NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2020

by | Jun 5, 2020 | Rumors | 35 comments

Should the Oilers re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Which notable players should the Sabres retain? Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell called upon the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once this season is over. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Should the Edmonton Oilers attempt to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the off-season (Photo via NHL Images).

Mitchell cited Nugent-Hopkins’ improved offensive game skating on the wing alongside Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. A big offensive performance next season could make re-signing him more difficult. He suggested inking Nugent-Hopkins to a six-year, $45-million extension, which would equate to an annual average value of $7.5 million.

Mitchell believes the idea of moving Nugent-Hopkins at next season’s trade deadline is noxious to Oilers’ fans. He feels the Oilers will never get full value back by moving him as a playoff rental. He thinks there’s no one in the Oilers’ system to adequately replace the versatile forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the previous two seasons. His solid play this season and the Oilers’ improvement in the standings silenced that chatter for the most part. However, he could resurface in next season’s rumor mill he’s still unsigned as the trade deadline approaches.

As Mitchell observes, the salary cap will determine what the Oilers can afford to re-sign Nugent-Hopkins. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $48 million invested in nine players for 2021-22.

Some of that cap room will be taken up this year by re-signing or replacing such notables as Mike Smith, Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis, and Riley Sheahan. Yamamoto, Alex Chiasson, Adam Larsson, and Kris Russell will be among those due for new contracts in 2021.

Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for 2021-22, there should be enough to accommodate a $7.5 million AAV for Nugent-Hopkins. His performance next season will also be a determining factor.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski and Mike Harrington weighed in on which notable players the Sabres should retain.

They were split on Rasmus Ristolainen, as Lysowski pointed to the regression in the blueliner’s play. Moving him could fetch some scoring help and free up cap room to sign a free-agent rearguard like Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen often comes up as a Sabres’ trade candidate. However, general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Ralph Krueger indicated last week they still consider the 25-year-old defenseman among their core players. If so, that suggests Ristolainen won’t be shopped.

Both believe Brandon Montour should be traded. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent and they feel there’s no room for his style of play in Krueger’s system. He could bring the Sabres a second- or third-line forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have depth on the blueline but need more on their forward lines. If Ristolainen isn’t shopped, Montour could become the likely candidate. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and has arbitration rights this year. Ristolainen, on the other hand, is under contract through 2021-22.

They also split on Jimmy Vesey, with Harrington believing he’s not the scoring winger he was projected to become.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Harrington on this one. A highly-touted college player, Vesey’s struggled in the NHL.

Both believe the Sabres should re-sign UFA winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal, part ways with UFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Michael Frolik, and Vladimir Sobotka, and attempt to trade goalie Carter Hutton.


  1. Re “ Both believe Brandon Montour should be traded.” ??? I’d keep him.

    I accept BM’s trade to Pens

    Please advise what I need to add to JJ in the deal

    • You’re stuck with JJ, Pengy. Sorry…

      • Not sorry…..:)

        “Sticking” Pengy with JJ is always good for content!

      • In the words of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now….”Oh the horror”

    • Sorry Pengy, JJ is a Penguin for life.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if they resign him when the time comes.

      • Say it ain’t so RRJ

        Chrisms …. “No soup for you”….

        My hopes (and definitely not Lyle’s) …Pens better not play him against Montreal!

      • Depends. Maybe the gypsy told them that, if they lose and drop into the lottery, they’ll get their next franchise player by winning # 1 🙂

      • But Ecklund said the Pens were going to give JJ top line minutes Pengy

  2. Girgensons will stay as a third or fourth liner. Sabres drafted him and like him. He is not there for points and good looks. A low dollar retention. The rest gone Frolik Svobda and Simmonds Someone other than Ristolainen and Dahlin will be moved on the backend

    Nugent stays an Oiler but not sure he gets north of 7m maybe but they are tight for available dollars.

  3. RNH thinks the game very well his issue is size and strength mostly strength he just isn’t strong enough. Signing him long term is taking a huge gamble in my opinion especially at 7 plus million a year. Oilers on other hand have to have some offensive players besides McDavid and Leon. I would see how the playoffs go and also see what the return would be and make my decision than.

    • Ya Obe, it depends on the cost.
      7.5 for 6 seems pretty reasonable as there would be a market for him even with revenue challenges.
      Since they moved him to the wing with Draisaitl he is 5th in league scoring. It is now the Oil’s best line and one of the best in hockey. Right there with Pasta.
      When he wasn’t on that line he was a solid 2C, usually facing the other teams best line and playing a key defensive role, because of the point you made about how smart a player he is.
      Oiler prospect depth is on the blue line, I think those vets get moved or don’t get resigned. Russell is a goner, don’t need him now. Larsson is an interesting decision.

      • Wouldn’t the Nuge ever make a great Bruin, Ray?
        I think he’s Bergeron lite.
        So intelligent and tireless, and a deadly sneaky snap shot as well.
        He’s #1 on the old wishlist.

      • Question, if the cost for RNH as a left wing is 7.5, would it be a better option to try and bring Hall back? RNH could be more valuable in a trade with another team looking for a solid 2C.

      • Slick62, you’re assuming the Oilers can get Hall for $7.5 million. The market will have to sag considerably for him to only receive $7.5 million annually.

      • He would Shoreorrpark.
        A little bit torn as I live just outside Edmonton, but would get over that pretty quick.
        The B’s have a hole after next season with Krecji coming due, not sure how they handle that.
        I would take a younger RNH in a heart beat for a 2C.
        Slick, I would prefer Nuge over Hall, all day every day. Especially if they get him for 7.5 over 6.

