NHL Rumor Mill – July 17, 2020

by | Jul 17, 2020 | Rumors | 46 comments

Check out the recent speculation on the Penguins, Islanders, and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mike DeFabo recently reported the flat salary cap for 2020-21 ($81.5 million) will leave the Penguins facing some hard choices in the off-season. They have over $68 million invested in next season’s payroll.

All of their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen are under contract for ’20-’21. Unless general manager Jim Rutherford creates some cap room via trade, they won’t have enough to re-sign all their key free agents.

How much will it cost the Pittsburgh Penguins to re-sign goaltender Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Topping the list are restricted free agent goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. It could take a deal comparable to Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins (two years, $4 million annual average value) to re-sign Jarry. Murray’s playoff record and inconsistent regular-season play could be worth something like the $5.1 million Jimmy Howard makes with Detroit and $6.4 million like Anaheim’s John Gibson. Keeping Murray and Jarry could mean trading a skater.

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz’s season has hampered by injury. Letting him walk could open a big hole on the blueline. It’s uncertain if the reacquisition of UFA winger Conor Sheary was for the short or long term. DeFabo also wondered if trade deadline pickup Patrick Marleau would be willing to return for the minimum salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than trade a skater, Rutherford could trade Murray or Jarry and call up Casey DeSmith as a full-time backup next season. Schultz indicated he’d like to stay, but he might have to take a pay cut from his $5.5 million to do so.

Marleau could return to San Jose for one more year or retire if he wins the Cup in the upcoming tournament. I think Rutherford wants to re-sign Sheary but that will depend upon what happens with the goaltenders and Schultz.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arthur Staple recently examined the New York Islanders’ options with limited cap room for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple’s column appeared before the Isles signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $73.3 million invested in 19 players.

Staple speculates their UFAs (Matt Martin, Derick Brassard, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, and Thomas Greiss) might not return next season. The focus will be on re-signing RFAs Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews.

Going the trade route would mean shopping defenseman Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey. Staple doubts oft-injured Johnny Boychuk will attract must interest.

Forwards Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov could also be trade options, but the Isles might have to package either guy with next year’s first-round pick or a top prospect. Komarov also seems the most likely buyout candidate. Staple also doesn’t rule out Ladd and Komarov starting next season on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has demonstrated his salary-cap creativity in the past to free up sufficient room to address his roster needs. Given the number of clubs with limited cap room for next season, he’ll have to strike fast in the trade market to dump a salary or two. Of the trade candidates listed by Staple, Leddy might attract the most interest, but his $5.5 million cap hit through 2021-22 could be a sticking point.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman recently reported Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake said back in April his club had flexibility under the flat cap, but he thought the big cap year for his club was a year away. However, he did say they were in a position to look at some things.

The Kings have over $60.7 million invested in their payroll for ’20-’21. Dillman suggested signing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev or Florida Panthers versatile forward Erik Haula if they test the UFA market at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is expected to resist the temptation of pursuing a big-ticket UFA this year. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t consider adding a veteran or two at a reasonable price. Someone like Tanev or Haula on a short-term deal could provide some experienced depth as the Kings develop their promising youngsters.

Tanev’s performance has declined a bit in recent years. Haula looks like he still hasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him most of last season.


  1. I know I’m repeating myself …. but Pens need to keep both Murray and Jarry

    Keeping one… if that player goes down… DeSmith is the starter with Larmi (a minuscule handful of games experience in AHL/ECHL) as the back up….. not good at all

    Marleau won’t be back

    Doubtful on Shultz

    Bjug must go… way too much cap for what he gives

    Right now Pens have 10 F 6 D under contract… only 13.2 M in space

    Key to re-sign…. Murr, Jarr, McC, Rodrigues; Simon ; Riikola

    Send Bjug ; JJ ; (and will likely have to sweeten deal with ZAR or Laffy)…. for a pick (7th rounder in ‘25)

    Sign UFA Soucey to replace the nightmare finally leaving

    Poulin will play… so his roster spot will only be marginally over league min…. basically filling roster spot by departing Laffy or ZAR (see move above)

    Another league min will fill Bjug’s roster spot

    Now team back to 10F 6 D

    …. and then at least $18.5 M to sign:

    Murr, Jarr, McC, Rodrigues; Simon ; Riikola; AA… Tight but certainly doable 🤞🙏😁

    • How do you approach the Seattle expansion draft next summer(or fall or winter, whenever it happens to be, all things considered)? One of the goaltenders must be exposed. Is this a ‘can’ you just kick down the road and deal with later? Not being critical, just wondering your thoughts.

