NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2020

by | Apr 16, 2020 | Rumors | 57 comments

Updated unrestricted free agent rankings and how the current season shutdown could affect the UFA market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS/TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, and Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug are the top three on Matt Larkin’s and Frank Seravalli’s respective lists of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex PIetrangelo is among this year’s top unrestricted free agents (Photo via NHL Images).

Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Washington Capitals netminder Braden Holtby, and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen round out Larkin’s top-10.

Seravalli had Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom in fourth place (he was 11th on Larkin’s list), followed by Lehner, Hoffman, Dadonov, Toffoli, Holtby, and Barrie. Vatanen was 12th on his ranking.

Other noteworthy players to appear on both lists include Calgary Flames defensemen T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and Erik Gustafsson, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, Washington Capitals d-man Brenden Dillon and winger Ilya Kovalchuk, and Florida Panthers forward Erik Haula,

Larkin also included Nashville Predators wingers Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith, Bruins backup goalie Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Zdeno Chara, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz, Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dylan DeMelo, Capitals rearguard Radko Gudas, New York Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss, Toronto Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza, Vancouver Canucks d-man Chris Tanev, Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams, and Ottawa Senators defender Mark Borowiecki.

Seravalli’s ranking included Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Justin Braun, Hurricanes blueliner Joel Edmundson, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci, Blues rearguard Marco Scandella and Dallas Stars netminder Anton Khudobin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think most observers will agree where Pietrangelo, Hall, and Krug sit among this year’s top UFAs. I’m sure there will be considerable disagreement over where the others are ranked.

For example, I think Barrie’s struggles in Toronto this season could send his UFA stock tumbling. Remember, some observers (including yours truly) considered Jake Gardiner among last year’s top-10 free agents, and he wound up waiting until September to get a deal that was well below the $6 million annually he was projected to get.

It’s also safe to say some of these players, such as Chara, Crawford, and Williams, are likely to re-sign with their current clubs.

Seravalli reports the effects of the current league shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for this year’s free-agent market. One agent expects the players will have a hard time going backward financially, but that’s what’s going to happen because of the pandemic. Should the salary cap remain at $81.5 million next season, many free agents may have to accept significantly less than they expect.

One agent pointed out there won’t be much of a market for top UFA. Only bottom-feeding clubs will have the most money to spend, but they’re usually not attractive destinations for free-agent talent. Seravalli suggests players might accept short-term deals for less money in the hope of trying to cash in later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players will still try to get the best deals they can, but I concur most won’t find the lucrative offers they would’ve received in a normal year. I agree with Seravalli that many could accept one- or two-year deals for less money and try their luck again in a year or two, or opt for the security of term over dollars.

The UFA market could also be flooded with additional players if the league and the NHLPA agreed to implement compliance buyouts for this off-season as a means of helping cap-strapped clubs hit hard by the shutdown. That could also drive down prices for free-agent talent.


  1. I hope this is the year where my beloved Canadiens finally do something. We have cap space to offer and only Domi and Mete to re-sign as RFA.

    We need a capable back-up for Price. I am thinking Halak, Khubodin. I would even take Allen from STL but STL would have to retain some salary.

    We need help on D. I would go after Barrie if the contract is reasonable. I think that him and Weber would make a great pairing. I would bring back Scandella as a depth option. I’d love to make a push for Dillon. Big, nasty, steady defenseman. As long as we don’t offer him Alzner money ;(

    I’d trade Domi. Maybe there’s a deal there to be made with CLB for Anderson and maybe Savard as well…

    • Could be the year Montreal gets the first pick dependent on how the lottery is decided.

      • Vinnie

        My gut feeling is that OTT will end up with 1st and 2nd overall lol

      • No chance for Canadiens to get 1st overall, not untill Bettman will be replaced. I have a feeling that either Detroit or NJ will get 1st and 2 nd this year draft

    • LeFrench
      Agreed…I could see a Domi for Anderson trade making sense. I like his progression in MTL and had really wanted CBJ to draft him. I wonder if Jarmo is high on Domi/
      Curious what you think the return would be from MTL for Anderson and Savard?

      • DeaconFrost

        That’s a tough one. Domi is a young, skilled player but extremely inconsistent. Anderson is a big, power forward capable of 30-40 goals a year but never reached that potential (and I think that Domi never reached his full potential either).

        So in essence based on that (and it’s just my own opionions) I would do a Domi for Anderson swap, straight up.

