NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2020

Several suggested trade targets for the Bruins, the Leafs are reportedly interested in Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, plus updates on the Sharks, Hurricanes, and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty lists the New York Rangers Chris Kreider, New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood, Nashville Predators center Craig Smith, and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson as four physical players the Bruins could target before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He feels they need more physicality down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Should the Boston Bruins add more physicality by acquiring Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider’s been linked to the Bruins in the media rumor mill for some time. I suspect he’s their prime target, but the Rangers could seek a good young player or quality prospect in return.

Wood or Smith would be more affordable options but lack Kreider’s scoring punch. Like Kreider, Smith’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Manson and Wood have multiple years remaining on their respective contracts and might not be available. Manson’s 12-team no-trade list could also complicate things


THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle reports the Toronto Maple Leafs inquired multiple times this season into the availability of New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Given veteran Henrik Lundqvist’s status with the Rangers and promising Igor Shesterkin’s potential as a future starter, Georgiev’s appears the odd-man-out.

The Rangers seek a quality young NHL-ready player. The Leafs are willing to part with futures, but the Blueshirts seek someone like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are desperate to find a reliable backup for Frederik Andersen. I can’t blame Rangers management for attempting to squeeze the Leafs for one of their good, young, affordable forwards. Nevertheless, that’s too high a price for Georgiev. As Mirtle points out, we don’t know what the 23-year-old netminder’s ceiling might be. He’ll be more enticing to the Leafs if the Blueshirts lower their asking price.


THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently opined San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson has little choice but to wave the white flag on this season and ship out a few parts of his roster before the trade deadline. He suggests pending UFAs Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson could be trade candidates.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked about the trade statuses of Sharks such as goalie Aaron Dell, defenseman Richard Simek, and forwards Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc. He doubts there’s much of a market for a struggling goalie like Dell. He doesn’t think they’ll move Simek as they’ll need his physical style should they ship out Dillon at the deadline. Sorensen probably doesn’t have much trade value, but there could be some for Labanc despite the drop in his production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson reportedly isn’t interested in moving core players like Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. It seems Dillon and Melker Karlsson could draw the most interest, though they won’t fetch significant returns. Labanc would draw interest, but his RFA status this summer means Wilson isn’t under pressure to move him during the season, assuming he wants to trade the winger.


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock believes there’s no replacing sidelined Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The Hurricanes were in the market for a top-four blueliner before Hamilton suffered a fractured left fibula. DeCock believes the injury increases the urgency to find one.

Unfortunately, rival clubs know this and will set higher prices for their available rearguards. In the meantime, Jake Gardiner will get an opportunity to step up and fill some of that gap left by Hamilton’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez, Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and San Jose’s Brenden Dillon are the best playoff rental options if the Hurricanes wish to go that route.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: In a recent mailbag segment, J.J. Regan dismissed the notion of the Washington Capitals trading Braden Holtby at the deadline for another goaltender or a top-four defenseman. He points to Holtby’s experience, including backstopping the Capitals to the 2018 Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals’ recent re-signing of center Nicklas Backstrom plus the rise of promising goalie Ilya Samsonov likely means this is Holtby’s last season in Washington. He’s a UFA at season’s end, doesn’t want to accept a hometown discount, and will be too expensive for the Caps to retain. Nevertheless, they’re still all-in for another Cup run this season. Given Samsonov’s playoff inexperience, they’ll need Holtby as insurance.

Surveying The NHL Sellers – New Jersey Devils

Surveying The NHL Sellers – New Jersey Devils


NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2019

An update on the Devils, the Canadiens are linked to Alec Martinez and Shayne Gostisbehere, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Taylor Hall trade talks have intensified, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen soon. New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero seeks first-round picks, including conditional options. Shero also wants high-level NHL-ready prospects.

There’s a lot of focus on the Colorado Avalanche as a trade partner. They think they can win now and have lots of defensive prospects to tempt the Devils. Several teams believe the Arizona Coyotes could make a serious attempt, while the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues could also be among the pursuers. Friedman feels the Edmonton Oilers might be interested, but they could be unwilling to meet the Devils’ asking price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out yesterday, recent reports indicate the Hall camp could be advising their client not to sign anything until the off-season. That’s when Hall will receive more lucrative offers from multiple teams. If so, that will have an effect upon his trade value and possible suitors.

I don’t think the Coyotes will go after Hall as a rental player. They’ll want to keep him beyond this season, but there’s no certainty he’d agree to that. Arizona Sports’ Matt Layman reports the Coyotes have limited salary-cap space this season. He believes the Coyotes would have to send one or two salaried players to the Devils as part of the return.

The Avalanche could be a good fit for Hall, but that depends on whether GM Joe Sakic is willing to gamble valuable assets on a rental. Sakic could be swayed if Hall is willing to re-sign. 

The Stars and Blues could be checking into Hall’s availability but I’m not convinced they can land him. Cap Friendly indicates the Stars are pressed for cap space this season, while the Blues must ensure they have sufficient cap room later in the season when sniper Vladislav Tarasenko returns from shoulder surgery. I concur with Friedman’s take on the Oilers. Besides, their biggest need is for a quality third-line center, not another top-line scoring winger.

