NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2019
Latest on the Canadiens, Coyotes, and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?
ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Montreal Canadiens’ elimination from postseason contention, Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe they must bring in some puck-moving offensive punch to their defense. They also believe Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin should add some more scoring to the forward lines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Bergevin’s moves last summer (acquiring Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, and Joel Armia, drafting Jesperi Kotkaniemi), the Canadiens significantly improved this season. Nevertheless, they’re still not good enough to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Even if they’d qualified this season, they would’ve been a first-round-and-out club.
The Canadiens lack skilled depth on the left side of their defense and they need a better backup goalie behind overworked starter Carey Price. They also need another established scoring forward and must improve a god-awful power play that ranks 30th overall. I anticipate Bergevin will be busy making moves this summer to address those issues.
Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $64.3 million invested in 17 players with all their core players signed through next season. Assuming an $83-million cap for 2019-20, Bergevin will have around $19 million to re-sign or replace his depth free agents and still have sufficient room to make a significant addition if possible.
Don’t expect the Canadiens to entice top-tier UFAs like Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin or Jeff Skinner to Montreal. It’s not going to happen. Bergevin could have better luck with second-tier talents like Gustav Nyquist, Kevin Hayes, or Jake Gardiner, though I don’t see him being keen to overpay for their services after the Karl Alzner debacle.
Bergevin could instead target clubs with limited cap space in need of shedding salary to re-sign young players. He could get bold and go the offer-sheet route but his recent remarks suggest that isn’t likely. Given his solid wheeling-and-dealing last year, I think he’ll be busy again in the trade market this summer.
WHAT WILL THE COYOTES DO THIS SUMMER?
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Richard Morin was asked if Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka will go shopping this summer to improve his roster. Morin believes that will depend upon the Coyotes’ budget restraints.
If there’s sufficient payroll to make some additions, Morin feels adding at least one bona fide scorer is a priority. He suggests someone like Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner could alter the complexion of the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have over $74.3 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20. Over $5.2 million of that belongs to the all-but-retired Marian Hossa. Nevertheless, I don’t see the Coyotes being big spenders in the UFA market.
Chayka could be forced to go the trade route to bring in a scorer like he did earlier this season by acquiring Nick Schmaltz from Chicago. Had Schmaltz not suffered a season-ending knee injury, I believe his production would’ve propelled the Coyotes into the postseason.
If the budget constraints are too tight and he can’t shed salary, Chayka could be forced to remain patient and hope promising young forwards Clayton Keller, Christian Fischer, and Christian Dvorak start reaching their full potential next season.
HURRICANES STILL TRYING TO SIGN FOX
TSN: cited Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reporting Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said his club is still trying to sign prospect defenseman Adam Fox. This comes a few days after team owner Tom Dundon indicated the plan was to trade Fox, who could become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Fox is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Fox isn’t willing to sign with the Hurricanes, they’ll have little choice but to trade his rights to a team that he’s willing to sign with. Earlier this week, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Hurricanes had held talks with the New York Rangers. He believes the Hurricanes would be interested in the first-round pick the Rangers received from the Winnipeg Jets in the Kevin Hayes deal at the trade deadline. Still, LeBrun added not to rule out the possibility of the Hurricanes convincing Fox to change his mind.