NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

Could the Canadiens acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Panthers move Aleksander Barkov? Would they shop Keith Yandle to the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Oilers’ goaltending? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE CANADIENS ACQUIRE DUBOIS?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois could be a complex and risky endeavor.

Can the Montreal Canadiens afford to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets? (NHL Images)

He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would want Nick Suzuki and something else in return. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could counter with Jesperi Kotkaniemi as the centerpiece of a package with a top prospect also included.

In order to take on Dubois’ $5 million annual average value, the Canadiens would have to send a roster player earning more than $3 million (such as Paul Byron) to the Jackets.

Engels suggests it’s possible Bergevin could part with Kotkaniemi. However, he’s not sure the Habs GM would also want to include one of his top prospects in the deal. Bergevin could also be outbid by the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks.

The restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States also complicates things. Engels suggests the Canadiens would be without Dubois for 14 days while he completes mandatory self-quarantine before he could join them. They’d also be without the player or players they’d give up in the deal during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Dubois would be a tempting option for the Canadiens, but that deal will be expensive. I don’t see Bergevin parting with Suzuki. Kotkaniemi is possible but he’s got plenty of promising upside. Giving up a prospect such as Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle or Mattias Norlinder could also be tough to swallow.

Even if Bergevin is willing to part with Kotkaniemi and one of his best prospects, making the dollars fit would be difficult. Byron is a former 20-goal scorer but the 31-year-old last hit that mark in 2017-18 and he’s been waylaid by injuries over the last two seasons. The Jackets could also be reluctant to take on a winger who turns 32 in April with two years remaining on his contract.

Bergevin could try to offer up another roster player but he doesn’t have many to spare that would suit the Jackets. Tomas Tatar is a free agent this summer while depth forwards like Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen each earn less than $3 million annually. The Jackets won’t take Jonathan Drouin’s $5.5 million AAV.

Kekalainen is reportedly being patient with Dubois’ situation. Bergevin might be wise to follow the same tactic and see how this season plays out. Perhaps they could revisit this in the offseason. Then again, there might not be any need for the Canadiens to make this deal if Suzuki and Kotkaniemi blossom into stars this season.

UPDATE ON BARKOV AND YANDLE

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers GM Bill Zito told captain Aleksander Barkov there’s no truth to trade rumors suggesting he might be available. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Thursday that Barkov was drawing interest from rival general managers. The report was based on whether the 25-year-old center would re-sign with the Panthers this summer, and if not, would they consider trading him.

“Bill talked to me right away, he told me they aren’t true,” said Barkov. “So it’s all good and I am concentrating on the start of the season. Thank you for mentioning this is my first time being mentioned in trade rumors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there were some general managers calling Zito to find out what changes he had in store for the Panthers this season and if Barkov might be part of them. It should be pointed out that Seravalli noted in his report that Zito intends to re-sign his captain.

Maybe that becomes a problem if the Panthers fail to improve this season. For now, I don’t see Barkov going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites sources claiming if and when Zito asks Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, he will do it for the Bruins. Murphy feels the main question is whether the Bruins would want the 34-year-old defenseman and his $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23.

Murphy cites reports indicating Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke to Zito about what it would take to acquire Yandle but nothing came of it. He feels the Bruins seem determined to stick with their youth movement on defense and wouldn’t want to risk exposing Brandon Carlo or Matt Grzelcyk to this summer’s expansion draft if they acquired Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Yandle’s cap hit was a key reason why those rumored talks didn’t go far. If the Bruins remain interested in bringing Yandle back to his home state it might be best to do so after the expansion draft, and only if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his cap hit.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers’ goaltending situation has gone from bad to worse this week. First, they lost Anton Forsberg to Carolina via waivers on Tuesday. On Friday, Mike Smith was placed on long-term injury reserve, taking him out of the lineup for at least 10 games.

Given the high number of back-to-back games the Oilers face in this shortened season, Staples wonders what GM Ken Holland will do. “Overpay? Patiently wait for some goalie to pop up on the waiver wire?”

