Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 26, 2020

by | Apr 26, 2020 | Rumors | 29 comments

A closer look at several teams that could take advantage of a flat salary cap in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed six clubs he believes could benefit from the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season, using their cap room to take on a bad contract in exchange for a “tasty kickback”. He points to the Arizona Coyotes getting draft picks and young players for taking on the contracts of Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa, the Carolina Hurricanes receiving the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round selection in the 2020 draft for acquiring and buying out Patrick Marleau, and the New Jersey Devils getting P.K. Subban for a song.

The Ottawa Senators have over $12.25 million coming off the books next season as Ron Hainsey, Craig Anderson, and Mikkel Boedker become unrestricted free agents. He feels they must spend just to reach the salary-cap floor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE Cap Friendly indicates the Senators have over $41.9 million invested in just nine players for next season. General manager Pierre Dorion must spend just to ice a full roster. Some of those dollars, as Fox indicated, will go toward restricted free agents like Chris Tierney, Anthony Duclair, and Connor Brown. There’s talk they could bring back Hainsey for one more year. Nevertheless, they should still have plenty of cap dollars to take on a big contract in return for also getting a high pick or prospect.

Then again, the Senators are already well-stocked with draft picks and prospects. Dorion could instead use some of that depth and their cap space to land a quality player still in his playing prime that could provide immediate help.

The rebuilding New Jersey Devils should have roughly $29 million in cap room. RFAs include Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have over $55.2 million committed to 13 players. Depending on how much ownership is willing to spend, and who is sitting in the general manager’s chair whenever the off-season begins, they could be well-positioned to weaponize some of that cap space.

Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake (Photo via

The Los Angeles Kings are another rebuilding club that has stocked up on draft picks. Fox suggests GM Rob Blake knows he’s not a year or two from contention and could be ready to deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake has seven picks in rounds two through four of this year’s draft and six in the same rounds next year. He has over $60 million tied up in 16 players and all his core talent under contract for next season.

However, some of those are aging players like Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, and Dustin Brown carrying hefty contracts beyond next season. Blake might not be keen to take another toxic contract.

Unlike others on this list, the Colorado Avalanche is a bona fide Stanley Cup contender. GM Joe Sakic has decisions to make regarding free agents Andre Burakovsky, Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyson Jost, Valeri Nichushkin, Ryan Graves, and Nikita Zadorov. Nevertheless, Fox feels Sakic’s cap space gives him the option of chasing an established player and/or landing some additional draft picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have over $59.1 million committed to 10 players. Some of his free agents, like Burakowsky and Graves, will be in line for significant raises. Depending on the cost of re-signing or replacing his free agents, the savvy Sakic should have enough wiggle room to bolster his roster depth next season.

Montreal Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin has been hoarding cap space for some time. Combined with his depth in draft picks, he should have enough to land a big fish that puts his club back into contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs have over $63 million invested in 16 players, with Max Domi and Victor Mete as their most notable free agents. They have 14 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including 10 in rounds two through five. They also have eight picks in rounds three through five next year. Bergevin undoubtedly intends to use some of those picks as trade chips to pry away a quality player or two from a cap-strapped club in the offseason.

The Columbus Blue Jackets still must re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois. Fox believes they’ll have enough cap room to bolster their lineup for next season, especially after re-signing goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins for a combined $6.8 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I disagree with Fox here. The Jackets have over $75 million tied up in 19 players. Dubois’ completing his entry-level contract, but he’s still going to be in line for a substantial pay bump. They must also decide if they’ll re-sign or trade winger Josh Anderson, who has arbitration rights.

Regardless, Dubois’ new contract won’t leave much room to take on an additional salary. They could be facing a dollar-for-dollar deal if they hope to boost their offense, which is their biggest need right now.


  1. Thanks Lyle, interesting article. With the NHL economic environment in a tailspin, I think teams will be hard-pressed to weaponize their salary cap – or it is going to be a lot more expensive to unload a toxic contract. It will be an interesting dynamic. Plus, if teams get a freebie buyout, it really de-weaponizes the salary cap. The buyout really favors the cash strong teams (think Toronto, NY, Chi, LA) and penalizes the small market teams. Its a dilemma that will be interesting to watch unfold.

    • Guaranteed there will be a “freebie” compliance buyout, if the cap remains status quo. It just wouldn’t be fair to most teams otherwise as this pandemic was unexpected.

