NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2019

by | Jul 16, 2019 | Rumors | 49 comments

An updated list of the best remaining UFAs plus the latest Rangers and Islanders speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE SCORE: updated their listing of the best available unrestricted free agents by position. That includes Jake Gardiner, Joe Thornton, Justin Williams, Cam Ward, and Thomas Vanek. Other notables include Patrick Marleau, Pat Maroon, Derick Brassard, Jason Pominville, and Niklas Kronwall. 

Jake Gardiner remains the best player still available in this summer’s UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those on his list, only Gardiner can be considered still in his playing prime. The rest are all past their best-before date. Many observers are surprised Gardiner remains available. Some suggest he was hoping to be signed by the Leafs but that doesn’t seem possible with Mitch Marner due for a big raise. Last season’s back injury could also be dampening his UFA value.

It’s expected Thornton will be back for one more season with the Sharks. Their recent re-signing of Kevin Labanc to a one-year, $1-million deal prompted speculation this could also allow them to bring back Marleau for a last hurrah.

Maroon would love to stay in St. Louis but the Blues are said to be offering a one-year deal and he wants a multi-year contract. Williams is said to be mulling retirement. If he does decide to play it’ll only be with the Hurricanes.

Some Quebec pundits suggest the Montreal Canadiens should sign a Quebecker like Pominville or Brassard. It remains to be seen if the Habs intend to take that advice. 


NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton still has to figure out how he’ll shed some salary to make room for restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba. That includes deciding the future of winger Chris Kreider, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. “Also on the trade block would be restricted free agent Pavel Buchnevich, as well as Vladislav Namestnikov.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples noted Cyrgalis’ report that Buchnevich could be on the trade block and wonders if the Edmonton Oilers should look at him. Staples feels Buchnevich could fill a need for the Oilers. He also noted a rumor suggesting the possibility of the Oilers acquiring Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett. He also pondered the notion of the Oilers using unhappy winger Jesse Puljujarvi in a deal for Buchnevich, Bennett, or another forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich was considered part of the Rangers’ youth movement. Their recent, expensive signing of Artemi Panarin and their need to re-sign Trouba could make the 24-year-old winger expendable. He had 43 points in 2017-18 and tallied 21 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season. He’s filed for arbitration, which could also determine his future in New York. The Rangers probably prefer moving Namestnikov and his $4-million cap hit for 2019-20 but Buchnevich would probably attract more interest.

As for the Oilers landing Bennett, I don’t think the Flames want to move him. But if they do, it’ll likely be anywhere other than up the road to their biggest rival. 

Cyrgalis also believes defenseman Nick Leddy remains the New York Islanders’ “best possible trade piece.” He feels the 28-year-old blueliner’s contract ($5.5 million annually through 2021-22) would be attractive in the trade market. However, Leddy isn’t likely to fetch a return that turns the Isles into a contender. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy was linked to the Canadiens last month. So far, however, there’s no indication they’re interested in acquiring him. Indeed, things have gone quiet on the Leddy trade rumors since late June. 


  1. If the Isles can move Leddy for a decent forward, Lou can sign Jake Gardiner to replace him.


    Brassard est un chien.


    I hope the Rangers make the mistake of trading Kreider. Is Panarin going to stay hungry now that he has everything he wants? I certainly wouldn’t be confident enough in that to get rid of Kreider’s jam.

    • If Leddy is moved, it’ll more than likely be to shed salary. Unless Lou adds a pick/prospect to try & obtain a top 6 forward. Also, Dobson needs an NHL roster spot. He can’t go to the BRIDGE in the AHL because of his age & he isn’t going back to Juniors because he can’t accomplish more than his back to back championships there. It would be nice to have Lou find us a sniper, but it seems he’s content with promoting from within.

      • I don’t think Leddy is a salary dump. The Isles have cap space and don’t need to jettison anyone. Leddy still has value, it’s just not going to get the Isles a top line winger. More likely he returns picks/prospects.

        They have internal candidates to be promoted or moved in a package (Ho Sang, Bellows, Dal Cole, Wahlstrom etc).

    • Why? So we can all watch the Islanders and yell woooh after a goal?

