NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2020

by | Jan 3, 2020 | Rumors | 55 comments

Having made the first NHL trades of 2020, the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, and Montreal Canadiens might not be done dealing. Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.


SPORTNET’s Eric Francis, the Calgary’s Sun’s Wes Gilbertson, and The Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank report the Calgary Flames freed up salary-cap space by shipping winger Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres for a fourth-round draft pick in 2020. The move clears $4.3 million from the Flames’ cap payroll.

Does Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving have more moves in store? (Photo via NHL.com).

Gilbertson and Cruickshank report Flames general manager Brad Treliving doesn’t intend to sit on his new-found cap space. Gilbertson believes this allows Treliving the flexibility to go shopping for another roster piece. Cruickshank speculates the Flames GM could be in the market for a big, top-six winger, preferably on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider would fit the bill, though he skates on the left side. So would Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Brandon Saad, but his $6-million annual average salary through 2020-21 could be tricky to accommodate unless a salaried player heads to Chicago or the Blackhawks pick up part of his cap hit. The LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli would be a natural right-side fit. It’ll be interesting to see if Treliving pursues one of those guys before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres indicates they’re not giving up on their playoff hopes this season. Scandella will provide some welcome left-side blueline depth and will likely line up alongside young Cale Fleury on their third defense pairing. If this move pays dividends for the Habs, Engels speculates GM Marc Bergevin could make more to keep his club’s postseason dreams alive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Scandella proved a cost-effective depth move for the Canadiens, giving up just a fourth-round pick in 2020 to acquire him. The Habs still have three picks (including their own) in the fourth round. With over $5.5 million in cap space, Bergevin has room to make another addition or two before the deadline.

That’ll depend, of course, on where they are in the standings. Sidelined forwards Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia and Paul Byron should be back in the lineup by month’s end. If they’re still in the hunt by then, perhaps Bergevin will go shopping for a top-four defenseman.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported via Twitter the Buffalo Sabres could have more moves coming. “Sounds like Buffalo is still on the hunt and willing to move other pieces,” he wrote.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adding Michael Frolik from the Flames will provide experienced right-wing depth to their forward lines, but they could use a scorer to take some of the offensive burdens off their top line and perhaps offset the absence of sidelined winger Jeff Skinner. With the Sabres’ struggling to stay in the playoff race, perhaps their next move will come in the following days.

 They still have depth on their defense to draw upon as trade bait. Blueliner Zach Bogosian has requested a trade, as has forward Evan Rodrigues, but it could take some creativity on management’s part to find a suitable return.


  1. LOve the Scandella move. Brings a LD upgrade on what the Habs have. But an overlooked Key there is that Rielly had another year next year. Scandella and Sturtz are Ufa/Rfa at season ends you can let them walk and free up a contract slot for Romanov.

    • Hi James

      I already posted on Morning Coffee my thoughts w.r.t. the trades made yesterday.

      If I was a Habs fan I would be very pleased; taking the 5th (’21) and Sturtz as equivalent to the 4th (’20) … none of which likely ever to make the NHL…. then it is basically Scands for Reilly… Habs had the extra space so that move made them stronger on D

      As a Pens and Leafs fan…. that hurt… either team could have had Scands for a 4th. Leafs didn’t have the space; but with Guentz now out for the year; Pens have space in spades!!!!

      Pens, already down their 2nd and 3rd best D-men; could have had a very very solid D-man for a 4th????? 🙁 🙁 🙁

      I think Jim Rutherford should be crying all morning; I am!!

      Great move GMMB !!

      • Pretty sure gmjr wants that space to shore up his offense. Dumo retuning will shore up the d. I think saad should be the target depending on cost. Bjug and galley off the books next year opens up plenty of space for him.

      • It was a good move, but the Habs are done this year. Despite the upgrade via Chiarot, Kulak and (fill in the blank 6th d) have been unable to get the job done.

        There are injuries but mostly this is on Price. He is the top paid goalie in the league yet he isn’t in the top 20 in GAA or save %. His lack of consistent performance is the biggest reason why the Habs are taking on water and about to go under.

    • James Gallagher, I completely agree re: Romanov! Getting an LD with term would have actually complicated their depth chart, as they’d then have Chiarot, Mete, Scandella and Romanov on the left side next year. While any of the existing three are expendable, it would have made things tricky.

    • Scandella was playing great for Buffalo. Good pickup for Montreal.

  2. “Cruickshank speculates the Flames GM could be in the market for a big, top-six winger, preferably on the right side.”

    C’mon Brad Treliving, you know you want Nick Bjugstad.


    If Jimmy could move NB, he could get two UFA rentals, not just one.

