Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 18, 2014

Latest on Dan Boyle, Johnny Boychuk, James Neal Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Johansen, R.J. Umberger and more.

Could Dan Boyle wind up in Detroit?

Could Dan Boyle wind up in Detroit?

BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports with the NHL trending away from fighting, free agent enforcers like Boston’s Shawn Thornton, Buffalo’s John Scott, Montreal’s George Parros, Minnesota’s Mike Rupp, New Jersey’s Cam Janssen, Phoenix’s Paul Bissonnette, Edmonton’s Ben Eager and Calgary’s Kevin Westgarth could have difficulty finding new contracts…Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk has one season remaining on his contract and could be in line for a big payday, perhaps $5 million per season. He could fetch a good return if the Bruins decide to shop him this summer…The Pittsburgh Penguins have some roster holes to fill this summer. The depth drops off beyond their top-two lines and their forwards don’t backcheck aggressively enough to help their defensemen…Shinzawa believes the Leafs would be smarter to try to improve defenseman Dion Phaneuf than to trade him…If the Blackhawks re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane this summer (both have one year remaining on their respective contracts) they could set the value for the top end of the market…Columbus’ star Ryan Johansen is coming off his entry-level deal and could get a lucrative new deal. Shinzawa doubts Johansen receives an offer sheet…Detroit could be a destination for free agent defenseman Dan Boyle, who won’t be returning with the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The role of NHL enforcer is changing. They must be able to take a regular shift and be as effective with their overall game as they are with their fists…The Bruins already have over $46 million invested in 10 players for 2015-16, of which over $4 million will be deducted by placing Marc Savard or LTIR. This isn’t taking into account the new contracts for players like Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, who will be re-signed this summer, as well as other free agent signings made this summer. They can afford to re-sign Boychuk, but if he’s seeking $5 million per, that could still prove too expensive. …Toews and Kane could each end up pulling in between $9 – $10 million per season on their new deals…The possibility exists for Johansen to receive an offer sheet, but I agree it’s unlikely he’ll get one…Boyle could be a more affordable, short-term blueline addition than going the trade route. 

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes there could be considerable changes around the NHL this summer. In addition to several teams having management and coaching issues to resolve, Simmons claims players like “Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Eric Staal, Dion Phaneuf, Evander Kane could be in play”. He also wonders if the Penguins will make Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang available…He claims the Leafs are listening to offers for Dion Phaneuf more than they’re actually shopping him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “In play” doesn’t mean they’ll be moved. Everything I’ve read or heard out of San Jose mentions nothing about Thornton and Marleau being in play. Staal and Kane have popped up in the rumor mill but I doubt they’ll be moved.  Malkin won’t be shopped. The Penguins could try to move Letang, though his big contract and health issues dampen his trade value. Sure sounds like the Leafs prefer to retain Phaneuf and try to bring in players to help him. Still, never hurts to listen to offers. 

TRIBLIVE.COM/POST-GAZETTE.COM: Rob Rossi believes whoever becomes the Penguins’ new GM must look short and hard term and make some tough decisions. They currently have over 58 percent of their payroll tied up in just six players. He suggests trading James Neal appears the easiest solution, as he lacks a no-trade clause, and recommends trading Letang before his new contract starts in July would benefit the Penguins, even if they get less than full value in return. Ron Cook makes the case for the Penguins to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury, who has one season left on his contract. Cook believes the Penguins won’t get a better goalie than Fleury in any trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe trading Neal this summer is their easiest option. If they can move Letang they should certainly try, but his new contract and health issues makes that option a tough one. They’ll also have to pick up part of his salary to make a deal happen. I certainly don’t think they should trade Fleury this summer, as there’s little available via trade or free agency to replace him. Still, they could consider pitching an offer to Toronto for James Reimer, who might be the best goalie available via trade this summer. Best to retain Fleury for another season, as at the very least it could buy time to seek a possible long-term replacement.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports sources claiming there’s a mutual agreement between Blue Jackets management and veteran forward R.J. Umberger which would place him on the trade block this summer. Umberger is signed through 2016-17 at a cap hit of $4.6 million, plus his full no-trade clause becomes a limited NTC on June 15th, in which he lists 10 teams which he won’t accept as trade destinations. Portzline suggests teams facing sweeping changes this summer (San Jose, Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Washington) could become trade targets, as could Ottawa if they trade Jason Spezza.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Umberger was apparently unhappy over being made a healthy scratch for four games late in the season. With the Jackets, Umberger’s had four straight seasons exceeding 20 goals and 4o points, but his production significantly dropped off the past two seasons. He could be a risky acquisition. 


