NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2020

by | Apr 29, 2020 | Rumors | 16 comments

Check out the recent Canucks, Penguins, and Red Wings’ speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Vancouver Canucks need a lot of help on defense. He also pointed out they’re top-heavy on offense. Starting goalie Jacob Markstrom is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, while backup Thatcher Demko is only signed through next season.

O’Brien believes general manager Jim Benning will try to use the draft and the trade market to bolster the supporting cast around Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. He also wondered if they’ll break the bank to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli or sign 30-year-old pending free agent blueliner Chris Tanev to a risky contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance think Tanev, Jordie Benn, and Sven Baertschi are the Canucks most likely to move on. Moving Benn and Baertschi would free up valuable salary-cap space. They also suggest Brandon Sutter could be a realistic ordinary course buyout candidate. Moving veteran winger Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) could be difficult, while it’s uncertain if the Canucks can re-sign Toffoli.

Will the Vancouver Canucks re-sign goaltender Jacob Markstrom? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how the Canucks struggled when Markstrom was sidelined by a knee injury, re-signing him should be their priority, followed by boosting their blueline corps. With over $63.4 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, they’ll have around $18 million to work with if the cap remains at $81.5 million next season. There’s enough to re-sign Markstrom, but it will cut deeply into their available payroll.

A couple of cost-cutting moves will help, but finding a suitable deal under a flat cap won’t be easy. It’ll certainly make the chances of moving Eriksson more difficult, even with his actual total remaining salary dropping to $5 million after his signing bonus is paid out on July 1. A compliance buyout would help here, but there’s no certainty the league and the NHLPA will implement that measure in the off-season.


TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh recently examined the Pittsburgh Penguins’ free agents. He feels it wouldn’t be unreasonable for RFA goalie Matt Murray to seek a hefty contract extension comparable to Tampa Bay’s Andrej Vasilevskiy ($9.5 million AAV) or Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck ($6.16 million AAV) because he’s had better postseason success. However, it’s also not unreasonable for the Penguins to consider a more affordable option such as re-signing fellow RFA Tristan Jarry.

Rorabaugh doesn’t expect UFA winger Patrick Marleau to return to the Penguins after this season. Justin Schultz‘s difficult 2019-20 season and the emergence of rookie defenseman John Marino likely signals the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Rorabaugh doesn’t rule out the Pens re-signing Conor Sheary if the price is right.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.2 million tied up in 15 players for next season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Murray and Jarry.

Ideally, GM Jim Rutherford would probably sign both to short-term contracts and take more time to evaluate their performances before settling on which one should be their starter. With both goalies carrying arbitration rights, that might be possible, but all concerned might prefer avoiding that route. If they have to part with one or the other, Casey DeSmith is ready and able to step into the backup position.


DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports acquiring a new starting goaltender is among the off-season tasks facing Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. The Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby is the best of this summer’s UFA goalies, but St. James believes he’d be reluctant to join a rebuilding club like the Wings.

More realistic options could include the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot, the Boston Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot and Markstrom have more recent starter experience. Halak, Khudobin, and Greiss are better backup options for clubs with a skilled starter. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap room ($46.2 million committed to 11 players) to make a substantial bid for one of them. Whether they’ll accept it, or if Yzerman intends to go the UFA route to boost his goaltending, remains to be seen.


  1. Vancouver would have got rid of Ericksson a long time ago if they could. The only way is a league wide compliance buy out. They need to start drafting defence. Toffoli would help solidify a second line with Horvat. The Miller deal looks real good now. I would be shocked if Markstrom doesn’t resign with them.

    Detroilet have a long road back . Lafreniere would help accelerate

    Murray will not get big money. Should be less than 6m. Pens have the leverage

    • Benning is probably praying for a buyout plan. Buying out Eriksson is a no brainer.

    • Toffoli has been with Pettersson & Boeser with Bo.

      Miller Petey Toffoli
      Pearson Bo Boeser

      Marky is a must to resign for maybe 4/5.2m. Toffoli maybe 5/5.8m.

      The RFA’s needed to resign are Gaudette Virtanen MacEwen Motte. Stitcher also but better to trade him to save cap space. He’s in the 3rd pair behind Tanev & Myers. Tanev probably walks if not a friendly team contract.

      Leaves 2 RHD holes. Need a top 2 D to improve the D. Bring up ELC’s if ready to shave cap space IE RHD Rafferty.

