NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2020
Possible destinations for Dustin Byfuglien, a look at what’s next for the Jets, and recent Blues speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR BYFUGLIEN AND THE JETS?
THE SCORE: Matt Teague listed the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues as three potential free-agent destinations for Dustin Byfuglien if he continues his playing career following his contract termination with the Winnipeg Jets.
Byfuglien would provide additional right-side depth to the Canadiens blueline, joining Shea Weber and Jeff Petry. He would become the first-pairing right-side rearguard for the Leafs. If the Blues fail to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo, they could promote Colton Parayko to replace Pietrangelo on the top pairing and slot Byfuglien into the second-pairing spot.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis wondered if the Chicago Blackhawks would look into bringing back Byfuglien, who began his NHL career in Chicago and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2010. If he was willing to come back, they could perhaps sign the 35-year-old to an affordable one-year, bonus-laden deal. Roumeliotis points out Bufuglien might not be interested in playing again, but feels it might be worthwhile to look into it.
THE ATHLETIC: Before the Byfuglien contract termination, Ken Wiebe indicated such a move would free up $7.6 million in salary-cap space for the Jets next season. While he doesn’t expect Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to go on a spending spree, it will give him some options to address other roster issues. One could be re-signing defenseman Dylan DeMelo, who was acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Another could be addressing their second-line center position.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Byfuglien has hung up his skates, all this speculation will be for nothing. But until he publicly says his playing days are over, Big Buff will keep surfacing in the rumor mill.
If Byfuglien returns, it won’t be on an expensive long-term deal. As Roumeliotis suggested, it would be on a one-year deal with a low base salary and bonus clauses.
The salary cap for next season will also determine how much Byfuglien gets and which teams can sign him. Of the teams listed above, the Canadiens could easily afford him. The Blues, too, if Pietrangelo walks and they free up some additional cap room. The cap-strapped Leafs and Blackhawks, however, could find it difficult to fit him within their respective payrolls.
LATEST ON THE BLUES
STLTODAY.COM/THE ATHLETIC: Ben Frederickson and Jeremy Rutherford examined the St. Louis Blues’ options following the club’s recent re-signings of Sammy Blais, Marco Scandella, and MacKenzie MacEachern. With over $79 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong must shed salary if they intend on re-signing defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn.
Frederickson suggested shopping goaltender Jake Allen, or perhaps Armstrong makes an unexpected move. Rutherford also proposed trading Allen, buying out Alexander Steen, or making a series of smaller moves to free up sufficient cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues intend to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn (and I believe they do), they must make a cost-cutting trade, buy out somebody, or both. I think Allen is the most logical trade option, while Steen could become a buyout candidate, especially if the league and PA agree to implement compliance buyouts this summer to help cap-strapped clubs affected by the pandemic shutdown.
Armstrong could surprise us by shopping expensive players lacking no-trade protection such as Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn or Colton Parayko. However, I doubt he’ll move those guys.