NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2020

Recent speculation on the Red Wings, Sharks, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE DETROIT NEWS: Bob Wojnowski recently reported Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman acknowledged he might be slightly more aggressive in shaping his roster this off-season via trades and free agency. He wants to build up the supporting cast around Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Tyler Bertuzzi as the young core improves.

The Detroit Red Wings could have interest in Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug if he hits the UFA market (Photo via NHL Images)

Yzerman stressed he won’t go into the free-agent market to make a splash. He’ll instead focus on “sensible signings”. He remains confident he’ll re-sign restricted free agents like Mantha and Bertuzzi. “We’re not gonna let them go anywhere, we’ll get deals done,” he said.

Wojnowski speculated the Wings might be interested in pending UFA defensemen like Boston’s Torey Krug and Toronto’s Tyson Barrie or a goalie like Vegas’ Robin Lehner. “But who knows if they’d be interested in the Wings, who have decent young players and lots of draft picks, but few guaranteed stars,” said Wojnowski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite having plenty of salary-cap space, Yzerman remains focused on a patient rebuild. I expect we’ll see more trades akin to last fall’s Robby Fabbri deal with St. Louis, targeting struggling young players on other clubs. He could be very interested in Krug, Barrie, or Lehner if they express interest in coming to Detroit, but he’ll likely have to settle for affordable second-tier depth talent on short-term deals.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White recently reported San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson faces a busy off-season. He must hire a full-time head coach, shore up his goaltending, add scoring depth on the wings, supplement his aging, expensive core with young NHL talent, and do it all with a limited budget.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Resolving the coaching situation seems the easiest of Wilson’s tasks this off-season. Wilson seems to be leaning toward removing the interim tag from head coach Bob Boughner’s title. The rest will be challenging. 

Wilson could peddle the 2020 first-round pick he acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning before the trade deadline to bring in an established young NHL player. However, that would leave him without a pick in the opening round.

Most of his core veterans have no-trade protection and hefty contracts. Wilson could shop restricted free agent winger Kevin Labanc, but then he’d have to find someone to replace him. He could pursue a UFA backup like Dallas’ Anton Khudobin or the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, but he’ll have competition from other clubs for their services.


NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is unlikely to sign any unrestricted free agents this year to long-term contracts. He could instead add some veteran depth on short-term deals.

The draft order could also determine how busy Dorion might be in the UFA market. He could have three picks in the first round, seven in the opening two rounds, and 13 over seven rounds. “If you’re going to pick Nos. 1-2, it’s different than picking Nos. 5-6,” Dorion said. “The players going 1-2 probably have a higher chance of playing in the NHL next year. At the same time, we know we’re going to take two good players with our first two picks.”

Morreale speculates Dorion could use some of those picks as trade bait leading up to the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dorion has sufficient cap room next season to add a couple of decent UFA depth players on short-term deals. He could make his biggest splash at the draft, using some of those extra picks to perhaps pry a quality talent away from a cap-strapped club.

If the Senators win the draft lottery, perhaps Dorion will be tempted to dangle the conditional first-rounder he got from the Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal as trade bait.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

Check out the latest on the Detroit Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings season may be over, but general manager Steve Yzerman faces a busy off-season.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman (Photo via NHL.com).

One of his first decisions will be whether to pick up the option year in head coach Jeff Blashill’s contract or find a new bench boss. Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert (former Yzerman teammates) could be among the candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for guiding the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup in their expansion season. He could become the front-runner if the job becomes available.

In addition to deciding which of his free agents to re-sign, Khan speculates Yzerman could look to this year’s unrestricted free agent market for affordable second- and third-tier talent on short-term deals as stop-gap measures during the roster rebuild. He believes the Wings need a winger with scoring ability, a pair of defensemen, and a backup goaltender.

Khan also anticipates Yzerman will make low-risk value trades similar to his acquisitions of Robby Fabbri and Brendan Perlini.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Fabbri acquisition worked out well, but Perlini struggled throughout this season and probably won’t be back. Nevertheless, Yzerman will likely keep his eye open for once-promising players struggling with other clubs who could benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently posted a three-part series examining potential UFA targets to address the Red Wings’ roster needs.

