NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2020

by | Jul 9, 2020 | Rumors | 53 comments

A look at the five teams affected the most by a flat salary cap in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Arizona Coyotes as the five clubs that will be most affected by a flat salary cap in 2020-21.

The Lightning has 15 players signed for next season with $5.33 million in projected cap space. That won’t be enough to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Larkin suggests Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn as trade candidates. Gourde has a no-trade clause but Larkin thinks he could waive it for a fresh start elsewhere after seeing a reduced role this season. Larkin’s no-trade clause becomes a partial listing of 16 no-trade destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) considers Killorn the top trade candidate, in part because of the flexibility his modified no-trade provides the Lightning. He also suggests Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) might be willing to waive his no-trade clause if it’s for a destination where he’d have a top-six center role. Cedric Paquette ($1.65 million through next season) could also be a trade option.

I think there will be more interest in Killorn, who’s more affordable ($4.45 million annual average value through 2022-23) than Gourde ($5.16 million AAV through 2024-25) and has a better reputation as a two-way forward. There’s no certainty Johnson would agree to be moved and his lengthy contract could be a deal-breaker for some clubs during these uncertain times.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen could become an off-season trade candidate (Photo via NHL Images).

The Blues have 20 players under contract for next season with a little over $2 million in cap space and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign. Larkin speculates they’ll attempt to move out goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million AAV through 2020-21) and suggests keeping an eye on winger Jaden Schwartz ($5.35 million AAV through ’20-’21, 15-team no-trade list).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon wonders how other teams will view Allen’s cap hit. Center Tyler Bozak has come up in recent trade speculation, but Gordon considers Bozak’s $5 million AAV a luxury few teams can afford.

Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford considers moving Schwartz far-fetched while the Blues’ championship window remains open. They could buy out the final season of Alexander Steen’s contract ($5.75 million AAV) but they’ll only get $2.4 million in cap relief for next season.

If the Blues intend to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn, significant cost-cutting is in order. Any way you slice it, however, it means parting with a couple of meaningful players.

The Blackhawks have 18 players inked for next season with $7.35 million in projected cap space. Larkin believes they could get much-needed cap relief if Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) and Andrew Shaw ($3.9 million AAV through 2021-22) go on long-term injury reserve for next season. Seabrook however, is attempting to return for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin and The Athletic’s Scott Powers point out the Blackhawks lack sufficient cap space to re-sign goalie Corey Crawford and forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Powers suggests they could buy out defenseman Olli Maatta ($4.083 million AAV through 2021-22) and center Zack Smith ($3.25 million through 2020-21). The combined savings (over $5.5 million) along with Shaw potentially remaining on LTIR would free up valuable cap room to re-sign those key players.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 16 players signed for next season with $4.59 million in projected cap room. With Tyson Barrie expected to depart via free agency, Larkin believes they won’t have enough space to bring in one or two impactful right-shot defensemen. GM Kyle Dubas could attempt to shop a mid-tier forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a blueliner. He also wonders if Dubas might attempt to acquire more LTIR contracts with David Clarkson and Nathan Horton coming off the books in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran points out the cost of re-signing Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev could eat up most or all of that cap space. He also anticipates one of those mid-tier forwards could be shopped, including Zach Hyman among them. Unless the CBA extension prohibits clubs from acquiring the contracts of players on permanent LTIR, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dubas goes to that well again to gain some wiggle room.

The Arizona Coyotes have 16 players signed with just $1.51 million available, though they’ll gain some cap relief with Marian Hossa ($5.75 million) on permanent LTIR. They need more than that if they hope to re-sign pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. Larkin suggests packaging center Derek Stepan ($6.5 million through next season) with a sweetener to free up more room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take one helluva sweetener to tempt a rival club with more cap space into taking Stepan’s contract.


  1. Wow reading that opened my eyes a lot of teams will be in scramble mode and a lot of teams set up to make some great deals. Teams will find out how their young guns are going to pan out as they will be thrown in the fire.

  2. Coyotes in cap trouble is the definition of ironic. All those years of higher rated draft picks and only Ekman-Larsson to show for it .

    Gourde was an over pay and the Bolts are probably stuck with him without a couple mil retention.

    Chicago will find a way . They have been fighting the cap it seems forever.

    • Even though a lot of people have been saying Tampa will be fine, I’ve been saying all along that they are going to have serious troubles signing their RFAs. Trading those players is one thing, but they cannot accept money coming back. It’s got to be futures. How many teams are both willing and able to do that I have no idea.

