NHL Morning Rumor Mill – July 12, 2013.

The latest on Jaroslav Halak, Dustin Penner, Martin Havlat and Vinny Prospal, plus updates on the Devils and Bruins.

Could Damien Brunner become a free agent target for the Devils?

Could Damien Brunner become a free agent target for the Devils?

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: James O’Brien examines possible options for the New Jersey Devils to use their $6.667 million in newly freed-up cap space in the wake of Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL retirement.UFA options could include Mikhail Grabovski, Jaromir Jagr, Vinny Prospal, Mason Raymond and Damien Brunner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if Devils GM Lou Lamoriello pursues one or two free agents, like Brunner or possibly Grabovski. They won’t replace Kovalchuk’s star power and natural scoring skills, but would bolster the Devils depth.

STLTODAY.COM: Dan O’Neill reports Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak downplayed a report from last season of a clash with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, adding his preference is to remain with the Blues. The emergence of Jake Allen and Brian Elliott’s improved play last season has given rise to rumors of Halak being shopped, linking him to Philadelphia and Buffalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the Blues freed up some cap space by trading David Perron this week, the Blues could retain Halak, Elliott and Allen entering training camp and see how things shake out as the trio jockeys for the two goalie positions. If Halak becomes the odd-man out, they could use him as trade bait next season.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is uncertain if Martin Havlat, who underwent pelvic surgery, will return to the Sharks next season.

CBS SPORTS EYE ON HOCKEY: Brian Stubits reports it’s looking less likely the LA Kings can afford to re-sign UFA forward Dustin Penner, who was recently linked to his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, in free agent speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers addition of David Perron earlier this week suggests they have no reason to add Penner, though his inconsistency during his tenure with the Oilers probably ruled out a return.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports Blue Jackets fan favorite Vinny Prospal might not fit into the club’s plans. Prospal is currently an unrestricted free agent.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggarty reports Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said he expects to stand pat with his current roster, which should dismiss recent speculation the club could shop Brad Marchand or Chris Kelly.


  1. Kovalchuk doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve never trusted him. When I witnessed his very first playoff performance against the Rangers as a Trasher, I knew this guy was just there to exist and nothing more. I want to say typical Russian, but guys like Datsyuk, Malkin and more deserve more respect than to be associated with him.

    It’s great news that they only pay $250k per year. People talk about the missed asset.. but in my opinion, he wasn’t a major asset to wins. Sure he put up big numbers, but floated around when it counted most. He could have put up significantly larger numbers and more wins (most important) if he actually cared more about that.

    There is a small part of me that is happy that someone is kinda sticking it to Bettman due to Post Lockout Trauma… though I suspect location and family have more to do with it.

    • The worst offender IMO was Josef Stumpel. He would float through the playoffs for the Broons, and then immediately leave for the WCs, where he would be one of the best players in the tourney.

      • LOL.. hilarious.

    • So what was your opinion on Kovalchuk in his playoff run with NJ Devils? Guy played through injuries, played hard and wanted to win. Let’s hear those analysis. lol..

      Kovalchuk was always worth his contract. He was always consistent scorer and he was never overpaid always was giving 100%, was always top 10 NHL scorer. So he had one bad playoff year.

      So did mighty Crosby or any other player for that matter.

      • .. I thought I just did. I recognized his numbers with NJ. I watched every single Devils game that post season. As I acknowledged, he put up numbers. But because he didn’t care about the win, he would coast whenever he lost the puck. The Panthers almost beat them, if it wasn’t for Brodeur. Kova coasted the entire time without the puck, and took some key late game penalties that the Devils were able to shake off.

        His numbers were inflated due to his PP time. 3 of his 8 goals were not PP goals. He had no game winners, and was an awesome -7. He went to the finals, and he’s a -7. Adam H, +12.

        Don’t talk to me about Kovalchuk earning anything.