    Kreider is the obvious target, but Toffoli or Pageau would be good fits, too. Worse comes to worse, bring Conor Sheary back. Hopefully do better than that, but…

    The acquisitions of Marino and Pettersson, plus the solid picks of Poulin and Legare last year means they can liquidate this year’s draft, if need be.

    Geno playing out of his mind, Rust becoming a star, Sid coming back, Marino coming from out of nowhere and Jarry emerging as the best goalie in the NHL?

    You have to give that team every chance.

    • With you MG save for Kreider as Pens key target

      He would definitely be a fantastic add ; BUT there will be a bidding war and methinks what needs to be given up for s too much for the rental return Kreider will give

      Personally I feel the bidding war (for Kreider) will demand a return that Jimbo similarly could use with LA to get BOTH Toffoli AND Hutton

      If somehow Jimbo could get Blake to bite on Bjug and Laffy for Toffoli and Hutton … that would be great and then frees up even more Cap space

      Move G-Chuck for a pick

      Take that pick ; plus Legare ; plus another Pens pick (3rd /4th) for JGP

      That still leaves Pens with loads of Cap space AND still with their 1st

      Without any more moves and when Sid; Shultz; Dumo back


Geno/Rusty/ Kahun

JGP/ Horny/Simon







      *The biggest gain in this is that with the Hutton acquisition JJ and Ruhweedel won’t play a single game until next year

      **That line-up has an EXCELLENT shot of getting to the ECF (maybe Guentz back by then) and a fair shot at getting to the SCF where I think the above rister matches up very well against Knights OR Blues OR Avs

      • First off Pengy, I can guarantee Toffoli brings a similar return as Kreider does. They have almost identical numbers this year and over their careers. Add in the fact out of the two Toffoli is the only one to top 30 goals and to win a cup, so to think Kreider commands a bidding war and Toffoli is left for the bargain shoppers is laughable.

        Secondly, LA is rebuilding, why the hell would they want Bjugstad?!?! If anyone wants Toffoli, be ready to surrender a prospect/second, something of that ilk. Maybe even a first if this elusive bidding war you speak of comes to fruition.

      • Hi CK

        Sorry if I mis-conveyed my liking if Toffoli

        Dont get me wrong

        I certainly don’t de-value Toffoli’s worth; especially the SC pedigree

        I saw him play as a 14 and 15 year old (Toronto Jr Canadiens AAA) in the GTHL (played against one of my sons) and I was impressed then

        Im just going on the chatter and postings and blogs and TSN and SN and it appears from them that Kreider is more in demand

        I agree with you wrt Toffoli having pretty dang fair numbers ;

        Setting aside the Righty/Lefty sit…..They are fairly close: on track for:

        Kreider 24-27-51
        Toffoli 22-24-46

        Both UFAs ; Kreider 1 year older

        I’ve no idea why TSN SN etc laud him more (maybe the extra 3” and 30 Lbs????IDK ????)

        The talk seems to be a reference to a 1st definitely included in Kreider but not necessarily for Toff

        I’d love either on the Pens but I just have a gut feeling that Kreider will cost more

        Re LA rebuilding and getting younger; my proposal has them (LA) getting marginally younger trading a 26 and 27 year old for a 24 and 27 year old ; but has 2 UFAs moved for a cost controlled Centre (1 more year) and a speedy freshman RFA that should be able to be re-upped for $800 K

        To me the proposal is not that far out of whack

        Your proposal had a prospect and a 2nd

        Instead of a prospect I provided a roster player (Laffy) and instead of a 2nd I provided a big C that can play wing and cost controlled at $4.1 M for next year

        Sorry for the miscommunication

      • No apologies necessary Pengy. I’ve read a lot of your posts over the years to know you are always very respectful when commenting on here.

        I just feel it’ll be easier for LA to trade Toffoli for younger rebuilding assets, preferably draft picks. Bjugstad just seems like a pain the ars, as they’ll have to turn around and trade him too, at a lesser value.

      • Hi CK


        How about Laffy ; 4th ; and whatever Pens get in s separate trade for Bjug (which should be a 2nd; 3rd outside)

      • Jack Johnson has been very good this year. Not acceptable, not passable…VERY GOOD.

        Been playing on our top pair during our recent (what?) 8-3 run. He’s fine.

        Stop grinding the axe and start watching the games, my friend.

        It’s Bjugstad (and Horny, but he’s going nowhere) who are the ill fitting pieces to Sully’s system.

      • The man who was our entire offense is sinking the team? Jj ain’t been a tire fire but good? That’s a goofy adjective to use.

      • Horny was our entire offense in a loss. To an inferior team.

