NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2019

by | Apr 20, 2019 | Rumors | 28 comments

What changes are in store for the Detroit Red Wings under new GM Steve Yzerman? Which scorers could the Arizona Coyotes pursue this summer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MLIVE.COM: Prior to yesterday’s press conference announcing Steve Yzerman was taking over as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Ansar Khan looked at what could be on Yzerman’s “to-do” list in the coming months. Decisions will have to be reached regarding pending unrestricted free agent Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek, and Luke Witkowski. Yzerman’s predecessor Ken Holland indicated a willingness to re-sign the Kronwall if the 38-year-old blueliner is willing to return for one more season. 

Will Steve Yzerman make a big move in his first summer as GM of the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL.com)

Khan wondered if forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen become buyout candidates. “It would cost $9.1 million over eight years to buy out Abdelkader” while Nielsen “would cost $6.33 million over six years to buy out, with hefty cap hits of $3.8 million and $4.8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.” Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has one year remaining on his deal and Khan doubts he’ll be bought out.

Yzerman’s name might be a selling point if the Wings new GM goes shopping for experienced talent via this summer’s UFA market. Holland recently estimated the Wings could have between $15-$20 million in cap space, but Khan believes they must also ensure they leave sufficient long-term room for Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi when those youngsters become restricted free agents next summer. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Yzerman’s arrival buys the Wings some time to complete their roster rebuild. He noted Yzerman acknowledging there’s plenty of work to do and his call for Wings fans to be patient. He points to Yzerman’s tenure as Lightning GM when he wasn’t afraid of making bold moves (trading Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis), convinced current Bolts stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to accept below-market contracts and invested heavily in player development. 

Niyo also suggested there are buyouts to consider, such as Ericsson or Trevor Daley, while others (Abdelkader, Nielsen, Darren Helm) could be too difficult to get out from under. While Yzerman’s cachet could help the Wings land some big fish in the free-agent pool, he doesn’t sound as though he’ll be going that route just yet, pointing to his remarks downplaying a pursuit of UFA talent while putting an emphasis on drafting and developing talent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. I agree with Niyo that it’s unlikely he’ll be a major player in the UFA market, but I can see him exploring the trade market to see what’s available that might help his club.

As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have just over $71 million invested in 18 players, but they’ll get nearly $10 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season. They could get another $5.375 million if Mike Green’s ongoing liver ailment prevents him from continuing his playing career. 

The Wings also hold three second-round picks and two fifth-round selections in this year’s draft plus two seconds and two thirds in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait.  Yzerman could also dip into his club’s growing pool of young players and prospects but I don’t see him drawing too much from that well.

Yzerman could use the combination of his cap space and depth in draft picks to target a club facing a salary-cap crunch in need of shedding salary. He won’t be looking at aging expensive veterans like Edmonton’s Milan Lucic or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook but it wouldn’t be surprising if he targeted the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson or the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.   

Some Edmonton pundits think Ken Holland would be a good fit as the Oilers new general manager but he’s reportedly taken himself out of the running for that job and will stay on as the Wings’ senior vice-president


ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Arizona Coyotes need scoring and Richard Morin believes Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner would be a great fit. However, budget constraints likely mean the Coyotes can afford him, which could force GM John Chayka to get creative and find more affordable options. Morin suggested New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel as possible free-agent targets. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka returned to the offseason trade market, perhaps by targeting clubs looking to move salary. 

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan also looked at several scorers the Coyotes could target via trade or free agency. He notes Chayka pointed out his club needs scoring wingers and not centers, though Morgan believes they’d take on a first-line center if one became available. A right-shot, top-four defenseman would also help. 

Chayka also indicated he would prefer adding players in the prime of their careers or just entering their prime. Expensive options such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner would be out of their price range. 

Morgan also listed Lee, Nelson, Eberle, and Dzingel as possible UFA options. Others could include Nashville’s Wayne Simmonds, Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist or Washington’s Brett Connolly. Given the Coyotes’ budget constraints, Morgan rules out Chaya going the offer-sheet route. 

Morgan also thinks Chayka could get creative in the trade market. He suggested perhaps the Coyotes GM could use his cap space to pry away one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards (Kapanen, Johnsson or William Nylander) by offering to take on the final year of winger Patrick Marleau’s contract ($6.25 million cap hit), though Marleau’s no-trade clause could complicate things. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka’s been busy in the trade market since becoming the Coyotes GM in 2016. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were among his trade acquisitions. I expect he’ll go the trade route again to bring in a top-six winger, using his depth in promising youngsters and draft picks to target cap-strapped clubs.  


  1. Well if he is willing to use his cap space Chayka should certainly looking at adding both Kadri & Nylander to “help” TML free up cap space. They have prospects to offer and some expiring contract as well. They have 3 veteran D that can slot next to Morgan Reilly.

    to TML: Galchenyuk, Cousins, Demers or Goligoski or Hjalmarssson and prospect
    to AZ: Marleau, Kadri & Nylander

    AZ takes on Marleau and Nylander significant cap hit. AZ also gets veteran depth at center, allowing them to move their speedy youth to wing thus allowing them to take on less responsibility.
    TML gets Galcheyuk for depth and is cheaper than both Marleau and Nylander. TML gets a veteran RD to play with Reilly at half the price it would cost to sign Gardiner. Contracts are also only 2 yrs. no long term committment.

  2. Edmonton – McDavid, Nurse and Larson
    Philadelphia – Giroux, Vorachek, Sanheim, Morin, 2019 1st, 2020 1st and 2nd picks. Flyers retain 2 million on Giroux and Vorachek contracts (4 million).

    Oilers get proven scorers, excellent young defenceman in Sanheim, decent prospect in Morin and picks for obtaining younger cheaper players. Oilers free up some cap space (moving out 18 million in return for 13 or 14 million – please note Im strictly guessing on cap numbers).