  2. I think the days of Montreal latching onto a player based solely on his heritage are long gone.

    Having said that, if a player like Derick Brassard, who is only 31 and a C, comes to the conclusion that his days of hauling in $5 mil per are long gone until he proves otherwise, and is willing to sign a one-year “show me” deal at $1.5 to 2 mil. it might not be a bad move.

    Hell, it would be a good move for Dorion to bring him “home” under those terms.

    • brassard looked just like another 4th liner in his short stint with the avs

    • in 2017 the Habs traded Sergachev for Drouin. The Habs continue to search for a quality left D they gave up in Sergachev, in return for a player who has brought little more than a francophone heritage.

      • I don’t know if you watch sergachev much but he is way over hyped, he is bad in his own end and not putting up great offensive numbers on a stacked Tb team

      • Yeah, but Bigbadbruins he only has 158 NHL games under his belt. He needs another 342 before he reaches the magical “400” gel point.

      • Big Bad Bruins, You apparently don’t watch Serg that much either. Sergachev was given a more expanded role on defense this season and he handled it well. His offensive numbers weren’t as good as his rookie season, but the sophomore slump was only on the production side. Every stat chart has Serg ranking just behind Hedman on the team.

        I’ll take his 75 6 26 32 12
        Over Drouin’s 81 18 35 53 -8

        Any day of the week

      • BBB, I grant you that Sergachev has modest #s. But Drouin has been at best mediocre offensively and a defensive liability, and with more time in the league.

        Would the Bruins be interested in trading Pastrnak for Drouin? Please?

      • @George:

        Where is Striker?

      • Sophomore slump! Lol that is such a lame excuse, sergachev plays on the majority of the other teams and his numbers are drastically worse! He was terrible in the playoffs getting beat left and right and when his not putting up points he might aswell not be on the ice

    • The point is now moot with Ottawa acquiring C Artem Anisimov from Chicago for Zach Smith straight up. No place for Brassard now anyway.

  3. If Dorion were to bring Brassard home, maybe he could flip him to the Rangers for Zinbadajad. Someone fell for that once before. Morning George
    Hi Chrisms

    • 👋

  4. Brassard has goal scoring ability that you can’t teach. Worth a one year for sure. Not sure he wants a *show me” though because this will probably be his last deal. Injury has paid a toll.

    Gardiner will sign somewhere. Could a PTO work in his case ? He is not old but there are questions about the back

    Dog Days of Summer

    Buchnevich would be a good fit with the Oil. Maybe him and a conditional pick for Puljularvi .

    • He probably won’t have a choice otherwise. Just look at all the UFA and some RFA signings so far, and 1-year deals far exceed any other terms.

      • going to be lots of aging vets offered league minimum or PTO’s.

  5. Brassard at a low cost one year deal might make sense for the Habs if there are no other options. And I sure hope there are other options. If Buchnevich is really available, I hope Bergevin at least inquires.

    As for Leddy to the Habs, that ship has sailed. If Panarin had signed with the Isles, Leddy may have been available for prospects and picks. But the Isles cap situation allows them to keep him and add another reasonably priced forward. Next year, when Barzals ELC expires, they may have to move out salary. But for now, Lou can sit back and wait until he receives a strong offer.

  6. I think Leddy will be moved but it will take a prospect or forward such as Beauvillier (talented but replaceable) to get an impact forward.

    The reality is the Isles need not just a top 6 forward but a true sniper, possibly top line. Leddy isn’t a top 2 dman. However throw in a cheap player such as Beau who has 25-30 goal potential and possibly more along with a top 4 dman under contract for less than 6M/yr in his 20’s? The Isles I believe can ask for a lot especially if the trade partner is Montreal where Beauvillier would be a hometown hero.

  7. The Rangers need to clear some space this year shouldn’t preclude them from extending Kreider. Makes no sense to trade one of your best players after the moves they made. Buchnevich and Namestikov are more likely not part of future. Buchnevich has shown promise but also spends a lot of time in doghouse. Besides, with teams knowing they must shed salary, they’re not going to get full value on any of them. So of the 3, Kreider most likely to get a better haul at deadline should they still look to trade.

