NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2020

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Rumors | 45 comments

Several Eastern Conference clubs could face some serious off-season questions. Check them out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon raises some burning off-season questions for each of the NHL’s Eastern Conference clubs. Some were speculation involving off-season plans for several teams:

Dixon suggested the Buffalo Sabres should boost their goaltending depth via the unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Sabres are looking for an experienced backup for promising Linus Ullmark, options could include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss.

Dixon wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will go big-game hunting. He’d love to see them sign a UFA goaltender like Robin Lehner or Jacob Markstrom. If someone like Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau were to hit the trade block, acquiring him would be the type of move the Hurricanes could pull off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, including goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, the Hurricanes lack sufficient room and dollars to add Lehner or Markstrom. Of course, they could attempt to move Mrazek or Reimer to create room for a UFA goalie signing. Gaudreau isn’t going anywhere this off-season, but yes, if he were available, the Hurricanes have the depth in young roster talent, prospects, and draft picks to pull off such a move. Whether they’d do it, however, is another matter.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have the base for a good-to-great team if they got an injection of pure talent such as Gaudreau or Taylor Hall. Dixon acknowledged they have some in-house business to sort out, such as re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois and what to do with winger Josh Anderson, who has arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has made bold moves before, so we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility he’ll do it again. Adding Hall, however, will be too expensive for a club carrying over $68 million tied up in 17 players next season. As I mentioned earlier, Gaudreau’s not going anywhere, but the cost of adding someone like him could be too burdensome to pull off this year.

If the Detroit Red Wings don’t believe winger Anthony Mantha is worth a long-term deal, Dixon suggested shopping him while he has trade value for another piece or two that helps their long-term rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha has 30-goal ability but his injury history is a red flag. They possess plenty of salary-cap space to re-sign him, so it’ll be interesting to how GM Steve Yzerman handles this.

Dixon doubted Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are in play, but feels everything else is on the table for the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll depend on Panthers owner Vinnie Viola. It’s been suggested his unhappiness with the club’s performance could lead to a cost-cutting shakeup. A bold move would be moving Barkov or Huberdeau, but the latter has a full no-movement clause while the former’s kicks in after this season. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad lacks no-trade protection until 2021-22, but a more likely trade candidate could be Mike Matheson, who surfaced in the rumor mill before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Could the Montreal Canadiens shop a forward like Max Domi to bring in a defenseman? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dixon wondered if the Montreal Canadiens might swap a forward, such as pending RFA Max Domi, for a defenseman if the right fit can be found.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect GM Marc Bergevin will explore every option. With depth in draft picks and prospects plus plenty of salary-cap space, Bergevin might not have to part with a roster forward to bring in a blueliner. He could instead target cap-strapped clubs in need of shedding salary.

Once the New Jersey Devils sort out who their general manager will be, Dixon proposed shopping winger Kyle Palmieri could fetch a good return. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision could tkae place before next season’s trade deadline, whenever that might be.

If Henrik Lundqvist wants to continue playing, Dixon suggested the New York Rangers buy out the final season of his contract and let him test the UFA water.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Blueshirts go that route. With Lundqvist losing playing time to young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, it may be time to part ways with King Henrik.

With the Ottawa Senators carrying seven second-round picks in the next two drafts, Dixon wondered if they might shop some of them for an under-25 player or two in need of a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good suggestion, one Senators GM Pierre Dorion could explore when the off-season finally arrives.

Dixon mused over the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins re-signing RFA goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: it can’t be ruled out, but it will be a tight squeeze within the Penguins’ limited cap space.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be forced to sacrifice a second-tier forward to make room to re-sign RFAs Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergechev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That forward could be Alex Killorn, whose full no-trade clause becomes a 16-team no-trade list following this season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to look outside the organization to boost their blueline. A lack of cap space and depth in the UFA market could force them into the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And if they do go that route, a second-tier forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot could become a trade candidate.

Dixon mused over the possibility of Braden Holtby returning to the Washington Capitals for another year or two at a salary similar to his current $6.1 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby has indicated his intent to get the best deal he can as he enters the UFA market for the first time. Assuming he can’t find one this year if the salary cap remains flat, perhaps he and the Capitals might circle back and discuss a short-term deal. Even then, bringing back Holtby would push their cap payroll to over $77 million invested in 17 players, leaving little room under a flat cap to fill the rest of the roster.


