NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2020

by | Mar 4, 2020 | Rumors | 25 comments

The latest on the Blackhawks and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope recently reported the Blackhawks will finish the season with Corey Crawford and Malcolm Subban as their goalie tandem, but the future between the pipes appears murky. General manager Stan Bowman said his club will have a proven NHL goalie signed for next season, but didn’t shed light on who it’ll be.

Will the Chicago Blackhawks re-sign Corey Crawford? (Photo via NHL Images)

Pope doesn’t expect Subban fits into the Blackhawks’ future. All eyes will be upon Crawford, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and has a concussion history. If Crawford departs, Bowman’s options in the UFA market could include Brady Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Jaroslav Halak, Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, Mike Smith, and former Blackhawk Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford is 35 now and his best seasons are behind him. Perhaps he’ll agree to a one- or two-year deal for less than his current $6-million annual average value. If he agrees, I can see the Hawks trying to land an affordable backup via trade or free agency.

If they part ways with Crawford, I doubt they can afford Holtby or Markstrom. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are experienced backups, but they’ll try to get the best deal possible if they hit the open market. Smith, 37, is in the twilight of his career. Lehner didn’t sound happy over his dealings with Blackhawks management this season and could seek a long-term deal elsewhere.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers speculates it could get expensive for the Blackhawks to re-sign Dominik Kubalik. The 24-year-old winger leads all rookies with 29 goals and is tied with Patrick Kane for the lead among Blackhawks scorers.

Kubalik’s completing a one-year contract worth $925K and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. The Blackhawks’ limited salary cap space will be a factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks’ goaltending situation could also affect what they can comfortably afford for Kubalik. Powers said both sides sound like they don’t want to go the arbitration route. Perhaps a one-year deal around $3 million can be worked out, with the promise of a more lucrative contract if Kubalik builds upon his rookie season.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy examined potential off-season moves following another disappointing season for the Buffalo Sabres. Bolstering their offense could be the priority. The Sabres will free up a lot of salary-cap space if they allow Michael Frolik, Jimmy Vesey, Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson to walk this summer. Wayne Simmonds might be worth retaining for toughness and leadership for the right price. Recent acquisition Dominik Kahun could be an affordable re-signing.

Kennedy feels they need to improve their penalty killing, suggesting Derek Grant and Vladislav Namestnikov as possible UFA targets. He advocates giving the starter’s job to Linus Ullmark but also suggests checking to see if Robin Lehner would be open to returning to Buffalo, or pursuing Jacob Markstrom if he doesn’t re-up with the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres currently have just over $47 million invested in 10 players. Part of their cap space will be taken up re-signing RFAs like Kahun, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Brandon Montour, and Lawrence Pilut. Nevertheless, they’ll have enough to address some of their needs via trades or free agency.

I anticipate GM Jason Botterill will be busy in both markets, with bringing in a top-six scorer (preferably a center) his priority. I daresay we’ll also see defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen resurface in the trade rumor mill.


  1. George, you need to quit pouting everyone misses you.
    Please come back we miss your insight.
    Come on guys, give me some support.

    • Man, what is the weird obsession you have with trolling octogenarians?

    • Rather than lame attempts to troll other posters, Vinnie, why don’t you post up your views on the topic of this post, that being the Blackhawks goaltending, Kubalik’s next contract, and what the Sabres might do this summer. Stick to talking hockey.

      • To be honest Lyle, I do enjoy his insights . But it appears you have to agree with him .
        Lyle your panties are all bunched up.
        You can delete me Lyle , that would be fine

      • In other words, you have nothing to contribute regarding the topic of the post. Again, stick to hockey and stop attempting to antagonize other commenters.

      • Your the Sean Avery of posters right now vinnie.

      • @Lyle: Thank you for sticking up for the many posters on here; both regular and part time who enjoy your website. I, for one,learn a lot here and welcome continue learning and contribution to the ongoing discussions.

        I enjoy reading comments and viewpoints as much as I sometimes enjoy posting my thoughts.
        Keep up the good work Lyle !

  2. Has Crawford come to the point where he should be considered a second goalie on a team? I think he could be a good fit in Montreal giving Price a few more games off. Thoughts?

    • I’d be ok with that, but if he is coming off 6 million/yr would he be willing to accept 2 million max to play in Montreal? I know he’s from there but I doubt the Habs would give him 30 games. 2 million is a lot for a back up.

      • I think he might have to accept even less LJ. It seems more teams are going with their 2nd goalie playing more games and when you see the pitfalls involved with paying one guy huge $$ (Bob this year and for a while Price) on long term deals it makes me think GM’s might be more frugal with the position and spreading the cost across 2 guys.
        Just seems like the position is hard to predict and risky long term. Guys get hot, guys go cold so spreading and mitigating the risk seems like a decent plan.

