NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2020

by | May 29, 2020 | Rumors | 31 comments

Seven non-playoff teams can trade with each other, plus the latest on the Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Matt Teague cites The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the seven teams that didn’t qualify for the NHL’s 24-team playoff tournament are eligible to make trades with each other. Those clubs are the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This ties in nicely with yesterday’s rumor mill examining the off-season plans for those seven teams. Those clubs frequently appeared in the rumor mill before the trade deadline and during this limbo period as we awaited word of the league’s return-to-play intentions. 

A rebuilding team with lots of draft picks, like the Senators, could wait until the draft to start wheeling-and-dealing with teams looking to shed salary. Others could prefer waiting for teams to be eliminated from the tournament to broaden their field of possible trade targets. Nevertheless, we can’t dismiss the possibility of some of these clubs looking to get a head start on next season by talking trade among themselves. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl reviewed Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill’s press conference earlier this week. He believes Botterill will use this extra time to find trade partners and scout free agents to bring in some much-needed roster reinforcements.

Vogl noted the Sabres will have salary-cap flexibility to bid for players even if the cap remains flat or drops for next season. However, he fears they could be another overpaid player or two on the roster.

Botterill acknowledged his club’s need for second- and third-line depth. Vogl, however, pointed out the Sabres GM has not done well thus far to address that issue. They need one or two centers or the Sabres will continue to struggle.

Vogl’s colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Sabres might find a market for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen among the other six non-playoff clubs. However, he thinks the Sabres will need a wider pool of teams to deal with before trade talks get serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Next season will be crucial for the Sabres. They’ve gone nine years now without reaching the playoffs. Their fans are out of patience waiting for a postseason contender. Captain Jack Eichel yesterday voiced his frustration over the years of losing, while Ristolainen acknowledged he’ll be among the first players to be traded if changes are coming before next season. 

Botterill must deliver during this long off-season. Missing next season’s playoffs will likely cost him his job. It could also lead to more roster changes, perhaps even involving Eichel if he decides his NHL future no longer belongs in Buffalo.


  1. You build around Eichel. Break out season last season where he dominated ( at least the handful of games I saw). some good young forwards in the system but it will take a little more time to develop. Skinner deal is a disaster. I maintain keep Ristolainen unless you get a blue chip forward like Connor
    Playoff format is interesting . Leafs could avoid Boston altogether. Seeding buy games also interesting . Playoffs in July . Draft in June . For me the excitement is building.

    • Certainly agree about Eichel – he had a great season. Not sure why they took Skinner off his line. All he does with Eichel is score goals.

  2. Hope everyone is well in the pandemic and civil unrest that may of us are experiencing. Significant damage in downtown CBus this morning after protests turned violent….truly unheard of for our city….
    I know I am late to respond on this one as it was from yesterday’s rumors but the fan proposed TOR-CBJ blockbuster, while intriguing as a hypothetical isn’t likely anything CBJ would ever realistically consider. Seth Jones is viewed by management as the franchise centerpiece and is poised to be the next captain once Foligno retires. I still firmly believe there could be major deals of good mutual value between CBJ-TOR centered around 1 of the TOR forwards (Nylander as most probable, a very slim possibility of Marner if TOR really gets pressed by an unfavorable cap situation in the next couple off-seasons). It is the widely held perspective in CBus that Seth Jones is currently the only untouchable on CBJ (Werenski is possibly as well). The only way Jones would become available is if he clearly communicates he wants to move on as a UFA (ala Panarin) but all indications thus far are both he and the organization are invested in working out a long-term deal as soon as they can negotiate one. Apparently CBJ is willing to give him top dollar and max term to keep him and I, for one, am thrilled as I see Jones continuing to progress to legitimate perennial Norris contender status. My 2 cents as a CBJ-lifer…..I welcome TOR fans thoughts on what pieces a CBJ-TOR deal centered on Nylander would preferably look like.

    • That suggestion was a “reader”. A clueless reader. An absurd suggestion but akin to other ridiculous trade ideas that fans come up with. You ask yourself “Is this guy serious” ?

    • Never could understand the mentality behind an organized “protest” about anything turning to wilfull destruction of private property — yeah, that’ll show ’em! A mob with the collective IQ of a kumquat.

      If only Covid-19 could be selective and remove only those a-holes from the gene pool.

      • George O, usually steer clear of convos outside of hockey world. You might not understand, but maybe if you where black and you watch a video of the slow death of a black man under the weight of a police officer. I don’t support the reckless behavior, but I wouldn’t pretend to understand the level of anger that has built up in the African American community. On top of that, to suggest that protesters should contract a life threatening disease?

      • Look, I am fully aware of what provoked the violence – and while I am sure most among the protesters were there to demonstrate their displeasure with the justice system in a civil manner, those that resorted to burning, smashing and looting were there for one reason only – to do just that. We’ve seen that mentality time and again by yahoos who show up at such demonstrations to do just that – anarchists they like to call themselves. And it doesn’t matter if their black, white or pink with purple polka dots – what they did is in NO way justified and only serves to put a bad light on peaceful demonstrators. Innocent business owners and others not involved did not deserve that.

        I am fed up with bleeding hearts always ready to provide excuses for the behaviour of imbeciles. By all means voice your displeasure with an unbalanced justice system – but when you cross the line by becoming just as despicable as that police officer you forfeit all civil reaction.

        Sorry, but I don’t apologize for my comment.

      • You know what would right this wrong of social injustice?

        A brand new 65” tv! And burning down a few small businesses.