        Adding Savard to the deal is where it gets interesting. So, as the armchair GM of the Canadiens I would offer CLB the following:

        Max Domi
        Noah Julsen
        2020 2nd pick
        2021 conditioanl 2nd pick (upgrades to a 2021 1st round pick if Anderson reaches 30 goals in 2021)

        Josh Anderson
        David Savard
        2021 2nd round pick

        I could be way out in left field on this one but that somehow makes sense in my head…

      • LeFrench
        I think the proposed value is reasonable. It will be interesting to see if Jarmo and Bergevin are talking this summer. I suspect MTL, CBJ, and OTT will be among the some of the most active eastern teams given assets and cap space.

      • DeaconFrost

        MTL has a history of doing nothing. But I guess that could change!

        I think OTT is out as far as massive changes. Melnyk doesn’t want to pay anybody and I think that for the next year or two they are in full rebuild mode.

        In the Eastern Conference, my money is on FLA and BUF. I think that what both teams decides to do will impact a lot of other teams.

        In the Western Conference, my bet is on ANA and SJS. Yes, the Sharks. I don’t think that Wilson is ready for a full on rebuild and they are not happy with Jones.

      • LeFrench

        I agree on the teams you identified as active….Portzline (who covers CBJ) has said he expects this to be an off-season of trades for CBJ and it may turn out to be a very active off season with potential for cap challenges and compliance buyouts

      • Le French 09 – Lord knows I’m no fan of Melnyk’s – but he did OK long-term $8.5 mil per, $7.5 mil per and $4.6 mil per deals for Chabot, Ryan & White, and was on record as OK with the offers Dorion made to Karlsson, Stone and Duchene – which were substantial. It was their choice not to sign here. He has also said he will support Dorion in whatever offers he makes to Tkachuk and other up-and-comers like Batherson, Norris, Thompson, Formenton etc.

        I’d like to see him sell for a number of reasons – none of which have anything to do with not spending where it makes sense to do so.

    • le F09,

      Barrie and Weber are both RD.

      Zero chance they will be running the PP together.

      Thank God.


      • I self-correct:
        David Savard is a RD.

        a) But he will turn 30 in October.
        b) One year he scored 36 points, otherwise he has never had more than 25 points in a season.
        c) He is a Bandaid Boy.

        So Juulsen and a 2nd for this?
        Is your proposal?

      • I dont but I heard yesterday that the Dorion might look to add another goaltender.

        Here are five names I can think of.

        1. Jonas Korpisalo
        2.Matt Murray
        3.Tristan Jarry
        4.Casey Desmith
        5.Braden Holtby

  2. I might not have thought this out, so look for feedback. While I can see ownership being all for compliance buyouts, I do not think the NHLPA would do the same. If the NHLPA agreed to compliance buyouts, basically what they would be telling the players is that some of you will have to sacrifice your contractual payout so that other players can be paid. Effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is not what I would want my union to do.

    • The difference between your union and the player’s “union” is that yours very likely does not allow for individual members to negotiate their own wildly different salaries.

    • Peter, the players involved would have cash in hand and become free agents. That’s not that bad.

    • If I am an owner and I am about to see my revenues tank, to a level that will be significant bottom line loss for many teams, I wouldn’t be lining up to pay players for not playing just to add a UFA.

      If you want to spread the loss across multiple years to improve this years #’s, I can see it but not adding an expensive replacement.

      I can see the richest teams doing it if they are an actual contender, but that’s about it IMO.

    • Kevin if there are buyouts and if the cap goes down… we have to remember that when that last happened, player’s also had their salaries cut too. So it could be something like a current $4m player will be a $3m player especially if the season and playoffs are cut. I don’t see anyway around that.

      Good times ahead!

    • le F09

      Always great to spitball on trades, but,,,

      you want to offer two 2nds (with a possible upgrade to a 1st!), a young C who had 70+ points last year, and a young RD who has seen some injuries but is seen as having second pairing status


      an aging LD, a winger with a significant history of injury problems, and one 2nd Rounder?

      That’s insane, imo.

      Be honest, are you really M Bergevin?

  3. Almost every business right now are taking haircuts. Employees suppliers contractors etc. Why should the NHL be exempt ? I do believe the gate revenues will be less maybe for the next couple of years. Unemployment is through the roof and families will not have the money.

    My vote for Seattle nickname
    Sea Lions

    • SilverSeven

      It has to be the Krakens, no??? That’s my vote anyway… Totems would be ok. Or maybe the Sockeyes?

  4. Armstrong was just able to sign Sammy Blais to 2 yrs @1.5 million per year. I am kind of surprised that ANYTHING can get done with so much financial uncertainty, but am glad to have Blais under contract. Petro next?????

  5. After being called out on my opinion of Torey Krug that its was Fanatic and far from reality.

    I find that very funny, as usually team base fans over value their players.