  1. As I said yesterday, the Senators have 15 picks in this draft alone – 3 in the 1st, 4 in the 2nd, 2 in the 3rd, 1 in the 4th, 2 in the 5th, 2 in the 6th and 1 in the 7th

    Clearly, there is little point at this stage of their rebuild to draft all 15 so you can bet Dorion will be wheeling and dealing somewhere early in this draft. I can see that 1st rounder they own from the Islanders in play along with a couple of those 2nd rounders – both this year’s and in the 2021 draft.

    • Hi George

      Strong possibility yes. But I also wonder what they will do with Craig Anderson. I yr left of his contract, and he is getting close to 40. Maybe a Lundqvist 2.0?

      I can see them getting more playing time to Nilsson who did fairly well and go after someone like Greiss? I doubt Melnyk will pay for Lehner or Markstrom ( plus I think Vancouver will retain Markstrom).

    • GeorgeO Great observation….OTT will be a fascinating to watch at the draft this year. What a franchise altering year this could be!

      Just curious what would OTT be looking for in deals centered round the 1st and 2nds? Any thoughts on Logan Brown’s availability? Saw some speculation that he may be in play but not sure if it’s accurate.

      Finally, do you see any sensible trade fit w CBJ for assets like Anderson, Savard, Nuttivara, Wennberg?

      • Also. forgot Korpisalo may be available if they are moving on from Anderson and looking at a 1a 1b situation in goal

      • Also, forgot Korpisalo may be available for any team looking for a 1a 1b tandem in goal

      • LeFrench 09, Craig Anderson is a UFA at the end of this season … so, in effect, he’s history. Nilsson has not yet shown signs of adequately recovering from that concussion so he remains a ? Hogberg, I think, has shown enough to warrant one of the two G spots, and although they do have some depth at the goalie position. They just signed draftee Kevin Mandolese o a 3-year ELC – a 6′ 4″ 2018 6th round pick – 157th overall) from the Cape Breton Eagles of the Q who just finished with a 26-8-1 record, a league-best .925 save % & 2 Sos, with a 2.33 gaa. He was named the league’s goalie of the month for December. He joins Joey Daccord and Filip Gustavsson (both with Belleville in the AHL) so will probably start his pro career in Brampton of the ECHL.

        So, DeaconFrost – in the early stages of the re-build, I too – like LeFrench 09 – doubt they even consider bringing Lehner back or go after Markstrom.

        As for big Logan Brown, with Pageau’s departure I believe he will get every opportunity next season to become a regular – they were ultra-patient with Nick Paul at that position and he finally showed he was ready in this shortened season. Then there’s yet another big C looming in the draft – 6′ 4″ 218 lb Quintin Byfield who doesn’t turn 18 until August- and should they land him, the C position looks to be well-stocked down the line.

        In the meantime, could Dorion go after a Josh Anderson by dangling a pick or two from the 15 coming up? Absolutely.

      • There are so many goalies potentially available that they will have an easy time. For some fun how about considering a young goalie with cups who matches the age of the rebuild. Matt Murray might be a solid trade candidate for that late 1st. Or maybe a couple of the 2nds.

      • Hi DeaconFrost,

        I am well during this pandemic.
        I hope you are doing well and staying safe.

        Sorry meant to say I would like to see
        Dorion trade for a defensemen who is
        the same age as Josh Anderson or younger
        or is in the same boat as Josh Anderson.
        Not offer up a defensemen for Anderson.
        Just saying in general.

    • Hi George,

      I hope you are doing well during this pandemic.

      Here are some players and prospects that the Senators need to build around.


      1.Brady Tkachuk
      2.Thomas Chabot
      3.Colin White
      4.Connor Brown
      5. Nick Paul
      6.Anthony Duclair (maybe)
      7. Christian Wolanin
      8.Nikita Zaitsev
      9.Mark Borowiecki


      1.Drake Batherson
      2.Alex Formenton
      3.Erik Brannstrom
      4.Logan Brown
      5.Christian Jaros
      6. Max Lajoie
      7. Josh Norris
      8.Joey Daccord
      9.Mads Sogaard

    • Hi George,

      I don’t want to see Dorion trade Logan

  2. The Sens typically don’t want to acquire salary (or very little) . Keep all 3 firsts and move all 4 second draft picks for goaltending and defence depth. On forward target more players like Connor Brown

    Not sure how Toronto doesn’t have to move at least one of those 3 second tier forwards to support the backend

    • I would like to see Dorion trade one of the 2nd round picks and something else for Josh Anderson. What about a defenseman that is in the same boat as Josh Anderson.
      I would like to see Dorion trade for one of Korpisalo or Tristan Jarry.

