NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

Check out the latest on Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex DeBrincat, Jack Campbell and more, plus some contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RUMORS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” PODCAST

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.

Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.

Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.

Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.

Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.

Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes have multiple picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe one of those teams made that pitch for DeBrincat. Discuss!

Regarding his report of the Tampa Bay Lightning looking into shopping Ryan McDonagh, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the suitors. He thinks the 32-year-old defenseman would be a good addition to their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.

Friedman mused over the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers signing Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.

Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.

Finally, Friedman wonders if the New Jersey Devils will attempt to sign Blues goalie Ville Husso if he hits the open market on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.

POTENTIAL CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic topped Mike Stephens’ recent list of potential contract buyout candidates. The buyout window opened on July 1 and runs until 5 pm ET on July 12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are still without a full-time replacement for general manager Doug Wilson. Still, it didn’t stop them from axing Bob Boughner as head coach on July 1.

I doubt they’ll find any takers for Vlasic in the trade market given his hefty contract and the decline in his play. We can’t rule out a buyout before July 12.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith and winger Zack Kassian are also on Stephens’ list, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek and Ottawa Senators netminder Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.

The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen had Senators forward Colin White and Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist on his list of buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated White could indeed be bought out by the Senators. The Panthers could do the same if they can’t find a club to take him off their hands in the trade market.










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 26, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2022

The possibility of Patrice Bergeron departing the Bruins as a free agent this summer plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy acknowledged it seems like a given Patrice Bergeron will either sign a one-year contract with the Bruins this summer or retire as a Bruin. However, he feels there’s a slight chance the 36-year-old future hall-of-famer could test the market if the club fails to go on one more serious Stanley Cup run over the next two months.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Numerous sources tell Murphy that Bergeron will draw plenty of interest from other clubs if he tests the market on July 13. One of them could be the Montreal Canadiens. His former agent, Kent Hughes, is now the Canadiens’ general manager.

Murphy doesn’t expect Bergeron to “go to the dark side” by signing with the Bruins’ biggest rival. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t blame him if he decided to sign with a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand a bit of nervousness among Bruins fans over Bergeron’s future. After all, long-time captain Zdeno Chara was cut loose two years ago and wound up signing with the Washington Capitals last season and the New York Islanders this season.

Chara, however, was a fading star when he and the Bruins parted ways. Bergeron may have slowed slightly but he remains among the NHL’s elite two-way forwards and the Bruins’ first-line center. I daresay management has a strong desire to keep him in the fold beyond this season.

It’ll come down to what Bergeron seeks on his next contract. If he wants a deal beyond three years in length and demands a big raise over his current $6.875 million, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will thank him for his years of service and bid him good luck in his future endeavors. If Sweeney low-balls Bergeron with a one-year deal at a considerable pay cut, the Bruins captain will walk.

I don’t see either scenario unfolding. The two sides agreed to shelve contracts talks until the season is over. Bergeron’s made no secret of his love of being a Bruin and playing in Boston. I can see them working out a two-year deal with an annual cap hit between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien wonders what it’ll take for the San Jose Sharks to rebuild, rather than retool after how this season went down for them. He believes they can only blame so much on bad luck, pointing out that Pacific Division rivals such as the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights could be sturdier next season.

O’Brien pointed out the Sharks still missed the playoffs this season despite career years from rising stars like Timo Meier and bounce-back performances from veterans like Erik Karlsson and Logan Couture. He wondered how much of their failure to reach the postseason can be laid at the feet of head coach Bob Boughner.

Given Doug Wilson’s resignation as general manager, O’Brien speculates the only rebuild could come in the front office. They might have to shed some salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Mario Ferraro and recently-acquired goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.

O’Brien suggested trading Meier, a restricted free agent next summer who’ll be in line for a raise over his current $6 million annual cap hit, if they wanted to jump-start a rebuild, along with attempting to move Couture and Brent Burns if they don’t want to be part of a rebuild. He also wondered if they would attempt to buy out Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As O’Brien pointed out, Sharks ownership isn’t interested in a rebuild. Whoever takes over from Wilson as general manager will have to find a way to retool the roster into a playoff contender. That could involve replacing Boughner as head coach.

