NHL Rumor Mill – February 26, 2020

by | Feb 26, 2020 | Rumors | 25 comments

The latest on Zach Parise, Joe Thornton, and Mike Matheson, plus an update on the Canadiens as the fallout from Monday’s trade deadline continues in the NHL rumor mill.


TSN: cited San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton telling The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz he was disappointed not to be moved to a Cup contender before the trade deadline. “I’ve been dreaming about that ever since I can remember and it just didn’t come to fruition, for whatever reason. I wanted to get something back for the Sharks obviously to help them continue this process with young guys. It just didn’t work out.”

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton was disappointed not to be traded to a Cup contender (Photo via NHL Images).

Pierre LeBrun reported three or four clubs had an interest in Thornton, but he doesn’t think they were elite Cup contenders that Thornton would’ve waived his no-movement clause for. He doesn’t believe the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, or Vegas Golden Knights made inquiries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton has indicated he doesn’t believe this season will be his last. Will he re-sign another one-year, bonus-laden deal with the retooling Sharks? Or does he test the market to see if a Cup contender has interest? His status will be worth keeping an eye on this summer.


TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise was careful with his words as he spoke yesterday to reporters regarding a potential deal that could’ve sent him to the New York Islanders before Monday’s deadline. Parise said he was approached by GM Bill Guerin a week ago about the proposed trade. He reportedly agreed to waive his no-movement clause but declined to comment about that.

Parise insisted he still loves playing in Minnesota and wants to help the Wild succeed. He had no interest in discussing what the future holds or whether he hopes to be moved in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin already suggested the Wild and Islanders could revisit those trade discussions this summer. We can’t rule out the possibility Parise may be playing his final season with the Wild.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens will be worth watching in the off-season. He and several colleagues believe Habs general manager Marc Bergevin will be swinging for the fences this summer.

TVA SPORTS: Following the deadline, Renaud Lavoie suggested the Canadiens won’t be the same team next season. He noted Bergevin’s best deals tend to be made in the summer. However, he would be surprised if winger Tomas Tatar and defenseman Jeff Petry are moved. Both are a year away from unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $63 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, the Canadiens has Max Domi and Victor Mete as their noteworthy free agents, and both are restricted free agents. Domi had arbitration rights, which has sparked speculation over his future in Montreal.

Assuming those two are re-signed, the Habs will have sufficient salary-cap room to boost their roster with a significant addition via the UFA market. However, enticing UFA stars to Montreal has usually proven a difficult task.

That could force Bergevin into the trade market. Perhaps he dangles Domi as trade bait if his contract talks get contentious. A really big move would be shopping goalie Carey Price or defenseman Shea Weber, but unless they want out, I don’t see either guy moving on this summer.

Bergevin does have considerable depth in draft picks (14) in this year’s draft. I daresay he’ll draw upon that for trade bait, perhaps by targeting a cap-strapped club looking to shed salary.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers would have loved to acquire Brady Skjei before the New York Rangers traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes. Two sources claim the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space limited them to attempting a dollar-in, dollar-out trade. He thinks the Panthers offered Mike Matheson for Skjei, but that move didn’t make sense cap-wise for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson’s name surfaced in the rumor mill in the weeks leading up to the recent trade deadline. If the Panthers once again fail to reach the playoffs, perhaps he’ll become part of an off-season roster shakeup.


  1. Really like what Rangers did. I think I was one of the few who wanted Kreider signed long term, 8 years structured somewhat like Schenn deal. He got 7 with a lot front loaded with SB’s. Full nmc in 1st 4 years. 15 team trade list in last 3 which gives Tangers options down the road. The Skjei trade was surprising , but gives them cap relief in a big way. As Gorton said, dealt from a position of strength as they’re pretty deep in left d prospects and still have Staal and Smith. Was really surprised they didn’t have to take back salary from Canes. At end of day, they weren’t really sellers and they definitely weren’t buyers. Picked up an extra 1st round pick and didn’t really weaken team as they try to sneak into playoffs

    • I agree with the Rangers minus that Brady for Trouchek might of been better long term with the Rangers system weakness down the middle(aka no center prospects with top 6 potential).
      But I believe that means they intend to resign Strome and go with Zib-Strome-Chytil next season

      • DS. Only reason Rangers might consider Strome trade would be if they don’t wanto give him a bigger, longer contract. Replacing him with Trochek wouldn’t make much sense. Same age. Same money in future. Chytil has potential to eventually be a 2C and they’re high on Henrickson. ( I think that’s his name). Skjei move was for cap relief. As Lyle said, Florida wanted him, Rangers didn’t want to take back salary

  2. Hopefully the Rangers can get a C prospect in the draft that might fill their prospect pool for c’s . They now have two 1st round draft picks in a deep draft. Maybe Dylan Holloway could fall to them. Howden and McGregg can both play 3rd or 4th line C so I think the Rangers made a smart move moving Skjei for cap space. This is a young team that will grow together and I am really looking forward to the next few seasons.

