NHL Rumor Mill – August 1, 2020

by | Aug 1, 2020 | Rumors | 24 comments

Alex Ovechkin, Brenden Dillon, and the Capitals postpone contract talks until after the playoffs, plus the latest on the Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said contract extension discussions with Alex Ovechkin are on hold until after the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Given the uncertainty that’s unfolded this year in the NHL, MacLellan indicated both sides want to see how everything pans out.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Ovechkin, 34, has one year remaining on his contract. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status at the end of next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor, of course, but Ovechkin’s contract status could generate interest following this season. The longer he goes without an extension, the more speculation about his future with the Capitals.

Ovechkin’s current contract counts as over $9.538 million annually against the Capitals’ salary-cap payroll. In actual salary, he’s earning $10 million per season.

Despite his age, Ovechkin remains among the NHL’s elite players, winning the Richard Trophy for the ninth time as the league’s leading goal scorer (shared this season with Boston’s David Pastrnak). He’s among the greatest goal scorers in NHL history.

Ovechkin’s also the greatest player in Capitals history, the man who led them to their first Stanley Cup. He’s the face of that franchise. Re-signing him, however, could get interesting. 

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $57 million invested in 13 players to 2021-22, though that figure will rise depending on who they re-sign or add to their roster this season and for how long. Winger Jakub Vrana and goaltender Ilya Samsonov will be restricted free agents next year and due for pay raises. Finding sufficient space for Ovechkin’s new contract, as well as Vrana’s and Samsonov’s, and having enough to fill out the rest of the roster could be challenging. 

I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals don’t work something out. It’ll be fascinating to see how much term and dollars he gets to stay in Washington and the effect the Capitals’ payroll under what could be a flat cap for ’21-’22.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan reports MacLellan also indicated contract negotiations for this year’s pending free agents are on hold until the playoffs are over. That includes defenseman Brenden Dillon, a pending UFA who joined the Capitals from the San Jose Sharks near the February trade deadline. Dillon has expressed interest in re-signing with the Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, Braden Holtby, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Radko Gudas are UFAs at the end of this season, while Travis Boyd and Jonas Siegenthaler are restricted free agents. With over $71.1 million invested in 16 players, there’s not a lot of wiggle room there.

Holtby, Kovalchuk, and Gudas are expected to depart via free agency. Boyd and Siegenthaler should be affordable re-signings. Depending on Dillon’s asking price, they might be able to squeeze him into their payroll.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, John Vogl expressed his belief the Buffalo Sabres’ No.1 job is to find a center for high-prices winger Jeff Skinner.

He doesn’t expect the Sabres will pinch pennies with their roster. However, he acknowledged an off-season comment by team co-owner Kim Pegula where she noted the club had spent toward the cap for years with little to show for it.

Vogl also believes the Sabres must improve their goaltending. He’d be concerned if they should pass up a netminder who’s available for a reasonable price.

Defenseman Brandon Montour could become a trade candidate. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and the Sabres have sufficient right-side blueline depth.

Whether the Sabres plunge into this year’s UFA pool depends on the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given their recent front-office purge, it’s difficult to determine what’s in store for the Sabres under rookie general manager Kevyn Adams. I agree with Vogl regarding their needs, but Adams and company could see things differently. The earliest indications should come in the days following the Stanley Cup Final and leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft.

If the Pegulas get frugal with their payroll, we can expect a younger roster supplemented by cheap, short-term additions via the trade and UFA market. However, that probably won’t sit well with captain Jack Eichel. The Sabres must commit to winning or risk alienating their franchise player.


  1. Buffalo needs to figure out what they have in Ullmark, is he a potential no 1 or not? If they are unsure they should get a good backup just in case, there are several on the market. If Montour doesnt fit the plan they should trade for a good young 2nd line center. If they still have financial flexibility they should go after the teams that are in cap hell and see what they can get.

    • i bet the Sabres offer a big contract to Holtby this offseason

  2. Once the Sabres resign their RFA’s they will likely have about 11+ million of cap space plus Montour (qualified at $3.5), a 2020 2nd (maybe a prospect like Mittelstadt and a future pick) as a trade piece. They absolutely need a 2C and an upgrade in goal. But also a LD and a veteran bottom six forward who can kill penalties. Bringing back Larsson or Girgs would fill that but not for more than $2M.

