Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 19, 2020

by | Jul 19, 2020 | Rumors | 33 comments

A look at the five UFAs with the most to prove in the NHL’s return to play and an update on Loui Eriksson in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

THE SCORE: Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby top Matt Teague’s recent list of five unrestricted free agents with the most to prove during the upcoming NHL playoff tournament.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall’s struggled with injuries and played with two inconsistent teams since his 93-point Hart Trophy performance in 2017-18. He turns 29 in November and the playoff tournament could represent his best chance to secure a big payday. His performance will go a long way to raise his value under a flat salary cap for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s value on the open market was tagged at over $9 million annually before COVID-19 interrupted the NHL schedule. A weak effort in a quick exit from the playoff tournament will send his value tumbling.

Holtby put up mediocre regular-season stats since 2017-18 but solid performances in the last two postseasons. Turning 31 in September, he has little room for error to prove he’s still a reliable NHL starter. If he’s outplayed by teammate Ilya Samsonov in the playoff tournament, it will hurt his chances for a big raise over his current $6.1 million annual average value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby has acknowledged this is probably his final season with the Capitals. He will garner interest on the open market but could find landing a lucrative new deal hard to come by if he has a shaky postseason.

Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner round out Teague’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund struggled for a while following his trade last season to the Predators, but his performance improved when John Hynes took over as head coach midway through 2019-20. If that trend continues, Granlund could prove himself worthy of at least a short-term deal at the same AAV ($5.75 million) with the Preds or another club.

After several productive years with the Colorado Avalanche, Barrie had a difficult 2019-20 campaign with the Leafs and isn’t expected to be re-signed. A solid effort in the upcoming playoffs could get him a one-year deal with another club for an AAV similar to his current $5.5 million.

Lehner was looking for a big payday last year after winning the Masterton Trophy and finishing as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Instead, he had to settle for a one-year, $5-million deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He played well for the struggling Hawks, who shipped him to Vegas at the trade deadline. His performance with the Golden Knights sparked speculation they could attempt to re-sign him. If he outplays Marc-Andre Fleury in the tournament, maybe the Golden Knights try shopping Fleury to free up cap space for Lehner.



  1. Re Hall

    There is a possibility that Arz gets swept and say Hall gets 2G 1A…. its hard to say from such a small sample size if he has regained form and showing as a potential $9 M guy

    For Lehner…. there is a possibility that he doesn’t play. I would think they will open with Flower; and if he plays well, they will ride him through

    So , if you’re a Knight’s fan; in reality you din’t want to see Lehner play as it means all is well

    Agree Holtby unlikely back with Caps

    • Any team that signs Hall for $9M/yr is making a HUGE mistake. He averaged 33 games per season the last three years…injuries will catch up to him as he gets older if they haven’t already.

      • Daryl, that’s not true. Guessing you looked at cap friendly. Under games played, it shows games with NJ and Arizona listed separately. You’re averaging those 2 numbers plus last season, where he missed significant time. In 4 of last 5 seasons he has played most of the games.

      • Agreed. He has had 5 — 20+ goal seasons but is 3 years away from his one great season.

        Even in a pre covid cap world 9 million/season would be too much.

  2. I keep wondering about this off season’s goaltending situation???

    With $7 mill per cap hit on M-A Fleury after this season, who would want to take on that kind of hit???

    No one is going to do that kind of a favour for Vegas, when they could sign Lehner themselves for roughly the same $$$ & have a younger tender with a better record the past two seasons!!!!

    What teams actually have that kind of cap room???? Detroit, Ottawa, Jersey???? Would any of those teams be part of his 10 team M-NTC????

    I really don’t see a Fleury trade being attainable.

    • New Jersey doesn’t need Fleury. Blackwood is turning out to be a player and was on pace to have a better rookie season then Brodeur’s Calder winning campaign. We are also going to carry Schneider’s 6M for the next 2 seasons.

      I would be happy for the Devils to take Ericksson, but it is going to take more then a prospect and a pick. It is a buyers market, there are 25 or so teams that are up against the wall, and they need to come quick with the offer.

