NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2019

by | Jul 27, 2019 | Rumors | 39 comments

The latest on the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz points out the Washington Capitals face some big decisions with some key players before next summer. Goaltender Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July while captain Alex Ovechkin will enter the final year of his contract.

Will this season be Braden Holtby’s last with the Washington Capitals? (Photo via NHL Images)

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan can open contract talks with Holtby and Backstrom now. The club has over $62 million committed to their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll and nearly $50 million for 2021-22.

Of the two, Gretz considers Backstrom, a top-line center and one of the best players in the world, the priority. Re-signing Holtby could be more difficult after Sergei Bobrovsky received a seven-year, $70-million contract from the Florida Panthers. He also believes the cost of re-signing Ovechkin will surely be over $10 million annually.

If the Capitals hope to re-sign Holtby, Gretz believes it’ll take trading a significant player such as Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, or Dmitry Orlov to free up sufficient cap space. Another option would be shipping out some depth players like Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, and Richard Panik. Otherwise, this season could be Holtby’s last with the Capitals.

NBC WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan noted Backstrom opted for security over money when he agreed to his current 10-year, $67-million deal. He can’t see Backstrom holding the team hostage with an outrageous salary demand.

Regan considers Holtby’s future more uncertain, citing the high cost of money and term, the looming Seattle expansion draft, and the Capitals’ top prospect being goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

NBC WASHINGTON/THE WASHINGTON POST: Brian McNally and Isabelle Khurshudyan examine the cost-cutting options for the Capitals in the wake of re-signing Christian Djoos and Chandler Stephenson. They’re sitting over $1.3 million above this season’s $81.5-million salary cap. One option could be waiving or trading Djoos or Stephenson before the start of the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Freeing up that cap space before the season opens will be much easier for MacLellan than what he’s facing with Backstrom and Holtby before next July. Most Capitals observers share Regan’s belief of Backstrom being the more likely to be re-signed.

Maybe one or both will surprise and accept lesser deals to stay in Washington. Maybe they’ll both demand top dollar. Perhaps they’ll decide their respective NHL futures lay elsewhere and opt to test next summer’s UFA market. Unless they’re re-signed before this season begins, questions over their respective futures in Washington will only grow as next July approaches.


NEW YORK POST/NEWSDAY: In the wake of the Rangers re-signed winger Pavel Buchnevich yesterday, Brett Cyrgalis and Colin Stephenson look at possible ways GM Jeff Gorton could shed salary. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the season opens in October. Cap Friendly indicates they’re above the cap by over $4.1 million and still have restricted free agents Brendan Lemieux and Anthony DeAngelo to re-sign.

Cyrgalis speculates winger Chris Kreider, who carries a salary-cap hit of $4.625 million and is a year away from UFA status, could become a trade candidate. Stephenson suggests Kreider, center Vladislav Namestnikov ($4 million), or forward Ryan Strome ($3.1 million) could be shopped.

Stephenson also proposed a buyout of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk ($6.65 million AAV for two more seasons) or Brendan Smith ($4.35 million AAV through 2020-21). However, the way their contracts are structured, the Rangers won’t see much savings in the second year of the buyout.

Like Cyrgalis, Stephenson considers Kreider the prime trade candidate. He doesn’t see teams lining up for Namestnikov or Strome and doubts they’ll find any takers for Shattenkirk or Smith even if they agreed to pick up part of their cap hits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider seems the most likely to move, though we can’t dismiss the possibility of Gorton finding some way to move one of those other guys by adding a sweetener in the deal. They could also bury some contracts in the minors.

If Gorton goes the buyout route, he has 48 hours from Friday’s settlement with Buchnevich, who had filed for arbitration, to do so. Otherwise, the earliest we could see a cost-cutting move by the Rangers could be sometime in September.


  1. Unless teams practically give good players away they might have to go buyout route. Who can even buy right now? Jersey. Cbus canes mont St. Louis Ana. Col? Ott won’t want more money. Who needs to get rid of cash? Wash Pitt nyr bos tampa tor San cal Vegas. Teams can hold sellers feet to the fire now.

    • I mentioned much the same thing a week or so ago when I said – Jim Benning aside – it’s become a game of chicken with the teams having lots of cap space sitting while those that must make roster moves start to sweat a little. And I don’t mean wait to take on a bad contract, but rather a good $3.5-5 mil quasi-veteran type with some term left who will help at once but without giving up much more than a 3rd, 4th round pick and someone not considered a top prospect,

      Normally, that’s an immediate “no thank you” but as teams draw nearer to training camp or the start of the season and are still smack up or even over the cap, they will simply have to make such a move if they still have key RFAs to sign.

      • My pens are going to have to practically give away a bjugstad or a rust. Good players that should normally bring a decent return.