    • Put Mittelstadt on the wing, he has yet to prove he can play center in the NHL or AHL.

  3. It’s been mentioned before, Stepan as a 2C for a year would be a smart affordable move. Sabre’s can take the cap hit for a year and he’s only owed 2 mil in actual salary. Assuming Cozens joins team next season, and they give Mittelstadt a chance, they can probably get a sweetener out of Coyotes while helping them clear cap space. Rangers are in a bit of pinch. Strome is rfa and might become available. Gorgiev also, though I think Buffalo should take Askarov with 8th pick in draft and hope maybe Huttons eyes can last a year or 2.

    • I agree that Stepan could be a good step to solving 2C for a year to give Mittelstadt a chance to develop. He is the kind of veteran that Eichel asked the Sabres to acquire. If Coyotes are serious about clearing space for Hall this could work. I could even see a bigger package where the Sabres ship Hutton for Raanta which would also give them $1.5M additional space and an upgrade to Sabres Goal.

  4. Ovi at 35 can still play and score goals but if he wants to remain a Capital he needs to sign one year deals like Chara did in Boston. If he wants 5 more years at big dollars it’s time to say goodbye it’s just to risky. Let’s pray today the ice holds up and the games are real hockey games not ping pong.

    • Not a good comparison. Ovi is the face of the franchise and a generational player. Chara has had a hall of fame worthy career but he’s no ovi. Plus at age 35 ovi is the best at what he does. Chara at that age had to start modifying his game a bit to adjust to his age. Ovi will get 3+ years easy.

      • Three years is fine at a discount but not at north of 10 million Washington can’t afford it. Also think Chara was pretty good player and if left team he could have easily signed a long term contract but he wanted to stay in Boston. If Ovi wants Washington he will need to do same.

      • I’ll place a friendly smartest poster in the world bet on that. I think ovi gets 3+ years from warshington at a minimum annual cap hit of 8.5 +.

      • I’ll take that bet. O I will be 36 when he starts next contract. After next season he have a career earnings over 125 million. You don’t know if he will even want to keep playing if he does, I think it’ll be year by year decision. I doubt he get a 3 year deal and that money.

  5. Ovi has been loyal to the Capitals and they have been loyal to him. I see him finishing his career in Washington. As for the leaving players I strongly believe Kovalchuk ends up back in Montreal.

  6. The Pegulas sports money is in the NHL and the NFL….how many of you…..and are the Pegulas confident as to how much sports driven revenue are they going to earn….Their non -sports money is oil …as I write this it is slightly over $40 a barrel….it was below zero on a futures basis a couple of months ago….keep your eyes on that as I am sure the Pegulas will

    I think the real Pegula message was what they did to their coaching and scouting staffs….my Father always taught me watch what people do not what they say…

    What comes is a guess…..but that guess is that the Sabres for financial reasons will be lowering all reasonable variable costs…..one of those is salary ….for players just like they already have done with coaches and scouts….it may be the very reason they have tighten control of the organization

    • I think you have it OBD.

      Who cares what I think, but I think the Sabres will walk a fine line: spending something to keep up appearances for Eichel, but at the end of the old man Pegula will spend his money to keep Kim happy, not Jack.

  7. You know the rangers are in trouble when they are starting lundquist, lundquist is a back up at this time in his career

    • Shestyorkin is out with something undisclosed. Lundqvist didn’t exactly win the starting job here….

      • Still in trouble with lundquist in net, their defense isn’t strong enough with lundquist in net

      • Lundquist didn’t play bad got lucky on a few but the defence allowed a lot of quality shots

    • So now I’m confused. Who will get 1st overall pick this year? It will be tough fight between Pit, Chicago or Rangers.
      I believe Rangers are giving up this round to get thisn1st overall

      • Beginning to look more like the Oilers are determined to get one more crack at # 1 the way they’re playing against Chicago – 5-2 at this stage

      • 6-4 good game and surprise surprise

  8. Ovi can sign bonus filled contracts. If he scores he gets paid.

  9. I think a Mittlestadt and Montour package would have interest

  10. Pegulas money is in natural gas not oil.