last week as the Avs bench boss and VP of hockey operations.

Roy is renowned for his driven, temperamental nature. While it served him well as an NHL star and in running the Remparts, it couldn’t overcome the fact the Avalanche regressed over the last two seasons. Reports suggest Roy wanted the Avs to make some big moves this year via trades and free agency to bolster their lineup. Instead, they re-signed youngsters Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie to lucrative new contracts.

It appears a difference of opinion in the direction of the Avs lead to his departure. Some observers, however, suggest this move proves Roy isn’t a team player, preferring to have total control over player personnel decisions.

The NHL probably hasn’t seen the last of Patrick Roy. Perhaps he will attempt a return to the NHL in a general manager’s role. That could be best suited to his domineering personality. However, his demanding ways could make life very uncomfortable for any coach under his employ.


Nearly six weeks after being traded from the Nashville Predators to the Canadiens for P.K. Subban, defenseman Shea Weber traveled to Montreal and met with reporters for the first time.

If you’re wondering why such a big deal is being made over this, Weber probably asked himself the same question.

Weber is no rube. He knows he’s going from a market in Nashville where he didn’t face all-encompassing media coverage to a fishbowl existence in hockey-mad Montreal. He handled his first meeting with the press – along with the inevitable comparison questions about Subban – rather well.

But that was just a small taste of what Weber can expect in his first season with the Canadiens. Unlike the happy-go-lucky, media-savvy Subban, Weber isn’t exactly a ready-made quote machine. He could find that fishbowl existence rather annoying after a while, especially if the Habs fail to notably improve in 2016-17.


Unrestricted free agent defenseman James Wisniewski last week signed a professional tryout offer with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It leaves one wondering how many of this summer’s remaining UFAs might follow his lead?

NHL training camps will open in less than a month. However, notabe UFAs such as winger Jiri Hudler, defenseman Kris Russell, right wing Radim Vrbata, forward Brandon Pirri and blueliner Kyle Quincey have yet to land new contracts.

Some of them could ink deals with new teams in the coming weeks, albeit much shorter contracts for far less than they envisioned when the UFA market opened on July 1.

Others, however, could find themselves accepting training camp tryout offers in hopes of continuing their NHL careers.


The members of Team USA’s 1996 World Cup of Hockey roster will be inducted this fall into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

It’s a notable honor for that roster, which includes Hockey Hall of Famers Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Mike Modano. They upset heavily-favored Canada to win that tournament, marking the first time in international tournaments involving NHL players than the United States bested their northern rivals.

That victory was also instrumental in the United States’ emergence from Canada’s shadow on the international hockey stage. Its influence upon American youth hockey cannot be understated. Today’s American-born NHL stars, such as Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Jonathan Quick and Phil Kessel, can trace their big-league careers back to the inspiration of the ’96 Team USA squad.

How Come Canadian-born NHL Superstars Never “Come Home?”

The contract status of Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos has some fans and pundits in Toronto speculating over the possibility he’ll sign as a free agent next summer with the hometown Maple Leafs. However, like so many Canadian-born NHL superstars in their prime playing for American teams, it’s unlikely he’ll “come home” via unrestricted free agency. (more…)