  2. Lyle- As far as free agents, I can see where any GM would be reluctant to hand out 3-7 year deals when there is a very real possibility that a year from now, league revenue (and thus the cap) is only half what it is now. Clubs want cost certainty. Is there anything to prevent a club from making an offer to say, Taylor Hall saying “you are worth $8.1 million now, which is 10% of the current cap. We’ll sign you for 7 years at 10% of the salary cap in any given year.” Hall is just an example, but tie actually salary to a cap percentage rather than hard dollars. Would any player go along with that kind of deal, knowing that at least he’s signed for term?

    • Never underestimate the ability of an NHL general manager to overpay for a free agent. Some could gamble on revenue bouncing back to sign a player they really want.

      • Hi Lyle,

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see player salaries as being a large source of financial stress for the owners as salaries are directly tied to HRR.
        Decreased HRR simply means a higher escrow recapture and a proportionately lower salary out-load.

        The lower Cap, per se, is only really stressful in that you have to be carrying a certain # of players on the roster.
        Getting that min roster in under a certain $ Cap level could be an issue secondary to players’ salary expectations.

        It seems to me that the larger/real source of $ stress for owners would be their fixed costs, such as lease payments to rinks that are not being used, salary payments to management personnel not subject to escrow, interest payments on loans being used to keep the whole balancing act afloat (excuse the mixed metaphor), etc, etc.

        Am I wrong, do you think?

      • No disagreement from me, Rattus.

    • If I’m a player, I jump all over the chance to sign a contract as a percentage of the cap!

      The league is never going to let the cap reduce (let alone by half) and they will make up the revenue difference by salary clawbacks via the escrow clause in the CBA. With the new US TV deal starting in a year or two (depending on the effect of this year on current deals). That increase is expected to significantly increase the salary cap and league revenue, which is why a number of players have been taking shorter term deals. Guys who can get paid 8M now will be massively underpaid comparatively once the TV deal comes around. Signing a percent based contract would allow the players to reap the benefits of any major increase in league revenue.

  3. Hi Lyle

    Fully agree that the best option (preferable option) for Pens is short term re-sign on both.

    Expansion draft is coming as well so all decisions on any contract extensions; UFA signings etc. has to consider that

    I fully acknowledge the inequities/skewed advantages of the CBO but it seems to be continuing to be bandied about in the media.

    If CBO does in fact come to fruition then Pens free up $3.25 M in Cap (and it goes without saying ; immediately get better)

    Trading either (in a relatively goalie “rich”/“plethora market) will not, IMHO, bring back a beneficial enough return

    Everything is up in the air; including the possibility (however fantastically remote) of full season resumption in which Pens slide out of playoff spot; win lottery (booting traded 1st rounder [Wild] to ‘21 draft) and picking up Lafrenierre !!!!

    It’s Covid Crazy

    • Even outside of this virus the goalie market is always 💩.

      Lehner returned a #1 pick a few years back… that I bet Buffalo would take a mulligan on 10 times over….

      Before that …. Schneider.

      Other than that, goalies aren’t worth anything.

    • Pengy, you know better than that. The Pens don’t get the number overall pick and subsequent generational talent until after they’ve been garbage for a decade and the fans stop showing up.

      Sorry, thems the rules!

      (Tongue in cheek? 🤔)

      • Actually they went from Lemieux to jagr without that.

        It’s probably best for the pens to hold on to those bettman pics for when there is a real generational talent available… not just a really good player. Even if it means a few more bad years

        FYI though. Pens fans not showing up was indirectly related to actual losing. It was directly related to the team refusing and being unable to spend money. Pittsburghers way to proud to support a team if they don’t step up in return.

      • I think they call that being a fair weather fan. Part of the reason this is the only franchise in history to go belly up twice. And more than likely will repeat.

        Weren’t you just shaming another here for wishing a franchise to go away?

        So you feel every fan doesn’t deserve that, yet somehow feel if things don’t go your way you should sit home and pout and expect the franchise to sit around waiting for your happiness?

        About as assbackwards as most 💩 from you….

  4. This is a really good idea. Signing a player to a percentage of a cap number gives both sides some flexibility, cap goes up and you get a raise, cap goes down you get a cut. will require some thinking on how it changes the buyouts and maybe trades as with a fixed dollar amount you know what you have to pay, whereas with a percentage you don’t over the long term.

  5. Don’t see any way % of cap contracts will fly with the current CBA. New CBA stating ALL contracts will be % of cap will have to be the NWO. The NHLPA will have no argument with HRR still setting the cap. The escrow would become non-existent. Only agents would balk. It would make them less relevant.

    How would a GM break down his 23 roster pay scale %?

    I.e. 15..10..10..10..etc

  6. I think Greiss would be a good UFA pick up for the Wings. Good enough to push Bernier and German to help young Seider transition. If Detroit doesn’t win the lottery Stutzle could be part of the future as well.
    Deutschland Red Wings 🇩🇪