NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2020

by | Jul 25, 2020 | Rumors | 21 comments

Check out the latest on the Devils and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Corey Masisak recently examined how next season’s flat salary cap of $81.5 million could benefit the New Jersey Devils. He observed they’ll have over $27 million in cap space and lots of roster holes to fill.

Part of that will be taken up re-signing restricted free agents such as goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, defenseman Mirco Mueller, and forward Jesper Bratt. They could also promote two or three players like Nick Merkley, Janne Kuokkanen, and Ty Smith.

Assuming around $14 million of remaining cap space following re-signings of key players and promotions, general manager Tom Fitzgerald will have sufficient flexibility to bring in some skilled veterans via trades and free agency.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn in the off-season? (NHL Images)

Masisak looked at several cap-strapped clubs in the Eastern and Western Conferences that could be possible trade partners or have players that become available via free agency.

Among his suggested Eastern targets were Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, and Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Western options could include St. Louis Blues defensemen Vince Dunn, Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In an ordinary year, I’d make the case that a rebuilding club like the Devils might not be a desirable destination for free agents or players with no-trade clauses. However, it could be a different story under the new economic landscape.

Players that otherwise wouldn’t be available via trade could become expendable for teams trying to shed salary, while free agents seeking lucrative contracts could find the Devils more appealing. Perhaps one or two of those on Masisak’s list will be sporting Devils jerseys next season.

That depends, of course, on how much Devils ownership is willing to invest next season. Just because they’ll have lots of cap room doesn’t mean they’re going to spend to the cap.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked about the odds of the Los Angeles Kings signing a restricted free agent such as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to an offer sheet. She considers those odds virtually nil, as that rarely-used tactic seldom pans out. The Kings have other plans and ideas for rebuilding their roster.

Asked if the Kings might take on a bad contract for assets from a cap-strapped club, Dillman pointed out they’ve never been aggressive in complex deals like those. She also noted that’s not something GM Rob Blake has pursued in the past. She also doesn’t seek the Kings making a big splash in this year’s UFA market, though they could look at some bargain signings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake and the rest of the Kings’ front office have put their focus on rebuilding with youth, primarily from within their system. Their prospect depth is considered among the best in the league right now. Blake could keep his powder dry for next summer’s UFA market when there could be better options available.


  1. I agree on the Kings. They won’t do much other than possibly bringing in a second pairing LD.

    There won’t be any offer sheets from Blake nor any big trades this year. Although I’d love for them to get Sergachev, now’s not the time to start trading away the young assets until you know what you have.

    Patience for another year or two, then the Kings will be active.

    • Couldn’t agree more Canadian King – and you could just as easily be referring to Ottawa, Detroit and New Jersey. None among have any urgent incentive to rush things by dealing away what could be better options right within their own systems, since it looks like ALL teams won’t have the benefit of live crowds for regular season games for quite some time, so everyone’s dealing with pretty much the same financial slate through broadcasting revenues. Nor are any of them expected to be immediate serious contenders.

      As Lyle points out – and as I’ve been harping on for a few weeks now – “players that otherwise wouldn’t be available via trade could become expendable for teams trying to shed salary.” So, if something like that pops up for minimal returns (minimal in the sense that such teams MUST shed salary so it won’t be a question of holding back for higher picks and/or top prospects) I can see all 4 getting involved in or possible two such deals.

      Where I disagree with Lyle is where he goes on to say “while free agents seeking lucrative contracts could find the Devils (or L.A., Ottawa, Detroit by extension) more appealing.” I just don’t think ANY UFA is going to land a long-term “lucrative” contract. I know some disagree, saying old habits will prevail, but everything about the current circumstances globally, and businesses closing for good everywhere on a daily basis, not to mention the distinct possibility of a flat-cap dictates the need for extreme caution.

      • Yep I agree George. The LAs and Ottawa’s of the league will be taking players off cap strapped teams hands, who have value and can help them now and in the future, for a good price asset-wise

        I don’t think for a secobd that they’ll be taking horrible contracts back. They don’t have to right now as there not the desperate ones.

      • This is what some just don’t get Canadian King. Why should a team like LA or Ottawa or Detroit or New Jersey take on a contract like Stepan’s just to get a prospect like Garland?

        Garland, on his own, might be worth taking a chance on as the type of player we’re talking about – but he only costs $750,000 off the cap which does nothing to free up enough cap space for Arizona.

        The kind of player I’m talking about is a Christian Dvorak, a 24 y/o C with good size who scored 18g 20a 38 pts in 70gp and costs $4,450,000 off the cap for 5 more years after this.

        THAT’S the type of player teams like LA, Ottawa, Detroit, NJ can target and for nothing more than a 2nd round pick and a decent prospect (which won’t cost Arizona anything off the cap for the foreseable future) simply because teams in a cap fix – like Arizona – far outnumber teams with plenty of space and THEY will be the ones to panic when push comes to shove.

        They just don’t have to take on expensive, overpaid floaters like Stepan.

        Perhaps Arizona ownership has realized what a financial fix their GM has put them in and this is why he is rumored to be on the way out. Analytics and all.

