NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2020
The NHL schedule remains paused but the off-season trade and free-agent speculation keep churning. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LEAFS LIMITED CAP SPACE COULD HAMPER EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE BLUELINE
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the biggest off-season questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Improving the blueline remains a pressing need, especially on the right side. Landing a dependable right-shot blueliner via free agency, like Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Tanev, Travis Hamonic, Justin Schultz, or Radkos Gudas, is a long shot. General manager Kyle Dubas could be forced into the trade market for someone like Matt Dumba, Rasmus Ristolainen, Colin Miller and Josh Manson.
The Leafs penalty kill also needs help. Fox believes that rings back to their need for more experienced stay-at-home defenders and a reliable face-off man. Their limited salary-cap space means Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson and/or Alexander Kerfoot could become trade candidates. The trio lack no-trade protection in their respective contracts.
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the possibility of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season spells big trouble for the Leafs. They have around $77 million invested in 17 players, with restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, Frederik Gauthier and Denis Malgin to re-sign. Veteran forwards Jason Spezza and recently-acquired Kyle Clifford are unrestricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas surprised many observers last summer (including me) with his ability to juggle his limited cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner to a lucrative long-term contract. He was able to do that in part because he could place permanently sidelined forwards Nathan Horton and David Clarkson on long-term injury reserve.
As Fox observed, Dubas won’t have that option this summer. He could gain some flexibility by acquiring another club’s permanent LTIR player. That’s what he did last summer by reacquiring Clarkson’s rights, but there’s no certainty he can pull off a similar deal again.
Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot often surfaced in this season’s rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. Dubas resisted moving either guy, but he could end up peddling one of them this off-season for a right-side defenseman. I don’t see either of those guys being sufficient to land Dumba or Manson, and the Sabres could be reluctant to send Ristolainen or Miller to a division rival.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined the long-term outlook for the Boston Bruins. Their biggest challenges this off-season are re-signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug and restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk. Gretz feels there’s enough salary-cap space to re-sign both, though there could be some pressure to keep Krug around the $6.5 million mark that the other core players receive.
Starting goalie Tuukka Rask recently hinting at retiring next year at the end of his current contract could be worth keeping an eye on. Backup Jaroslav Halak is a UFA this summer and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug suggested last fall he’d be willing to consider a hometown discount, but we haven’t heard anything further about that possibility. Perhaps a front-loaded deal in which Krug earns $7.5 million in actual salary at the start of a seven-year deal that gradually declines to $5 million by the final year would be acceptable to him. It would keep his cap hit around that $6.5-million range.
Lyle ….Leaf nut as you know….but rather than ranting on about Dubas and/or Marner….predicable as you know…..
I would like to say for we hockey addicts….who need a diversion in these stressful and unusual days….thanks for keeping on when the league is shut down…..we need a hockey diversion…but you already knew that too…
My pleasure. Rest assured I’m not going anywhere doing this crisis. I will continue to provide daily updates to this site.
Hear, Hear Blue, completely agree. Thank you Lyle, it can not be said enough……
Krug is an interesting decision for Boston. Does a flat cap provide an opportunity to lock him up for less as not many teams have the space to offer him a long term deal at big $? Some teams that have the space like COL don’t need a guy like him.
Does not signing him and pursuing a guys like Hoffman or Dadonov make more sense.
If they don’t sign Krug their D will still be OK, but may hurt the PP. The guy is a great PP QB and is great with zone entries.
Is Zboril ready? If they sign Krug does that spell the end for Zboril? Someone will pluck him of waivers IMO if they send him down.
Will some UFA’s accept a short term deal and roll the dice on the cap going up the following year?
Taylor Hall on a 1 year deal anyone?
B’s have options and a short window, not sure what they do.
I would use the $$ somewhere else and let Krug walk unless you can get him on the cheap, and I’m not sure why he would do that. B’s have the D depth, just not on the high end offensively.
Couple interesting articles on Zboril if B’s fans care to read them. For me it is now or never with this player, and seems to have matured which was a concern as the physical ability is there.
These articles are from 2017 my man. Zboril has been passed on the depth chart but quite a few defensemen that were drafted after him
Everything you hear from Krug he wants to remain a Bruin so I guess we will see how bad. Krug is important to the power play and an asset in the dressing room. If they can sign him at a reasonable price than I sign him as long is doesn’t hinder Carlo and Charlie to be extended when the time comes. Carlo to me is the most important d man Boston has and is so underrated. Krejci and Rask maybe are two huge contracts coming off the books in two years.
I fully agree with you Obe. We need defense in Detroit, and if I could have one from the Bruins, it would be Carlo – not McAvoy or Krug.
I would take McAvoy.
He’s a good defender as well, gets the toughest match ups and plays the most minutes. Not very many on the PP either.
Only downside is he will cost more.
Seems odd that Tuuka would walk when he’s still playing great and still in his prime. No major injuries to speak of – a money play?
Some of those Finnish players are different cats.
Kipper also retired early from the Flames, as I recall.
He has plenty of money.
No need for bargaining ploys on his side.
Probably just wants to comfortably raise his children in their own country, in their own culture.
Krech has said the same.
I think, obviously don’t know Rask is serious about retirement he seems to be a family man. He has made enough money to retire quite comfortably and doesn’t seem to care about all time Bruin records. I would like to see him sign for a couple or three years and at team friendly deal Bruins seem to do that. Be nice to see Boston very competitive for next few years than blow it up for a rebuild.