NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2020

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Rumors | 51 comments

Off-season questions for several Atlantic Division clubs in the NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently posed one off-season question for each NHL Atlantic Division club. Among them:

Can the Boston Bruins afford to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug? (Photo via NHL Images).

What will the Boston Bruins do with Torey Krug? The 28-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He’s averaged 53 points per 82 games in his career. Krug is earning $5.25 million annually on his current contract but could receive upward of $7 million per on his next deal. The Bruins have over $22 million in salary-cap space but have other free agents (including winger Jake DeBrusk) to re-sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug hinted earlier this season he wants to stay in Boston and was open to a hometown discount. I assume that could mean around $6.5 million annually. That would push the Bruins’ to nearly $68 million invested in 18 players, leaving around $13 million to re-sign (or replace) DeBrusk, Jaroslav Halak, Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork.

General manager Don Sweeney could use DeBrusk’s lack of arbitration rights to sign him to an affordable short-term deal, which could free up sufficient space to re-sign most of the others. Still, it could be a tight fit if the cap remains at $81.5 million.

Wegman wondered which defenseman the Buffalo Sabres could move, and how they’ll acquire a second-line center. This year’s UFA market won’t address the latter. The Sabres have plenty of depth in right-side defensemen, including Rasmus Ristolainen and Brandon Montour. Ristolainen seems the most likely to be shopped, but he won’t fetch that second-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wegman feels GM Jason Botterill will have to get creative. With over $47 million invested in 10 players, Botterill must also re-sign restricted free agents Montour, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Linus Ullmark, and Dominik Kahun.

He should have sufficient cap space to add a second-line center via trade. It might not cost him a defenseman if he targets a cap-strapped club looking to shed salary.

Citing a March edition of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts, Wegman speculated over the possibility of the Florida Panthers breaking up their core. The club continues to struggle to reach the playoffs.

Wegman considers trading Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, or Aaron Ekblad as seemingly unthinkable, while blueliner Keith Yandle has a no-movement clause. Letting Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov depart via free agency might be as dramatic as it gets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Defenseman Mike Matheson could be shopped. He surfaced in the rumor mill before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Panthers could revisit testing his value in the trade market during the off-season.

If owner Vinnie Viola wants to cut costs, Ekblad and Barkov lack no-trade protection. Unless those players want out of Florida, I don’t see them being moved.

Wegman pondered the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens attempting to sign another club’s top restricted free agent to an offer sheet. They have the cap space to sign someone like the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal or the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens made a half-hearted attempt to sign away Sebastian Aho from the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. Unless GM Marc Bergevin is willing to make a truly mind-blowing offer, I doubt he’ll pry Barzal or Sergachev from their respective clubs. That’s assuming either guy is willing to sign an offer sheet in the first place.

How will the Tampa Bay Lightning get cap compliant? They have over $76 million invested in 15 players with five pending RFAs including Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli.

Wegman considers it unlikely Ondrej Palat or Tyler Johnson will waive their no-trade clauses. Winger Alex Killorn could become a cap casualty, as his full no-trade becomes a 16-team no-trade list following this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree that Killorn seems the likely trade option. It’ll be interesting to see how Lightning GM Julien BriseBois handles this situation.

Wegman wondered how the Toronto Maple Leafs will address their defense with their limited cap space. RFAs Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev need to be re-signed, while UFA blueliners Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci must be replaced. He speculates they could shop a winger like Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen as part of a package for a top-four defenseman, but it won’t be easy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has no intention of shopping one of his top-four forwards (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander), peddling Johnsson or Kapanen could be his only option to address his blueline situation.


  1. This Leaf fan has some questions for fans of other teams.

    Is there any player in the NHL more overrated and over paid than Mitch Marner? What would he get in a trade?

    Do you have ideas what is a fair return for Kapanen or Johnnson ?

    How much upside does Nylander have?

    Looking for non-emotional opinions ,please

    • OBD, you ask for non-emotional comments but take a look at your Mitch Marner summary. Evidence please.

      • BC Leaf Fan: I was having a little comic relief with the Marner comment….to get the juices going early in a locked day….But I am not a Marner guy at anything like 10.8

    • Marner, overpaid, possibly. But that is only an issue because of the Leafs other cap structure issues. Overrated, I don’t think so. I think 30 other teams would love to have him.

      • At that cost? Maybe not 30.

      • Boy it wasn’t so long ago on here that most folks were saying Marner is the best player on Toronto. Now he is over paid and what 4th best behind Matthews, Tavares and Nylander?

        Is he overpaid? IMO yes and with the new economics they are all overpaid.

        Matthews is the best player in Toronto and i don’t think it’s closed. I was always a Matthews fan until that stunt he pulled in Arizona. With that said he is an undeniable elite talent and although i said they are all over paid with today new economic Matthews is worth his money.

