NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2020
No April Fool’s here. Check out the latest on Braden Holtby and Tuukka Rask, plus an update on the Buffalo Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE SHARKS PURSUE HOLTBY VIA FREE AGENCY?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed this year might not be an opportune time for Braden Holtby to become an unrestricted free agent. The Washington Capitals goaltender has a save percentage of .897 this season.
Nevertheless, Brooks wondered if the San Jose Sharks might feel differently. He pointed out they’ve been undone by dreadful goaltending over the last two seasons, ranking next-to-last in overall save percentage and last in five-on-five.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree that the decline in Holtby’s stats will hurt his efforts to land a lucrative long-term contract as a UFA this year. I disagree, however, with the premise that Sharks might feel differently.
Not that they don’t need an upgrade between the pipes. That’s obvious to everyone.
Martin Jones‘ performance has declined over the last two years. However, he’s also signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5.75 million and a three-team trade list. Unless Jones’ salary is shed via a compliance buyout (assuming the league goes that route following this season) or the normal buyout route, the Sharks can’t afford Holtby.
UPDATE ON RASK
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Tuukka Rask sought to clarify his recent comment suggesting he might retire when his contract expires at the end of next season. He claimed he hasn’t made any decisions regarding his future. Given the current situation, it’s not on his mind right now.
“I’m sure we’re going to have good conversations with (Don Sweeney) after this season and go from there,” said Rask during an interview with WEEI’s Greg Hill. “But I’m only 34, so it’s not too old, might play another year or two and go from there. I don’t want to promise anything either way because you never know what’s going to happen.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Rask decides to play beyond next season, he’ll likely be looking at a short-term extension with the Bruins or a short contract with another club. With no immediate replacement for Rask in the pipeline, they could ink him to a two-year deal to buy time to groom his successor or shop for one via trade or free agency..
LATEST SABRES SPECULATION
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski believes Sabres general manager Jason Botterill needs to make a significant trade to add a second-line center or top-six winger. He doesn’t feel the solution can be found via free agency, noting the Sabres’ haven’t had much luck in that department.
The Sabres aren’t in a position where they can trade away draft picks or prospects. Lysowski suggested peddling a defenseman like Rasmus Ristolainen or Brandon Montour for a talent forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done. Ristolainen was a fixture in the rumor mill since last summer, but criticism of his play hurt his trade value. Montour could be a better trade option, but there’s no certainty he’ll fetch a scoring forward.
Nevertheless, with over $47 million invested in 10 players, Botterill is well-positioned to target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary, or those in need of blueline help. Perhaps he’ll have better luck addressing his needs in the off-season.