Staples noted some Oilers’ observers are suggesting a trade for someone like Arizona’s Antti Raanta or Toronto’s Michael Hutchinson. Others suggest signing UFA Jimmy Howard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were taking a risk bringing back the 38-year-old Smith for another season. If anything happens to Mikko Koskinen they will be well and truly screwed. There simply aren’t many palatable options available right now. Holland might not have much choice but to be patient and hope a decent netminder becomes available soon.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

Teams are making inquiries about the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov while the club tries to figure out what to do with Keith Yandle, plus the latest on Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BARKOV AND YANDLE

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports being told there are “a number of teams” making inquiries about Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov in recent weeks. Panthers general manager Bill Zito said he has no intention of trading the 25-year-old center and hopes to re-sign him. However, rival clubs are skeptical that Barkov will re-sign when his contract expires in 2022.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images)

Barkov’s camp wants to win in Florida and is willing to give Zito the time needed to get the right pieces in order to do that. However, Seravalli believes Barkov’s situation will be worth watching in the coming months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is perhaps the NHL’s most overlooked star. He’s among the league’s best two-way forwards and one of the most disciplined players, winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2018-19.

Nevertheless, most fans and pundits around the league don’t seem to realize just how good he really is. Panthers fans won’t like me saying this, but he’d garner far more recognition and plaudits if he played on a better team in a bigger hockey market.

I don’t doubt Barkov’s sincerity about wanting to win with the Panthers. However, they’ve been a sad-sack organization through most of his tenure. He could consider testing the UFA market if the Panthers are still spinning their wheels by the end of next season.

Speaking of the Panthers, Pierre LeBrun reports Keith Yandle’s agent believes Zito is trying to put pressure on his client to convince him to waive his no-movement clause. Zito, however, said he hasn’t asked the 34-year-old defenseman to waive that clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito is wasting little time trying to shake things up since taking over as Panthers GM in September. LeBrun’s colleague Travis Yost indicated moving the puck-moving blueliner won’t be easy because of his declining play and $6.3 million annual average value.

Nevertheless, Yost doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Yandle getting traded to a club with blue-line issues provided the Panthers retain some of his annual average value. I don’t dismiss that possibility but Yandle’s age and the remaining term of his contract (through 2022-23) are significant sticking points.

LATEST ON DUBOIS

Former Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos took to Twitter yesterday saying the Montreal Canadiens are Dubois’ destination of choice. He claims the Jackets’ asking price is focused around “Nick Suzuki/plus.” Kypreos also said Habs defenseman Alexander Romanov “has been deemed untouchable.”

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger replied to Kypreos with a tweet saying he’s heard “Kotkaniemi/Mete and something else” was what he heard from asking around.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should be in the mix if the Columbus Blue Jackets intend to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois. He feels Zito is a big fan of Dubois, suggesting he’d make a good fit centering the Panthers’ second line with Barkov on the top line. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will pry Dubois from the Jackets, adding it will be costly to land him.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins could get into the bidding for Dubois. Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen are their best assets but Haggerty feels it will cost much more to get a deal done. He’s not holding his breath expecting to see Dubois in a Bruins jersey. Meanwhile, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports the Panthers and New Jersey Devils are among those interested in the Jackets’ center.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a legitimate first-line center, something they haven’t had since Jason Spezza was traded away in 2014. He thinks it would take a significant offer to acquire Dubois, suggesting anyone other than Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot or Tim Stuetzle should be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said Blue Jackets’ coach John Tortorella’s recent comments about Dubois wanting out isn’t making GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s job any easier. LeBrun said other clubs are saying Kekalainen wants to be patient with this situation, but it’s apparent there’s plenty of interest in the 22-year-old center.

It’s possible that a trade could shake out during this season that Kekalainen finds too good to pass up. I believe that deal must include a scoring forward, preferably a center. However, I still believe a deal of that magnitude takes place in the offseason. Despite the flattened salary cap, there will be clubs with the cap space this summer to take on Dubois’ $5 million AAV for next season and to pay him a big raise beyond that.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

Updates on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: John Lane reports Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella confirmed Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request. “Yeah, he wants out,” said Tortorella, commending the 22-year-old center for his honesty but wishing he’d be more transparent about his reasons.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Tortorella indicated Dubois had a good training camp but he intends to keep the center on a short leash this season. “He needs to continue to do the things to help this team and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes,” he said. “It’s a situation, and we’ll go to it day by day.”

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline suggests big changes could be coming to the Blue Jackets after this season. In addition to Dubois’ trade request, Tortorella is in the final year of his contract, as is team captain Nick Foligno. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen also has to decide whether Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is their starting goalie as both are slated for UFA status in 2022.

