NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2021

Are the Penguins facing a roster shakeup? What next for the Panthers following another early postseason exit? What could be in store for the Oilers this offseason? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PENGUINS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan wonders if the Pittsburgh Penguins will face a roster shakeup following their first-round elimination by the New York Islanders. Veteran core players Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have a year remaining on their respective contracts, with Malkin carrying a no-movement clause.

The Penguins risk losing a young depth forward such as Zach Aston-Reese, Jared McCann or possibly Kasperi Kapanen to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel also wonders about the futures of Malkin and Letang, as well as that of head coach Mike Sullivan.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Based on comments earlier this season by Brian Burke, the Penguins president of hockey operations, Vensel speculates they could try to bolster their goaltending while also adding some size and toughness to the lineup. The shaky performance of Tristan Jarry could send the Penguins into this summer’s trade and free-agent markets in search of help between the pipes.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille believes Jarry’s goaltending cost the Penguins the series. He wonders if they’ll move around some money to pursue a free agent such as Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark or look to the trade market for help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t need to blow up the roster but changes are necessary after three consecutive early postseason exits. Burke and general manager Ron Hextall will likely retool rather than rebuild, bringing in younger players to support their aging stars.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby isn’t in favor of breaking up the core. His opinion could carry some weight with Burke and Hextall but the final decisions rest with those two.

Crosby isn’t going anywhere and Malkin won’t be traded unless he requests it. The Penguins could shop Letang but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns. He also has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred destinations. He also carries a $7.25 million cap hit next season.

Goaltending is their weakness. Jarry was supposed to be an improvement over the departed Matt Murray but he couldn’t handle the pressure as a starter. Finding a suitably experienced starter will be top of the list, followed by adding more size and toughness.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PANTHERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan speculates the Florida Panthers could lose a good roster player to the Kraken in the expansion draft. It could be a forward such as Patric Hornqvist or Mason Marchment, a blueliner like Gustav Forsling, Radko Gudas or Markus Nuutivaara, or pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Dave Hyde pondered what promising goalie Spencer Knight’s performance in the final two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning means for Sergei Bobrovsky’s future in Florida. He wondered if general manager Bill Zito will try to move Bobrovsky this summer if someone is willing to take on the veteran netminder’s hefty contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers drafting Knight in the 2019 draft and signing Bobrovsky days later was a topic of recent amusement for some folks on social media. They conveniently overlook the fact that it was former Panthers GM Dale Tallon who made those moves. Zito was left with a headache.

Bobrovksky’s inconsistent play since joining the Panthers, his full no-movement clause and $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 makes him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season. As per Cap Friendly, a buyout will be an expensive long-term headache.

MORE OILERS SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doesn’t expect Oilers GM Ken Holland to go on a massive spending spree this summer to bolster his roster. While Holland will have $28 million in cap space, a portion will be spent on trying to re-sign pending UFAs Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie.

Matheson considers Larsson the cheapest and most likely to be re-signed. Nugent-Hopkins will be the most expensive while Barrie could be departing after a year in Edmonton because he’ll want a long-term deal.

Holland said he intends to bring back goaltender Mike Smith for another season. Matheson wonders if Mikko Koskinen will be traded, perhaps packaged with a draft pick or prospect to a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets for one of their young goalies.

Buyouts are also possible. Matheson believes James Neal to be the most likely candidate. Holland didn’t rule out trading a prospect such as Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg or Dylan Holloway for immediate help but he said he’s not doing that for a one-year player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could try to convince Nugent-Hopkins to accept slightly less than his current $6 million annual average value. If RNH signs elsewhere, Holland will use the savings to bring in a replacement via trade or free agency.

I like Matheson’s suggestion of packaging Koskinen to the Blue Jackets for Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo. Koskinen’s 15-team no-trade list, however, could be a sticking point if he doesn’t want to go to Columbus. Even then, the Jackets could get better offers for one of those goalies.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2021

Check out the latest Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, John Vogl was asked if Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula intend to sell the franchise. He said the club isn’t for sale but that hasn’t stop prospective buyers from calling. He doesn’t think the Pegulas have any plans to sell.

Could Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel get traded this summer? (NHL Images)

Asked about Jack Eichel’s contract, Vogl said the captain’s no-movement clause kicks in with the 2022-23 season. That would limit where the Sabres could trade Eichel if things reached the point where he had to be moved.

