NHL Rumor Mill – August 22, 2020
What next for the Canadiens and Blues now that their seasons are over? Is Jesse Puljujarvi close to re-signing with the Oilers? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Julian McKenzie believes the Montreal Canadiens have good reason to be optimistic over their future following their surprising performance in the 2020 postseason. Nevertheless, they have some issues to address. They must land a proven scoring forward and a reliable backup goaltender for Carey Price.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Canadiens must reevaluate core forwards Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, and Phillip Danault. He wonders if they’ll move any of them to make room for promising youngsters like Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He feels they need more size on the wing and must sort out the left side of their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All those forwards Wyshynski mentioned lack no-trade protection. I don’t see the Canadiens moving away from Drouin after he developed some chemistry with Suzuki during the postseason. Gallagher is a heart-and-soul guy so he’s not going anywhere. Neither is Danault, who could move down into a third-line center role with Suzuki and Kotkaniemi on the rise. Tatar is an unrestricted free agent next summer and I expect the Habs will keep him for next season and see what unfolds.
That leaves Domi, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was a fixture in the Montreal trade rumor mill throughout this season. That speculation grew louder given his lackluster playoff performance. Granted, he was a late arrival to training camp over COVID-19 concerns given his health conditions. He may have been nursing an injury. Nevertheless, he could become the odd man out.
TVA Sports recently cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo including Domi on his list of possible trade targets for the Minnesota Wild. There’s also some chatter linking Domi to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It remains to be seen if those clubs have any interest in him or if Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin intends to shop him. Still, I expect this isn’t the last time Domi’s name surfaces in the rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan wonders what the future holds for Alex Pietrangelo now that the St. Louis Blues are out of the playoffs. The Blues captain becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He wants to stay in St. Louis and the Blues want to keep him, but he’s in line for a lucrative new contract. Because of the flat salary cap, Kaplan expects a compromise could be worked out between the two sides.
The cap-strapped Blues will have to move out some contracts to make it work. Kaplan suggested goaltender Jake Allen’s trade value has never been higher. Other veterans could be on the move, such as Tyler Bozak, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, or Carl Gunnarsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $79.4 million invested in 21 players, with Pietrangelo and restricted free agent Vince Dunn to re-sign. Keeping both means shedding some salary even if they’re willing to accept hometown discounts.
Steen has a full no-trade until next February and there probably wouldn’t be much interest in a 36-year-old forward with a $5.75-million cap hit. Schwartz has a modified no-trade but he’s also a valuable part of their core forwards. Bozak is 34 and carries a $5-million cap hit through next season with a 10-team no-trade clause.
Allen’s solid performance this season, his cost-effective $4.35-million cap hit for next season and lack of no-trade protection makes him the most likely trade option. Gunnarsson has a five-team no-trade but the 33-year-old carries an affordable $1.75 million cap hit through next season. Moving those two, however, won’t free up enough room for Pietrangelo and Dunn. GM Doug Armstrong will have to get creative.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdy cites Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reporting there have been quiet discussions between Oilers GM Ken Holland and the agent for unsigned winger Jesse Puljujarvi. After contacting both sides, Spector expects Puljujarvi will sign a new contract with the Oilers and join them in training camp in the fall.
(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: A restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract, Puljujarvi spent last season in Finland awaiting what he hoped would be a trade from the Oilers. Holland, however, reportedly didn’t find any offers to his liking. Looks like Puljujarvi realizes if he wants to continue his NHL career, it’ll have to be with the Oilers.
SPORTSNET: Spector also recently reported Holland isn’t sure yet whether he’ll re-sign Mike Smith for another season or find another goaltender to share the crease with Mikko Koskinen. The Oilers GM has only so many assets and cap space to improve his roster for next season.
Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry could be available in the trade market. The Blues could look at moving one of their goaltenders to free up the cap room for Alex Pietrangelo.
Spector doesn’t see Holland pursuing Washington’s Braden Holtby via free agency and doesn’t expect the Vancouver Canucks will part ways with Jacob Markstrom. That leaves Vegas’ Robin Lehner as the best under-30 UFA option.
(AGAIN, NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Oilers should prioritize improving their goaltending depth. Landing Lehner seems unlikely as he’ll want a big raise on a long-term contract. Trading for Allen is one possibility, though his inconsistency throughout his career is a concern. Murray could be peddled by the Penguins but his injury history and consistency issues are red flags. Holtby is far too expensive and Markstrom’s probably not going anywhere.
Hello Lyle, great writing as always. Question though, based on performance in last two seasons, turning 31 before next season, how is Holtby going to be far too expensive? Paying him for his career highs from a few years ago is a fools errand, and one the modern day GM better not take a financial gamble on. I think Holtby is lucky to get more than a 2-3 year deal, and on the cheap (well if millions of dollars can ever be cheap).