    • Lol ya cause Malkin has never taken a shift off or a bad penalty in the playoffs…

      • true… but unlike Kovie, he’s taken the entire team on his shoulders for a few weeks at a time too.

        • Just saying that there is a whole lot of finger pointing at this guy calling him names when really the same kind of things could be said about any number of guys playing in the league right now. The guy was a great player just because he chose to move home to play shouldnt change how he is viewed.

          The guy found a better job closer to home so he quit and moved home, it happens lots to many other people in all types of jobs doesn’t make them douche bags etc. Thats life

          Kind of childish really and Im not directing it just towards you.

          The Devils dug their own hole.

          • Umm if your whole company changed over their employees cause they were building the company around you and a contract you signed and then 3 years later you bolted with 12 years left on that contract yeah you would be a douche ..

          • Dino the Devils were not built around Kovalchuk, look at some comments Lou himself has made open your eyes and quit being a half whit

          • Shticky what s Lou gonna say? Of course he is going to try and calm the fan base and paint a nice picture for the future. I know this is going to be hard for you to understand but your not a hockey wiz your a numnuts talking out the side of your mouth.

          • More intelligence….lol

  2. I will miss Kovalchuk.. Great hockey talent.

    • For once I agree with you when this guy came in to the league he was amazing.

    • no one can argue his level of talent

      • It’s not just talent.. It’s his game and consistent yearly on ice production.

        Funny coming out from you… “I never trusted Kovalchuk” another Don Cherry wanna be… Kovalchuk in 11 seasons averaged 37 goals per season.. How many players done that in last 20 years?

        • It doesn’t matter how many goals he scores if the other team scores more while he’s on the ice. Just saying…

  3. Raymond would be good in NJ. The last few years Vancouver has been playing him on his off wing and his center has been Kelser (when not injured) and then its been AHL call-ups and 4th line centers tyring to be 2nd line Probably come cheap also. Won’t replace all the goals (no UFA out there can) but its a start. If they could get Brunner also that would make a okay line, nothing special but it will be a struggle all year.

    • I agree.. Raymond needs to be considered in NJ. All good points, gh.

  4. The 100 million dollar contract was ridiculous…as was the 15 years. When will GMs (owners in this case) get it through their forgetful heads. Not one of these crazy ass long term contracts has worked out in the NHL.

    • amen

    • Exactly this, all the draft pick crap an ramifications could have been avoided in Jersey if it wasnt for another bone head move by management with a stupid contract, its their own fault not Kovi’s, and judging by how uncle Lou and the ownership are kind of just letting it slide and the reports that they knew it was coming for months, money troubles, trying to sell the team etc, etc, they knew it. Still sucks to be a Devils fan just gets worse and worse.

      • Whats kind of funny…. would they really look at another overpriced Russian in Grabovski? If I was Lou (or any other GM for that matter) Id probably stay away from signing these guys to big deals any more lol

        • Technically he’s German-born and Belorussian nationality 😛

          I think NJ has to consider him and at least Brunner.
          They’ll need a someone to put the puck in the net, and you can bet that Grabovski is motivated to prove the Leafs wrong in buying him out. Other than a trade, what other UFA can score? Jagr?
          I do fully agree that these over-paying long term deals have to stop, otherwise there will be lockouts every 5 years…

          • If I was the Senators I would sign Grabovski immediately. He would be extra motivated in Leaf and Hab games which are probably a tenth of the sched

        • Actually Grabovski is Belarussian and was born in Germany. Just in case anyone is interested. Calling a Belarussian a Russian is like saying I’m an american because I live in Canada.
          Apparently Grabovski is seeking 5 million per season which is not what any GM wants to sign him for. He probably would have been signed already if he was asking a more reasonable 3.8 or 4. Then again maybe he is being ignored because of his little rant and is being considered a problem child, who knows

          • I was going to post that… but you did perfect..

          • Lol ok fine I made a mistake I admit it, and have admitted it in the past as well…jeesh tough crowd :-)

          • I’m not a Grabovski or a leafs fan for that matter, but I hope its wasn’t his rant that is keeping him from being signed because everything he said was exactly correct.

