NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2019

by | Apr 22, 2019 | Rumors | 31 comments

More speculation over what might be in store this summer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently speculated over what might be in store for the Tampa Bay Lightning under Julien BriseBois, who enters his first full offseason as general manager. While BriseBois doesn’t intend to blow up the roster, Duhatschek believes some changes are coming for the Lightning this summer. 

Could Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller become an offseason trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

With Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and Anton Stralman due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, the Lightning will need some defensemen. Cal Foote could crack the lineup but it remains to be seen if he’s NHL-ready. 

Salary-cap constraints will be an issue, especially with restricted free agent center Brayden Point due for a hefty raise. The Lightning has only one bad contract (Ryan Callahan’s $5.8 million salary-cap hit) and it could cost them a middle-of-the-pack player like Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn or J.T. Miller, though Palat and Killorn have no-trade protection.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also anticipates some offseason changes for the Lightning lineup. He expects BriseBois will attempt to move Miller’s contract ($5.25-million annual average through 2022-23) while Callahan, who has one year left on his contract, could be bought out. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Lightning has over $73.1 million invested in 16 players. Should the cap reach the projected $83 million for 2019-20, BriseBois will have less than $10 million to work with. He’ll have no choice but to shed some salary to free up sufficient cap room for Point, affordable depth players Cedric Paquette and Adam Erne, and add a defenseman or two.

Miller, a versatile 26-year-old forward lacking no-trade protection, appears the most likely trade candidate. Despite his struggles in this year’s playoffs, Miller’s reached or exceeded the 40-point plateau in each of the last four seasons. His youth (26), two-way skills and his ability to play all three forward positions could make him enticing to clubs seeking a versatile forward.

Callahan has a 16-team trade list, giving BriseBois some options to find a new home for the aging winger. However, he’ll likely have to bundle the 34-year-old with a draft pick or prospect to entice teams into taking on his full cap hit. Failing that, a buyout will reduce his $5.8 million annual average value for next season to over $2.66 million and to $1.66 million in 2020-21.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford must shed some salary this summer if the club is to avoid the same fate that befell the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. Cap constraints led to both of those former multiple Stanley Cup winners missing the playoffs in recent years.

Cook doesn’t expect Rutherford to move franchise mainstays like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “I’m talking about Phil Kessel, (Kris) Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Jack Johnson, Nick Bjugstad, Bryan Rust and Olli Maatta,” he writes, guessing one or two of those players will be moved to free up salary-cap space. He doubts the Penguins will get much back in return. 

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Jonathan Bombulie recently suggested Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta could become a trade candidate. Maatta said he’s trying not to think about that, adding he won’t require surgery to repair a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 20 games this season. “I guess all you can do is just go and have a good summer and what happens happens.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of that group, Kessel and Maatta seem the most likely to move.

There’s a growing feeling among Penguins observers that Kessel, the subject of trade rumors over the previous two offseasons, could be shipped out. The Penguins reportedly fielded trade offers for him last summer and could be more receptive this year. He’s coming off an 82-point campaign and will be enticing to teams in need of experienced scoring depth despite his eight-team trade list.

Maatta seems to have lost the confidence of Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. A 24-year-old mobile defenseman with an affordable $4.083-million salary-cap hit through 2021-22 and lacking no-trade protection, he should attract interest in the trade market. Rust had a difficult postseason but he’s only 26 and carries a cap-friendly $3.5-million AAV. Bjugstad was acquired in February and Rutherford will probably want to give him a full-season evaluation. 

I have my doubts that Rutherford’s keen to move Letang. His cap hit ($7.25 million) and injury history will likely dampen his trade value anyway. Same goes for Hornqvist. The ongoing decline in Johnson’s performance will make him difficult to move despite his $3.25-million annual cap hit.


  1. I also got my “selfish” wish with that 2-1 double-OT win by San Jose who should finish off Vegas at home. Should SJ go tp the cup finals AND re-sign Karlsson, Ottawa gets another 1st round pick

    • Pretty confident in SJ George O. I am leaning the other way, I think Vegas wins. Jones can’t stand on his head again can he?

      • Probably not Ray – hence my “wishful thinking” in terms of Ottawa getting another top asset

  2. The Lightning may look to make a bigger splash, as RHD has been a problem for years, and D in general playing second fiddle to O hasn’t brought the Lightning a cup.

    The habit of playing rope a dope for period 1 while Vasy holds the fort till the offence finds some momentum needs to be broken.

    The question is, then: is a no trade clause just a way for w player to have a say in where he goes, or will a player stay even if management wishes him to go?

    Bear in mind that this is not a management group under pressure of dissolution; the cash flow and results have been pretty good, just not cupworthy.

    I look to an effort to move Tyler Johnson for D or D oriented power forward…possibly Gourde if Johnson can’t be moved. If one doesn’t want to overpay on the free agent market, on has to trade quality for quality.