        I take Mitch Marner over JT, that’s not close for me. I know folks get caught up in the C debate.

        Marner is 22yr old and JT turns 30 in Sept. Not a knock on JT but $11m is a lot of money for a second line C. I said before and will say again this contract won’t age well.

        Funny how opinions change; Marner best player, Nylander overpaid at $6.9m now with 30 goals he is under paid.

        Which way will the wind blow tomorrow?

      • Marner is overpaid as he was coming off his entry level contract so Dubas should of had the leverage. Taveras got 11 million as he was a UFA and he was worth it. 94 points last year he is one of the top centers in the league. Mathews got his money but he should have given a couple of ufa years for that money. He’s overpaid because there should have been a reduction as his contract brings him straight to UFA. They are all really good players and worth a lot on a trade but Dubas was inexperienced and it showed in his contract negotiations. We could have still kept those players and save a few million with a more experienced GM.

      • The fact Marner wasn’t traded for defensive help the minute after Tavares put pen to paper is a mark of an ill prepared gm.

      • @Caper, loved your comment and its bang on.

        While I had not been a fan of Willys I always said he had the skill to be a top 25 player if he stayed engaged in the game.

    • Hey Old Blue Dog,
      I hope you are well during the insanity of the pandemic. As an objective non-TOR fan (CBJ fan here who still admires what TOR has built, particularly the impressive high end forward talent) I view Marner as a unique, highly skilled player (if not elite, is certainly borderline elite) who may be overpaid simply as function of playing W instead of C. IMHO I view much of the overpaid/overrated narrative is the function of his unwillingess to take less and the resultant cap pressure that created for TOR, but the more negative view is absolutely fair/understandable for TOR fans. I believe if Marner were ever available it would be difficult to get equal value 1-1 hockey trade so it’s possible he would yield a package of significant assets (Young, cost controlled assets Top 4 D Trending to clear Top Pair ability, top 6 power forward, top prospect, high pick). Selfishly I would love to develop a package from CBJ but I don’t think we have the right blend of assets/value to move the needle. Just spitballing but maybe MIN, CAR, ANA(?) could be a better fit. the challenge in a Marner trade is virtually every trade imaginable he would be the best player in the deal so it is reasonable to ask what ever motivates TOR to do that?
      I am also higher on Nylander than most. I project him as a consistent 60-70 point player who will continue to round out his 2 way game. Again love to get him on CBJ with a package starting with Savard (assumed sign & trade w/ TOR as he is pending UFA after next season), Anderson (again willing to sign as an RFA with arbitration rights) + (?).
      Hope that starts some fun, non-emotional discussion.

    • Hey OBD, not sure about most overrated as many fans feel the same way that you do. Having said that he is a really good player.
      I think he’s overpaid. He’s the highest paid RW and IMO isn’t the best RW in the league. He is the 5th highest paid forward in the NHL, and isn’t more valuable than any of the players that make more than him, and I could pick quite a few players below him in salary that I think are more valuable than him.
      I would peg him around $9.5M so not crazy overpaid, but that $1.3M would come in handy for the Leafs right now.
      I would take Nylander over Marner because you get more bang for your buck. I don’t think Nylander is a soft player. Not an overly physical guy but goes to the net and dirty areas. CLB could target him Deacon. I think he is a natural C as well.

      • To me there are several players across the whole league that are extremely overpaid. Should Marner make more then Kane, Kucherov or Pastrnak? Maybe, Maybe not…

        End of the day I always find it funny when people say Marner is over paid. Does that mean Matthews is also overpaid? Matthews and Marner PPG is basically the same, so are you saying because Matthews is a center it makes him that much more valuable?

      • Hey Greatgonzo, ya, plenty of overpaid guys out there. I’ll give it a go to answer your questions with one answer. Obviously just my opinion and feel free to disagree.
        IMO Matthews is a better player than Marner, and is around where he should be. McDavid is better IMO (barely) and is on a better deal because of the UFA years purchased, but the cap was less when he signed. Saw it off.
        Matthews is a better player than Marner because he does way more to impact the outcome of the game than Marner, especially in his own end. He is actually really good defensively and doesn’t get the credit he should for that. Part of that is because he is a C and has that responsibility and Marner doesn’t. I believe it is because Marner can’t, or he would be a C. Size is an issue for that position as well. There is a reason it is so hard to find top C’s, difficult job and only the best all around players can do it. They should be the highest paid forwards because of that. I know some folks disagree with that opinion.

