NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019
The latest on the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, plus updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CANADIENS WON’T TRADE PRICE
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey observes a growing chorus among Canadiens fans who feel the struggling club should cut their losses and trade Carey Price. He feels that option disappeared when the goaltender signed his eight-year, $84-million contract. It would be tough shopping Price when he’s playing well, but no one’s interested in a struggling goalie with six years left on his contract and a $10.5-million annual average value.
Hickey suggests general manager Marc Bergevin could help by bringing in a top-flight defenseman. The Habs carry over $8 million in salary-cap space, but that would mean parting with some of the prospects Bergevin has been reluctant to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s no-movement clause is another deal breaker. Even if he agreed to waive it, the Habs would have to absorb a significant chunk of his cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.
Bolstering the blueline should be Bergevin’s priority. The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping a surplus defenseman. The Anaheim Ducks could also consider moving a rearguard. Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie have surfaced in recent trade speculation.
Those clubs seek a forward, preferably a scorer, in return. They could attempt to squeeze Bergevin into parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi as part of the asking price.
Given the bad blood between Bergevin and Hurricanes management over his attempt to sign away Sebastian Aho, it’s doubtful a deal could be made between those two clubs. Brodie’s recent health scare probably sent his trade value plummeting, while Gustafsson isn’t the shutdown rearguard the Habs need.
UPDATES ON PULJUJARVI AND HONKA
THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman recently spoke with Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland over the possibility of trading winger Jesse Puljujarvi. The 21-year-old restricted free agent is playing in Finland awaiting a trade. If he’s not re-signed by 5 pm ET on Dec.1, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.
Holland indicated he’d spoken with a few teams in recent days, but he’s not optimistic a deal can be done before tomorrow’s deadline. He confirmed he’ll want a young player for Puljujarvi, or maybe a younger player/prospect and a draft pick. “I’m not looking to trade him for somebody who’s old,” said Holland.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka is maintaining a positive outlook as the Dec. 1 signing deadline approaches. Like Puljujarvi, Honka is a restricted free agent playing in Finland while waiting for a trade to another NHL club.
Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s still talking to teams, but he hasn’t liked the offers he’s received that far. Honka, meanwhile, is focused on improving his game in Finland.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players could be re-signed and traded to new clubs before tomorrow’s deadline. However, it doesn’t sound like either guy will be skating in the NHL this season. I expect they’ll be shopped by their respective teams next summer, probably during the 2020 NHL Draft weekend in June.
LEAFS NEED A BACKUP GOALTENDER
TORONTO SUN: After watching Michael Hutchinson drop his sixth straight game, Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must go shopping for a backup goaltender. “What he needs to do now is to find another option, a way to open salary-cap space, a way to alter his payroll, a way to find a backup goaltender who is both capable and ridiculously inexpensive,” said Simmons. “And around the league, nobody is about to do the Leafs any favors.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Toronto-based pundits suggested Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry as a trade target for the Leafs. He’s young (24) and carries an affordable $675K salary. The Penguins, however, aren’t in any hurry to part with Jarry, who’s done a good job spelling off Pittsburgh starter Matt Murray.