NHL Rumor Mill – July 28, 2017

by | Jul 28, 2017 | Rumors | 50 comments

What will Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin do to improve his club this summer?

The latest Montreal Canadiens speculation plus some proposed suitors for college prospect Will Butcher in your NHL rumor mill. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports long-time Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov’s decision to play in Russia next season leaves a gaping hole on their blueline. Habs general manager Marc Bergevin now has $8.5 million in salary-cap space, which he wouldn’t have had if he re-signed Markov. Cowan speculates Bergevin could put that money toward addressing his offense, specifically by adding a number-one center via trade. 

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels also wonders how Bergevin will use that cap space. “He’s got holes to fill at centre, and Markov’s departure leaves the team in need of a defenceman (or two) that can transition the puck from defence to offence efficiently and contribute on the scoresheet,” write Engels. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman’s Thursday appearance on the NHL Network noting the Habs GM asked Markov to wait until September or October. He thinks Bergevin could be sitting on something big or planning something big with that cap room. “And I’m not necessarily saying that he’s going to do something big, but I think he’s dreaming big.” He feels Bergevin didn’t want to sign Markov until he knew whether he could pull off a significant move. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is working on something, it probably doesn’t involve an unrestricted free agent. That pool of talent has been largely drained now. If he wants to make an impact move it’ll have to come via trade.

There was speculation he was interested in Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. Given the Avs’ supposed asking price (young, established top-four defenseman, a first-round draft pick, a top prospect and perhaps more), I don’t believe the Habs GM has sufficient depth to swing that deal.

There was talk last month claiming Bergevin was listening to offers for Alex Galchenyuk before re-signing the 23-year-old to a three-year deal. That would make it easier to trade Galchenyuk for a top-four blueliner but it would hurt their already thin offense.

Bergevin has made significant moves before and could very well be “dreaming big.” However, I doubt those dreams will come to reality before the start of 2017-18. 

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary lists the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible suitors for Colorado Avalanche defense prospect Will Butcher. The 22-year-old University of Denver blueliner is this year’s winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the United States’ top college player. He will become an unrestricted free agent on August 15.  O’Leary notes Butcher could be an affordable depth addition for the Blackhawks and Penguins, while he could be a good fit on the rebuilding Leafs. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Butcher’s agent, Bruce Bartlett, said he and his client would certainly listen if the Penguins came calling. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Markov news yesterday, perhaps the Montreal Canadiens could get into the bidding for Butcher’s services? The Blackhawks and Penguins could certainly prove tempting for Butcher. The Leafs need an established top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot, so they might not have much interest in an untested college rearguard who shoots left. 




  1. Other than the re-signing of price, this has been a very scary off-season for the Habs and their fans. I have them missing the playoffs after losing some quality players.
    I have both Tampa Bay and the Flyers in the top eight in the east for the upcoming season.

    • is that you striker?

    • Predictions, awesome. I have TB as well. Not sure about Philadelphia yet. Both conferences are getting far tighter & making the playoffs is serious challenge for many.

      Has Philadelphia gotten better? There D is going to be quite young & that concerns me. It has worked for others just not for most. Can Neuvirth & Elliott provide sufficient goaltending or will Stolarz steal the job. Can Filppula & Lehtera replace the loss of Schenn. Schenn was kind of Philadelphia’s #1 LW even though he played C when Couturier was down.

      • Goaltending has been upgraded from Mason. Also I think the young defenceman coming in are an upgrade of streit and Del zatto.
        I think Patrick is going to surprise a lot of people. He was a late birthday so he basically is a year older than the rest of his draft. He played through injuries last year that have been rectified. I think he can take on third line initially and pp duties. I think the young forwards well be more potent than last year.

    • I am not sure the Habs are any worse off now than they were at the start of the offseason. Radulov and Markov are the two quality outgoing players. Alzner/Schelmko and Drouin should make up for their departure. Streit and Morrow offer decent depth for less than the cost of Emelin, who’s departure was a godsend. Hemsky is a zero risk signing that could potentially chip in 30 points, if he can stay healthy. They need Gallagher and Galchenyuk to take a step forward this year though. That aside, I don’t think the team is worse off now than at the start of the offseason.