      • @Ray I`d trade Matthews for McDavid any day of the week. In Edmonton McDavid basically has Draisaitl and that`s it. Put McDavid in Toronto or Boston see how much better he is. Matthews gets to play with great offensive players in Toronto while McDavid plays with Doug and the slugs. McDavid is a lot better than Matthews in my opinion, not even close

      • Agree that McDavid is the best offensive player in the league and if he had better line mates he would win the scoring title every year he stayed healthy. He isn’t great defensively though, still cheats for offense some times. I can see him improving on that though and does it at times, just not all the time.
        I guess being a B’s fan I like the 2 way C’s. Draisaitl might keep giving both of them a run for their money. He is centering his own line and crushing it now.
        Watch out for the Oil for the few years.

    • John Tavares.

      • That one was close Iago, give you that, but I would still take Tavares over Marner. Methinks others may disagree with me as well.
        I still believe they could have waited Marner out and got him for less. I understand they didn’t want a repeat of the Nylander saga, but I think he is on a fair deal even though Pengy would disagree with that.

      • @Ray I agree with you on Tavares over Marner. Since Babcock left Marner`s overall game has gone downhill a lot. His giveaways just don`t makeup for what he brings now. To me Nylander is a better player than Marner now and still appears to have more room to grow. Marner has become basically what you see is what you get a talented winger with too many flaws for the money he earns.

    • Phil Kessel is and has always been vastly over rated.

  2. I will predict that Tyler Johnson is left unprotected in the 2021 expansion draft and he is snapped up by Seattle. He would bring a local presence to the organization , he is from and played Jr in Spokane Washington.
    If Killorn is available I would think several teams will inquire.

    • Tyler has a NMC: he therefore HAS to be protected. Tampa has literally no other choice…

      • No he doesn’t Tyler Johnson has a full NTC not a NMC 2021/2020 it becomes a MOD-NTC 20 team trade list something like that.

  3. Dylan Cozens sure looks like Buffalo’s second-line centre in waiting. How close do you think he is to filling that need for the Sabres?

    • He sure does Mark. You never know for sure but the kid has all the tools and a great attitude.
      Probably a year away from the NHL, and another year away from 2C role. Just think it is better for prospects to play lower in the lineup or on the wing to start and learn/earn the ice time and added responsibility.

      • Hey Ray
        There were rumblings from legitimate sources in CBus that in addition to Josh Anderson, BUF had strong interest in Wennberg from CBJ. Wenny has clearly been underproducing offensively since his 59 point season (particularly at 4.9 million cap hit) but is a strong defensive center and creative playmaker/passer (but struggles to shoot frequently for some inexplicable reason). From BUF standpoint curious if you see a fit there and what makes sense for BUF as a return in the trade? Thanks for your input

      • Ya Deacon, they could swap a guy like Wennberg for a guy like Reinhart and BUF gets a C, but then who plays C for CLB? Reinhart was a C in JR but if BUF won’t give him that spot it makes you wonder.
        Both teams have depth on D and need help up front.

      • Spot on…..CBJ C depth in the near term is a concern with DuBois, Jenner, Wenny, and Nash down the middle. The current thinking in CBus is that Texier is being groomed to be the long-term solution at 2C and Voronkov is coming after next year so long term going w some combination of DuBois-Texier- Voronkov-Jenner a C. Stenlund was also surprisingly impressive this year at C but too small a sample size to confidently say he’ll stick. I would be very interested in Reinhart but didn’t think BUF would be willing to trade him.

  4. Marner is overpaid by at least 2 M and he is more over rated than he is overpaid.

    • Agreed on the overpayment.

      He’s a fine player though.
      He has unreal vision and distribution skills.
      I’d take him on my team at $6.6 per.

      • Yes players scoring at an above ppg pace cost around $6m. Hahaha good one.

        All players are slightly overpaid, especially when deals are signed. It’s only afterwards that we could/should be able to rate the deal based on production. The facts are, if you’re a player that can put up more than .75pts/game you’re gonna get paid or overpaid in the NHL.

        OBD I wasn’t signing you out as one of the many that disagreed with the Marner pick and might still think that Strome is a better player, although we can see it’s not even close. Numbers don’t lie. “Soft” Nylander scores more goals in the dirty areas vs peripheral outside goals and has a lot takeaways too and now 4 60+pts/season with 30 goals this one. It helps thinking outside the norm, ie, old school thinking of oldtimey hockey…that died long ago.

      • Ron so why does pastrnak make what he does?

      • What’s you point? Nylander at $6.9M is a decent player for that amount. Signed many years after Pasta’s…not the same player but one is a lot younger.

        I think your point is?

  5. Not sure why Ottawa isn’t included in this but, in a way, they are in the cat bird seat in the division, especially if they hit in the draft. Good prospects, no cap problems, a solid future.

  6. Sounds like Boston could replace halak from within at a elc or close to it deal. That frees up some money.

  7. With Boston signing St. Cloud D man Jack Ahcan 5’8″ 185lbs 7g 18a 25pts in 33 games. Ahcan according to some scouts is already the best skater in the Bruins organization.

