NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

by | Mar 20, 2020 | Rumors | 22 comments

The NHL schedule may be paused, but that hasn’t stopped speculation over off-season trades and free agency. Check out the latest on the Blackhawks and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the Blackhawks decision to retain president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and coach Jeremy Colliton indicates the club remains committed to retooling, not rebuilding. That means retaining their aging (though still productive) core and attempting short-term tinkering instead of a roster teardown.

Nevertheless, Pope believes salary-cap limitations mean jettisoning some salary. He thinks new contracts for Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik will flesh out the Blackhawks’ growing youth corps, which includes Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz is critical of the Blackhawks’ decision, pointing out questionable roster management decisions in recent years have made things worse over the short- and long-term. The Hawks have struggled where similar clubs with high-priced veteran talent (Washington, Pittsburgh) have succeeded.

Gretz cites trading away Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen as part of cap-related moves hurt the Hawks. Lesser deals, such as swapping Dominik Kahun and Henri Jokiharju for Olli Maatta and Alex Nylander, failed to pan out. They also got underwhelming returns on Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson at the trade deadline.

Could Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once again become a salary-cap casualty? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only saving grace for Bowman of late is the recent influx of young talent, such as DeBrincat, Kubalik, Strome, Murphy, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach. Otherwise, the Blackhawks’ future would be quite bleak.

Nevertheless, Bowman is once again saddled with a cap-strapped roster. With over $73 million invested in 17 players and free agents like Strome, Kubalik, and Corey Crawford to re-sign, he must once again cut costs.

Winger Brandon Saad surfaced in the rumor mill in the weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He was a cap casualty in the past. With a year left on his contract and an annual average value of $6 milion, I believe he’s their most likely off-season trade candidate.


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes Mike Smith has played well enough this season to earn a one-year contract with the Oilers. Since December, the 37-year-old netminder went 12-3-4 and tied for the second-most points accrued by a goalie since Jan. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, they won’t have much cap room unless they can shed some salary to re-sign or replace key players. Smith must accept a significant pay cut to stay in Edmonton.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes Oilers veterans Kris Russell, James Neal, and Alex Chiasson could be among the Oilers squeezed out to make room for younger talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell is signed through 2020-21 with a $4 million AAV, Neal through 2022-23 at $5.75 million AAV, and Chiasson through 2020-21 at $2.15 million. Chiasson would be the easiest to move via trade. Russell and Neal could be more difficult and might involve taking back a salaried player.

If the league and the NHLPA agreed to a one-time amnesty buyout because of the loss of revenue wrought by the coronavirus, Russell and Neal would be prime candidates.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently cited Jesse Puljujarvi’s Finnish head coach saying the young winger would be best off playing another season in Finland. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent embroiled in the contract dispute with the Oilers. The 23-year-old Finn opted to play for his hometown club Karpat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some media chatter after Puljujarvi became ineligible to play in the NHL this season suggesting he could have some value if the Oilers attempted to trade him this summer. It’ll be interesting to see what that assessment by his Finnish coach might have upon his trade value if Edmonton GM Ken Holland decides to shop him.


  1. I think the Hawks have more than enough youth . Dach is going to be a stud
    Nylander also is a rookie and not bad . Can’t remember why Teravainen was traded again. It wasn’t due to salary for him at the time. Seabrook is a drain on resources and Crawford an overpay. Keith one of the best bargains in hockey for the last number of years.

    • Teravainen was part of the Bryan Bickell salary dump.

    • Have to wonder how long Seabrook keeps going. Surgery on his shoulder and both hips over the past few months has to be a bad sign for a 34 yr old.
      How much pain was this guy playing with? Have to appreciate his toughness.

  2. Still enjoy watching Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and the best sweaters in hockey.

    • Can’t stand them sweaters. Actually … can’t stand any of the original 6 sweaters. It’s been 100 years. Change it up already. Boring.

      • Maybe when the Yankees dump pin stripes

      • Well most classical music is boring. Most classical movies are boring. Classic and boring go together pretty well.

        Hell. The winter classic is getting pretty dull too.

      • Ya, too many Winter Classics. 1 per year should be all.
        What do you consider a classic movie? Not sure with you young folk.
        Like Gone with the Wind era, or are you lumping in The Godfather (1 & 2), Apocalypse Now etc in that group?

      • Cool Hand Luke, anyone?

      • Luke could crush the eggs!
        Papillon another good prison movie.

      • Sleuth (1972 version with Michael Caine & Lawrence Olivier) and American Graffiti

  3. Chrisms, you and I are respectfully on opposite ends here. Classical is everything for me, I dig the music, I could definitely watch Casablanca a few more times, and the Classical Era of Greek and Roman history is the most interesting of them all 😀

    Plus those jerseys aren’t too bad! Could you imagine a team like the Canadiens bringing in clown jerseys like many of the third jerseys nowadays? Or the dreaded jersey that just has the name on it, like Carolina’s new road jerseys that just says “Canes” diagonally down the front? Blech. Terrible.

    If I see a Red Wings jersey that has the word “Detroit” going diagonally down the front, I’m quitting watching hockey. Just like when they changed the home and away jersey colors, when each of the lockouts happened, when the players didn’t go to the olympics, when the rule changes came into effect and every stick tap was called a hooking penalty….. yep, just like those times..

    • That was a well thought out and articulate reply. Personally I could charge the hill for Dvorak’s new world symphony. The jerseys ain’t bad. But it’s time. I’m tired of hearing those jerseys are the best. Sooooo many jerseys in the nhl and other leagues have made them look…. boring.

  4. Oooh man, George. That was some shinny stuff right there.

    I guess the problem was they didn’t go with the cotton, like Costanza would have wanted!

    By the way, have you met Karl, the exterminator? Yeeeah, that’s what we called him back in school!

  5. Chrisms the original 6 jerseys are all among the top 10. Here is my list (overall not considering home vs away versions)

    1 hawks , no contest.
    2 winged wheel
    3 leafs , yes some bias
    4 blue note
    5 rangers
    6 spoked B
    7 habs begrudgenly (so?)
    8 blue jackets
    9 kings
    10. Panthers?maybe? Rest are so so

    100% agreement on top 7 in any order??

    • My top jerseys….

      1) Canucks mid 90’s skate logo black
      2) Flames Iginla era red
      3) Predators original black
      4) Penguins 80’s and current black and white
      5) Avalanche original maroon/burgundy
      6) Phoenix Coyotes 90’s black and white
      7) Hurricanes original red
      8) Blues mid 90’s Gretzky blue with the red portion
      9) Bruins current
      10) Blackhawks red

    • So sharks? Wild? Ducks? All better. Sharks has to be number 1.

    • 1 – Winged Wheel
      2 – Hawks
      3 – Habs
      4 – Bruins
      5 – Leafs
      6 – Sabres
      7 – Blues

      Bottom 5


  6. Minnesota North Stars green away , New Jersey Devils red away

    classic movie – True Grit , the original with the Duke