NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2020
More speculation over destinations for Dustin Byfuglien and the latest on Alex Pietrangelo in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE SUGGESTED DESTINATIONS FOR BYFUGLIEN
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.
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.
LATEST ON PIETRANGELO
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.