  2. 48 hour buyout window starts 3 days after Buchnevich signing, so maybe we’ll see a trade today or tomorrow. IMO, Columbus could be landing spot for Kreider if they agree to an extension. Another name not mentioned a lot, Brady Skjei…. Rangers have a deep pool of left handed d prospects. Skjei in 2 years will see a limited nmc kick in that could force Rangers to protect him in expansion draft. Not sure he’s met expectations and could be more valuable on another team looking for a top 4 guy .

    • Moving Skjei is a risk I would not be prepared to make…. He has size and even though has been inconsistent @ times he is easily the best LHD on the roster. Hajek must be top 4 if Skjei is moved to start the season. So the left side would be Hajek, Staal and Lindgren. I’d rather not see ADA or Fox playing on the left. Unless Fox was playing there already?
      Smith to Hartford and Shattenkirk to………..


    • I don’t see Skjei as the problem on the backend. He will be in your top 4 and that should be the plan.


      that should be their top 4 planned for years

      key is to figure out how to manage cap in the next 2 yrs before all the bad contracts finally come off the books.

      • @ihate. I agree. It is getting to that point in 2 years with those contracts expired. Hajek could still be a top 4 shutdown guy and ADA might actually be an NHLer in the end.
        The Rangers might have a huge stable of NHL defenseman at that point

      • I’m not saying Skjei is the problem. Just like Kreider he could be most attractive trade bait. Have to weigh the benefits of clearing his 5.2m cap hit, and how much of a drop off there will be by going with younger guys on elc’s. Rykov, Hajek, andLindgren, could all get a shot at roster spots. I only mention Skjei as another option since trading Smith or Staal isn’t happening and maybe they don’t want to have to buy out either.

      • @Slick….I would trade Kreider before Skjei. Not that Skjei is untouchable, but currently Nothing besides Trouba now would be considered respectable on the Ranger blue line if they traded Skjei. Honestly I see Kreider with the better value too. Rangers have more depth upfront the next few years to get away with moving Kreider. Id like to keep both but the cost to keep Kreider doesn’t make sense.

        Move Kreider now…. get assets…

        2 yrs free cash to rebalance roster and promote some young studs. Get well under cap for a missing piece to the puzzle.

        Interesting waiting…just wish it’d happen already lol

  3. Can the Rangers send Smith to Hartford for cap relief?

    • Yes. Same with Beleskey. For that reason a Staal buyout could be more likely. Plenty of different options here. If you figure Lemieux and DeAngelo signings could cost from 2-3 million combined, they need to clear about 7 million of cap space before season starts. Not sure they can pass on a chance to buyout Smith or Staal. Maybe both?

      • Namestnikov is still good for 20+20…. what is his baggage that no team looking for depth has not taken advantage of the Rangers situation? Rangers might a good portion at this point

      • With their cap space would OTT take Staal for 2 years for a mid rd pick?

      • Not a chance. Once White is signed Ottawa goes past the cap minimum, As for picks, Dorion has something like 17 the next two drafts.

        They also have umpteen D-men now with Chabot, Zaitsev, Hainsey, DeMelo, Jaros, Wolanin and Borowiecki at the NHL level and about to be pushed by top prospects Bernard-Docker, Thompson and Brannstrom, with Englund and Lajoie also in the mix at Belleville.

        The last thing they need is to do NYR a favour by taking on a $5,700,000 cap hit for the next 2 seasons for a mid-round pick. To what end? He isn’t going to propel them up the standings

  4. Ovie will be 34 in Sept meaning he’ll be 36 when his contract expires I don’t see Washington paying over $10m per season just isn’t good business sense, unless it’s one year at a time and he is still producing.

    Why does everyone want to get rid of Chris Kreider? I would think he be part of the plan going forward not some one to dump off in a trade. Won’t be a problem moving him if that’s the route they take.

    • @Caper. Signing Panarin left no room to resign Kreider thanks to the Defense anchor contracts.
      If there is a way to keep him until the TDL that would be ideal. They could absorb his new contract demands for the 21-22 season… 20-21 would be tough. Buyouts would help this season but would not be enough with CK’s new salary needs.

      Moving Shattenkirk(unlikely) is the only way CK can stay. Buyouts are not enough

      • DS, with other guys becoming free agents after this season and the possibility of buyouts, fitting Kreider isn’t a problem. You’re talking about only adding another 2-3 million against the cap next year. The space will be available. The problem is how many years do you want to sign him for at his age? The possibility is there for him to have a big year and hit free agency looking to score a big, 7 year contract. Rangers need to decide if they can’t lock him up now to a shorter term deal with a reasonable cap hit (6-7m) then trading him now and clearing cap space makes sense. Already having Trouba and Panarin signed long term, tough decision on Kreider.