        This season has made it very clear. Sully’s system needs young, fresh and fast legs. We win, even with no name players. Our record has been mediocre whenever the older slower players are healthy.

        Bjugstad has never fit here. He’s a Western Conference player.

        And I’ve seen Johnson have maybe two weak games this year AKA no more than any other D man on the team. Maybe less.

  3. What moves do the Canucks consider?
    Mid 6 RW is my tbought.

    • C’mon, Jim Benning, you know you want Nick Bjugstad.

      • 👍🤞

  4. As a Habs fan, good trade for Bergevin. However, I don’t see the point, now, with Gallagher out. Lots of season left but the Habs odds of making the playoffs are quite, quite low. Why trade futures for players when the odds are still stacked against you even making it.

    More likely Habs are further out of it at the deadline and they use their cap space to take on bad contracts and more picks/futures.

    Nice to test out Scandella, but not really sure it does much at this point. Probably best case scenario is he plays awesome for the Habs and they can trade him for a 3rd rounder (which would be nice dealing by MB)

    A complacent playoffs-missing Habs fan

    • Hi Paddy,
      I agree that the Habs are probably not going to make the playoffs this season. I do thing, however, Scandella might not be a rental and the Habs have a shot at re-signing him. I think Scandella will replace Kulach and the Mete-Fleury tandem has looked good. The D corp with Scadella looks solid, not out-of-this-world-crazy good but solid. I think MB has created a solid base for the team and good things can happen ……next year. This year we miss and pray for a draft miracle and get a high pick

      • Draft miracle wont happen in MTL. If you’re horrible, max 3rd pick, if you’re ok, 7-15th. Same as Canucks, or OTT. But as we know, draft lottery is a “lottery”.
        (Shero enters the chat)

  5. I would take Bjugstad. The cost would be quite low . Big body wing or Center and a former first rounder. Just injury prone .

    Flames do need a scoring right winger. Their history has been to sign so not a rental type deal I believe .

    • S7

      Make Jimbo an offer “he just can’t refuse” for Bjug

      Thoughts for offer?

      • Pengy/Jimbo
        Jankowski for Bjug & Pens eat $1.5 mill of salary this year & next year.

      • Hi Kevin

        If it had been the MJ of 18/19 I’m all over that

        This year he’s struggling big time …. 1 point (A) in 34 games; minus 12; so the deal just saves Cap this year and adds Cap next year

        Now if you’ll accept

        Bjug (50 % retained) and JJ

        For Brodie and MJ

        Saves Flames about $1 M this year

      • Translation:

        No way we take a struggling player… but we’ll take a good player and a struggling player for two of our 💩 s…..

  6. OK I am a die hard Habs fan. I like what Mark Bergevin is doing however the team is stuck behind the 8 ball. Salary Cap works to an extent but no one wants to sign with the Habs and why would they. Canadians teams haven’t won the Cup because the cap doesn’t include taxes and playing in Montreal eats your pay check. The only avenue is to rebuild through the draft which is what The Habs are currently attempting.However there fan base is stubborn and needs appeasing. They need to get rid of that french only attitude and have more hockey sense There I said it!!!! This trade is good improves the team slightly and it appeases the fan base. It also helps next years cap. Its like a magician see I am trying to help the team yet it helps with the rebuild. Trade Weber and Price the fanbase would revolt and they will lose money with no one attending games. That’s the Habs conundrum. Miss the playoffs maybe Bergevin loses his job along with Julien. and please dont say Patrick Roy he will turn it into a circus I am not a fan of him coaching or GM. The only solution IMO is to hire Pierre McGuire the encyclopedia and hire Ducharme or Bouchard as the head coach and or assistant to appease the fanbase and know the young players. This way it makes all sides happy. As for now I will be a good soldier root for the Habs win and if they lose it isnt bad either continue to get higher draft picks and rebuild. Thats the only way to get better and a chance to win the Stanley Cup. and please no foolish dreams to make trades to try to get in the playoffs and mortgage the future. I dont blame Bergevin nor Julien I blame the market

    • kovalchuk????wow habs seem to be in desperation mode.

  7. What happened to the hockey insiders? It seem they are more fictional then reality.

    Three trades yesterday that no one talked about prior. The last few trades that has happened the insider discussed or posted the day it happened generally an hour or two before hand.

    It appears teams are able to keep things quiet if they choose to do so.

    The insiders discuss potential moves on up coming ufa’s of teams not looking to make the playoff’s which we also do hear; however it seem more likely today that the insiders are only finding out the day of a trade or signing.

    Are we seeing less and less of the insiders getting valuable information before it happens.

    • Good point.

    • “Are we seeing less and less of the insiders getting valuable information before it happens.”

      No. We’re not.

