NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2020

by | Mar 26, 2020 | Rumors | 17 comments

Check out the latest Flames and Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently examined four of the biggest off-season questions facing the Calgary Flames.

Could Johnny Gaudreau face an uncertain future with the Calgary Flames? (Photo via NHL Images)

Francis believes it may have been clear to management to consider trading Johnny Gaudreau and/or Sean Monahan had they failed to get the Flames into the playoffs this season or beyond the opening round. Assuming the schedule doesn’t resume, Gaudreau and Monahan will get another shot at it next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Flames will move Gaudreau and/or Monahan following this season. If the schedule resumes this summer and the Flames struggle again, it will be a justifiable reason not to peddle one or both of their young stars. Nevertheless, those two will feel the pressure to step it up next season. Another disappointing finish in 2020-21 will raise questions over their respective futures in Calgary.

Five of their nine defensemen – Travis Hamonic, TJ Brodie, Michael Stone, Erik Gustafsson, and Derek Forbort – are unrestricted free agents. Keeping Hamonic or Brodie could be the priority, while Calgary-resident Stone could be re-signed at the league minimum as a short-term insurance policy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are fortunate to have some promising youngsters that can replace those UFA blueliners they don’t re-sign. I can see them keeping Hamonic or Brodie to maintain some experienced stability on the right side of their blueline. I agree with Francis’ take on Stone. Gustafsson and Forbort, meanwhile, were short-term pickups to buoy the Flames’ defense down the stretch and into this postseason

Re-signing Cam Talbot and what form of compensation they’ll get from last summer’s James Neal-for-Milan Lucic are other questions facing the Flames. Talbot resurrected his career in Calgary, but Francis wondered if he might prefer playing where he can get more playing time.

The Flames were supposed to receive a third-round pick in 2020 if Neal scored 21 goals and Lucic ten fewer than Neal. Neal has 19 goals and Lucic eight. If the season isn’t resumed, the Flames could appeal for a ruling from the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames are comfortable with David Rittich was their starter, they can afford to part ways with Talbot unless he’s willing to accept the backup role. They can find some suitable replacements for him via the UFA market.

CAPITALS FREE-AGENTS UPDATE

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir recently examined the decisions faced by Washington Capitals managment regarding their unrestricted free agents.

Despite the second-half improvement in goaltender Braden Holtby‘s performance, his days are likely numbered in Washington. The Caps’ limited cap room makes him too expensive to re-sign. Meanwhile, recently-acquired winger Ilya Kovalchuk‘s performance over the rest of the schedule and the Capitals cap space will determine whether they can afford him.

A strong finish to the season could earn recently-acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon a contract extension if his asking price is reasonable. Blueliner Radko Gudas appeared the odd-man-out in recent games, which doesn’t bode well for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with those assessments. With over $71 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, they’ll only have around $10 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million.

Despite his struggles, Holtby will seek a raise over his current $6 million AAV. With Ilya Samsonov their future starter, they have little choice but to part ways with Holtby following this season. Kovalchuk, meanwhile, is reportedly all-but-assured of returning to the Montreal Canadiens on a one-year, bonus-laden deal next season.







17 Comments

  1. Too bad Holtby is a winner and will impact the Caps overall performance . He is surely to get $7m somewhere . I would like to see him in Calgary.
    I like what I saw from both Gustafsson and Forbort . I guess it depends on their salary demand. Valimaki recovery will determine what they need on the backend. Not sure you can trade Gaudreau unless a massive return. Good value salary wise

    Reply
    • Tough call on what kind of $$ Holtby gets SilverSeven. The position is so volatile. He has been one of the rare tenders who has been consistently good over his career, until, unfortunately for him, this season.
      I think he is worth a reasonable risk, but what that # is? I have no idea. $5M?
      Not a Gaudreau fan, nice enough fella I am sure, but he is the definition of a perimeter player and if he isn’t scoring he hurts you as he doesn’t do anything else. He hasn’t been scoring enough IMO to commit a big chunk of your cap to. I would trade him for a guy with 30% less points, 30% less cap hit and 200% more jam.

