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.










The San Jose Sharks Facing Glum Future

The San Jose Sharks Facing Glum Future

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2020

Will the Blue Jackets shop for a scoring forward? Who could become trade bait if the Sharks become a lottery team again? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will add a scoring forward before the start of 2020-21. It will depend upon the cost of re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois because they’d prefer to know how much salary-cap space they’ll have once the 22-year-old center is under contract.

Could the Columbus Blue Jackets attempt to sign Mike Hoffman? (NHL Images)

The Jackets have an opening on their second line with winger Gustav Nyquist out 5-6 months recovering from shoulder surgery. They’ll explore internal options but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t rule out signing a forward if the right opportunity presents itself and they have the flexibility to do so. Wingers Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund remain available in the unrestricted free-agent market.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman recently saying the Jackets tried to move forward Brandon Dubinsky’s contract. Friedman also speculated they could be among the clubs that looked at Hoffman and/or Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $9.2 million in cap space. That’s more than enough to re-sign Dubois. Kekalainen has downplayed how long it’s taking to get the center signed, pointing out many notable RFAs usually aren’t signed until close to training camp.

Assuming it costs $6 million annually to sign Dubois, the Jackets would have around $3 million to add an affordable forward. They could get additional wiggle room to exceed the cap by placing Nyquist and his $5.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve, though they’d have to shed salary to become cap compliant if he returns during the season.

Kekalainen also hinted earlier in the offseason that Dubinsky ($5.85 million) could also end up on LTIR owing to a nagging wrist injury. Perhaps he’ll try to trade Dubinsky’s contract to a cap-strapped club in hopes of landing something worthwhile in return.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year contract between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. His agent claimed 13 teams expressed various degrees of interest in his client. Most could be playing the waiting game hoping he’ll drop his asking price. The Jackets could be among them. Granlund might be a more affordable option.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked which member of the San Jose Sharks could be traded (apart from Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic) if they’re a lottery club in 2020-21.

He doesn’t see any circumstance under which the Sharks would trade Tomas Hertl. Burns has a three-team trade list and Vlasic a full no-movement clause, making it very difficult to attempt to move either player. Kurz, however, speculates Burns might be open to moving if he believes the Sharks will struggle for the next couple of seasons, “especially with his beard buddy (Joe Thornton) now in Toronto.”

If the Sharks become sellers, Kurz feels the most likely trade candidates are pending UFAs like Devan Dubnyk, Stefan Noesen, Matt Nieto, Marcus Sorensen or maybe Patrick Marleau again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson is counting on his club to stage a bounce-back performance and be a playoff contender this season. If they’re not, the UFA selloff will begin as the deadline approaches. I agree with Kurz that they won’t move Hertl. I also doubt Burns and Vlasic will be going anywhere.

If Burns agreed to be moved his contract and age work against him. He turns 36 in March, his production dropped sharply last season (from 83 points in 2018-19 to just 45 in 70 games) and he’s carrying an $8 million AAV for five more years. Unless the Sharks agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit, I don’t see many clubs agreeing to take on that contract. The same goes for the 33-year-old Vlasic and his $7 million AAV for six more years.










The NHL’s Buyout Barometer – Pacific Division (Part I)

The NHL’s Buyout Barometer – Pacific Division (Part I)

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED MOVE TO IMPROVE THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.

DOES LEHTONEN’S SIGNING SPELL THE END OF DERMOTT AS A LEAF?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2020

The latest on Duncan Keith, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, plus updates on the Flyers and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KEITH NOT APPROACHED ABOUT WAIVING HIS NMC

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports Duncan Keith has not been approached by Chicago Blackhawks management about waiving his no-movement clause. The 36-year-old defenseman indicates he wants to stay with the Blackhawks. Lazerus believes Keith will stay put as long as the club keeps aiming to reach the playoffs. He feels the veteran blueliner doesn’t want to be part of a lengthy rebuild.

Duncan Keith wants to remain with the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazerus observed Keith has surfaced in trade speculation linking him to Florida, Toronto, Edmonton, and Carolina. His name also popped up briefly in last season’s rumor mill. Unless the Hawks change management and start tearing down the roster, Keith will stay in Chicago.

COULD THE SHARKS CONSIDER MOVING BURNS OR VLASIC?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes Brenden Dillon is the most likely member of the San Jose Sharks defense corps to be moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Nevertheless, Witt wonders if there could be a market for Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Either player could fetch a significant haul for the Sharks. Witt suggests Vlasic might be a good fit with his hometown club, the Montreal Canadiens, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have the salary-cap space to absorb Burns’ expensive contract. Vlasic has a no-movement clause while Burns has a modified no-trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Witt is just spitballing here. Burns or Vlasic would bring a nice return, but unless either guy askes for a trade, they’re not going anywhere. Burns’ modified no-trade is a three-team trade list, which is almost as ironclad as a no-movement, especially if that list includes California rivals like the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings.

COULD THE FLYERS GO BARGAIN-HUNTING AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor doubts the Philadelphia Flyers will target players at the top of the trade market before the upcoming deadline. A lack of salary-cap space and the Flyers’ slim Stanley Cup odds makes it unlikely they’ll part with young assets for a notable rental player.

If they do pursue some depth at the deadline, it’ll likely be on their forward lines. Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be a good fit, but O’Connor doubts they’ll part with a first-round pick to get him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us with a dollar-for-dollar swap, perhaps by dangling defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, but the latter’s struggles this season probably hurt his trade value. If Fletcher attempts to improve his club, it’ll be through the bargain bin. They’ve got just over $2 million in projected trade deadline salary-cap space.

STARS GM KEEPING HIS OPTIONS OPEN

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars GM Jim Nill intends to keep his options open leading up to the trade deadline. He’ll look for offensive help without mortgaging his future, and doesn’t rule out a player-for-player hockey trade. The Stars lack trade currency in the form of prospects, draft picks, and salary-cap space. Pursuing a rental player might not be the best option.

DeFranks suggests New Jersey Devils winger Blake Coleman could be an affordable option. He carries a cost-effective $1.8-million annual average value through 2020-21. However, what makes Coleman enticing to the Stars also makes him attractive to other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting third in the Central Division with 71 points, the Stars are nine points ahead of the fourth-place Winnipeg Jets, who sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are also one point behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche and three back of the Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

In other words, Nill isn’t under pressure to make a big splash. While he could make a depth move, he could stand pat if there’s nothing suitable in the trade market.