Retooling the roster won’t be easy with veteran core players like Couture, Burns and Karlsson carrying expensive contracts with no-move or no-trade clauses. We can rule out the possibility of Meier hitting the trade block this summer. Buying out Vlasic will be expensive for next season ($3.687 million) and in 2024-25 ($4.187 million) and 2025-26 ($5.187 million) before dropping to a more affordable $1.687 million annually over the remaining four years.

The Sharks will have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to free up cap room for guys like Ferraro, Kahkonen and unrestricted free agent Alexander Barabanov. Fortunately, they won’t break the bank. Trade candidates could include a goalie like James Reimer or Adin Hill, winger Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

The latest on Filip Forsberg’s contract talks, more speculation over Semyon Varlamov’s future with the Islanders plus an update on the Sharks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON FORSBERG’S CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there was recently a face-to-face meeting between Nashville Predators general manager David Poile and J.P. Barry, who represents Predators winger Filip Forsberg. It was the first time in a while the two sides had met this way.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Neither side would comment on specifics so it’s difficult to gauge if there’s been any progress in their contract negotiations. However, Friedman considers it significant that this meeting took place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. The 27-year-old left winger is completing a six-year, $36 million contract and is enjoying a career-best performance with 38 goals and 74 points in 69 games.

I’ve speculated that Forsberg could seek over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal to remain in Nashville. Poile, however, could be reluctant to go that high or for that long when he’s already got two forwards (Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen) on long-term deals with annual average values of $8 million.

MORE SPECULATION ON VARLAMOV’S FUTURE WITH THE ISLANDERS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the New York Islanders should lean heavily on Ilya Sorokin over the remainder of their schedule for this season to see how well he holds up. He believes that will give the 26-year-old goalie another opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a bonafide NHL starter.

Kurz also thinks that could influence what Islanders management does with veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov. While it’s believed they want to bring him back for another season, they might prefer moving him in the offseason if Sorokin proves he can handle a heavier workload. Trading Varlamov would enable them to patch holes in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov frequently surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s signed through next season with an annual average value of $5 million and a 16-team no-trade list.

With the Islanders carrying over $70 million invested in 18 active players for next season, shipping out Varlamov’s cap hit would make it easier to add a top-four left-side defenseman or a top-six forward via trade or free agency. However, his no-trade list could complicate things.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka believes a lack of offense is the issue the San Jose Sharks must address in the offseason. They’re 30th out of the 32 NHL clubs in goals-per-game average and last in even-strength goals.

Pashelka believes the Sharks need to add an experienced top-six winger. With limited salary-cap space for 2022-23, they’ll have to shed some salary via trades or contract buyouts to clear sufficient room to bolster their scoring.

Trade candidates include goaltender Adin Hill, forward Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek. The Sharks could also look into buying out the final four years of blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s contract, which would free up $8.8 million over the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Pashelka pointed out, the oft-injured Hill is expected to be the odd man out as James Reimer and the recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen will be their goalie tandem next season. Labanc has slid down the depth chart while Simek’s become a recent health scratch. It won’t be easy to find many takers for those players given their current woes.

Buying out Vlasic will provide some cap relief but it will sting nevertheless because of the way the deal is structured. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll count as over $3.6 million in the first year, $1.4 million in the second, rising to $4.1 million in the third year and $5.1 million in year four before dropping to over $1.6 million over the remaining four years of the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

Some suggested moves for the Sharks, the latest Senators speculation, and the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the San Jose Sharks should consider some trades as one way to reverse their declining fortunes. He feels they should consider all options with the exception of potential impact prospects such as William Eklund.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

That includes considering offers for Tomas Hertl. An unrestricted free agent next summer, the 28-year-old center would be expensive to re-sign. O’Brien suggests selling high on Hertl. His three-team trade list would make that difficult but he might not want to linger in this bad situation for a full season.

O’Brien also suggests shopping Timo Meier. His inconsistent play over the past couple of years could affect his trade value but the 24-year-old winger is better than he looks, maybe a lot better.

Moving expensive veterans like Evander Kane, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Erik Karlsson would be harder to do. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels they should consider it if an opportunity arises to trade one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl is the most likely Sharks trade candidate this season. Despite his limited trade clause, there would be considerable interest in him. He would likely widen his trade destinations for an opportunity to skate on a contender.

The only real concern is his injury history. The Sharks might prefer waiting until the March trade deadline when his value could be at its highest but that comes with the risk that he could be sidelined again by that point.

Meier’s struggles will affect his trade value but that would improve with a bounce-back performance this season. On the other hand, that could also make the Sharks keen to retain him.