      • @Slick. Kreider knows he can get at least 7×7. I am not sure I love that contract with all the kids coming up on the Rangers either. Columbus might give him 7.5×7 as Boston would if they could

    • I’d love to keep Kreider, but Unless he’s willing to sign a team friendly extension, his departure could be inevitable. I mentioned Columbus as a likely trade partner given JD’s relationship with Jarmo. Kreider would be a good replacement for Panarin there. He’s friendly with Atkinson from their BC days. Blue jackets have the cap space. Other than that, I don’t think a Kreider trade will be that easy considering he could be a 1 year rental. In that case, Rangers might not be willing to settle for a lesser return. He also has a 11 team no trade list.

      • Torts would love the Kreider+Dubois forecheck…. who wouldn’t.

      • Rangers have enough to re-sign Kreider. They will have 2.5 Mil of Giradi’s buyout money off the books when that penalty drops from 3.6 this year to 1.1 next. Add that 2.5 to Kreiders already 4.6 and that’s 7.1 to resign him. He’s the next Captain.

      • KGW. As I’ve said, fitting Kreider isn’t the issue. The problem is how long a deal are they willing to give him? Totally agree, if the do extend him, he’ll be next capt!

  5. How about Kreider to the Blues? Would Sanford@1.5 million, Kostin, and a pick get it done?

    • If it’s a first round pick, maybe… I liked Klostin when drafted but doesn’t look like he’s tearing it up in AHL. Still young. Honestly don’t know much about Sanford but if they can add him to AHL, I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Problem for Blues will be same as NY. Will you be willing to sign him to extension when he’ll be turning 29 next season? You need to re-sign Pietrangelo as well as others too

      • Blues also need to resign Edmonson and Barbashev which should put them up against the cap.

      • Ted – the Blues will shoot over the cap once they sign those two. Barbashev alone should be looking at a bridge deal around $2.4 mil and that will leave them with around $2.6 to ink Edmundson. And he’s coming off a $3 mil cap hit as it is. They need to make a move somewhere.

    • If rangers don’t move quick in this game of musical chairs then it might be cheaper than that

      • Chrisms……. Look Rust can go and we can buyout J.J and maybe move a Simon or Bjugstad..maybe even Pettersson IF NECESSARY…

        We need another top 4 defender to go with Schultz Letang and Dumolin WE cant win without one.

        Rutherford is making the Penguins younger, faster, and more skilled which is how we won the cup.

        Tanev, Galchenyuk Kahun along with Guentzal McCann Bujgstad Blueger Simon Pettersson and this kid Marino we just traded for defenseman 22 going to be the captain of Harvard this season.

        I don’t think Schultz will be a penguin after this season. we need to move on and trade for a t.j Brodie Calgary, Jonas Brodin Minnesota Marco Scandella Buffalo Brandon Montour buffalo

        Rust /Simon /Johnson / Jarry maybe even Bujgstad all trade candidates. We land one of the mentioned defenders above to complete out top 4 finding a bottom pairing d to go with Grudbranson is easier..


  6. Possible moves for Rangers.
    Option 1:
    To Columbus: Kreider and Beleskey
    To NYR: Milano and a 1st
    To Columbus: Strome and Beleskey
    To NYR: Milano
    To Nashville: Shattenkirk and Beleskey
    To NYR: Turris
    To Edmonton: Namestikov(50% retained)
    To NYR: Puljujarvi
    To Detroit: Skjei
    To NYR: AA
    Other options. Staal or Smith buyout. Beleskey and Smith to ahl

    • Would ya consider

      to COL: Kreider & Smith
      to NYR: Zadarov & 2 2nds

    • Ranger do not really need any players back in a trade right now… unless its proven checking center but easier to sign Boyle…

      Kreider for Pulij+picks would be nice but he would not sign an extension to play in Alberta.

      Trade Skjei to ? and then trade Kreider to Boston for McAvoy(yes!

      • Bost aint getting rid of McAvoy…but i’d take him for Kreider, ADA and a 1st lol

        but that still wouldn’t get it done.

        McAvoy is definitely in the long term future for BOS. kid is goooooooooood

  7. Holtby would sure look good in OTT for years to come and give their young squad a chance to be more aggressive. He would definitely be a calming influence. Worth the heavy investment.

  8. Smith proposal =)

    to OTT: Smith, Namestnikov & Vinny Lettieri
    to NYR: Borowiecki & LTIR contract of MacArthur & Gaborik

    Ranger can play MacAthur * Gaborik on LTIR for cap relief and have oodles of $$ to pay it.
    NY gets significant cap relief

    OTT pays same salary but gets a body they can ice and even gets rid of additional dead $$

    Lettieri provides some additional depth offense.

    do I have a yes?

    • Pretty sure insurance pays for the ltir not melnyck. Proposal dead in the water

      • Agree. See above re Staal proposal. Smith is even worse.

      • I did not know theirs were insured. Good heads up. I Know most contracts are but heard over the years a few have not been. Makes sense.

  9. George are you alright?! Miss your insight and big words and how you put them together .

    • Some how I missed your posts George. God I’m older than I thought.