    For the record my opinion which is neither fanatic or far from reality hasn’t changed Krug offer should be no more then 5yrs at $6.5 if he wants more money and term i’ll paraphrase what Brad Marchand said. If you want top dollar and top term we are not begrudging you but your not getting it in Boston because we are trying to build something here.

    If Torey wants $8m x 7yrs and someone wants to give it to him all the power to him.

    Krug is 29yrs old 5’9″ 186lbs 9g 40a 49pts -4 he is a pp specialist and a defensive liability. Does Boston have someone today to pick up his 49pts not likely, do they have players that can keep the scoring chances down in their own end, in abundance.

    Not to forget the money being saved on Krug will be spent on someone, that will help drive the offence.

    Undersized defenseman signing Krug long term as Ray Bark suggested and i agree will not age well. The first 2yrs should be fine but after that, there could be a drastic fall off.

    There is only 7 defenseman in the NHL 32yrs of age or older under six feet tall.

    Alex Goligoski
    Anton Stralman
    Andy Greene
    Trevor Daley
    Matt Hunwick
    Alex Biega
    Brad Hunt

    that it 7 players if you drop the age to 30 you can add another 5 bringing the total to 12 players.

    Once a smaller dman loses his offensive touch and foot speed he doesn’t have much else to offer.

    Fanatical? thought without reason? I don’t think so.

    • Caper

      I don’t know who called you out but the numbers that you mentioned are actually what I thought Krug would get from Boston.

      5 yrs at $6.5m/year is right on track. I just hope he will accept that offer from Montreal 🙂 lol

      Although I doubt that!

    • In today’s nhl once you lose your foot speed it doesn’t matter how big you are. You still lose your value.

      • correct Chrism; however is you still have size and strength you still have (lesser) value ie Chara. But my point is in context of the contract not aging well.

      • Krug is quick in short bursts and great on his edges. IMO his biggest asset is zone entries on the PP and his brain.
        He isn’t the classic “great stride skater” in the Scott Niedermayer mold.
        In a straight ahead race he loses to a guy like McAvoy in a blow out. I would actually bet on Carlo, Grezlyk and Moore to beat him as well.
        The B’s PP often plays down low, when the opposition takes it away they go back to the point with the purpose of opening it up down low again. Similar to how Edmonton(#1 PP in the league by a lot) does it. When they played each other here in Edmonton both teams jammed it down low and gave up the point shot. It worked. Pastrnak will often man one side of the point and play QB as well.
        Like I said Krug is great on the zone entries, which is important as it starts there, but it will be a good PP even without Krug. Maybe not great like it is now. Krug played his part really well, but also benefited from other great players on the ice.
        McAvoy doesn’t suck and can handle another couple minutes a night like the other elite D men in the NHL who play over 25 minutes a night. It’s time IMO.

      • I have agreed with you in the past Caper. I Also feel that anything greater then 4 years for Krug is a dis service to the Bruins. Ultimately I feel that 6.5 is where he needs to be to stay but I think even that is too high for me and I really am fine if he leaves.

        I look at it a couple of other ways. The Bruins drafted McAvoy to be there guy. I kind of look at him as John Carlson. Comes in, he’s a 30/40 point guy with no real PP time, you know he’s a smart player and I think he is our next PP guy.

        I really like Luzon, I think Moore either has to go or be played and despite what people have said, I think Vakk (having watched him some) is going to be a steady defender after a couple of NHL years.

      • Not Chara

    • @Caper not sure if you were referring to a comment I made but it was not directed towards you so I apologize is you are referring to my comment. The point I was making to your comment is that this is Krugs last chance at a big contract. So let’s say he signs for a million less per year for the firm 5 years you suggest. That means he leaves 7 to 10 million on the table. 1 million for each of the 5 years plus whatever he loses for what would have been years 6 or 7 because his next contract will be lower because he’s no longer in his prime. This is business for both the team and player so is he signs for a million per year less he will want an extra year or 2 to make up the difference. The team has to look at it like this. He’s been a valuable player and he drives one of the best power plays in the league. Do we take a risk that he’ll be so bad the 6th year we’re better off without the additional wins he brings or do we think we could make up those wins with another cheaper option. Both are risks that could cost you a few wins a year which is huge in today’s nhl. I know you seem to really like size over skill but Krug is a team first guy who plays bigger than he is. He’s better than just your average 50 point dman because of his character. He’s not that easy to replace. By the way my reference to the fanatics is based on Hall signing his last big payday for 5 years at 7 million. That’s fanatics with no grasp on reality. If he signs for 7 it’s a 1 year hope the economy improves. Hall will take the money and a team will pay him so Boston is not getting him for 7.5 million it’s not happening.

