NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2019
The latest on Alex Pietrangelo and Carey Price in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE LEAFS PURSUE PIETRANGELO?
THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required) James Mirtle recently wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs should pursue St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo to fix their blueline now or during the summer. The 29-year-old defenseman is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. With limited salary-cap space for next season, the Blues could find it difficult re-signing him.
Mirtle doubts Pietrangelo is going anywhere this season. He carries a full no-trade clause, loves playing in St. Louis, and the Blues are one of the best teams in the league. However, contract extension talks with the Blues are nonexistent. Mirtle notes Blues management have been sniffing around the Leafs lately.
If the Leafs pursue Pietrangelo next summer, Mirtle suggests they’ll have to subtract dollars from their forward lines to free up sufficient cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m encapsulating the main points from Mirtle’s piece, which goes into far greater detail on this subject. Pietrangelo and the Blues could part company in the near future, but it won’t happen during this season. They’re sitting atop the Western Conference and intend to stage a serious defense of their Stanley Cup championship. If the Leafs, or anyone else, want Pietrangelo, they’ll have to wait until next summer.
Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $73 million tied up in 15 players for 2020-21. Recent speculation suggests the Pietrangelo camp could seek around $8.5 million annually on a long-term deal. Assuming the cap jumps to $84 million, they won’t have enough to re-sign Pietrangelo and leave enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Vince Dunn and Sammy Blais without making one or two cost-cutting trades.
The Leafs, meanwhile, have over $65 million invested in just 10 players. Except for Morgan Rielly, all their current roster defensemen are due for new contracts next summer. Signing Pietrangelo will take up a big chunk of their cap space, leaving little to suitably restock their blueline unless they trade away a salaried forward. It’ll take considerable creative accounting to pull it off without significantly weakening their depth elsewhere.
PRICE TO COLORADO OR VANCOUVER?
TVA SPORTS: Michel Bergeron recently restated his belief the Montreal Canadiens should consider trading goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber. He cites Price’s desire to win the Stanley Cup, pointing out he and Weber aren’t getting any younger. Bergeron suggests it’s time to move on.
Acknowledging Price’s no-movement clause, Bergeron believes he could waive it for the right destinations. One could be the Colorado Avalanche, who could win the Stanley Cup this season. Another is the Vancouver Canucks, which is close to the small North BC town where he was raised.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price isn’t going anywhere. His no-movement clause is a sticking point, and so is his $10.5 million annual cap hit through 2025-26. In addition to Price agreeing to be moved, the Habs could be forced to pick up a big chunk of his salary-cap hit to get a deal done.
The Avs seem content with their current goalie tandem of Philipp Graubauer and Pavel Francouz. Maybe that changes if they struggle in the playoffs, but I doubt GM Joe Sakic intends on shaking up his goaltending this season.
As for the Canucks, they’ve given no indication they want to move on from Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko. They could be in the market for a starter next summer if Markstrom departs via free agency, but it’s too early to say that’s going to happen.