      • How does Alzner/Schelmko make up the departure of Markov and nathan beaulieu? The literally lost all 3 of their LD and have no one to on the back end to get the puck to the forwards. Yes they signed Streit but come on. They added Drouin by trading away their top prospect but then lost Radulov so really they made no ground. Hemsky is a bum. Centre Position is a joke. MB is ruining this team in my opinion. But to go back to your point, I do believe the dismantling of their defense DOES make them worse rather than same

      • True line EVERY other team there are question marks.certainly bounce back seasons from Shaw and Gallagher pump life into the offensive side. And maybe a guy like Morris benefits from a new chance.

    • I think he lost a top 4 D man with his waiting for the one that got away. IMO, should’ve locked him up. Bergevin blew this one

  2. Forget the Flyers….they have too many needs, still have no goalie of real strength, lots of third and fourth line types, Giroux now past his shelf life, and so on…..they will be inconsistent. The east has too much depth…I think Carolina has a better chance than Philly.

    • I see Tampa and maybe Carolina and Philly only if Nolan has a Matthews type rookie campaign. Likely to fall out in the East are Boston and NYR.

      • I see Montreal falling out first. Not enough scoring , not enough defense and just one injury will be the Price of a playoff spot.

      • Will Nolan even make Philadelphia’s roster or only get a 9 game cup of coffee? If he does who moves to the wing to accommodate him, Filppula?

        Just so NYR4life doesn’t slag me, here are my guesses, by no means a given, just assumptions. Move the wingers around as you wish.

        Raffl, Giroux, Voracek.
        Konecny, Couturier, Simmonds.
        Weal, Filppula, Read.
        Lehtera, Laughton, Weiss.

        Lindblom & Vecchionne both factor in there some how at some point this season but can move back & forth from the AHL.

        Filppula or I guess Lehtera could move to LW to accommodate Patrick, Filppula doing so would open up the #3 C spot but the only players from that l;ist above that don’t have to clear waivers are Konecny, Lindblom & Vechionne. Read or Weiss could be waved to try & make room potentially but the business side of hockey is coming into play somehow.

        I have Carolina ahead of Philadelphia at present as well. Again an educated guess not fact. Apparently it’s necessary for some for me to make this distinction always.

      • Sorry it should show Laughton or lehtera as either LW’s or C’s, 1 of the 3 with Fippula will have to play a wing position not room for all at C when everyone is healthy.

      • I assumed with Philly moving out Schenn it was to give Nolan Patrick more ice time. I realize Schenn played 1LW but he also play 2C a fair bit?

    • hmmm, wonder if Giroux is on the radar for Montreal….Not saying they have the pieces but I’m not certain what direction philly is going in at the moment.

      • I don’t think it would take many “pieces” to get Giroux from Philly. I think they would be happy just to dump his $8.275 mill for the next 5 years.

    • I’ll trade you Giroux for Krecji.

  3. Mr Butcher come and play on the PP with Weber. Lots of opportunity to move up Habs depth chart on left side.

    Okay now to dream big on what Bergy may be saving cap space.
    1) trades for Tavares now in a sign and trade as he can’t wait one more year to chase him as a UFA
    2) Duchene
    3) Little and Trouba
    4) Kopitar
    5) Nuge
    6) Sedins

    Not saying any of the above is happening just throwing some crazy ideas against the wall.

    • We all have silly dreams about how our favorite teams can improve – but that’s all they are – dreams.

      As for Butcher, while I understand the appeal of signing a free-agent Hobey Baker Award winner, since all it costs a team is money and term, to expect him to immediately help a team is unrealistic at best (as is all the hype surrounding him), especially as his position is D which, in most cases, takes even the best drafted players to come out of Major Junior or Europe a few years. Hell, his best shot at landing an immediate NHL job is with Colorado, the team that drafted him 123rd overall in the 5th round!

      Since 2000, almost half (8) of the award winners went undrafted and either never played a game in the NHL or had the proverbial cups of coffee:

      Peter Sejna – LW – 2003; Junior Lessard – RW – 2004; Marty Sertich – C – 2005; Ryan Duncan – LW – 2007; Matt Gilroy – D – 2009; Andy Miele – LW – 2011; Jack Connolly – C – 2012; Drew Lebland – C – 2013.

      Of those who were drafted, clearly the best by far are Jack Eichel (2015 and taken 2nd overall by Buffalo), Johnny Gaudreau (2014 and taken 104th in Round 4), and Ryan Miller (2001 – 138th in Round 5). I think the jury is probably still out on Jimmy Vesey (2016 and taken 66th overall in round 3 in the 2012 draft by Nashville), although he did have an OK season in NY.

