NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2020

by | Apr 21, 2020 | Rumors | 19 comments

More speculation over destinations for Dustin Byfuglien and the latest on Alex Pietrangelo in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes teams will line up to bid for Dustin Byfuglien if he decides to resume his NHL playing career. The 35-year-old’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was recently terminated, making him an unrestricted free agent. Despite Byfuglien’s age and recent health issues, Simmons considers him a team-changer and a game-changer with his versatility and physical presence.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston thinks at least 20 teams would be in on the conversation if Byfuglien decides to play next season. Mark Spector also feels there’s a big marketplace for Byfuglien, but doesn’t believe he’ll return to action. He also raises questions about the blueliner’s conditioning after not playing in a year.

Rory Boylen suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, and Florida Panthers as possible destinations. Considering Byfuglien walked away from $14 million over the final two years of his contract, money might not be an issue in signing him.

Speculation persists over Dustin Byfuglien’s future (Photo via NHL Images).

Boylen believes Byfuglien would be a solid fit among the Leafs’ top-four defensemen on a value contract. However, they’d still have to move out a player like Alex Kerfoot to free up sufficient cap space.

Playing in his home state of Minnesota could be enticing to Byfuglien. The Wild were rumored to be shopping Matt Dumba before the trade deadline. Boylen suggests they could sign Byfuglien and acquired some tasty assets for Dumba.

The Panthers need help on defense and could shake things up again this summer. Byfuglien also has a history with Panthers general manager Dale Tallen and head coach Joel Quenneville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the rumblings right now suggest Byfuglien’s playing career is over. Until he makes it official, he’ll continue to surface in the rumor mill. Maybe some general managers have already attempted to contact his agent to make inquiries about his future.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo intends to explore all his options regarding his future after this season. The 30-year-old defenseman is considered the top player in this year’s unrestricted free agent market. He indicated his preference is to find a long-term deal. Pietrangelo didn’t rule out re-signing with the Blues, indicating the goal is to work out something with general manager Doug Armstrong.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examined how the Blues can afford to re-sign Pietrangelo and restricted free agent rearguard Vince Dunn. With over $79.4 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21, the Blues must shed salary to retain both defensemen.

If the league works out a compliance buyout this summer for cap-strapped clubs, O’Brien suggests Alexander Steen ($5.75 million annual average value) as a candidate. They could also attempt to trade Steen or Tyler Bozak ($5 million AAV) to a budget team, or shop goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million) to a club seeking help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the salary cap remain at $81.5 million, the Blues will either have to free up cap room to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn or risk at least losing Pietrangelo to free agency. Dunn is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, so Armstrong would use that leverage to ink the blueliner to an affordable short-term budget deal.

There was some suggestion of pending UFAs like Pietrangelo accepting one- or two-year deals this summer in hope of the market improving down the road in the wake of the pandemic. His comments, however, suggest he’s not interested in short-term options.

It’s also been suggested Pietrangelo could seek over $9 million annually. The downturn in the league’s revenue and the potential effect upon next season’s cap could force him into perhaps accepting less than that ($8 million AAV?) on a long-term deal.


  1. The market is the market is the market.
    The Blues will have to move Allen and buyout Steen . Who should retire a winner. Even then the days of $9-10m deals may be over. At least it looks that way right now.
    If there ever was a top UFA it is Pietrangelo.

    • Don’t see the issue of HIGH PRICED UFA’s being addressed anytime soon. Before anyone can make an offer ( except the team that still owns the UFA) the following has to happen.
      1) Regular Season played out or cancelled
      2) Playoffs played out or cancelled
      3) Draft
      At this point see no way UFA’s can shop July 1,
      looks more like sometime August
      In addition I think teams also will want to monitor
      1) Will the state we play in allow us to play home games?
      2) How are Season Ticket sales going ( remember this question will be asked in August or Later
      3) Is Baseball Playing and Where and What are game day sales looking like ?
      4) How many Companies and Individuals renewed season tickets for NFL ( remember last season and all the empty seats and many of those seats were paid for and weren’t used )
      5) How many of the big corporations will be buying Luxury Boxes and / or buying advertising time on TV

    • Seven,

      My big concern is that the Blues/Armstrong will extend Petro’s contract for too many years—that just never ends well! There is no way I would sign the 30 yr. old for more than 4 or 5 years. I think he’s looking for more.

      Maybe 5@8.5 million.

      Do you think if Backes had do overs he would have taken a little less term to stay in St. Louis?

  2. I personally believe that Big Buff’s career is over. But who knows? He might surprise everybody and decides to keep playing…

    I agree SilverSeven re: Pietrangelo being the top UFA. There have been rumours that FLA is wanting to shake things up… Ekblad was even mentionned as possible traide bait…

    So, just throwing this out there, but what if FLA – STL make a deal involving Ekblad and Pietrangelo? What would that deal look like? I think there’s a hockey trade to be made there for both clubs…

    • LeFrench, Ekblad is signed through 2025, at 7.5 ; Pietrangelo being UFA at the end of 19-20, I truely don’t see how this trade could work. A sign and trade ? why would the Blues do that ? my 2 cents.

      • Patrick

        All valid points. Obviously yes a sign and trade would be required.

        Not saying the Blues would consider it. I am merely spitballing. It’s my belief STL will resign Pietrangelo BUT in the event they can’t maybe Armstrong could/would consider a trade. I was just curious to see if it would happen what would the trade looks like…

      • Why would FLA do that? If you are a team that is willing to pay more than the Blues are comfortable with why not just wait until he is a UFA and give up nothing.
        If you need to move assets to get under he cap, make a separate deal.