    • Even if chicago “finds a way,” what’s the difference? Can they scratch and claw their way to be the 24th best team in the league again in 2020-21? If they succeed, who cares? They won’t get another gift (a chance to qualify for the playoffs when you’re the 24th best team in the NHL) like they are getting in 2019-2020.

      • They mostly will get 1st overall pick this year (or Arz or Rangers), so there is still something to build around

    • Stepan and Raanta have been paid their signing bonuses and each are owned $2mil on the last year of their contract.
      And with Hossa, $16mil of freed up money. Don’t see a problem. NJ has incentive to help the ‘Yotes re-sign Hall

  3. Just reading yesterday comments this morning and Roger Laurin commented about Bergeron and comparing Nylander to Bergeron and his contract and the fact Bergeron only had one 60pt season at the same time.

    First off i would never compare Nylander to Bergeron totally different type of players.

    Bergeron has always been a complete player and under Cluade Julien system it was 100% defense first. Patrice took most of his draws in the defense zone simply because he was one of the best on the draw and you can’t score if we got the puck.
    Under Claude system Bergeron sacrificed his offense for the sake of the system.

    Fast forward to 2017 Bruce Cassidy is named head coach and has a different approach, one simple adjustment he also is fully aware of Bergeron excellence at the dot but has a different philosophy he but Bergeron on the ice in the offensive zone because he wants to drive offense. Can’t score if we don’t have the puck.

    Bergeron had 3 30 goal years in 13 season prior to Cassidy taking over; The 3 seasons that Cassidy been behind the bench Bergeron has 30g in 60gp; 32g in 65gp and 31g in 61gp this season. Each season was at a 40 goal clip based on average.

    Yes Bergeron got better as he got older has always been one of the best two way forwards, great leader and always sacrificed the offense for defense until Cassidy changed the system.

    As far as Nylander he isn’t comparable to a future hall of famer at this time.

    • Spot on, Caper.

    • @Caper what the heck are you talking about. I was comparing nylamders CONTRACT to Marchands CONTRACT. He claims he took a discount for the greater good of the team bit if you use percentage of cap he actually got paid more at the time of signing then Nylander. This is for a player who at the same point in there careers has put up way less points and was just a more talented version of Sean Avery. Bergeron percentage at time of signing would be at over 10 million now which again isn’t a discount. They are claiming to have taken discounts to get the younger guys to take less to play. It’s dirty and sad. What in my comment said that I compared Nylander to Bergeron. I guess you just needed a reason to argue I don’t get it.

      • Nylander could be the most one dimensional player in the league, he’s not built for the playoffs at all

      • Marchand comparing him to Avery really Marchand top 10 player in world Avery bottom 10 player in world Marchand 100 point guy kills penalties Avery not so much.

      • @Obe that’s where he is now not when he signed his contract. He has licked players, bit players amongst other classless and deusche garbage. His contract was signed in the 2015-16 season where he only had 1 60 point season. He did not take a discount when he signed like he claims. At the same point in there careers Nylander has produced more and has shown a lot more class. It’s great that Marchand has turned it around and found amazing chemistry with his line and now produces at an elite level. When he signed the contract that was not the case. Man it’s like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall read what I wrote.

      • Maybe more class from nylander but when he is giving up on pucks because he doesn’t want to get hit the respect from the players is just as low

      • Roger think it was Alex Burrows who bit Bergeron Marchand was the guy playing with Sid and Bergie on the top line for Canada who led the Canada cup in goals and game winning goals. As for his chirping and yapping that’s an asset drives the other team nuts. Nylander is the guy who has never been in a corner or back checked.

      • RL Bergeron signing was and still is a good contract and was and still is better then Nylander.

        Yes Marchand had done stupid things but we’ll take him over Nylander and his contract will and has already aged better then Nylander.

        This isn’t a slight at Nylander but he is a soft one dimensional player who is still over paid.

        At no time was Marchand or Bergeron considered over paid.

        Contract wise or other you cannot compare Nylander to either player he doesn’t have either one skill set, not yet anyways.

      • Hold on. What does “gives up on pucks because he doesn’t want to get hit” mean. Sounds bad but is it like when some have said he’s a periphery player and doesn’t go to the “dirty areas” to score goals or get his points?

      • @Caper again your taking what you want from my comments without reading or comprehending them. I didn’t say Bergerons contract wasn’t good I said it wasn’t discounted. At the time if signing he was being paid at a salary that puts in in the top 10 highest paid players. Not a discount. I would take Marchand as well but again at the time of signing Marchand was nowhere near the player he is today. He also did not take a discount like he claims regardless of how great his contract looks now. The point and please read this Caper is that both those players are perceived to have taken discounts to stat with the Bruins and win cups when in FACT at the TIME OF THE SIGNINGS they got great contracts with no discounts applied. Hopefully you read and actually understood this one if not I’m done talking about it find someone else to troll

    • The coaching change helps Caper as he gave them more freedom in the O Zone. Having Pasta develop into a premier offensive player did too.