      Reply
      • Gaudreau has Montreal Canadiens written all over him. Small, quick, average goal scorer. Not sure what the Habs have to offer though, lots of draft picks but little else.

    • I disagree on Holtby, I think he has been average the last 2-3 seasons. Yes he was good when they won but he wasnt the starter when the playoffs began so that should be a warning sign. 14-17 he had GAA of 2.22, 2.20 and 2.07. Save pct of .923, .922, .925. So really good top 5 maybe top 3 goaltending. Since then 17-20 GAA 2.99, 2.82 and 3.11. Save pct .907, .911, .897. I know these numbers dont tell the whole story but to me he is an average goalie at best at this time 4m tops. So whoever pays him 7 is making a big mistake

      Reply
  2. Several people responded to my post yesterday in which I listed the player from each team I thought most likely to be bought out should the league grant compliance buyouts. I’m going to respond here rather than on yesterday’s string.
    First, let me say that I don’t think all 31 teams would use such a hypothetical option. I think it unlikely that the Bruins, Avalanche, Panthers, Flyers, Penguins, Blues, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Golden Knights and Capitals would do so. But, I still listed the the player I thought most likely if they should.
    Fergy22 and George O: after review, I concur with you both that Fleury is more likely than Marchessault from Vegas.
    Ray Bark: As I said above, I agree with you that Boston does not have a strong candidate for compliance buyout. But, I do still think Krejci would be the leading candidate if they did, in fact, go that way.
    NYR4life: I see your point about Lundqvist. But, It would make more sense to me if the Rangers traded one of the other goalies for some other asset(s) and held onto Lundqvist for the last year of his contract. They can’t reasonably protect both of the younger goalies in the expansion draft. (although, if I recall, you are not a fan of that argument). However, I have reconsidered and would now put Staal, not Smith, as the most likely candidate. A conventional buyout for Smith is not unreasonable. But, as I Penguins fan, I’m sure that I have bias at different levels of my consciousness.

    Reply
    • Cliff’s revised, purely speculative and debatable list of most likely compliance buyout candidates, FWIW.

      ANA: Kesler if eligible, otherwise Backes
      ARI: Goligoski
      BOS: Krejci
      BUF: Okposo
      CAL: Lucic
      CAR: Gardiner
      CHI: Seabrook if eligible
      COL: Johnson
      CBJ: Dubinsky
      DAL: Radulov
      DET: Nielsen
      EDM: Neal
      FLA: Bobrovsky
      LAK: Quick
      MIN: Zuccarello
      MON: Alzner
      NAS: Turris
      NJD: Schneider
      NYI: Ladd
      NYR: Staal
      OTT: Ryan
      PHI: Niskanen
      PIT: Johnson
      SJS: Jones
      STL: Faulk
      TBL: Johnson
      TML: Tavares
      VAN: Eriksson
      VGK: Fleury
      WAS: Oshie
      WIN: Little

      Reply
      • Cliff, I tend to agree that in all likelihood, one-third of the teams in the NHL would not benefit from a compliance buyout and perhaps some of the others may only benefit marginally. So how would this move forward when enough of the teams would likely vote it down?

        I don’t see a compliance buyout moving forward unless they add some form of compensation for teams not able to take fair advantage?

        What could that compensation amendment look like? A thought would be use a compliance buyout or receive X in cap benefit for X amount of years? Teams could pick which makes sense for them and more teams if not all would have fair benefit.

        Thoughts?

  3. Gaudreau’s role is not to play with grit. This season aside with a terrible start has been a + player and point per game player career wise. Two seasons ago 99 points . A lot of teams have this style of player. In a lot of cases for a lot more money than 6.7m

    Reply
    • His overall stats justify what he makes SilverSeven – no argument there. It’s just that he is much less effective when Oct to mid-Dec shinny gives way to a totally different game as teams tighten up their checking as they begin to jockey for position. And with the league trending towards more parity than ever, even with 31 teams, the games from mid-December on are just not conducive to his style of play. As for the playoffs, there he becomes the invisible man.