      • Hi Randino

        Yes ..bang on… kick it down the road … deal with it then… if one is brutal next year… expose him; if both still very good… can do a trade pre expansion to get assets; and expose DeSmith

        It’s doable 🤞

    • Hahaha are you serious Pengy? There is zero, I mean ZERO chance, any team is taking two salary dumps for a garbage sweetener like ZAR or Laffy.

      Have either one of them cracked 10 goals yet in the NHL, while already being in their mid-20s.

      Goodluck with that!

      • I don’t disagree with you king but zar ain’t garbage. No forward statistically has been better defensively in the nhl.

      • Hi Canadian King

        1 super garbage dump; and 1 oft injured player that just didn’t click in Pens land

        Koivu I would think ; will retire; Bjug ; IMHO is better than Rask …. they need a C to replace Koivu; Bjug born and bred there…. they had (albeit a year ago) per TSN , expressed interest in him

        In addition… the boat anchor had been reported to be in the nixed Phil trade

        With Chrisms…. ZAR @ $1 M is definitely worth it… kid has tons of P&V/grit and very good defensively ; still under contract 1 more year… then still RFA

        If it takes ZAR & Laffy & AA to sweeten to move the horrific boat anchor and the Bjug contract… so be it

        Laffy and AA are interchangeable with any depth player in league at league min

        The plus is moving $7.4 M for Bjug & JJ…. and of course immediately improving the team tremendously (all remaining players stats get a boost with the JJ ejection)

        I have confidence in Poulin cracking the line-up next year


        Marino / Peterrsson

        Soucey/ Riikola


      • Ok fair enough, maybe my garbage comment was unwarranted in regards to ZAR but there is no way a team is taking two salary dumps for the guy. Not even close, especially in these economic times.

      • Hi Canadian King

        See my alternate suggestion (response below to George)

        I think Minn would take Bjug for a 7th (with the expected Koivu retirement and Bjug being better than Rask)

      • Sorry Pengy, I’m still not there. My opinion is Bjugstad would need a sweetener too. Theres a reason Florida couldn’t wait to get rid of him and virtually got nothing in return.

      • Pengy. King is right. Zar is a good 4th liner. An asset. But a 4th liner none the less. Laff has a ceiling of the same thing. Jj would cost significantly more to unload. I actually think a team might take a flyer on bjug for 1 year but pens might have to hold a mil or so. So…

    • “Send Bjug ; JJ ; (and will likely have to sweeten deal with ZAR or Laffy)…. for a pick (7th rounder in ‘25) …”

      Pengy, don’t look now but your desperation is showing. 🙂

      The days of getting teams to take on the likes of those two by tossing in a so-so prospect and a late pick are done. With so many teams desperate to clear cap space, the few with lots of cap have no need to go down that road again. They know those teams absolutely MUST clear space and so can sit back and offer their own so-so prospects and picks – which won’t immediately impact the receiving team’s cap – for established NHLers with term and sufficient cap to help alleviate the position of the strapped team.

      The teams with lots of cap space can also make better offers to any decent UFAs out there if they’re coming from one of the strapped clubs simply because, until they can clear some space, they can’t match.

      I know that, in the NHLBC – National Hockey League Before Covid – a lot of such UFAs may have shied away from considering re-building teams, despite their offers, and waited until their preferred destinations made the necessary adjustments. They just can’t afford to be so choosy now.

      • Hi George

        I responded to Canadian King above re the concerns of the proposal

        Am I desperate… you betcha

        If Sully plays JJ 15 mins a game …. I have a very strong feeling Habs win… and there won’t be a Karma Lafrennierre win in the cards for Pens 😢🤬😡

      • Alternately

        Bjug to MinN … for a 7th
        Bury JJ in WBS

        That’s $5.2 M freed up… no loss with Bjug; massive gain on the JJ move

        Poulin up (replacing …. tremendously I may add; Bjug roster spot); sign Soucey (replacing nightmare)…. still about $15.5 M to sign Murr; Jarr; McC; Rodrigues; Simon; Riikola

        That is not quite enough …. but getting close

        Note… buying out JJ (instead of burying him)… gets that to $16.6 M!

