NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2020
WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND CANUCKS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan noted the Colorado Avalanche are in a good position where they’re ready to become a championship contender but also have a decent amount of salary-cap space. She wondered if Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic will revisit his interest in Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall or make a pitch for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo via free agency. Sakic must ensure he maintains sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog to new contracts next summer.
THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla disagrees with Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon’s belief his club doesn’t need to make changes. Kiszla feels they need a goaltending upgrade over Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. He suggests Vegas’ Robin Lehner or Chicago’s Corey Crawford could be available via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now recently reported hearing the Avs linked to Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Goaltending is considered the Avs’ Achilles heel. That’s likely the issue Sakic addresses if he takes the plunge into the offseason free-agent or trade markets.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wonders what the Vancouver Canucks will do with starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. He’s an unrestricted free agent coming off the best season of his career. However, Wyshynski asks if it’s worthwhile keeping him when his best work came in a contract year and points to promising Thatcher Demko’s strong performance in the playoffs.
Management must also bear in mind young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be due for new contracts after next season. Wyshynski advocates augmenting the young core by getting players with championship experience, but doing so within their salary-cap constraints won’t be easy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko’s performance against the Golden Knights could give GM Jim Benning something to think about in his negotiations with Markstrom’s representatives. Does he invest in a lucrative long-term deal for Markstrom or bet the future on Demko? Once that’s sorted out, Benning will have to find sufficient cap space to re-sign or replace pending UFAs Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev.
WILL KRUG AND THE BRUINS PART WAYS?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports it sounds like Torey Krug won’t be re-signing with the Boston Bruins. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Krug said contract talks with the Bruins have been few and far between. He also rejected the notion of signing a one-year contract, seeking instead to maximize his value with a big-money, long-term deal.
Krug didn’t rule out re-signing with the Bruins, but Haggerty observes they have limited cap space with $15 million and several other players (including Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk) to re-sign. He feels Krug will find his lucrative new deal with a club seeking an elite offensive blueliner to quarterback their power play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t blame Krug for wanting to take advantage of his best shot at a big, long-term deal. He might not get as many offers as he would’ve in a normal year, but he should find some worthwhile options. The Bruins must decide if he’s worth keeping or consider cheaper alternatives.
LATEST BLUES SPECULATION
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann was asked about recent rumors linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. He feels the Blues intend to keep Parayko (even if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo), considering him one of the NHL’s best young defensemen.
Timmermann also feels the Blues will do all they can to re-sign Vince Dunn, a restricted free agent who recently appeared on TSN’s trade-bait list. Moving him and not re-signing Pietrangelo would mean an almost total overhaul of the Blues’ defense corps.
Asked which member of the Blues becomes a cost-cutting trade candidate, Timmermann suggested winger Jaden Schwartz. He feels Alex Steen, Tyler Bozak, and Carl Gunnarsson would have limited value to other clubs. Schwartz is a year away from UFA eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko is also signed through 2021-22, which is another good reason to hang onto him. We don’t know if the Blues would move Schwartz but if push comes to shove they might not have much choice in order to free up more cap space for Pietrangelo.
The Blues could still make one or two smaller cost-cutting moves like trading Gunnarson and buying out Steen. They could then re-sign Pietrangelo, sit at 10 percent over the cap and perhaps start the season with Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. They would have to be cap compliant when Tarasenko returned but it would buy them more time if necessary.
LEAFS UFA OPTIONS
SPORTSNET: Alex Pietrangelo, Vancouver’s Chris Tanev and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie are the top-three options on Luke Fox’s list of unrestricted free agent defense options for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay’s Zach Bogosian, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene, and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen round out his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo is the best of this bunch but the Leafs would have to clear considerable cap space to sign him. The rest would be much more affordable but won’t have the same impact.
Brodie and Vatanen might be the best of the bunch. Bogosian has been terrific in the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he’s got a long history of injuries and could struggle on another club to replicate his success with the Bolts.