Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 21, 2019

by | Apr 21, 2019 | Rumors | 32 comments

With the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets eliminated from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, what could be in store for both clubs? Read on for the latest speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

ESPN.COM: Addressing the goaltending and finding a taker for winger James Neal’s contract could be among this summer’s priorities for the Calgary Flames following their first-round exit from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

While starting goalie (and pending free agent) Mike Smith had a solid playoff performance he was inconsistent during the regular season. David Rittich was the better goalie during the regular season but was benched during the postseason. Jon Gillies, once considered a future starter, had a horrible season with their AHL farm team. Perhaps they’ll go shopping for a goalie this summer. 

Should the Calgary Flames attempt to trade James Neal this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Neal joined the Flames as an unrestricted free agent last summer and had the worst season of his career. He lacks no-trade protection but also has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.75 million. The Flames need to find another team with a contract they’re willing to swap. 

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek also believes the Flames must figure out what to do with their goalie tandem, suggesting it’s possible Smith and Rittich could return next season, provided Smith is willing to accept an affordable short-term deal. He also agrees general manager Brad Treliving must try to find a way to shed Neal’s contract. 

Duhatschek believes Treliving should address his club’s surplus of defensemen, pointing to the rise this season of young blueliners Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and Juuso Valimaki. With T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic a year away from UFA status, Duhatschek proposes listening to offers for Brodie. 

Pointing out the Flames nearly acquired Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker at this year’s trade deadline, Duhatschek wonders if Treliving will revisit those discussions this summer. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Brian Costello also feels the Flames should find a way to shed James Neal’s contract. He suggests a “bad-contract-for-bad-contract” swap with the Buffalo Sabres for winger Kyle Okposo, who has four years at $6 million per season left on his deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Flames have over $69.3 million invested in 20 players for 2019-20. Smith is their noteworthy UFA while Tkachuk, Rittich, and Sam Bennett are the notable RFAs. If the salary cap reaches the projected $83 million, they’ll have around $14 million to re-sign everyone.

Tkachuk could eat up over half of that cap room with a $7-$8 million AAV. Smith might accept a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a $3-million base salary, Rittich could come in at no more than $2 million on a short-term deal. That won’t leave much for Bennett, who’s got arbitration rights and established himself as a versatile two-way forward. If they decide to move on from Smith and find another starter, they’ll definitely need to free up more cap room for his replacement. 

Shedding Neal’s contract is the obvious move but easier said than done. Buying him out would come with an affordable annual $1.916-million cap hit but would be on their books for eight years. Swapping him for another bad contract might land a slightly better player but won’t resolve their obvious cap issues. Perhaps they can bundle him with a good young player or a top prospect/first-round draft pick to a rebuilding club with lots of cap room, but I don’t see many takers for that contract.

Peddling Brodie would be an easier option. He’s a year away from UFA status, had an eight-team no-trade list, carries an affordable $4.65-million cap hit and would be enticing for clubs looking for a skilled top-four rearguard. Maybe Treliving can dangle him to the Wild for Zucker? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on that, Flames and Wild fans. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE JETS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets will come to a head this summer. He’s once again a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, only now he’s also a year away from UFA eligibility. Given the contentious history of contract negotiations between Trouba and Jets management, a trade appears likely. She also expects blueliner Tyler Myers will depart via the UFA market on July 1. 

After trading away two first-round picks as part of the deals for playoff rental centers Paul Stastny and Kevin Hayes at the last two trade deadlines, Kaplan believes the Jets must find a long-term solution to their second-line center needs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll see more speculation over the Jets future from the Winnipeg media in the coming days. Most will likely repeat Kaplan’s points.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff probably wants to re-sign Trouba to a long-term contract but their negotiation history means the blueliner will likely hit the trade block in the days leading up to the NHL Draft weekend (June 21-22) in Vancouver. Trouba could be the perfect trade chip to address the Jets’ ongoing need for a reliable second-line center.

No offense to Bryan Little but he’s best suited for the third line role now. Stastny was a perfect fit but they couldn’t afford to retain him last summer and Hayes was a disappointment. Cap space, however, will be an issue.

The Jets have over $55.6 million committed to 12 players for next season. Young star forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor are due for hefty raises and I doubt they’ll be signed to affordable short-term bridge deals.

