Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 19, 2018
Updates on the Predators, Leafs and Devils in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WILL THE PREDATORS MAKE ANOTHER MAJOR MOVE?
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently wondered if Nashville Predators general manager David Poile might make a big move this season to improve his club’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup this season. The Predators enter the coming season with over $7.6 million in salary-cap space with no outstanding restricted free agents to re-sign.
O’Brien noted Poile is no stranger to blockbuster deals and he wouldn’t have to move much salary this season to acquire someone such as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Dallas’ Tyler Seguin. They also carry some tempting prospects like Dante Fabbro and Eeli Tolvanen, though Poile could be reluctant to part with them.
O’Brien observed they could have room to perhaps re-sign a major player acquired via trade this season, pointing out Pekka Rinne’s $7-million cap hit comes off the books next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Among this season’s Stanley Cup contenders, the Predators could be best-situated to manage a balanced roster in terms of salary-cap space. They also have the depth to swing a major move at some point if Poile believes it’s necessary.
O’Brien wasn’t saying Poile was definitely going to target someone like Karlsson, Pacioretty, Panarin or Seguin but he certainly has the assets and dollars this season to land one of them if he chooses. O’Brien also reminded us the Predators were also interested in John Tavares prior to his signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, so I wouldn’t rule out Poile making a big splash this season.
COULD GARDINER GET A BIG RAISE?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the contract defenseman Ryan Ellis signed last week with the Nashville Predators (eight years, $6-million annually) is what Maple Leafs blueliner Jake Gardiner can expect to get in his next deal, either from the Leafs or another club next summer via free agency. “Gardiner is no Ellis, but he’s just a step and some sense behind.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can hear Gardiner’s critics already howling over the possibility of Gardiner earning that much. Remember, never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to overpay for talent. Gardiner’s current contract pays him $4.05 million annually and he’s exceeded 40 points in each of the last two seasons, including a career-best 52-point campaign in 2017-18. If he exceeds 40 points again, he’ll get $6 million per season from somebody.
DEVILS NEED A SHUTDOWN DEFENSEMAN
NORTHJERSEY.COM: In a recent profile of the New Jersey Devils’ defense corps for 2018-19, Abby Mastracco observed they still lack a proven shutdown blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils need for depth scoring tends to overshadow that requirement for an established stay-at-home defender. Wouldn’t surprise me if GM Ray Shero keeps an eye on the trade market or waiver wire this season to address that need.