NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2020

by | Jun 24, 2020 | Rumors | 31 comments

A look at this year’s top UFA defensemen plus the latest Canadiens speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE SCORE: St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Torey Krug, and former Winnipeg Jet Dustin Byfuglien top Josh Wegman’s listing of this year’s top NHL defensemen. Calgary’s TJ Brodie and Toronto’s Tyson Barrie round out the top five.

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (Photo via NHL Images).

Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, and Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo complete the top 10.

Other notables include Pittsburgh Justin Schultz, Washington’s Radko Gudas, and Edmonton’s Mike Green.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No question Pietrangelo and Krug top the bill among this year’s class of UFA blueliners. Both will be among this summer’s most-prized free agents.

The Blues’ limited salary-cap space could see Pietrangelo depart if they cannot free up sufficient room to re-sign him. The Bruins could have an easier time keeping Krug in the fold, but they might also have to shed some salary to do it. 

I wouldn’t place Byfuglien that high on the list. While his talent is undeniable, there’s no indication he intends to continue his playing career after his contract was mutually terminated following a season-long absence over a dispute regarding the seriousness of his ankle injury. His recent injury history and age (35) could also make clubs leery of pursuing him if the salary cap remains flat next season.

Had Schultz been healthier, I think he would’ve ranked higher on the list. That could work to the advantage of interested clubs. He might have to accept a one-year “show-me” deal for perhaps less than the $5.5 million annual average value on his current deal. It’ll be interesting to see how some of the others on this list fare on the open market under a flat cap.


SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked if the Montreal Canadiens should target Josh Anderson if the Columbus Blue Jackets’ winger becomes available in the trade market. While Engels admires Anderson’s size and speed, he’s concerned about giving up assets for a winger coming off a serious shoulder injury who’s a year away from UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. Anderson would provide some valuable size and physicality up front for the Habs, but those factors Engels noted raise red flags. Better to shop around for healthier options in the trade market.


  1. I would add Dillon to that list.
    What about Ceci ?
    Flames can’t lose both of those defence and I believe one will be signed and retained.
    Leafs should target Forbort for size depth and experience

    • Dillon is on the list. He’s 11th.

      • I think Gustafsson should be ranked higher. He’d be a good option for the Habs if (when?) Krug doesn’t work out. So would Vatanen. He shoots right but I think he’s played the left side a fair amount.

      • This ongoing love affair with Byfugien I just don’t understand. Have any of these pundits seen him in person this past year? If not on what basis do they list him as a “Top 10 UFA??” On his past performances? if that’s the case where is Lidstrom? (sarcasm). Come on.

      • If this was two years ago, when Buff was in beast mode during the 2018 playoffs, he’d absolutely deserve to be among the top three UFA blueliners. Not now. Definitely not now.

      • I agree George. Buff was never known to keep himself in good shape in the off season. Who knows what type of shape he is in now.

      • That’s the thing KevJam and Lyle. I mean the guy is listed at 6′ 5″ 260 lbs and I presume that’s his peak playing weight. He last played a meaningful game on April 20, 2019 and, as of this year on April 20 will have gone roughly 365 days without playing a game. He turned 35 in March. Unless he’s been working out diligently to keep in shape – and I haven’t seen one report by any of these pundits (and fans) who keep drooling over the prospect of signing him – he could well be a bloated caricature of himself by now. And it looks like there may be another 235 days at least before next year’s pre-season gets under way so now we’re talking around 600 days without meaningful contact.

        Even the best-in-shape players on those 8 teams out of the running are going to find it damned hard to return to action if that’s how it unfolds. And if they can’t get this season finished that applies to the whole league.

        Forget Byfuglien. Including him among the top UFAs is just hero worship without logic.

  2. I still say (to Iowa Boy’s delight) that Army will find a way to keep Petro

    3-4 weeks ago there was still CBO buzz in the media… that’s died down… could it still happen??

    If it resurfaces … Steen frees up a big chunk

    No CBO… Allen and/or Bozy …. and an “incentive” trade bonus required if there is no Sal retention

    Steen waving his NTC?? …. long shot

    • DELIGHTED, my friend!

  3. Can’t see Bergie trading for a winger coming off a serious shoulder injury and one year away from UFA. It doesn’t address the need for large centre they need and it would cost picks assets on a one season gamble. He should focus on the wealth of ufa defensemen and use assets to trade for the centre that’s needed. Many people say Krug and Pietrangelo are the smart choice and I’d live to seen them in Montreal but I think Hamibjc would be a better fit.

    • The Habs are stuck in a bizarre state of transition regarding their quest for a # 1 center.

      Kotkaniemi is supposed to be that but he is at least a year away from delivering on potential. In the mean time he is going to be fighting for developmental ice time with Suzuki who could be the center they have been looking for. Domi plays better at center and then there is Poehling.