  1. This is for the Ottawa & Vancouver watchers:
    Don’t understand the constant move Kessler & Spezza comments. I could understand them being shopped at trade deadline as both Vancouver & Ottawa we on the outside looking in but Ottawa played damn well after the trade deadline and if given another 3 weeks might have made the playoffs. If you trade Spezza aren’t you really saying, time for rebuild again ? With a moderate UFA or two coming in this team could and should be in the playoffs. As for Vancouver trading Kessler means NO SECOND LINE, it means no big strong center going up against the Getzlaf’s, Thornton’s etc in the west. With only one line the sedin’s
    will be beat on like a rented mule and ya think last season was bad for them, wait until this season is over without a second line. If your going to rebuild from ground up, trade the sedin’s.

    • Hey allfor, sorry about your ducks bowing out I was pulling for them. Good points about Kessler but there was a lot of chatter about him wanting out of Vancouver around the Olympics. If he wants out I suspect they try to accommodate him. Kessler is also their best trade chip if they want an infusion of young talent to excelerate any rebuild or retooling. The Canucks are a team that hasn’t drafted or developed players very well so really don’t have a lot in the cupboard moving forward. Moving Kessler could actually get them a couple of very good pieces to move forward with.

      I would agree with trading the Sedins in principal but suspect it would be hard to manage with their age, contracts, and production last season. I suspect being out of the Tortorella regime will help them more than anyone as they won’t be playing as many minutes and will likely be more effective.

    • Tough time of year for many teams. Perhaps Shanahan is correct in his patience approach.
      Can’t understand Spector’s assertion that Reimer is the best goalie available in the off season. Seriously can someone tell me why he is considered NHL calibre? Great guy but simply not a #1 nor #2.
      Can’t understand why Spector & others insist that a trade of Phaneuf/Letang etc requires money be picked up by the trading team. These guys would get that money on the open market so why would the Leafs/Pens be required to pay some of the salary??? It might require getting less than market value on the returning assets but the cap space is an asset. Make no mistake teams would line up for Letang and even Phaneuf.
      Spezza/Kesler trades would bring back necessary youth. If you can fill two roster spots for one player that is often injured and making too much money then you do it. It doesn’t mean a rebuild by doing so. (re: Seguin for Erickson/Smith).
      Firing Shero meant NO SENSE. A coaching change could have changed the team approach and philosophy. That guy made some tremendous moves while in office.
      Keeping Fleury/Letang/Dupuis was in effort to keep this team together while they were all still capable of making a Cup run. Can’t fault him for that. All they will do is promote his assistant anyway.

      • @ Lou

        Isn’t trading your player for less than market value the exact same as getting full value but retaining salary?

        I contend that either way has good value, but to trade Dion for his full value and get a player that is of equal ability is better. It’s much harder to throw $2 million dollars at a so-so player and expect better results.

        * I read that Pitt kept the coach due to a lack of better coaching options available. It’s the devil you know scenario.

        • Well said. There is no reason to pick up any salary on a trade unless it plays into better assets coming back. Both Spezza, Phaneuf, Letang are perfectly tradeable as they are.

        • There are great coaches available. Trotz would make the Pens turn heads in the playoffs.

      • “Can’t understand why Spector & others insist that a trade of Phaneuf/Letang etc requires money be picked up by the trading team. These guys would get that money on the open market so why would the Leafs/Pens be required to pay some of the salary???”

        Well for one thing, if you trade for one of those high salaried players and they flop, you not only waste cap space but you also gave up assets for them. When you just sign a player as a UFA to a big contract and he flops it’s just cap space…so trading for a guy has a risk of a double shot to the nuts if it goes wrong. Imagine if the Leafs had traded assets for Clarkson on top of what they are paying him…I think fans would be even more pissed off by his production.