  4. Not surprising the Blues, Bolts and Leafs are going to have cap issues but its always mindboggling how perennial bottomfeeders like the Coyotes and Sabres can have so little talent and so little cap room.

  5. No comparison to the two players, Caper, every kid should model himself on Bergeron.
    Nylander’s getting better but he has a long way to go to reach Bergeron’s level – most players do.
    I hope he is rewarded in the future – maybe not with a Cup, but a big contract and a spot in the Hall of Fame.

  6. “…acquiring the contracts of players on permanent LTIR, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dubas goes to that well again to gain some wiggle room.”

    Players on LTIR don’t allow teams any extra cap space in-season for active players … the ONLY benefit could be in moving out an expensive player for an EQUIVALENT cheaper player and taking on the LTIR contract

    • If a team is up against the cap ceiling, they can exceed the cap by the equivalent of the annual average value of the player on LTIR. That’s what allowed the Leafs to have a cap hit of over $95 million for this season. That’s why Dubas acquired Clarkson’s contract last summer.


      • Yes … but it doesn’t give them more than $81.5 million in players actually available to play … and if up against the cap and an injured player is found ready to play (not play well, just physically able to play) the team must either dispose to them or make room under the cap for the player … the only real advantage is what you get paid to take the contract and/or what you get rid of in the deal

      • If the player is on permanent LTIR (like Clarkson and Horton were this season) and the club is pressed against the cap, it still allows them to go over the cap ceiling to bring in an additional player. That’s what I meant (and what Larkin was referring to) when I suggested it could give them more wiggle room.

  7. From what I read on Lyles story about new cba, if players waive ntc in a trade, ntc will still be in effect on new team. So even if Gourde or Johnson were willing to waive, who is trading for them? Gourde will be 29 and is coming off a 30 point season. Has 5 more seasons at over 5m cap hit. That’s not a contract you would give someone if they were ufa. Johnson has 4 more years at 5m and will be 30 and also had a 30 point season. I can see a team trading for Killorn, but you’re still in trouble. IMO, I think Tampa could look to deal Pointe. To Buffalo: Killorn and Pointe.
    To Tampa: Montour, Cozens and 8th overall in this draft.

    • Point has two more years on his contract and then is an RFA. Why would Tampa trade him now?

      • LJ, cause he doesn’t have a ntc. Who else are they moving beside Killorn? Even if they can get both Cirelli and Sergachev on cheaper bridge deals, they still have to add at least 6 players to roster. If they feel Cirelli can step into 2C, it’s possible.

      • Point is a 24 year old center, who scored 41 goals last year and this year averaged nearly a point a game and is Tampa’s third leading scorer. All forwards not named Kucherov, Stamkos or Point, and any combination of, are expendable.

        Cirelli is a young center who had 19 goals last year and 16 this year. If Tampa wants to trade Point and keep Cirelli NHL GMs will break their own ankles and each others’ to line up for Point.

      • LJ. The problem with forwards not named Kucherov and Pointe is they all have ntc! At least the ones with significant salaries.

    • Why on earth would buffalo make that trade? They could get a lot more for that package

      • Bigbear: Pointe has 21 less career goals and has played 59 less games than Eichel. His points per game is about same. They’re both about same age, so you’re looking at a dynamic 1-2 punch at center for years to come. Killorn is a huge upgrade over Vesey, who is ufa. Rumors here have been about Sabre’s trading Montour and Tampa needs right D. If anything, I’m not sure Tampa would risk trading for an unproven prospect and pick, but this would free up cap space and allow them to keep everyone else.

      • It’s kinda hard to compare points stats when he was playing with high powered offensive players in Tampa! Do you really think he would have gotten those points in buffalo? He wouldn’t have, cozens I was just named prospect and the number 8 will get a good player point is not worth that

      • Bigbear. If you want to keep Eichel happy, you make that deal.

    • That’s correct, Slick. Under the new CBA extension, all NTCs/NMCs follow the traded player to his new club. Just because a player was willing to waive his clause once doesn’t mean he’ll be willing to do it again.

  8. Habs have money and are in need of a top 6 centre, at least for the next two years while Suzuki and Kotkaniemi (hopefully) grow into their roles.

    Acquiring Johnson for a middling pick and TB retains $1M, for example, might benefit both clubs?

    It’s not a legit 1C, but those are virtually impossible to acquire. Habs might not love Johnson’s contract in three years, but that’s a hockey lifetime away to figure out a plan.