    • The Rangers could also trade up in that draft – it COULD b0e one of those days with several teams holding a parcel of picks including Ottawa (3 in the 1st round – 9 in the first three) and Montreal (14 picks in the draft) wheeling and dealing

      • good point. rangers have D prospects to sweeten the deal too

      • Well if this draft is really going to be a deep draft – meaning nhl talent in all rounds of the draft, it would make more sense to trade down to get more kicks at the can, you know?

        But by all means trade up, it’s a better philosophy.

    • Knowing your luck, you will get 2nd somehow

  3. Agreed can’t wait for the lottery and then draft day. Prior to that there is a lot of good hockey coming. Hope Skej didn’t cost the Blue Shirts a spot. Realistic chance.
    Columbus fading and the Carolina net issues. Spots up for grabs

  4. The change in Montreal must start at the top. Bergevin must be replaced. Many’s the summer we thought there would be changes but he cannot get it done. Much has been said about the difficulty of bringing top free agents to Montreal. I believe the main reason to be that no one has confidence that the current GM can build a winner.
    Lebruns observation aside, Petry and Tatar should be the ones to go, as they are two of the teams older players and pending UFAs. Between the two of them they may be able to bring in 2 first rounders and a couple of good young players or prospects that would help in a couple of years.

    • Howard, there have been quite a number of references by players and columnists about why players are reluctant to sign in Montreal.

      The top four are taxes, fan scrutiny, weather and language.

      Of these, taxes and fan scrutiny are the biggest. You may remember that Bergevin would have had to add $2 million to his offer for Radulov to make it net equal to Dallas’s offer when taxes were factored in.

      You may remember Cary Price, who is as calm as they get, saying he felt like “a hobbit in a hole” and didn’t like going out for groceries because of too much fan attention.

      True, Tavares didn’t want to consider Montreal because he didn’t think they were a contender but there is ample evidence that the above factors are important.

      As for Bergevin, I think he is right that you have to build through the draft, especially when big name UFAs won’t sign in Montreal. The Habs best first round pick in the past decade was at # 3 and Galchenyuk was at the time rated highy. He was a bust. Montreal hasn’t had a pick in the top 5 before or after, and haven’t been lucky enough to have a Matthews or McDavid available to them.

      Even then, how are the Oilers and the Leafs doing? So, I do not agree Bergevin is the problem.

      • LJ, good post. The stuff I read about Bergevin reminds me of the “Dim Jim” comments around the Canucks.
        Suddenly Vancouver is competitive and Jim’s not so dim, is he?
        A couple of hits on draft day and everything can change pretty quickly.

      • and Gary Bettman is ok with tax difference here. If this would affect his beloved teams, he would figure it out the solution, but who cares about Canada, even more, who cares about Quebec!
        Language is a lame excuse, i didn’t know that hockey players are soft and this could be an issue.
        Fans? Well you wanted to be a pro player, deal with pressure, if not, go and play in Arizona, Dallas or Florida.

  5. I’m not a big Strome fan, especially after taking another dumb penalty that led to Isles pp goal that made it 3-2. As My buddy NY4 has pointed out, for whatever reason, he’s clicked with Panarin and he’s rfa. Would probably make sense to give him another year. I’d like to see them add a right wing next year to that line that can put puck in net. Maybe Kakko steps up. Maybe Kravtsov.

  6. IJ and Howard….

    While a Leaf fan I often to Montreal radio late into and after their games…..the reason…..I love the raw passion that flows down from the crowd with every post hit, every close offside. every unjust non call by the refs…..

    Last night in the post game show the callers almost alternated as to whether to keep Bergevin whether to trade Petry & Tatar …some even want to trade Price and Weber….many wanted to fire Timmins ( Chief Scout)….challenged the logic of not taking best player available ( Matthew Tkachuk) not the centre KK….in short like the morning after a Leaf loss

    About 3 weeks ago I quoted PJ Stock who wanted to strip the whole team….in terms of trading older guys….sending younger guys down to Laval until they get a winning tradition ….re build deeply and slowly….

    You two are thoughtful Habs fans…..what do you think of the next phase for Montreal….??

    • It’s a tough situation. They have two legit star players, but both are older players. By the time the Canadiens’ youth are ready, how well will Price and Weber be performing.

      Count me among the optimists (always): I think they had serious injury troubles this year. If they had a quality backup, we may be talking about them still being in the hunt for a spot. As Lebrun stated, nobody has been a better goaltender in 2020 then Carey Price.

      My hope is that Bergevin stays and they either win the lottery or trade up to get that pick. He has the assets to do it and he’s shown that he’s not afraid to make a deal. Whether it happens or not, we shall see.

      If they miss next year, then they need to change both management and coaching, and should probably consider a president of hockey operations. Molson is too close to this side of the team, in my humble opinion.

