NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2020

by | Apr 28, 2020 | Rumors | 45 comments

Check out recent speculation on the Canadiens, Rangers, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked about backup goaltender options for the Montreal Canadiens. The Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin a prime target but would the Canadiens pay more than the $2.5 million AAV he currently earns when they’re paying Carey Price $10.5 million annually? Engels thinks they have the cap flexibility to do it.

Engels felt the Canadiens should consider trading Brett Kulak because they’ve got Alexander Romanov coming next season. Kulak’s affordable contract ($1.85 million AAV through 2021-22) could net the Habs some help elsewhere on the roster. He also feels it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk rejoins the Canadiens in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the Canadiens should make a serious effort to sign Khudobin. They need a skilled, experienced backup to spell off Price over the next couple of seasons under promising Cayden Primeau is fully ready for prime time.

Kulak might not fetch much, but with some teams potentially looking to shed salary under a possible flat cap next season, maybe he could fetch a decent depth player. Kovalchuk should be an affordable, short-term signing on a one-year, bonus-laded deal.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie still believes the Canadiens should bring back former Hab Mikhail Sergachev by signing the young Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to an offer sheet.

Should the Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist if the NHL allows for amnesty buyouts in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has over $76 million invested in 16 players for next season, which explains why Sergachev could be a tempting offer-sheet target. However, that’s assuming he’s willing to listen to offers from rival clubs. If he’s not, it’ll be a waste of time. Besides, it’s assumed the Lightning could move a veteran like Alex Killorn in the off-season to make room to re-sign Sergachev.


NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked If Henrik Lundqvist or Marc Staal would be the target of an amnesty buyout if the league allows such buyouts before next season. Buying out Lundqvist would free up $8.5 million for next season, compared to $5.7 million for Staal. “Sentiment aside, I do not think this would be a difficult choice,” replied Brooks.

Brooks admitted the possibility Lias Andersson could be in the Rangers’ 2020 training camp, but it would require a lot of work to breach the differences between the unhappy young winger and the organization, particularly with head coach David Quinn. He felt Andersson could be traded in the off-season as part of a bigger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If amnesty buyouts are permitted this off-season, shedding Lundqvist’s cap hit makes the most sense. It would be a sad way for his career with the Blueshirts to end, but this is a business decision that would allow them salary-cap flexibility for 2020-21. As for Andersson, I’ll be surprised if he’s still with the Rangers’ organization next season.


THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if Martin Jones would keep his job as the San Jose Sharks’ starting goalie next season. His guess is Jones will be back, but he also felt the Sharks must seek a goalie with NHL experience who can play 35-40 games. Braden Holtby could be out of their price range, but perhaps Robin Lehner or Cam Talbot fits the bill. Pashelka also doesn’t rule out Aaron Dell returning if Lehner or Talbot proves too expensive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby will be in the market for a lucrative long-term deal. Lehner could be more affordable, but he’ll also want some long-term security. Talbot might be the best option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he remains with the Flames.


  1. Lyle and all,

    I continue to look to peddle Jake Allen as a cost saving measure for the Blues. Is he too expensive as an option for Montreal or San Jose? What other teams needing help in goal might be a fit?

    • Detroit. If Howard don’t resign. Carolina but you’d have to take one of theirs back. Jersey if they buy out schneider. Cal or edm depending on who they sign. Problem is Allen is one of many many goalies available. Teams will likely want to be enticed to go that direction or have St. Louis hold some salary.

      • Chrisms,

        Some good options! Armstrong has recent trade history with both Detroit and Carolina (Montreal too). I remain hopeful that he can package Allen (who I like) with a prospect (Walman, Nolan Stevens….) for just a mid draft choice to create some interest. ps. I DON’T want the prospect to be named Kyrou, Kostin, Perunovich!!!

    • Montreal need to sign anyone at this point. Almost a pinch me to see if I’m awake type signing. With all that cash, no one wants to play there. What gives?

      • The goalie market will be absolutely flooded this year so there is no reason that Montreal and others will not be able to find quality backups on the cheap.

  2. I can just picture Sergachev’s agent saying “yes – please – by all means make him a top dollar offer sheet … which TB will simply match … thereby taking negotiations out of the picture …” After all, it worked out well for Aho.

    • And which sucker gm are they talking about being used as a agents tool again?

    • Serg would not be thrilled going back to Montreal. They wanted bigbaddrouin instead.

      Bergy will have to overpay to get a good player in a habs Jersey….He should call Dubas.

    • I am sad to say I agree.

      Even if the Habs offered a moonshot offer in salary and terms it would cost them 4 first rounders.

