NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2020

by | Jun 12, 2020 | Rumors | 17 comments

Check out recent speculation on the Blackhawks, Ducks, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has stayed in touch with his pending free agents. However, he hasn’t spoken much about their pending free agency.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (Photo via NHL Images).

​Re-signing Corey Crawford, Dominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome are on Bowman’s to-do list but he can’t get into negotiations until he knows what next season’s salary cap will be.

In a mailbag segment, Lazerus was asked who he felt would be the Blackhawks’ starting goalie next season. He still believes it will be Crawford, who badly wants to remain in Chicago and is coming off a strong season.

Making the money work will be difficult, especially with Kubalik and Strome to re-sign. Nevertheless, Crawford would be a better option than most of this year’s pending UFA goalies and not as expensive as Braden Holtby or Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks don’t have much choice but to re-sign Crawford. They don’t have anyone in their system ready to step in as their full-time starter. Finding a suitable replacement will be expensive. Perhaps Bowman inks the 35-year-old Crawford to a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a base salary of $4 million.

Asked if the Blackhawks should trade Strome, Lazerus believes it would be a mistake to move the 23-year-old center. He envisions Strome becoming the Hawks No. 2 center behind Kirby Dach in four or five years while Jonathan Toews moves into the third-line center role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome’s production dropped this season (38 points in 58 games) after tallying 51 points in the same number of games with the Hawks last season. Lazerus suggests he’s still scarred by his experience with the Arizona Coyotes and could take a little less to stay where he’s happy and getting lots of playing time.

Strome is a restricted free agent completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Bowman will likely use that to leverage an affordable short-term bridge deal.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently did his postmortems of the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Larkin doesn’t expect the rebuilding Ducks will be adding any expensive veterans, especially with their limited salary-cap space for 2020-21. He anticipates they’ll keep trying to shed salary and make room for younger players.

The Sharks, meanwhile, could see around one-third of their roughly $15 million in salary-cap space go toward re-signing Kevin Labanc to a make-good contract after he took a one-year bargain-basement deal last summer. They’ll also have to decide if they’ll bring back Joe Thornton for one more year. If they re-sign the 41-year-old center, it won’t leave much room to chase higher-end UFAs, especially a No. 2 goaltender. Larkin also wondered if they might consider buying out starting goalie Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc has arbitration rights this time around, so GM Doug Wilson must either pay him a suitable raise or trade him. Labanc’s stats declined this season but that could be tied to the Sharks’ overall poor performance.

The cap hit for buying out Jones is $2.875 million for 2020-21, $1.875 million for 2021-22, $2.375 million in 2022-23, and $2.875 million for 2023-24 before dropping to $1.625 million annually through 2027-28. While it’s not expensive, it’s still a long time to be carrying that much dead cap space.


  1. Let’s see if Wilson makes good with Labanc. He took a big gamble last year and did the Sharks a favour in my opinion. Maybe salary retention and trade is better option for Jones. Or they hope he rebounds. I am not convinced he can
    Trade him to Ottawa who has a need and lots of picks.

    Hawks have to find a way to sign all 3.
    A Debrincat bridge would have been a better club option rather than a jump to $6.1m .
    I would be nervous with Crawford and his vertigo (health) issues .

    • SilverSeven, in what way does Ottawa have a need for Jones? Besides, there are umpteen goalies coming on the market if they decide on a different tandem than Nilsson and Hogberg (which I doubt). They also have Daccord in Belleville who was having a good season and is in the mix down the line, as well as draftee Mendelese from the Q who will start his pro career in Brampton (ECHL).

      If they indeed want something different than Nilsson-Hogberg, I’d sooner see them bring back Anderson for one more year.

      If it’s to do with reaching the cap floor there are many other options open to them to that end than taking on a goalie making $5,750,000 off the cap for 4 more years when he’ll turn 35.

      • Agree George, no good option on Jones. The buyout option is basically forever.
        Hope he turns it around and if he doesn’t bury in the minors and let somebody play who makes more saves.

