NHL Rumor Mill – March 29, 2019

by | Mar 29, 2019 | Rumors | 25 comments

Check out the latest on the Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Joe Yerdon examined possible unrestricted free agent targets for the Buffalo Sabres. He ruled out the possibility of landing big-name stars such as San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson or Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin. More realistic options could include such notables as Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle or Winnipeg Jets center Kevin Hayes. 

Can the Buffalo Sabres attract a pending free agent like Columbus’ Matt Duchene this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres have just over $57 million invested in 19 players. Assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $26 million to work with if ownership is willing to spend to the cap maximum.

Re-signing Jeff Skinner will eat up between $9-$10 million annually but he’s their only core player slated for free agency this summer. That leaves enough room to re-sign restricted free agents like Linus Ullmark and to bring in a quality player via free agency if they wish.

Having lots of cap space, however, won’t make the Sabres an enticing option for free-agent talent. While Buffalo is a terrific hockey market their erratic rebuild makes it difficult to make a big splash via free agency.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Sabres’ poor performance in recent weeks could spell trouble for Phil Housley’s tenure as head coach. While that doesn’t mean Housley will be fired, LeBrun feels general manager Jason Botterill could evaluate the coaching position. Player-exit meetings at season’s end could also determine Housley’s future. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Housley deserves his share of the blame for the Sabres’ struggles but it’s not solely his fault. The culture is rotten within that organization. To be blunt, they are the Eastern Conference version of the Edmonton Oilers. Until that changes, the Sabres will continue to flounder.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Montreal’s TSN 690, Darren Dreger said Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has no intention of losing winger Mikko Rantanen to an offer sheet this summer. Sakic noted his club has plenty of cap space to match any offer for the highly-skilled Rantanen.

Dreger also gets the impression Sakic could be busy this summer as he looks to add more pieces to his roster. He believes the Avs GM wants to improve his blueline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just over $48 million invested in 12 players, the Avalanche have plenty of cap room to match an offer sheet for Rantanen, re-sign their other noteworthy restricted free agents (Alex Kerfoot, J.T. Compher, Nikita Zadorov) and re-sign or replace pending UFAs such as Semyon Varlamov, Derick Brassard, and Colin Wilson.

If they intend to spend close to the cap, they have room to bolster their defense and perhaps add a second-line scorer. Sakic also has depth in prospects plus two first-round and two third-round picks in this year’s draft but indicated last month he’s not trading those picks or his top prospects. 


  1. Wow , that trade for Ottawa is looking so bad for them ,. They possibly could of had the 1st overall but traded it away for a player who could walk away leaving them nothing in return .

    • Don’t follow what you’re saying Sheldon. Who’s “them?” You can’t mean Colorado because, as things now stand, they still own Ottawa’s 1st pick and with the way things are shaping up, Ottawa might well wind up with # 1 – which, of course, means Colorado has first crack at Jack Hughes. So, who are you talking about?

      • George O, wake up on the wrong side of the bed? He said “that trade for Ottawa is looking so bad for them”. Pretty sure everyone is following he means Ottawa. He is incorrect though as Duchene didn’t leave for nothing, just not nearly as much as Ottawa gave up.

      • It’s simple George, the Sens f’d themselves royally…Burke traded two firsts which became great players they could of used but at least he got Kessel for many years… Ottawa on the other hand is in the same boat but without a player like Kessel. So in other words, they dug themselves in a deep deep hole that will take them many painful years to come out of. Best case scenario is they get new ownership that wants a winner and not another source of revenue.

      • Ottawa needs to be hoping they lose the lottery but win it next year. That is the only thing that can make that trade ever go away.

        Duchene could still resign IF he wants to play there. They would be offering him the most $ imho.

      • Yup. Read it wrong – sorry Sheldon. Guess what threw me off is when you wrote “looking so bad for them.” At this stage “looking bad” is like “a little pregnant ..” Having said that, I still think their decision not to give Colorado their 1st pick last spring was the correct one as Brady Tkachuk is looking good right now and there’s no guarantee, even if they finish dead last, that they win the 1st overall this spring. In fact, there’s an 82% chance they don’t. They could slip to what, 3rd? Still a good pick for Colorado, but Tkachuk went 4th last season and there’s also no guarantee that whoever goes 3rd/4th this year will be as good as he’s shown so far.

      • No guarantee Hughes will be better than Tkachuk either, but yes probably. Bird in hand I guess. If they passed on him what did that tell the fans and the players they wanted to resign? Easy to criticize today, but it was a tough call at the time.

      • It is so bad for Ottawa , losing a potential 1st OA in that trade .

      • Before the draft last year I commented a couple of times that Ottawa should give their 4th overall to Colorado. Then ship Ceci and their 22nd (?) overall to Edmonton for the 10th overall pick. Still believe that was the best direction for Ottawa. There was interest in Ceci last year, not so much anymore.

