Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 1, 2020
Can the Golden Knights be forced to choose between Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury this summer? Could a shakeup come for the Ducks’ core in the off-season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
COULD THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS FACE A CHOICE BETWEEN LEHNER OR FLEURY THIS SUMMER?
LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson wondered what the Vegas Golden Knights’ acquisition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline means for their goaltending tandem. Lehner is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The club, as a rule, doesn’t acquire playoff rental players, but GM Kelly McCrimmon said it was done to shore up their backup goaltending.
Emerson wonders if they might consider re-signing Lehner and trade Marc-Andre Fleury, though he considers the latter scenario unlikely. Fleury is the face of the franchise, popular among his teammates, and carries a 10-team no-trade clause. Nevertheless, Lehner is younger and has better stats than Fleury this season.
Emerson notes Lehner’s an upgrade over Malcolm Subban and could be an upgrade over Fleury. The Golden Knights lack an obvious successor for Fleury within their system. Re-signing Lehner, however, could prove expensive, as he could seek as much as Fleury’s annual average value of $7 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights had no choice but to bring in a reliable backup for Fleury. Subban wasn’t getting the job done, there were no decent options in the trade market under contract beyond this season, and they couldn’t pass up an opportunity to bring in Lehner. The Golden Knights see themselves as a Cup contender, so they had to ensure they had the goaltending depth to get them there.
If Lehner outplays Fleury and carried the Knights to the Cup, maybe McCrimmon will try to trade Fleury and re-sign Lehner. Even then, that’s not a certainty. They can’t afford to keep them both. They got over $72 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21.
MORE CHANGES COMING TO THE DUCKS?
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Following last Monday’s NHL trade deadline, Elliott Teaford reported Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said he was concerned over a lack of leadership among some of his veterans, though he declined to name them. He also said he didn’t consider moving any of them at the deadline. “Not at this time,” he said. “But we can’t be talking about this at the same time next year.” Murray maintained his roster had to get younger and faster.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens noted Murray remains resistant to shaking up his roster core. Those who were traded (Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie) were promising but considered supplementary players. Stephens feels they were as valuable to the Ducks as Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson, Adam Henrique, Hampus Lindholm or Cam Fowler. Nevertheless, Murray was displeased with the inconsistent play of his core group this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray will likely spend the remainder of the season evaluating his roster as he lays the groundwork for the off-season. He may have been unwilling to move anyone from his core this season, but perhaps he could be tempted to trade one of them for the right offer this summer.
Manson and Fowler popped up in the rumor mill this season, though that was mostly fans and pundits musing over their availability. Some in Leafs Nation would love to see Manson traded to Toronto, while Fowler was linked to the Montreal Canadiens earlier this season.