      • thank for writing …I did not know you were one of the Hab fans here

      • The only problem with trading up to get the # 1 pick is, I can’t see any of the bottom 3 – Detroit, L.A., and Ottawa giving that up for anything the Habs might offer to “sweeten the pot.” A potential franchise star francophone – and with Daigle still very much in mind I stress POTENTIAL – is just as important to Ottawa – probably more so considering their attendance problems – while neither Yzerman nor Blake will pass up someone of that calibre.

        Same with the next three – Anaheim, New Jersey, Chicago (I discount San Jose since their pick belongs to Ottawa giving them two solid kicks at the can).

      • I am with George: who would part with a pick that will get them Lafrenier?

    • Yeah, I think you asked me this before OBD. It might be that I reply too late in the day as I think most here are east coasters and I am on the west coast.

      My answer is that if one can’t induce top UFAs to sign, the only two choices are the draft, good trades and supplementing the line up through second and third tier UFAs.

      I think Bergevin has done well in trades: Petry, Weber, Tatar, Suzuki – and ok in signing secondary UFAs: Chiarot and Armia.

      That leaves the draft. I have often pointed out how many busts there are even with first rounders. If Kotkaniemi and Poehling don’t take a step forward next year the Habs are in big trouble because there isn’t another option I know of.

      And yes, OBD, I have a good time exchanging barbs and needles with a good friend who is a Leafs fan. Sadly, we are more likely to console each other this year.

      Let me know if you read this, otherwise I will repost tomorrow, earlier.

      Thanks for the chance to answer.

      • LJ, I’ve heard all of the reasons as well. I truly think that taxes are overplayed as a reason. Remember, taxes are complicated; it is not nearly as simple as multiplying a contract by the tax rate. There have been many articles about how the differences are not as much as people think. NY and California have high taxes. Their teams don’t seem to have a problem attracting free agents. Ontario taxes are high, yet JT signed with the Leafs.
        Of the permanent factors, language is the 800 pound gorilla. The one no one likes to speak about. Right now, I still believe the largest impediment is the fact that the team is in a rut and the GM does not seem to have a plan. There was a time, 10 or so years ago, when the Habs were able, under Bob Gainey, to lure some good if not great UFAs. There was Cammaleri, coming off a 39 goal year and one of the top free agents that year. Also, Gionta and Cole, two solid scorers.
        The key is now to copy the Rangers plan. Trade a couple of veterans for picks and prospects. And in 3 years or so they may very well be cOmpetitive and lure some good UFAs even if not the top ones.
        One thing is for sure. What Bergevin has been doing hasn’t worked.

      • I read it and enjoyed….one of my frustrations is that we see so little of other teams….and yet the interest is hokey in general even if the fantacism is for one or two teams….so I ask about others…

  7. I am one of those who believes Bergevin is subtly better than people think.

    The trade for Phillip Danault turned out well. Whatever you think of Domi, he is better than AG, so that was a win. Subban for Weber? No brainer who won that trade. Turning nothing into a 3rd round pick in the Kovalchuk adventure? Decent. Getting rid of Steve Mason’s cap hit and swiping Joel Armia in the process? Nothing short of competent managing. Turning Pacioretty into Nick Suzuki will pay dividends down the road, I’ve no doubt. Patches has been dynamite in Vegas, but signing him for big money in Montreal would not have made them cup contenders.

    Sure, the Habs fans will point to the fact they didn’t get futures for Tatar and Petry, but as anyone here can agree, I think, a steady veteran presence is a huge boon to the young players on a rebuilding team. You need more than just a good coach to guide you and show you how to prepare for games, how to behave like a professional and buy into the workout routines, etc expected by the team.

    Petry has these qualities in spades, and between he and Weber, there is at least a semblance of defence and stability on a team lacking it overall.

    Imagine the blueline without Petry… You would have Weber babysitting Mete, Kulak, Romanov (if he comes over), Juulsen, Fleury…. Petry takes pressure off of Weber.

    Anyway, long story short, Habs fans, as difficult as it is, are going to have to be patient. It’s not like Bergevin experiences zero pressure from Molson to compete for the playoffs every year either.

    • Well said and very accurate.
      I think he’s a real good manager.

    • All those trade are mediocre, to fill up spots. Habs don’t and won’t have a REAL STAR up front for years to come, especially when you’re taking KK over Tkachuk or Pettersson.
      I would put Bergevin as one of the worst managers in the last 10 years. He is afraid to make a big move (except Weber vs Subban trade), he is afraid of tanking (look at NY Rangers, last year 2nd overall, this year 3 1st round picks, and they already have superstars up front). Habs have nothing.
      I’m extremely disappointed that Petry and Tatar are still in MTL, this is not what this team need.
      Habs will be mediocre team for years to come, i don’t expect them to fight for play offs for the next 4-6 years, not with this management, coach, and draft picks.