NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2020
The latest on Taylor Hall, Max Domi, Frederik Andersen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Anthony Cirelli and James van Riemsdyk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
HALL AND DOMI
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cites Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 that a case could be made for the Canadiens as a destination for Taylor Hall. He believes the 29-year-old left-winger would be interested in the Habs if he tests the unrestricted free agent market.
“He likes playing in that environment,” said Dreger. “He enjoyed his time in Edmonton. He’s not afraid of the media and all those things. Markets in Canada are fun when you know what you’re getting into.”
Hall could improve the Canadiens’ offense. However, Dreger also noted the Arizona Coyotes are interested in re-signing the former Hart Trophy winner. He feels if Hall is seeking the most money he can get, chances are he’ll get that with the Coyotes.
Cowan also wondered what the future holds for Max Domi. The 25-year-old Canadiens center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a disappointing follow-up to last season’s 72-point performance.
The Buffalo Sabres could be a fit if the Habs put Domi on the trade block. Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR Sports Radio 550 he thinks Domi is available. He pointed out the center wasn’t happy with his role this season plus he changed agents last week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall will garner lots of interest if he hits the open market. I don’t doubt the Coyotes’ sincerity toward re-signing him, but recent reports that they were late paying player bonuses plus their $80-million cap payroll could affect their efforts. I also believe Hall wants to play for a contender, which could see him move on from the Coyotes and pass over the Habs.
Friedman followed up on Domi during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, reporting he hasn’t requested a trade. The Canadiens could re-sign him but, as Friedman pointed out during his WGR interview last Thursday, they probably don’t see him as a $5 million per season player. The Habs could trade Domi if negotiations bog down and arbitration looms.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported Friday he believes Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has spoken to Frederik Andersen. He apparently told the 30-year-old goalie the Leafs aren’t shopping him, but teams are asking about him.
Luke Fox suggests the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres “to name a few” could be potential trade partners. They’re in need of an upgrade between the pipes and have the blueline depth to tempts Dubas. However, Fox feels the Leafs shouldn’t move Andersen unless they can land a goalie carrying a similar cap hit ($5 million) who could be a better fit right away.
Fox also pointed out Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper’s new contract (two years, $4.5 million annual average value) kicks in next season. Given the Coyotes woes, teams seeking a goaltender would come calling. Trading him, however, would be a horrible way for the Coyotes to boost their dressing room or excite their fan base.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I mention Fox’s comments about Kuemper because his name recently surfaced in the rumor mill. It would be natural to tie the Leafs to Kuemper and suggest peddling Andersen elsewhere. Maybe that’s what Dubas has in mind. All the talk about trading Andersen was as a cost-cutting measure, but things can change rapidly if you’re considering several options.
Dubas won’t trade Andersen unless he’s getting a goalie of equal or greater value in return. Maybe it’s Kuemper, maybe it’s someone else. Maybe there’s no better option out there. Maybe the right deal just can’t be found. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks.
COULD FLEURY RETURN TO PITTSBURGH?
TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights would like to re-sign Robin Lehner, who’s taken over the starting goalie role from Fleury.
Doing so, however, would mean trading or buying out Fleury. Madden feels the latter is possible because the 35-year-old’s $7 million AAV for the next two seasons is difficult to trade. Fleury would then become an unrestricted free agent and sign a cap-friendly deal with the Penguins, who are expected to trade Matt Murray.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting premise, but I don’t see this unfolding. Sure, the Golden Knights could buy out Fleury, and he could be amenable to returning to the Penguins on perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden deal to share the crease with Tristan Jarry. However, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will go with Jarry and Casey DeSmith as his tandem and see how things unfold next season.
SHOULD THE JETS OFFER-SHEET CIRELLI?
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck suggests Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be a little ruthless in the offseason and sign Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. The Lightning have $76.1 million invested in next season’s payroll, lacking sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli is a tempting offer-sheet target, provided he’s willing to sign one. If he’s not, it’s a pointless exercise. And if he is willing to sign, there’s no certainty he’d do so with the Jets. If the Lightning want to match it, they are allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by 10 percent during the offseason. I don’t see the Bolts losing him to an offer sheet unless a club signs him for an AAV of $8.5 million or more.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLYERS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined what the offseason could hold for the Philadelphia Flyers in the wake of their second-round elimination from the 2020 playoffs. Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to re-sign some veteran players.
She suggested trading winger James van Riemsdyk as a cost-cutting measure. He carries a $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 and fell out of favor during the playoffs. However, Kaplan feels there’s probably not much of a market for him and it would be a sell-low move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli had JVR sitting second on his recently updated NHL trade-bait board. Kaplan offered a good explanation of why he shouldn’t be that high on the list. Unless the Flyers pick up part of that cap hit or package him with a sweetener, they could find it tough to attract suitors for van Riemsdyk.