      So either way, a non-starter.

  3. Personally I don’t believe any of the rules of buy outs should change. If the cap is flat, then so be it. No team should be getting a break because of poor cap controls.

    The cap went up $2m for this season and we want to allow teams to dump $8.5m in cap space? Hard pass for me.

    • Hello Caper, I agree. It is also inequitable to a number of cash strapped teams and those teams that actually bother to manage their cap. If allowed, it would benefit the large market teams that ooze cash and don’t care too much about spending to the cap – until they realize their mistake.
      If the cap stays flat, that is already a huge benefit to teams, as this year’s revenues would surely have brought the cap down, not flat.

    • I’m with you on this it’s the team’s mistake, if they’re going to do it what about having a cap on the amount for example 4 million?

    • Agree Caper, and there is no need for compliance buyouts. Makes for good chatter, but a mechanism already exists in the CBA for when revenue declines or doesn’t meet projections. Escrow.
      The share of revenue is already determined for players and owners. If revenue is less they both get less and escrow % goes up to cover potential decline.
      Extend the CBA, spread the losses/escrow % over 3 years to minimize the short term pain if you wish. Hence the CBA extension talk to make this happen.

      • @Ray the compliance buyouts aren`t even fair to all the teams, not every team even has a player that they would use it on. It helps teams like the Rangers and Canucks but doesn`t do anything for Boston or Toronto. Reducing everybody`s salary let`s say 10% makes more sense and is fair to everyone. Teams that feel the need to buy out a contract can still do so but under regular CBA rules. Also teams like Arizona Anaheim Florida might find it hard to spread the escrow over 3 years, being that they need the cash to operate each year.

    • Teams like Boston and Toronto that used their 1st round picks to help build cap room should not be punished with compliance buyouts IMO.

      • So, by inference, they should be rewarded for having to resort to the only measure open to them in order to get out from under the cap hell they put themselves in in the first place??

    • Caper, the players will want to keep salaries up at the current level so they might like special buyout rules.

  4. Agreed on a flat cap. However if the cap dramatically drops then there is little choice but to allow one amnesty buyout
    Talbot should stay with the Flames. He will get a lot of starts. Or another approach is the Flames blow up their goaltending altogether and sign a winner like Holtby

    • SilverSeven, if the cap drops, lets say it rolls back to the 2018/2019 season which is $2m less. Then you get to trim $2m off your cap.

      Using Lundqvit for example Rangers decide to buy him out $2m doesn’t count but the remaining $6.5m of his $8.5m still counts.

      If the league allow one free one, then your cap is reduced by that amount for the remainder of the term.

      Using John Moore of the Bruins, Sweeney says Boston need the cash, we will take the free buyout of John Moore, who has 3 years remaining at $2.5m per season, then for the next three season that number is still on the cap, can’t spend that money; because, remember you were financially strapped you need to save that $2.5m

      • Caper, your suggestion is very good. I would argue that none of the money be removed from the cap as a reduced financial situation has always been part of the CBA agreement, which means there has always been a possibility that the cap would reduce in any given season for whatever reason. Hence no benefit to any team should occur. Having said this –

        It is very likely attendance based sports will not occur for 18-24 months. The rationale here is, I can’t see sports being attended by thousands of fans until a vaccine is proven and mass produced. The medical community believes this is 18-24 months away. I do see sports continuing, just in empty arenas. The financials will be impacted significantly by an unpredictable event. How does the league manage this type of event? My guess, salary\payroll rollbacks, similar to what happened when the cap was first introduced.

    • I’m thinking that if the cap is reduced, players should take a pay cut to the same percentage that the cap drops. If not, then there will be some gnashing of teeth and associated chaos.

  5. I do somewhat agree, though Aho was a different situation: Carolina has loads of cap space at the time. Now, the Lightning do not have that cap space, they have almost no movable contracts – because they are a no tax state, they need add full/modified NTC/NMC – which makes it difficult. With Cirelli and Sergachev and Cernak to sign – along with a handful of other players needed to fill out the roster – and a cap that will remain either flat or even lower, it may prove difficult to sign Sergachev to say a $7-8 million dollar contract AND keep a top Selke candidate in Cirelli AND fill out the roster. Unless they trade Killorns contract (Which is believe is in the $4 million range?).

    I know you are an expect, George: Could you please go onto Capfriendly and make a Lightning team with all these contracts? I tried doing it, but it was really difficult. Of course, I didn’t factor in anyone waiving their NTC, as it is Tampa and – in a no tax state – the contracts that they did sign go a lot farther there! (I mean, EVERYONE always mentions the perk of a no-tax state, right?).

