NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2020

by | Jul 2, 2020 | Rumors | 34 comments

A look at TSN’s listing of this year’s top unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, and Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug top Frank Seravalli’s listing of this year’s top-50 unrestricted free agents.

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

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. Media consensus has those three in exactly those three positions among the top-50.

Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (fourth) and Vegas’ Robin Lehner (sixth) ranked above Washington’s Braden Holtby (12th) among this year’s top UFA goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby has a Vezina Trophy (2016) and a Stanley Cup (2018) on his resume, but his inconsistent play over the past two seasons sent his stock tumbling. A strong performance in the upcoming playoff tournament, however,  could send him rising on this list.

Former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien ranked fifth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If this was two years ago, I’d have no issue with Byfuglien ranking this high. But the 35-year-old blueliner missed all of this season over a dispute with the Jets regarding the severity of an ankle injury, which ultimately required surgery. We don’t know if he’s keen to return to the NHL following the mutual agreement to terminate his contract in April. Until we get an indication from the Byfuglien camp that he wants to resume his playing career, he should be at the bottom of this list.

Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, Vancouver Canucks’ versatile forward Tyler Toffoli, and Toronto Maple Leafs rearguard Tyson Barrie round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d rank Toffoli over Hoffman and Dadonov because of his two-way skills, Stanley Cup experience, plus he’s younger than those two. I’d put Holtby over Barrie, who had a rough season with the Leafs and should be ranked much lower than 10th.

Among the surprises was Florida Panthers oft-injured center Erik Haula ranked 11th, aging Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk at 23rd, and Leafs blueliner Cody Ceci at 24th.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula shouldn’t be ranked that high. He hasn’t fully recovered from knee surgery in 2018. Kovalchuk enjoyed a bounce-back performance during a two-month tenure with the Montreal Canadiens, but there’s no certainty the 36-year-old can sustain that effort over a full season. Ceci’s stock was in decline before he was dealt to the Leafs last summer and tumbled further this season.

Defensemen dominate this list. Along with Pietrangelo, Krug, Barrie, and Ceci, the list includes Calgary’s T.J. Brodie (13th) and Travis Hamonic (20th), Carolina’s Sami Vatanen (14th), Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk (15th), Vancouver’s Chris Tanev (17th), Philadelphia’s Justin Braun (19th), and Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz (29th).

Seravalli believes many UFAs could be on edge as this will be a free-agent period like no other thanks to the interruption of the season by COVID-19 and the effect upon league revenue and the salary cap. Players on non-playoff clubs, like Buffalo’s Wayne Simmonds and Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki, could be sidelined for seven months, potentially affecting their future earnings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This year’s UFA class could have difficulty finding lucrative long-term contracts if the salary cap is frozen at $81.5 million for next season. Thirteen teams have payrolls already exceeding $70 million for next season, with a handful of others sitting with payrolls over $65 million.

Some of those notable free agents could end up accepting short-term deals, perhaps for less than market value, in hope of landing more lucrative offers when (if?) revenue rebounds over the next couple of years.


  1. Going to be strange with free agency starting in October. When does the NHL propose starting 2020-2021 season ? Also the draft in October . I hope they pull this off. We will see at the end of the month. Good idea to hold the tournament in Canada. Much much lower Covid exposure. If I were a U.S based team I would even hold training camp in Canada-Dallas Tampa Florida and Arizona

    • SilverSeven, if the playoff tournament goes off as planned, next season would reportedly begin on Jan 1 with the Winter Classic. They would play a full 82-game schedule, meaning the Stanley Cup would be awarded sometime next August.

    • Sad that Canada’s worst COVID hot spot is better than anything the states can offer.

  2. With Holtby’s stock falling and inconsistent play, I’m surprised everyone still talks about how his play in the playoffs will determine his value. Is it a given that he is going to get the start? If Washington knows that they won’t be resigning him, isn’t the smart money on them giving the chance to Samsonov with Holtby as backup if needed?

    I feel like Lehner should be the top ranked on the list. The year in NYI could have been a one-off, but he followed it up with a great year in Chicago behind a terrible defense and has continued to be great in LV. Markstrom has done well in Vancouver no doubt, but if I’m shopping, my first call is to Lehner with a 2-3 year offer.