He’s far too expensive as far as the Oilers are concerned. Even if the market forces Holbty to accept, say, a one-year deal with a cap hit similar to this last contract ($6 million) or less (say, $5 million), the Oilers lack the cap space to sign him.
Salary expectations, declining skill set and a flooded goalie market isnt going to help Holtbys free agency.
surprised to see that the odds makers have the Bruins as favorites again Tampa Bay -118 right sure the odds will drop
Suzuki is going to be a star. The kid has a nose and scored all different kinds of goals. . I couldn’t believe how much he stepped up offensively and was prominent in all things Habs this playoffs. First star ( even ahead of Price)
VGK vs Col will be better than the final.
Boston can’t be the favourite without Rask
I thought Suzuki got better as the series went on. Kid has a bright future.
Tough kid,eh, Ron?
The following are one Leaf fan’s opinions.
Montreal’s goalie as always fantastic. Their defense is underrated. Chariot and Petry are very strong 2 and 3 D men. Makes a Leaf fan envious. That core with an addition could be framework to a winner.
Too many forwards are too small. KK is 6 ft 2 inches and could be dominant. There seems to be a sugar high going on around Suzuki who is 5 ft 10 inches. He was drafted 17 th and came cheap. Why? It will be hard replace a sizeable of similar forwards into a dominant group of forwards.
The Habs have leadership and unity in the room it seems. This is hard to achieve. Not many teams have it and it is vital.
Hab fans seem to want to trade Domi. They should think of why so many f want to do this and why they got him so cheaply. He won’t IMO get you much.
The Habs are like Dracula….you can’t be sure they are dead until you drive a silver spike into their hearts. And that seems very hard to do.
What I saw in the play offs put fear into this Leaf fan.
The fantastic goalie in Montreal gave up 3 goals on 7 shots in a must win game. Hardly the stuff of legends. 10 million dollar goalies are supposed to win the unwinnable, stop the unstopable, not give their team zero chance of victory in a game they must win.
Thought Suzuki got better as the series went on. Chariot was pretty decent. Domi and Gallagher were non factors.
You can be partisan and still be objective, Ron.
Two of the goals against Price last night came off of deflections by Habs D. That happened in other games as well against Philly.
His save percentage for the playoffs was .936, and GAA was 1.78. You are entitled to your opinion but unless you are trolling Habs fans you sound foolish.
Did you even watch the game??? price was not to blame on any of those goals, was pure bad luck/bounces, in 6 games vs flyers price allowed 11 goals and 6 of those goals were tipped by his own players.. do that means 5 goals in 6 games were off of flyers stick (some could of been screen shots or flyers deflection don’t remember if there were some or not) but price got beat by the opposition 5 times in 6 games.. he was worth the 10.5million
Chiarot makes Kris Letang look like Bobby Orr
I think Chiarot played as well as he could have played. He’s a pretty good stay at home defenseman and a nice pickup for the Habs that didn’t cost them anything.
Totally agree with you on your analysis of the trade prospects for the Habs. Domi has played his last game in Montreal. He will be packaged with some picks and maybe someone like Byron or Lehkonen to get a winger which we hope is going to be bigger than 5’8″.
Also the emergence of Brett Kulak pushes back the need for a LHD. I believe the Habs will also wait to see how Romanov is performing before moving on that front if needed.
The other big need is a good back up for Price, someone who can play 30-35 games. In my opinion, this is the most urgent need. Habs cannot go into next season without one.
Louis L: I too see Domi an Byron as gone. Domi needs to play center to be at his best and (who would have thought this could be said) they have depth at center. OBD might be right about a modest return for Domi, but I believe he will be gone.
Byron was invisible during the playoffs. His one asset is his speed and when play tightens up in the playoffs he is just small.
Lehkonen lacks scoring touch but he is too valuable defensively to trade. Great skater, great work ethic.
Will the real Kulak please stand up. Mediocre during the past several regular seasons, a great playoffs.
All of which means the Habs need a couple of forwards with size and scoring touch. Who doesn’t, I know, but that and a back up goalie are their pressing needs.
Aren’t the Jets looking for a center?
I have to say I wasn’t satisfied with the Habs D from Kulak on down. I would be fine giving him a second chance on the third pairing but too many bad passes, failed keep ins and failures to commit either way resulting in scrambling.
As solid as the top 3 are, Habs need the kind of D that can speed up their breakout. It was brutal against Philly who almost always had time to set up to defend in numbers. That was the series right there.
It seems a shame if Domi has to go, but so does Lekhonen. We need more players in the mold of Evans in our bottom six.
And anything Drouin achieved with Suzuki is all Suzuki. Not sure it’s worth keeping him to watch another promise fizzle.
What a difference a year makes.
Going into last season the thought was the Habs biggest weakness was down the middle. Albeit a small sample, the center position seems to be one, if not the Habs greatest strength.