      • Pengy, those kinds of deals look great on paper and does everything the Penguins need moving forward. BUT, just because Bjugstad was “born and raised” in Minnesota what has that got to do with the price of bread? You said it yourself: “Bjug must go… way too much cap for what he gives …”

        So wouldn’t that also be the observation of the Wild? They have $65,299,422 tied up in 17 players leaving $16,200,578 to sign 6. They only have two RFAs with Kunin coming off a decent shortened season with 15g 16a 31 pts in 63 gp while Greenaway chipped in with 8g 20a 28 pts in 67gp. Combined they accounted for $1,841,666 off the cap and combined should total closer to $3 mil. They also likely want to keep UFA D-man Soucy who $750,000 cap hit will probably be closer to $1.5. So those 3, accounting for $4.5 would leave them with about $12 mil to sign 3.

        I doubt they bring Koivu back and will they bother retaining Galchenyuk? I doubt it. So, with that kind of reserves to spend on better UFAs or even bringing in a couple of established and youngish NHLers with term and cap hits around $3 mil via trade from strapped teams, why the heck encumber themselves with Bjugstad for a measly 7th round pick? To do a favour for Pittsburgh? Why?

      • I agree George. Too many god awful contracts in the NHL and too little teams to take them on.

        No way are the few going to take on salary dumps for those type of prospects. There will be much better (desperate) teams / deals on the table than what’s being proposed.

        Also agree on the Bjustad take. I doubt Minnesota has ANY interest at all in taking on that contract to help Pittsburgh out.

        Basically 3-4 teams would be willing to take bad deals. And 27-28 teams have a contract, or two, or four they wish to unload. The cost will be a lot higher than Zar or Laffy.

        These type of proposals are way too easy to put out there. Usually because it’s win win for the team giving the bad contract away.

        We get rid of this terrible deal, with minimal cost days are over for the foreseeable future.

      • Even more significant, Nyr4life, is that Pittsburgh’s farm system is ranked 31st! Minnesota’s is only marginally better at 24th, but taking on those two with Bjugstad doesn’t improve them one iota. I get the argument that Aston-Reese has great defensive stats – but what the Wild needs is scoring

      • Pengy. What does the next off season deadline have to do with beating Montreal?

      • Agreed George. The wild need scoring, a LESS awful contracts!

      • Yes Sir, George O knows the upcoming market.

        Rutherford is going to have to live with his signing of Jack Johnson unless he buys him out. Buying him out would cost the Pens approx. $1 mil per of cap space until 26/27. Actually he would cost the Pens $2 mill of cap space in 22/23, the same year they would need to resign Gino & still have pay another player to play in Johnson spot on the blueline.

      • Hi Chrisms

        Not sure I understand your question

        “ What does the next off season deadline have to do with beating Montreal?”

        I must be going senile because I don’t understand what you are referring to in next off season deadline

        The beating of Habs in a couple of weeks ; IMHO; comes down to Sully.

        Play JJ 15 mins/game; Habs have fair shot of winning

        Sit JJ throughout playoffs ….. Pens have very fair shot at getting to ECF and reasonable chance at SCF

  2. Take a look at the play of Haula’s injury. I am surprised he can even walk again let alone play.
    Only a very few teams don’t have cap issues. Seattle will save a lot of jobs by the looks of it.

    Two weeks to go for the Covid Cup.

    The boys of summer. Or is it the boys in a bubble. Not sure of what bubble team I like. Double bubble….I’ll stop.

    • Bubble bobble?

      • Chrisms

        Are you dissing our multiple Grammy and Juno award winning Canadian Crooner 🤪🤓

      • There might be a generational communication gap here

      • Buble is closer to your age than Pengy’s, Chrisms.
        At least I am guessing that is the case.

        I respect you for not knowing who he is, unfortunately my wife does.