  3. Don’t know what this mean other interesting; maybe. Out of the 14 players who finished with 90pts or more only 9 made it to the playoffs and just 2 remain Marchand and Marner.
    Out of the 13 players who had 40 goals or more only 7 made it to the playoffs and 4 remain Tavares, Atkinson, McKinnon and Ovie.
    Both Chicago and Edmonton had two 40 goals scorer but didn’t make the playoffs

    Playoff hockey is just different, more intensity, more physicality and more attention to detail.

    • Something the TB, Flames and Jets hot-shots simply couldn’t figure out – Pittsburgh has just gotten old.

      • hey George O- @ least TB’s case, one has 2 wonder why-

      • George O…I disagree with you 100% Pittsburgh didn’t get old. They have a nice mixture of veterans and younger players. Pittsburgh looked disinterested and thought they could just turn on the switch hunger factor…issues

        roster not old at all dude….

        Jake Guentzal 24

        Brian Rust, 26

        Olli Matta, 24

        Matt Murray, 24

        Marcus Pettersson 22

        Zack Aston Reese, 24

        Teddy Blueger, 24

        Dominik Simon 24

        Nick Bjugstad 26

        Brian Dumolin 27

        Erik Grudbranson 27

        Crosby is 31 coming off a 100 point season he isn’t slowing down at all he is the best all around player in the game.

        Kessel 31 82 point season not/ 94 like last year still solid…

        Malkin 32 i agree with you on this guy is isn’t aging well.
        Hornqvist 32 again this along with malkin are the only two i agree with you he is breaking down as well and looks slow/old

        letang 31 can still skate extremely well, can log lots of ice time, is in great shape,unfortunately he has a pea for a brain…and and doesn’t make good decisions.

        free agency can also add younger and the draft plus they have signed some younger college players..

    • Interesting stuff, Caper. I think Marner is either very tired (5 on 5, PP, PK) or more likely is playing with an injury. The Leafs sure need everything he’s got on Tuesday.

      • BCLeafFan, funny I was thinking the same thing from Boston side with Marchand. Maybe a much simpler answer is Bergeron/Marchand are neutralizing Tavares/Marner and Tavares/Marner are neutralizing Bergeron/Marchand

        Special teams and depth scoring might be the difference tomorrow, plus Rask makes me nervous.

  4. It is quite possible for TB to offer JT Miller plus a prospect and draft pick to the Jets for Trouba. Although that wouldn’t address the Jets replacing Trouba it would be a good acquisition.

    I think Callahan will be an obvious buyout unless NYR or Arizona would like to get a draft pick. Still, it would make most sense for any team that has some interest in Cally to wait for a buyout and offer him a low salaried 2 year deal.

    If Arizona is looking for a scorer then Kessel should interest them.

    • That all makes sense Mike except the Jets need cap space too. Perhaps part of a 3 way deal?
      Should be an interesting off season for both teams. Good opportunity for teams like AZ, NYR and OTT who are rebuilding and have space to acquire more assets.
      I don’t watch a lot of TB other than when the play the B’s, but Callahan still seems like an NHL player. A team like NYR (he would likely go there) should take a 2nd along with him.
      Why not?

      • Callahan plus 1st round pick for Tampa’s 2 round pick back

  5. You could say the same about Bergeron BCLeafFan. I was wondering if he was playing hurt.
    Actually they both could be.
    Or it is simply that those 2 lines have been matched up against each other every game. Both play very well in all 3 zones and scoring chances have been hard to come by.
    Other than game 1, the B’s have simply been really good on the PP, and were again last night.
    I really have no idea who wins this series.

    • Bergeron winning 37 of 37 face-offs over past 2 games is dominance in and of itself.

  6. If I’m the Pens, I strongly consider trading one of Crosby or Malkin. This allows them to rebuild on the fly, probably with 3 or 4 good pieces, while still keeping one of the top centres in the game.

    Long-term pain is coming if they wait for both guys to be 35-36 and they haven’t used either guy to improve their youth / prospect pool.

    • As long as Mario owns the Pens, neither of those players (nor Letang) will be moved.

      The chance to keep two sure fire first ballot HOF’ers TOGETHER for their entires careers is unprecedented in post-expansion era.

      Gretzky and Messier, Jagr and Lemieux, etc. always get split.

      If Trottier had retired instead of winning two more with the 91 and 92 Pens, he and Bossy would have been close, but…

      • I’m sure you’re right, MG. I just foresee some pain to follow for the Pens, if that’s the plan.

      • I can’t say for certain that the Penguins invented tanking in pro sports, but they certainly perfected it.

        They will (figuratively) live off credit cards until they max out, then they’ll have to live in the basement apartment for a few years.

        As long as that pain comes after, or at the very end, of the Crosby/Malkin era, that is fine by all.

      • Problem is, MG, EVERY fan base has a healthy % of “what have you done for me lately” fans who, in Pittsburgh’s case, will not give a second thought to the notion that the team is struggling partially due to having aging one-time superstars not really contributing anywhere near the extent they did in their prime, and taking up good chunks of the cap, just so they could “retire” as lifetime Pens. Whether that’s right or wrong is immaterial – it’s just the nature of the beast known as the fan base.

