NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2020

by | Mar 5, 2020 | Rumors | 43 comments

Latest on the Canadiens and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry at last week’s NHL trade deadline. He admitted receiving calls about both players, but never intiated any trade talk.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing Max Domi (Photo via NHL Images).

Bergevin declined to say if he would attempt to extend Tatar or Petry, who are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. He also doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He also shot down a rumor that goaltender Carey Price was unhappy and might want out of Montreal. The Canadiens GM will look into the UFA market this summer, though he acknowledged the difficulty of attracting free agents to the hockey hotbed.

TVA SPORTS: In a recent interview, Bergevin indicated he has no interest in trading a promising youngster like Jesperi Kotkaniemi for a veteran player who would only be with the team for two or three years. He also doesn’t rule out going the offer sheet route again. He made a failed attempt last summer to sign Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer is a crucial one for Bergevin. He must bolster his backup goaltending, the left side of his blueline, and find an impact scorer. He’s got 14 picks in the 2020 NHL draft, 10 of those between rounds two and five. I expect he’ll draw upon some of those picks for trade bait, but I doubt he dangles his first-round pick.

Should the salary cap rise to between $84 million to $88 million as projected, Bergevin will have between $20-$24 million to re-sign Domi and fellow RFA Victor Mete and bring in help via trade or free agency. That’s also sufficient room to make an offer sheet, perhaps one that won’t be so easily matched as the one he signed Sebastian Aho to last summer.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders what the consequences will be for the Florida Panthers if they miss the playoffs again. Owner Vinny Viola spent more than $100 million to improve the club, including signing Sergei Bobrovsky and Anton Stralman and hiring Joel Quenneville as head coach. Rival general managers suspect the Panthers could break up their core if they fail to reach the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those changes to the core could include captain Aleksander Barkov, winger Jonathan Huberdeau, or defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Of the three, Barkov and Ekblad lack no-trade protection, while Huberdeau has a full no-movement clause.

I realize this sounds extreme, but things simply aren’t working out with the current core. If they decide to shake things up, one of those three could hit the trade block. Mike Matheson also surfaced in trade speculation this season. Like Barkov and Ekblad, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract.


  1. I’d trade Domi, but as GMMB acknowledges, it’s hard to attract players to play in Quebec.
    Seems even the local kids don’t want to be there.
    Other than the language barrier and ridiculous taxation, I wonder what the issues are for non Quebecois?

    • I dont think the question is so much about what Bergevin is going to do this off season as much as it should be what is Mr Molson going to do?

      IMO …This team needs a monumental shift with the Gm if they are going to move forward as an organisation into the future… I can not see a clear path with this management team any longer….if they stay the course it will be more of the same ..as you have seen the past few years ..the fan base deserves a breakdown of the club and a real shift towards a proper rebuild and with all the picks they have this year it really can be started …BUT only with a new team ..not Bergevin ..IMO


      • Morning Kal!
        Who would you suggest as a replacement manager?

      • @ Shoreorrpark

        To be quite frank I dont ..especially because the Habs ..usually go with a French speaking Gm and the choices are few and far between..so I am not going to speculate on that…my thought is that they really need a change in that position though ….a few names I guess for conversation sake may be ..

        Pat Brisson
        Claude Loiselle
        Vinnie Damphouse
        Paty Roy
        Mark Hunter


        If they go a Non french speaking GM Id like to see Hextall get another crack at GM ..I really like what he did in Philly ..personally ..outside of the Coach Hakstoll ..he managed hos cap well..had good draft picks and looked to build for a Future ..not sue what the end result was and why they parted ways ..but he had things going in a good direction….IMO..
        ..but what do I know ..

      • @Kal el I did not realize Mark Hunter spoke French . As a Hab fan I hate we need to restrict our so much with having to speak fluently in both languages to be a coach or GM . But I don’t see that changing anytime soon . In saying that if hunter would come I think he would be a great start to the rebuild . Cheers Swany

      • @ SWANY

        I am not sure if he does ..I did not clarify my end to the post saying if he does or hes doesn’t ..I was just adding him in as a candidate ..I should have clarified at the conclusion of my post which I did not ..apologies for that error !


