Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 21, 2019
The latest Flames, Oilers, Bruins and Devils speculation in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
AFTER LUCIC-FOR-NEAL SWAP, FLAMES STILL FACE SALARY-CAP CRUNCH
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports the Calgary Flames saw little salary-cap savings ($500k) for this season by shipping James Neal to Edmonton for Milan Lucic. They have around $9.7 million in cap space but that’ll evaporate quickly with restricted free agents such as Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and David Rittich to re-sign. O’Brien speculates it could cost a combined $10 million to get Tkachuk and Rittich under contract.
O’Brien examines some potential cost-cutting options for Flames general manager Brad Treliving, One is buying out defenseman Michael Stone ($3.5 million for 2019-20). Another is trading Bennett’s rights. They could also shop a salaried player like T.J. Brodie ($4.65 million), Michael Frolik ($4.3 million) or Travis Hamonic ($3.875 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Bennett and Rittich filing for arbitration, Treliving’s cost-cutting move could be determined by the outcome of those contract hearings. Bennett’s is slated for July 27, Rittich for July 29.
They could trade Bennett but a more likely course of action is buying out or trading Stone or another salaried player. O’Brien points out Brodie was part of a proposed pitch to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Nazem Kadri before he was shipped to Colorado. Frolik was part of a failed attempt to acquire winger Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild at the February trade deadline.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers have around $2.4 million in salary-cap space following the Lucic-for-Neal trade. He believes signing “a free-agent third-line C, preferably a right-shot, seems a reach.”
Matheson’s colleague David Staples isn’t sure the Oilers want to or should trade defenseman Kris Russell. “Maybe if you can trade for a 2nd line winger or 3rd line centre. But Russell is defensively sound d-man, good on bottom pairing, OK if asked to play in Top 4 due to injury — & 77 oft-injured.” The 77 being blueliner Oscar Klefbom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Oilers GM Ken Holland has up his sleeve. He’s earned kudos for the Lucic-for-Neal swap. Perhaps he’s got something planned to address that third-line center position.
It’s anticipated a promising young defenseman like Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear or Caleb Jones could crack the roster this season. If so, perhaps Holland will try to move Brandon Manning or Matthew Benning to free up some space.
CAN THE BRUINS MOVE BACKES?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Following the Lucic-for-Neal swap, Joe Haggerty pondered the possibility of the Bruins pulling off that deal by offering up David Backes for Lucic. He believes it’ll be very difficult for the Bruins to move the 35-year-old Backes in a similar trade for another problem contract where the Bruins aren’t taking on more years to the player they’d receive or giving up a “sweetener” in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we’ve seen this summer, such moves are possible but they will come with a cost to the Bruins. With over $8 million in salary-cap space and Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to re-sign, they’ll face a cost-cutting scenario before the season opens in October.
They could bury a couple of contracts in the minors. Depending on the combined cost of McAvoy and Carlo, they could be forced to make a trade. If it’s Backes, they’ll either have to retain some salary, take back a toxic contract, or give up a high draft pick or a top prospect.
THREE POSSIBLE MOVES FOR THE DEVILS
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan recently listed three realistic roster moves for New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero. One would be acquiring winger Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights. Gusev and the Knights are said to be $2 million apart in contract talks and Vegas is reportedly shopping him. Ryan thinks Shero was likely among the GMs to contract the Golden Knights.
Another would be signing UFA defenseman Jake Gardiner, who could become more affordable the longer he remains available. Ryan also suggests a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. They could be in need of shedding salary once Brayden Point is under contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Ryan observed, Shero’s already had a busy offseason. He selected Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick in this year’s draft, traded for all-star defenseman P.K. Subban, and signed rugged winger Wayne Simmonds. Shero could opt to evaluate his roster during training camp/preseason play in September before making another significant roster addition.