    • Johnson is a decent player, but you are correct that he is not a # 1 C. His point production the last two years are about the same as Danault’s and Suzuki’s (in his rookie season).

      Acquiring any center that is not a clear # 1 pushes Suzuki and Kotkaniemi down the depth chart for no appreciable gain. Slick62 proposes trading Point. That would make more sense for Montreal.

    • Johnson?

      Another Smurf?

      With Danault, Domi, Suzuki and Kotkaniemi, that deal is never happening.

    • Johnson will take more than a middling pick … especially if you expect TBL to retain any cap hit

      “but that’s a hockey lifetime away to figure out a plan”

      Especially for a GM that may not be the one who has to figure it out

    • The Habs are a team that could take the Bozak contract off of the Blues hands, $5 mill one season left, along with a top end prospect & a or a couple high end drafts picks for a jockstrap signed by Carey Price. Because he Blues are so tight to the cap, they would have to offer more than the Jets did to rid themselves of Mason’s contract!!! Not saying Hudon is a jockstrap, but at least he would be or the rights to, a warm body in return, if only for window dressing in a trade.

      • No thanks, Uwey. Bozak is 34, and has scored 11, 13 and 13 goals in the last three seasons.

  9. Wow the salary cap is going to be a huge issue. There are no longer any cap floor teams. Every team is spending more because of the true parity in the league. There are going to be a lot of players taking below market contracts just to stay in the NHL because there is no other way. I don’t see any of those players signing for more than 3 years.

  10. To mention Hyman name as a mid-tier to move from the Leafs, whoever thinks this needs to get more fact not fiction.

    There are few players that do what Hyman does and I’d argue one of the hardest working players in the NHL today.

    I’d move out Johnsson, Kerfoot and I have stated this many times, Marner.

    Get your RD in order and be able to have some cap space.

    Do not ship Kapanen or Hyman anywhere, I’d hope Dubas is not that stupid.

    • Hyman is a dime a dozen nhler, he gets points because of his line mates other than that he s a 3rd line plugger

      • I’d take Hyman on my team anytime. He is better than anyone on the Bruins outside of the Bergy/Pasta/Marchand line.

      • Lol geez atleast try to be honest

    • My pimp name in high school was

      Busta Hyman!

  11. Re Arz and Cap hell.. “ Larkin suggests packaging center Derek Stepan ($6.5 million through next season) with a sweetener to free up more room.”

    I’ve posted a few times that Dorian has a Golden opportunity here….

    Once he is paid his SB; he’s only owed $2M (Cap is $6.5M)…. only one year left ….Garland the sweetener

    Stepan & Garland for worst of Sens 2nd round pics

  12. Re Leafs and Cap hell… I’ve posted before that they have a narrow cup window … ‘22-‘25; and can’t win IMHO w/o upgrading their D.

    With cap hell and 1/2 of Cap (for 20/21 & 21/22) already earmarked for 4 forwards…. the logistics of improving the D…. are nigh impossible

    Leafs can score… no challenge at all there… D improvement need @ expense of a top forward 👍

    One of the 4 has to be moved… and everybody knows it won’t be JT or AM

    Before I get dumped on (where I have before on this opine) I want to stress that my analysis/suggestion is purely from the overall Leafs perspective and with straight logic and not my favouring one Leaf over another… it isn’t… just pragmatic and basic logic

    From a pure Leafs overall look…. drive to win a cup… I would try and move WW…

    1) After SB is paid; he’s only owed $2.5 M Sal this upcoming year; and effectively a cash AAV of $5 M per for balance of contract… Cap hit …$7 M. At $7 M cap… far more teams can take him on. At only $2.5 M cash next year…. bigger incentive for receiving teams (after tight economic times)… more suitors; higher likliehood of a deal… return should be 22-25 year old D man ; still with term; at or trending to top 3D; and at a much smaller Cap hit than $7 M… Leafs improve D , save on over-all Cap. Leafs may also get a prospect in the deal

    2) At $10.9 M …. way way fewer teams can fit in MM. yes after SB paid … only owed $700 K in Sal 20/21…. but effective cash AAV for balance of contract (after this SB has been paid) is $7.2M per. Cap hit also for one year beyond WW. Fewer teams bidding on MM due to space , cash, longer cap hit… less power (to KD) when negotiating a trade . If he (KD) does find a suitor…. and gets a top 3 D back… there will likely be a less than palatable contract also coming over in the deal. A prospect or 2 or extra picks could also come over… but they won’t likely move up from Jrs or Marlies to Leafs within the ‘22-‘25 window

