NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2020
Check out the latest Penguins, Panthers, Oilers, and Predators speculation as they head into the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski examined some off-season keys for the Pittsburgh Penguins following their qualifying-round exit. The Pens must decide between restricted free agent goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. They also need to shore up their blueline and are expected to re-sign most of their young RFA forwards.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vendel wondered if the Penguins will move on from Murray just three years after choosing him over Marc-Andre Fleury. Given their limited salary-cap space, he also speculated over whether general manager Jim Rutherford might dangle veteran defenseman Kris Letang in the trade market to shake up the core or perhaps think even bigger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers think the decision to start Jarry over Murray in that crucial fourth game against the Canadiens indicates the latter could hit the trade block following the post-season. Murray will be more expensive to re-sign than Jarry. With the cap remaining flat, that could seal Murray’s fate.
Cap Friendly indicates Letang has a list of 18 preferred trade destinations. Moving a 33-year-old defenseman carrying an annual average value of $7.25 million on a contract with two seasons remaining won’t be easy in this new economic environment.
ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski wondered what will become of Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon after reports emerged Friday saying the club would soon part ways with him. They need to build up their roster depth but they’re also reportedly planning to cut payroll for next season.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin speculates winger Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be departing via the unrestricted free agent market as it could cost a combined $15 million to re-sign them. Larkin believes improving the blue line should be the Panthers’ priority.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson noted defenseman Mike Matheson was scratched from the Panthers’ lineup following his poor performances in the first two games of their qualifier against the New York Islanders. Matheson could draw some interest in the trade market, where his affordable $4.25-million AAV would be a good selling point. His modified no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon attempted to improve the Panthers’ defense corps before the trade deadline but didn’t find any deals to his liking. The decline in Matheson’s performance saw him briefly surface in this season’s rumor mill. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good, depending on how much interest he draws in the trade market. Dadonov and Hoffman could be moving on If the Panthers are planning to cut payroll.
ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski believe the Edmonton Oilers must provide more support for superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Both carried the bulk of the offensive load in their qualifying series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers need two-way forwards, they must sort out their defense, and upgrade their goaltending.
THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman feels adding another offensive forward and a top-four defenseman should be imperative for the Oilers. He also recommends adding a bottom-six forward and a replacement in goal for Smith.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could stick with the promising young defensemen within their system. They must find a reliable starter. Mike Smith is aging and Mikko Koskinen is inconsistent. Affordable two-way forwards should be available via trades or free agency. With over $71.3 million invested in 17 players, finding sufficient cap space could be an issue.
ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski believe the Nashville Predators must decide if they can afford to re-sign Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith or determine which one to keep. They also wonder if center Kyle Turris will factor into their plans. He’s struggled in Nashville but his $6-million annual salary through 2023-24 makes him difficult to move.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if it’s time for the Predators to promote GM David Poile and bring in a new look to their front office. They’ve been on the decline since reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Campbell points out, scoring depth has long been a problem for the Predators. Cap space will be an issue as they’re carrying over $72.2 million committed to 17 players. Shedding Turris would help but his salary and performance won’t be palatable to other teams this summer. Poile is the only general manager in Predators’ history, but it could be time for a fresh outlook.