Asked if Eichel’s played his final game with the Sabres, Vogl guesses no. The clock isn’t ticking this summer on trading their captain. They can take this summer if they wish to weigh offers, see what happens with Eichel and the team next season, and decide his fate after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if some clubs make inquiries this summer about Eichel’s availability and the asking price. Perhaps one of them will make a pitch too good to pass up. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t assume it’s a certainty Eichel will be traded unless the Sabres captain wants out.

Vogl believes the Sabres will do everything they can to re-sign Linus Ullmark. The 27-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Doing so could cost $5 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether they re-sign Ullmark or look elsewhere for a starter they better find a reliable backup. Carter Hutton is a UFA and won’t be back. Dustin Tokarski is signed through next season at $725 and has looked ok in an emergency call-up role but can they depend on him over a full season? Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, 22, is in their system but might not be NHL-ready yet.

Vogl doubts there’s a viable way for the Sabres to shed the expensive contracts of Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo. No club except the Seattle Kraken can afford Skinner’s long-term cap space. Buying out Okposo wouldn’t make sense until 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s signed through 2026-27 with a $9 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. Okposo’s got two more seasons left at $6 million annually and a 15-team no-trade list.

I don’t see the Kraken having any interest in Skinner even if he agreed to waive his NMC and I doubt they’ll take Okposo off the Sabres’ hands unless there’s a significant sweetener involved.

Maybe the Sabres can get creative by working out a three-way trade where they absorb half of Skinner’s or Okposo’s cap hit to facilitate a trade. However, that would still leave some significant dead cap space on the Sabres books for a long time, especially where Skinner’s contract is concerned.

The Sabres could use a skilled tough guy similar to Washington’s Tom Wilson or the Tkachuk brothers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames might be willing to entertain offers for Matthew Tkachuk if they decide to make significant changes to their underachieving roster.

Matthew, however, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer and I believe he’ll be only a year away from UFA eligibility. Any team interested in acquiring him this summer will want to know if he’d be interested in a contract extension. Otherwise, you risk losing him for nothing in two years’ time if he’s unwilling to accept more than a one-year contract next summer.

The Sabres could use a good right-winger. That would allow Victor Olofsson to move to his natural left side.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2021

Taylor Hall scores again for the Bruins, the latest on Steven Stamkos, Adam Lowry re-signed, Zach Hyman fined, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Taylor Hall scored his second goal in as many games and Jeremy Swayman made 25 saves for his first career NHL shutout as the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 3-0. Curtis Lazar also tallied his first goal with the Bruins after coming over from Buffalo with Hall before the trade deadline. The Bruins (54 points) sit three back of the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division.

Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, so good for the Bruins in the wake of the Hall trade. They’ll be in good shape over the remainder of the season if he regains his offensive touch. It’s also worth noting Mike Reilly, acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline, has two assists in his last three games.

Two goals from Tyler Toffoli enabled the Montreal Canadiens to edge the Calgary Flames 2-1. Jake Allen made 28 saves for the win as the Canadiens (47 points) opened a six-point lead over the Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to take anything away from Toffoli’s timely scoring or Allen’s solid goaltending but the Canadiens caught a few breaks in this contest. They were outplayed but avoided disaster as the Flames clanked three or four shots off the goalposts.

The Vegas Golden Knights moved to within two points of the first-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division by blanking the Anaheim Ducks 4-0. Robin Lehner turned in a 16-save shutout while Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone each had two points. Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 47 saves.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche (64 points) has had three games postponed as a third player (Joonas Donskoi) tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week. They’re expected to resume action on April 17.

The Minnesota Wild got a goal and an assist from Nick Bonino to nip the San Jose Sharks 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. With 55 points, the Wild sit seven points behind the second-place Golden Knights while the Sharks (40 points) remain four back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

The NHL announced its latest revision to its schedule by extending all North Division games through May 19. This move is being made to accommodate the Vancouver Canucks as they return to action on April 18 after nearly a month following an outbreak of COVID-19.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning still doesn’t know if captain Steven Stamkos’ lower-body injury is related to last year’s core muscle injuries that required surgery. He’s been placed on long-term injury reserve but coach Jon Cooper expects he’ll return to action before the end of the regular season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed Adam Lowry to a five-year, $16.25 million contract extension. The 28-year-old forward was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. His annual average salary will be $3.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable move by the Jets ensuring the big, versatile two-way forward remains on the roster. Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have $60.9 million invested in 13 players for 2021-22.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk on Thursday.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark is sidelined week to week with a lower-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Cole Caufield participated in his first practice with the Montreal Canadiens on Friday after being called up from the Laval Rocket. The 2021 Hobey Baker Award winner is on the taxi squad as salary-cap limitations complicate when they can get him into the lineup.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes will induct young hockey player and Coyotes fan Leighton Accardo into its Ring of Honor on Saturday. The nine-year-old passed away in November following a long battle with cancer. She was beloved by the players, coaches and staff from when she first spent time with the team.