Portzline believes Kekalainen has shown no urgency to move Dubois but wonders how long this can fester before he’s forced to act. The center is under contract through 2021-22. Dubois could be with the Jackets throughout this season unless they fall out of playoff contention and receive a tempting trade offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets were among the clubs with interest in Dubois. Kekalainen will set a significant asking price, perhaps seeking a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. The Jackets GM isn’t known for hasty trades and will wait until the offseason if necessary for the right return.

The fates of Tortorella, Foligno and their goaltenders will be determined by the club’s performance this season. Missing the playoffs or another early postseason exit could bring about a shake-up.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what’s next for Keith Yandle now that the Florida Panthers are trying to ease the 34-year-old defenseman out of their lineup. His no-movement clause prevents them from placing him on their taxi squad unless he agrees to waive it. They could start the season by making him a healthy scratch, ending his 866-game Ironman streak.

Yandle’s declining performance could hurt his trade value. Larkin suggests the Panthers might have to absorb part of his $6.35 million annual average value (through 2022-23) to make him enticing in the trade market, provided he agrees to waive his NMC. Larkin reports a source said Yandle hasn’t been the initiator on any plans to waive his clause.

Larkin suggested the Boston Bruins as a potential fit. The New York Islanders could be another but they lack sufficient cap space to find room for Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see any club having an interest in Yandle at this point in his career. He has too much tenure on his contract even if the Panthers agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit. Never say never, of course, because we’ve seen instances in the past where seemingly untradeable players get moved. Still, the Panthers could be forced to wait until the offseason to make that happen.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

With the regular season opening today, check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUE JACKETS GETTING CALLS ABOUT DUBOIS

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports several sources claim interested teams are “not screwing around” when it comes to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Interest is reportedly growing in Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman said the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are among the pursuers but there are other clubs in the chase who haven’t received as much attention. Friedman wonders if the Jackets will move quickly to trade Dubois.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s been some speculation linking Dubois to Jets winger Patrik Laine. “That makes a lot of sense, but there’s nothing close there,” said Dreger.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if the Canadiens would or should make a player for Dubois. He feels it would cost the Habs one of their two promising young centers (Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi) and there’s no guarantee Dubois will be more successful over the long run than either of those two. If Habs general manager Marc Bergevin could find a way to acquire Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi it would be a no-brainer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation also has the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers as possible or suggested suitors for Dubois. Whether they’re actually pursuing him is another matter.

Dubois-for-Laine addresses the Jets’ outstanding need for a reliable young second-line center. That proposed swap would help the low-scoring Jackets but creates a big hole at center for them.

If the Canadiens land Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi they’d be set for years at center, salary cap permitting. Maybe Bergevin bundles pending UFA Philip Danault with a top prospect like Cole Caulfield and a couple of his 11 picks between rounds 2 and 5 of the 2021 NHL draft, though that would require a commitment from Danault to sign a contract extension with the Jackets. However, the Canadiens would have to include another salaried player to create room for Dubois’ $5 million AAV. 

That’s just spitballing on my part. Suzuki or Kotkaniemi would have to be part of the return and I doubt Bergevin wants to give up either guy.

YANDLE OUT OF FAVOR WITH THE PANTHERS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Keith Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Florida Panthers. They’ve informed the 34-year-old defensemen he no longer fits into their plans for this season. His no-movement clause (NMC), however, prevents them from demoting him to their taxi squad. It’s believed they plan to make him a healthy scratch for their season-opener, which would end his Ironman streak of 866 games.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Yandle’s NMC gives him ultimate control over this situation. However, it’s difficult to move salary right now. Friedman said he’d heard the Panthers had some talks with the New York Islanders, with the Panthers taking back some salary, but a deal didn’t happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle yesterday said he hadn’t been approached by the Panthers about waiving his NMC. Maybe GM Bill Zito is trying to force the rearguard into seeking a trade or accepting a demotion to the taxi squad.