  4. 7 year, $45M is actually $6.4AAV. I’m not sure the Oilers get to keep RNH for that, if that’s what was actually pitched, or if it is meant to be 6yr/$45M?

    • Yes, it was supposed to be six years. Fixed it. Thanks!

    • The thing is, Paddy, with the cap remaining stagnant for several years, combined with no move towards compliance buyouts, and so many team smack up against the cap, guys in the same boat as Nugent-Hopkins (Hall is another) may have to face reality like ordinary folks the world over and realize that they’re just not going to get what they and their agents (AND fans) believe they’re worth – in some cases not even close to what they think and past comparisons might indicate.

      And forget about those few teams with lots of cap space taking advantage of the situation and offering the Halls of the world huge long-term contracts. Not with good young prospects of their own they will be required to deal with in a few short years.

      It’s a whole new ball game for a league operating under a hard cap like the NHL. Not even the so-called “dumb” GMs are going to cut their own throat by going down that uncertain road. And if any of THEM are the GMs of teams that are considered top contenders, chances are none have a lot of cap space – if any – to hand out huge deals with term – not without shedding some money from their roster – and, of course, the whole exercise in futility starts again trying to find some team willing and able to take on the contracts they need to shed.

      • I would do whatever it takes to make RNH a NY Ranger next season, if I were GM Jeff Gorton.

        I think he’s a perfect fit for the Rangers.

        Just like many other teams in the NHL feel he’s a perfect fit.

        Center’s of his ilk are very hard to find.

        If Holland plays his cards right, he can secure a bundle for him.

        GM Jeff Gorton should act boldly and bring RNH to Broadway.

  5. IF the Sabres are “attempting to trade Carter Hutton”, have I got a deal for Botterill—Cater Hutton and a 7th round pick for Jake Allen and J. De La Rose. (it’s just my way to say “sorry” for the O’Reilly theft AND get the Blues a little more cap space)

    • The Sabres are up against cap as well…

      • Chrisms, the Sabres have over $47 million invested in 10 players for next season. Assuming they re-sign Reinhart, Olofsson, Montour, Ullmark and Kahun, as well as Simmonds and perhaps one or two other UFAs, they’ll have enough room to pursue some talent via trade or free agency.

      • They ended the season with less than 1 mil in space. Who are the major salary subtractions?

  6. $45 million for 6 years I think is rather reasonable for RNH. The Oilers can’t afford to let RNH go. Top 6 forward depth is one of their issues. Also when it comes near the end of this contract he will be a great third line centre who can move up to the top six when needed. Plus RNH is very popular amongst Oilers fans, and very well liked in the Edmonton community.

  7. What does Montour’s next contract look like? Havent watched much Sabres games. He was quite promising young talent on the Ducks.

    • He’s completing a two-year, $6.775-million contract. He also has arbitration rights.

    • Hi FD

      If I had my way …. BM’s next contract would look like it had Jim Rutherford’s signature on it as well 😁

      I can’t understand why Botts would trade him… took time last year to adjust when he came over but has done more than fine on a weak team this year … lock him up long term IMHO

      George…. if they are trading him…. Isle’s 1st , + + ?? from Dorion?

  8. Pengy, there’s absolutely no reason for Ottawa to deal any of their picks (or prospects) for someone who is an RFA, especially one with arbitration rights. Why add another headache for someone who isn’t going to suddenly turn them from a non-playoff team into a serious threat to make them. They have good young prospects in the fold with two more to come who will require more seasoning – either at the NHL level or in the AHL.

    As I say in the thread dealing with the 7 clubs not involved in the playoff structure, I doubt Dorion dips into the UFA market – but I agree with Lyle’s take that he’ll likely use his plethora of draft picks to go after a good young player WITH TERM from a team (or teams) absolutely needing to shed cap in order to re-sign key RFAs or perhaps their own UFA they wish to retain. He’s not compelled to do anyone any favours by taking potential negotiation headaches.

    If he does look at a UFA he’d be better off approaching someone like Brendan Dillon or Travis Hammonic, both D-men and just 29 y/o who’ll likely be available for no more than around $4 mil per on 3 year deals – and happy to get it in these uncertain financial times.

  9. Bergeron lite as the term that was used is a young prospect named Jack Studnicka he will fill in nicely for Krech at much less money and more energy. Krech is a proven playoff performer who with better wingers would put up higher totals but I’m real high on Studnicka the kid has all the tools.

    • Yes. You’re right. I wasn’t forgetting about him but just dreaming.
      He’s going to be dynamite.
      7 or 8 shorties in his first year in the minors might be fairly indicative of what he’s going to play like.
      The Beecher kid and Freddy will be vying for spots as well.
      The Bruins have some serious size and skill for center depth.
      Lotsa toughness too.

      • I like Studnicka too. I just wouldn’t pencil him in as a 2c right off the bat. We really don’t know yet. But hopeful. Krecji is underrated but will also be 35 when his contract ends. Beecher and Freddie look more like 3C’s as a ceiling IMO.
        Bergeron will be 36 next year, the guy works to stay in top shape but father time always wins.
        If RNH is available I take a run at him.

  10. Bergeron will be 36 after next year.

    • Stop it Ray. I don’t like to think about that.
      Seems like he’s still so young, yet he’s been around forever.
      All class, that man.