Kane’s off-ice antics and his growing reputation as locker room poison make him untradeable. Vlasic’s decline and his $7 million annual average value through 2025-26 makes the 34-year-old defenseman a tough sell even if he were willing to waive his no-movement clause. Karlsson’s injury woes over the past several years, his no-movement clause and $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 ensures he’ll be a Shark for a long time.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain focused on signing Brady Tkachuk to a long-term contract extension. There’s unconfirmed speculation they’ve tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually to the 21-year-old winger.

There’s also a rumor the Tkachuk camp seeks a short-term extension but no one knows where that’s coming from. He’s not sharing his contract status with teammates or friends. Despite reports to the contrary, negotiations are still going well.

The Senators might deal with Logan Brown’s situation before training camp opens. The 23-year-old center didn’t sign his qualifying offer and there’s talk he could head to Europe if he’s not traded. He’s eligible for waivers this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for the Senators to sign Tkachuk and sort out Brown’s situation before training camp opens.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan denied a recent rumor floated on Twitter claiming Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun was on the trade block. “This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Coyotes,” writes Morgan. “They want to build around (Chychrun).”

The Coyotes have to find a replacement at center for Christian Dvorak following his trade to Montreal last weekend. They also need to add a goaltender and a defenseman.

Morgan believes general manager Bill Armstrong could look to the waiver wire. Several teams in tough situations might end up exposing players they would otherwise prefer to keep.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong spent this summer shipping out veterans for draft picks and prospects as he commenced his rebuild of the Coyotes’ roster. It’ll be interesting to see how he plugs those gaps in his lineup for the coming season. Waivers are one option but he could also go the trade route, perhaps by using some of those picks or prospects as bait. Perhaps he gives the Senators a call about Logan Brown.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2021

Musing over Nick Foligno’s next destination plus a look at some possible offseason moves by the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline expects Nick Foligno is only a rental player this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, pointing out their limited salary-cap space for next season. He said there was talk before the trade deadline of Foligno becoming the latest player to get moved at the deadline only to turn around in the offseason and sign with the club that traded him.

Could Nick Foligno return to the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer? (NHL Images)

The Minnesota Wild, however, could have an emotional pull for Foligno. His brother Marcus plays for the Wild, who were said to have an interest in Nick before the trade deadline. They could attempt to sign him this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno could return to Columbus, joins his brother in Minnesota or perhaps sign with a Stanley Cup contender. The Wild could be in a better position to offer him a better contract plus they appear closer to becoming a contender than the Blue Jackets right now.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined potential offseason moves by the San Jose Sharks. It’s possible most of their pending unrestricted free agents, including Patrick Marleau, won’t be back next season.

Marleau’s indicated he’d like to continue his NHL career but it might not make sense for the team or the 41-year-old forward, who still wants to chase the Stanley Cup. He could find it difficult signing with a contender. None were interested in his services at the trade deadline.

Most of the Sharks’ restricted free agents, including Ryan Donato, Noah Gregor, Rudolfs Balcers and Dylan Gambrell, could be re-signed.

Kurz believes it’s difficult to predict if the Sharks will protect all of their core high-salaried players in this summer’s expansion draft or if they’ll try to entice the Seattle Kraken to take one of them (Brent Burns? Evander Kane? Marc-Edouard Vlasic? Martin Jones?) off their current roster.

Don’t expect the Sharks to trade their first-round pick at the 2021 NHL Draft. They could, however, attempt to move up and acquire a second-round pick at the expense of moving down in the lower rounds.

It’ll be difficult for the Sharks to add via free agency with $63.6 million already invested in just nine players for 2021-22. Kurz anticipates they could target an established goaltender who can play No. 1 minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This NHL season could be Marleau’s last. While he deserves praise for breaking the NHL games-played record, he’s well past his prime. The fact no clubs made inquiries about him at the trade deadline speaks volumes about his value in this summer’s free-agent market.

General manager Doug Wilson could find it difficult enticing the Kraken into selecting one of his overpriced stars. Of those mentioned by Kurz, Vlasic is the only one with a no-movement clause. Kane’s well-documented financial troubles dampen his value as an expansion draft target.

Burns might be appealing if the Kraken wants to inject a bit of star power into their lineup. That’s assuming they’re comfortable with carrying the 36-year-old defenseman’s $8 million cap hit for the next four seasons.