NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2020

by | Jul 4, 2020 | Rumors | 24 comments

Can the Canucks find sufficient cap room to re-sign their key free agents? Could the Canadiens sign Blues defenseman Vince Dunn to an offer sheet? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnson reports the Canucks could face a mean salary-cap crunch next season. Bonuses paid to young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes means their cap hits will increase by $1.7 million. With the cap expected to remain at $81.5 million next season, it leaves the Canucks with just over $15 million in cap space.

Could the Canucks and Loui Eriksson agree to a contract termination? (Photo via NHL Images)

With 16 players on one-way contracts, they must sign at least six players to fill out their roster for 2020-21. Notable free agents include Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, and Jake Virtanen. Johnston suggested they could get some wiggle room by demoting Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi.

Ben Kuzma considers re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli as priorities. Keeping Tanev could require moving a depth player. His intangibles are hard to measure in salary comparable.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Iain MacIntyre was asked if the Canucks and Eriksson would agree to a contract termination after he receives his $3 million signing bonus on July 1.

The 34-year-old winger has two years remaining on his deal with an annual average value of $6 million, though the actual value of the remaining years totals $5 million. MacIntyre believes there might be a conversation, but doesn’t think Eriksson will walk away from it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could cost the Canucks $6 million annually on a five-year deal to re-sign Markstrom. Toffoli’s had a short window of work with the Canucks since joining them in February but he was a good fit during those few games before the schedule was interrupted by COVID-19. Years of wear-and-tear have taken a toll on Tanev’s game, but the Canucks could retain him on a short-term deal for the right price.

The Canucks won’t be the only cap-strapped club following this season. There are 13 teams with $70-plus million invested in their 2020-21 payrolls. That could affect efforts by Canucks general manager Jim Benning to swing some cost-cutting deals.

Then again, the effect of the pandemic upon NHL revenue could work in Benning’s favor. Some of his free agents could accept one- or two-year deals in hope of getting better terms down the road.

Benning could try to move Eriksson via trade, but if that difficult to do under a rising cap, it could be impossible under a flat one. If the winger proves unwilling to agree to contract termination, he could be waived and demoted.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if he thought the Montreal Canadiens should attempt to sign Vince Dunn to an offer sheet. The St. Louis Blues defenseman is a restricted free agent at season’s end. 

Basu believes the Blues’ limited salary-cap space could make Dunn a tempting offer-sheet target. They would have difficulty attempting to match it if it was rich enough. An offer worth $4.2 million annually would only cost a second-round pick in compensation. While the Blues believe Dunn could help them a great deal, Basu doesn’t think they’re ready to pay him that much since he’s not yet arbitration-eligible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $79 million invested in 20 players and Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo to be re-signed, the Blues are seriously squeezed for cap space. Even if Pietrangelo departs via free agency at season’s end, they’d have a difficult time match a significant offer sheet for Dunn.

Just because a player could sign an offer sheet doesn’t mean he will. Most RFAs prefer re-signing with their current teams. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens or someone else attempts that option with Dunn.


  1. Can’t see Dunn signing an offer sheet with anyone after getting a cup last year? But if it has term you never know, young players might want the money with the uncertainty of the virus

    • I guess I’m not sold Dunn’s game as it stands warrants outside interest enough to give up 1st and 2nd round draft picks with a RFA signing????
      There are more than one NHL club that can use another guy back there where they are thin, but isn’t there an even more delicate balance of who they spend $ along the next three year window to recovery?

      • As Lyle mentioned, an offer up to 4.2m only requires a 2nd rd pick as compensation. Rangers traded 2 2nd rounders for rights to Fox last year, so I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. If St Louis signs Petro, I don’t see how they match.

  2. Happy 4th of July to all!
    I think Blues, even with moving some pieces, might have to decide between Dunn and Pietro. Do you sign the star at the peak and keep this window or after this year start the “makeover”, not rebuild, by signing the younger, promising player. It will get very interesting, Armstrong is a smart cookie. If Pietro won’t sign a reasonable contract because he can get more in the free market, I could see Armstrong letting him walk rather then jeopardizing the team’s future. And just no the offer sheet talk, in this environment I cannot see a GM utilizing it.

    • Hi Kevin,

      I actually think this environment is perfect for an offer sheet. There are so many teams that are tight against the cap and were counting on a higher salary cap. Teams, be it Montreal, Ottawa, Columbus, etc. could have the money to go after players. While Lyle is correct in saying that a player has to also agree to the offer sheet, it never hurts to try it. 🙂

      • All it usually accomplishes – especially if the RFA is regarded as a top-of-the-line player – is to force the holding team to match and make other cap adjustments as necessary, not to mention pissing them off and filing that memory away for future retaliation. As happened with Carolina – Montreal most recently. Bergevin may be forced to match offers to Domi and Kotkaniemi next year and Suzuki in 2022-23.

      • I agree now is time. I think Montreal made mistake not offering more for Aho, but Carolina wasn’t in a bind as far as matching. I don’t see many teams going crazy signing ufa’s this offseason. Another contender I’m watching is Tampa. They’ve enjoyed advantage of playing in a no tax state. I think teams should have no problem going after Cirelli and Sergachev.

      • Retaliation? A team will make an offer to a player on two conditions.

        1. They need the player.
        2. They can fit the player into their salary cap.

        Any other basis ends up disrupting the team making the offer. Think it through: What happens if a team doesn’t match the offer sheet? The team making the offer has a player and a contract constructed on retaliation and not on what was best for the team. Let’s put that notion to bed.