What Next For The Buffalo Sabres?

What Next For The Buffalo Sabres?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2021

Who could the Islanders be targeting in the trade market? Could Sam Bennett become available as the Flames fade? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE HALL, PALMIERI ON THE ISLANDERS’ TRADE LIST?

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes Taylor Hall could be among those on the New York Islanders list approaching the April 12 trade deadline as they seek a replacement for sidelined captain Anders Lee.

Staple doubts the 29-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger is at the top of the Isles wish list. General manager Lou Lamoriello is unwilling to pay the reported asking price of a first-round pick.

Kyle Palmieri is still the best fit in Staple’s estimation. However, teams like the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs could also pursue the 30-year-old New Jersey Devils winger, potentially driving up the Devils’ asking price.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri could be among the New York Islanders’ trade list (NHL Images).

Staple also noted Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown have also been connected to the Islanders in the rumor mill. Foligno is a pending UFA who could end up re-signing with the Jackets while the Kings could hang onto Brown if they remain in playoff contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello holds his cards close to the vest but he’s also made his share of bold moves over the years. He could land Hall if the Sabres lower the asking price but I think he’d prefer Palmieri as his style of play fits better into Isles coach Barry Trotz’s system.

I don’t see Foligno or Brown going anywhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if Foligno signs a contract extension with the Jackets. Brown has another season remaining on his contract with a seven-team no-trade list. I don’t think the Kings are really feeling any pressure to move their former captain. That doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers but trading him isn’t among their priorities.

As for what Lamoriello might offer up, Newsday’s Andrew Gross suggested young forward Kieffer Bellows as a potential trade candidate.

BENNETT COULD DRAW TRADE INTEREST AS FLAMES FADE

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes plenty of teams could line up to make a pitch for forward Sam Bennett as the Calgary Flames playoff hopes fade. Earlier this season, Bennett’s agent told Elliotte Friedman his client would welcome a change of scenery. Francis feels the 25-year-old forward’s versatility and previous postseason performance could attract more attention in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary GM Brad Treliving could make Bennett’s trade wish come true by next Monday at 3 pm ET. The Flames have dropped seven of their last nine and sit six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division. The end of the regular season is just over five weeks away and the Canadiens hold five games in hand.

LEAFS CALLED SABRES ABOUT ULLMARK

WGR 550: During an April 1 appearance on “The Instigators” with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Toronto Maple Leafs spoke with the Buffalo Sabres regarding goaltender Linus Ullmark.

Friedman indicated the Leafs were doing due diligence and merely inquiring as to the Sabres’ plans for Ullmark. He doesn’t think the Sabres’ asking price would be a first-round pick but does believe the netminder would have some value in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This came about as a result of Leafs starter Frederik Andersen remaining sidelined by a lower-body injury until at least next week. Ullmark is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said he doesn’t believe the Leafs are panicked over Andersen’s status and didn’t have a sense they were calling other teams. Like Friedman, however, he acknowledged that could change if Andersen is sidelined longer than expected.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector wondered if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland can find the right fit for his roster before the trade deadline when he’s already maxed out at the $81.5 million salary cap. His lack of second, third and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft also limits his buying power.

A third-line center and a top-six left winger as the Oilers’ primary needs. Spector suggested Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening, Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel as trade targets.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar would be a good fit but that hinges on the Canadiens’ playoff fortunes. He also doesn’t see Canucks winger Tanner Pearson as much better than what the Oilers already have. His suggested trade asset includes Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear if the price is right.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis also mentioned Glendening and Sutter as well as Vancouver’s Travis Boyd and Calgary’s Derek Ryan as his proposed trade targets. He considers Ryan as best-suited to address the Oilers’ needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever Holland pursues in the trade market it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. That means giving up a current roster player in a one-for-one swap or shipping out a player to another club in a separate move to clear cap space for the intended target.

I don’t see the Canadiens moving Tatar while they’re in the thick of the Scotia North playoff chase. Pearson is currently sidelined but could return to action later this month. However, the current outbreak of COVID-19 among the Canucks likely takes him and Sutter out of the equation.










The Buffalo Sabres: When 2021 Feels Worse Than 2015

The Buffalo Sabres: When 2021 Feels Worse Than 2015