NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2020

by | Jun 27, 2020 | Rumors | 37 comments

A look at this year’s top UFA goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, and Washington’s Braden Holtby top Sean O’Leary’s ranking of this year’s top-10 NHL unrestricted free agent goaltenders.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images).

O’Leary observes Lehner has better stats than teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, suggesting it’s possible Lehner could outperform Fleury and take over as the Golden Knights’ starting goalie in the playoff tournament. Nevertheless, he believes it will be difficult for the cap-strapped Golden Knights to re-sign Lehner with Fleury carrying two more years on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some media speculation suggested the Golden Knights pull a swerve by trading Fleury to free up sufficient cap space to sign Lehner. Fleury, however, has a 10-team no-trade list. His age (35) and $7 million annual average value could also make him difficult to move if Vegas wanted to go down that road.

I’ll be surprised if the Canucks part ways with Markstrom. He’s become a reliable starter in Vancouver and they want to keep him. I think the two sides can agree on around $6 million annually, but the term could be a sticking point. Markstrom is 30 and the Canucks could be leery of any deal beyond five years.

Some might be surprised to see Holtby slide to third despite being a former Vezina winner (2016) who backstopped the Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. His struggles over the last two seasons account could hurt his value. 

Holtby will draw interest if he hits the open market, but he probably won’t get the type of big-money contract he otherwise would’ve had his numbers remained strong. Of course, that will change if he carries the Caps on another deep playoff run.

Chicago Corey Crawford and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin are fourth and fifth on O’Leary’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford and Khudobin could stay put. Crawford wants to remain in Chicago but he’ll have to accept less than his current $6 million AAV on a much shorter contract. The Stars, meanwhile, are believed interested in keeping their tandem of Khudobin and Ben Bishop intact. That could require a bump above Khudobin’s current $2.5 million annual salary.

The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, San Jose’s Aaron Dell, and Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss would be a fine backup for any NHL club. Talbot’s bounce-back performance this season could have him looking for a starter’s job.

Smith is in the twilight of his career, but some Edmonton pundits think the Oilers should bring him back for one more season. Dell’s had a rough couple of years as a backup in San Jose. Elliott could be re-signed by the Flyers for another season to back up Carter Hart.


  1. So, anyone else surprise/upset about draft outcome? Detroit and Ottawa got screwed. The NHL got a huge boost to its play-in round TV ratings. Imagine Pitts or Edm win the lottery? This league is really making itself look bad.

    • Agree.

      • Lemieux was right it’s a garage league

      • Last nights results certainly generate the fan interest and buzz the NHL was hoping for. It also reinforced continuing rumblings of the lottery being rigged. No offense at all to Habs fans, but if MON ultimately wins the top pick the “fixed lottery” conspiracy theorists are go insane. As a CBJ fan it give me a slim glimmer of hope that if we lose to TOR we may get the franchise high skill F we desperately need….Hope springs eternal…right?

      • Chet Lemieux shouldn’t complain. He got loaded with top picks in the 2000’s including surprise surprise Crosby (” everyone had the same chance”).

      • K you really need to do some research before writing…………..it was NOT equal odds!

    • For not rewarding the worst teams?
      In Europe they would be relegated for playing sh*t. In North America they are rewarded. Does it make sense?

      • Bbb yeah youre right:
        “Due to the lockout, the 2005 NHL Draft order would be determined by a league-wide lottery. The Pens were one of four teams to have three balls in the lottery, giving them better odds than 26 other teams.”
        Funny really funny. Gary had to help his teams like Pit and Chicago. I have strong feeling that this is happening now again with Devils and Rangers.

    • Imagine if Toronto wins the Lottery too. I completely agree with you. How can bad teams get better if the top Drafted players end up on Playoff teams?!?!

  2. So all 3 top spots went to teams 4-15. My biggest problem is why not just have the one lottery and be done. And if you’re going to do it this way, then the next draw should be weighted so a team like Pitt is less likely to win the top pick. Now, you’re almost encouraging a team to tank the 1st round.
    As far as goalies, I think Lundqvist will end up being a UFA after buyout.

    • 3rd stayed where IT was , 4th moved to 2nd and 12th moved to 1st. Were you upset when the rangers jumped to 2nd last year? It’s a lottery teams that missed the playoffs have a chance you can’t fault the nhl when the have to deal with a pandemic

      • I agree BBB, it’s a lottery- fair enough for people to be disappointed with the outcome but this format was agreed to by the league and this is how the chips fell. Any outrage not directed at the hockey gods is misplaced.

      • BBB. I caught that era after posting. My problem isn’t with #12 team jumping to #1. My issue is give the pick to team that is #12 now! (I didn’t watch, so I was unaware that it was 12th spot that moved up, which would be Nash.) also, if you’re going to do a 2nd draw, why do all 8 teams get the same chance? Why isn’t it weighted odds just like the 1st draw?

      • Correction. 12 was Winnipeg? I was looking at points standings on ESPN.