      The best of the remaining 5 since 2000 are probably two D – Jordan Leopold (2002 taken 44th in Round 2 by Anaheim) and Matt Carle (2006 – 47th in Round 2 by SJ), but neither will ever be confused with the stars of the game. The other 3 are eminently forgettable – Mike Motteau – a D taken 182nd in round 6 by NYR); Kevin Porter (2008 – a C taken 119th in round 4 by Phoenix); and Blake Geoffrion (2010 – LW taken 56th in Round 2 by Nashville).

      Since no one is putting Butcher in the same sentence as Eichel, Gaudreau or even Vesey, probably the best any team can hope for is that he develops into another Leopold or Carle.

      • Bang on George, I would only add the ones who’ve had bigger impacts (Eichel, Gudreau) didn’t need 4 yrs to win the HB either.

    • If the habs r working on something big, as they say. The big question isn’t who’s going to Montreal but who’s leaving. Make sense if MB didn’t want to give Markov a 1yr deal at $6 because he want it for someone else and it’s clearly not an ufa.

      • Exactly. It’s fine to toss out names above like Giroux, Duchene, Trouba, Little, Kopitar and Nugent-Hoplins (I assume that’s what he meant by “Nuge” – I’m not a personal acquaintance so I use his fill name) – but getting names like that is going to cost you a LOT more than Galchenyuk, for example, so who goes out to bring in any of them? They don’t have a whole lot of Grade A prospects to toss in, and even draft picks aren’t going to land them any of those names.

      • It is difficult to speculate on what that trade could be and in particular sense Montreal don’t have any obvious depth of trade chips / prospects to get something down.

        Let’s throw out Kopitar as an example. He has 7 more years at $10M. He has a bit of an off year last season for his standards and salary. 29 years old. I don’t see new GM with new coach in LA making a big move like moving out Kopitar this year. But for agreements sake what is his trade value?

        2 top 6 players
        Prospect and picks?

        B prospect

        Kings with Carter at almost half the cost of Kopitar could possibly afford moving out their 1C and get more scoring balance.

        How about Pacorietty and Galchenyuk, and a 2nd for Kopitar and a 1st.

        What would offer teams offer?

        Okay rip it apart.

  4. So let me get this straight… a prospect who is drafted by a team can simply refuse to sign with that team and after a few seasons or so they become a free agent? So we have prospects like Vesey and Butcher who are trying to reap the benefits typically afforded to UFAs who have played in the league and are at least 27 but without having to prove themselves at the pro level at all. I realize they can only earn a certain salary but the bonuses they can earn can make a significant difference.

    I foresee this growing trend will be an issue that will be addressed in the CBA. I’m sure teams are tired of wasting a draft pick on a player who simply sits on his hands and waits it out so they can be the master of their domain without having to do anything to earn that privilege.

    • Free enterprise.

      • So why waste time on an annual draft? Just open it up to an annual free-for-all. Free enterprise my Royal Canadian arse. Tell that to junior draftees who, if they don’t make the NHL squad, can’t even earn an AHL salary despite the fact they may be perfectly able to play at that level, and instead have to go back to the boonies in some cases (ever been to Rimouski?) in junior.

      • We all have the freedom to make choices.
        I’d choose college myself if i had the good fortune to be able to make a choice.
        Never been to Rimouski, but I’ve been to Swift Current and Prince Albert.
        Spent some time in Brooks and Cochrane as well.
        Some places i choose to visit, others because of my chosen profession.
        But it’s all about some choice, somewhere, sometime.

    • And some of them demand one-way contracts so they can’;t be sent to the minors.

      • All ELC’s contain an AHL element. No way around it written into the CBA. No 1 way deal for Butcher. Can that sort of be circumvented? The team signing him could promise not to send him down but salaries are limited for both levels of play on all ELC’s.

        Even Panarin’s signing coming out of the KHL had 70K AHL salary The max AHL salary on an ELC.

      • One way contracts have nothing to do with being sent to the minors, just the salary that’s paid if they are there. Moot point since ELC’s are 2 way.

    • Yeah, it’s a loophole for only players who were drafted out of the NCAA. It really does need to be fixed.

      • Did you choose where you work?

      • I have never worked for a union nor even considered playing professional sports. Lets not compare those choosing to pursue professional sports with normal humans.

        If you choose to pursue professional sports you have to accept the CBA’s for any & all. No 1 is forcing these players to play hockey, they can choose what ever profession they want, they choose this so they are now subject the the rules mutually negotiated by the owners & their union.