He doubts Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall or Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will be interested in joining a rebuilding clubs like the Wings. He also expects the St. Louis Blues will re-sign Alex Pietrangelo while Michigan native Torey Krug could be re-signed by the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits suggested Krug might be willing to return home if he can’t sign with the Bruins. While we shouldn’t rule it out, I think he’d prefer playing for a contender.

Kulfan’s list of proposed forward options includes Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, or Erik Haula, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, or the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.

Blueline possibilities could include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, or the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene.

Goaltending targets could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, but the term and price would have to be worked on). Others include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Calgary’s Cam Talbot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. Once Yzerman re-signs key free agents like Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha, he’ll have plenty of cap room to bring in a couple of quality veteran free agents on short-term deals.

With the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million and several clubs looking to pinch pennies, that could work in Yzerman’s favor. If he sticks to affordable short-term options, he’ll have plenty to choose from once the notable names are snapped up.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2020

Latest on the league’s plans for the schedule and the draft, the 50th anniversary of Bobby Orr’s legendary Stanley Cup-winning goal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont cites Bruins president Cam Neely pointing out the NHL and its TV partners would have the opportunity of trying new camera angles if the schedule resumes without fans in arenas. That would include perhaps mounting some cameras in lower-bowl seats or along the top of the glass that surrounds the boards.

“Even closer to the action, league broadcast executives also have toyed with the idea of embedding cameras directly into the boards, or perhaps mounting them directly behind the boards with lenses shooting the action through small portals drilled into the boards.”

Another option could be mounting small Go-Pro cameras to players’ helmets, though the NHLPA would have to agree to it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a great opportunity to provide fans watching on television with some different angles they otherwise wouldn’t see. It would be a great way to give them the feeling that they’re in the game, especially for those who’ve never attended a live NHL contest. 


Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (Photo via NHL.com).

SPORTSNET: Mixed feelings persist among NHL executives over the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft before the resumption of the season. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was diplomatic when questioned about his take. “We’re just going to try to prepare as though it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s not going to be normal regardless of what it is, so we’re fine with whatever is decided.”

Player agent Allan Walsh, however, said most general managers he’s spoken with aren’t happy with the idea. “I have not talked to one GM who likes it, and I talk to almost all of them.”  Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is among them. “I haven’t heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer,” he said. Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake, however, indicated he and his staff are “quite comfortable with either scenario.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m against it, and not because I’m some old-school guy who’s against “outside-the-box” thinking. I’m against it because the league higher-ups believe it’s going to draw big TV ratings and generate excitement among sports fans heading toward the restart of the schedule. I doubt it, especially when the most exciting component of the draft – the possibility of a major trade involving established players – probably won’t be permitted.

What will generate fan excitement is training camp and exhibition games taking place leading up to the proposed resumption of the schedule in July. Save the draft for when the season is over.   

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Today is the 50th anniversary of Bobby Orr’s legendary Stanley Cup-winning goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first Stanley Cup Final game I ever saw. I was seven-years-old at the time, and the only reason I got to see it was because it was an afternoon game. That goal was seared into my memory and made me a life-long Bobby Orr fan. He did many amazing things throughout his career and truly changed the game with his style of play, but it’s that goal everyone remembers. It wasn’t the prettiest goal Orr ever scored, but it’s certainly among hockey’s most memorable.

CALGARY SUN:  Flames center Sean Monahan hopes the season resumes this summer. “Everybody is just looking forward to get back with one another and push each other to get to that end goal,” he said. That end goal being, of course, the Stanley Cup. 

THE SCORE: If the league resumes play this summer, Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone will be ready to return from the lower-body injury that sidelined him before the schedule was paused by the pandemic. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang made an unspecified donation intended to provide meals to the Students and Families Food Relief Fund and the Knead Community Cafe in the Pittsburgh area.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2020

The latest on the efforts to re-start the season, Steve Yzerman weighs in on staging the draft before the season, Georges Laraque hospitalized with COVID-19, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s in constant contact with NHL Players Association director Donald Fehr, praising the collaborative process between the two sides addressing the issues they’re facing during this pandemic. They’ve formed a Return to Play committee consisting of league executives and players.

NHL Commission Gary Bettman is pleased with the close cooperation between the league and the NHLPA in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo via NHL.com).

“Having the committee that’s been put together with the players is important so that we can get the feedback on the issues that are important to them and how to resolve them, and that we can be communicating how we’re focusing on the things we think that need to be done,” said Bettman. “It’s been extraordinarily collaborative, constructive, and cooperative, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the interaction that we’re having.”