      • Do you not remember when he was UFA? He wanted 100 mill contract and played LA and NJ against each other to get it.

        • @Dino Rondelly, O my god…. he played two teams to get contract he wanted? and what agent does not do that?

          Crime of the century!

        • You mean the way most UFAs play teams against one another to get what they want?…. yep sure do!

          • So then why act like its the GMs fault? He is selfish as they come handcuffed the Devils they rebuilt their team around him and then he bailed and you two wanna act like he is a class act? Stop singing his praises. He isnt going to the hall and he should be forgotten as fast as he came. Watch the Russians drop in the draft now and they can all thank Kovy.

          • Or Radulov or Kostitsyn, or Ovie who said the same thing as Kovi just hasn’t quit yet (but I bet ya he dont play his contract out either) Russians will drop in the draft because there are some smart enough GMs in the league that will realize that the KHL has alot of money and could persuade a player to stay at home and be rich, not because Kovalchuk left.

      • calling Lou Lamierello a bone head says more about you than him …

        • You think that was a good contract Ed? How bout getting nothinng for Clarkson or Parise? Those seem like smart moves to you? Im not saying the guy is a horrible GM cause history shows he is one of the best but yes there have been a couple bonehead moves by the devils this contract is proof of that even if it was pushed on him by the ownership you really think Kovalchuck was going to play in to his 40’s?

          • Buddy we get it you have a hard on for Kovy, we understand … what is your comment count at today here on Shtickys Hockey?

          • Intelligence at its finest….

          • There was nothing to get for Parise. He helped them get to the Stanley Cup finals in his contract year and then went home to play. Was Lou supposed to trade him while the Devils were jockeying for a playoff spot just in case he decided to leave in July? That would’ve been the bonehead move. Same with Clarkson. The guy wanted to go home. I’d rather Lou get “nothing” for Clarkson than overpay for him, which is basically the expert consensus of what the Leafs have done. Go through the list of the free agents he’s gotten “nothing” for, and not a single one of their departures has had a lasting negative impact on the team. Making the best deal for the team, not chasing or overpaying free agents because that’s what the fans would want. No one is going to miss Clarkson, just like no one missed Shanahan, Burke, Guerin, Holik, Gomez, or Gionta.

          • How is Lou overpaying for Clarkson by moving him at the deadline for probably a very nice package of picks players ect.They were not winning a cup this year at the time were they even in a playoff spot? Plus isnt it a Lou and the Devils thing that 1 player doesnt make a team? Well you cant have it both ways so when you have 1 player (Parise) and you don’t want to talk contract during the season with a UFA then the right thing to do would be deal him for the good of your teams future. They would not be in the spot they are now if Lou used some fore sight and either dealt his UFAs or signed them earlier. I stick by what I said Lou has been a great GM but jas made some bad decisions the Kovi contract is definitely one.

    • No mercy.

      • None deserved with some…

        • The part the Devils are probably a little annoyed at is that they let Parise and Clarkson walk. If they knew Kovalchuk was leaving they might of managed the cap differently. It really is the owners fault though, because he wanted Kovy when Lou didn’t

  5. There are lot of useful older established forgotten players who could had for cheap in depth roles like Prospal, Ryan Whitney and Gilbert.

    I always thought those guys were useful pieces especially if not your go to guys.

  6. I have to disagree with the comments about Kovalchuk.

    He is undoubtedly one of the most talented players of this generation, and one of the best goal-scorers of all time. Unfortunatley he will not get to 650+ (maybe 700??) goals in his career which would have been a lock for the HOF. Not only did Kovi carry the Devils to the Cup Finals, but he should also have been counted as a Hart trophy candidate in most of the past 5-6 years.

    He gets a bad rap, but any comments by his teammates and coaches are nothing but praise about his work ethic and “being a good teammate”. You can’t really blame him for wanting to go back to Russia and play close to his family and friends. Had the lockout not happened, he probably would not have remembered how much he loves playing in Russia.

