NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2020

by | May 8, 2020 | Rumors | 11 comments

Possible Lightning trade candidates, Jeff Carter’s future with the Kings, and the latest Predators speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Joe Smith believes the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap crunch for 2020-21 will see Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Yanni Gourde surface in trade rumors. The Bolts must free up salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev.

Could Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson become an off-season cost-cutting candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

Killorn will have a modified no-trade clause starting in 2020-21, while Johnson and Gourde have full no-trade clauses. If teams are granted compliance buyouts this summer and the Lightning get desperate, Smith could see Johnson and Gourde among the candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve read some pundits suggesting teams with lots of picks, prospects or affordable young players should make trade proposals for Cirelli or Sergachev. Some have also suggested signing one or both to offer sheets.

We can’t dismiss these options, but I don’t see either one happening. The Bolts don’t appear interested in trading Cirelli and Sergachev, and those two might not be receptive to offer sheets.

Smith isn’t saying Killorn, Johnson, or Gourde will be traded. He’s merely suggesting they’ll pop up in off-season speculation. Nevertheless, something’s gotta give for the Lightning to re-sign Sergachev and Cirelli.

Killorn would be the easiest to move, freeing up $4.45 million in cap space. Johnson or Gourde might be willing to accept a trade, but I daresay they’ll have only a handful of preferred destinations. Compliance buyouts are possible, but they’re not a certainty at this point.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently reported a core muscle injury will keep Jeff Carter out of the Los Angeles Kings’ lineup if the regular season resumes this summer. He wondered if the constant losing of the last three seasons is wearing on the 35-year-old center as much as the physical wear-and-tear, suggesting perhaps a “soft retirement” via long-term injury reserve.

Carter’s annual cap hit for the next two seasons is $5.275 million, but his actual salary is $2 million per season. Trading his contract to a budget team would be a logical way for the Kings to free up additional salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will be up to Carter. If he wants to keep playing beyond this season, the LTIR option is out. He lacks no-trade protection but could be reluctant to uproot himself and his family, hence last season’s speculation suggesting he might retire if traded. 


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked about the chances of the Nashville Predators moving on with Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith next season. Both forwards are unrestricted free agents at season’s end.

Should the salary cap remain at $81.5 million, Vingan believes the Predators probably won’t have enough cap room to re-sign both. He feels it would be easier to re-sign Smith as he won’t cost as much as Granlund.


  1. Killorn will be 31 when next season rolls around and will have 3 years left on his contract of 4.45M per. Not a huge cap hit but with a limited number of teams to deal with, those teams will also have to consider expansion draft. I can’t imagine other players will agree to waive ntc. That would also be like taking a pay cut as they’re probably moving somewhere with state tax. Guessing if they waive ntc they’d could also be unprotected at expansion draft? Tampa also has 3 right D that will be ufa. Wonder if they’d consider moving Pointe or Cirelli? Pointe has no clauses in his deal. If they can’t move Killorn, and there’s no comp buyouts, they’re in trouble.

    • Limited is right Slick62. There are 12 teams now which, according to CapFriendly, don’t even have enough projected cap space to sign an ELC once they deal with their RFAs or UFAs they may want to keep and get their rosters up to (or close to) the usual 23. These are: Arizona, Toronto, Dallas, St. Louis, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Vegas, Florida, Edmonton and San Jose.

      Another 6 might have just enough to sign one ELC once they get their rosters straightened out: Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Carolina, Calgary and Tampa Bay.

      All have been mentioned at one time or another as a team that must shed a high-salaried player (or two) in order to re-sign other key RFAs or UFAs.

      So, we’re looking at anywhere from 18 to 36 players that must be dealt (NOT counting the multitude of UFAs that will come on the market), with just 13 teams left with any kind of projected cap space.

      But 8 of those, while having projected cap space ranging from $1,557,549 to $4,539,794, are limited to the size of any incoming contracts without shedding one or two of their own: Detroit, Nashville, Anaheim, Minnesota, NYI, Winnipeg, NYR, Montreal.

      Which leaves 5 teams with projected cap space of $5,067,101 to $8,775,682 – enough to take on one – perhaps two in a couple of cases – assuming they don’t instead choose to shop the UFA market, or extend an offer sheet (unlikely as that is): Columbus, Colorado, L.A., Ottawa, New Jersey.

      Simply put, there are just too many bodies to fill available spots with a handful of teams.

      • Agreed George O. With a flat cap and no compliance buyouts there are multiple teams that will not be able to sign all their RFAs, even to market level bridge deals, if they can’t move salary. TB is certainly in that boat. Have to think the NHL is going to have to design some very creative accommodations for a considerable number of teams to become cap compliant. I am assuming this is going take multiple concessions from both the NHL and NHLPA to make it all work. I sincerely hope they devise a system that, while reasonably equitable, provides a lot of opportunity and incentive for trades/signings. The excitement that could create would be great for the league and fans.

      • George,

        I do not understand the dollar amounts. Are you basing the numbers on cap divided by the number of players needed to sign to have a 23 man roster?

