Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, P.K. Subban, Jarome Iginla and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko is over two months into recovery from offseason shoulder surgery and seems to be doing well. He and teammate Alexander Steen won’t be healthy enough to be on the active roster when the season begins.
New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images).
MONTREAL GAZETTE: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban’s marriage to skier Lindsey Vonn was slated for this past July but is now indefinitely on hold due to COVID-19. They’re waiting until their families, spread throughout North America and Europe, can safely attend.
CALGARY SUN: A Boston TV station had no idea they were interviewing NHL Hall-of-Famer Jarome Iginla when speaking with several local motorists dealing with a winter storm on Friday. Iginla and his family live in the Boston area.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It probably would’ve been a different story if Iginla had spent the bulk of his playing career with the Bruins instead of with the Calgary Flames. He only played one season with the Bruins in 2013-14, reaching the 30-goal plateau for the 12th and final time in his 20-year NHL career.
THE SCORE: Former NHL forward Thomas Vanek believes the league isn’t as tough as it was early in his career. He points out big defensemen like Chris Pronger and Derian Hatcher were rarely called for penalties for inflicting punishment on forwards parked in front of the net. “Now the game has changed. You’ve got a lot of smaller defensemen who are more mobile,” said Vanek. “They cross-check a little bit, but those guys (Pronger, Hatcher) are nonexistent really anymore.”
RDS: Former NHL forward Maxim Lapierre announced his retirement on Sunday. He tallied 65 goals and 74 assists for 139 points in 614 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-06 to 2014-15. He spent the last five seasons playing in Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lapierre in his future endeavors.
NHL.COM: Former NHL linesman Neil Armstrong passed away Sunday at age 87. He officiated in 1,744 NHL regular-season games from 1957 to 1978 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. He was the father of St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Armstrong’s family, friends and colleagues.
The latest Penguins, Leafs and Golden Knights trade speculation plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Robin Lehner, Joe Pavelski, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS STILL SHOPPING KESSEL?
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe cites sources within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization claiming general manager Jim Rutherford is still talking trade with other clubs. Rutherford wants to change the culture of his club, shed some salary, and bring in a younger, faster player or two that can have an immediate impact.
The Phil Kessel trade rumors are still churning (Photo via NHL Images).
Yohe believes Rutherford is still trying to trade Phil Kessel. Earlier this month, the 32-year-old winger used his no-trade clause to squash a deal that would’ve sent him to the Minnesota Wild.
Contrary to recent rumors, the Penguins won’t pursue veteran wingers Corey Perry and Wayne Simmonds via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s said he’s comfortable with Kessel returning to the lineup this fall. Nevertheless, Yohe joins several Pittsburgh pundits who believe he’s still trying to move the winger. Cap Friendly indicates Kessel has an eight-team trade list, which complicates Rutherford’s efforts.
I never understood the logic behind those rumors linking Perry and Simmonds to the Penguins. It’s obvious Rutherford wants his club to get younger and faster. Those two won’t address those needs.
UPDATE ON THE MAPLE LEAFS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS
TSN: Frank Seravalli notes the Toronto Maple Leafs need to shed salary places defenseman Nikita Zaitsev sits atop the latest update of his NHL “trade bait” list. The high cost of re-signing restricted free agent Mitch Marner makes it necessary to try and move Zaitsev’s $4.5-million annual salary-cap hit. Seravalli believes it’ll take packaging Zaitsev with a “sweetener” to get it done.
The Vegas Golden Knights are already sitting above the $81.5-million salary cap and must shed salary. Defenseman Colin Miller and forward Ryan Reaves are possible trade candidates.
LATEST NOTEWORTHY UFA UPDATES
THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites The Athletic’s Arthur Staple claiming a league source suggest Robin Lehner’s days with the New York Islanders could be drawing to a close. The two sides are believed far apart in contract talks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why the Islanders met with Sergei Bobrovsky earlier this week. However, the cost of signing Bobrovsky would be much higher than re-signing Lehner.
TSN: Darren Dreger reported left-winger Artemi Panarin met with the New York Rangers yesterday.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild have inquired about Anders Lee. They also have “serious interest” in Joe Pavelski and Wayne Simmonds.
Gold-Smith also noted The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeting winger Mats Zuccarello seeks a five-year contract.
TSN: Ryan Rishaug reports it sounds like the Calgary Flames are among several teams interested in winger Patrick Maroon.
Thomas Vanek’s camp is talking with other teams and have been informed there’s probably not a fit between him and Detroit for this year.