      • Bubble bobble was a famous Nintendo game with a great soundtrack.

      • Yep probably a bit generational Chrisms as I had not hear of that Nintendo game

        Ray’s right re Buble being closer to your age (I think you said a while ago that you were 35.. … do I have that right?) ; he’s 44 (so a decade and a half younger than I

        I have to go to my mom’s house to find my Gnip Gnop game

      • I actually had to google it Chrisms. Did Bubble bobble influence Pac-Man or did Pac-Man influence Bubble bobble?

      • Mind blown. 🤯

      • 37. I think. When is it ok to stop counting? I usually have to do math to renember.

  3. If there is a buyout it has to be Ladd before anyone. Griess is gone after this year as well as Martin and the rest mentioned. Toews has a down year after a nice rookie year could be a goner also. Barzal and Pullock will be resigned at all costs.They like Hoffman a lot but don’t know if they have enough money to sign him also will they be playing in Brooklyn yikes hope not or back in the barn hopefully. That is the big question?

  4. I can see Matt Martin coming back to NY on a cheaper 1 or 2 year deal. He’s married to Boomer Esiason’s daughter and she probably wants to stay close to family. Money not an issue in that family!
    As far as Kings, they have plenty of veterans already. Can’t see them spending on more. They have one of the better prospect pools. Villardi got some games last year. Turcotte, last years 5th overall, left school and signed. Have to figure whoever they take at 2 this draft could jump into lineup next season. If I’m Kings, I let kids play and wait a year to sign FA. Start weeding out the older players.

    • Now that I think of it, maybe Martins wife talks him into signing with Rangers! Boomer is a regular at Ranger games and I’d assume his family is also fans. I wouldn’t mind Martin as a 4th liner If he’d sign for vet minimum.

  5. Of interest perhaps only to Habs fans but I wonder if the delay in starting next season, and potential good pickings from other cap strapped teams means Ilya Kovalchuk’s predicted resigning by the Habs is less likely.

    A December start to the season means more off the clock of a 37 year old, and if Bergevin finds some opportunistic signings there may be no need to gamble that Kovy will bring next year what he brought in his brief stint this year.

    • I think Kovalchuk will be a fall-back if Bergevin cannot land a younger top-six forward through trades or free agency.

  6. This from TSN this morning:

    “Dr. Swartzberg is among seven infectious disease experts who told TSN in separate phone interviews this week that they disagree with the joint league-union decision to have training camps in cities such as Tampa, Sunrise, Fla., Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dallas – at a time when the coronavirus is pinballing throughout the region.”

    Valid point. You’d have thought that these teams would have moved elsewhere, either in the US (if there is a place not pounded by Covid), or to Canadian cities that could have accommodated them.

    The NHL’s version of “hold my beer and watch this.”

    • LJ: The league proposed holding training camps in the two host cities during the return-to-play/CBA negotiations. The players rejected it because they didn’t want to spend more time than necessary away from their homes and families.

      • Thanks, good to know. To be fair the article did say the NHLPA was part of the agreement.

  7. Panthers facility has private player parking area with entrances to training center. Ice is easily shut off from public. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

    • Huh? The Panthers aren’t in their bubble yet and Florida is raging with covid infections.

      • LJ. I didn’t think any teams have travelled to “bubble cities” yet?
        I thought they’re still at own practice facilities. Assume they’ll all be tested before traveling to Toronto

      • Yes, that is what I am saying, Slick. As I understand it currently the players aren’t restricted to their homes but encouraged to keep their circle small.

        Thus they are more vulnerable than they will be in their hub bubble (hard to believe we are talking like this). According to news sources for five consecutive days, Florida has led the nation in coronavirus cases per capita.

        So my point is that the rink being closed off to the public in Florida is of little protection given the circumstances there.

      • Yes, it’s getting crazy In Florida . A few weeks ago I didn’t know one single person with covid in Florida.


        Fast forward to today that number has tripled!!!! 🤪🤪🤪🤪

        I’m still trying to figure out why so many Asymptomatic people are getting tested?

      • Math joke. Priceless.

      • Well, we can’t all have that dry sense of humor you bring daily…. bubble bobble…

        Priceless! Stupid, but priceless!

      • Thank you!