NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2020
The latest on Mike Hoffman, Max Domi, and Josh Anderson, plus an update on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE PANTHERS SHOP HOFFMAN FOR A DEFENSEMAN?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports teams are calling the Florida Panthers regarding Mike Hoffman. With the Panthers jockeying for a playoff spot, he doesn’t think they’re shopping players but could listen to offers for Hoffman. They asked for his 10-team no-trade list in December.
The Panthers are a high-scoring team, and LeBrun suggests they have young players coming in (like Owen Tippett) who could replace Hoffman if they were to trade him. Noting their blueline needs, he feels it will take a defenseman to pry Hoffman away from the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers general manager Dale Tallon yesterday stated he’d like to acquire a veteran defenseman to play alongside Aaron Ekblad. “We need to be more consistent on the blue line,” he said. Tallon also said he’s in the market for help on his forward lines, though it isn’t as big a priority.
Given the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space, it could be a dollar-for-dollar swap. Hoffman carried a $5.18-million salary-cap hit. He’ll also become an unrestricted free agent in July. Since Tallon asked the winger for his no-trade list, he could be their likely trade candidate.
MORE DOMI SPECULATION
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Yvon Pedneault is the latest Montreal-based pundit to muse about Max Domi’s future with the Canadiens. He wonders if the strong performance by rookie Nick Suzuki could change Domi’s importance with the club, noting the 24-year-old forward failed to step up as a leader this season when injuries took a toll on the roster.
Domi will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. Pedneault points out the Canadiens have over $62 million invested in next season’s roster, with Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Joel Armia, Tomas Tatar, and Jeff Petry eligible for UFA status in 2021. With Danault and Suzuki centering the top-two lines, Pedneault questions if the Canadiens should invest a big raise in a third-line center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens become sellers by the trade deadline, Pedneault wondered if Domi might be of interest to other clubs. Perhaps, but that’s a move GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t have to make at the trade deadline unless he gets a great offer. He can always wait until the offseason to entertain offers if Domi’s salary demands become too expensive. Bergevin could also consider moving Domi back to the left-wing on his top-six lines, especially if he doesn’t bring back Ilya Kovalchuk next season.
UPDATE ON JOSH ANDERSON
TSN: Darren Dreger took note of the interest in Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson. However, he thinks it doesn’t make much sense for Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to move Anderson unless he gets an offer that just blows him out of the water. Given the winger’s a restricted free agent this summer, Dreger suggests Kekailainen can move him in the off-season if unable to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur. Unless the Jackets get a mind-blowing offer, Kekalainen isn’t under any pressure to trade Anderson.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS’ GOALIE SITUATION
TSN: Bob McKenzie believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will intensify their hunt for a backup goalie with starter Frederik Andersen sidelined day-to-day with a neck injury. While backup Michael Hutchinson was 4-0 in his last four starts, his shaky effort replacing Anderson in a 5-3 loss to Florida may be a tipping point.
TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas can no longer ignore his backup goalie problem. He has no confidence in Hutchinson, suggesting his poor performance throughout this season should’ve spurred Dubas to address this issue much sooner.
Feschuk cites the usual trade targets, such as Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and the Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. However, he wonders if Rangers long-time starter Henrik Lundqvist might waive his no-movement clause to join a contender, though finding room for his $8.5-million annual average value could be complicated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read and heard out of New York indicates Lundqvist won’t waive his NMC. That could change, of course, but I think he’s committed to sticking with the Rangers.
It would take considerable wizardry on Dubas’ part to find a way to fit Lundqvist’s salary within the Leafs’ already limited payroll. Even if the Rangers agreed to pick up half of it, the Leafs would have to shed another $4-$5 million to make it work.