It could cost between $14-$15 million combined to re-sign the pair. That’ll push the Jets’ cap payroll to nearly $70 million, leaving around $13 million should the cap hit $83 million. That won’t leave much to address their second-line center needs and re-sign or replace pending UFAs like Myers and Hayes and depth players like Branden Tanev, Ben Chiarot, and Andrew Copp.

Perhaps winger Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million annually) could be shipped out to free up some additional cap space. A shoulder injury limited him to 62 games (and 37 points) this season and he’s been a disappointment in the postseason thus far. Nevertheless, his speed and offensive skills could be attractive to clubs lacking players of his abilities. An Edmonton pundit recently suggested Ehlers would be a good fit with the Oilers. Perhaps that’s something worth exploring. 







32 Comments

  1. In Winnipeg, I think the first move might be behind the bench. Given Winnipeg’s play down the stretch and in the playoffs, Paul Maurice might be shown the door. The Jets might need a different voice in the room. Something needs to change – the window is closing.

    • @BCLeafFan
      Jets do seem to need a Torts/Sutter style at this point.

      Re: Hayes vs Little. Hayes was never given 2nd line minutes-he just became an affordable option for some teams this summer.

      Could Mike Smith give Detroit a shot in net for a 3 year deal?

      • Detroit doesn’t need Mike Smith, he is a step down from what we already have in Howard. Wings need Defense, maybe they can offer up their 6th pick DeKeyser and a 3rd for Trouba, as long as they can get a deal worked out long term.

    • I disagree. Maurice is one of the smartest hockey coaches. I don’t think Hayes was the right addition. Not like there’s a very good coach available right now either. If Q was still out there then yeah but AV and McLellan wouldn’t be an upgrade.

      • Hey, Mike, I didn’t say Paul Maurice is a bad coach. He isn’t. I just don’t see Winnipeg making wholesale changes to their roster. That usually puts the coach in the crosshairs.
        At the time, I thought Hayes was a great pickup. Still think he’s a good player in the right spot.

  2. Neal for Lucic. LOL

    • 😀

  3. I always chuckle a bit where the talking heads say a team (fill in the blank) needs to shed a bad contract like its so easily done!
    The flames should have their heads examined for ever giving a guy like Neal that much term and $ at his age!….when will some of these teams/gm’s learn?

    • I say that every year prior to UFA season Avsattack, and every year I am proven wrong.

      • i hear ya ray. for sure it goes on and on

  4. As this year proved to be the most interesting with the trade deadline I suspect that will continue in the offseason as well. UFA pool is fairly deep and teams are looking to buy. Of they miss out on free agents, they will definitely trade.

    We may have a very active offseason.

    Neal will be a tough sell but even Buffalo wouldn’t pull that deal with Okposo. Maybe they would hope Neal will find his scoring touch but if he does not then he is very useless. If Okposo is not scoring he is at least forechecking and playing good overall hockey.

    Jets should have acquired Zuccarello over Hayes. They needed a gritty skilled experienced player. Not a passive, laid back center in Hayes who either shows up and plays dominantly or doesn’t do anything at all.

    Jets are not far off from a Finals appearance. They need to restructure the D and keep Trouba. Ehlers could attract a very solid dman and I’m looking at Arizona as a team that is ready to trade one.

    It has been a weird post season with many surprises. Just one of those years, kinda like when the Oilers and Canes met in the Finals. No one expected it. Teams that felt that they were close shouldn’t panic and make too many drastic changes.

    Make adjustments, but stay the course.

    • Agree Mike, first order of business is Trouba. They need to find out whether he is willing to sign long term on a fair contract or not.
      If they lose him and Myers, that is a gaping hole at RD.
      Trouba is preferred over Myers, but if he wants to move on, then they need to recoup assets and focus on Myers.

      • Has Myers really been that good though? I’m intrigued by him but I fear that his size and abilities will not pan out on a long term contract. He may slow down after two years and then the team is stuck with a stay at home sluggish large dman with a contract that can’t be moved.

      • Good not great. 3/4 shut down type guy. If he is affordable on a 5 year deal?
        If you trade for one you are giving something good up, if you sign a UFA you pay a premium. Maybe he likes it in WPG and is comfortable there and won’t get crazy on his contract demands?
        I dunno, ain’t easy to find quality top 4 RD.