  2. I think Sens have absolutely the most to gain with this flat Cap

    If Dorian can parlay his plethora of draft picks (they have 8 of the first 64 picks) plus assets/positioning gained by taking on 2-3 bad contracts from Cap strapped teams :…

    ; Sens could end up with 5-6 young quality up and comers who will likely be strong top 9ers or maybe top 4 Dmen in a couple of years; adding to a young team already with some good players in the pipeline and on the rise… and Sens can be contenders in 2-3 years

    George , thoughts?

    • Hello Pengy, doesn’t that also require Eugene Melnyk to sign off on paying a lot of money for almost nothing – as in the asset you acquire with a toxic trade may or may not turn out NHL caliber. I have always heard Melnyk is cheap and not inclined to risk his money.

      • Hi Kevin

        All depends on contract

        Let me throw out a scenario… Coyotes are in Capnightmareville

        Stepan ….$6M Cap; but only $2M owed after SB is paid

        Arz needs the space for sure; and will have to give up something

        Now Stepan (after SB paid ) and Barrett Hayton for worst of the Sens owned 1st picks is not going to fly by Dorian….. but …..

        If instead of Hayton it was Garland???? :

        Sens have the Cap space and get Garland and Stepan for all of next year for $2.8 M cash; and Garland … tracking at 82 game pace of 27-21-48…. basically Sens giving up their worst 1st rounder (unknown) for Garland (proven up and coming NHLer) who is RFA after next year

        There are others out there; this is just an example

        All I meant is that Sens have the Space and assets to take huge advantage and be very competitive in 2-3 years

    • Pengy,

      One of my greatest hopes is that GMs Armstrong and Dorion will become BFFs!!

      I really think Ottawa holds the key to solving some of the Blues concerns—-Allen, Bozak, other,……

      • Hi Iowa Boy,

        Perhaps…. but see my response to Kevin above… Stepan only owed $2M ;

        Boz and Allen are owed $4.25M and $4.0 M cash respectively

        Doable ; but Army has to make a pitch…. who does he offer up?

    • Not sure they have to be bad contracts, Pengy, there should be opportunities to acquire solid veterans in exchange for picks or prospects. Ottawa could get really good really quickly if the owner is willing to step up.

      • Hi BC LeafFan

        Agree…. see just one scenario I’ve suggested above to Kevin

    • Pengy, as I said a few days back, don’t be surprised if Dorion brings Anderson back for one more season. Nilsson has shown NO signs of coming around from that December concussion which is beginning to sound eerily like that suffered by MacArthur. They have Hogberg who should be one of the two and have just signed the top Q goalie (Mendelese) to a 3-year entry-level deal. He’ll likely started at Brampton (ECHL) while Daccord and Gustafvson share duties in Belleville (AHL).

      Anderson stays in good shape and would likely comes back for something around $3.5. As Lyle says, they will be re-signing RFAs Tierney, Connor Brown, Duclair, Paul, Balcers and perhaps Hawryluk and UFA Borowiecki – with UFAs Hainsey and Sabourin possible re-signings.

      But more importantly I agree with BCLeafFan that Dorion will almost assuredly convert some of those multiple draft picks (13 in total – 3 in the 1st and 4 in the 2nd) into a solid return or two from clubs who must come up with cap space to sign key players by relinquishing a good roster player with term.

      Melnyk has said he will spend whatever Dorion feels is needed to strengthen the team and at the ssme time provide the multitude of kids here or coming in over the next couple of years with veteran mentors. Now it’s time to put up or shut up.

      What they DON’T need are any more “bad” contracts just to latch onto even more draft picks (they already have a slew next year as well). We’ve had our Callahans and Gaboriks. Let someone else go down that road with the murky financial. picture ahead.

      • Hi George

        See my suggestion above (to Kevin) re a potential Coyotes/Sens trade

  3. LA has 3 toxic and they can’t afford a fourth.
    No one understands the landscape moving forward . If I was an owner I would be cautious for the balance of this calendar year. The dollars may not flow this summer
    I also feel this draft is a key one and especially for a few teams with multiple firsts

    • Yes but LA needs to start getting a few stop gaps that will have to be fazed out once all those young guns are ready and LA has some sleepers.

      • Kings don’t need to worry about cap space. They also don’t need to worry about stop gaps. The aging core still has a couple productive years in them and a number of bridge players to fill in the space between the aged and the youngsters.

        What the kings need to worry about is roster space to get the young guns playing time. And with the nhl’s best prospect pool and a large number of picks this year and next it makes no sense to pick up someone else’s problem. Maybe if the player can be buried in the minors but roster spots are tight there as well.

