NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2020

by | Jun 17, 2020 | Rumors | 12 comments

What next for the Sabres after their management purge? What are the Capitals’ off-season trade targets? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders if the Buffalo Sabres replacing Jason Botterill as general manager with Kevyn Adams will be enough to fix the struggling club.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (Photo via NHL Images).

He feels Adams will have “lots of runway” to re-sign key restricted free agents Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, and Linus Ullmark. He’ll also have plenty of time to fill out the roster for next season. The Sabres currently have 10 players (four forwards, five defensemen, and a goalie) under contract for 2020-21.

Adams could dramatically reshape the Sabres for next season. Larkin, however, wonders how much agency he’ll have to do so.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also weighed in on the key decisions facing Adams. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be their most notable trade candidate. He’s frequently come up in trade rumors for some time, leading O’Brien to wonder if Botterill sought too much for the blueliner or was his market value really that cold. He suggests the Sabres might be better off cutting their losses with Ristolainen even at a discount rate.

O’Brien also wondered if Adams will stick with the goalie tandem of Ullmark and Carter Hutton or plunge into a pretty promising UFA market. He could then attempt to trade Hutton or send him to the minors.

The Sabres have lots of salary-cap room next season. Adams could attempt to go big in the UFA market by targeting St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo or Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall. However, O’Brien notes the Sabres have been burned before with expensive UFA signings. He also suggested perhaps targeting a cap-strapped team, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pegulas apparently slashed their management and scouting staffs in part to cut costs. Perhaps that mindset also extends to next season’s salary-cap payroll.

Cap Friendly indicates they have over $47 million invested in next season’s roster. That will obviously rise as they re-sign RFAs like Reinhart, Olofsson, and Ullmark, and perhaps Brandon Montour or a UFA like Wayne Simmonds. Nevertheless, they must still spend to get over the $60 million cap floor and ice a competitive roster.

Adams could surprise us by chasing one or two big-name UFAs, but I think he’ll make modest dips into that pool. I can see him trying to pry away a decent player or two from clubs looking to shed salary. Perhaps he dangles Ristolainen to a team that’s deep in scoring forwards but in need of blueline depth.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked about any possible off-season trade candidates or targets for the Washington Capitals.

El-Bashir said he doesn’t get the sense that Capitals management is eager to move anyone under contract for next season. As for possible options to address next season, he believes they’ll need a veteran top-four defenseman and doesn’t rule out re-signing Brenden Dillon. They’ll also need a third-line left wing to replace Ilya Kovalchuk and a proven goalie to back up Ilya Samsonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are several quality backups potentially available in this summer’s free-agent market. The notables include Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, and Cam Talbot.


  1. I don’t see either Hall or Pietrangelo signing with Buffalo. Skinner should bounce back. It’s not like he’s old and slowing down. He had over 60 points 1st season in Buffalo. There’s a lot of right shot dmen hitting free agency this summer. I don’t see a big market for Risto. He’s young, but why would a team trade away assets when they can probably pick up a cheaper option in FA. And with Eichel already getting frustrated, does Buffalo have a better player to replace Risto?

    • Skinner scored a bunch playing with Eichel. They could use another pure sniper to balance the top six.

  2. I’m not a fan of the Sabres. However, I hate seeing wasted talent. With that being said, why are they following in their own failure footsteps by hiring another “rookie” GM with even LESS experience than the guy they just fired???? And then fired their development/scouting team???? A few short months before the draft??????

    • You have provided yourself answers via the questions you pose, Artsy19. Just substitute the ???? with WTF!

  3. I’m a little confused about all the firings. They’ve mentioned it’s cost cutting moves, which makes me wonder could they bring them back at some point?
    Also, if Buffalo just wants to cut ties with Ristolaine , maybe a team like Ottawa with 7 picks in 1st 2 rounds would be interested? Buffalo could then look to sign another dman in FA.

    • Terry and Kim are tied up in Natural gas.
      I bet they are bleeding money right now.

  4. Fan or not, Sabre fans deserve better than what they have been paying for the past 8 seasons. Some of us remember the PalHal years and how tough they were to endure.

  5. Why would anybody want to sign with the Sabres?

    • Ron, Sabre’s have a good young core. Eichel is only 23 and he needs to have a little patience. If I’m Buffalo, I’d be working the kids into lineup. Mittelstadt needs to play. Bring in Cozens and Samuelson. They also could win draft lottery. Maybe move into top 3. I don’t see any older free agents wanting to go there, but if kids develop into roster players, theyll be able to bring guys in a couple years from now.

      • Ya Slick, they should be good in a couple if they can round out the roster and they have plenty of holes. They have 2 of the toughest things to find a true #1C and #1D. Great place to start for the new guy.
        You would have been hard pressed to find someone on here that thought the Skinner deal was good, way too much for a player like that.
        If most of us could see it, make you wonder why they did it. I get that Eichel lobbied for him, but that one could haunt them for a while.

    • The only legit answer is fringe players that feel they’ll have a real shot @ more on ice minutes to showcase their own talent. Some guys get stuck in the minors because the team that picked them is deep at his position. They won’t a real opportunity to shine unless they go to a team like Sabres.

  6. Pens should hire botts back as assistant gm. He can replace Rutherford n a couple years.