      • Pierre McGuire the encyclopedia thats who I would suggest god No Patrick Roy he will ruin the team

      • @kal el thanks for clarifying . No worries it’s a good list and I think Hunter will be a great gm I just dont think he speaks French . So unfortunately I think the Habs pass on the best candidate once again . Even worse I think they are going to stick with MB until it’s the same outcome next year . Cheers Swany

    • This is not a Quebecois comment, but Drouin has not worked out in MTL. Domi scores 72 pts one season and then demoted to wing and has a down season, besides injuries Drouin is a 50 pt player. He’s enigmatic at best. My thought MB and Sakic talked about a Drouin MacKinnon reunion with Habs getting a D back. Wait and see.

      Taxes are killing opportunities for Habs to score top tiered guys. And Quebecois players only want to come after they made their money…

    • It’s funny when everyone is mentioning language barrier, and also making fun of “how soft are soccer player”. Well “tough boys from ice rinks” should know, that a lot of soccer players is playing in a different country lots of time through their careers, which means they also have to learn or just exist with another language.
      Yeah, hockey players are tough….(also playing under the pressure is too much for you? Then pick chess, should be nicer)

    • weather and a lousy team going nowhere fast–and won’t spend to the cap

  2. My opinion is that the Florida big 3 are not moving . Maybe Huberdeau to Montreal. Let’s start the rumour now

    • Makes sense.
      They really need him.

    • Price for barkov. Florida should really double down on paying way to much for goalies. 20 mil for goalies? It can’t fail!

  3. ok, SilverSeven ! This year’s 1st, Kotkaniemi, and Poehling, for Huberdeau ?
    Nah, not enough !

  4. Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry and doesn’t know if he’ll attempt to resign them. Say what? Then follows up with it’s hard to attract UFA to Montreal. hummm

    I get this is posturing but Montreal hasn’t been to the playoffs or been relevant.

    If you can’t attract the top UFA’s then don’t you need to trade for quality prospect or nhl players with term. Didn’t need to trade either Petry or Tatar this season but not to look and see what a potential trade could return in assets, doesn’t sound like the right decision. If Tatar and/or Petry don’t have the same success next season then the return diminishes. Unless Bergevin moves one or both at the draft. I don’t get that he didn’t initiate any trade talk.

    • “Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry and doesn’t know if he’ll attempt to resign them.”

      He didn’t say that at all. Friedman asked him if he’d try to re-sign Petry and Bergevin said “I have guys in mind I need to do that with, yes, but I can’t tell you that because they will use it against me”.

      He didn’t say anywhere that he “doesn’t know” if he’s going to try to re-sign them.

  5. I think sometimes and for some issues the decisions should not reside with paid employees but at the Board or at the owner level if it is an individual.

    Montreal I suspect is definitely at that point. Some public confirmation after the regular season by Molson is needed and deserved by their fans.

    A statement as to this is where we are going and why. Not statements about individual players….but to the level of rebuild, or why we need to compete today and cannot therefore take on a full rebuild. Clear the air and then proceed. A noisy redundant muddle will not serve anyone well.

    The Florida situation I would guess is different as the fans there seem less emotionally invested. A comparison between Montreal and Florida in terms of fan investment might be the starkest contrast in the league.

    But if you are going to change the “core”, then it would seem self evident one of the core has to go. I have always been surprised in the NHL, as to how a team can continue to accept losing and not make a fundamental player change decisions. This from a Leaf fan who has seem a lot of losing over a lot of years.

    Three of my 5 grandsons are Canadiens fans. Who says the Gods don’t laugh at us.