    …. so…. IMHO…. best move is ….WW for a young up and coming D (with term) and with added bonus of extra cap savings

  13. Re Blues Cap hell

    Petro and Dunn to stay

    Space…. Army to have “off book” kind “ hear to heart” with Steen; pay his SB; get him to waive his NTC… already have “off the record deal with receiving team that they will buy him out…. Blues free up $5.8 M in Cap; Receiving team effectively pays $2.3 M to get the “sweetener” (see below) ; even at highest tax location …. Steen’s total take home loss is < $600 K… and he doesn’t have to play another gruelling season (@ 36 and 37). He doesn’t have to move… trade and immediate buyout ! Army could in fact hire him back for something in player development !

    Bozy … one more year …. $5 M Cap ; $4.25 M Sal

    Allen… $4.35 M Cap, $4 M Sal.. one more year

    Option 1 with Ottawa … Steen & Kostin for one of Sens 4 second rounders; Sens buyout Steen… effectively “buying” Kostin for $2.3 M and a 2nd. Blues trade (to ?) Allen , sweetener is the 2nd rounder in Sens trade plus their own 2nd; sign a UFA back up for $2M…. total space freed up… $7.8 M

    Option 2… Ottw …. Steen (bought out by Sens) and Allen and Kostin and Alexandrov for 2 2nds…. Blues sight UFA back up for $2 M…. net free up.. $8.1 M Cap…. could (if still needed; use the 2 2nds to move Bozy. Sens in deal ; for effectively $6.3 M …. buy a starter for one year AND get two excellent prospects

    Iowa Boy… what say you?

    • Just to further point out…. when Tersenko us back …. per CF…. Blues have 14-5-2 (F-D-G)…21 spots …. with Petro, Dunn, De La Rose to sign.

      With the Steen Allen out (and UFA back up signed) and with De La Rose re-signed (say $1M) replacing Steen as a forward …. then its just 2 D spots (Petro/Dunn) and $9.1 M left

      This is tough re getting both Dunn and Petro

      However …. with new CBA rules not crimping SBs ; and ensuring less Sal slide….

      Give Petro Sal of league min for 8 years….

      2020-21: $700K
      2021-22 through 2023-24: $750K
      2024-25: $775K
      2025-26 through 27-28… $800K… total $6.13 M

      Give him $44 M in SBs spread over first 6 years

      Cap hit $6.5 M; he averages $8.4 M per for 6 years; retires at 36 (because would only get league minimum playing at 37 & 38) ; iff Blues books then

      Give Dunn League min ; 2 years, $5 M SB up front

      Blues get in under Cap; Petro gets effectively $8.4 M (almost all if which has no escrow ) ; Dunn gets $6.5 M ($5.5 M unaffected by escrow) to show himself for 2 tears in expectation of a big payoff

      Blues have Bozy’s $5 M coming off books after next year

      Blues core basically the same

    • Iowa Boy is OFF the golf course and ON the ice!

      I have believed an easy starting point is Allen to Buffalo for Carter Hutton. It returns a familiar face to the Blues as backup for a year.

      I have thought Steen to Winnipeg for a mid round pick makes sense and would be approved by all parties. It would take a sweetener added by the Blues (Walman or Reinke or de la Rose). The Steen name is a respected one in the Peg.

      I think Gunnarsson would fetch a low round pick just to free up a couple million—easily replaced in lineup by Mikkola.

      Maybe Tyler Bozak to Detroit. They have cap space and good success from the Fabbri trade. It will take another sweetener added by the Blues NOT NAMED KOSTIN. A mid round draft pick will seal the deal. Robert Thomas will immediately replace Bozak at centre.

      Only in the case of emergency would I trade Faulk, Sanford,or Barbashev.

      Also : I tend to believe Jeremy Rutherford that Schwartz will NOT be dealt, contrary to Larkin of Hockey News or Jeff Gordan of the Post Dispatch.

  14. Money is money and Melnyk has alligator arms. Can’t see him paying anyone for nothing. He would have bought out Bobby Ryan by now. Steen maybe to play on the Sens but not to buyout would be my opinion

    • Hi Silver Seven

      Well $3.5 M to play or $2.3M to retire…. Sens still gain great prospect

      Steen could mentor

      The reason I suggested the buyout; was the incentive to get Steen to waive his NTC… my suggestion would have, fir his incentive…. max loss of $600 K ; not having to move; not having to play another season; with possible option ti join in the Blues mgt team

      I think Dorion could convince Melnyk of these 1 year front end “seed” investments that net excellent prospects that will pay off (more competitive team; more bums in seats; more revs) 2-4 years down the road