NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2020
Trade speculation continues to percolate about the Penguins, plus the latest on the Sabres and Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Kingerski was asked which member of the Pittsburgh Penguins was likely to be traded. He considers goalie Matt Murray the most likely candidate, suggesting he might be packaged with defenseman Jack Johnson but they wouldn’t get much in return.
Kingerski also didn’t rule out the possibility of Kris Letang being moved, despite general manager Jim Rutherford’s insistence he’d keep his veteran core intact. However, he hasn’t heard any trade talk or speculation. He also suggested they might move Patric Hornqvist if they got a decent offer but not as a salary dump.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Penguins moved Bryan Rust, who’s coming off a career-high 27-goal performance. He also believes they’d like to move Hornqvist’s contract. He’s got three years left on his contract with over $15 million in total salary remaining.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone expects Murray will be traded in the offseason, but his injury history and inconsistency will affect his trade value. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Interested clubs might prefer Murray was under contract before acquiring him. That could mean getting permission from the Penguins to talk contract with his agent before making a trade. I don’t believe anyone will be interested in taking Johnson in that deal unless an additional sweetener was added, but I doubt even that would be tempting to a rival GM.
Letang’s age (33), contract ($7.25 million through 2021-22), limited no-trade clause, and injury history should ensure he remains in Pittsburgh. Hornqvist might entice clubs seeking an experienced, gritty veteran forward, but his contract could be a turn-off in a flat-cap year. According to Cap Friendly, he also has a full no-trade clause.
Rust could be the easiest to move. The 28-year-old winger carries a cap-friendly $3.5 million annual average value through 2021-22 and lacks no-trade protection. Despite his career year, however, rival general managers could be leery of acquiring him if they feel he won’t replicate those stats away from Evgeni Malkin.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked which defenseman the Sabres will trade in the offseason. Lysowski believed Brandon Montour as the likely candidate as he struggled to fit into coach Ralph Kruger’s system. The 26-year-old blueliner is a restricted free agent.
Lysowski doubts Montour will fetch anything like the first-round pick the Sabres gave up to acquire him from the Anaheim Ducks. However, trading him would free up cap space and could help them land a valuable forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Sabres might not qualify Montour’s rights, but GM Kevyn Adams quickly dismissed that possibility. Adams could try to swap Montour for a forward. Failing that, he could move him for a draft pick or prospect and use the money that would’ve gone toward re-signing him for a forward via free agency or the trade market.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis observed the Blackhawks have a lot of holes to repair on their roster, especially on defense. He noted they gave up the most even-strength scoring chances on a per-60 minute basis for the second straight year but were bailed out by their goaltending. He feels fixing that issue should once again be their priority.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, limited salary-cap space will hamper GM Stan Bowman’s efforts. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $74 million invested in 19 players, with Corey Crawford, Dylan Strome, and Calder Trophy finalist Dominik Kubalik to re-sign. Bowman will likely prioritize getting Crawford and Kubalik under contract but could be forced to shop Strome or a salaried player to free up cap room for some defensive help.