NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2020

by | Jul 30, 2020 | Rumors | 15 comments

The latest Islanders and Coyotes speculation plus an update on Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Before the New York Islanders facing the New York Rangers in yesterday’s exhibition game, Arthur Staple took questions from Isles fans in a live chat.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

Asked about possible cost-cutting measures for the cap-strapped club, Staple doubts anyone will trade for Semyon Varlamov. The goaltender has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple indicted former Isles goalie Robin Lehner would be available via free agency for perhaps the same price. Unless general manager Lou Lamoriello is willing to include a sweetener, I don’t see Varlamov being moved. They plan to let Thomas Greiss depart via free agency and have Varlamov tutor promising Ilya Sorokin.

Staple suggests Nick Leddy could be the Islanders’ best trade chip. The defenseman has two years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $5.5 million. Others could include blueliner Johnny Boychuk and perhaps Josh Bailey. He felt they would have to include a first-round pick if they hope to move winger Andrew Ladd.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladd was almost moved to Minnesota for Zach Parise at the trade deadline but that deal fell through. Given the new economic landscape, I doubt they’ll revisit that plan.

Leddy lacks no-trade protection and has a reasonable cap hit but his actual salary could be a sticking point. It rises to $6.5 million next season and $7 million in 2021-22. Injuries are taking a toll on Boychuk, who has a modified no-trade clause and a $6 million AAV through 2021-22. Bailey’s AAV is $5 million through 2023-24.

Staples doesn’t expect a rival club attempting to sign Mathew Barzal to an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but it’ll have to be a monstrous offer to make Lamoriello walk away. It’s possible but unlikely, and Lamoriello will do everything he can to match it.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy wondered what’s in store for the Arizona Coyotes under interim GM Steve Sullivan. His most pressing matter is re-signing Taylor Hall before the winger becomes eligible for unrestricted free-agent status at the season’s end.

Kennedy speculates Hall could test the market before deciding what to do. Sullivan and the Coyotes’ ownership must decide if re-signing the 28-year-old winger to an expensive, long-term deal is in their best interests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take a heckuva sell job on Sullivan’s part to convince Hall to stay, especially if they get eliminated from their upcoming qualifying-round series by the Nashville Predators.

Cap Friendly indicates they have over $79.9 million invested in 17 players next season. They’ll get $5.275 million in cap relief by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve, but that’s not enough to re-sign Hall and fill out the rest of the roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples observed a report out of Finland suggesting winger Jesse Puljujarvi indicated he recently had a “good and constructive” conference call with Oilers GM Ken Holland and coach Dave Tippett. The young winger isn’t ruling out returning to the club next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A restricted free agent, Puljujarvi spent this season playing in Finland hoping the Oilers would honor a trade request. Holland didn’t budge, leaving the young forward to re-examine his position.

Puljujarvi wants to return to the NHL and it appears he’s accepted his share of the responsibility for his poor play. However, we still have to wait and see if this means he’ll be returning to the Oilers next season.


  1. Re “Staple suggests Nick Leddy could be the Islanders’ best trade chip. The defenseman has two years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $5.5 million.”

    That’s the kind of deal Dorion could be looking at in terms of cap-strapped teams needing to clear space – they can easily absorb his cap hit. The Isles 1st pick back to them + a mid-range D prospect?

    Wile that might work, unfortunately I doubt Dorion could ever convince Melnyk to fork over the actual salary $$ Lyle points out.

    • Yeah, it’s the actual dollars that are the sticking point. The preference for the Senators could be a player whose actual salary declines in the final years of his deal.

      • I think Leddy to the Habs would be a great deal. I see it as almost certain that he will be traded and the Habs can handle both the cap hit and the actual salary. He can probably be had for a 2nd rounder and a mid level prospect. He can fill the huge hole at LD for two years until Romanov is ready to step up.

    • Hi George

      IMHO Leddy to Sens unlikely;

      The more palatable is *Boychuck

      Isles clear $6 M in Cap (Sens have). I believe SB has now been paid …. so Sens Cash hit is only $2.6 M per

      Only two years; so not in the Sens depth run window (IMHO that is 22/23 — 25/26) so no probs

      …. and Sens not giving up any more really in the trade; they’d be getting kicker/sweetener back…

      Boychuck and (Dal Colle OR Koivula) for a 3rd

      *Boychuck would likely have to waive his rights (as I would think that Sens prob not on his 8 team trade list)

      An interesting move (very rarely used) would be a to-through trade with retention and Boychuck ends up on a contender (with little Cap space)


      Isles retain 50% to say Sens who retain another 50 % … onto Contender who gets Boychuck for $1.5 M Cap

      Isles have to sweeten trade …. 3rd or B prospect

      Contender is getting Boychuck @$1.5 M Cap…. so they have to pay something for that to Sens

      Sens total hit is $1.3 M cash and $3M cap per

      Rather than accepting sweetners from both Isles and Contender; they could flip what they got from Isles ; plus a first ; to contender; for young up and coming player

      Say it was Vegas (replacing Meril with Boychuck; gaining Isle’s first (via Ottawa) and a prospect); Ottawa gets say Chandler Stephenson

      Bolts???? Boychuck replaces Bogosian; they also gain a prospect and isles first…. Sens get Cerelli ?

      Again long shots at best…. just thinking outside the box

      • Pengy, why do you insist on having Ottawa take another team’s aging costly crap and/or those waiting for their next trip to the IR just to get their hands on another unproven prospect when they have loads of their own? 🙂

        Holy Toledo, you gotta realize that, with so many teams up tight against the cap and absolutely needing to clear space, and so few teams with the cao to accommodate them, those kind of “let’s-take-a-chance-on-that-prospect” deals are dead.