        They choose to do so so yes they choose where to work.

    • It really only happens with Collegiate players. Players coming out of Major Jr if they go unsigned for 2 years reenter the draft or can eventually sign as UFA’s but if not signed there is generally a reason.

      The NHL will close this loop hole even though it’s only been used by a few players in the next CBA.

      What’s interesting about Butcher is there has been very little press or mention of him. Nothing like the Vesey or Schultz dog a pony shows that occurred. More like when Mike Reilly signed with Minnesota having been drafted by Columbus the difference being Butcher is a Hobey Baker award recipient although Reilly made the top 10 finalists.

      The Hobey Backer isn’t just awarded to the best player, grades, community service, etc. all factor into the award.

    • The players who do that are wasting prime earning years, and teams should be wary because they are unproven and untested. The big reason, to me, it plays out this way is that a team will want that player to leave hschool early to play in their AHL teams to get a development closer to NHL standards. These players are thinking about life beyond 35, assuming they can even make it that far.

  5. Possible suitors for Will Butcher:


    • Not if his demands include a guaranteed spot on the NHL roster and a one-way contract. Talk about buying as pig in a poke.

      • See above. No 1 way contracts for players signing ELC’s. Max AHL salary 70K.

    • It will simply come down to where he wants to play. His max deal is capped on his ELC, salary & bonuses. I assume he will get the max as someone will agree to pay it but can he actually earn all the max bonuses? He’s not winning the Calder so that’s not being earned.

    • If it’s about money it’s the same but taxes will make a difference.
      So probably no Canadian teams maybe Florida.
      If it’s about winning go to a contender like Pittsburgh or Nashville.
      I wouldn’t mind playing with Edmonton if I were him.

  6. What’s all this foolishness about Crosby on some supplement? I see it advertised yet never truly discussed by anyone in the know, including yourself Lyle. He has given so much to the game, and yes I know he gets paid a lot, but has to put up with this crap?

    • I guess we can call him Sidney “Popeye” Crosby! What a shame, somebody accomplishes so much and others just want to bring him down.

  7. There is one thing you can say about Bergevin. He is not afraid to make big trades. I would not be surprised if a trade for Dechene is in the works involving Galchenyuk. I know Galchenyuk is not the defender Colorado is looking for but maybe a three team deal is in the works?

  8. Reading between the lines of Markov’s last phone conference with Mtl media, He needed to be paid for missing the Olympics. With the NHL not going, Russia has a better chance at the gold. The NHL is talking of going to the China Olympics in another 4 yrs when Markov (if he is still playing) could next go. He would be 42….trying to keep up with players close to half his age….Seriously??? He know that there is absolutely no chance he goes. If he is going to miss his last chance he had to get paid….overpaid. No kidding he was ok with only one year but the price needed to make it worth the opportunity cost. MB, rightly, said no because his ask, even for one year, was too high. The question now is the term on the KHL deal. If it is one year or has an out after one year, Markov might be back with the Habs next for one year at a responsible contract…..

    • I assume your theory is partial based on Markov’s comment that atleast this year he won’t reach 1000 games with Montreal.

      • Yes,in part….I think it was clear throughout the interview he did not really want to walk away from Mtl this way. He did want to do it in a classier fashion, but he is realistic.

  9. Johansen 8m x 8y , Nashville is set with 5.4 cap to spare unless they resign Fisher.

  10. MB should call up PITTS and trade a mid to low level prospect for Hags with JR picking up 30% of salary. Good for both teams. Pitts get cap relief to make signing Sheary easier and MB gets a top 9 winger to balance out the roster better.

    • Sorry but no. Habs have too many wingers as is. The need is at center and now D. Mtl could be a spot for Butcher because if he can not get a guaranteed NHL roster spot, he still gets to live in (or stupid close if you are being technical) playing with the Mtl farmteam, the Laval Rocket.

  11. I am not a Canadians fan. But I do enjoy watching them at home and have made trips there for when they play an original 6 as the place is electric. The past few days I keep hearing they must have something big they are trying to do because of 8.5 mil cap space. But don’t think that is true. When Price extension kicks in for 18-19 that extra cap space has to be accounted for now. which means they have about 3-4 mil to use for a multi year contract max (trade, signing, etc) as they will have contracts expiring next year that will have to be made up for as well. The extra cap space for Price is why Montreal could not do 6 mil for Markov in 18/19 and were trying hard on a 1 year deal.