NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2020

by | May 4, 2020 | Rumors | 17 comments

Check out the latest Oilers and Flames speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal would be a compliance buyout candidate if the NHL allows for such buyouts this off-season. He believes they should, for while he believes the Oilers won the Neal-Milan Lucic trade with the Flames, it would be a good idea to shed the winger’s $5.75 million annual average value for the next three years.

Should the Edmonton Oilers buy out James Neal in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll leave the debate over who won the Neal-for-Lucic trade for Oilers and Flames fans. If the league allows for compliance buyouts, I will be surprised if the Oilers don’t use it to shed Neal’s cap hit. While his stats improved playing for the Oilers, his best seasons are behind him. Getting his cap hit off the books would free up space to bring in a younger, perhaps more affordable replacement.

The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis has suggested going the normal buyout route with Neal if the compliance option isn’t on the table. While it would leave the Oilers with over $1.9 million in dead cap space over the next six years, Willis felt it would be worth it in a summer where every NHL team faces salary-cap challenges.

Speaking of compliance buyouts, there’s an assumption among some NHL followers that this is going to happen because of the effects of the pandemic upon league revenue. However, that’s not a certainty right now.

If the league and the PA agree to keep the cap at $81.5 million for 2020-21, they could decide there’s no need for compliance buyouts. I can only see that option implemented if the salary cap declines. 

EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson recently reported the Oilers could attempt to re-sign Tyler Ennis because they like his ability to move up and down the lineup. He speculates the 30-year-old Edmonton native might accept $1 million to play in his hometown. He also thinks Oilers general manager Ken Holland wants to bring back Riley Sheahan, but only if he’s paying him as a fourth-line center. Sheahan spent part of this season in a third-line role.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Cruickshank recently speculated over which players could depart the Calgary Flames in the off-season. He lumped  T.J Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, Michael Stone, Cam Talbot, and Sam Bennett among the “could stay or go” category.  All but Bennett are unrestricted free agents at season’s end.

Cruickshank suggested keeping one of Brodie or Hamonic and one of Forbort or Gustafsson. Talbot’s future in Calgary depends on whether he still sees himself as a starting goalie again. He also wondered if the Flames should remain patient with Bennett or trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames salary-cap space and how much those pending UFAs seek will also determine who stays or goes. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $64.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21.

Cruickshank also included Tobias Rieder and Zac Rinaldo among that group. While they would be affordable to retain, I believe they’re more in the “go” category. 


  1. I actually liked Forbort and Gustafsson as a pairing in Calgary; and Gustafsson was able to run the PP and take a little pressure off of Gio. While I do think Brodie is competant, I think let him walk unless he is prepared to take a discount; his numbers are inflated by playing with Gio and he makes questionable plays at the worst times. As to Hamonic, I think he’s going to get overpaid for what he brings to the table. He is definitely better than Forbort, but he’ll make 2+ million more, and I don’t think that he’s worth it. Really, Gustafsson and Forbort are discount (should be) versions of Brodie and Hamonic. The Flames can then use Valimaki and/or Kylington to fill the extra space. If Brodie will take a discount, could leave him on the top pair and match Anderson with Hanifin.

    Anderson has shown that he is capable of playing top 4 in the chances he has received and has made a great partner for Gio in the past when moved up for injuries. Could also try Hanifin on his off-side on the top pairing to see if time with Gio helps his development.

    As to who wins the Lucic-Neal trade, I think both teams got exactly what they expected and were looking for. Big question mark is what happens to the 3rd rounder in a shortened season. Both players were on pace so that the qualifications for that pick would have been reached, so it’s a hit for the Flames to not get that.

    • Agreed on all accounts: I love that Forbort/Gustafsson pairing.

    • No brainer on Lucic Neal trade. Given that the season is all but over & playoffs, even quarantined has many many land mines, compliance buyouts will be the order of the day when the NHL start again under a way different revenue model. Suddenly the buyout proof Lucic that was the call of glory to Oil fans will be the actual savings of several millions of dollars for Flames ownership when both players get bought out. If Im not correct, Oilers will be coughing up part of Lucic’c buyout as well. 3rd round pick or not, the dollar difference is a big win between these two players.

  2. Random trade proposal: Flames trade Hanifin, Parsons and 2020 draft second round pick to Penguins for Pettersson and Jarry. thoughts?

    • Overall I would say a pretty reasonable offer. I personally like Hanifin more that Pettersson; the ceiling is higher in my opinion. Jarry is definitely better than Parsons though. Both Jarry and Pettersson are RFA at the end of this season so if a pick is going from CGY to PITT, I would want contract details worked out…maybe a conditional pick based on both signing contracts.

      Biggest caveat though — If Talbot resigns, then CGY doesn’t need this trade and it wouldn’t be worth the cost.

