Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 10, 2020
More speculation over Alex Pietrangelo’s future plus some suggested blueline trade targets for the Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
WHAT WILL PIETRANGELO DO?
THE SCORE: John Matisz recently examined the questions swirling around St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. The 30-year-old defenseman could be the best player potentially available in this year’s unrestricted free agent market.
The Blues’ limited salary-cap space means they must shed a salary or two if they intend to re-sign Pietrangelo. That could involve buying out the final year of Alex Steen’s contract ($5.75-million annual average value) and trading goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million). Re-signing him could be expensive, as Nashville Predators’ captain Roman Josi’s eight-year, $72.5-million contract could be used as a benchmark. Given Petrangelo’s age, a seven-or-eight year deal would be an overpayment.
If Pietrangelo goes to market, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, and Winnipeg Jets could be among his possible destinations. The Leafs need a right-side defenseman, but they’ve already got half their payroll tied up in a small group of players. The Golden Knights and Jets require a true No.1 defenseman.
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat, Jim Thomas suggested the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Boston Bruins are among the Stanley Cup contenders with sufficient salary-cap space to take a run at signing Pietrangelo. He dismissed a suggestion from one reader proposing the Blues trade away Jaden Schwartz and Ivan Barbeshev because it wouldn’t free up sufficient dollars to re-sign the captain.
Even with a flat or lower salary-cap, Thomas doubts the market for Pietrangelo will be that depressed. “Boston, Colorado, Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal all have sufficient cap room to make a run at Pietrangelo.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot of clubs will have sufficient salary-cap space to make serious offers for Pietrangelo on the open market. Toronto and Vegas aren’t among them. The Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, while the Golden Knights have over $73 million tied up in 15 players. Unless they dump some salary, they can’t afford Pietrangelo, who could see a long-term deal worth around $9 million annually. Even if a flat cap forced him to accept $7.5 to $8 million per season, that’s still too expensive for cap-strapped clubs like Toronto and Vegas.
The Bruins appear keen to re-sign Torey Krug, who’d be more affordable than Pietrangelo. The Flames have $64.5 million committed to 13 players, but most reports out of Calgary suggest they won’t pursue a big-ticket free agent. While the Wild ($65.2 million in 17 players) have the room, GM Bill Guerin could be reluctant to saddle himself with another big-money contract when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise already take up so much of his club’s cap space.
The Canadiens and Panthers could afford Pietrangelo, but he might not be keen to go to those markets. The Habs usually have difficulty attracting top free-agent talent, while the Panthers could shed salary if they miss the playoffs again. The Jets have room (nearly $66 million invested in 13 players), but Pietrangelo is likely too rich for their blood.
The Avalanche and Stars have the cap space, but they’re also stocked with good young blueliners. The Avs already have Cale Makar as their first-pairing right-side defenseman, while John Klingberg fills that role for the Stars.
Pietrangelo will attract plenty of interest if he becomes available, probably from several of the aforementioned clubs, and he’s going to get a lucrative deal. Finding the right fit on the roster and payroll, however, could be challenging.
POSSIBLE CANUCKS’ BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Harman Dayal recently proposed several trade targets to rebuild the Vancouver Canuck’s blueliner. With Chris Tanev likely to depart via free agency and Troy Stecher facing an uncertain future as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, they must address the right side of their defense corps.
Dayal proposes realistic options such as Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar, Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak, Washington’s Nick Jensen, and Buffalo’s Henri Jokiharju. He also suggested left-side rearguards like Edmonton’s Caleb Jones or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn if suitable right-side blueliners can’t be found.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With nearly $64 million invested in 14 players next season, and with Tanev, Stecher, Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Virtanen, and Tyler Motte to be re-signed or replaced, the Canucks don’t have the cap room to suitably address their blueline needs via free agency. Going the trade route for young, affordable options is the best bet.
I don’t know If those targets suggested by Dayal would be available, but they provide a template for the type of rearguard the Canucks could pursue following this season.