NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2020
Updates on Taylor Hall and Loui Eriksson plus the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman cites reports indicating winger Taylor Hall had a dinner meeting last week with Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo, his son Alex Jr., and new CEO Xavier Gutierrez. The two sides reportedly re-engaged in contract talks, with Gutierrez taking over discussions.
Hall, 28, is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. His agent, Darren Ferris, said the two sides still intend to wait until the season is over to negotiate a contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Coyotes general manager John Chayka was not at that meeting. Perhaps ownership was trying to gauge Hall’s willingness to stay in Arizona beyond this season.
Before COVID-19, it was assumed the Hall camp could seek over $9 million annually on a long-term deal. With the salary cap remaining flat for next season, he could find that type of deal difficult to come by.
Assuming Hall is keen to remain a Coyote, the club must free up considerable cap room to re-sign him. Cap Friendly indicates they have nearly $80 million invested in next season’s payroll. That’s prompted speculation over which Coyotes could become cost-cutting candidates in the off-season, with such notables as Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski, and Jason Demers among the possibilities.
Eriksson’s $6-million annual average value is creating a potential salary-cap headache for the Canucks. Kuzma points out his contract is front-loaded with bonuses that count toward a buyout while demoting him to the minors would leave them with a $4.9 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Canucks GM Jim Benning can find a trade partner willing to take Eriksson’s contract off his hands, he will have to consider other options to free up cap space
Eriksson’s full no-trade clause becomes a modified, 15-team no-trade list next season, providing Benning with a little flexibility. With a flat cap, however, Benning might have to absorb part of Eriksson’s cap hit or include a sweetener (high draft pick and/or quality prospect) to make it work.
SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan recently examined how the Ottawa Senators can improve their roster in the off-season. With $41.9 million invested in next season’s payroll, they have sufficient cap space to re-sign their key free agents and target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.
Given the Senators’ commitment to rebuilding with youth, Scanlan expects they’ll let their youngsters develop while making a few judicious UFA signings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators only have nine players under contract for next season. They must spend to fill out the roster and reach the $60.2 million cap minimum.
RFAs such as Connor Brown, Chris Tierney, and Anthony Duclair will be re-signed, along with UFA Mark Borowiecki and perhaps Ron Hainsey. They could also promote a few promising youngsters into their ranks for next season.
The Senators won’t make a big splash in the UFA market. They’ll likely pursue one or two affordable veterans on short-term deals to provide experience and leadership.
I expect the Sens will also attempt to add a good young player via trade. They have 13 picks in this year’s draft, including three first-rounders and four second-rounders. I’ll be surprised if they keep all of them. A couple of those picks could be used as trade bait targeting clubs looking to shed salary.
They could use their cap space to take on a bad contract in exchange for futures but that seems unlikely. Given how much youth they’ve already got in their system and their plethora of picks this year and the three second-rounders they have next year, I think they’re more likely to target a young player who can immediately step into the lineup and contribute.