    • I personally think Jarry becomes pens starter. Replace Jarry with Murray and you have an idea.

      Breaking up Peterson Marino would be tough too.

    • Hi Cliff

      With Chrisms on ur proposal … I say no

      Counter proposal

      JJ for a picture of the Saddledome and a 7th in 2040. 🤓

      All joking aside; and acknowledging ahead of time my bias….

      Other than weight; Pettersson to me is the better bang for the buck paid

      Both 23, offence numbers similar; both LD; same height; both good in both ends; both no panic type of guys; both nice striding Dmen

      But Hanafin is a heavy minus on +/- ; Pettersson the opposite; and Hanafin only under contract for 4 more years and at about $1M more per year. I also believe that Pettersson is rising more rapidly on the development curve right now

      If I’m being honest ; Pettersson for 5 more years at $4M is a better contract than Hanafin for 4 yrs @ $5 M

      Again …. transparency …. I’m a Pens fan; and have seen all Pettersson’s Pens games but maybe only 80 or so of Hanafin’s entire career

  3. Concerning possible compliance buyouts: It has been written that the owners are reportedly not too keen on spending money and getting nothing in return. Others have argued that teams should not be given a free do-over as it is unfair to the teams that are more disciplined in their signings and trades. So, I propose a compromise. Limit compliance buyouts to to contacts that only have two years or less in term remaining. This would allow relief for caps strained from the unexpected pandemic inpact, but would not allow teams with long toxic contracts (Seabrook, Lucic for example) to get out from under them. It would also coincide with the termination of the current collective bargaining agreement. Thoughts?

    • To me a buyout is a buyout no matter the term. Not really fair to teams like the bruins and leafs that traded away first round picks to ease their cap hits, and all teams that have worked to stay cap compliant.

      End of the day cgy should not be able to buy out someone like Lucic (or any player with 2 yrs or less) without some other penalty IMO.

      • Everyone played under the same rules last year. So all things are 100% fair and equal. NY bought out Shattenkirk, Toronto traded a 1st etc. those deals came with a price, but compliance buyouts weren’t an option for anyone at the time. Marleau wouldn’t even be under contract next year.

        So it’s not like certain teams were or will be given any type of advantage.

      • Your right, they operated under the same rules. But the difference is those teams all gave up assets or future cap space to facilitate the move.

        My point is that Cgy will be able to clear 6 million cap space with no penalty with a compliance buyout. That is a huge advantage because not all teams have a contract like that to get rid of and if I was a GM of another team I would fight that from happening without some other sort of compensation for my team.

      • Alzner, Backes, Boychuk, Bozak, D. Brown or J. Carter, Dubinsky, Eriksson, Goligoski, Lundqvist, Nielsen, Niskanen, Radulov, Reimer, B. Ryan, and Schneider have contracts with two years term or less remaining that I would expect to be bought out under such a hypothetical compliance buyout option. That is fifteen team, roughly half the league. So, how about two different caps. 81.5M for teams opting to not use a compliance buyout. And a rollback to something less, say 2018-19’s 79.5M for argument’s sake, for teams opting to use a compliance buyout.
        Just throwing thoughts out there for discussion. I realize that I’m neglecting Occam’s razor.

      • Your absolutely right, I actually think there would be a ton of buyouts, likely in the 20’s if one is brought in, which is is another reason I think they should just not do it.

        Do you think the flames and Oilers would be happy not being able to buy out Lucic and Neal? How would the Backes buyout work with the Bruins retaining some of his salary?

    • Disagree

      Floor cap teams i don’t consider having much of a say. Other teams will have to suck it up & live with change. Many teams are already propped up by revenue sharing & the overall health of the league is more important. If the NHL & NHLPA agree on CBO’s as an adjustment to alleviate the circumstances from Covid so be it.

      I expect some give & taje to occur.

  4. A while ago a conversation strayed into the importance of social distancing and how attending hockey games, or anything like it, looks like it is waay off.

    I am not a Georges Laraque fan, but I have seen him in person. He is a tank of a man, and was training for a marathon at the time he got covid. Yes, he has asthma as an underlying condition but if an absolute bull like him is laid out by covid, it should tell the rest of us that we should be content watching hockey on the couch.

    • I’m content to sit on couch mostly cause I can’t afford to go to that many games anyway! Being back up north I can’t believe how much MSG costs. I used to pay same to sit close to bench in Florida as it cost to sit upstairs at Rangers games.

      • I was going to lightning games back in 97-2000 for $40-60 per game. To sit on the ice behind the benches ….or anywhere.

        I think I was paying $10-15 to go to Rays games on that time period.

        Huge difference even then compared to MSG or Yankee stadium!