      Van has 17M is space. They want to keep Toffoli, Markstrom, Virtanen, Gaudette, and Stecher need new contracts, and they have Petterson to worry about next year and Hughes the year after.

      • I agree they’ll carry Schneids until his contract is up. You never know, he might just regain a lil mojo? But we have to sign another back up in case, cause Senn’s not ready.
        Which makes me doubt they’ll take Erickson (contract) on. But, your idea makes sense.

    • Teams do that if you willing to add a top young prospect. Glass is probably to high a tiered prospect but teams will make that trade if they need tending and have the cap space. Young talent has value.

  3. IMO Fleury gets bought out. And I don’t think he’ll be alone. This will drive the market down for Holtby and other ufa goalies.
    Somebody could give Hall a big deal based on what he’s capable of. His problem has been staying on the ice. There’s no question he’s a dynamic player when healthy. I’ve said before, there’s 16 teams still in the Lafrenierre sweepstakes. Arizona is one of them. If they get top pick, I doubt they sign Hall.

    • I’d be shocked if they buy him out. He is still a big face of the franchise.

      • That’s what I thought, Chrisms, until I noticed Fleury is 35. How many top end seasons does an athlete have at that age.

        Gretzky and Lafleur got traded and the fans got over it ….

      • Could happen. But those situations are different. Hockey is still budding in Vegas. Pr is very important. I guess they could spin it as a flat cap thing. But I doubt Vegas alienates is new fan base that way.

      • I think you overstate Fleurys importance to Vegas and a very new fan base.

        I think fans will care more about winning than heart felt (which probably doesn’t exist in this 3 yo franchise) decisions.

        Lundqvist is a guy that some feel have earned a right to ride out that contract because of “loyalty “.

        Some, aren’t strapped with his salary and cap hit….

        It’s a business. Fleury is far from the guy Vegas needs or will lead them into the future.

    • Agree on Fleury in particular and goalies in general Slick62. As for Hall, in any other time someone would likely have taken a big plunge and opened the vault. Not now. I keep saying, guys like Hall are in for a very rude awakening simply because GMs – with owners looking more carefully over their shoulders – are no longer going to be spending like drunken sailors and damn the consequences.

      Not with the prospect of not playing in front of crowds game in and game out and TV contracts wondering where the advertising money is going to come from with so many BIG enterprises (the types that sponsor) also experiencing big financial losses right across the board.

      Baseball got smacked between the eyes about how things are going to be when the Canadian government advised the Blue Jays yesterday that they won’t be playing any home games this year – and probably next if they don’t soon come up with a vaccine. The Raptors will likely get the same directive.

      • I think it is funny hat anyone will think any spending habits will change due to covid. Go’s who did before will continue to spend big. Sure they will need to make the cap room to do it but they will try. Some will succeed. At any event players will take one year terms and then wait for teams to adjust and spend their money. All of history suggest nothing else. I expect little change in this regard. Spending will be like recommendations to wear a mask for many GM’s .

      • It’s going to be interesting to see who’s right on this one Jeff. The fact you think “it’s funny” shows your disdain for opinions that lean the other way. stay tuned.

      • The comment, “I think it’s funny for such a thing to happen” , or the comment “that’s funny” when some one sees something non comical but unusual ” , are universe terms that do not mean laughing fun

        To clarify

        i find it an oddity that people will think a pattern maintained throughout all history will change due to a momentary pause in the growth of the cap. But more specifically that more people seem to think that spending habits will change.

        I will try and not show so much disdain in the future over others opinions.

        However i do not find it odd that a poster on this sight would assume another posters prejudices and biases. Has Striker ever come back?

      • OK, fair enough, so how,exactly, do you know that this is a “momentary pause in the growth of the cap …?” Please point us to any expert that has proffered the opinion that this is all “momentary.” We could all use a little does of encouragement.

        Here’s something from Forbes that suggests it could – in the best opinions of leading world economists – go either way.