    • Hard to say if Jones is in decline (I think he is) or Sharks decline in play in front of him is responsible. Who in their right mind would trade for him w/ that contract? Crawford, also in decline, (and injury history) won’t be high on anyone’s list.

      IMO, Doug Wilson needs to go, need fresh thinking.

  2. If Rangers buyout Lundqvist, I can see Sharks signing him to a cheaper deal. Would be a good fit for Hank. Jones will then be bought out. I also believe Gorgiev could be shopped once season is over.

  3. LeBanc bet on himself and lost, 56 points down to 33 in an abbrevicted season. Wilson can’t put out big dollars to resign, he has bigger problems.

    Like Jones. Goals against 25th in the league vs last year 21st. And a long contract. Buyout or trade a must.
    Like Gorgiev but can they afford him?

    • Hud, Gorgiev is rfa and shouldn’t make much more than he is now.
      Did Leblanc have arbitration rights last year? Everyone says he banked on himself by taking less last year. IMO, he’s still same player regardless of point total. He only had 3 less goals than last year, and 3 more than year before that. Assists can probably be attributed to whole team around him not playing very well. Not sure why people felt he was worth more last year coming off 1 above average season. He’ll get more this year just because that’s how it works.

    • HUD. Even though Leblanc had less points, his goals where only down 3. Was 3 more than previous season. Not sure if he was worth more than he got last year based on 1 slightly above average year. Can’t remember if he had arbitration rights or not. He will get a raise this year.
      As far as Gorgiev, he’s also a rfa and is still unproven as a #1. Don’t see him getting more than a million.

      • Ok. I feel George I’d pain!! I got an error message and didn’t think comment went through. Sorry for the double dip

  4. 5.7m until 24/25 for Jones, Yikes! Ottawa is definitely not nipping at that contract after what Dorian’s been building.

  5. He is still scarred by his experience with the Yotes?? What did they do, make him eat live scorpions or something? Stuff makes old school NHLers shake their heads.

  6. Re Jones

    Reg BO vs trade @ 50% retained …. cap net savings (BO over 50 % retained scenario) between the two: $0; $1.0M; $0.5 M; $0; then Cap INCREASE for next 4 years of $1.6 M … cash-wise…. BO costs Sharks a total of an extra $4 M (over 50 % retained scenario)….

    so…. which team (if any) is willing to take on Jones at $2.88 M per (Cap-wise) and effectively then $2.6 M (cash-wise)…. and what is the “sweetener” ask in the deal?

    • Pengy, there are simply too many goalies on the market for any team to take on Jones who has given every indication that he may be done as a # 1 goalie. And even at the % retained you mention that’s still way too expensive for a 4-year backup, especially with all the other options available.

      Any “sweetener” that may entice some team to even think about it would have to be a doozy! And I doubt Wilson wants to see some other team holding his 1st round pick next year as well. The Sharks are stuck with him I’m afraid.

      • Hi George

        Fully agree on the goalie market glut point

        Was just asking re a trade…. highly unlikely but any player w/o a full NTC “can” be traded…. just need a partner and ability/comfort to meet the asking price

        The trade (if at all) is “almost” fully in Jones hands as he has (perCapFreindly) a very very limited trade pool…. 3 teams (he could always waive it!)

        At $2.9 M Cap and $2.6 M cash that is quite up there for a back up….

        it all comes down to the receiving team balancing/weighing the small probability of potentially Jones returning to form as a starter ( a deal at that rate) plus the risk and associated Cap crunch of having the higher probability (overpaying a back-up by $1M – $1.5 M) and weighing those meshed odds/outcomes to come up with a desired sweetener in the deal.

        Consider the two sweetener goalposts …. never going to be accepted by Sharks; vs. never going to be accepted by receiving team:

        A) Never accepted by Sharks…. sweetener is Hertl

        B) Never accepted by receiving team….. 7th in 2023

        So (he posts with a grin on his face) there is a deal there that is somewhere between 7th 2023 and Hertl (🤓) as the associated sweetener

        Stranger things have happened

      • I just don’t hold much faith in Striker-like “bounce-backs.” More of them just go splut than they bounce

  7. Murder hornets.

    • killer (of) bees