NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2020
The latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Jets, Coyotes, Canucks and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered how the cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning will navigate the offseason following their Stanley Cup win. Only three defensemen (Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn) are under contract for next season, with Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak restricted free agents while Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn are among their unrestricted free agents. Center Anthony Cirelli is an RFA due for a big raise.
Wyshynski observes the Lightning have $5.3 million in cap space. It’s expected they’ll have to move a veteran forward to free up cap space, with Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual value, no-trade clause) and Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV, modified no-trade) among the trade candidates.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun also mentioned Johnson as a trade candidate as well as center Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million). He points out both could be tough to move because of their full no-trade clauses.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests the Winnipeg Jets attempt to trade for Cirelli. Noting the Lightning’s cap situation, he feels picks and/or prospects could be the return. Failing that, McIntyre suggests attempting to sign Cirelli to an offer sheet worth between $4.2 million and $6.3 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of general managers will be interested in what Lightning GM Julien BriseBois will do to address his cap issue and re-sign Cirelli and Sergachev. Shopping one or two veteran forwards seems the likely play, though that could prove difficult if there isn’t much of a market for them or if interested clubs insist on a sweetener in the deal. Killorn’s lesser cap hit and modified no-trade makes him easier to move than Johnson and Gourde
An offer sheet for Cirelli is possible, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he does, the Bolts can spend over the cap ceiling by 10 percent in the offseason to match the offer, though they must be cap compliant when next season begins.
OILERS INTERESTED IN EKMAN-LARSSON, KUEMPER?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Edmonton Oilers are among the clubs with interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman carries a hefty contract ($8.25 million AAV through 2026-27, full no-movement clause), making it a difficult transaction for the Oilers. Dreger also adds the Boston Bruins in the mix.
Pierre LeBrun adds the Oilers are looking at goaltenders and believes they’ve spoken to the Coyotes about Darcy Kuemper. He also said they have shown interest in Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek and could keep an eye on Jacob Markstrom’s contract talks with the Vancouver Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples doesn’t see any of those players coming to Edmonton because of the Oilers’ cap constraints. Unless GM Ken Holland intends to dump some salary to make room for one of those players, I agree with Staples’ take.
VIRTANEN ON THE MOVE?
TSN: Darren Dreger suggests the Vancouver Canucks might not have much choice but to trade Jake Virtanen. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but it could cost $3 million annually on a two-year deal. Dreger indicated other teams are interested in Virtanen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $14.2 million in cap space but they’re also trying to re-sign Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, which will eat up a big chunk of their available cap payroll. Depending on how those negotiations go, they could be forced to shop Virtanen.
The Canucks could also shed salary to free up additional cap room. The Province’s Steve Ewen reports GM Jim Benning is rumored to be trying to move Loui Eriksson or Brandon Sutter. He noted Eriksson’s agent said he has permission from Benning to speak with other clubs about brokering a deal, though Ewen speculates that could also require packaging the winger with a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect.
LATEST ON THE SENATORS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggested possible options for the Senators if they decide to bring in an experienced goaltender. Free-agent targets could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss. Trade options include Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek.
Garrioch also reports the Senators are willing to listen to offers for the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have plenty of goaltending options to choose from and the cap space and trade assets to make it happen. It’ll be interesting to see what route they take.