Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 15, 2020
Could this season be the last for Zdeno Chara? Have we seen the last of Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal as Rangers, or Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu with the Wild? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
COULD THIS SEASON BE CHARA’S LAST?
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports Zdeno Chara‘s agent said he and his client aren’t thinking about whether the Bruins captain will return for another season right now. Matt Keator believes he, Chara, and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will meet at the end of the season to sort it out. The 43-year-old defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Dupont feels it would be an anti-climactic end to Chara’s long run with the Bruins if the NHL cancels the rest of the season and the playoffs and Chara opts to retire or management feels it’s time to move on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the salary cap remains at $81.5 million or falls below that figure, the Bruins probably won’t have sufficient cap room to bring back Chara. Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak are also UFAs, while Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Matt Grzelcyk are restricted free agents. With over $61.2 million tied up in 17 players, finding room for Chara on a cheap one-year deal could prove a tight fit if they re-sign everyone else.
HAVE LUNDQVIST AND STAAL PLAYED THEIR FINAL GAMES AS RANGERS?
THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wonders if Henrik Lundqvist has played his final game with the New York Rangers. The long-time Rangers starter had been shunted aside in favor of young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev before the league paused the schedule over coronavirus concerns. The 38-year-old Lundqvist has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.5 million.
Carpiniello doesn’t expect the Blueshirts will go into training camp this fall carrying three goalies. Buying out Lundqvist’s contract this summer is one option. A trade is another, provided Lundqvist waives his no-movement clause and the Rangers absorb half of his AAV. Either way, the Blueshirts will have some dead cap space for next season.
Long-time Rangers defenseman Marc Staal could face a similar fate. He has a year left on his deal with an AAV of $5.7 million and a no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe a buyout is more likely for Lundqvist than a trade, especially if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for next season. Even by picking up half his AAV, there won’t be many teams with available space as there might have been under a higher ceiling. The same goes for Staal.
END OF THE LINE FOR KOIVU AND PARISE WITH THE WILD?
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo wonders if this schedule pause spells the end of Mikko Koivu’s NHL career. The 37-year-old Minnesota Wild captain is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Sources say Koivu is leaning toward retirement. He declined to waive his no-movement clause a few weeks ago, indicating he couldn’t see himself playing for another team.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Before the NHL’s pausing the regular-season schedule, Sarah McLellan reported on how Zach Parise’s play had improved following the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Nevertheless, his future with the Wild remains unclear as trade speculation could reignite down the road.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild reportedly discussed a deal with the New York Islanders that would’ve sent Parise to Long Island in exchange for winger Andrew Ladd. Both players waived their no-trade clauses to facilitate the deal but it ultimately didn’t come to pass. There’s speculation the two clubs could revisit it this summer, but a lower-than-projected salary cap could scuttle those plans.
If the season is canceled or the league scraps the rest of the regular-season schedule, we may have seen Koivu’s last game as an NHL player. Not the way anyone envisioned his NHL career coming to an end.