      • Signing Trouba should be priority. As mentioned, who knows if he wants to commit long term. That’ll also be a problem getting value for him in a trade as you’d need a team that he’s willing to sign long term with. If Jets can retain him, they’d be smart in trying to move Buff. Has a 14 team ntc

  5. I was reading the sun newspaper this morning and all I got was Toronto how they will win the Stanley cup because they r the best team. don’t u have to play the games before u are declared the winner

    • First off the sun doesn’t say anything like that, secondly I didn’t see you posting these comments when everybody was talking about Tampa Bay being a lock all season up until a week ago.

    • Which Sun? If it was the Toronto Sun well, that’s hardly surprising. They are, after all, the home team. If it was any other Sun (such as Ottawa, Calgary, etc) chances are it was something written by a so-called “national columnist” for the Sun chain, such as Simmons.

    • Yes! Ask Tampa Bay!

  6. Well Robo most of the time you do but they do have the NHL on their side and if every call goes their way who’s going to beat them.

    • I thought it was goalie interference as well Obe. Having said that the Leafs have been the better team in this series.
      Hopefully that changes today.

    • Sounds like 2011 in Vancouver when Boston had the refs on their side.

      • Not saying the refs are on their side BCLeafFan, nor do I think they were on the Bruins side in 2011.
        The refs missed the goalie interference on the ice. I thought the it would get overturned on review. They saw it differently and I disagree, but I don’t think their is a conspiracy.
        In 2011 the Canucks dove on a regular basis so they took the whistle out of the refs hands as they were calling penalties in the first 2 games of that series that were not penalties, but dives. So the refs called very little. Did the Bruins take advantage of that over the next 5 games? Seemed like it to me, but the root cause of the problem was the Canucks, not case of the refs favoring anybody.

    • the nhl definitely is helping the leafs obe. They are allowing the coach to record practices and then destroying the evidence… they are even allowing the leafs to play with deflated pucks!

      But at least you can take comfort in knowing that all fans outside that city know their pending championship is tainted and will
      Never see it as legit.

      • deflate the pucks!?

      • The Tom Brady factor!

      • Ray, in 2011, BC was Paranoia headquarters during the Finals; and, when I saw the suggestion today that all Canadians would support Toronto because the Leafs were the only Canadian team left, I just laughed. Pigs will fly……………..

      • I would have cheered for the Jets or the Flames if the B’s got punted BCLeafFan, but when you cheer against the Leafs all season and the first round because they are division rivals it is tough to flip the switch and cheer for them.
        I was rooting for WPG though and would love to see a small market team like that win it in Canada.
        If the B’s lose? Cinderella story like the Avs or Clb I guess. When CLB went for it instead of recouping assets for their UFA’s, it made me happy. If B’s lose go Jackets.

      • Ray I’m with you on the jackets. Always my 2nd fav … made sense to move them to metro but made my cheering for them harder. Worked a preseason as a beer here guy for them in college. Great hockey town that just needs some on ice winning.

  7. Winnipeg Jets only 1 shot in the second period and 6 after 2 periods don’t win many games with that. I thought Hayes was one of their better players the last couple of games. Wheeler and Scheifele didn’t have a good game yesterday and Ehlers was better off in the press box, playing hurt and not productive finish the series 0pts and -2 that makes for 0 goals in 21 playoff games. Not that Ehlers was their worst player but he did have the worst +/- and no points and yet no one in Winnipeg is talking about him.
    I believe Trouba has played his last game in Winnipeg, along with Tanev, Chiarot and Myers.
    I don’t believe Laine gets a long term contract, it will be a bridge deal around $5m for 2yrs. Time for Laine to bet on himself. Unless he wants to take a 7yr deal at $5m per and at this point that might be a gamble for the Jets.
    Winnipeg wasn’t the big bruising team of last year but still physical and its the style Maurice likes to play, so if he stays I think the jets will add more size with speed.
    Next season is the 1st of the 5 year contract for $8.25 m per that Wheeler sign who will be 33yrs old August 31st, this is a great deal for Wheeler but not so much for Winnipeg, these are the kind of deals that hamper a team moving forward. This isn’t to say Wheeler doesn’t have value he does at about $5.5m per not at $8.25
    Interesting offseason for the jets who should be more concerned about getting Kyle Connor under contract then Laine at this point.

    • I strongly believe you are kidding yourself regarding laine contract.

  8. Laine will sign 8 years 9 million per and Winnipeg will be happy to pay that. Laine is still young he will get better with time the kid has game and maybe best shot in game.