Bettman also said there’s no firm timeline as to when the league will resume the schedule, stressing the importance of ensuring the health and safety of the players. He confirmed a return to action will depend upon guidance from government health officials at all levels.

TSN: While the NHL is targeting mid-to-late May for its’ Phase 2 (reopening training facilities for small group workouts), Darren Dreger reports it won’t be mandatory for players to attend.  It will be for training camp, which is tentatively slated to begin on June 1. He also said some suggest Phase 2 will not be initiated.

Dreger indicated there won’t be a resumption to the season unless the players have an allowance to visit their families. How to address that issue is in the discussion stage.

Pierre LeBrun reports talks for a new collective bargaining agreement were shelved when the pandemic happened, but the two sides have signaled an intent to resume those talks at some point. Given the financial impact of the pandemic, LeBrun believes it’s important to the team owners and the players to work out a long-term CBA extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA have to establish a better working relationship to navigate through these difficult times. Revenue will be affected in the short term, in turn affecting the salary cap. A potentially positive long-term outcome from this pandemic could see the two sides reach an agreement to a CBA extension without the usual rancor and work stoppages of the past. There was already an improvement in CBA negotiations between the two sides over the past couple of years. Perhaps labor peace will be the silver lining of this pandemic for NHL fans. 

Frank Seravalli examined the challenges of televising NHL games should the schedule resume in arenas without fans. It will certainly sound different, as viewers will be hearing things from the players (good and bad) that would be otherwise drowned out by crowd noise. The sounds of the game will also come to the fore.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the plus side, you’ll hear players and coaches calling out direction and advice during the action. The downside (for some) will be hearing so much profanity that it’ll overwhelm the networks’ censors. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Alberta premier Jason Kenney said he hasn’t yet received a proposal from the NHL for the city of Edmonton to be a divisional host should the season resume. Nevertheless, he isn’t ruling out the possibility. “I think I can conceive of a way that they could put together a plan that follows our health guidelines with appropriate protective equipment and with nobody in the stands,” said Kenney. “If they came to us with a plan for limited and specific use of those facilities we would give it consideration.”

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is skeptical about the possibility of staging the 2020 NHL draft before the resumption of the season. “My thought is why would you do that? Why would you need to do that? There’s a lot of things that are affected. Obviously, the draft position hasn’t been established. We don’t know who’s in the playoffs, who’s out of the playoffs in some cases,” said Yzerman. “So there’s a lot of questions and ultimately, if (the draft) needs to be done prior to, we’ll figure it out but at this time my own opinion is I haven’t heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season, if we do conclude the season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was reportedly a lot of pushback among NHL general managers against the notion of staging the draft before the season resumes. I think Yzerman is the first GM to publicly express his concerns.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski suggests the NHLPA has leverage over the NHL it didn’t have before the pandemic. The players must approve any plan to resume the season. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of players with competing ambitions. “You’re talking about some players that are 19-year-old single guys that have been gaming the last couple of weeks. And then you’re talking about some players in their mid- to late-30s with three kids, and they have to worry about schooling and things like that. You have guys traveling back from Europe, and they’re probably going to need a couple of weeks of quarantine after that. There are so many variables,” said Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the short term, escrow could be the determining factor. The players could face losing perhaps up to half of their salaries next season to escrow clawbacks if they vote against resuming the season. Nevertheless, this could work to the players’ long-term advantage if they gain some concessions from ownership in the next CBA. 

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Former NHL player Georges Laraque confirmed he’s been hospitalized with COVID-19. “I guess I’m not invincible, just got diagnosed with Covid, since I’m asthmatic, not the best news, will fight it off!”, he announced yesterday via social media. In a radio interview, he indicated he’d been feeling poorly for a week, including having difficulty breathing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Laraque for a full and speedy recovery. 

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets season-ticket holders continue to be charged for future seats despite widespread economic uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. 

NBC SPORTS: The Vancouver Canucks are donating $500K for COVID-19 relief. 

STLTODAY.COM/SPORTSDAY: The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will begin furloughing some of their staff while others, including team executives, will be taking pay cuts. 

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings


What Are Steve Yzerman’s Off-Season NHL Plans For The Detroit Red Wings?

What Are Steve Yzerman’s Off-Season NHL Plans For The Detroit Red Wings?