      Yes, teams need his type of game to help them get TO the playoffs, but unfortunately for Gaudreau, there are far too many “fans” whose knowledge of the game is superficial – rabid rah-rah fans to be sure – but when he doesn’t produce at the same rate as he did in the loosy-goosy Oct to mid-Dec games, they tend to turn on him, and if the team’s game starts to go south, his name pops up as trade fodder.

      Something like Nylander in Toronto and, I’m betting, eventually Jack Hughes in NJ.

      Reply
    • Agree, SilverSeven. Do teams expect physical players to do what Gaudreau does? Do the Black Hawks expect Patrick Kane to hit, block shots and kill penalties?
      If Gaudreau does what he does best, he’ll make the big money. Someone has to score the goals after all.

      Reply
      • Hey BCLeafFan, not suggesting Gaudreau run around trying to smoke guys, but battle for the puck. Go to the net and take a hit.
        Block shots – absolutely.
        Kill penalties, if he was willing to do what it takes, like blocking shots, yep.
        That is exactly the point I was trying to make actually. I don’t understand why it isn’t expected from all players? I bet his coach does because he could if he wanted to.
        You’re right, he’ll make the money. That’s the problem IMO.

  4. Trekie,
    Seems fair to me. Take the average cap relief from all teams opting to use the compliance buyout and apply it to the upper cap limit of all teams that do not opt to use a compliance buyout for the 20-21 season. I think it becomes too complicated if you extend it beyond one season.

    Reply
    • Cliff, this whole compliance buyout is a very sticky road. Salary cap was introduced to solve two big issues – cost certainty and competitive balance. It appears to have done both very well. Having said this, the factors that effect the salary cap align directly to competitive balance. How does one make a major change to the salary cap structure and minimize the impact on competitive balance?

      I honestly don’t think anything with a compliance buyout will happen. There are no rules within the NHL constitution today that address the scenario we are under – a season that didn’t complete with respect to impact on the salary cap. If there was, someone would have brought up the ‘clause’.

      How they handle this situation is uncharted territory. I get they had a compliance buyout after the lockout, they also significantly cut all players salaries and the salary cap was new at that time.

      It’s now 15 years old or so and the cap going down was always a consideration.

      My guess is, there will be no compliance buyout as it would be almost impossible to not effect the competitive balance part of the equation.

      Reply
      • You make some good points. I think getting the NHLPA to sign off on compliance buyouts will be the bigger hurdle. Only time will tell what comes to be. Still, discussing such conjecture is as good a way as any to pass the time until we can talk about actual games again.

  5. I was thinking Tavares too, but thought I would get lambasted for suggesting it. Putting one on the top of the list? It would have to be Seabrook

    Reply
    • Hmm, I had not even thought to try to order them most likely to least likely. But, I’ll give it a go.

      MON: Alzner
      NYI: Ladd
      DET: Nielsen
      VAN: Eriksson
      ANA: Kesler/Backes
      CHI: Seabrook
      NJD: Schneider
      BUF: Okposo
      CAL: Lucic
      OTT: Ryan
      CBJ: Dubinsky
      LAK: Quick
      CAR: Gardiner
      SJS: Jones
      ARI: Goligoski
      EDM: Neal
      WIN: Little
      NYR: Staal
      DAL: Radulov
      NAS: Turris
      MIN: Zuccarello
      VGK: Fleury
      PHI: Niskanen
      PIT: Johnson
      TBL: Johnson
      COL: Johnson
      STL: Faulk
      WAS: Oshie
      BOS: Krejci
      FLA: Bobrovsky
      TML: Tavares

      IF the league does grant compliance buyouts, I think Alzner through Ryan a pretty much locks, Dubinsky through Fleury are different degrees of maybe/maybe not, and Niskanen through Tavares are unlikely. Just my hunch, time will tell how it all shakes out.

      Reply
      • One thing is for certain, Cliff, after analyzing your list of probables to unlikely, and that is, it’s not a good time to have “Johnson” as a surname! 🙂

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