    • Good idea, if you can get him on a sensible contract.
      Having 2 capable tenders is never a bad thing.

    • Earlier in the season when things were still uncertain, I thought Crawford would be the perfect backup for Price… however, I recall reading that Crawford does not want to be a backup; this was one of the things making Chicago’s situation tense… Lehner wanted to be a starter and be paid like one, and Crawford didn’t want to carry anybody’s water.

      I suspect he re-signs for one or two years with Chicago at around 5 per, backed up by a cheaper, shorter-term option… I could see Laurent Brossoit or Brian Elliott, though I think the Flyers will take Elliott again for one year.

  3. If I’m Kubalik, I’d try to get at least a 3 year deal at decent money ($4M-$5M/year). The one year contract didn’t work out too well for Labanc.

    • Great point, Van! Whether or not the player is thinking about it, the agent sure is! A contract like Saad’s might have to be moved out to fit Kubalik.

    • I’d want a deal taking me to ufa ASAP.

  4. I think the Hawks are coming into a mini or full rebuild.

    They’ll keep both goalies. (Anderson/Hogberg situation)
    They’ll play hardball with the rookie.
    They’ll try and move some contracts.

    Finally. Lets not turn this into HockeyBuzz. We have a great group of posters. Some legit hockey insight and analysis from the site owner.

    Lyle any more news or comments on why the Sens fired John Little?

  5. I am curious now Bruins fans (or anyone else on the site) where they think the Bruins will go with their roster next year, no matter what happens this year in playoffs.

    Right now they have about 20 mill in cap space. To me they at the very min need to also get rid of Moores contract by moving him out to free up that money. He got no too bad of a deal and is a capable Dman and I assume he would love to play. With all these D prospects I also wonder why they signed Kampfer for 2 years, you eventually have to let them play.

    I like Derusk’s speed, but he really has become to incositant for my liking. I think the big move I would make is to either sign one of Hall or Hoffman to play left side with Krejci, and depending on the cost of that play willing to part with DrBrusk to make it happen.

    With Regard to Krug, there is no way I am paying him 8 mill, 7 would be a stretch for me. I know he good, but you know down the road McCavoy is gonna want more money and if he can round into the player we watched this last month we’ll be fine.

    Throw out your thoughts as it is always fun banter.

    • That is the multi-million $ question Greatgonzo.
      If they sign Krug, DeBrusk, Halak, Grezlyk, Chara, Bjork, Nordstrom, Kuhlman that $20M goes quick.
      Not sure all those D prospects are ready. I would leave Vaak another year unless he puts some meat on in the summer. Zboril is now or…. when?
      Lauzon has been steady, and lately very good. So ya, moving Moore for whatever is a good idea.
      It’s all about Krug, and the B’s want to keep the window open for another year or 2 so I can see them doing it. Would I rather see them move on and sign a guy Dadonov or Hoffman? Sure.
      Agree that Charlie has been really good lately. Give the guy a shot on the 1st PP unit full time, and we should be fine.

      • Bark, To me Nodstorm is gone, I dont understand what they see in Kuhlman and at this point Moore is just tying up close to 3 mill in cap room.

        If Krug truely signs a team friendly deal I welcome him back. He is not worth more then 6.5 million to me when I look ahead at future signings of McAvoy and Carlo.

        I think that they could clear enough off to make Hoffman work, and I would love to see Hall. IMO if you sign either of those guys your moving some of your other rosters players.

    • Gonzo,

      The Bruins’ playoff performance may well determine what they do in the off season. If they somehow lose in the first round, it may just be it for the current group. Krug would be gone, possibly DeBrusk… they may even try and find a trade partner for Krejci at that point.

      If the Bruins win the cup, or make the Final again, they may feel like they still mirror the Penguins, and try and bulk up and go for it again and again until Bergeron loses his top line touch.

      There are rare instances when a team has a core group like Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak, McAvoy, Chara, Krug (still core, the guy just represents being a Bruin) … They are right in their window… unless they collapse in the first round, or bow out to Tampa in round two without much of a fight, I think they’ll do whatever it takes to win one more cup with those players.

    • @GG: I like the Bruins. I”m a TML fan but hey, The Bruins rock. Their window to win is now down to this year and maybe next. After that? Don’t think so; but their present goaltending tandem is second to none so this year is likely THE YEAR

    • We need bodies available for the expansion draft.
      Moore and Kampy fit the bill.

      • Moore does but why do you want that hit for the next 3 years.

        Kampfer is done after next year I believe so they could just sign him. Again he is just tying up 1 million in Cap space.

  6. oops… the part about “still core, the guy just represents being a Bruin” was meant about Chara, not Krug..

  7. Buffalo should have a shot at Askarov and is the top goalie in this year’s draft. Projected to slot 8-10. They will have to wait a couple of years but their problems in net since Hasak will be over. Ala Hart in Philly