Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 29, 2020
A recent look at some of this year’s top unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently reviewed and ranked this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents.
Topping the list was Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall. Before last month’s trade deadline, rumors linked him to the Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens. Sadler wondered if injury fears and a decline in production would prevent the 28-year-old from landing a double-digit salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The possibillity of a flat salary cap next season could also hurt Hall’s hopes of landing an annual average value of $10 million or more on his next contract.
The Avs and Canadiens would have the cap space to sign him. The Avs, however, already have a top-line left winger in captain Gabriel Landeskog on their top line. They must ensure they don’t use up too much future cap space because they’ll need it to re-sign Landeskog and rising star Cale Makar next summer. As for the Canadiens, they have a difficult time attracting top UFA talent. Hall might not see them as a desirable destination.
Early-season reports suggesting St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo could receive around $8 million annually on his next contract seem like a bargain now. Sadler wondered if Blues general manager Doug Armstrong might use this current hiatus to talk contract with his captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports speculated the Pietrangelo camp could seek around $9 million per season. Assuming a flat cap, re-signing him at that price would eat up all of their remaining salary-cap space. They’ll have to shed salary via trade or contract buyout.
Goaltender Braden Holtby‘s career-low numbers and the emergence of Ilya Samsonov puts his future with the Washington Capitals into question. Clubs could be wary of handing him a contract comparable to Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Holtby’s stats ensures he won’t get $10 milllion per season. Or $9 million per. Or $8 million per.
Despite the Boston Bruins’ shedding some salary at the trade deadline, Sadler believes they’ll be hard-pressed re-signing defenseman Torey Krug. There’s speculation the Michigan native might be willing to return home and join the Detroit Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wings were the powerhouse of yore, I could buy into the theory of Krug coming home. I’m not sure he wants to be part of a long rebuild. He’s already indicated a willingness to stay in Boston. The Bruins will try to keep him in the fold.
Sadler pointed out defenseman Tyson Barrie‘s struggles with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, as well as the club’s attempt to move him before the trade deadline. She also suggested a mid-term deal (three or four years) for Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom at $6 million annually could work for both sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie’s stock tumbled this season. He could end up getting a one-year for less than his current $5.5 million. The 30-year-old Markstrom’s age could be a factor, but the Canucks can’t afford to lose him. They struggled when he was absent with a knee injury.
Florida Panthers’ underrated sniper Evgenii Dadonov will earn a big raise over his current $4 million AAV, thoug the 30-year-old’s age could deter teams from signing him to a long-term contract. Teammate Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers in goals (29) and sits third in points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s talk of the Panthers’ cutting costs and perhaps shaking things up if they miss the playoffs this season. That could include letting Dadonov and Hoffman depart via free agency.
Sadler wondered if Robin Lehner has a future with the Vegas Golden Knights. With Marc-Andre Fleury under contract for two more seasons, the acquisition of Lehner at the trade deadline feels like a rental situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leher wants a lucrative new contract and the opportunity to be an undisputed starter. Unless the Golden Knights pull a swerve and trade Fleury, Leher’s stay in Vegas will be brief.
Winger Tyler Toffoli has played well since being acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, with 10 points in as many games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the Canucks will attempt to re-sign Toffoli. To free up sufficient salary-cap space, they must find a way to move Loui Eriksson and his $6 million AAV.
Other notables include Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, Calgary Flames defensemen Travis Hamonic and T.J. Brodie, Boston Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak, Florida Panthers center Erik Haula, Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk, Minnesota Wild winger Alex Galchenyuk, Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen, and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A recent report by Sadler’s colleague Eric Engels claimed Kovalchuk was all but assured of returning to the Montreal Canadiens on a one-year, bonus-laded deal. If Thornton returns for another season, it’ll be with the Sharks on a one-year deal.