        That’s why I don’t think team owners are going to allow their GMs to spend as before – and not for quite some time.

      • All pandemics end. The cap has done nothing but go up. We even have a new team coming to generate more and greater revenue.

        So predicting something that never happened before Is quite odd when placing such certainty on it.

        I will ask you why do you not think it will end?

        Personally I doubt we will shut down like this in the event of a second wave. America is doing a good job letting this virus run its self out the good old fashion way

      • Yet even that article of Forbes says things can go either way. Why so certain the cap will be flat for longer than what teams have already made action to hold it for.

        Besides even in a flat cap teams will find ways to spend on a free agent. It’s flatness will be irrelevant in altering gm’s spending habits.

        Bonus heaven contracts will remain as the one spending tool to keep rich teams above poor in parity.

  4. I would bet a small fortune Fleury isn’t going anywhere the fan base would go nuts plus he can still play. Hall says he wants to win we will see where he signs and for how much. Holtby may need to take a one or two year deal until something big opens up.

  5. Lehner should be worth $4.5 to $5.m for a 5 year term. However Fleury stays is my guess. Total dollars by position can’t afford both.

  6. Does anyone think there will be a 2020 – 2021 regular season without fans?

    The Nhl is a gate driven league, i dont see next season starting until fans are allow back in the arena and folks can fly in land in any NHL city without being Quarantined.

    • I’ve heard that next seasons games will be held in 4 hub cities.
      Not sure if this is true or not.
      So will the Jays play out of Buffalo?
      Anyone else hear about the league not allowing the Leaf players and prospects to practice and improve at their own facilities?
      Bad decision by the league imo.

    • Well said Caper. Some just don’t get the new reality – for them it’s “business as usual.” Hell, the real s&^t hasn’t even hit the fan yet when it comes to the Coronavirus – but they’re getting a stark dose of what’s yet to come in a number of specific places that tried to “open up” to save the economy over lives. Including Alberta where they just experienced a spike after opening up to some degree in June. Not the huge numbers of Florida, Texas or India for example – but then they don’t have the massive populations of those areas. Still, it’s alarming for their medical capabilities.

  7. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the big name ufa’s roll the dice and sign for 1 or 2 years with a hope that things will be back to normal with a much higher cap in place.

  8. Boys,
    MAF, is not in danger of being bought out. Yes he had a down year, but with this rest, if he comes back and plays well in the playin and playoffs he stays.
    If they want to keep Lehner, they can make other roster moves to accommodate keeping both goalies.
    Then they get a full year, to evaluate who to protect in the expansion draft.

    As for the 2020-21 season opening without fans, I highly doubt they can afford too. But if they can get through this playin and playoffs, I think it bodes well for next season with fans.

  9. I can see Buffalo paying Hall if he agrees. I understand the “he wants to win” argument, but other than Av’s, who has cap space? Buffalo has 10 players under contract and 34.5 mil in cap space. They need to sign their rfa’s and let Cozens and Mittelstadt play. If I’m them, they take goalie Askarov with 8th pick. They need to make playoffs next year or risk Eichel becoming more disgruntled. I don’t see handing out long term deals to mid level UFA’s. I think they’ll try to land one of Hall, Toffoli, or Hoffman.

    • He would only go to Buffalo to get a payday.

      • I doubt he will get a payday from the Sabres, TSP. The Pegulas just gutted their scouting department, and some current employees who escaped the purge had unflattering things to say about where Kim Pegula’s priorities are: the Sabres need to make money to fund the Pegulas’ lifestyle.

  10. I could see Minnesota or Carolina going after Lehner, maybe even Calgary

  11. LJ. Pegalas have businesses taking a hit just like a lot of folks during this pandemic. Considering the league stopped playing in March and Buffalo isn’t part of playoffs, they cut staff. Most could be rehired later. As I mentioned, they only have 10 players signed. They have 7 ufa’s. They have to sign players. Why not Hall? They can pay him and still not spend up to limit.