      • Hi Alex

        Hope you are well in the pandemic crisis. It is likely that Anderson is on the block but there is apparently considerable interest (12+ teams according to LeBrun) and so the cost is likely more than a 2nd. I will be interested to see if Jarmo is willing to trade prime assets for picks /prospects (could be very interesting w OTT if that is the case) or if he is seeking NHL players in ‘hockey trades.” Anderson, Korpisalo (though this is not confirmed, just suspected given Elvis appears to be legit), and virtually any D man not names Jones, Werenski, or Gavrikov are likely available for the right return but the the CBJ are in the market for is skilled forwards so a D man doesn’t likely move the needle in a trade.

  3. George

    Right on Anderson. I missed that one so thanks for catching that.

    I think Hogberg needs more seasoning although I agree with you re: he’s done enough to warrant a shot.

    Anderson would fit what they’re trying to build. Would 2 second rounder get it done???

    • Le French 09, Kekäläinen has 17 players signed for next season at a Cap hit of $68,297,599 which, IF the cap were to go to $84 mil, would give him $15,702,500 to sign 6.

      Among his RFAs, 3 will bew seeking raises of some sort from their combiuned $5,300,000 cap hits – Fs Anderson ($1,850,000) and Shore ($2,300,000) and G Korpisalo ($1,150,000). Then there are the 7 RFAs coming of ELC deals – Forwards Dubois ($894,166), MacInnis ($874,125), Stenlund ($864,166) and Lilja ($792,500), D-men Gavrikov ($925,000) and Carlsson ($894,166), and G Merzlikins ($874,125) – totalling $10,544,123.

      Combined, that’s $15,844,123 which, when the dust settles and they all have new deals, would leave him with 27 players and well over an $84 mil cap. So obviously, he has his work cut out for him trying to sort out whether or not he can – or even wants to – keep all 10 RFAs. If he does, then several from his signed roster will need to be dealt to make room. If he decides to part with some from among the RFAs. Either way, or even combing some from among the two groups, he needs to find dance partners in an age of total uncertainty and what he brings back probably can’t be salaried players or other RFAs seeking new deals. It’ll HAVE to be draft picks.

      And without delving into every other team, I suspect Kekäläinen isn’t the only GM facing this dilemma. Which puts teams with lots of cap space, open roster spots and numerous picks to dangle in very good position to make major improvements to their own rosters.

      In essence, and in the circumstances, I would think Kekäläinen would jump at 2 2nd rounders – 1 from this year’s draft and 1 from next year’s – for Josh Anderson.

      • Very thorough analysis George. Despite the wave of RFA signings that are pending, there has actually been quite a bit of public optimism from CBJ management regarding their cap space. They acknowledge the need to reserve space for the RFAs but also have explicitly stated they feel they have sufficient room and they plan to be aggressive in adding high end skill. This is unlikely to be in the UFA market (can’t afford Hall….Dadonov or Hoffman possibly if they hit UFA?) Anderson and their depth on D and G are their strongest trade assets. No disrespect intended with your evaluation, but I would be surprised if they settle for 2 2nds for Anderson. However, if they move their best trade assets for picks they would appear to be signaling a shift from their staunch position of only trading for assets that “help now and in the future” (this is Jarmo’s go to narrative on any deal). Portzline, who is actually well-connected,, has stated he has heard this will be a summer of trades for CBJ. It will be interesting to see if the pandemic forces teams to shift their strategy.

      • You are a lot closer to that scene than I am DeaconFrost, and with the way Kekäläinen has handled difficult situations before, I’m the last one to suggest he’s in a bind. I just look at the numbers – 17 under NHL contract with just over $15 mil to sign 6 (for the magic 23-man roster – IF the cap goes to $84 mil – if it stays as is he’s looking at closer to $12 mil to sign 6) – but 10 RFAs to deal with who currently cost over $15 mil and all seeking raises to some degree (3 have arbitration rights) and one has to agree with Portzline that this summer will see a flurry of trades – or even at draft time (however it’s handled).