      • Looks like we will need to agree to disagree on this one Roger.
        The team will look at as what is the best use of their cap space, now and in the future, what the rest of the market will pay and who they are competing with for his services. Make a decision based on that. If paying Krug for an extra 2 years, or more money shorter term makes sense to them they will, if not they won’t.
        Krug is a character guy, the B’s have lots of them and it is part of the culture. He fits like a glove. He is a one dimensional player though, and Cassidy seems to agree as Krug starts 2/3’s of his shifts in the offensive zone. Huge % when compared to other D. Carlson in WSH is close to 50/50 for example.
        We don’t know that the money is everything to Krug either. If he signs for the talked about $ he will make $60M over his career so he will be setup forever. Is an extra $5M all that matters to him and his family? Maybe.
        The teams that have cap space are in the bottom half of the standings. Exception is COL, and they have no need for Krug.
        Winning in a place you want to live and have a career earnings of $60M vs leaving to an unknown that likely isn’t very good for $65M in a career? Is that $5M worth changing your life for a guy in that financial position?
        If I was in the exact same position I stay.
        And all of that assumes there will be teams, in these financially challenging times, that will be willing to pay him $7M plus. I’m not convinced that is the case.

      • We’re not actually disagreeing. Krug is on record as saying he will sign less to play for Boston. He will want the years to make up that sacrifice. If he doesn’t get the years it’s more than 5 million left on the table. Don’t forget people who are millionaires have a different life style than we do so the perception that a few million won’t matter is crazy. He’s driving quarter million dollar cars and buying multi million dollar houses. You need money to upkeep those. Why do you think almost 50% of lottery winners go bankrupt. I try to look at it from a human perspective rather than opinion. Would you leave 7 to 10 million on the table just so the owner can make more money and the hopes that your team will spend the cap wisely

      • Roger, the B’s owner won’t make more money if Krug signs for less, they will spend to the cap. At least short term while their window is open.
        That is assuming Delaware North doesn’t crash and burn. They are heavily invested in hotels and food service for sports facilities/casinos etc along with owning the Bruins and TD Garden.
        Krug seems down to earth. I am sure he has really nice stuff and a cool house or 2, but doesn’t seem like a guy who pisses it all away.
        I actually really like Krug as a player and he seems like a genuine good guy. I think we just disagree on his worth and what the B’s should do with their cap space.
        I still think he stays and signs with the B’s for around the term and $ Caper threw out there. I think the UFA market will be tight for him due to the economics of the NHL right now.
        A good compromise might be a 1 year deal?

  6. I said the exact same thing but I believe 6.5 is to much let’s see how bad he wants to be a Bruin. Charlie and Matt can play the PP maybe not quite at Krugs level but who knows until you give them the chance. I can’t see teams lining up to pay big money for anyone these days but hey what do I know.

  7. I keep hearing conjecture on who should sign free agents if the cap stays where it is for next year, but in most cases these guys would be signing for multiple years. I can’t imagine a GM making a multi-year commitment right now when there is a very real likelihood that gross revenues fall by 25-50% long term, in which case, the cap won’t be anywhere near 81 million after next season.

    • Exactly.

    • Spot on Pulling the goalie. But you can never under estimate a desperate GM.

      The salary cap may not move for a few years, when contracts are handed out, there is always a projection of the cap rising to help ease these high contract of today.

      How long it’s before the NHL gets back to normality is anyone guess. Handing out long term $10m contract with no sight of the cap rising might not be the best way to manage the cap today.

  8. Draft

    Being on USA West Coast don’t have a strong opinion on the draft, so for readers who see a lot of these kids here is a question.
    Every mock draft I’ve seen has Lafreniere #1 so is he the next Connor McDavid ( a game changer) or RNH just a tad better than the other choices ?
    If draft order ends up Detroit / Ottawa / Ottawa
    does Ottawa offer the #2 & #3 pick to Detroit so they get Lafreiere ? Is Lafreiere worth two of the rest of players in the draft ?

    • i have not heard Lafreire being compared to anyone in particular, wasn’t mentioned in the same sentence as Ovie, Crosby, McDavid. Other then touted as a clear cut consensus to go 1st overall.

      By all reports its suppose to be a strong draft. I do not see Ottawa offering up the 2nd and 3rd round pick. They won’t pass by Quinton Byfield.

      If Ottawa lucks out and gets 1st and 2nd pick, they could be setup nicely.