    • No expert here either Wayne – not by a long shot – just like doing the math to see if a GM can pound that square peg into a round hole.

      Right now TB has $76,166,666 invested in 15 players leaving them to $7,833,334 to sign 8 – IF the cap goes to $84 mil. Not many see that happening, so it looks like the cap remains stagnant at $81.5. Which means they have $5,333,334 to sign 5 RFAs (Cernak, Sergachev, Verhaegue, Cirelli & Stephens) whose current cap hit collectively totals $3,853,332. Keeping all 5 will certainly put them over that $5,333,334 – hell, Sergachev alone will do that! The only one of the 5 with arbitration rights is Verhaegue so if he chooses that route they could just walk way. It’s not like he’s indispensible or anything. But that alone doesn’t provide much relief as he’s coming off an ELC of just $700,000 and doesnpt warrant much more based on his stats.

      They also have a UFA or two they might like to keep from amongMaroon, Shattenkirk, Bogosian and Luke Schenn whoich, without other major moves, will be impossible in the circumstances.

      Trading a Killorn frees up $4.5 mil and, added to the more likely $5,333,334, would give them $9,783,334 – but even that amount would not be enough to sign all 5 RFAs let alone any of the UFAs – again due to Sergachev getting by far the largest increase. So it seems like they might also have to peddle a Johnson ($5 mil), Gourde ($5,166,666) or Palat ($5.3 mil). Needless to say, no trades could involve salary coming back – it would need to be for picks/prospects who they could bury in the minors for a while.

      So, summing up, can I take back that snarky comment about an offer sheet to Sergachev being matched? It wouldn’t even need to be an astronomical offer – something modest like $5.5 would put TB in a bind and only cost the offering team a 1st and a 3rd.

    • You are expecting George? Congrats!

      • Heh. Didn’t even notice that typo in Wayne’s comments Chrisms.

    • You’re right Wayne, TB is up against the cap. But the other side of the coin is should MTL pay Sergachev the $7-$8M it would take to get TB to walk?
      The closet comparable is McAvoy, although McAvoy plays top pair and leads the team for ice time. He gets $4.9M AAV on a bridge with the 3rd year at $7.3M. Plays the tough minutes too.
      Provorov just signed for $6.75 but on a longer term.
      Both are better than Sergachev IMO, especially Provorov, so that is a big ticket for a guy that today is a 2nd pairing LD who is sheltered behind Hedman.
      Good player with potential but that is a big ticket and risky IMO.
      Sooner or later MTL is going to be in the position that TB is and Carolina was and karma can be a bitch.
      Agree George, even if they pay him the same as McAvoy, it will be tough, but teams seem to wiggle out of these situations every year. maybe this is the year they can’t?
      Not like I’m rooting for Tampa but I’m guessing they get him in at less than $5M on a 3 year bridge.

      • Could very well be Ray – but he and his agent don’t owe anything to TB. I’m thinking his agent is going to point out the fact that, even at his young age, he ranks 31st in NHL D in terms of points and is a +15 putting him ahead of a slew of D like Klefbom, Girard, Niskanen, Ristolainen, Edler, Nurse, Spurgeon, Klingberg, McEvoy, Goligoski etc., while making a whole lot less. At contract time it’s all about comparables and I don’t think anyone sees him regressing in any way – only getting better.


      • Good player no doubt and on a really good team. TB is plus 50 and he’s on the ice a 3rd of the time, getting mostly O zone starts, Hedman gets the toughest assignments, so plus 15 is where he should be IMO. Guys like klefbom would too, another guy who gets big tough minutes.
        Not a criticism of him, I would play Hedman in those situations too, just hasn’t proven he can be that guy like a McAvoy or Klefbom.
        I think TB wants him on a bridge so unless he gets an offer sheet, he will likely settle. Just my thoughts.
        He is exactly what MTL needs, if he turns out to be that guy. Shouldn’t have traded him I guess.

  6. Holtby will certainly ask for top dollar, but I just don’t see anyone willing to pay him that. His actual value is less than he is currently being paid. The question is whether he will accept that he is no longer a top #1 goalie – more likely a top #2, with a pay rate that reflects that.

    • I think Holtby is signed as a #1. But at cheaper than he hoped.

      • Yeah, $6.1M – UFA after the season. I don’t see anyone paying him anywhere near that now.

  7. I’m fine with compliance buy outs. Why should the fan base suffer bad decisions from a GM that is probably not even in place anymore? Or the GM that succeeds him?

