NHL Rumor Mill – March 16, 2020
Check out the recent speculation about Jacob Markstrom and Justin Schultz, plus a look at what the Coyotes must address in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CAN THE CANUCKS AFFORD TO RE-SIGN MARKSTROM?
VANCOUVER SUN: Ed Willes recently reported on how Jacob Markstrom‘s absence from the Canucks’ crease exposed the club’s porous defense. The Canucks struggled after Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, threatening their playoff hopes. Backup Thatcher Demko was decent, but his play wasn’t at Markstrom’s level.
The 30-year-old starter is an unrestricted free agent. Willes reports of “a discrepancy in the goalie’s perceived value” in contract talks with management.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $63 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21. Chris Tanev is their other noteworthy UFA, while Jake Virtanen, Troy Stecher, Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette, and Zack McEwen are restricted free agents.
Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million for next season, it won’t leave much room to re-sign everyone, especially since Markstrom could seek something around $7 million annually. They could attempt to shed salary by trying to move Loui Eriksson and his $6 million AAV, but that could prove easier said than done, especially if the salary cap doesn’t reach the projected $84 million to $88 million.
The Canucks could tap into this summer’s UFA market for a replacement. Washington’s Braden Holtby and Vegas’ Robin Lehner are the notable starters, but both could prove more expensive to sign than Markstrom.
SCHULTZ DONE IN PITTSBURGH?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel recently reported the decline in Justin Schultz‘s performance this season could leave him facing an uncertain future in Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old defenseman is a UFA this summer, but the Penguins have limited salary-cap space to keep him. Given the drop in his play and the emergence of rookie rearguard John Marino, they might not want to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schultz resurrected his career with the Penguins and was among their top-four defensemen until suffering a serious ankle injury last season. He could still be feeling the effects of that injury as he tries to regain his form. Schultz’s all-around blueline skills should make him a valuable free-agent commodity, but he’ll likely have to settle for less money on a short-term contract.
COYOTES COULD HAVE A BUSY OFF-SEASON
THE ATHLETIC: Citing the Arizona Coyotes offensive struggles, Craig Morgan recently speculated they could face a busy off-season to address that issue. He feels they need a first-line center unless they want to wait for promising Barrett Hayden to develop. They still need a legitimate goal scorer and more production from their blueline. Their defense corps also lacks a physical presence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their limited salary-cap space will hamper their efforts. They’ve got over $79.9 million tied up in 16 players. They can get cap relief if necessary by placing permanently sidelined winger Marian Hossa ($5.275 million) on long-term injury reserve. Their UFAs include Taylor Hall and Carl Soderberg. If the cap remains at $81.5 million, they’ll have to shed salary to re-sign or replace those two, but it won’t leave enough to bring in outside help.
Soderberg and Grabner are tying up valuable dollars over 8m. Got to get rid of them.
Schultz would be a nice add somewhere unless his injury has permanently changed his abilities. Have not seen him play in like two years
You ain’t missing nothin.
I dont see Pittsburgh very much so its hard for me to judge. Who do you prefer? Schultz or Jack Johnson?
Honestly jack. But as to on ice product
Big picture schultz cause he is an ufa.
Amazing how a trainwreck of a franchise like the Coyotes could be in a cap crunch.
I wonder where that guy is that was going to cut and paste my prediction that Phat Phil would get less than 20 goals and 40 points?
Phil “the thrill” Kessel – 70 gms played…. 14 goals, 24 assists, -21.
Money well spent. Coyotes being Coyotes.
No 50 goals for noted Toronto marshmellow Austin Matthews….. that in itself helps make no hockey slightly more bearable.
Saves us all from endless Sportsnet and TSN features on the greatest Leaf scorer of them all.
Rick Vaive and Gary Leeman forver!!! lol
Mathews is the best thing to happen to hockey in a long time.
And rick who?