      • I can’t see any Canadian team especially Ottawa (on a tight internal cap) and Montreal (because of language and media sharks ) taking huge risks with huge dollar RFAOS they earn Canadian dollars in revenue and have to pay out in U.S. currency which is already a struggle – high taxation rates don’t help either. No, I firmly believe Canadian clubs are smart to play UFA and trade market. Bergevin and Habs have a surplus of seat picks and decent prospects to swing a trade and get the centre and top 4 D they need. Trading with other Canadian clubs that are up against the cap may be the best bet as well, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto have cap decisions to make in near future.

  3. First of all, Happy Independence Day to all here who waive the Red White and Blue …. have a wonderful and safe celebration today!

    This flat Cap is going to hit many teams and the benefactors jusy may be teams like Sens

    I have already stated that Arz in Cap trouble and proposed (after SB paid)…. Stepan and Garland to Sens for a 2nd

    Isles have to sign Barzal; Poluck; Toews…. have $10 M… not happening w/o a move….Boychuck ($6M Cap) after SB paid…. only owed $5.2 M over last two years (averaging $2.6 per)…. so… my proposal is

    Boychuck + Wilde for a 4th

    OR Boychuck + Dal Colle for a 5th

  4. So, Pengy, if you waive the Red White and Blue, does it have to go to the minors? Just kidding.
    Happy 4th to our friends in the good old US of A.

  5. Every team should be squeezing the Blues on Dunn. He has a big enough sample size of NHL play to gauge his value. At $4.2M/yr who would you rather have Dunn or Ceci?
    He’s just old enough to be considered a building block for a team with a young core.
    Any team in need of defence should consider an offer sheet or a trade for his rights.

  6. Question #1, is Dunn an upgrade on Mette???

    Question #2, is Dunn worth between $4 mill & $5 mill per season???

    Question #3, what is it going to cost to keep Jeff Petry next summer & do the Habs want to chiesel away at that cap space knowing Petry needs to be resigned next summer??? Unless they believe Dunn can bring more to their D than Petry in a years time, I can’t see them overpaying for Dunn.

    Now if, they believe Dunn is an upgrade over Mette & willing to spend $3 mill per on a 2 or 3 year bridge contract, I would tend to believe the Habs could swing a trade for him at the draft table & maybe including Mette as part of the deal. Mette is do for a contract this summer & I tend to believe $ 1.5 mill per season would be the ceiling any contract for him at this point, a more favourable contract for the Blues.

    • Q 5, forward: How do the cap costs for Tatar, Domi, Danault and Gallagher, Armia and Lehkonen the year after it in?

      What about their looking for a UFA scoring upgrade?

      The Habs aren’t a Vince Dunn away from becoming legit Cup contenders. Signing players have to take the cap into consideration over several years, now more than ever.

      • Exactly LJ, the upper echelon players will get their & role players will become more prominent, those in between may have to accept role player salaries to stay in the league. Younger & less costly players maybe rushed into the NHL for teams to stay at or just below the cap for the next several years. Long term bad contracts will be extremely difficult to move, moreso than ever.

    • Who signs an offer sheet and then accepts a bridge deal? Not me if I’m a player.

  7. As for Markstrom, the key for all UFA goaltenders this summer/fall is who Joe Sakic & company believes is the best on the market???

    If they believe it is Markstrom, the Nucks may not have a chance at resigning him. The Avs are IMHO, a goaltender away from being a very serious contender for the Cup, they have all kinds of cap room to improve that position & at the age of 30, an opportunity like that may be had to shun.

  8. If Im Vancouver resigning Markstrom and Toffili should be priority one. Tanev Id let walk. Virtanen shows glimpses of talent but is bordering on bust.

  9. With Barrie gone, watch for Dermott getting his $2.75M, Clifford will probably get half of Ceci’s $4.5M ($2.25M). With Engvall stepping up and hopefully Mikheyev can regain his stride prior to getting injured could call for a re-signing and trading Johnsson and his $$3.4M, which they’ll probably put 1/2 towards Barabanov’s new contract, giving him $1.7M. So they could have a couple of million to put towards a depth player or two. Regards to trades, maybe:

    To TOR: Foudy + J.Anderson
    To CLB: Johnsson + Bracco + 2021 2nd Round Pick

    Anderson is set to become an RFA and Columbus stays young.

    • Heh. You guys keep trying to paint a brighter picture of Bracco than is actually the case.

    • Bracco!!!!!

  10. Isn’t Dunn a 5-6 guy now (plays w/ Bortuzzo or Gunnarson)? Pietro, Faulk, Parayko, & Scandella are ahead depth wise. Plays on a very good team.
    Is he worth 5-6 mil” & jumps to your teams #’s 2-4? I think he’s s good D-man. Let’s not make Dunn the next coming of Larry Robinson

    • Vincois,

      Dunn is a 3rd pairing d.man and has had some sheltered minutes. He has proven more than capable of moving “up” and plays a pretty complete game. Real good puck moving, skating, passing, offense BUT a tough mean streak too. Probably the 2nd coming of Guy LaPointe 🙂

      ps. hope he remains a Blue

  11. I am a Leafs fan so I don’t really care for the habs, but I think Vince Dunn could help the habs alot.
    The habs don’t really have much phisical guys besides Weber and Shaw, but, lets face it, Dunn would help alot. Period.