NHL Morning Rumor Mill – June 30, 2014

On the eve of NHL free agency, check out the latest on Jason Spezza, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Niskanen, Ryan Miller, Vincent Lecavalier and more. 

Christian Ehrhoff could attract consider interest in the upcoming UFA market.

Christian Ehrhoff could attract consider interest in the upcoming UFA market.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby expects Detroit “and a lot of Western teams” to pursue recently bought-out defenseman Christian Ehrhoff…If Jason Spezza’s trade options become limited this summer, perhaps a deal with Nashville can be resurrected…The Islanders have contacted former Rangers center Brad Richards…Matt Moulson’s two former teams (Sabres and Islanders) are pursuing him, as could the Senators…Milan Michalek could be eyeing a reunion with brother Zbynek with the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Predators GM David Poile’s frurstrated reaction to Spezza’s rejecting a trade to Nashville, it’ll take some sweet-talking from the Spezza camp to resurrect that deal. 

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford notes the Canucks interest in UFA goalie Ryan Miller, who’s in Vancouver and expected to meet with management today. He wonders, however, if investing some of their $18 million cap space in a veteran goalie is a wise decision when there’s gaping holes elsewhere in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You build from the net out. Without quality goaltending it won’t matter how many more goals the Canucks score next season compared to this season. A tandem of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom hardly inspires confidence right now. And if they invest wisely in a veteran goalie, they will have enough cap space to address other needs. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators still have “serious options” with Jason Spezza. The St. Louis Blues could be a destination, though they’re also interested in UFA center Paul Stastny. The Dallas Stars could be another option. The Chicago Blackhawks could be a destination if they can sell the Senators on Patrick Sharp. He also suggests revisiting a deal with the Predators isn’t out of the question.  Garrioch also reports the Senators will be in the market for forwards. He suggests free agent options like Matt Moulson and former Senators Martin Havlat, or perhaps trading a defenseman for a winger.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Spezza could be a serious option for the Stars now. The Senators could seek a return consisting of “Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon or Alex Chiasson, along with a prospect and a draft pick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also suggested the Arizona Coyotes as a destination but that was before they acquired Sam Gagner in a three-way deal with the Lightning.  I doubt Murray has interest in an ageing, brittle Havlat. Moulson could be an option though his lack of foot speed would be an issue.  Unless Sharp is willing to accept a trade to Ottawa, a Sharp-for-Spezza swap won’t happen. 

PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli reports the Flyers, who’ve granted permission to Vincent Lecavalier’s agent to seek trade options with other clubs, have been unsuccessful in their efforts to move him. That’s in part because Lecavalier is due a $2 million bonus on July 1.  Another possibility is buying out recently-acquired R.J. Umberger, who’s earning $4.6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted last year, there’s nothing in the CBA which prevents a team from buying out a player they acquired via trade. If the Flyers bought out Umberger, it won’t be considered cap circumvention as they acquired him well before the new NHL salary cap numbers were announced. It remains to be seen if they’ll got that route. 

WASHINGTON POST/CSNWASHINGTON: The Capitals are setting their sights upon two soon-to-be former Penguins defensemen in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik via free agency. They could also have interest in Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out yesterday by the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Capitals could sign Niskanen, who’ll command top dollar starting tomorrow and will have numerous suitors, but Orpik could be a possibility. Adding either player would add some spice to future Capitals-Penguins games. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports the Lightning recently salary-dumping moves (Teddy Purcell, Sam Gagner, Nate Thompson) could put them in position to bid for UFA defensemen like “Matt Niskanen, Anton Stralman and former Lightning standout Dan Boyle”. They’ll also likely be in the market for an experienced backup for Ben Bishop.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is clearing the boards for a significant free-agent addition. We won’t have to wait long to find out who he’s pursuing. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Gary Lawless reports the Jets could return next season with pretty much the same core of players as they had this season. If so, that means significant improvement must come from “Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, defenceman Zach Bogosian and wingers Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien”. As for recent rumors of the Jets talking with the Toronto Maple Leafs about goalie James Reimer, Lawless notes the Jets have limited cap space (they’ll likely set their cap ceiling at $65 million) and a more affordable option in their system in Michael Hutchinson.

NBC SPORTS: cites a report from The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper claiming the Predators could move defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who they acquired in a midseason trade with the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Del Zotto’s stock really tumbled this season, but he’s still young enough to attract interest from clubs seeking a puck-moving blueliner.