  4. Bergevin can now finally put the cap space he’s been hoarding to good use and he had better do so. The Habs need a RW who can provide offense and an LD who can play big minutes. Half measures just won’t do. Ilya Kovalchuk would be nice if not for the fact that it is not 2012. Getting another Joel Armia is not the answer, as much as I like Joel Armia. The necessary players are out there and the Habs have the assets and money to get them. Get it done, Marc. No more excuses, no more half measures.

    • Howard
      Perhaps the CBJ-MTL are a good trade partners. RW Anderson and LD Murray (injury history obviously the major concern here), Nutivaara and Savard (RD) are likely available in the right deal. The price on Anderson is high as LeBrun has reported >12 teams have made serious inquiries but it won’t be exorbitant given his injury status this past year. I still see CBJ dealing him to a western team (CAL, COL, EDM) but if they are willing to trade him in the east MTL and BUF make a lot of sense as trade partners.

      • Not sure I agree. Murray is constantly injured – has had only one full and injury free season in his career. Anderson has had a 27 goal season but has otherwise been like Joel Armia. A big and rugged 3rd line winger who can add some offense, but not a lot. The Habs need a top 6 right winger who can reasonably be counted on for 25+ goals a season.

      • Howard

        Completely agree on Murray (as I noted, injuries sabotage his value). He is an outstanding LD when healthy but cannot be counted on to be healthy. Have to respectfully disagree on your assessment of Anderson. Anderson is a very rare player, the prototype power F with exceptional speed and better than avg hands….the only similar player to him is Wilson. Ideally, CBJ would like to sign him long term but there are national and local rumblings that an agreement on a new contract isn’t looking promising so he is apparently available.

      • DeaconFrost,

        I.think.that the Senators are thin on the right side of there forward group besides Batherson coming to play RW the needing a RW Dorion making a trade for Josh Anderson.

    • Howard: who are these players?

      • Well, the biggest need would be an LD. I’d like to see them make a run at Torey Krug, although the odds of them signing him are not great. Eric Gustaffsson might not be a bad option. Not as good as Krug but could probably play on the first pairing and chip in 35-40 points. There’s also the trade route. The Habs have 3 second rounders this year as well as some decent prospects they could offer. If need be, Drouin or Domi could be offered as well, depending on the target. I’m thinking possibly Brodin, Gostisbehere, Leddy, Hampus Lindholm, Mike Matheson, or, dare I say it, Jake Gardner.
        As for a RW, there are several good UFA options. Evgenii Dadanov, Mike Hoffman and Tyler Toffoli come to mind. Given their cap space, I think they have a decent chance of snagging one of them.

      • Yes, the Habs have draft picks they can move, and I’d be ok with them moving either Drouin or Domi. But Kotkaniemi needs to take a big step forward this coming season or Domi’s loss will bite.

      • Am I the only one who think that Habs should trade and get draft pick and prospects? Their pool is a bit poor (a little bit overrated).
        I would trade pretty much anyone except Suzuki and Romanov and Weber.
        But i don’t think the rest can bring you any assets.
        Bergevin failed

  5. Playoff Proposal:

    1st Round: 1st place overall gets a bye. Remaining 30 teams play a 2 out of 3 series. (#2 vs #30, #3 vs #29 etc). Teams ranked by winning pct when league shut down.

    2nd Round: Teams play best of 3 series. Teams matched by regular season finish as in round one.

    3rd Round: Remaining teams play best of five series.

    4th Round: Best of 5 series.

    Stanley Cup Finals: Best of 7 series.

    Games played on back to back nights with one day off for travel. Gives ability to fit playoffs into a smaller window of time which allows for a short off season.
    Positioning for 2020 draft determined by order of playoff elimination.
    All teams make playoffs so no bubble teams are eliminated.

    Not the best option but doable. Thoughts?

    • Second time round still sounds bad, bro.

    • I don’t think the Wings would want to be part of the playoffs at a neutral site. Although they would most certainly lose the first round what if they played two great games. Now they are in the middle of the draft instead of at the top. They can not win the cup and should not be in any playoff.

  6. So much o the landscape changes, if the league opts for compliance buyouts. Toxic contracts can be deleted with the stroke of a pen on a checkbook.

  7. CBJ will be fine. Wennberg will be moved or bought out. Depth on D will be moved. They mainly have PLD & Andy to worry about. Attractive options in goal, one of which will be traded sooner or later. Dubi will be on LTIR or bought out. Much more room that you think Lyle…

    • Perhaps, Jeff. It will require dumping some salary to free up sufficient space to address their needs. My point is, they don’t have as much cap space or maneuverability as the other clubs listed.