With Suzuki, KK & Danault looking like the top three in any order, the emergence of Jake Evans, looks like he is a lock as the the #4 centerman for this team. Considering Danault is the oldest at 27, it seems like the Habs have solidified that position quite quickly.
If Poehling can hone his craft in Laval next season, there could possibly become a logjam within a year or two.
Now the Habs just need some of their young D-man to make some leaps & strides in their professional careers.
FYI, at draft position #15, I am thinking goal scoring winger & Jake Perreault, so of Yannick, may just be that pick for the Habs.
Draft position slot #16…
Correct, damn 31 team league!!!
I agree Ronald. I just don’t see this super human Price others do. He’s 33 years old, and I don’t see him getting better with age.
When will people start to see how putrid this contract is?
Completely agree. Price is 33 and that contract will be more and more of an anchor as time goes by.
Very tiresome to listen to 6 games of Price ballwashing and excuse making by the “impartial” announcers.
Bottom line is “the best goalie in the world” got bested by a 22 year old kid.
3 goals on 7 shots deflected or not is not “elite” goaltending.
Which team do you support Ronald?
I see your opinion completely biased, so share which team is yours
Holtby has been an average goalie that last few seasons, Oilers should stay away. I bet the Flames sign him though
Oilers should go the extra mile to sign Lehner, if the Knights don’t re-sign him
I bet Jake Allen is the Red Wings starting goalie next season. He’s young enough to fit into what they are doing there, and won’t have the pressure he had with the Blues
I’m not sure that Allen would be an upgrade over Bernier, who was one of the top 5 goalies in the league over the last 3 months of he season. Yes, his numbers don’t look great – but given the number of shots and quality scoring chances the Wing’s gave up last year, no goalie in the league will match his numbers playing under the same circumstances. Yzerman may pursue Allen, but not necessarily as a starter.
My hope is that Yzerman looks at getting something for maybe taking either Reimer from Carolina or Fluery from Vegas. I don’t doubt Allen would be fine as well, but with so many teams at the top of the cap I think Yzerman needs to leverage that into picks, players.
What I see in Max Domi is a guy who make a difference in a supporting role on a team with star players, where the focus is not on him to carry the load.
He would make a great, aggravating top six winger on team like Edmonton or Toronto or even Pittsburgh.
In Arizona, as well as Montreal he was expected to be one of the leading stars, not a strong supporting cast member. Teams are constantly trying to pound square pegs into round holes.
Jonathan Drouin bares the same cross. He is an a very good player, when playing with strong, talented linemates, but cannot bare the load of being The Man himself.
As Suzuki started to ascend, Joe’s game began to fall in place as his wing man.
Maybe in time if given a chance to develop it, maybe Max could have that chemistry with KK??? These things do not happen overnight, it needs to nurtured & developed.
That is where guys with strong defensive abilities, like Armia & Lehtkonen become the other wingers on those lines.
Max Domi for Galchenyuk.
So what ever the return is probably a win. Byron gets hurt every year. I didn’t check but a very high percentage of missed games. Not much value there.
I like the idea of Holtby in Calgary
Not sure who is going to pay up for Holtby. He’s just not the keeper he was a few years ago and he will want to get paid.
Very impressed with Suzuki in the series.
I thought Philly was better than they are, the Flyers won the series but they did not impress me that much. Hart is gonna be real good.
Does anyone think the Habs make the playoffs next year? If they do who’s out? When I had lunch with Braden he was really interested in Seattle not sure how he ever gets there but he definitely was interested. Probably signs a one year somewhere than depending on who Seattle gets go from there.
Habs won’t make playoffs next year. They are too weak.
First move by the Habs is a new GM. Second trade whatever they have for picks, and 3rd have a “luck” like Rangers with lottery.
Ask this question in about 6 years, maybe they will make it by that time
If Puljujarvi does indeed agree to report to Edmonton, let’s hope they give the kid more than an average 6-7 minute ice-time log to “prove” he belongs.
B’s fan will be rooting for them but if looking to cash have to go with TB, better Forwards top to bottom better all around D and better goalie … TB in 6
Pens will be moving Murray not Jarry!!! Murray is a shell of himself from 2016-2017
I do feel sorry for anyone who trades for Murray, hoping that it is not the Wings.
Leafs should be taking a run at Lehner and dump Andersen. That is a far more critical area to improve than trying to sign Pietrangelo.
Show us how they could afford him … and who’d be dumb enough to take Andersen off their hands in this goalie-glut market.
Lehner will sign with Toronto for league minimum.
Because evvvvvvvvverybody wants to be a Leaf
The Habs’ #1 need is not a 2nd goalie nor a 2nd pairing LD. They need a game breaker. They spent 90% of the last game in Philly’s zone and couldn’t score! The Habs need someone with a dramatic scoring touch. Aho would have been a great fit on that team. Mike Hoffman’s UFA……..