      • To be fair to the insiders, they’ve reported Frolik on the trade block for nearly a year, while Scandella has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill over the past couple of months. They may not have known the final destinations but they did know those players were being shopped.

      • Good point.

    • Insiders dont know wverything to the minute detail. The peice things together from tidbits of information. Nothing has chamged. An i sider will also not dosclose information he has been asked to keep quiet. That insures he can be trusted and remains prevy to the insider informstion.

  8. The only insider that really knows what is going on is Bob Mackenzie. The rest just make it up.

    • I would agree Vinnie, except to add Friedman.
      The worst is Dreger, he just talks to hear his own voice and says nothing.

    • Not so. Renaud Lavoie, Kevin Weeks and Elliott Friedman are all reputable insiders.

      Heresa free one: Watch for Kovalchuk in Habs silks by tomorrow.

      • no, no no!. Kovalchuk is a career – 152. No, not a typo. No way he fits into Julien’s style. Kovy is a spent force.

      • Kovy already a Hab

        2-way $700 K (NHL) $70 K (AHL ) 1 year

        Basically ZERO risk ($70 K if he doesn’t work out) for Habs

  9. Great deal for the Flames. They were not going to sign Frolik next year so to get a 4th and dump his salary before the trade deadline is a big win.
    Buffalo also wins in the deal as Frolik is a good veteran player and the Sabres need forwards. To the Sabre fans on here you will be pleasantly surprised how dependable and good Frolik is!

    Just waiting for the next deal Treliving cooks up. Could involve Jankowski or even Bennet.
    I hope he does not trade away any draft picks, he has traded away so many in the past 4 years the prospect cupboard is pretty bare

    • Yep FlamesFan, a good deal for both teams.
      The question is what’s next for the Flames now that they have some space.

      • Yeah Ray, that is a good question.
        Somehow I think it will be someone totally different than the usual suspects being talked about.
        Who knows maybe it could be another crazy Flames / Oilers deal like:
        Jankowski for Puljujarvi

        Another team you don’t hear many rumours from is San Jose, they are having a bad year so you would think they would be looking to make some moves

    • Your Flames have to be in on Toffoli or Kreider. Once you get past Gaudreau, Monaghan, Lindholm and Tkachuk, there isn’t much scoring depth. As for my Canucks, I know we need a winger for Horvat’s line…..we just won’t be able to get one unless it’s salary for salary.

  10. Montréal signed Kovalchuk 2 way contract I am not a fan of him but it appeases the fan base and no assets given up another shrewd move by Bergevin I am cool with it

    • Gawd. I saw this just after my post above. An act of desperation.

  11. Nylander to the Flames?

    • For Matthew Tkachuk and Hanifin I suppose.

  12. Listen to Matthew Barnaby on Sirius radio his insights on the game has really helped me understand the players and coaches point of views things you never realize. His opinions are invaluable to me. BTW I dont work for Sirius radio lol

  13. Scandella was a smart pickup and cost little even if he is UFA. He brings immédiates depth and experience and some playoff experience this pickup shows Habs aren’t quite ready to call it a season. Even though he is UFA he’s from Montreal and his uncle Sergio Momesso is also an ex Hab which might motivate him to re-sign. Either way an upgrade ga a happened. It’s good for Rielly as well as he will get more ice time in Ottawa than he was getting in MTL and may help rejuvenate him. All around I think each club won in these deals.

  14. My Sabres stink! Skinner out and now Olofsson hurt, say goodbye. Our GM keeps picking up guys who can’t score and make a lot of money. Teams that stink shouldn’t be only 1.5 million under cap.

    • They’re still rebuilding, no?
      They have a nice core.
      Just need to round off the edges.
      I think the Frolik deal was a good one.
      Probably more help coming.

      • Agree shoreorrpark, the Sabres do have a nice young core.
        A whack of $$ coming off the books next season as well.
        I have seen Cozens live a couple times in Jr and he looks like a player, so another quality C possibly on the way.
        Dahlin and Eichel a couple of young stars.
        Still holes to fill, but good high end pieces.
        Buffalo radio guy was on TSN Edmonton yesterday and he mentioned the Sabres are a good team 5 vs 5 but special teams are killing them, especially the PK.
        Not that strange for a young team.

      • Agreed, Ray and Frolik is great on the PK, so it’s not like he isn’t addressing his teams needs.
        Bright future there, imo.

  15. Sutter/Baertschi for Rodrigues/2nd

    • I dont get the complaints regarding montreal signing kovelchuk. It is a 2 way contract, low dollar. I fail to see any risk beyond it becoming a failed experiment. Then Kovy is relegated to the minors or retirment. He should be motivated