        It’s a mathematical reality no matter how you look at it – which is why I say there’s no way he can bring contracts back (unless he’s able to unload a big one for a much lesser amount) and might accept 2 2nds for Anderson. But hey, if I were Dorion I’d offer that late 1st and a 2nd (either one of this year’s or from 2021). He’s the kind of beast up front that would go well with the size the Sens are already building up.

        It would be SO great if this were to be a normal, everybody’s there draft but … alas ….

      • Spot on and Agreed GeorgeO. I see CBJ moving out some salary via trade & compliance buyout (if they occur). If in-season cap room is required they also could consider LTIR for Dubinsky to free up $5.85 million as, unfortunately, he is unlikely to ever play again. I am curious if Jarmo would bite on a trade w OTT for the NYI 1st and 2nd if the right prospects are available. The trade activity could be very active and entertaining this offseason.

  4. I find it interesting that Gaudreau’s name continues to surface. It may be pure speculation but some national writers have gone as far to openly state in ‘bold predictions” type articles they predict Gaudreau will be traded to an Eastern conference team. The pandemic disruption may have eliminated any chance that Calgary considers such a major off-season move (as it likely would have been predicated on a disappointing playoff performance). Nonetheless, as a CBJ fan, Gaudreau would be the type of player Jarmo would target in a trade to provide the high end skill infusion lost w Panarin in NYC. Not sure if the fit is there for CBJ but curious what anyone thinks the type of assets CAL would need to consider moving him?

  5. Would love to see Mantha in Montreal

    • Montreal doesn’t have what it would take to get Mantha out of Detroit, Yzerman already stated that he wants a high end top 4 LHD in return for Mantha. And Montreal doesn’t have one. Detroit and Montreal need the same things future top 4 LHD. We’re not interested in lesser pieces like more wingers etc. Either high end LHD or a future 2C and either way Montreal can’t help us there.

  6. I wouldnt pay Holtby more than 4,5*3

    Yzerman should trade Mantha if he gets a good return

    Rangers will buy out Staal if its a compliance buyout, and the Henrik. If no compliance then Henrik. But Im not sold on Georgiev, I would trade him if I could and keep Henrik.

    Ottawa should trade for a young first or 2nd line center if they can

    • @Kent I think Ottawa waits to see how the draft plays out as to what type of center they trade for. Byfield is projected to go 2nd overall and would fill that center roll in a year or 2. I agree with you on Stall and Gorgiev. I think he’s heavily overrated based on his entire career. Doesn’t mean he won’t be a great tender and I could easily be wrong but buyer beware. George is bang on with his analysis on Ottawa. They are going to be something special in a few short years. Montreal really needs to look at what Ottawa is doing. Rebuild now.

      • I agree on Montreal, right now they are mired in no mans land. More than anything they need a no 1 center for the future. But right now they have Price and weber and im not sure the fanbase would stomach trading them for a full rebuild

      • Kent Nilsson, like the Leafs in TO, the Habs are too ingrained in the Montreal psyche for the fans to stay away in any appreciable numbers (only ongoing and long-lasting economic troubles stemming from the pandemic would do that). They might be pissed and they WILL let the club know their feelings – but they’ll still fill the building. Hell, they persevered through the Irving Grundman years (the team won 2 cups in SPITE of him) and the Pierre Gauthier fiasco.

      • @kent nobody is taking price unless Montreal gives up something so he will hurt your rebuild attempts not help. Montreal is in a lot of trouble.

    • Kent, Holtby is better than that. Lots of teams could use him too. He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the Cup.

    • No chance NY buys out Staal before buying out Lundqvist. And even less chance they keep Lundqvist over Georgiev.

      Lundqvist frees up more space being bought out. And what would be the purpose of keeping him around? Sentimental?

  7. if MB wants to make a splash at the entry draft, scheduled to be held in Montreal at some point this summer TBD, he moves Domi , Mete picks / prospects for Barkov.
    Barkov is the big, young, talented, affordable center the Habs covet.