    For the longest while, I was on the trade T.J Brodie train. In the same mould as Barrie et al. he can make some boneheaded plays at terrible times; but he makes a great right-side partner for Gio. Hamonic has quietly had a terrible year and is going to get overpaid for his level; I think moving Rasmus Andersson to 2R with Hanifin (really giving an audition to your future potential top pair) is the way to go. Resign Forbort as a discount Hamonic for the 3rd pair / 7th D and give some of the prospects a little ice time to develop.

    • I could see Colorado overpaying between the pipes. They have tons of cap space.

      • Could reunite Holtby and Grubauer!

    • I think Lehner has the better resume but I think Markstrom is the safer choice when you weigh in all the factors

  3. I think they should have scrapped this season. They didn’t mind not competing for the cup in 04-05 when they didn’t want a salary cap.

    • I don’t disagree. It’s all a little bit of a gong show at this point.

      I really don’t mind the idea of summer hockey and only competing against the MLB for screen time at Playoffs. Summer can be a dead time for sports. But the longer this goes on and the more players test positive, the more I agree that they should have let this go. Unfortunately, I think the league knowing the financial repercussions of the 05 Lockout is helping drive the bus on forcing a resumption of play.

      • you hit the nail on the head. The players have all been paid not matter now, bonus money came yesterday and I assume they still have to for-fill TV deals.

        I have a buddy that is a player agent and he keep saying too much money on the table to not play.

  4. SCJ,
    Think Lehner would be a better option than Holtby for Col if they are willing to pay, to upgrade.

    • Absolutely! In my earlier post, I mentioned that I think Lehner rather than Markstrom was the top goalie on the market. The Holtby comment was meant more as a joke.

  5. Does anybody still see Hall getting over $9m?

    Krug is Boston wins the Covid Cup i say the Bruins let him walk.

    If Boston resign him Krug will have to settle for $6 – $6.5 anymore let him walk.

    With the propose freeze for the next two seasons, not the best time to be a Ufa or Rfa

    • Some one will sign Hall. I do believe Arizona wants to. The teams with cap space are probably not in a win now position, so it makes no sense to sign him (even if he was willing to sign). He is in a predicament. I wish him the best. I really liked him while he was a Devil, and I believe he might regret not signing long term with them at the start of the summer, for financial reasons. Devils dodged a bullet there.

      • Hi Kevin

        Re Hall

        I don’t see him signing in Arz…. they din’t have the cap room ; and their outlook for a Cup is just not there IMHO

        $9M is not happening I think

        He could possibly seek to maximize his take home by going to one of the tax advantaged franchises …. Bolts and Knights won’t have room; leaving Preds, Panthers; Stars….

        Preds $9.3 M available for 6 spots

        Panthers … $21 M but 10 spots to pay for

        Stars…. $19.5 M ….8 spots to fill

        Note …. take home pay in those cities on $7.5 M gross ; is about the same as $10.2 M (rounded) in T.O. ; Mon, Ott …. take home in those scenarios (per NHL tax calculator at Gavin Group) ….. all around $4.76 M in takehome

        If he’s wanting to go to a contender with space …. Avs … over $22 M but 13 spots to pay for and Joe won’t pay Hall as much because he knows he’ll be paying Mac K even more in 3 years

        Habs …. with his addition and a couple of good moves …. could be strong again…. $18 M with 7 spots to fill …. but methinks MB would need to pony up $9.5 – $10M and 7 years…. will he do that???

      • If Hall wants to finally play for a contender, he’ll have to take less money to do so

    • Caper

      I completely agree on Krug. To me if he wants more then 6 mill let him walk. Signing him makes the Bruins even more vulnerable to the expansion draft because they would have to protect him likely.

      That being said if Hall were to come to Boston on a team friendly deal for 1 or 2 yrs, what would be your dollar amount to get him? I mean the bruins absolutely need a guy like Hall or Hoffman IMO next year.

      We have a ton of great prospects coming up and D is where we can subtract to me.

      • Greatgonzo, here the issue for me, Bergeron, Marchand, Krecji are all over 30 and Chara is in his 40’s

        The window is closing if Hall took a two year deal hoping for better times ahead, it would expand the Bruins window another couple of season. I would do $7.5 per year 2yr deal, go up $8m on a 2yr deal, but this mean Krug might have to walk.

