NHL Rumor Mill – March 28, 2020

by | Mar 28, 2020 | Rumors | 14 comments

Check out the recent free agent and CBA speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently speculated this year’s NHL free agents could find it difficult landing a financial windfall. If the remainder of the schedule and the playoffs are canceled, they’ll be robbed of the opportunity to showcase their worth. They could also face a flat salary-cap as a result of the loss of hockey-related revenue.

Could Taylor Hall find it difficult to get a lucrative new contract under a flat salary cap for next season? (Photo via NHL Images)

“If your name is Taylor Hall, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Tyson Barrie, Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug, this is a concerning development”, wrote Fox. “Same goes for soon-to-be RFAs like Max Domi, Anthony DeAngelo, Sam Reinhart, and Tyler Bertuzzi.” He suggested bridge deals might make more sense until NHL revenue stabilizes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One factor Fox neglected to mention was which teams with plenty of salary-cap room might benefit if the cap maximum remains at $81.5 million. They could have a better opportunity to land a quality UFA talent than they would’ve had under a higher cap. They include the Buffalo Sabres (over $47 million committed to 10 players), Detroit Red Wings ($46.2 million invested in 11 players), New Jersey Devils ($55.2 million invested in 13 players), Montreal Canadiens ($63.1 milliion in 16 players), and Ottawa Senators ($41.9 milion in nine players).

The restricted free agents are far more likely to receive bridge contracts than the UFAs. Those with arbitration rights, like Domi, DeAngelo, Reinhart, and Bertuzzi, could use that leverage if their respective teams attempt to use a flat cap as a reason to avoid making more lucrative contract offers. It might also lead to some of those RFAs getting traded if they threaten to go to arbitration to get what they want.


SPORTSNET: During his recent “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman theorized the current high level of cooperation between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association during these difficult times might lead to a new long-term collective bargaining agreement.

Seattle expansion franchise and a new US television deal are on the NHL’s radar. To make everything work, the league needs long-term labor peace. Friedman noted the National Football League and the NFLPA recently announced a new 10-year CBA. If the NHL can get that new TV deal done, he wondered if the NHLPA would be willing to vote for a 10-year CBA. In return, the players could get the Olympics and some form of escrow relief

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman isn’t the only person observing the improved relationship of late between the NHL and NHLPA. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun recently wrote he couldn’t recall a higher level of cooperation between the two sides.

Since the fall of 2018, there’s been growing cordiality between the two sides, culminating in last September’s mutual agreements not to trigger their respective early out-clauses, allowing the present agreement to run to September 2022.

However, LeBrun also noted that relationship will be tested as the two sides attempt to navigate the tricky financial issues raised by the pandemic. If they can successfully work their way through that, the groundwork will be laid for perhaps a smooth transition into a new CBA and long-term labor peace by 2022.



  1. “It might also lead to some of those RFAs getting traded if they threaten to go to arbitration to get what they want. ”

    That raises the question – why would another team agree to take on such an RFA by giving up their own assets if they are then only going to be faced with the same arbitration threat?

    And with the worst case scenario facing ALL teams, what arbitrator in his/her right mind would not take all that into consideration?

    • Because there will be teams willing to meet those RFAs asking prices without going to arbitration.

    • I asked this yesterday George. There will likely be only a few potential suitors… Lyle pointed those out nicely above. 4 teams listed above with cap space… more than ten players listed above as needing medium to big deals. That ain’t good maths for those players.

      • I agree 100% there Chrisms – this isn’t going to be “business as usual” on any front. With all due respect to Lyle, I seriously doubt that ANY RFA who turns down a reasonable offer from their team when millions are facing long-term unemployment is going to find a team anxious to meet their inflated (in the unusual circumstances that is) salary demands.

        Cut-throat GM tactics are on the back burner for the foreseeable future for sure and any player taking that approach in a league with a hard cap that will likely remain static (and could even go down if economic conditions worsen) will be faced with a “screw you” attitude right across the board. Nor will most fans object.

  2. I noted GHANAIANS comments about his leafs in which he stated that some people don’t see the value of players with toughness. I believe that he was referring to his GM. How would any hockey player want to know that night after night he would be facing an aggressive opponent without any back up from his own players.dubas has consistently traded away tough players to the detriment of the team. I wouldn’t want to play for him and it seems from the Leaf s erratic play that they don’t want to either.SHANAHAM needs to get involved, he knows what it takes, he himself was tough to play against.

    • Is Kyle Clifford a fighter or what?

      • He is a solid 4th liner who skates well and whose contributions are more than dropping the gloves. He was a good pick up by Dubas.

  3. Sorry, my computer didn’t like the name shanihan

  4. A lot of employees across the globe are taking haircuts. NHL shouldn’t be exempt. Maybe there will be some bargains for a change this summer. Pietrangelo and Krug come to mind.

    “What about Bob” money will not be handed to Holtby.

    • I just took a pay cut yesterday, but not a reduction in workload. No sympathy for the players.

      I also just tossed my old equipment today, cleaning out the attic. So rumors of my comeback no longer applicable.

      • good one St Pats

    • agreed Silver7, it’s a shame that it took a world health crisis to shake some reality into the NHL. Some guys are going to get less $ July 1 than they would have last year.

      • Add to this, a recession of any kind and length will keep fans away from the rink. Less money to throw around.

  5. Wondering when the league will decide on compliance buyouts? What if they decided in late June, right before free agency?

    There would be a ton of quality players available at reasonable cost and term.