NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2020
Latest on the Ducks and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Stephens recently listed five players he thinks the Anaheim Ducks could add from cap-strapped teams in the off-season. They include Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, and Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens provides an excellent, detailed examination of those players and why they could be available. I’ll just add my two cents here.
Strome and Virtanen are restricted free agents, with the latter having arbitration rights. Of the two, Virtanen seems the most likely to be available. He was relegated to the press box during the Canucks tune-up game last week against the Jets. Virtanen has decent offensive skills but his consistency and poor defensive play are ongoing issues. The Canucks could be ready to move on from him following this season.
Raanta puts up solid numbers when healthy. Problem is, he’s been banged up a lot in recent years. He’d make a good backup for John Gibson but also carries a $4.25 million AAV for next season. That would make him a pricey understudy for Gibson. If the Coyotes move Raanta it would be to shed some cap payroll to make room to re-sign Taylor Hall. They won’t be keen to retain part of his salary.
The Blues must dump some salary to clear space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn. However, I don’t think they want to move Schwartz. Their leading trade candidate could be goaltender Jake Allen.
Kapanen would be a nice addition to the Ducks. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an affordable $3.2 million annual average value. The Leafs don’t want to part with him but could have little choice if management can’t find another way to shed salary for next season.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers could face a difficult decision with Jesper Fast. The popular winger won the club’s Player’s Player Award as voted by his teammates for a record fifth straight year.
Fast is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Brooks believes the hardworking winger will seek much more than the $1.85 million annually that he’s currently earning. However, it could be difficulty squeezing that raise into the Rangers’ limited salary-cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, the Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They must also re-sign restricted free agents such as Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev.
Unless they shed significant salary (contract buyout for Henrik Lundqvist, perhaps?), they won’t have enough to keep everyone. Fast could become the odd man out.