Friedman also reports the Devils have put winger Miles Wood on the trade block. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $2.75 million but isn’t as aggressive or edgy as he was in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A club seeking a speedy winger with power-forward potential could make a pitch for the 24-year-old Wood. No word on the Devils’ possible asking price, but it could be an NHL-ready player.

Are the Montreal Canadiens attempting to acquire Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Montreal Canadiens took a long look at Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez before his wrist injury. The Shayne Gostisbehere rumors were denied.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez is signed through next season with an affordable $4 million annual salary-cap hit. Maybe the Canadiens revisit that interest once he returns to action.

As for those Gostisbehere rumors, Friedman could be referring to this one (stick tap to Habsterix.com) from Martin McGuire of Montreal’s 98.5 FM. He claims the Habs and Flyers are in discussions regarding the puck-moving defenseman.

Before the coaching drama that recently went down in Calgary, rival clubs were trying to see if they could steal Sam Bennett from the Flames. The club has laughed off lowball offers. In the past, the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, and Nashville Predators attempted to acquire him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill in recent years. The Flames, however, show no interest in moving the versatile forward.

Friedman suggests keeping an eye on the Kings with most of their veterans except for Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. The Buffalo Sabres have surplus defensemen, while the Carolina Hurricanes remain in the market for a top-nine forward. A rival GM predicts the Blues still think they can win again and could go for it. Meanwhile, things have calmed down in Minnesota as the Wild have surged in recent weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez and Tyler Toffoli could draw the most interest among the Kings’ veterans. Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Brown carry expensive contracts that are difficult to move.

The Blues could “go for it”, but they’ve also got to ensure they don’t gut their future. Right now, they’re riding high in the standings and are in a good place. I can see them making one or two affordable moves but I will be surprised if they pursue someone like Taylor Hall.

The Edmonton Oilers are believed to have spoken to clubs that had interest in winger Jesse Puljujarvi before the Dec. 1 RFA signing deadline. That includes the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Friedman believes they discussed Lias Andersson with the Rangers, but couldn’t agree on a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps those discussions will resume in the off-season. I expect the Oilers will move Puljujarvi sometime in June, likely around the 2020 NHL Draft weekend.

NHL Week That Was – September 16-22, 2018

NHL Week That Was – September 16-22, 2018

A brief review and analysis of some of the past week’s notable NHL news.

Domi’s suspension

Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi was suspended for the remainder of the 2018 preseason. (Photo via NHL Images)

Max Domi’s debut with the Montreal Canadiens last Wednesday was memorable for all the wrong reasons. After sucker-punching the Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad in the face and bloodying the defenseman’s nose, the league suspended Domi for the remainder of the preseason.

Ekblad had to leave the game for mandatory concussion protocol, which he passed. His nose wasn’t broken but he was left with two black eyes.

Domi’s actions prompted plenty of criticism but he also had defenders claiming Ekblad goaded the Habs forward with two slashes to the legs. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos questioned if it could be considered a sucker punch since the two were facing each other and Ekblad, despite his unwillingness to fight, had to know the punch was coming.

Despite Domi’s suspension, critics of the NHL Department of Player Safety questioned the severity of the punishment because he won’t miss any regular-season play or lose any salary. They cited Ekblad’s remarks about settling scores the next time the teams meet as an example of a broken disciplinary system where players have to sort things out for themselves.

Domi deserved a suspension for his actions. Losing his temper and punching an opponent doesn’t help his club if it results in a match penalty and keeps him out of other games. While Domi still gets to practice with his teammates, his suspension means the Canadiens can’t properly evaluate his performance under game situations before the start of the regular season.

Being league disciplinarian can be a thankless job. They’ll never fully please everyone with their rulings. However, the Department of Player Safety brought much of the criticism upon themselves with years of questionable rulings involving often mild punishments for egregious infractions. Until that improves, their decisions will continue to be second-guessed by fans and pundits.

Four More RFAs Re-signed

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse, Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart and New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood finally re-signed with their respective clubs.

Three of them accepted received two-year “bridge contracts”, with Morrissey getting $6.3 million ($3.15 annual average value), Nurse $6.4 million ($3.2 million AAV) and Reinhart $7.3 million ($3.65 million AAV). Wood received a lower annual salary ($2.75 million) but accepted a longer term with his four-year deal.

Makes one wonder why they waited so long to get those contracts hammered out, rather than costing those players a week of training camp. The players’ stance would be understandable if their teams were playing hardball for lesser money. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Nurse camp, for example, reportedly valued their client at, or slightly above, $4 million annually. Given Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli’s penchant for handing out big raises, Nurse might’ve gotten it if the Oilers had more salary-cap room this summer. Once Morrissey signed his deal, however, Nurse’s market value was pretty much set.

Each of these players were coming off entry-level contracts and lacked salary arbitration. The only leverage they had was withholding their services. As we’ve seen in the salary-cap world, that tactic rarely works.

Three unsigned RFAs remain: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore and Anaheim Ducks winger Nick Ritchie. Like the others, they’ve also completed entry-level deals.