  6. No point in letting the season go. You can’t stay locked downed for ever. America hasn’t done the world a favour with their inconsistent approach. It seems that virus is going to be with us for quite some time. People need to make a living. Governments can only prop society up for so long. We elate going to have to learn how to loperate with this virus in our midst thanks to people not taking this thing serious at the onset.

    I’m curious about what will happen if thee bubble the league is in gets pierced somehow and players test positive in the middle of competition.

  7. Blanking on the name…..but I am referring to the former NBC hockey commentator who played for Philly and killed the Leaf….the guy who got in trouble for some comments….recently

    Anyway, saw him interviewed a number of years ago about the effects of a work stoppage on a players income and because of the short work life how it is just about impossible for the players who strike or stop working to get their money back in follow up years. There were also players that just could not come back.

    I agree it is beginning to look incredible, but on both sides there are fundamental economic reasons they want to get the year in.

    I have been in the camp that this is doing more damage over a longer period of time than many observers seem to feel.

    A $200 ticket ( I know many are more expensive) is almost the height of discretionary spending. Sometimes, I think this pandemic will make structural changes in how many people feel. What they are wiling to do and pay for.

    • Would that be Jeremy Roenik, OBD? Always an outspoken guy who never verbally beat around the bush with cliched bafflegab. Damned good hockey player as well – remember seeing him a number of times with the Hull Olympiques of the Q (now Gatineau)

    • Hey Old Blue Dog, I think you are talking about Jeremy Roenick there.

    • Hi OBD


      Great player no question; but IMHO …. only a minuscule fraction above Pierre Maguire in ranking …. as a useless blowhard on hockey opines/commentary

      • While I’m not a fan of Roenick, at least the guy brings some color to the commentators of the nhl. Most of them are so damn painful to listen to, and almost robotic with their words…. it probably has a lot to do with killing new interest in the sport.

        Maybe a dynamo pair of Gretzky and Dr. Ben Carson in a booth will liven things up a bit?

      • ***brought color***

      • Couldn’t agree more, Nyr4life. At least, when asked a question, both Roenik and Maguire will answer directly without quoting from the book of cliches. But in a politically correct world they prefer to hear only what they want to hear when it comes to their team of choice and never what they SHOULD hear. You see that in here all the time.

  8. Until the next round of ping pong balls, it’s hard to speculate who will sign Hall. 16 teams right now have a shot at LW phenom, Lafreniere. Colorado not one of those teams. They have cap space and lots of prospects to fill other spots with elc’s to offset future costs. Landeskog heading into last year of his deal, so Hall could be insurance. Arizona is one of those teams that are already over 70 mil heading into next year. Hard to see how they keep Hall and no reason to if they land Laf.

    • Landeskog stays in Colorado, and I do know they have other contracts that needs to be renewed, BUT, if im Hall Im thinking hard about the Avs anyway, ok he might not get top dollars, but how does 8-8,5 times 7 sound playing for a team that will stay contenders for the next 0-7 years?

  9. Thanks guys …yes it was Roenick….I was pulling a brain lock and kept visualizing Van Rymsdyk but I knew that was wrong.

    Roenick’s interview on the financial impact on a player was instructive.

  10. “Until we get an indication from the Byfuglien camp that he wants to resume his playing career, he should be at the bottom of this list.”

    By that logic, shouldn’t the list be empty until the players give an indication that they won’t be re-signing with their current teams?

    • Hi Garth

      With you re Big Buff…. I’ve yet to see any reporter state that he’s interested in returning

      Add to that …. he’d be returning after a substantial surgery; at 35; after 19 months w/o playing ; and at what weight???… he last played I believe at 258…. unless he’s been seriously working out…. him now at North of 275 is not a ridiculous possibility

      • Pengy, I agree. If he wanted to play, why didn’t he just go back to Jets? Seems crazy to walk away from his contract. Reports were he was healthy and just didn’t want to play. Walked away from 14 mil

    • No, garth, because Byfuglien has given no indication he’ll resume his playing career. The others will, and it’s a good bet most of them won’t be re-signing with their current clubs.

  11. I personally think with the cap being flat its necessary to have 1 or 2 cap compliance buyouts. It will certaing help with free agents. I do see more 1 year deals than normal with this year’s free agent class because of a tight cap