    My no way this would ever happen trade proposal.

    • As ridiculous as the trade is, attracting free agents to EDM is the real stretch. Not many guys wanna live there…

      No way G goes to N Alberta, he has a NTC

  3. I am assuming Yzerman will be very patient and let some of his veteran contracts get closer to expiring before he looks any buyout route.

    With expansion, he can leave guys like Helm, Neilsen & Abdelkader exposed. Or see if a team is willing to take on Helm’s small cap hit for 2 yrs.

    With only 1 yr left for both Daley and Ericsson, he is better off letting them play out the season and giving their youth Dmen another year of solid focused development. He can bring up 1 and let Kronwall walk. Save the cap space.

    Vets like Kronwall and Vanek can be let go. Give some youth more opportunity OR use the cap space to take on a 1 yr expiring contracts from TB or other teams to garner prospects.

    It will be interesting in 5 yrs to see what Yzerman does with DET and what his old TB team turns into.

    • If FLA signs Panarin then it wouldn’t surprise me to see Hoffman on the block if a quality dman is offered by Arizona.

      • Which would vindicate my opinion that Hoffman – a pure sniper – brings nothing else to the table and that his deficiencies (including back-checking) far outweigh his offense.

      • But nobody is getting a “quality D man” for Hoffman.

      • @George

        Would FLA swap Hoffman for a quality defenseman like Shattenkirk? or Smith? =)

      • Florida would in an instant – but why would the Rangers want a one-dimensional F? The guy’s a minus 44 over his past two seasons.

      • @George
        bc depth players like Vesey & others cannot find consistency in scoring. Their defensive coverage as a player is not better than Hoffman.

        Rangers need the cap space to go after other players sooner.

        Shatts has really turn out to be too slow for this new NHL. He gaps in coverage as as concerning as Hoffman’s -44

      • Which tells me Florida would look elsewhere – perhaps to a team with an adequate defensive structure but needing some scoring mixed with players who could cover Ho\ffman’s one-way game, in exchange for a pick/D prospect

      • Ihatecrosby… if Rangers where able to move Shattenkirk and his contract, I would think they could then end up pursuing EK. Not happening if they have Hofman. Also, a lot of talk they’re hot for Panarin too. Meanwhile they need to decide what they’re going to do with Kreider. Don’t see them trading for Hofmann. Not sure Florida would want Shatty contract either.

    • do u really think u need 2 wait 5 years?

  4. So, Yzerman has cap space and the Lightning are facing a cap crunch, eh? Would Tyler Johnson waive? If not, Gourde might be a Wing next season.


    There is a deal that I don’t necessarily love but makes a lot of sense to me and seems legitimately plausible…

    Phil Kessel for Derek Stepan.

    The Yotes angle is obvious…they need wingers, Phil and Tocchet are mutual fans and Stepan has been marginalized there with the trades for Galchenyuk and Schmaltz.

    For the Pens, both McCann and Bjugstad are better as wingers than as a third line center. Stepan is 3 years younger, 300K less a year in cap hit and his contract expires a year earlier.

    • Tyler Johnson… the deeper question is whether the Bolts have to break up Cooper’s Commandos…the players he’s had since Norfolk, to get him to better and more objectively deploy is assets. Several of this group seem to get more ice time an more critical situations than their play justifies…totally hidden by overall success. If Mgt thinks he’s a relly good coach, give him a new group to mold thus breaking up the kind of bad habit we all fall into from time to time.

      • yes, I would question the head of that commando unit-

  5. GMJC will likely use cap space to get something from Detroit and help out Stevie….with all those heavy contracts it will take some time to clear the books. AZ can help and Detroit could give them someone to help them cross the hump into the playoffs …. Looks ya just gotta get there and things happen…..right Colorado and Carolina?

    • Would you take a Heml? Abdelkader? Nielsen?

      Not sure that is what AZ would be looking for…..

      That is all DET would be looking to get rid of upfront.

    • I was thinking that Yzerman might look at the T-Bay prospects, considering he drafted them, and make some deals with some of those extra Red Wings draft picks.

  6. How good is Mackinnon? What a player.
    Is that the best contract in the NHL? (for the team)
    I can’t think of a better one.

    • Couldn’t agree more Ray. Everyone talks about McDavid, Crosby and to a lesser extent, Mathews. But for my money I’ll take Mackinnon who has things the others don’t and that’s a nice blend of speed, skill, size with a bit of grit.

      Plus like you said, arguably the best contract in the league. To put in perspective, would you rather have two McKinnon’s or one McDavid for $12.5 per?

      • Ya, he is some good. Powerful skater with skill and determination. He took over significant parts of games in that series.
        The Flames had no answer.
        Yes I would take 2.

      • Can just imagine the impact he would have on Jonathan Drouin, his linemate for those powerful years with the Halifax Mooseheads, if they could somehow wangle a deal with Montreal.

      • Good point George. If anyone can turn things around for Drouin and make him into a consistent player, it’s McKinnon.

    • Ray,
      I agree MacKinnon was dominant in the series just ended.
      Just my opinion but I would say he is the second best player in the league after McDavid and he is not far behind McDavid either. He has speed quickness, can handle the puck and is big enough so that you cannot push him around.

      The avalanche future is very bright, a serious cup contender for the next few years.

      • True that Flamesfan, Makar now there, Two first RD picks this year, plus more good prospects and young players that will improve.
        Cap space.
        Good time to be an Avs fan.

  7. Detroit and Tbay will make a deal. The Bolts will need to rid some salary . Maybe a Palat and or Killorrn

    • I’d be careful, tho. Don’t want to add to the list of GM’s Steve has gotten the better of. I certainly don’t expect he’d do the Bolts any favors.