    • If FLA was to move Barkov there would be a lineup, including my Bruins. Solves their long term C problem after next season. Would have to find a team for Krecji or move him to wing.
      Is Coyle and Carlo too much for Bruins fans?
      Can’t see a world where FLA moves him, but good discussion if they were.

    • There would be a long lineup for Barkov if he becomes available. The habs do not have the prospect pool, players or high enough draft picks to match some of the offers Florida would get for Barkov. No chance he goes to Montreal. Sorry for the reality check. Montreal needs to tank and take on a full rebuild. The draft will be the only place they get a number 1 center and you rarely get that outside a top 5 pick.

      • Hell yeah – no way Montreal gets Barkov for that package. If Talon ever let it be known he’d be interested in dealing him (and I seriously doubt we’ll see that), the lineup would be 30-teams long with more than half able to offer up much better returns than Montreal.

      • Domi, Mete, 2021 protected 1st, Poehling or KK ( I would even go as far as saying Suzuki instead of the other 2 ) + Primeau …you don’t think Tallon would ponder it ?
        if Montreal misses the playoffs again MB is out of a job.

      • Your opinion is way off roger! You look up any prospect pool rankings and Montreal is in the top 5, some people on here really need to look up facts before spouting off meaningless opinions

      • Really big bear they do not have 1 A level prospect in Montreal. Not 1. They have a lot of b level prospects but not 1 superstar caliber. And no Suzuki is not 1. They botched the 2 3rd overall picks they had. They get that ranking because the teams with the a level prospects are now playing in the nhl. Young players under 23. Who does Montreal have that even comes close to Barkov. They’re a disaster.

      • No denying Barkov is elite and would covet a kings ransom but you are off base with respect to the Habs depth ….so unless you can tell me you cover NHL hockey for a living I will defer to the following publication rankings. Montreal Canadiens prospects 2nd ( The Athletic ) , 5th (The Hockeywriters) and 5th (The Sporting News).

      • Again Fergy they are ranking players not in the NHL. The a level prospects are playing in the NHL. They don’t see AHL time and they’re to good for the CHL. It’s not hard name me 1 elite Canadians player under 23. Just 1

      • you got me there Roger because they don’t but they have a good stable of prospects with potential. Time will tell how good they really are , a year ago if I would have said Kotkaniemi would finish the season in Laval people would have scolded me. Maybe Suzuki takes another step next year?
        Like I said previously if MB wants to keep his job the Habs need to make the playoffs. Tough sledding with the current roster, they need a game changer and to obtain one of those you pay a steep price. MB won’t care about the roster 3-4 years from now if he loses his job this year.

      • Wow roger you really have no clue what you’re talking about! Do you watch prospects? I know a lot of people that know more than you about hockey and especially prospects and they will tell you differently. What team do you consider having really good prospects?

    • Barkov is big , young, talented and affordable. Which is probably why you couldn’t pry him out of Tallons dead cold hands.

  8. Ray Carlo is untouchable for me but I’m not the GM Don is. Still want to see Boston give Studnicka a solid chance to prove himself next year I believe he is ready. Bergeron will be ready to retire about the time Matthews is an UFA and he may like to have Pasta as his winger.

    • I really like Carlo too Obe, thought it might too much combined with Coyle, but gotta give to get. Barkov is similar to Bergeron IMO, really good defensive player, just not Bergy level yet.
      Studnika has a chance to be good. Another year in the minors would be my preference vs 4C or starting on the wing in the NHL. Let him play a whack of minutes in all situations. Extra AHL never hurt a guy. Call him up if you have an injury at 1-3C. Barkov will actually be a UFA before Matthews, so maybe that’s an idea too.

  9. Huberdeau over Barkov . Who by the way would be a $10m player in Toronto. Has to be untouchable at least for the next couple of years.

  10. Ok Roger -Mikhail Sergachev is a top young stud D man Montreal drafted him and he will be a star for a long time in the NHL. Ooooooops they traded him lol sorry Hab fans and remember my Bruins traded Seguin so I know feeling. Cole Caufield is pretty good prospect. Best I could come up with.

    • Or Thornton Obe, hate to open old wounds but that sucked. Gave us cap space for Chara as a UFA though. I wouldn’t give up on Kotkaniemi just yet. IMO never should have been in the NHL as an 18 year old. Depends how you define elite I guess.