NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2019
Latest on the Predators and Hurricanes plus seven teams in need of a goaltender in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE DUCHENE?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes Nashville Predators general manager David Poile could make changes to his roster this summer. Poile was disappointed by his club’s early departure from the 2019 playoffs. He doesn’t intend to blow things up but won’t be inactive this summer.
LeBrun notes there’s renewed speculation suggesting Poile might pursue Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene via free agency. Poile had a previous interest in the 28-year-old center and people around Duchene feel he’d be interested in playing for the Predators.
If Poile pursues Duchene, LeBrun believes he’ll have to shed salary first. That’s led to rumor suggesting defenseman P.K. Subban ($9 million annual average value) could be traded, but that’s not a certainty. LeBrun also suggests other players could also become cost-cutting candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Predators have over $75.8 million invested in 21 players for 2019-20. All their core players are under contract for next season.
Duchene could command up to $9 million annually on a long-term deal. Assuming an $83 million cap hit, the Predators can’t afford him unless they shed salary. Only Pekka Rinne has no-trade/no-movement protection. As LeBrun observes, that gives Poile plenty of candidates for a cost-cutting deal.
The Predators GM also has a history of making bold trades. Instead of going the UFA route, perhaps he’ll try a hockey trade targeting a club with depth at center.
UPDATE ON THE HURRICANES
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke DeCock reports on possible offseason moves by the Carolina Hurricanes. With goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney slated to become UFAs this summer, he believes they should explore going in a different direction from Mrazek. He doubts they’ll re-sign pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland, who managed just one goal after the trade deadline.
DeCock feels the Hurricanes still have “a desperate need for another center.” He’s not sure if promising Martin Necas is ready for that role yet. Defenseman Justin Faulk has a year left on his contract. DeCock thinks this is the year the Hurricanes must decide if they’ll re-sign or trade him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim for goaltending upgrades via free agency. Unless GM Don Waddell can sign Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky or the Islanders’ Robin Lehner, he might have to stick with his current tandem. It was reported in January that Ferland sought a deal comparable to the six-year, $31-million contract of Washington’s Tom Wilson. He’s not getting that from the Canes or anyone else.
Necas, 20, struggled to crack the Hurricanes lineup. However, he tallied 52 points in 64 games this season with the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Still, it remains to be seen if he’s ready for prime time. The Canes have over $54.2 million committed to 14 players. If owner Tom Dundon is willing to spend toward the cap, they’ll have plenty of cap space to pursue a center.
Since the summer of 2017, Faulk was frequently the subject of trade speculation. If Waddell is unable to reach agreement on a contract extension, perhaps he’ll put Faulk on the trade block this summer for a center.
SEVEN TEAMS THAT COULD USE A GOALTENDER
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders as clubs that could use a goaltender for next season.
Fox suggests Petr Mrazek could be lured elsewhere via free agency, putting the Hurricanes in need of a new starter. With Sergei Bobrovsky expected to depart via free agency, the Blue Jackets will need a replacement. The Oilers need to bring in someone to support Mikko Koskinen, while the Blackhawks need a backup for Corey Crawford.
If the Flames don’t bring back Mike Smith, they’ll need someone to help share the workload with David Rittich. The Flyers need someone to support promising Carter Hart. The Islanders could need a replacement for Robin Lehner if he departs via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could retain Mrazek if there’s no suitable replacement via trade or free agency. The Jackets have little choice but to find a replacement for Bobrovsky. The Oilers and Blackhawks will be shopping for experienced backups.
I can see the Flames bringing back Smith for one more year. The Flyers acquired Cam Talbot to supposedly mentor Hart but maybe they’ll consider other options. I expect the Isles will re-sign Lehner.