TSN1260’s Dustin Nielson reports via Twitter: “Flames are apparently very interested in Tom Gilbert. Not sure if they are front runner but are certainly in the mix.”


  1. Matt Niskanen is this years’ Matt Carle … a soft d-man who will cash in tomorrow due to timing … Yzerman can’t be that stupid twice?

    • Well said! Carle will make 5.5 million per season over the next 4 years. Niskanen could fetch up to 6 per season. No thanks!

    • I can’t imagine Tampa has any interest in Niskanen. They already have 7 d-men signed and Sustr and Aulie are RFA’s. I’d think both are staying. They may go after Boyle or Ehroff , but they will try and ship Ohlund or Brewer + out before they go after either. Gudas and Hedman aren’t going anywhere.

  2. Still think there could be something with Riemer in Van, for 1 he will be a cheap pick up (3mill to sign maybe a 2nd or 3rd round pick OR mid level a prospect to aquire) 2 He and Lack could be a good tandem. 3 not the type of guy I would write off as a bad goalie after a frustrating year in Toronto. He may not be a veteran type goalie but from a cost vs effect perspective he could work out ok there. Miller will want 5 mill longer term etc.

    Not saying he is the best available just that he could fit pretty well with the direction the Canucks should be looking at going.

    • Riemer would be a much better pickup than Ryan Miller … and Boyle would be a better signing than Niskanen, just from the term aspect …

      • Agree, Niskanen is going to burn a GM.

    • Miller was in Vancouver yesterday meeting with Benning who is trying to convince him to come to Vancouver. They have a history together from their Buffalo days which could bode well for his signing here. Miller also has proven to be a great goalie in the past and could be a good mentor to the young goalies the Canucks have in Lack and Markstrom.

      • Great goalie in the past? Other than one great season, he’s been just average. If Vancouver is in rebuild mode, why not see how their young goalies do

  3. 5 mill vleared for the Lightning leads me to believe its Boyle, he would be right in that ball park.

  4. How many teams that want to sign Niskanen I am amazed that Rutherford couldn’t land one pick from one of them to take a earily shot at him. I can’t buy that someone didn’t want a shot at him.

    • because Rutherford is inept …

  5. I find it odd and hard to believe that the Islanders would be pursuing Moulson.

    • Tavares had good chemistry with him but he is slowwwwww …

    • Moulson was Taveras’ best friend on the team prior to that trade.

    • Snow will go after everyone he possibly can to avoid the basement next season. I think by now we all know why he’ll do that.

  6. I think Canuck management is shrewd enough to understand that top quality goaltending is a priority so Reimer is probably not an option. Benning has stated that he wants to develop the teams youth in a winning environment instead of going the tank and get a superstar or two route.

  7. Gagner for a 6th rounder plus some salary retention all just to shed some cap space.

    WAKE UP NONIS.. It’s a cap world out there and you are the most useless cap manager in the league.

    Over paying Phanuef, Bozak and Clarkson, Using a compliance buyout on Komeserik when he had only one year left instead of on Liles who had 4 years remaining, retaining salary on Gunnarsson, and the list of screw ups goes on. A fifth grader could manage the cap better then Nonis. The only reason Nonis isn’t giving Bolland a 7 year $5M contract is because it’s physically impossible to fit it under the cap. Absolutely brutal…

    • Unless things change in the next couple of weeks. it could be that the Leafs are finally going to give some prospects from the Marlies a chance to play with the big club.
      About time too.

      • If using a compliance buy out on Liles is such a great idea why would the Canes trade for him? Doesnt look like they are thinking of buying him out, he actually played pretty well for them. Its much more than just Nonis and how he spends the cap that are the issue, Id take Liles over Gleason, Gunnarsson over Polak, and who ever besides Gleason over Georges which if MacKenzie is to be belived is the next D man the Leafs go after. They are going backwards. Its more talent evaluation than cap structure ithats the problem mo.

        • This could even go further, Id take Riemer over 42 yo Marty, Id take Kuli over Bolland at just about any price let alone let Kuli walk gor 3 and sign Bolland for 5 (I bet ya they do it) buy out Grabo sign Clarkson, let Bodie walk keep Orr, it just goes on and on with poor evaluation. I agree the whole front office needs to go, but not because of how Nonis handles the cap, its much muvh worse than that.