What changes are in store for the Detroit Red Wings under new GM Steve Yzerman? Which scorers could the Arizona Coyotes pursue this summer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE WINGS UNDER YZERMAN?
MLIVE.COM: Prior to yesterday’s press conference announcing Steve Yzerman was taking over as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Ansar Khan looked at what could be on Yzerman’s “to-do” list in the coming months. Decisions will have to be reached regarding pending unrestricted free agent Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek, and Luke Witkowski. Yzerman’s predecessor Ken Holland indicated a willingness to re-sign the Kronwall if the 38-year-old blueliner is willing to return for one more season.
Will Steve Yzerman make a big move in his first summer as GM of the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL.com)
Khan wondered if forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen become buyout candidates. “It would cost $9.1 million over eight years to buy out Abdelkader” while Nielsen “would cost $6.33 million over six years to buy out, with hefty cap hits of $3.8 million and $4.8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.” Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has one year remaining on his deal and Khan doubts he’ll be bought out.
Yzerman’s name might be a selling point if the Wings new GM goes shopping for experienced talent via this summer’s UFA market. Holland recently estimated the Wings could have between $15-$20 million in cap space, but Khan believes they must also ensure they leave sufficient long-term room for Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi when those youngsters become restricted free agents next summer.
THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Yzerman’s arrival buys the Wings some time to complete their roster rebuild. He noted Yzerman acknowledging there’s plenty of work to do and his call for Wings fans to be patient. He points to Yzerman’s tenure as Lightning GM when he wasn’t afraid of making bold moves (trading Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis), convinced current Bolts stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to accept below-market contracts and invested heavily in player development.
Niyo also suggested there are buyouts to consider, such as Ericsson or Trevor Daley, while others (Abdelkader, Nielsen, Darren Helm) could be too difficult to get out from under. While Yzerman’s cachet could help the Wings land some big fish in the free-agent pool, he doesn’t sound as though he’ll be going that route just yet, pointing to his remarks downplaying a pursuit of UFA talent while putting an emphasis on drafting and developing talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. I agree with Niyo that it’s unlikely he’ll be a major player in the UFA market, but I can see him exploring the trade market to see what’s available that might help his club.
As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have just over $71 million invested in 18 players, but they’ll get nearly $10 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season. They could get another $5.375 million if Mike Green’s ongoing liver ailment prevents him from continuing his playing career.
The Wings also hold three second-round picks and two fifth-round selections in this year’s draft plus two seconds and two thirds in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait. Yzerman could also dip into his club’s growing pool of young players and prospects but I don’t see him drawing too much from that well.
Yzerman could use the combination of his cap space and depth in draft picks to target a club facing a salary-cap crunch in need of shedding salary. He won’t be looking at aging expensive veterans like Edmonton’s Milan Lucic or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook but it wouldn’t be surprising if he targeted the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson or the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.
SOME POTENTIAL GOALSCORING TARGETS FOR THE COYOTES
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Arizona Coyotes need scoring and Richard Morin believes Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner would be a great fit. However, budget constraints likely mean the Coyotes can afford him, which could force GM John Chayka to get creative and find more affordable options. Morin suggested New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel as possible free-agent targets. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka returned to the offseason trade market, perhaps by targeting clubs looking to move salary.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan also looked at several scorers the Coyotes could target via trade or free agency. He notes Chayka pointed out his club needs scoring wingers and not centers, though Morgan believes they’d take on a first-line center if one became available. A right-shot, top-four defenseman would also help.
Chayka also indicated he would prefer adding players in the prime of their careers or just entering their prime. Expensive options such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner would be out of their price range.
Morgan also listed Lee, Nelson, Eberle, and Dzingel as possible UFA options. Others could include Nashville’s Wayne Simmonds, Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist or Washington’s Brett Connolly. Given the Coyotes’ budget constraints, Morgan rules out Chaya going the offer-sheet route.
Morgan also thinks Chayka could get creative in the trade market. He suggested perhaps the Coyotes GM could use his cap space to pry away one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards (Kapanen, Johnsson or William Nylander) by offering to take on the final year of winger Patrick Marleau’s contract ($6.25 million cap hit), though Marleau’s no-trade clause could complicate things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka’s been busy in the trade market since becoming the Coyotes GM in 2016. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were among his trade acquisitions. I expect he’ll go the trade route again to bring in a top-six winger, using his depth in promising youngsters and draft picks to target cap-strapped clubs.