NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2020
In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at the potential off-season plans for the seven non-playoff clubs.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The beat writers for the seven non-playoff teams – the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks – examined those clubs’ possible off-season plans.
Eric Stephens reports the Ducks must determine if Ryan Miller will return as their backup goaltender. They could also discuss if they’ll stick with winger Rickard Rakell and defenseman Josh Manson or test their value in the trade market. Adding an affordable right-shooting defenseman could be an option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rakell and Manson popped up frequently in the rumor mill before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. While they could fetch good returns via trade, moving either guy will also weaken the Ducks’ roster. Unless general manager Bob Murray intends to tear things down, I don’t see either guy being shopped.
Joe Yerdon believes the biggest task facing Sabres general manager Jason Botterill is re-signing winger Sam Reinhart. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and is due for a lucrative, long-term deal. They could also use an experienced second-line center to ease the workload of promising youngsters Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $47 million committed to 10 players next season, the Sabres have the cap room to re-sign Reinhart to a long-term deal. How much, and for how long, could take some time to sort out, but I expect it’ll get done.
Max Bultman believes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman must decide if he’ll retain or replace head coach Jeff Blashill. He must also re-sign restricted free agents such as Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. Both are RFAs with arbitration rights in need of long-term deals. Yzerman must also find a backup goalie for Jonathan Bernier and a veteran defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players next season. Yzerman has plenty of cap space to re-sign his key free agents and address his other needs. Who he might pursue via trade or free agency are questions for whenever the off-season finally rolls around.
Lisa Dillman observed the Kings have sufficient salary-cap space to make a big splash or perhaps a strategic addition to their roster. GM Rob Blake has indicated he’d like to bolster the left side of his blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake has lots of cap space (around $20 million) to make a big acquisition, but I doubt he’ll go that route this year. He could instead seek an affordable, short-term addition or two to ensure he’s got sufficient room for a significant move next year.
Corey Masisak reports the Devils must determine if interim GM Tom Fitzgerald and interim head coach Alain Nasreddine will return or be replaced. Whoever becomes the GM must decide if they’ll stick with Cory Schneider as part of their goalie tandem, bring in a third goalie to compete with Schneider, or buy out his contract. The Devils also need one or two top-four defensemen and multiple top-six wingers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have lots of issues to be addressed this off-season. Most of them cannot be done until they’ve sorted out who the general manager will be.
Hailey Salvian believes free-agent goalie Craig Anderson’s tenure with the Senators has come to an end. RFA winger Anthony Duclair seems to have found a home in Ottawa, but contract term and money remains unclear. RFAs Chris Tierney and Connor Brown also earned raises. Pending UFA blueliners Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki could be brought back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Pierre Dorion has only $41.9 million committed to nine players next season. He’s also got 13 picks in this year’s draft, some of which are likely to be used as off-season trade bait. I expect he’ll be busy trying to add some experienced depth to his rebuilding roster.
Kevin Kurz believes the Sharks’ first order of business is deciding if interim coach Bob Boughner returns full-time behind the bench. Backup goalie Aaron Dell has likely played his final game as a Shark. GM Doug Wilson must do more than just make periphery changes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 million committed to 13 players, Wilson will have to get creative if he intends to improve his roster for next season. It’s been suggested he shop one of his high-priced stars, but they all carry hefty salaries and most of them have no-trade protection.