      • Yep, well said my friend.

        This is exactly how I see this offseason playing out for the teams with cap space.

      • Completely agree George and that’s not to say those teams won’t take one of those contracts but the cost will be astronomical for them to even consider it. So you can forget about just Garland as they will easily be able to pick up an equivalent or even better player without taking back a bad contract back. Teams with cap space and Seattle next year will be able to fleece teams like something we haven’t seen in the history of the NHL. In my opinion if I’m a team with a bad contract at this time I just hold on to it and deal with the consequences as the future cost will be to high. Most of these teams are already contenders so live with the team you have and hope that everything just clicks and the right time.

    • Hi Canadian King

      I agree that no signed offer sheets will happen for Serg; but as I posted before; I believe there will be quite a few verbal “ offer sheets “ to his agent; including LA

      MacKenzie on many occasions has said “offers” to RFAs by other teams; every year, is at least 15 in number

      He had guesstimated last year that at least 6 had “offered” to MM

      An offer sheet is only officially confirmed and reported if both sides sign… Aho was the last; and these signed ones are few and far between (3 a decade ??)

      No cost at all for Blake to call Serg’s agent (once free agency starts) to explore agent’s “asks” and even make a starting offer

      I really can’t see Serg wanting to move in from (1) top notched team ; (2) familiar and great teammates ; (3) great city with great amenities great weather and where he resides; and (4) Uber friendly tax advantages

      I fully expect bridge extension with high expectations of huge payoff in a couple of years

      • Yep you said it Pengy, why would Sergachev sign an offer sheet. He’s on a contender right now, living in a hot beautiful place with no state taxes.

    • I agree, LA isnt ready to try and make a splash.

  2. Devils are rebuilding, I doubt Fitz puts his job on the line by signing aging free agents unless its on a 1-2 year deal (trade potential). He will look to build around Hischier and Hughes with similar aged acquisition targets. Team needs some defense. Also a backup goaltender, good year to be in that market. Needs better quality prospects, not more picks in the later rounds.

    • Kevan,

      The Blues will send you THREE Jakes (Allen, Walman, and De La Rose) for Schneider and a 4th. BUT you tell me how much of Schneider’s contract you’ll eat?

  3. If the Coyotes are at all serious of keeping Hall, a team with cap space could take Stepan of their hands. His Cap is is $6.5 for one year but his salary is only $2M as he has already received his bonus. He could be a good fit with the Sabres. Perhaps they could get a sweetener like a 2nd Rd pick or a prospect.

    • Agreed. It’ll be interesting to see who is making these trades in Arizona, as it sounds like Chayka may be on the outs.

    • Hi G-man

      I’ve posted that many times

      My suggestion ( George doesn’t like it) is Stepan & Garland for Sens 2nd or 3rd

      This would also work for Det or NJ

      Det has two extra 2nds and an extra 3rd

      NJ has no 2nd or 3rd this year ; so it would have to be ‘21

      Sens have three extra 2nds and 1 extra 3rd this year; and two extra 2nds next year

      Note: I am biased in my pro thinking on Garland. Speed; hands; good hockey IQ ; plays mostly wing but can; and has; played C.

      Only 24; 775 K for one more year; then RFA

      Regardless of signing Hall or not…. even with the Hossa LTIR itch… Arz has only $6.7 M for 6 spots; including 3 RFAs (Hinostroza , Fisher , Lubushkin) ; and their current UFAs are Hall; Soderberg; Richardson

      …. so they have to move out someone for sure… Stepan is the key candidate (at least)

      • I’m with you on Garland, Pengy.
        He has 30+ written all over him.
        You missed “desire” in your list though.
        Some guys live to prove the pundits wrong and he’s one of them.

  4. LA has 21 million tied up in Doughty and Kopitar for next 4 seasons. If they were to offer sheet Sergachev, they’d be close to 30 mil …and with all the top prospects they have, good chance Tampa will return the favor in 3 years! When they have kids coming off elc’s Agree, they don’t need to do anything this year. Bring back Hutton on another cheap deal And maybe add another vet dman. Promote the kids.

    • I agree with your premise Slick, but LAs fine long term capwise. Over the next 3 seasobs, when some of these entry level contracts expire, LA will be shedding Quick, Carter and Brown, which frees up almost $17 million on top of the $20 mill they have right now.

      They won’t be making a splash this year, but will be more than primed to a few years down the road, maybe even next year, even with Doughty and Kopitar.

  5. Looks like puck drop in a week. I can’t wait to see who gets first overall. There will be more than usual upsets for this Covid Cup tournament .

    • Hi Silver Seven

      I still think it’s going to be Habs that get Laf

  6. Still think it’s Arizona who will pick first but time will tell. Secondly the Teams with Cap room will only make a trade or sign a UFA if the deal is a no brainer. Teams in cap trouble will be in panic mode and crazy deals will happen because it will be the best offer they get.

    • I’d like to see Jets get top pick. They wherein the 12 Placeholder spot that drew the top pick. Would be nice if it worked out that way just so we don’t have to hear about how unfair it was. Of course if Rangers lose play in, I’ll be pulling for them.