        In Wings case they have 11 players signed and about 34 million in cap space, if you divide that number by 13 you get somewhere in the 2.5 million range. Just asking because I did not fully understand the your description. By the way love your posts on here.

      • Could be an interesting off season. I see an opportunity for Boston because I am on the side of not resigning Krug (although I understand and would be fine if they did). Caper convinced me.

        Use the Krug money to get a quality forward like Johnson out of TB. If Johnson would waive his NTC.

        Could play 2 or 3C if Krecji gets hurt or they don’t resign him after next season. In the meantime he plays the wing on the 2nd line.
        Might be able to get him at significant discount as far as the return to TB goes, as George points out the options are limited.
        B’s have the space to get that done.

      • Hey Mike A, welcome aboard. As I indicate, I’m basing my comment on what they show at CapFriendly as the “projected cap space” for each team which they base, I presume, on the amount they figure each team will need to devote in order to get their rosters up to 23.

        Some, in the past, have chosen to limit their NHL rosters to under 23 – some 22 and a few times a team went even lower to 21 or 20. But that’s a dangerous game if they run into non long-term injuries and simply can’t call anyone up from their minor team if their NHL salary puts them over the cap.

        In Detroit’s case, they have $46,259,166 committed to 11 players which, if the cap remains stagnant at $81.5, leaves them $35,240,834 to sign 12. Their 8 RFAs (every one of which has arbitration rights) accounted for $9,977,736 off the cap this season, so you know that total is going to rise – exactly by how much is anyone’s guess (there is a formula of sorts but figuring that out is an exercise in futility – maybe the good folks at CapFriendly are experts?) – see here


        Then there are the 5 UFAs who they either need to re-sign or find suitable replacements, who, this past season, accounted for $15,051,666 off the cap. Added to the RFA deals that totals $25,029,402. A total which will suddenly draw a lot closer to that $35 mil leeway once the dust settles.

        Anyway, I have to think CapFriendly has a valid reason for showing Detroit with projected cap space of $1,557,549.

      • @Raybark Krug gets more points the Johnson. I think you undervalue points from the backend. I know as a coach I always put 1 of my best 3 offensive players on the backend. It adds a 4th offensive player making it really hard for the other team to defend. Not to mention games and the Stanley cup for that matter are won on special teams. Boston can find a Johnson out there for cheap especially this year but Krug is much harder to replace. You lose Krug your powerplay will suffer.

      • Hey Roger, glad to hear you volunteered your time coaching, I did too for a while. Big commitment.
        The reason we may differ is I think McAvoy & Grezlyk can fill the void on the PP. At Krug’s level, maybe/probably not, but I also think Krug is 1 dimensional and may want big $ and or term.
        We have excellent depth at D, not up front, so just trying to address a need.
        I like Krug and if they sign him, I get it.

      • @RayBark I see why you’re thinking that but remember your talking about losing your 4th highest point player and he’s a defenceman on the assumption that 2 defenceman who combined don’t put up as many points. I would rather sign him for a 6th year to get a discounted aav then lose him in the very small Hope’s that he can be replaced internally. 60 point defenceman are not common. You are also assuming that he falls off a cliff during his contract and all of a sudden can’t play to the point where he’s just useless. He’s 30 no 80 years old. As long as he eats healthy and excercises he may still have a drop off but not to the point of being completely useless. Giving up your 4th highest scorer who’s a defenceman for an easily acquired second line player who may not even get as many points based on just assumptions seems like a great way to make your team worse not better. Better the devil you know.

      • IMO it’s a binary choice. Can’t afford to do both and stay under the cap. Window is 2 years max to win, I think overall they will be a better team.
        McAvoy doesn’t get 1st PP minutes and is a very talented player. He will put up points on that PP, hell I would and I’m old. He may even put up more. At very least I don’t think it would be a big drop and his replacement would be better defensively.
        If he takes a discount, which he might, I think they resign him and go with Kase on the 2nd line. Decent pIayer, but not great and has an injury history. I wouldn’t if Johnson is available and would come to BOS and they get him at a discount, which seems worth exploring.
        Either way they will be a good team next year and contend if they stay healthy.

  2. Re Carter and a soft retirement (LTIR) and trade:

    Last summer I’d advocated for something like this for Kessler (receiving team; with LTIR; I believe is only on hook for ins. Premium which I believe is in the 20% of Sal range)

    For either Carter or Kessler; the “soft” retirement would not necessitate any uprooting of home/fam and would only have take home pay implications if the “new” team had a different tax structure in that State/Province than Cal

    Moving either would require an “incentive”/“extra” to the receiving team for taking in the Cap hit and absorbing the insurance premium

    As at now …. Kings not in Cap panic ; ins premium in around $400 K/year…. less likely that Carter moves IMHO

    Kessler…. ins premium in around $1.3 M each year; Ducks 20/21…. currently … with flat Cap…would have under $6M in Cap space for 7 positions!!!!

    What’s the “kicker” in Kessler trade required; who are the potential takers?