NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2020
Offseason questions for several Pacific Division teams in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently posed one offseason question for each NHL Pacific Division team. Among the noteworthy were the following:
What’s the direction for the Anaheim Ducks? O’Leary feels a full rebuild is necessary, but management hasn’t yet shown any desire to go that route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If general manager Bob Murray opts for a roster teardown and rebuild, he could consider shopping veterans such as Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson. All of them surfaced at one point or another in this season’s rumor mill.
Given the Calgary Flames’ salary-cap constraints, O’Leary wondered which of their unrestricted free agent defensemen will be back next season. He pointed out that Flames GM Brad Treliving attempted to ship T.J. Brodie to the Toronto Maple Leafs last year for Nazem Kadri before the latter was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $64.5 million invested in 13 players, the choice could come down to Brodie or Hamonic. I also read suggestions they could let Gustafsson walk in favor of retaining the more-affordable Michael Stone.
O’Leary asked how the Edmonton Oilers can build upon this season’s success. GM Ken Holland made some savvy moves to bolster their roster depth this season, but what else could be done?
He felt they’ll have to rely on finding cheap reinforcements while allowing youngsters like Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear, and Evan Bouchard to develop into NHL players. He also wondered if they’ll re-sign goaltender Mike Smith for another year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million committed to 15 players, so the options are limited unless they make a salary-dumping move or two. Buying out James Neal has been floated by The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell. Some in the Edmonton media feel Smith’s done enough to earn another one-year deal.
Addressing the goaltending is a question for the San Jose Sharks. Starter Martin Jones has four years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5.75 million, and he’s hurt his trade value with successive poor performances over the last two seasons. O’Leary feels GM Doug Wilson will have to get creative.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Leary mentioned the options of shopping the first-round pick in the 2020 draft they picked up from the Tampa Bay Lightning, but I don’t see Wilson moving that unless he gets an offer too good to refuse.
The Sharks GM has shown the ability to wheel and deal to get his club back on track following a lousy 2014-15 campaign. He could pull it off again.
What does Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom sign for?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is four years at $6 million annually. Discuss!
O’Leary wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights will re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner. The pending UFA goalie was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless they plan on a giant swerve by trading Marc-Andre Fleury, I don’t see how they can afford Lehner. After two solid seasons, he’ll be seeking a lucrative long-term deal. With over $72 million tied up in 14 players, the Golden Knights lack the cap space.