NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2020
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.
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.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
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.