NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2020
The Penguins could face trading a goaltender, plus some recent Jets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL THE PENGUINS TRADE A GOALTENDER?
NHL.COM: cites Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford saying he might have to trade one of his goaltenders during an interview with The Athletic’s Josh Yohe. Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights following this season. The Penguins have over $68 million invested in next season’s roster.
“I’ll say this: If we are going to keep both of them, we’d have to move a few things around on our team,” Rutherford said. “There is a way to do things and to make that work, yes. There are some very, very tough decisions ahead.” Though next season’s salary cap has yet to be determined, he admitted he’s planning that it won’t be as high as this year’s $81.5 million. “We know that much,” Rutherford said. “It’s certainly not going up.”
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also referred to Rutherford’s interview with The Athletic. He noted third-stringer Casey DeSmith didn’t come up much in that interview but feels he’s relevant to this situation. O’Brien admitted his surprise that DeSmith failed to secure the backup role this season and that no other club snatched him up when he was placed on waivers before the start of the season. DeSmith’s inconsistency in the minors this season makes O’Brien doubt he’d fetch much of a return in a trade. His best guess is DeSmith will back up Murray or Jarry next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a tough call for Rutherford. Murray backstopped the Penguins to their last two Stanley Cups, but his injury history is cause for concern. Jarry showed potential as a full-time NHL starter this season, but he’s only been in that role for a short time.
I think Rutherford was counting on seeing how Murray and Jarry performed down the stretch and in the playoffs before deciding which one he’d keep. He could re-sign both but that will mean shedding salary elsewhere in the lineup, adversely affecting their overall roster depth. Murray or Jarry will be playing elsewhere next season.
RECENT JETS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the Winnipeg Jets’ long-term needs. Citing their issues on the blueline, he wondered if Ville Heinola and Sami Niku will develop into NHL defensemen. He also points out their ongoing need for a second- or third-line center.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Murat Ates recently listed veteran defensemen Dmitry Kulikov, Nathan Beaulieu, and Luca Sbisa among those most likely to depart in the off-season. Center Cody Eakin could also be among them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With last month’s termination of Dustin Byfuglien’s contract, Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players for next season. The good news is all their key players are signed for next season, so there should be enough room for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to address those depth issues.
Kulikov, Beaulieu, Sbisa, and Eakin are unrestricted free agents and might not fit into the Jets’ plans. Maybe one of them gets an affordable one-year deal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Cheveldayoff considers other options via trade or free agency.