    I am going to miss wathcing him play. He is a rare combination of size, speed, talent, power, and puck possession.

    • Hilarious. The douche bag did not carry them, Brodeur did. Kovalchuk was a -7 while being on a team that made it to the finals. Brutal numbers. Adam H, a rookie, was +12.

      What you do during regular season means nothing in the grand scheme of things..it’s what you do when it matters most. What kovie does, is make costly turn-overs, take bad penalties, and coasts when he loses the puck.

      • Like plus minus tells the whole story.. The most overrated stat in hockey..

        Watched playoffs at all?

        • So its not a big deal as the one of the top scorers on your team, that you get outscored while you’re on the ice?

        • it’s irrelevant when the difference is minimal. in the case of Hornton this playoffs, it was significant. +21 vs the 2nd place at +13 (his own teammate). Hornton’s +/- was very relevant.

          with Kovie having his own teammate surpass him by a large margin is relevant.

          anyone who can’t come up with an argument always uses the ol “have you heard of hockey” or “did you even watch playoffs.”

          toss out thoughless remarks all you want. +/- is still very very relevant in specific scenarios.. Kovalchuk’s being one.

          • Jeff Schultz was plus 50 in 2010, Nash was minus player his career before coming to d-sive oriented Ranger..

            plus/minus is stat of the team you are on, most of the time. You get a minus and it may not be your fault. Examples: 2 of your linemates made premature line change, goalie gave up a soft goal, d-men created a turn over, empty net goal against was scored finally because of weak coaching staff.

        • .. to add that I previously mentioned I watched each and every Devils game that post season. It’s mostly his gameplay (team game play) that I judge him on.. not what’s on the scoresheet. But what’s on the scoresheet isn’t great… unless all you want are individual points. Perpetual cough-ups, bad penalties, lazy skating, zero defense, and just a blatant lack of team are the things I have against him.

          But he sure does own a highlight reel…

          • Good for you.. Not you will watch Grabovski.. lol..

        • Agreed Mark Fraser was a plus 18, 5th in NHL defence that make him one of the leagues best D? I think not.

      • All you guys getting your panties in a bunch over Kovalchuk’s retirement crack me up. He wanted to be near his family. Anyone who speculates there is some other hidden reason or agenda need to grow up and get a life.

    • Kovy was a 1 way player… i watched him for several years in Atlanta then watched him play for the devils. If the puck was not moving toward the offensive zone, he was just coasting near the blue line waiting on a pass for a breakaway. There is a reason why his career +/- is -116

  7. Just waiting for the NJ trade for Vanek. Wonder what they’ll pay? 2015 first rounder for starters plus Henrique.

    • I wouldn’t do it if I was NJ, Vanek (although very good) is injury-prone. Henrique with a lower pick (2nd or 3rd round) would be a little more even.

      • If. Im NJ Henrique is going nowhere now.

      • Konstantine, I don’t think Vanek is injury prone – he may miss approx 10 games a season, but he is a worker and goes to the dirty areas where he takes a beating. For a long time, he has been one of the grittest players for Buffalo. But from my knowledge he’s never missed games due to concussion. I think it would be a good move for NJ and Henrique and a 1st rounder would be a good return.

    • I’m not so sure Lou would give up his first in 2015, its pretty hard building a prospect base when you continually don’t have a first round pick. They didn’t have one this year and will not next year either because of the Kovalchuk contract fiasco. Not sure I would give up on Henrique so early either, but I guess you have to give to get. As stated above, Vanek is somewhat injury prone so would be fairly risky. There are several free agents still available but can they sign anyone due to the teams finantial woes. In my opinion the devils should take the departure of Kovalchuk, Clarkson, and soon Broduer as an opportunity to re-build. It would make the fans unhappy and perhaps keep them away from the rink but what other choice do they have other than finding a billionnaire owner. I am probably getting ahead of myself here but this could turn into another Coyote situation.

