NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2019
No April Foolin’ here, check out the latest on Tyson Barrie and an update on the Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE SPECULATION OVER BARRIE’S FUTURE WITH AVS
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers recently noted promising defenseman Cale Makar could soon join the Colorado Avalanche roster. The 20-year-old is considered a younger version of Avs blueliner Tyson Barrie. While the Avalanche can afford to carry Barrie and Makar, Chambers suggests the Avs could potentially trade Barrie if Makar plays up to expectations and use the saving to put toward re-signing restricted free agent star Mikko Rantanen.
Barrie is signed through 2019-20 with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million. Makar would be earning less than $1 million annually on his entry-level deal.
On Saturday, Chambers followed up by noting Barrie’s value to the Avs blueline this season. The 27-year-old became the franchise leader among defenseman for goals (73), assists (231) and points (304). However, Chambers once again suggested the potential addition of young Makar could cast Barrie’s long-term future with the Avalanche into doubt.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Avalanche have just over $46 million invested in 12 players for 2019-20. Assuming the cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $37 million to work with if they become a cap team. Rantanen is their only core player without a contract and will be their priority. The remainder of their free agents can be re-signed or replaced on affordable contracts.
It could cost around $7 million annually on a long-term extension to re-sign Barrie. It’ll be interesting to see if the Avs attempt to re-sign him this summer or wait and see how next season plays out. They could trade him but I don’t think they’ll go that route. As promising as Makar is, he’s yet to make his NHL debut and it’ll take time before he gets up to Barrie’s standard.
LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield believes the Blackhawks’ most pressing need is their defense and he anticipates there could be some changes there this summer.
Aging blueliners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have expensive contracts with full no-movement clauses. Erik Gustafsson is having a breakout performance and is signed through 2019-20 with a $1.2-million contract. Connor Murphy is steady and has a decent contract while rookie Henri Jokiharju should be back for a full season.
Greenfield anticipates one or two of the Blackhawks’ top-five defensemen probably won’t be back next season.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers anticipates it could cost the Blackhawks between $13 million to $15 million to re-sign young forwards Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. Both have one year remaining on their entry-level contracts but general manager Stan Bowman will have to plan ahead to ensure he’s got sufficient room when their new contracts kick in next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $60.6 million invested in 15 players for 2019-20, Bowman will have around $23 million to work with this summer if the cap reaches $83 million as projected with all his core players under contract. He’s got room to add to his roster but I daresay he’d like to free up some additional long-term cap space to make room for DeBrincat and Strome.
Moving Keith or Seabrook would free up precious salary-cap room for additional moves this summer or next. Despite their impressive careers, however, both are in the mid-thirties, their best seasons are behind them, and moving their contracts won’t be easy even if they agreed to waive their movement clauses. If the Blackhawks blueline changes, I expect Keith and Seabrook will still be part of it.
A possible salary-dump candidate could be center Artem Anisimov, He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual cap hit of $4.55 million and his limited no-trade clause expires on July 1.