          • Shticky
            Do I really need to explain to you that buying out Liles with the last compliance buyout was 100 times smarter then buying out Komi’s one year remaining, trading Liles for Gleason only to buyout Gleason which will now cost $5.5M cap space over the next four years. Plain stupidity.

            Not saying the other items aren’t blunders too but Nonis’s cap management is mind boggling.

          • I dont think Liles should have been bought out. I agree that maybe you burry Komisarek for a year and save a compliance buy out but, I think if Liles was handled differently ie if Carlyle is not the coach Liles could have been dealt and for more than a guy that you have to buy out with a higher hit. Again evaluation. How many teams after seeing what the ufa d men are going to make maybe would think Liles for around 3 mill locked up for 3 years might be worth a look after tomorrow? You cant tell me Liles was worse than Fraser Ranger Gleason and even Franson at points this year. If they were patient they could have moved him for something if they held maybe a mill of the contract. Even a 6 th round pick would have been better than Gleason.

          • I’m not arguing that evaluation isn’t a massive problem since Liles should never have been handed that contract in the first place while he was on the IR but when the crap hits the fan, as it did, using a compliance buyout on Komi over Liles just proved Nonis is an idiot when it comes to money (ie cap space).

        • I can’t speak to all your preferences but your dislike of Gorges is unfounded. All teams have those guys whose play is hard to evaluate with stats or simply watching a sample of games. Those are the guys who are loved or at least respected by the diehard fans of the team because they can the bleed game in and game out. Gorges is one of those and the Leafs don’t have any of those on D. They have a lot of other qualities on D and some great prospects but Dion is not going to mould those guys while Gorges’ influence could be invaluable. This is not a dumb move for the Leafs at all or in any sense but could be a great element in maturing the team. I’m not suggesting they trade for him and then extend him but keeping him for two years or so and moving him will improve the club. Promise.

          • @Shticky … sorry for the terrible typing in that post.

          • Would you give up say Kadri for Georges who is 30 years old has 4 years left on a deal that pays him 4 mill? With in 2 years he is a bottom pairing D man, it gets right bsck into paying guys for grit and leadership. Go thru the list of 30 year old d men that are simmilar Orpik Scuderri Komisarek Gleason Volchenkov OBrien…just not worth long term contracts leadership and will to win is great and all but at what price? The Habs are not moving Georges for a bag of pucks and Gleadon is on waivers so who does that leave? A young guy like Kadri, perhaps Lupul but at that point Nonis will have to hold salary or throw something in…cost wise Georges (who has slightly inflated adv stats playing with Subban and just terrible adv stats when he is not) is not worth it.

          • Lol no worries about typing pretty sure when I am on my phone mine is the worst on the sight

          • No worries you just need to struggle though another terrible season and MLSE will have to blow the whole thing up again. At least this time they will have Kessel, JVR, Kadri and maybe Lupul to dangle for picks and prospects at next springs trade deadline. Then again some of these guys could have a bad year and the Laughs won’t get much of a return. lol

    • I’d have bought out Komisarek and Liles. The wasted CBO for me was Grabovski. I’m going to assume that Nonis was looking to take back no money in order to have as much cap space going into the draft/FA as possible, but…

      • Agreed Grabo was a waste too but Komi’s was better spent else where… like Clarkson right about now.

        • Regarding Clarkson, apparently not. Can’t CBO a player who signed after Sept. 15, 2012.

  8. I read last year at the deadline that Erhoff would only approve a trade to a team with a chance to win the cup and he will not go out west. I wonder if that factor is still in play for him as a free agent. I believe he will choose between Detroit and TB if that’s true.

    Anyone think Gorges could get traded to the Wings? if we signed Erhoff and got gorges…

    You guys think a swap of MDZ for kindl makes sense for both teams?

    • I think MDZ is damaged goods. He was always a defensive liability, but now he can’t even find the offensive side of his game which makes him almost completely useless. Unless there is a coach out there that can fix his head, I wouldn’t give up anything to get him. I think Nashville should just let him walk away. Maybe run away!

    • @ Buffbry….I’d love Gorges in the winged wheel however, that still doesn’t solve the number one glaring omission they have a Right Handed shot on the point. Eveeryone listed is a lefty. I’d offer Boyle a 2 year deal with a club option for a third at 3.5 with bonuses, and take a serious run at Vrbata if I was the Wings and they can’t get ggy. Avoid Niskanen like the plague and stay away from softer wingers such as Hemsky and Jokinen etc….