    • A noisy redundant muddle is all we’re going to get. It’s obvious there will be no change at the top in Habsland. And I don’t expect much change to the roster either. Bergevin has fooled himself into thinking the team is better than it is and is unable to address the teams glaring needs. The most that’ll happen is a couple of bargain free agent signings and maybe a sideways trade of mid-level players. And then another year of trying to prove Einstein’s definition of insanity.

      • Worst place to finish just on the outside the playoff picture and drafting outside the top 5 or so. Best to start dropping games and finish lower in the standings, although the draft lottery isn’t guarantee; however, you can only move back 3 spots.

  6. Lyle, i believe you to be a Habs fan, curious of your take on the present state of Montreal, whether my belief if correct or not.

    • Guilty as charged, Caper. IMO, the Habs need a reliable backup for Price, experienced left-side depth on the blueline, and a true game-breaking scorer, preferably at center. Bergevin and Julien will be back next season, but how the Habs perform will determine their employment beyond 2021.

      • experienced left side D, eh? Have I got a bargain for you: Gardiner for a 3rd. A bargain that will last 3 more years.

    • @ CAPER

      I agree

      Id really like to see down the stretch the Habs play Poehling and Primeau in a good majority of the final games..especially Primeau !


  7. As far as not replacing Julien as coach, this is another example of Bergevin’s biggest failing as GM. He is far too patient with the coaches he brings in, refusing to fire them even long after it becomes obvious that they are no longer effective. Lefebvre and Daigneault are perfect examples of this. He sees them as his brothers in arms who lead the battle with him and is perfectly willing to undermine the players for their benefit. That may be a big reason why UFAs don’t want to play for him.

  8. I said three years ago Montreal needed to move Price and Weber and start over. They are both great players but don’t have enough to help them win more often. Montreal has some nice young pieces and need to keep rebuilding with the assets they get from trading their top two players. L.A should do the same move Drew and Kopitar and start over if they can find teams to deal with.

  9. Late to the party, west coast time.

    Perhaps I am a broken record but I think Bergevin is pursuing the only paths available to him. He has observed that it is nearly impossible to get a # 1 center by trade, and in Montreal absolutely impossible to attract to end UFAs.

    Shoreparkorr asked above why that is so. Fan scrutiny. I have been around long enough to hear Jacques Lemaire say he would never return to Montreal as a coach. Harder to verify are alleged comments by Lecavalier an Eric Staal that they did not want to play in Montreal, just for two examples.

    Most recently, I have a close relationship with a former Habs player who would never return due to fan scrutiny. You can’t walk down the street as a player in Montreal without being either a saint or a useless bum. Players want to leave the game at the rink and get a chance to relax. Montreal is a paradox in being a big city that is too small for players to get away. There are fans in every phone booth.

    Howard, we disagree again. If Julien can’t coach in Montreal, who can? There aren’t big differences in game plans so its not as if someone else could come in with the missing ingredients, because the missing ingredients are just as many above have noted: a back up goalie, a left D, a game breaking scorer and … surprise! A true # 1 center.

    Yes, the situation is such that fans like SPO and OBD seem to feel sorry for the Habs. But given all the above Bergevin, or whomever else is the Habs GM has to develop the team principally – though not exclusively – through the draft. If Kotkaniemi and Phoeling are busts then the Habs enter a new 5 year cycle. For sure with a new GM and coach, but no better for that.

    Ok, I need to lie down now. Thanks if you read this.

    • That was exactly what I was looking for.
      Thanks for your insight and confirming my own thoughts on the topic.
      Great post, as always, LJ.


      • Wooops! Sorry Ray.
        Honest misspelling.

      • I appreciate your kind words, SOP and now BCM too. Been a long season and I am bruised.

      • As much as it pains me to say it, the league is much better when the Habs are higher in the standings.

    • LJ
      I take ofense to a few things you say.

      First of all, first time time commenting here, but I’ve been lurking around here for the better part of 5 or more years. I haven’t really had anything to say, I guess because there’s too many laff fans posting. But, I digress.