As the regular season draws near, all could soon be under contract terms dictated by their clubs at the cost of missing most of training camp.

Dotchin’s Conditioning

Eyebrows were raised around the league when the Tampa Bay Lightning recently placed defenseman Jake Dotchin on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

Dotchin, 24, is a depth defenseman who saw 83 games with the Lightning over the last two seasons. After he cleared waivers last Saturday, reports emerged claiming the club cited his physical conditioning as a material breach of his contract.

On Wednesday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie revealed Dotchin reported to camp over 30 pounds over his playing weight of 210 lbs. Rather that simply suspend him, the Lightning opted to end his contract.

The NHL Players Association is reportedly filing a grievance and this could be headed before an arbiter. The concern is this could set a precedent allowing teams to use conditioning as an excuse to terminate contracts, perhaps as a way of getting out from under a bad deal.

In the Lightning’s case, they’re not getting a significant cap break by shedding Dotchin’s contract. He only had a year remaining on his deal worth $812K.

Should the arbiter decide in favor of Dotchin he’ll return to the Lightning. However, McKenzie observes that could create an awkward situation between the blueliner and management. The two sides could end up reaching a settlement in which the Lightning buy out the remainder of his contract.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2018

Latest on Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson, Zach Parise and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators winger Bobby Ryan considers himself and his family lucky after a tornado touched down within a quarter-mile of his home. A number of nearby houses and businesses were severely damaged.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators Foundation launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to assist those affected by the tornado. The organization will match the first $25,000.00 in donations. You can find more information at this link

CSN BAY AREA: Erik Karlsson unveiled the San Jose Sharks third jersey as he took to the ice for the first time in front of fans at SAP Center.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise looks forward to a healthy season. (Photo via NHL Images)

  STARTRIBUNE.COM: A year after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc, Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is healthy and appears back up to speed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  A full campaign with a healthy Parise will provide a big boost for the Wild’s playoff hopes. He was very strong down the stretch last season before being sidelined with a fractured sternum midway through the opening round of the 2018 playoffs. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed forward Miles Wood to a four-year, $11-million contract. The annual average value is $2.75 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wood missed the first 10 days of training camp during his contract standoff with the Devils. He gets a decent raise over his entry-level salary ($925K) for twice the length of a two-year bridge deal. With 19 goals in 76 games last season, the speedy Wood has 20-goal potential. If he can reach that potential this will be a bargain for the Devils. 

AZCENTRAL.COM: If Alex Galchenyuk is forced to miss a significant amount of time with a lower-body injury to start this season, the Arizona Coyotes could be forced to employ Clayton Keller as a full-time center. While Keller’s played that position in college and amateur hockey, he’s been employed mainly as a winger with the Coyotes.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed forward Danick Martel off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2018

Recent updates on the status of the four remaining unsigned RFAs in your NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Luke Fox and Jared Clinton recently updated the status of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, Anaheim Ducks winger Nick Ritchie and New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood. The four are the final remaining unsigned restricted free agents.

No sign of an end to the contract standoff between William Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)

Nylander is the biggest name on the list. Fox notes the young Swede’s initial ask was $8 million per season while Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas would apparently settle for something comparable to the $6 million annual average value of Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers. 

Nylander remains in Sweden while Dubas remains patient. Fox believes the longer this goes the greater likelihood they’ll agree to a bridge deal. With Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner due for next contracts next summer, Larkin notes the Leafs must tread carefully, as Nylander’s new contract could set the parameters for negotiations with the other two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer this standoff continues the more speculation could arise suggesting the Leafs consider trading Nylander. Dubas has said he doesn’t intend to go that route.

Given Nylander has no leverage other than to not report, the Leafs GM can afford to be patient, especially if the team isn’t significantly hurt by his absence. If this standoff drags into the regular season, however, it will raise questions over Nylander’s long-term future with the Leafs, especially if he ends up settling for a bridge contract.

The recent re-signings of Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey and Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse have have not affected Theodore’s negotiations with the Golden Knights. Fox cites John Shannon’s Sept. 17 tweet indicating the two sides remains no closer to an agreement. Clinton suggests St. Louis Blues’ defenseman Colton Parayko’s contract ($5.5-million AAV for five years) could be along the lines of what the Theodore camp is seeking. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have over $9.4 million in projected salary-cap space, giving them more than enough room to re-sign Theodore to a Parayko-style deal. However, I think they’d prefer something comparable to Morrissey or Nurse because of his limited body of work.

Theodore still has considerable potential but only had parts of two NHL seasons on his resume before joining the Golden Knights. GM George McPhee might prefer evaluating his development over the next two years before committing to a more lucrative deal.

Fox also cites reports indicating a lack of progress in talks between the Ducks and Ritchie. He feels a short-term contract is Ritchie’s best bet, while Clinton believes the Ducks want to see more than they have out of the winger before investing long term. 

Fox and Clinton both noted reports indicating talks toward a short-term deal between the Devils and Wood broke down following the start of training camp. So far, there’s no indication they’ve picked up. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ritchie and Wood have potential to become better NHL players. However, they aren’t as valuable to their respective teams as Nylander and Theodore are to theirs, which is the only real leverage the latter two have.