      I’ve been a wings fan m entire life, but watching a LH shot make a pas to a LH shot was hard to watch, every team that has the won the cup in the last few years has had a steady mix of RH and LH shots, last year Detroit had 2 RH shooting regulars in their line-up, Alfie and Glendenning, and I am a Luke fan, however he is not a PP player and as such that hurt s the bottom line of PP goals which leads to wins. Holland and the Wins brain trust have already said a RH shooting D man that can play the PP and log bigger minutes is their #1 priority.

  9. I have to gloat. As a longtime Kings fan it’s rather freeing to not have to be stressed about tomorrow. There will be no bad signings, no big losses (although it does suck to loses Mitchell).

    It’s sad but it seems like 98% of the moves made on July 1st look awful in hindsight.

    • I think the Gaborik signing is going to have every LA fan ready to jump out a window down the road. Excellent cap hit, but terrible terms. Gaborik is fragile and disappears often. No way will that contract look good in 2-3 years.

    • as a kings fan you should have be unhappy they did not buy out richards. also the length of gaboriks contract is terrible. thats a lot of years for his injury problems or disinterest to kick in. sometimes after you win a cup you have to make difficult decisions. it appears the kings took the east way out. with all of that said, they just won two cups so its tough to argue with anything they are doing, but they will have some cap issues on the horizon. the richards contract is just plain evil.

  10. I read on TSN.ca yesterday that the Preds won’t be qualifying Del Zotto so he will become UFA. Poile said he doesn’t fit in with their club. I think the qualifying offer had to be $2.9 million.

  11. I have a feeling Moulson will go to the Canucks. He’d be dynamite with the Sedin’s.

    Detroit or Florida will get Ehrhoff.

    Vancouver supposedly will be in on Iggy. Benning is changing that team on the fly. Hate it lol Hate the Canucks

    • I heard the Iggy linked to Vancouver rumors. Not sure where they came from, however it doesn’t make much sense as Vancouver is going with a rebuild as evidenced by their recent trades. Why Iginla would want to be part of that, or why Benning would use up a good chunk of cap space to sign him…neither really makes sense.

  12. Botchfords article says the Canucks should spend “shrewdly” and doesn’t indicate that top quality goaltending isn’t important. As much as you like to come off as an all knowing sage, any bonehead knows that building from the net out is hockey 101 stuff so why insult Botchfords intelligence with your arrogant little comment ?

  13. Iggy a Canuck thought he wanted to win now or at least a shot at winning. Islanders will try and sign everybody they can they don want to be a lottery team.

  14. O’Brien, Gleason, Volchenkov all put on waivers…..Let the Niskanen insanity begin!

  15. There are rumours of a deal that Dallas made for Spezza at the draft. The rumour was a top 6 forward, a prospect and a 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft.

    Now no one knows who the players were. Murray wants young players, not aging ones. He’s looking for players as an RFA.

    If Stastny goes to a team other than Dallas, Colorado & St Louis, could get interesting in the Spezza trade scenario since all are divisional opponents.

  16. I’m dying to see the Pen’s pick up Kulemin to play with Malkin. It will be fun to watch the Pen’s face when they realize Kuli has hands of stone and won’t be able to convert barely any feeds from Malkin. Then Malkin will be frustrated and won’t be producing either. Mark it down by end of next season the Pen’s will be wondering why they thought Kuli would be a good sniper along side Malkin. lol

  17. Where will Brad Richards end up?

    • A few days ago I would have thought a contender. I’m starting to wonder if he won’t end up in Buffalo, Florida, NYI’s, etc.

      • I would “almost” bet on the Islanders. He loves NY.

  18. Lyle,

    I know this point is moot since Miller is not signing with the Blues, but my hypothetical question is, if he resigns with the Blues this off-season how do the Sabres get their 2014 1st round pick since it was already used? Wasn’t the stipulation if Miller resigned the Sabres would get the Blues 2014 first round pick? Now that the draft is over what is the scenario on that.

  19. Bufbry
    The deal regarding the 1st rd pick only applies if miller resigned with the blues BEFORE july 1st, that is, before he became a UFA. After july 1st all bets are off

  20. Briere dealt to the Avs……Strange!!!

    • sorry, PAP went the other way….still strange imo