NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2020

by | Mar 31, 2020 | Rumors | 11 comments

A look at several veterans who could face retirement in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis lists Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu among six pending unrestricted free agents that may have played their final NHL games if the league cancels the remainder of this season and the playoffs. Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patrick Marleau, and Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams round out his list.

Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry is among several veterans who may have played their final NHL games if the season doesn’t resume (Photo via NHL Images).

Perry’s low production (21 points) makes it hard to imagine another team signing him after this season. Injuries have hampered Koivu, who’s slipped down the Wild’s depth chart. He’s also shown no interest in playing elsewhere. Injuries have also taken a toll on Hamhuis’ play.

Howard’s struggles in recent years leads Ellis to suggest a club would be desperate to take a chance on the veteran netminder. Marleau didn’t manage much offense with the Penguins after being traded to Pittsburgh last month. Williams put up decent numbers following his return from a half-season hiatus, but his two-way play was rusty and his ice time reduced from last season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at which NHL players may have played their final games if the league doesn’t return to action this season.

He also notes Koivu’s Wild-or-nothing position could make things tricky for the veteran center. He also believes the Stars’ one-year gamble on Perry hasn’t worked out. However, Williams could still be an affordable option if he decides to return next season. For teams with flexibility, a player like Marleau, Toronto’s Jason Spezza or Washington’s Ilya Kovalchuk might be worthwhile signings.

Turning to defensemen, O’Brien suggests injuries could force the end of the careers of Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Dallas’ Roman Polak, Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley. He also hopes St. Louis Blues rearguard Jay Bouwmeester hangs up his skates following his health scare last month. He feels Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is a “play as long as you want” option, while Hamhuis and Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey could remain good veteran options.

Among the goaltenders, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller could get nudged out the door. O’Brien wondered if Henrik Lundqvist would accept a backup role if the New York Rangers buy him out. He speculates Howard might accept less money and a reduced role to remain in the NHL. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and Edmonton’s Mike Smith are aging and struggled in recent seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL cancels this season, it will rob those on Ellis’ and O’Brien’s lists the opportunity for a last hurrah.

I think Perry, Koivu, Howard, Hamhuis, Miller, Anderson, Polak, Ericsson, and Daley have probably played their final NHL games. Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident last month will probably bring his playing days to an end.

Lundqvist’s situation will be interesting if he and the Rangers part company. He could move on to a mentor role with another club or call it a career. At this point, it could go either way.

Chara will return with the Bruins next season on another one-year, bonus-laden deal. I can see Marleau doing the same with the Sharks, though that’ll depend upon their cap space. Williams could return with the Hurricanes, but they’ll probably want a full-season commitment this time around.

Seabrook could be placed on long-term injury reserve for next season if he needs more time to recover from his surgeries. Smith’s had his inconsistencies, but he’s played well enough to remain in Edmonton in a backup role for another season.

Spezza could stick with the Leafs for another season on a cheap one-year deal. Speculation out of Montreal claims Kovalchuk is all-but-certain to return to the Canadiens on a bonus-filled one-year deal.


  1. You also have to wonder if these 5 have also reached the end of the line? Brian Boyle and Ben Hutton only got last-minuted 1-year deals last season, while Adam McQuaid, Dion Phaneuf and Jason Pomminville were left dangling. None have announced their retirement yet to my knowledge.

    • George , Hutton is only 26 , he should get picked up unless his asking price is too high. He went from 2.8 per with Vancouver to 1.5 on last years deal with L.A , that is fair value IMO.
      As for the others you have mentioned the only one who may get picked up would be Boyle. But given what is going on in the world and his past health issues he may just decide it’s time to pack it in and spend time with his family.

      • Probably bang on Fergy. Hutton is a weird case. A good sized left-shooting D who is 6′ 2″ 210 lbs, he had to go from a cap high of $2.8 mil per over two years with Vancouver to a last-minute hat-in-hand comedown one-year deal at $1.5 mil with L.A. where, after being a consistent minus with Vancouver (albeit on some bad teams), he had a pretty good partial season with L.A. with 4g 12a 16 pts and a +5 in 65 gp.

        Either his game has some major deficiencies or he simply valued himself too high for what he delivers. Anyone have any “inside” info?

      • from what I heard George he had defensive lapses at the NHL level , someone from Van can chime in.
        I watched him played some games at the Jr level in Kemptville and he was impressive at that level. You could tell then he had all the tools except for the physical aspect.

      • I seem to remember the reason that Vancouver did not qualify him was that he was going to get more money than $2.8 mil, and they simply could not afford that amount of cap space for a lower pairing defenceman. They had and still quite a cap crunch till they get Luongo’s penalty cap space and Erickson $6 mil off the books.

    • I think Pominville recently came to the realization that his playing days are over. Nice career Pommer.

  2. Unless Bouwmeester is somehow able to have the ICD removed, he won’t play again. I couldn’t even fire a gun the ten years I had one. One hit could be all it takes to tear out one of the wires embedded in his heart, unfortunately

  3. I think Howard will except a back up roll in Detroit. The Wings don’t have anyone waiting in the wings. LOL

  4. Habs are wasting a roster spot on Kovy. Bet the Kovalchuk they see next season will be closer to the one we saw in LA.

  5. Ben Hutton needed a Drew Doughty to work with and the Kings hid his deficiencies. His Canuck days were with lesser D-men and he did not have the drive to move up the ladder. The Canucks could not afford to give him a raise or keep him at that rate last year. Letting him walk was a very good move.

  6. “Williams put up decent numbers following his return from a half-season hiatus, but his two-way play was rusty and his ice time reduced from last season.”

    I took that to mean “I haven’t watched Williams play this year.”