NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2020
Recent speculation on the Canadiens, Penguins, and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE CANADIENS RE-SIGN TATAR?
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes re-signing Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, and Phillip Danault should be an off-season priority for the Canadiens. The linemates are all eligible next summer to become unrestricted free agents. Tatar was quick to credit Gallagher and Danault for the success he’s enjoyed since joining the Canadiens in 2018. He turns 30 in December, which could affect the type of contract offer he gets from the Habs.
TVA SPORTS: If the Canadiens decide to trade Tatar, Jean-Charle Lajoie doubts he’d fetch much of a return. He cites sources claiming the winger didn’t attract much interest before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the reason Tatar didn’t draw much interest before the deadline was Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin’s reluctance to trade him? Regardless, if Bergevin were to shop the 29-year-old winger, he’ll probably have to package him with a draft pick to get a quality return.
Bergevin could re-sign Tatar, but I agree it won’t be an expensive long-term deal. I can see him getting a four-year deal with an annual average value of around $5.5 million.
MURRAY OR JARRY FOR THE PENGUINS?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel recently wondered if the Penguins are due for yet another change of the goaltending guard. Three years after leaving long-time starter Marc-Andre Fleury unprotected in the expansion draft, the Pens could face another crucial goaltending decision.
Starter Matt Murray and backup Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents this off-season with arbitration rights. Murray won two Stanley Cup for the Penguins, but he’s been hampered by injuries and outplayed by Jarry for most of this season. Vensel believes they can afford to keep both in the short term, but he still mused about management perhaps trading one of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.5 million invested in 15 players. They can re-sign both to one-year contracts and take another season evaluating their performances before making a long-term investment in one of them, but it could cost a combined $9 million to do so, leaving little room to re-sign or replace their other free agents. Unless they shed salary elsewhere, they could be forced to trade Murray or Jarry before next season.
COULD THE PANTHERS MOVE BARKOV?
NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked about the possibility of the Florida Panthers trading Aleksander Barkov and what it might take for the Rangers to acquire him. Brooks points out Barkov is signed through 2022 with a no-move clause that kicks in following this season and a modified no-trade in 2021-22. However, if Barkov were willing to waive it and the Panthers shopped him, Brooks considers Adam Fox and Kaapo Kakko, along with players carrying no-trade clauses ( Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider) as untouchables for the Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media chatter suggesting Panthers ownership could implement cost-cutting measures if the club fails to reach the playoffs this season. That could be as simple as letting Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov depart via free agency following this season, or shopping defenseman Mike Matheson.
I doubt they’ll trade Barkov, but that could depend upon how much of a roster shake-up ownership wants if they don’t qualify for the playoffs. If they take a bolder step by moving Barkov, the asking price will be expensive. Barkov’s among the top two-way centers in the game. The Panthers would want at least a high-quality young NHL player, a first-round pick, and a top prospect in return.