NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2020
Check out the recent Canadiens and Predators speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE CANADIENS TARGET KRUG OR KHUDOBIN?
TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie believes Torey Krug should be the Montreal Canadien’s ideal free-agent target this off-season. The 29-year-old Boston Bruins defenseman is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Lajoie felt Krug would be as beneficial at extending the career of Canadiens captain Shea Weber as he was with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, suggesting he would also help stabilize the Habs blueline. Lajoie acknowledged the Canadiens would have to overpay for Krug, perhaps a seven-year, $52.5-million deal, but it would be worth it to improve the Habs defense while weakening a division rival.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug would be a welcome addition to any defense. However, he wants to stay in Boston and the Bruins want to re-sign him. I think they’ll work something out.
If Krug tests the market, I don’t think the Habs would invest $7.5 million annually in him for seven years. Given the Habs’ difficulty enticing top free-agent talent to Montreal, they’ll probably use their depth in draft picks – 14 in this year’s draft, 11 in 2021 – to improve their defense through the trade market.
Lajoie also recently examined several possible backup options for Carey Price. While Montreal native Corey Crawford and former Hab Jaroslav Halak would be interesting choices, he felt Anton Khudobin would be the ideal free-agent target. Lajoie thinks he’d be an affordable backup who wouldn’t put pressure on Price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin would be the ideal backup candidate. Whether he wants to come to Montreal is another story. I’m not saying the Canadiens should break the bank to get him, but they might have to pony up $3 million annually on a two-year deal to bring the 33-year-old into the fold.
WILL THE PREDATORS RE-SIGN GRANLUND AND SMITH?
THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan recently examined whether the Nashville Predators will re-sign Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. Both forwards will become unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Granlund’s production has improved since John Hynes took over as head coach in January while Smith was on pace for his sixth 20-goal campaign when the schedule was paused.
Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for next season, the Predators wouldn’t have enough to re-sign both forwards. Vingan suggests general manager David Poile would have to get creative, perhaps by trading or buying out center Kyle Turris.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have over $72 million tied up in 17 players. Poile must shed salary if he intends on re-signing Granlund and Smith.
It was revealed last fall that Poile attempted to trade Turris last summer but couldn’t find any takers. The decline in his production combined with a $6 million annual salary through 2023-24 makes him difficult to move.
Unless Poile absorbs part of Turris’ annual average value or buys him out, he’ll have to consider moving out somebody else or watch Granlund and/or Smith depart via free agency.