PuckPedia shows Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $6.3 million. If he’s willing to accept a trade, the Panthers will have to do a dollar-for-dollar swap or absorb a healthy chunk of his cap hit to make the deal work. Even then, his age and the remaining term on his contract could be sticking points.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

The 2020-21 season begins today. Check out the notable NHL stories in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday revealed 27 players on nine different teams tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 30 and Jan. 11. Seventeen of those players were with the Dallas Stars. Most were asymptomatic and all are currently recovering without complications.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Positive tests were bound to happen with the league returning to action under its current format. The high number of Stars players sidelined by the coronavirus is a stark reminder of how quickly it can spread. This probably won’t be the only incident of community spread on an NHL team over the course of this season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of the Stars, they returned to practice yesterday for the first time since last Wednesday. Fifteen players were missing, including defensemen Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak and forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta, though the club didn’t reveal if their absence was due to COVID-19 protocols or injuries.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams didn’t have to provide details of a player’s absence during training camp. They’re supposed to do so during the regular season.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said Evander Kane will not sit out this season. The 29-year-old left-winger filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 9 with the petition containing a clause suggesting he could terminate his contract or opt-out of playing this season. However, Boughner confirmed Kane will be in the lineup for their season-opener on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He doesn’t feel the winger’s financial woes will be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy probably won’t be a distraction for the Sharks over the course of the season but it could be fodder for trash-talking aimed at the winger by his opponents.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle doesn’t appear to be part of the club’s plans when their season opens on Sunday. He recently skated with a second group of fringe players and wasn’t playing with a dedicated defense partner during Tuesday’s practice. It appears the club wants Yandle to waive his no-movement clause but the blueliner said he hasn’t been asked to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting development with the Panthers. If Yandle becomes a healthy scratch his streak of 866 consecutive games will come to an end. I’ll have more on Yandle in the Rumors section.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller and defenseman Jordie Benn missed practice yesterday. The club would neither confirm nor deny their absences are COVID-related. More details are expected today.

Meanwhile, the Canucks announced the signing of defenseman Travis Hamonic to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The 30-year-old blueliner attended Canucks training camp on a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic is the latest of several notable unrestricted free agents forced to accept short-term contracts for less than market value because of this season’s flattened salary cap. He’ll hope a strong performance with the Canucks this season will improve his chances of a better deal in this summer’s UFA market.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Marcus Foligno to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno is part of the Wild’s veteran leadership core. The annual average value of his new contract is $3.1 million. Cap Friendly indicates the deal doesn’t include no-trade protection.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed head coach Jeremy Colliton to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colliton hasn’t enjoyed the success of his predecessor but the Blackhawks aren’t the powerhouse they once were. Management evidently sees Colliton as a key part of their current transition period as they ease more youth into their lineup.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes made a minor trade yesterday, with the Senators shipping defenseman Max Lajoie to the Hurricanes for forward Clark Bishop.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins will honor Willie O’Ree by retiring his No. 22 jersey to the rafters of the TD Garden during a Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils. O’Ree was the first black player in NHL history, debuting with the Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958. He played a total of 45 games with the Bruins. O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting, long-overdue tribute to a hockey trailblazer and one of the game’s finest ambassadors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2019

Connor McDavid extends his points streak to 11 games, Robert Bortuzzo receives a four-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored the only goal in a shootout as the Edmonton Oilers nipped the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. He also picked up an assist in regulation to extend his points streak to 11 games. McDavid sits one point behind linemate Leon Draisaitl (48 points) in the NHL scoring race. Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski collected three assists. The Oilers played without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who could be sidelined for two more games with an injured hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid extended his points streak to 11 games in a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes (Photo via NHL Images)

Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark kicked out 43 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Jack Eichel had three points and Zemgus Girgensons tallied twice for the Sabres. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle maintained his ironman streak at 820 games. He underwent dental surgery to replace nine missing teeth after taking a puck to the mouth during Saturday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist as his club blanked the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Goaltender James Reimer made 19 saves for the shutout. The Wings are winless in their last six contests.

HEADLINES

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo received a four-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators announced Arvidsson will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a slap on the wrist for Bortuzzo, who has a history of questionable hits. He was suspended last year for two pre-season games and a regular-season game for elbowing Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny, fined in 2017 for repeatedly cross-checking New York Islanders center Brock Nelson, and received a two-game suspension in 2014 for a late hit on Jaromir Jagr. Meanwhile, the Predators will be without one of their better forwards for over a month.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Alexander Kerfoot has a hearing scheduled for today with the department of player safety for boarding Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson on Saturday.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman TJ Brodie is poised to return to action after collapsing on the ice during practice on Nov. 14. Subsequent medical examinations did not uncover any significant concerns.