      Back to LJ’s comment.
      First of all, you mention you’re from the west coast. So, you’re not from here, Montreal. Which isn’t a crime, so please don’t take it that way. But, you speak as if you have a pulse of the city and the people who live here.
      Being old enough to have lived through a few cups down St. Catherine street, I think I have an idea what it’s like here.
      I’ve known, partied and been neighbors with a few habs players. No need to comment on who. But, I can say for a fact, you’re really off on what you are saying. Perhaps that one Hab that you know who played here felt that way, but, like I said, I’ve known quite a few. Not to mention, also players from other teams that would die to play for the Habs and live here.
      But, you do make a point, in that, ja, fans will recognize you. Some are jerks and some are cool. I guess just like anywhere else in the world. But hey, that’s just me.

      We don’t have a number 1 center because Bergevin, like many of the recent other GM’s of Montreal didn’t recognize that we needed, nor draft. Personally, I’d love to see Bergevin gone. I think he’s an idiot. Always blaming. Always full of excuses. He can’t draft to save his life, and this talk about our farm team and our prospects are good. Really? Four players are currently on the Habs, all fringe players. While Molson is firing Bergevin, I’d love to see Timmins go with him. This fella, with his big biceps has been drafting for the Habs for as long as I can remember. And what do we have in prospects. Caulefield (spelling) is about it, and who knows how that will turn out. Gallagher is about the only player that is worth mentioning that was drafted by Timmins.

      Anyway, there’s my two cents.

    • KK and Poehling are busts. Habs don’t and won’t have top star up front, something they really need. All theirs kids are nothing more then 2nd liners unfortunately. Bergevin failed as a GM, with his draft choices, and also not even trying to sink for Lafreniere.
      As for a coach, Gallant is available.

  10. the reason the Canadiens are floundering has little to do with language , taxes , coaches and a lot to do with poor results from the draft. I will reserve final judgement on the last 2 draft years , waiting for players to mature.
    The Habs have not had a good draft since 2007.


    • That is true, Fergy. But there have been no generational players available for them to select.

      Even the Bruins, who have done very well in finding good later round picks, have had their misses. In 2016 they drafted McAvoy, but they also drafted Trent Frederic in the first round too.

      Earlier this week Islanders coach Barry Trotz noted that when the Caps got 5 first round draft picks as compensation for Scott Stevens, only two turned out to be decent (not great) players. Draft picks are a crap shoot.

      • LJ , check the link I posted to Hockey.db ……the Canadiens have failed miserably in drafting talent. Hard to tell who of the picks in the last 3 years will play at the NHL level. KK is wearing out his welcome , Poehling has potential and I really like Romanov’s game.

      • Fergy, I am not saying the Habs have done well in drafting. Clearly they have not. One year there was clamouring for size, the Habs drafted Mike McCarron; another year there was clamouring for a french speaking player and they drafted Louis Leblanc and could have picked Chris Kreider. Good grief!

        But they also didn’t step over a draft pick that was an obvious great player. I’ve looked at the last 8 years of draft picks. There are many first round picks from all teams who are disappointments, and a lot of later round draft picks who turn out to be great. It’s as much art as skill in drafting.

    • Taxes, well beloved Gary Bettman should find a solution, how to make pay equally through the league. Unfortunately he doesn’t care at all what’s going on up north, because why should he? People will come to the games. What really is important is to buile nice teams in Florida, Nevada or god knows where he can find money.
      Sport doesn’t matter, money does

      • Yes. It’s a big business and owner’s want good returns on their investment.
        That part stinks for fans of teams not willing to do whatever it takes to win championships.

  11. Testing

  12. Hi Lyle, Love your work. Don’t you think Berg will throw everything at whoever gets the first pick in the draft to score the first overall pick and hit a home run at home by selecting Alexis Lafreniere?

    • He could, but I doubt whoever gets that pick will trade it. Lafreniere has the makings of a big star.