        That will make a change… in someone’s living room!

        Let’s not pretend that most of these thugs give a rats ass about justice.

  3. I agree it seems to have natural potential. Also agree Jones won’t be going anywhere. My preference is Marner for what might approach equal value. As his contract is too high I cannot see equal value. Toronto will have to cave somewhat.

    I don’t know Colombus enought to give a well prepared proposal. But I will wing one

    Marner for Werenski and the big power foward on injury reserve…..maybe another small add

    No idea if I am in or out of the ballpark. I am not Leaf therefore Marner guy.

    • OBD…would love to get Marner on CBJ I just have never been able to conceive of a package that would be sufficient for TOR given Marner’s value. There are CBJ assets that fit TOR needs, Anderson, Savard, considerable depth on D and middle 6 F etc….just not likely the right value for a high skill 94 pt forward unless cap forces the issue

      • Mitch Marner plays on a decent offensive line in Toronto, if he goes to another team without similar type skill I could see his point totals go down somewhat – do you want to take that and the salary cap hit? I would stay away….

      • Kevin are you kidding me? Marner seems to assist and every Toronto goal, even the ones fans over rate but are crappy can still score when he passes them the puck. Passing on a guy who seems to be a ppg player so far is kinda questionable no?

      • I don’t see that in Marner’s game at all … in fact, he acts more like a C when he’s on the ice, with beautiful set-up passes to line-mates. He’ll get the same range of points anywhere.

        Would I like someone with his skills on the Senators? You bet. At close to $11 mil per off the cap for 5 more years? Uh – no. And as old Will would say, therein lies the rub.

      • There again is why signing Tavares was a mistake, too early in the rebuild and wrong position. If Tavares isn’t there and marner doesn’t beat him in points is marners contract so high? The leafs pay the 3rd,5th and 7th AAV for matthews,Tavares and marner and Matthews is the highest PPG this year ranking him at 14th in the league. In the cap world trying to move one of them without holding salary is damn near impossible

      • ** highest AAV

      • @Ron Moore – No joke. At that salary,which I pointed to on my original post, yes I pass. And have no second thoughts about it.

  4. IMO the NHL is reading into a real cluster. If the Cap remains flat more then half the teams are going to be in trouble next season. Owners are not going to have the revenue to buyout players, uncertainty with ticket sales for next season is going to add to this scenario. Toronto is going to have roughly 5 million in cap space open with 5-7 roster spots open.

  5. Correct, Lyle, one cannot rule out trading between the 7 teams.

    But surely the more attractive scenario would be for one team to have 30 potential trading partners instead of 6?

    Another thought is what teams like Ottawa and Montreal do with their picks – too many this year, surely, best to spread some out for future rounds.

    Is it not correct that Ottawa has two first rounders now? If they win Lafrenier, surely it would behoove them to move one of the other two to another draft year – like diversifying one’s financial portfolio as part of risk management.

    That would help with down the road cap management, and be one more reason to want more than less trading options.

    • Not so sure that OTT / MONT have too many picks.
      None of us have any idea if there will be Junior hockey or high school hockey or college hockey so 2021 draft just might be a total crap shoot. Might be a better play to use the 2020 draft picks you have at the draft and trade the 2021 draft picks for players / prospects. A lot more is known about 2020 players in the draft than whomever may be the top players in the 2021 draft.

      • There will be deals made by teams like Ottawa, certainly involving that 3rd 1st round pick from the Islanders and probably 2 of their 4 2nd round picks to obtain a solid F and/or D with term from teams who MUST move someone in order to free up cap space to sign key RFAs or even UFAs they might wish to retain.

        It’s a golden opportunity to help speed up the re-build process and they certainly have the cap space. So too does Montreal.

      • LJ, if Dorion gets the supreme luck (2 picks in the first 3) he retains both as the projected top 3 will all be in the NHL right away according to most pundits. If, however, one or more of those two 2 (theirs and SJs) fall to 5/6, I could see one being moved for the kind of deal I mention above.

      • George I can see Teams like the sens and Habs dealing with capped out teams not for big contact players but players in the 2-4 million range and giving just Extra picks for them.

      • Those are the kinds of deals I’m thinking of Bigbadbruins. And there are a bunch of teams that will simply have to move one or two off their rosters for nothing more than picks/prospects who won’t cost them anything off the cap in the immediate future.

        This is where Dorion and Bergevin can make hay if they play their cards right.

    • LJ, I wouldn’t be surprised if those seven clubs, as LeBrun suggests, waits until close to the draft (whenever that might be) to have a full field of trade partners.

      The Sens and Habs acquired those extra picks to flog as trade bait during the draft. Some of them will be used to move up or down in the draft, and some will be used to land some established NHL depth.

  6. If botts gets canned after this season he is perfect for replacing gmjr when he bows out.

    • 👍

      and Botts will immediately jettison #3


  7. Sidney Crosby will be 33 in August, time for Pitts to get the next one.

    Pitts will lose to MTL in the play in round and draft Alexis Lafreniere who will be the first born Quebec player taken first over all since Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Montreal will be excited to win the round but lose the prize.

    • Getting AF for Pitt, maybe that will help Jack Johnson play better…..LOL

      • Hi Brian

        JJ’s best playing for Penguins has been since March 12th

        If he continues doing exactly that…. Pens have a good shot this year

    • It’s only fair.

    • *tongue firmly in cheek* And this would prove beyond all doubt Bettman’s man crush on Lemieux’s Penguins.