      • It’s because of the pandemic, if you don’t do another draw Winnipeg could win the cup and get 1st pick! The nhl did this the fairest way possible, sure teams are going to be upset but it’s been happening since they implemented it which both the league and the players association agreed to. And as far as people saying it’s being rigged I just laugh a league worth billions isn’t going to rig something that could end up costing them millions of dollars

    • C/P from the “Coffee” side:

      Montreal went from an almost 20% chance of picking top 3 to now a 12 1/2% chance picking #1.

      “WE WON!”

      At the same time their chance of being knocked back a place has increased to almost 90%, even if they lose now and rank exactly where they should.

      Even if this whole thing is cancelled without playing a game.

      They’re the team who’s getting screwed by the League.

      Not one Habs fan I know, and I know plenty, think this “Play-in” is anything beyond a joke.“


      • Montreal was 15 points behind Pittsburgh and Pens had 2 games in hand. Little to no chance that both Canadiens would make playoffs and Pitt wouldn’t . I understand how league is trying to make it up to teams that might get upset in the play in round. I just don’t get how a team that most likely was never going to miss playoffs, would have better odds at #1 pick than they would’ve had if they would’ve missed playoffs in a full season. Hopefully it doesn’t play out like that.

      • Rattus the Habs would have ended up 9th and no chance at the 1st overall if not for the play in, Winnipeg would have already won the lottery

  3. Correction. Top 2 spots. Detroit and Ottawa.

  4. Very weak look for the NHL to have a “mystery” team win the lottery.

    • Yes it is dumb. More fallout from the bad decision to not just proceed with the 16 team seeding based on winning percentage at time of pause. Bush league.

      • Totally agree.

      • So the teams that had a legitimate shot of catching a playoff position have no chance?? That would have been bush league

  5. The NHL is going to have a tough time justifying this years lottery system if Pittsburgh, Toronto or even Edmonton wins it. The draft is supposed to aid the leagues worst teams with the best available young players.

    Imagine being Detroit, Ottawa or Anaheim watching Lafreniere go join the Oilers with McDavid and Draisitl. Or ending up in Pittsburgh with Malkin and Crosby. Is it fair that the Leafs get a chance to add Lafreniere to Matthews and Marner?

    Why doesnt the NHL actually show the balls as they drop instead of using flashcards to show the results after the fact?

    Until the entire lottery is open for all to view then rumors of rigging and fixing will continue.

  6. So does a team like Vancouver tank their play in series now for a clear shot at the 1st pick? What about other teams in the play in round with very little chance of winning the Cup? Does Montreal just lay down for the Penguins? Columbus?

    Intentionally surrender your slim chance of a Cup for a 12% shot at the #1 pick?

    The entire lottery reeks and was very very poorly designed.

  7. Slick- in the format that was ultimately agreed on a team such as Pittsburgh- had they missed the playoffs-odds of picking a number one went down not up. In this format for them to win they had to first win last night’s lottery with about 1 in 10 chance, then lose the play in round at about 50/50, then 87.5% likely to not win the lottery. All considered it started at less than a .5% chance.

    • Correction, I was way off on the probability of play in team being selected, at 24.5% instead of 10%. At the beginning of the process each of the play in teams had about a 1.5% chance

    • Totally agree! I think the biggest thing is people don’t understand the playoffs ARE NOT the first round so every team that loses should have a shot at a lottery pick just like EVERY other year

      • BBB. A team like Pittsburgh was pretty much in the playoffs. In a normal year, they wouldn’t be in the lottery. If you go with the argument that the 15 teams after the play in should be entitled to be in lottery, fine. Just list them by winning percentage and give weighted odds just like every year. Again, hopefully it doesn’t play out like this, but Pitt getting top pick while a team that finished 47 points behind them picks 4th? That’s crazy!

      • I see what you’re saying, but this isn’t a normal year! Who knows if next year will be normal? I do know one thing the cap staying the same for 2 years and maybe going up 1 million in the 3rd rebuilding teams with cap space are going to speed up the process

  8. If I was a team in the market for a starting goalie my first choice would be Markstrom. Pretty decent numbers playing behind a mostly brutal defence grouping (Tanev, Stecher, Edler and Myers all brutal).
    Vancouver would be a disaster without Markstrom,Pettersson and Hughes.

  9. They should have had the draft after the play in series however The NHL wanted ratings to pick up extra cash. It is what it is but it isn’t a bush league nor is it fixed it is just the way the balls bounced

  10. Vinnie, it’s not same. If they would’ve waited until after the playin round then you would have had 1 lottery with weighted odds. Now the 8 teams going for the top pick all have same odds. As much as everyone is saying teams won’t tank, I’m not sure how motivated teams are. They’ll be living in a bubble for as long as they last. No fans. And knowing if they lose, they have a shot at #1 pick

  11. Is there a better league for hockey ?
    Personally I would have liked Lafreniere in Ottawa.
    Each loser will have a 12.5 % chance. My predictions are: Wild-Chicago -Calgary-Habs-Clb-Arz-Flo-Rangers. Of those I am hoping for MTL or Flames. That has a 25% chance. We saw what those odds got the Senators.

  12. Lehner has a decade in the league and 1 season that could be called good. Throw your cap space away fools.

  13. Personally I would like Arizona to get first pick.

    • Taylor Hall is there, so it’s almost a given that the Yotes pick 1st.