  9. 5 x 8.5M to bring pietroangelo to Leafs. Fingers crossed

    • Alex Pietrangelo wants either 7 x 9.5M or 8 x 9.5M from St Louis, So why would he take less from Toronto? And it was reported that he has no interest in going to Toronto.

    • Exactly how will the Boy Blunder Kyle Dumbass finance that?

  10. Be careful with this compliance buyouts. A GM who overspent made his own damn bed, now lie in it.
    I know Covid19 will make this years UFA’s probably take less.
    Don’t bail out a GM that screwed up, let him wallow in it.

    • I guess, when you boil it right down Vincois, in the end it’s not so much bailing out a GM who created the mess as it is bailing out the fan base who have to suffer the consequences of the mistakes made by that GM.

  11. In uncertain times like these, when many many are living on the edge, it seems ridiculous to be considering such costly salaries for playing a game. Imagine a cap on individual salaries of 5-6 million. What a team could be built on that, even if the overall cap dropped to 60 mil. While careers are short, most of us don’t make 6 mil in a lifetime.

    • @Wilson how much revenue does a player bring to the league and owner. For example Wayne Gretzky signed with the st louis blues back in the day. They immediately sold out the additional 7000 seats that they were not selling so over 41 games at let’s say a cheap $50 per seat that’s 350000 per game now include beers and food those 7000 new seats then Jerseys and other hockey memorabilia. Gretzky probably brings in an additional 100 million a year for that team. I believe he signed for 5 million. Even if he signs at 50 million per year the team doubles there revenue off of him. Not to mention playoff games and additional tv revenue.

  12. Because players will not freely go for a CBO, I could see a system, due to the pandemic, where teams could buyout players who have contracts that are up in two or three years. This would allow teams to get their houses in order for a flat cap that is artificially kept at the current 81.5 million for possibly 2 years. It would be a compromise, as players who are in the midst of long term deals would not be harmed, cap is kept a a certain level to for certainty in cap planning and it would not give teams to just throw out long term deals that have soured, freely.

    • Another thing to look at is contract restructure.
      For me it’s all about revenue not CAP, do I have enough revenue to pay ALL the bills. Give a player an option of (1) being bought and your on your own or (2) have a formula for pushing out payments.
      You have a player who has 3 years left @ 6 mil a year. You want to keep him and he wants to stay but you have to cut somewhere and he’s it, if you buy him out he’s gone but what if their was an option of taking the 3 years owed and paying him over 4 years ? He would get paid 4.5 mil instead of 6 ml. The cap hit would still be 6 mil and if after 3 years the player went someone else his contact and cap hit is over except for payment of 4.5 mil when he is playing somewhere else.
      Of course this would have to be approved by owners and union but it is an OPTION to be used if both parties agree.

  13. So, I have a question on the draft. Once the lottery is set can another team make a trade and move up? For example, if Detroit wins the lottery could they swing a deal with Montreal where they flip flop there draft order and of course Montreal having to add a lot of sweetener?

  14. I refuse to watch Ron Macleans “In Conversation” on Sportsnet. Lost all respect for him with the way he threw Don Cherry under the bus and left him hanging out to dry.

    Smug, arrogant and a complete phoney.

    • I’m pretty sure don cherry walked In front of the bus.

      • True that Chrisms, and the driver has been blowing his horn for 20 years.
        I am sure Don doesn’t hold a grudge, he gets it and does it anyway. His choice and if Ron wanted to stay and do his job, that’s his.

    • Ron Jull,

      I 100% agree with your assessment on Ron Maclean, except to add that I had lost tolerance for his toadying long before.
      I mean, how did you actually expect him to behave?
      Cats don’t bark.

      As to Cherry, he was who he always was – not that “sensitive” a guy.

      He still had his moments, but he was in fact a ranting homer on what was supposed to be a national programme.
      The act had gone stale a long time before.

      However you could at least say he wasn’t a sycophantic phoney, a lot more than could ever be said about MacLean.

      I say this as the husband of a “visible minority” lady and the dad of two “vm” boys.


  15. Armstrong busy again—this time Scandella for 4 yrs @ 3.275 mil per. Has he given up on a Pietrangelo signing? He sure can’t get the 9.5 that you guys were talking. Salary dumps coming? Trades?

    • Buyout Steen & Trade Allen?

  16. Scandella , signs with blues 4 yrs AAV 3.275 …..too long & too much $ IMO ….start the Pietro rumors…
    they need to move Allen and compliance buyout Steen to fit AP in now , doable . Plus they still need to sign Dunn . One of MacEachern or DeLaRose will be signd @ ~.800 one won’t be qualified. Kostin for sure moves up next year

    • Ray Barrk … too funny did not see your ost while I was typing mine and getting supper ready