        IF – and that’s a huge if and also a long-shot – Dorion could get Melnyk not to flinch at paying out that salary to Leddy, Lamoriello would jump at the chance to get his 1st round pick back along with a player that doesn’t immediately impact his cap but has some promise down the line.

      • You can’t do that anyway, almost positive it’s 50% retained total of the player’s contract, not the team’s perspective, so 2 teams can’t hold 50% salary and let him play for free somewhere else.

      • Hi George

        Just reading your response now; today was Uber busy

        As I mentioned before I’m a big picture long term thought process guy. Mergers and acquisitions is what I do for clients.

        Investment weighed against risk and expected outcome. Immediately rid (divest) of anything that has no expected future returns and/or is severely negative to the portfolio/company (it’s why I’m so keen on jettisoning JJ as he has a severe and dire negative impact on the organization and team

        For investments it’s rarely a cheap investment with zero risk and high Expected returns

        We may work on a acquisition with a current component that is shoddy (realizing further investment is necessary ) if the long term is bright… seeded costs such as retrofits of plants and/or upgrades ; or relocation costs

        I cede your point that Sens don’t wish for aging atheletes ; but if the investment comes with a bright future…. That’s where I’m coming from

        My proposal of investment of $2.6 M (to-through cost of Boychuck ) over 2 years plus Isle’s first over-all (likely 17th – 22nd) to get the rights to Cerelli for 5 years…. I ‘d do that in a heartbeat

        Chandler Stephenson in the same scenario and Vegas would have to give something else back or take a 2nd instead of a first

        Yes Leddy is 7 years younger ; but your proposal spends $13.5 M for two years not in the window of cup chance I was mentioning ; and no assurance that he’d stay past that 2 years

        I do think all Cap crunch teams will wait on that first trade with sweetener to judge the market

        Sens and Wings are positioned well to take advantage of this

        We’ll see what happens

        My to-through proposal is very unlikely to happen but I was just trying to show what I felt was a fair trade all around

      • Hi tb

        Sorry for the confusion

        I was not saying Original team and middle (to through) team BOTH take 50% of the original Cap

        It’s 50 % (of original Cap and cash) retained by original team… Ilses…. when he temporarily goes to Sens… they owe 50%… they then flip him to say VGK and Sens retain 50% of what they owed after the first trade….

        Using Boychuck’s Cap of $6 M

        Isles retain 50% …. they have $3M on books

        At that moment Sens also on hook for $3M; but they flip and retain 50% of their obligation

        Net on Cap

        Isles $3M
        Sens $1.5M
        Knights $1.5 M

        The SB has been paid for 20/21 so the Sal for EACH of the two years is split $2M Isles; $1M Sens $1M knights

        The SB in July ‘21 of $1.25M is split $625 K; 312 K ; 312 K

        I had always thought that max retained was 50% ( so that end team has to pay at least 50 %)… but then found out differently this Feb when to through trades ended in greater retention …. e.g. Knights only covering 28% of Lehner’s $5 M total Cap hit ; Leafs took 22% ; Chi 50%

  2. It’s in Oilers best interests to bring back Puljujarvi. Obviously they weren’t getting any offers they found worthwhile. Give the kid another chance. Salary won’t be an issue. McDavid needs to step up as captain and help this kid out. Worst case scenario, kid at least is back in NHL and could spark more interest.

    • Too true Slick62 – Holland is notorious for his stubbornness but in this case he should pay attention to the advice Jeff Bezos gives – “be stubborn on vision but flexible on details.”

      • George. Kid also has to come back with right attitude. I see same with Rangers and Lias Anderson. Kid was probably a little cocky. When they brought up Chytil, who was drafted after him in 1st round, and sent him to AHL, I think he got a little butt hurt. Also didn’t help that Howden got a regular spot. Both Puljujarvi and him could be nhl players Need a reset.

    • 1 year $2M … prove it to me contract

      Incentive for JP to kick his own butt and produce;

      Upside for him is potential of big contract after that

      Low risk move by Oil ($1.25 M > league min) with potential for good payoff; if he falters…. after next season … same position as this; if he proves himself; you can keep him (if you can fit him in the Cap in 21/22) or move him (as then the market for him would be much bigger with his improved playing)

  3. George:

    As we have read about this virus and its effects on pro sports, I have not read anything about the NHL and players having to accept renegotiated and/or pay reductions. I find this incredible from a macro-economic viewpoint. Do you think it is going on behind the scenes?

    As to Melynk & Ottawa, and this only a guess, will he not want contracts where signing bonuses have been paid. Thereby, he can reach the cap minimum without digging into his own pocket. Do you not think this will be a real motivator for him compared to other owners?

    And just a revisit to something I wrote a month ago that some found offensive, I can’t believe other teams are not under super stress. My guess and it is only that, is that teams will be moving maybe merging and or folding before the aftereffects of this is done. In the US the NHL may be the only industry worse off for this virus than the airlines and cruise ships. And I think they both got government aid.

    • OBD, escrow is the answer to your question. Players will give up salary based on league revenues which will obviously be lower for an extended period of time.

    • I do believe that it is, in fact, going on behind the scenes as you put it OBD. It HAS to as I keep trying to get across to those who hold firm to the thought that GMs will still spend like drunken sailors and hand out what, in many instances in the past, turned out to be albatross contracts they can’t later get rid of. Or buy out (so far anyway).

      Owners – even the cash vault known as MLS&E – have to be walking on egg-shells when it comes to finances and the very real possibility that a second wave of Covid-19 will hit right in the middle of the flu season, at which point no government on earth will be able to prevent financial calamity. So you just know they are telling their GMs to be ultra-conservative when offering contracts.

      At some point it will sink in to the thickest skulls of the agents of the Taylor Halls and Pietrangelos that their clients are NOT going to get what they positively would have pre-Covid-19. Not even close.