Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 26, 2020
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.
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.