      There is clearer need for a big forward and a solid 3/4 d, which improves the team without cluttering the Habs’ situation up the middle.

      • Seeing as how top line centers are not readily obtainable, I’d stick with the young guys – Kotkaniemi and Suzuki – at Center. If the Habs look to pick up a forward, I’d chase after a winger who can score at least somewhat (Toffoli, Hoffman, Dadanov) to play with the young centers. The best centers can’t do much without solid wingers.

      • I agree, Howard. One of the Habs issues is they don’t have elite goalscorers at any position. Their puck possession game is elite – I actually think Julien has done a great job with their talent – but what’s the point of outshooting your opponent if you keep putting it right at the goalie. Even a B to B+ goal-scorer such as Toffoli might thrive under Julien’s system.

    • The question also assumes that Columbus is willing to trade Andy, which is,probably, a bad assumption.

      • Paul…great point. There is considerable noise here in CBus that CBJ will explore trade options for Anderson if they unable to re-sign him…..but they aren’t going to give him away. A popular view from local insiders is that some combination of Anderson, a Dman (Savard, Nutivarra?) & possibly Korpisalo could be packaged for scoring F. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  4. I was wondering if Chara may retire with all the things going on and his age .Also as much as he has done in Boston do they let him go due to age speed and money.

    • Chara is not the force he once was, but he is still effective. I expect he and the Bs will take it a one year contract at a time. Especially if they may lose Krug.

      • Ya LJ, losing both Chara and Krug would change the D core substantially on the left side.
        I agree and think he stays, one year at a time.
        A little less $$ each year with bonus clauses.
        He still play the 2nd most minutes on the team.
        Interesting stat – Chara 63.7% of his shifts start in the D Zone.
        Krug 67.4% of his shifts start in the O Zone.
        All depends what they can get Krug to sign for.
        I think McAvoy will be effective on the PP, maybe not as good a Krug, but still good.
        A case can be made for spending the money up front with a reasonable UFA signing and have cap flexibility during these times and long term with some key guys aging.

      • What the Bruins need is scoring wingers. To me, i would let Krug walk, and go find a scoring winger to play with Krejci.

  5. Has there been any news on Byfuglien as far as skating or training? Last I heard was he put on some weight. Does he even want to play anymore?
    Tampa has 3 defensemen under contract next year and not much cap space. Wonder if they can get Shattenkirk on the cheap again. They’re ripe for some offer sheets. Sergachev and Cirelli. Will be interesting if Tampa bows out early again.

    • Hi Slick 62

      I’m guessing Foote (925 K) will be up next year and Cernak should be a fair re-signing

      Serg will be tough; and as you’ve pointed out; out there for a potential OS (we do however know that they are rare; and he’d have to agree to it [note: the tax advantage and team being top 3 SC favs ; his familiarity with the team ; and the nice TB weather are all strong deterrents to signing an offer sheet )

      Making room…. Stammer Kuch VH Vazy and point aren’t going anywhere…. the Next 6 highest Sals all have NTCs! Danger Danger Will Rogers

      • Pengy. As I mentioned, what if they go one and done again? Maybe Sergachev prefers left side and he’s not happy behind Mac and Hedman? Pointe lacks trade protection. Maybe trade either him or Cirelli. I have a feeling Rangers could have trouble signing DeAngelo this summer and he could be shopped. Tampa would be a good spot for him.

      • Hi Slick62

        Yes if one and done then bigger changes likely afoot

        I’d be lying if I said that I believed that there was more than an absolutely remote/ miniscule chance that they are one and done again this year ( again IF playoffs do happen)

  6. The landscape totally changes if the league decides on using the compliance buyouts. Blues and Bruins’ issues could be fixed with the stroke of a check.

    • Toronto St Pats

      If CBO back…. first one in the entire league has Rutherford’s signature on it and the blessing of coaches, owners, fans and exhilarating giddiness from every Pen not wearing #3

      Pengy will be heard (from as far away as Juno , San Diego, Key West, and St. John’s) whooping it up

    • And the leafs can get their 1st back they spent to dump marleau by cbo ing some teams bad contract

      • What a wonderful way to run a competitive league, eh Wendel? Just let the rich teams perennially buy their way out of the fiscal and drafting jams they put themselves by spending/trading stupidly to begin with.

    • CBO isn’t even an option anymore by the sounds of the gm’s and owners even players don’t like them

      • Hi BBB

        You may be right

        If I could just talk to the GMs ; maybe I could convince them. I just want one CBO … even if it is only one for the entire league and it’s done randomly …. that still a 3% chance at glory 🤓

    • Who on the current Bruins roster would you buy out if a CBO was put in place? the only real player that would clear up real cap space is krejci.

  7. Chara may be a little slower than he once was but he still has a pole vault for a stick and still kills the entire penalty even on 5 on 3. Chara will play another year unless of course they win the cup. Boston has plenty of capable young D men and Studnicka who will take over for Krech.