      • I think it would be a good option for the Devils to use their space to add a few cheaper options that provide them more depth in scoring. I would say the Devils should try and target Brunner and Boyes for contracts, this would really increase their depth on the wing. Both would have scored around 20+ goals over a full season and put up 50-60 points last year (at their current pace).

        The Devils would have added Brunner, Boyes, Clowe, & Ryder and still have Zajac, Henrique, and Elias.

        Top 6 of

        Elias – Zajac – Brunner
        Boyes – Henrique – Ryder

        • Pretty nice top 6 there really and you are right they are relatively cheap and the Devils would have some decent depth. Probably better then trading for Vanek at this point.

        • Yep, that actually looks good, affordable, and believable.

      • can’t argue here. fans don’t even show up to one of the most winningest teams in the past 20 years. could get ugly when they start to not win… and miss playoffs.. lots of weight on the goaltenders’ shoulders and scouting.

      • Spelled financial wrong….lol just kidding man

    • NJ doesn’t have the assets to trade for Vanek until he becomes “playoff rental” material, and even then, they don’t have the first rounder to give up for him.

  8. Some people out there are saying that he is a person and it is his choice to move back to Russia and make more money if he wants… Well sure if he was going to become a real estate agent or something but to go play hockey I am sorry but if regular people like all of us on this site were to back out of a legal contract like that we would be facing back pay or other legal ramifications. Plus this opens a door for everyone else in the NHL who is stuck in a situation they want to get out of ie: Bad contract, too long of contract, does not like team, coach, management anymore.

  9. The only player NJ will be chasing in FA is Brunner. I doubt Grabovski will be an option since he’s a center and NJ is loaded with centers.

    Of course, there’s the possibility that NJ trades a center or two to fit another winger, supposing there’s any takers for that, but right now it’s a buyer’s market for centers and NJ would lose out on that deal.

    I fully expect them to sign Henrique and Brunner and essentially work with what they have. Maybe the make a move for a depth offensive forward with top 6 potential by moving one of their depth D-men.

  10. I still think Grabovski lands in Washington and Mason Raymond would be a good fit in New Jersey (and on many other NHL teams – the kid can play.)

  11. What is going on with Bryzgalov, speaking of Russians with terrible contracts? It has been extremely quiet on that front. One would have to think he’ll be the next to bolt for the KHL

  12. “Marty Havlat had a pretty extensive procedure done, a bilateral pelvic reconstruction,” Wilson said. “He is an important player to us and we missed him when he wasn’t in there. There is no timeline for a return, so I don’t have an answer for that one.” i.e. he had double hernia surgery. That’s the same procedure that cost Cheechoo his already poor skating ability. He may be on IR for the remainder of his contract like Savard. Sucks for sharks fans :/

    • Too bad about Havlat , injuries have gotten in the way too often

  13. Depending on his price tag, I wonder if the Habs would kick the tire on Penner. Personally, I think he’s not worth the investment, but he fills a hole at wing and adds a lot of size to a very small line-up.

    Again, I wouldn’t do it if I was Bergevin, but he does fill a big team need (theoretically).

  14. NJ should make some calls to see what they can get for Schneider. Maybe Edmonton? That would really piss off Gillis.

    • With Brodeur on the verge of retiring, that would open yet another hole in NJ.
      Brodeur will mentor Schneider for a season or 2, then pack it in and call it a career.

      • I know that’s what will happen but the thing is Schneider doesn’t need more time. He is a starter. NJ might just get a lot for him. I’m just saying they should look into it. You never know what teams offer up. Next year they could sign a goalie. I think NJ needs to look at all options to improve the team.

    • As good as Wedgewood is, Lou’s obviously thought he struck gold in Schneider and so I doubt Schneider gets moved.

    • LOL

  15. The Devis should not trade for Vanek, instead sign Brunner and maybe Boyes or Raymond.

    Clowe-Henrique-Brunner /Boyes