    • Playing well after the deadline is like playing well in September in MLB. It usually happens once the pressure is off and realistically means very little going forward

      As for Spezza, he may have been a 0.88 pts/gm scorer this season but he had his worst +/- ever as a Senator (-26). He was a plus player his first 5 full seasons, but 5 of the last 7 he has been a minus (-14, -1, -7, -6 and now -26). He has never been a brilliant two-way player but as his radical +/- plummet shows, he is now a liability. At -26 with 44 even strength points means he was on the rice for 70 opposition even strength goals.

      The Sens would be smart to at least see what they can for him. He is a diminishing asset and a UFA next off-season. But since he gives the Sens a $7 million cap hit for only $4 million i real cash I don’t see Melnyk letting him go.

    • Its not about moving spezza and submitting to a rebuild. Its about spezza may have told management hes not going to resign after his contract expires next year and therefore they want to trade him now and get a solid return back. I totally get that. I’d do the same. Melnyk also didnt help anything by speaking to the media about spezza. I wish spezza would stay but if he wants to leave what can you do? Rather get assets than lose him for nothing. Or get less at the trade deadline

    • Trading Spezza will be a mistake on the part of the Sens. They will never get back what he is worth.

      I’m not sure what the reasoning is for this.. but it could be he is looking for long term and big money at the end of this deal. With his back history the Sens may not want to do that..

      If they pay Spezza big money.. what does that leave for Ryan & MacArthur? We have an Owner who can’t (or won’t) spend. The budget this season is the same as last.. 56M — even though he is gaining close to 40M in new TV deals with Sportsnet and TSN.

      Sens fans are getting quite upset over with this cheap Owner.

  2. Another good reason Johanssen won’t receive an offer sheet…which team wants to give up it’s Nr. 1 pick in the 2015 McDavid lottery draft…plus probably the 2016…2017 drafts as well?

  3. Pittsburgh needs to move Crysby while he is healthy and VERY valuable. Shoot, could try to get Ovie in a deal for Crosby! I kid.

    What about a Kessler/Spezza trade?

    • Why would each swap its franchise player with one of its biggest rivals?

      • They are not really rivals. Different confrensces.

    • I honestly don’t understand why people aren’t suggestingCrosby be traded!

      • * more people.

        • I am suggesting that.

  4. Is Savard ever going to return? Will it hurt the Bruins if he retires?

    • Will never return.
      But won’t retire as he won’t get his paycheck and if he retires Boston will be charged the cap hit as he is a 35+ player. So he is just gonna ride the contract out. Both sides win. Another kink in the salary system.

  5. i highly doubt letang would get equal trade value. 1st because he is injury prone, how often in his career have u seen him play a full season or even close to a full season? 2nd his heart is a ticking time bomb, heart problems like that dont just go away, they get worse. Also can you imagine wnat it would do to the team if he were to have a stroke again, and what happens if he is not as lucky this time? It would destroy the team, they would be devastated. There’s a lot of reasons to be worried about trading for letang, thats not even mentioniing what assets would have to go the other way. Spezza should garner a good return, maybe not as good as it would have been a few years ago but nothing to scoff at. Phaneuf would require either a team desperate for defense, or a good enough defense where he is not the no1 defenseman. Having him as a second pairing would really allow him to shine as he wouldn;t have to play the top line each night and allow his offensive instincts to go all out. That said, 7 million is a lot for a second pairing defenseman. So I can understand why there may be a need for the leafs to retain some salary. That said, the amount they retain will dictate how good of a return they get for him.

  6. Umberger was an original Vancouver draft pick who demanded more money than Burke was willing to pay a rookie so he was moved for a playoff rental, he would top out as a 3rd line center and the Canucks already have Richards, Matthias, Schroeder, and Dalpe with Lain, Gaunce, Horvat and Shinkaruk as prospects who could make the team so it’s extremely unlikely Vancouver acquires him (not to mention that him and Kesler hate each other). if Vancouver keeps Kesler ( he claims he wants to be a Canuck his entire career) then their priority should be getting a setup man for him who can play off the wing (whether that’s Santorelli, Kassian or someone else) as Kesler is a shooter not a passer, with Jensen likely making the team there will be a logjam of players with Hansen, Booth, Schroeder, and Edler as likely tradebait.

  7. Pen’s send Letang, Fleury, and Dupuis to Edmonton for 2 first rounders and prospect.

  8. Pen’s send Malkin and Kunitz to Vancouver for 1st round, Janssen and Ryan Kessler