    Before you say it’s because I’m a NY “big market “ fan. Look at compliance but out history. 28 players bought out by 18 different teams. I dare say there isn’t 18 “big market teams”

    Maybe a better solution going forward is scrap the aav or the hard cap altogether. Why not reset the cap every year? Lundqvist is only owed 5.5 million in actual money. A buyout of 3.66 million over 2 years.

    5.5 would be easier to navigate around than 8.5. Front loading your vet star players and back loading your young players coming off an elc would make life much easier to maintain a competitive roster and keep your homegrown players around.

    If all things were fair… the cap would take into consideration taxes , cost of living Etc.

    If all things were fair, more than a handful of teams would be generating the revenue in the nhl. How many teams have been saved by the league?

    • The cap pretty much is re-set – certainly it is reviewed – each year. As it is based on projecting and then confirming revenues it can’t be anything but.

      I agree that different tax structures for different states/provinces undermine the purpose of a level playing field for teams. My team gets hurt by the highest taxation rate in the league.

      As much as I’d like to see the cap formula rejigged, I can neither see how, nor the will amongst owners and the PA. They are focused on survival.

      • What I mean by cap reset is going off actual salary, not aav or increase in actual cap space.

        For instance , Lundqvist actually salary this year was 7 million, next year its 5.5. Why not reset his cap hit next year to 5.5 instead of 8.5? The cap would then be based on actual dollars spent in that year, rather than AAV.

        As I stated above, it would give Gms a little more flexibility in keeping rosters intact. Pay your vets big front loaded contracts, and your younger players back loaded contracts.

  8. The salary cap issue is more than a this year issue….a survey this morning indicated that 4 out of 10 Americans would not even consider going to a movie theatre, live concert or sporting event until after there is a proven vaccine.

    Compliance buyouts I suspect are just one of a number of routes the NHL may have to go. How about salary roll backs, jacking the escrow through the roof, franchise movements, maybe franchise reductions, or renegotiating the players collective agreement, more or less revenue sharing, new TV contracts.

    The league needs a predictable revenue stream. Do they have anything like it now.

    My suspicion is this is bigger than permitting or not compliance buyouts that may or may not favour some teams.

  9. I hope Arizona folds or at least moves. That is only destination I am worried about Matthew’s going to when his contract expires. I would like amnesty buyout as Leafs dont need it and can recoup their Marleau dump 1st by acquiring an overpaid bum for a CBO.

    • That’s the only destination your worried about him going to? Seriously man, the only one?

      Well since he was born in California, how about any one of those three teams. In fact LA sheds Kopitars contract the same year, which means they can throw a ton of money at him along with a desirable warm climate and anonymity.

      • And he doesn’t have a record there

      • Haha, I forgot about that George, good point.

    • The lowest thing a sports fan can do is hope another fans team folds or moves.

      I hope you were being facetious.

      • if that comment about hoping other franchises was in reference to my comments….I don’t think you can find any inference of hoping anything….

        I just think society is not looking at any kind of worst case analysis. And I further think that businesses ( and that is what hockey is to those who count…owners , players, employees , broadcasters). Those business that make their money in ways that relate to having groups of people in enclosed spaces are going to suffer more than other types of businesses. Hockey is one of those.

        Don’t you think a number of those franchises were purchased a shoe string. How carefully do you think the NHL vetted owners that agreed to
        into Florida, Arizona Ottawa ….

        In hard economic times the weak suffer first and most. It is not about wishes but anticipation.

  10. I was going to post this yesterday for all the readers, but did anyone else see that over the weekend ticketmaster accidentally posted NHL events on their site Starting on June 30th? I saw it on a discussion form I read with regard to the Bruins.

    I wish I could post the screen shot of it on here but I sure hope it is a sign of what is coming with hockey over the summer.

  11. Smh at this “Leaf Fan”

  12. This has nothing to do with the ongoing discussion… However it is something I have been thinking about for years in relation to the gentleman that said his favourite team is in the highest taxation location … I think the NHL should change the cap to take home pay… For example in Tampa a $1 million contract the player would take home 600,000… The same take-home pay in Quebec would be approximately a $1.3 million contract… I’m certain a lot more players would look at it from a team or ice time Perspective… Montreal offers you five years $5 million a year… Tampa offers you the same contract… Over the five years he would be putting an extra million dollars in his pocket… It would cost certain teams more money to do this… However teams like Montreal Vancouver or Toronto would be fine with this… People will complain that it is only advantageous to large market teams… However the top of the spectrum to the bottom it probably makes a 15 to 20% difference in the overall numbers that you can offer… So with an $81.5 million… Technically Tampa is filling out its roster at that price well to get the same roster Montreal would have to have approximately $96 million Hit… Just my opinion

    • Not a bad idea.