    He is considered to have a bit of Krug and Grzelcyk style to his game.

    Was he signed to replace Krug? Can’t see Boston having 4 dman adding Connor Clifton to the aforementioned 3 dman.

    Charlie McAvoy apparently helped in the signing as they were teammates/roommates with USA gold medal jr team.

    • Yeah the Bruins have created a real log jam on the D side.

      It would be ideal if they could get rid of John Moore and Stephen Kampfer’s contracts to free up 3.5 mill on payroll. Moore will be a prime buyout candidate otherwise, if buyouts come into play.

      Kevin Miller will not be brought back.

      I assume Chara will be back and Luzon looks like he should stay, so the whole Krug situation will be interesting for sure. He is not worth more then 6.5 mill to me.

      • Not only a log jam, they have 9 LD and 6RD. The two NCAA they just signed Wolf and Ahcan are both LD to go with Krug, Moore, Chara, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Vaakaninen and Zboril.

        The 6 on the right side McAvoy, Carlo, Clifton, K.Miller, Kampher and Petrovic.

        Miller won’t be back agree, Kampher will be put on waivers and krug I’m not sure if he’ll be resigned. Petrovic won’t be back and vaakaninen to the minors.

      • You are bang on for all fronts I think, and I am sure Chara will be back.

        That being said, Moore will be bought out if not traded IMO, assuming they bring a buy out to the table in all talks, and Kampfer still counts against the cap either way.

        The cap number will determine Krug’s future with the team. But with all the players below him in the minors, it would be hard to block them up. Its time for McAvoy to step up into that role.

        And both Wolf and Ahcan are future players. They need at least 1 year in the minors.

  8. So by saying: “Unless GM Marc Bergevin is willing to make a truly mind-blowing offer“ in his next offer sheet, you’re saying he needs to make an offer we all know will be an anchor on the team. Also why go this route? The team has too many holes to think that one guy can fix what ails them. Don’t they need at least 2 top six forwards as well as a top and second pairing D.
    They should just keep building through drafting and plucking a couple players off other leagues and trades. I doubt the hab fan base would stomach that.

    • Ron, you make a good point that Bergy would have to damage his team to land an RFA.

      With less cash around for other teams and more cap space, signing a UFA that can improve the team becomes – a bit – easier.

    • The point Lyle was making is that Bergies offer for Aho was a joke. Every team in the league would have matched that. The offer was actually a bargain for a number 1 center. If he really wanted to pry him away he would’ve needed to add at least 3 million more per season. Aho would still have been a good contract at that price and every team in the league would still match it. Montreal has done a terrible job at the draft and don’t have any stars coming up. They might have some decent nhl players but no stars. This from a team that selected 3rd overall twice in the salary cap era. They need a full blown rebuild weather the fans accept it or not. I personally hope they keep doing this and continue to just miss the playoffs. Continue to draft poorly and continue to wallow in mediocrity. Seriously they have nothing to look forward to. Trying not to bash the Habs but take a really good look at that team

      • Agree 100% Roger, and hope it continues as well. They’ve won enough cups.

  9. What needs to be imported into today’s conversation about signings is what OBD observed yesterday: revenue.

    Even if the cap stays at 82 million, the financial hit is not just for this season, it is certain to carry into 2020/21. Of course it is not possible to know what that might mean, save for less money. That uncertainty is sure to factor into bidding and signing.

    GMs unmindful of this are sure to be reminded by team owners.

    • True that LJ

  10. I still think moving Nylander is the easiest thing to do to free up cap space. Most of his contract will be paid. A budget team worried about actual dollar needed to be paid over cap space would be a likely target.

    • Jeff, I believe you are correct that Nylander got much of his money up front. But the cap hit of 6.9 for 4 seasons beyond this is still a consideration.

      • Re Nylander, how about keep all four core forwards, develop defence men, and improve the depth in goaltending?
        A drop in the cap might prevent this but, assuming status quo and patience among Leaf fans (ha!), it could work.
        Not that any of this really matters.

  11. I will state it again. Tavares dollars set the team precedence . Wanted to be in Toronto dreamed of being in Toronto . Should have been $10m max. The others fall in behind and you have 4 plus millions extra to fill in the other gaps . They will \ have signed the Russians and will be forced to move Johnsson and Kapanen

  12. I agree with OBD Marner is way over rated and paid but to late now to do anything about it. Mitch is skilled and a pretty good power play guy. Toronto stuck with that contract unfortunately. Leafs future is dependent on the cap if it doesn’t rise substantially in next few years they won’t be able to take advantage of their young talent and will finish middle of the pack year after year. Matthews is done in Toronto when his contract is up and will move to a city he wants to play in. I can’t figure out why Toronto signing more forwards when it’s D they need.

    • (Obe) I guess like you and others had said, if you can’t figure it out, it must be wrong!