        Post-expansion rosters of the Habs are chock full of HoF members who played their entire careers with the one team – which lends to the “legendary” tag applied to the franchise – but for many years – right up to the implementation of the cap in 2005-06, they didn’t have to worry about cap limitations.

      • And, I should add, in those days there was no such thing as NM or No-trade clauses, nor even limited-team clauses. If Sammy Pollock decided you were a detriment to the team’s success you were gone at the first opportunity or encouraged to “retire” with grace..

      • The pens definitely have those like everyone else George. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Back before Crosby pens had to practically give tickets away to keep the arena close to full. But it wasn’t just losing that did that… it was the lack of ability and effort by ownership to even try to put a competitive team on ice. If burkle and Mario keep owning team I doubt they are ever a non cap team and I think fans will keep supporting them even if they drop to the middle or even end of the pack.

    • Paddy…why would you trade the best overall player in the world. (Crosby thats stupid) he shows up every night is coming off a 100 season and is the sole reason the Penguins made the playoffs to begin with.

      Malkin Schultz Rust letang Murray Hornqvist all missed long long periods of time with injuries…

      Malkiin …yes i would consider moving because he is disinterested, aging,and injury prone…letang is still terrific if he would just make better decisions…not to do stupid ass pinches, take dumb penalties, learn how to shoot the f***ing puck on the power play..and not get burned with shorthanded goals while on the power play.

      • Re Letang – isn’t it a case of what you see you get? He’s 31 and not apt to start “learning” how to play differently, including getting smarter.

        Sid, I agree, is still arguably the best player in the world but there’s a lot of miles and hits on that body, which turns 32 in August and will be in the 38th year in 2024-25 when his $8.750,000 cap hit runs out.

        While a 100 point season is remarkable, the eye-opener is the 1 assist in 4 playoff games. Up above you list a bunch of players who are still fairly young – but except for Guentzel none are apt to become anything more than good 3rd/4th line players or 4 to 6 D-men. In other words, who do you see replacing Malkin and Crosby’s offensive production if they do start to falter as the years go by? As I pointed out before, in a recent Hockey News consensus list of the Top 100 prospects NOT yet in the NHL, the only team without one named is Pittsburgh. That has to be of concern at some point. Having a bunch of college players signed is – until they prove at the NHL level they are anything more than a name on a contract – just that. Part of a list.

  7. The more I think about it, I’d be OK with a Kessel for Stepan swap, moving McCann and Bjugstad to the wings where they belong.

    As I mention above, the Pens are keeping 87, 71 and 58 so getting younger at every other roster spot becomes imperative.

    The Pens need to figure out what they are going to do with Justin Schultz to know which way to go on defense. If they intend to (and can) resign him to a new deal, then Maatta needs to pack his bags.

    BUT, if Schultz will only be here one more year, then trade him now and keep Maatta.

    One thing that Rutherford was right about is that they need more hunger. Non-core players who were here for both Cups should be shopped. I like Rust, but…it’s not always there for long stretches with him.

    I don’t know if there is a way between his NTC, his contract and the likely demand, but…if GMJR has any magic left…he’s got to move Hornqvist. Despite the enmity for Jack Johnson, Horny’s contract is the biggest anchor on this team.

    And, please, no more Cullen.

  8. George O….. forgot Jared McCann he is only 22 for the Penguins bright future git in really well with the penguins..

  9. Okposo, Sheary & Risto to TB for Callahan, Palat, Killorn & Johnson going back to Buff?

    Pegula begs those guys to come to BUFF =)

    TB clears tons of cap space


  10. George O. I’m pretty sure players will be moved in the off season.. on my previous list i didn’t list jared McCann 22 who did well in Pittsburgh ending with 19 20 goals..rust McCann guentzal bjugstad all younger and contributing big time..I’m hearing they will move kessel for either jason zucker or cam Fowler also kessel will waive his 8 team list to go with his buddy tocket in Arizona..hjalmarson solid defensive dman we need to put with schultz..would b nice

    • That’s assuming Minnesota, Anaheim or Arizona are interested in taking on a one-dimensional F. Where did you hear that rumour re Zucker and Fowler?

      • George O… two friends of mine who i grew up with in Pittsburgh one works for the Pittsburgh tribune newspaper and is in the locker room and around the team and the other works within the organization and gets alot of information…which he shares with his best bid from high school..

        Kessel will probably go to Arizona better than 75% chance because he and Rick Tocchet are super tight. tocchet guided Phil around Sully…

        Phil also likes Minnesota so the Wild ned help scoring so..

        Anaheim and Pittsburgh have made several deals over the year going way back to Kunitz! Anaheim has an abundance of defense man but they are desperate for scoring hearing we might have to include include Olli matta or something else in the deal for Fowler…the draft will be telling…moves coming there too.

  11. George O…Minnesota Anaheim Arizona need that one dimension ITS CALLED SCORING>>>>

    Phil wont be going to those places to kill penalties…:)