    • Buchnevich for Jesse Puljujarvi might be the lesser of evils….Oilers might not be into giving up the #4 pick potential even for a 20 goal scorer….

      • I would do that deal , Puljujarvi for Buchnevich , however it would depend on what kind of $ Buchnevich is looking to resign for. Buchnevich can be hot and cold but when he is on he produces. Put him in a top 6 role with Edmonton and he could light it up, espcially if playing with McDavid. Not sure of his asking price for new contract?

        JP seems to have burned bridges with the Oilers.

      • ds. I’ve said before. I can see a bigger deal with Edmonton. RNH is playing wing for them and would be more valuable to Rangers as a 2c. They need wingers and a 3c. to fill roster. Anderson for Puljujarvi would be an equal swap of prospects drafted high in 1st round. Buchnevich and Namestikov + a 2nd rounder for RNH? Edmonton has about 3-4 m in cap space.

      • @slick
        RNH salary not easy to squeeze and Lias might have more NHL longterm potential than JP. Rangers really need some subtractions and not more projects

      • RNH had a cup of coffee on McDavids wing. 90 % of the time he is there 2C with Draisaitl on McDavids wing.
        They are also not looking to trade RNH and he will be their 2C unless one comes back in the deal or they draft one that makes him expendable. Which they have not as Holland went D in the first round this year.

    • As much as it pains me to say it, I see a buyout for Smith and or Shattenkirk coming. With 40 million + coming off the books in the next 2 years, it should be okay for the 1st two or three years. After that….???

      • Cannot see Shattenkirk bought out… He is the Ranger community guy right now. Smith can go to Hartford. The salary issue is IF keeping Kreider how they fit his salary in next season.

      • With Av’s dealing away Barrie and Preds trading Subban, I find it hard to believe that either team couldn’t use Shattenkirk for 2 years at 50% retained. I don’t see him getting bought out since his cap hit next year is really close to his regular salary. Smith makes sense unless they can make some deals before arbitration’s are done. He’d save Rangers about 3.4 mil this year. His cap hit next year would be 2.5 mil higher, but Girardi’s comes down the same amount. The following 2 years they’d be a combined 2.2 which isn’t horrible considering all the other guys coming off big $ deals. Again, trading Kreider should be a last resort.a new contract should only add about 2 mil to payroll next season.

  8. Here is the problem—teams have limited cap space.

    There is a hold up till arbitration hearings are done so teams have a better idea of space available.

    You also have non arbitration ELC enders like Marner who could be unsigned into next season.

    The issue with Gardiner—he is asking for too much money and too much term. He is a one dimnesional bottom pair offensive Dman. His price is more like mid $4M per and teams would sign him for 2-3 yrs.

    Another facotr in Gardiner is the issue if Ristolainen is being traded. Teams have Risto worth more than Gardiner even facotring in giving up stuff to get Ristolainen. Risto is 4 yrs younger, plays right side, would likely cost less, and he is better defensivly and likely close to equivalent offensivly.

    teams shopping for Risto can fit him in by sending back salary giving them cap space.

    to sign Gardiner you need $6M in space

    • So, Dan, you think Gardiner will be signed for $4.5 million for 2-3 years? In that case, the Leafs may figure out a way to re-sign him.
      I don’t see it that way but you never know.

  9. The NHLPA middle class is quickly going the way of the dodo bird. With the recent signings and how teams are spending their money, there may be only high paid stars and most of the rest of the team will be near the league minimum. This amount disparity cannot be good for any union.

    • And that will constantly change as some among those playing for the league minimum have eye-opening seasons, bumping up their salary demands exponentially, The hard cap and that scenario could see the spectre of another WHA forming up.

  10. Time to get rid of the salary cap. Smaller markets were worried some teams would not be able to compete. Big market does not mean championships. Leafs 52 years no cup ,Rangers 1 cup in 79 years. Boston 1 cup in 45 years ,San Jose never, St.louis 1 cup in 52 years. Detroit and Chicago had success and got punished for it. If you finish last in the standings you should get first pick at the draft.People didn’t like it cause Edmonton got all those picks , so they changed it to a lottery. Edmonton is still celebrating the dynasty they created. You can tell when a team is tanking , penalize them for it and move on. I can only remember 1 team tanking and forgetting they didn’t have their pick. see 2019. Should also do away with the loser point in overtime or add a half-point for participating. Everyone says its a business so lets run it like it is. Sink or swim.No more handouts . How many businesses do you see helping out the competition. Makes you wonder when a small market team makes a run out of nowhere.