      • Pieterangelo to Leafs as ufa anywhere from 8M x 4 years to 8.5M x 5 years entirely front loaded as bonus money except for league minimum salary each year with NMC for years 1 – 3 and NTC 16 teams for years 4-5. Do it Dubas. Can trade kerfoot and johnsson for picks to free up the cap space.

    • this is interesting. perhaps i’m out of the loop. but i’m a 8 minute ride from the panthers arena.hadn’t heard this one.if the season resumes and the panthers squeak in then maybe the trade talks cool down.certainly no panthers fan but a hard core hockey fan.been to some 17 games this year and ekblad is a smooth skater who seems overmatched in the defensive zone.suppose anything could happen.interesting rumor

  3. The talk here in winnipeg coming feom people who know people who may know big buff or a business that big buff deals with. Haha. Is that Big Buff is content in manitoba/minnisota living a simple life. From what i could piece together from all soundly reliable information (haha) is he just wants to live his life. He has a hunting company he frequents and seems to simply want to do that. Live life, enjoy his wilderness past time and hobbies and go back under the puboic radar. It seems the life style of a pro athlete is something he no longer wishes to partake in.

    Im betting he is done. However it is interesting he hasnt simply come out and retired. Its not like he couldnt reverse it.

    • One of Dustin`s close friends Chris Verstaag has said that several times now.

  4. re: Buff ….shades of Mark Pavelich , hope that there are no other underlying medical conditions driving the behavior. I agree with Jeff , I would be surprised to see him come back to play in the NHL.

  5. Re Buff

    He’d have to be motivated to return…..

    He walked away from big dough already ;

    is already 35;

    this season is in flux so UFA season timing is in flux

    He has a sideline biz and enjoys his relaxing outdoor life

    His playing weight was 260….. noting no place to exercise for anybody right now; is it a stretch to believe he’s hovering in the 300 range . ????

    Eons since he last played

    …. so at 35 he will still need to finish the ankle rehab; likely need to drop 40 or so; do massive workouts to get into playing shape ….. to get money he seems not (at least overtly) interested in

    Another cup as motivation???? With any year ; let alone the mess we are in right now; signing even with the most stacked team doesn’t guarantee a cup (e.g. 18/19 Bolts)

    …… methinks it’s fishing from now on for Big Buff

    Re the top UFAs; including Petro; regardless of CBOs or no CBOs; regardless of “true” or artificial cap…. IMHO average UFA term and AAV will be less than last year or the year before

    The CBO ; if instituted; will lessen the decrease but not in and of itself; lead to an increase in UFA avg term and/or AAV

    My guess …. CBO is instituted; Steen diplomatically bought out; Petro re-upped

    • Pengy,

      You’re probably right. I don’t know what a “diplomatic” buy out looks /sounds like, but I would wish a better end for Steen. I also think something will be done involving Allen, Gunnarsson, and maybe Bozak. The Blues have some young d’men (Mikkola, Perunovich), as well as Kyrou and Kostin to find spots for soon. Do you think 4@8.5 could get it done with Petro?

      • Hi Iowa Boy

        Sorry for the confusion re “diplomatic”…. I meant candid/careful convos Army/Steen/Steen Agent to show respect but make clear the decision is the best for both sides ; perhaps a “nudge nudge wink wink” future offer in the org post retirement????

        Kyrou and Kostin I’m somewhat familiar with; don’t know Miikola or Perunovich

        Re Petro …. can’t see him accepting a 4 yr term; I cede your concerns re long term but there is a sneaky way around it if Army is willing….. basically getting Petro to effectively only play for 5 years (1 longer than you’d suggested)

        7 yr term …. $8.5 M AAV ($59.5 M over the contract)…. front end loaded ; last two years only $1M (all Sal last two years)…. effectively giving Petro decision to play for just above league min at 36 and 37 or retire…. retire a much higher prob…. since this contract signed at 30…. retiring early means … no Cap hit in years 6 and 7….

        Effectively then for Blues …. it’s 5@ $8.5 M for Cap hit and Petro collects $57.5 M over 5 years …. $11.5 M cash gross AAV

        Sneaky but doable

      • Pengy,

        Mikkola (LD) played a handful of games this year and looked ready. He’s a big (dare I say Parayko like) kid without the booming shot. Perunovich (also LD)was the college player of the year. Real small but REAL instinctive. I picture him like a Vince Dunn. Both would be fine replacements for Gunnarsson.

        So, you see an Asst. to the GM in Steen’s future! Very “diplomatic”

        Hope Army reads your Petro plan!

      • Hi Iowa Boy

        I can’t get the two GMs for my two fav teams (Leafs/Pens) to listen ….. not sure Army will take my call or advice

        Regardless …. I’d say > 80% chance that Petro is on Blues for 20/21

  6. Whoever signs Big Buff deserves to wallow in the mess they will have made for themselves.

    • Hi W17H

      As I mentioned above , I very highly doubt that he will play another NHL game

      that said if he does there’s always a contract that will work for both sides:

      $750 K Sal ; no Signing bonus; big and commensurate performance bonuses… so if he walks …. $750 K on the cap only…. strategic performance bonuses and he earns (and subsequent cap) relative to what another player of that skill/performance/number of mins/number of games played will rec’v

      Again…. I think he’s already measuring up his new Patagonia Rio Gallegos and already has his order in for two more Oyster Bamboos; and has just ordered two more Igloo Quick and Cools