      • Nope. Quite happy with Tkachuk who, after a slow start, now sits 4th among rookie points producers. And he’s got a mean streak. What guarantee could you give that, had they retained this year’s 1st round pick, that they would win the lottery when there’s an 82% chance they won’t? In which case they might drop to 3rd. Had they retained that and dropped to 3rd, can you say for certain that the player picked there is going to be better than Tkachuk?

        As for Ceci, you’re assuming Edmonton would a) want him and b) afford him with their cap structure and be prepared to fork over more than the $4.3 mil he’s making now when his RFA negotiations begin. Again. I’m sure they are just aware of the lengthy bargaining that has gone on with him and his pie-in-the-sky agent twice before.

  2. if joe plays his cards right the avs could be a real good team for years to come….. one decent dman free agent plus you add makar, get the ping pong ball to land in the top 3, and add a legit 2nd liner and avs are good to go….oh and grubs needs to keep playing like he has the last 3 weeks

  3. Skinner doesn’t deserve 9 mil.

    Maybe 7…. but 60 points even if 37 are goals, he doesn’t deserve it, and if buffalo gives it to them they will just keep losing. It’s not like he’s 23 and you’re buying key years, this is his peak, and it’s all downhill from here. He had a career year here, and if anyone signs him to 9+ they will regret it by October.

  4. Ya…not having that pick looks bad, but it could be worse. I love Turris as a human in the community but he has not aged well as a hockey player (so the Sens dodged that bullet) And yes they did give that pick to get Duchene but still managed to get Tkachuk out of it, probably 15-18th first from Columbus this year. If Montreal could get their poop together and knock Columbus out it would be 15th.

    The most important thing for Ottawa is someone needs to come in and take a lot of the GM workload off Dorion. HE is an excellent evaluator of talent. (karlson-Chabot both taken in the “teens”) Ottawa needs someone who can muzzle the owner, deflect things from the GM and convince Luke Richardson to come back.

    • The most important thing for Ottawa is to see Melnyk somehow become convinced that this is not his bag and that he needs to sell the team – preferably to someone like Laliberté who, I’m certain, would put the downtown arena back on track and, at the same time, make sure Le Cirque de Soleil becomes a tenant for training purposes and preliminary shows.

      • I hear Tilman Fertita is looking to buy, not sure the Houston Senators will work though… Def have to change the name.

      • That could happen – although with the big bucks being forked over for Vegas and next, Seattle, I don’t think Bettman and the other owners want to see any franchise transfers if they can be avoided. Houston will likely be next after Seattle to cough up over 3/4 billion dollars for the right to pick all but the 6 protected (or exempt from the draft) by each team. And why not?

  5. Exactly. You’re very unlikely to see another Atlanta Thrashers type move. And those things usually only happen when there aren’t available business interests readily chomping at the bit to buy the team and keep it where it is. And in Ottawa’s case there are…2 at least.

    Pretty sure we’re stuck with him George. This is the last significant thing he owns. He’s broke. He’s a poor rich man.

    • Jaysus – let an old man dream will ya!

      • By the way, there’s an article on-line just posted listing the richest Canadians, and Melnyk is still on the list – although a few notches below Laliberte

        “Net worth: CAD 1.15 billion
        Company: Biovail Pharmaceuticals
        Industry: Pharma

        Eugene Melnyk was born in Toronto, Canada in 1959. While his nationality is Canadian, he resides primarily in Barbados. However, his business ventures and interests are all Canadian as well. Melnyk has a long business history in the medical field.

        His first company was called Trimel, and it was a medical publisher. A few years later, in the late 1980s, Melnyk founded a speciality pharmaceutical business called Biovail Corp. He was the chairman and CEO as well, growing the company from CAD 19 million in revenues per year to over one billion CAD. And he did this in less than a decade.

        He now owns and governs the Ottawa Senators hockey team. These assets combined make him incredibly rich.”

  6. Too bad Alfredsson hates Melnyk , he could have been a good front office leader for the Senators.
    I’d like to see Brian Burke come in and lock horns with the owner.

  7. He’s a dickh+@) George. I think at this point Sens fans can only hope for a scandal of some sort for him to sell the team. Could be worse, he’s no Ballard!

    • give him some time FD

    • In this day in age it would have to be some scandal to have any lasting ramifications.

  8. No way Buffalo signs any of those free agents, why would they want old guys signed until they are mid 30s for 7-11 million? Sabres GM already said he will look for trades for guys who have term left like Montour trade.i would rather they offer sheet a 22 year old vs sign Duchene or some average guy like Hayes for 7 million.

    • Jason Botterill will need to participate in offseason activity rather than spectate. Acquiring Montour at the trade deadline was not enough.

      Phil Housley needs to reward players who show up, score goals, clear the puck out of the zone, and win games while disciplining losers who do not show up, float and coast, do not score, and camp out on the injured list earning golden parachutes.

      If I were the Sabres, I would hire a Vice President of Hockey Operations to hold Botterill and Housley accountable.