    • Rangers or Leafs fan?

    • Vinnie, the NHL is a business, but it is not comparable to what we consider a “regular” business.
      So if I am Jeff Bezos and see an opportunity to disrupt the NHL hockey model can I start a new team in NY, TOR, LA, MTL CHI etc and attack them in the biggest market and compete with them head to head?
      When Melnyk’s lease expires can he move the Senators to Toronto?
      No to all.
      To suggest that large market teams have no advantage is simply not true. They make way more $$. You can’t blame Columbus as their market is smaller and there isn’t anything they can do to change that.
      If you want to expand the game, and create new jobs for players you have to go where the NHL is not. It takes time to grow those markets (usually) and when you do it benefits the players as well.
      If you get rid of the cap teams will go away if they can’t compete, which means fewer NHL jobs for players.

      • Exactly Ray.
        Bettman’s plan to grow the game has shown to be a long but fruitful process.
        It’s a great time to be a hockey fan considering all the talent we’re going to see now and in the future.

  11. Get rid of the salary cap? Really?
    Do you want the end of the 90’s and the beginning of the 2000’s back? So a “Bobby Holik third line pest” will be signed to a $9.0mil per year contract (again)?
    There are enough stupid signing with the salary cap system.
    Imo total bulls**t

    • Juss if the system was perfect I would agree, but with the massive tax disparity; it really isn’t.

      • Ok good point Taz, but it is still better than without one. May be they gonna adress this in the next CBA.

        Just for my understanding, if player a plays in Montreal and player b plays in Tampa. Do both players pay their tax “only” in Montreal and Tampa or do they have to pay the where the play?
        For example player a plays with the Habs in Tampa and then in Nashville and Dallas. Because he is “working” then in Florida, Tenesse and Texas, does he pay his tax in those states or still in Montreal?

      • Actually would like to see another team in Toronto. Would welcome Melnyk, just another Harold Ball ard. I guess the NHL needs to step in an tell Panarin , Bobrosky they can’t move they have to stay in Columbus. That’s the only way they are going to keep people. Same with Ottawa ,Duchene Stone knew what they were up against. If holik made 9 million why do I care. I’m a hockey fan not an accountant . Ottawa’s best years were before the salary cap. Mind you they lost to Toronto 4 out of 5 years in the playoffs . But that had nothing to do with the salary cap.

      • Vinnie, the cap is about teams being able to compete financially. This should lead to more parity, in theory if all teams did everything equally well. Which they don’t, but it takes away the disparity in revenue which in many cases out of the teams control.
        IE – The Leafs haven’t won a cup for half a century and likely collect more revenue than any team in the league. They were brutal for long stretches.
        Yet they can pay their contracts in signing bonuses which is huge for the player when you consider he can make 5% on that money, playing safe, for the year. Then compound year one over the life of the contract, year 2 the same, etc. That is not a small advantage.
        Teams were bleeding or could not compete, the cap simply removes that problem and it ain’t going anywhere.
        The majority of the franchises need to be profitable or the league will shrink. That simple.

  12. Anisimov to the Sens for Smith.

    • Smith has a lower cap hit, but both are signed until 2020-21. in the articles on the sportsnet and tsn homepages are no picks listed. So just a player for player trade?????

      Is the actual salary of Anisimov lower than Smith’s?

    • Yeah, just saw that as I was updating that CapFriendly list Nyr4life. Well, at least it puts them over the cap floor – with Colin White still to sign. A bit more scoring potential too,

  13. Anisimov’s signing bonus of $2mil is probably already payed by the Hawks. So his total salary for the two seasons is $5mil.
    Smith has no signing bonus and will earn $6.5mil the next two seasons.
    Ottawa saves real money and the Hawks get cap space.

    • Sens have an expansion team feel to them….

  14. Still after 27 years. They feel like an expansion team. Ottawa Rising. Yippee!!