Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020
Could the Rangers trade Tony DeAngelo? Does the acquisition of Joel Edmundson signal more moves ahead for the Canadiens? What’s the latest on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
DEANGELO ON THE BLOCK?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers could attempt to trade Tony DeAngelo rather than re-sign the restricted free agent defenseman. That’s because a contract of longer than one year for the 24-year-old DeAngelo would all but ensure losing promising Nils Lundkvist to unrestricted free agency on June 2, 2022 without the 20-year-old rearguard having played a game for the Blueshirts.
Lundkvist signed to play in Sweden next season. The Rangers hold Lundkvist’s rights until June 1, 2022. However, Brooks doesn’t like the odds of the young Swede signing with the Blueshirts when they’ve already got DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox filling the right-side blueline spots. He feels the Rangers will need a steady flow of impact players on entry-level contracts over the next several years to support and counterbalance the expensive contracts at the top of the depth chart.
Brooks believes it’ll cost the Rangers between $5.5 – $6 million annually to re-sign DeAngelo, who’d be filling the third-pairing spot on the right side. He said there’s no inclination to move him to the left side. Instead, he feels they’ll use DeAngelo as trade bait to bring in a long-term solution for their second-line center position. They could find more affordable options to replace DeAngelo on the third pairing via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $67.1 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, with DeAngelo, center Ryan Strome, goalie Alexandar Georgiev and winger Brendan Lemieux as their notable restricted free agents. Jesper Fast is an unrestricted free agent who’s reportedly headed to the market.
Brooks has frequently suggested DeAngelo as a trade candidate this year because of the Rangers’ depth on the right side of their blueline and their need to address their second-line center role. General manager Jeff Gorton could re-sign Strome, who has arbitration rights and is a year away from UFA eligibility, but there’s a question over whether he’s worth a potentially expensive long-term investment, especially given the current economic climate.
The Rangers could get some cap relief if aging goalie Henrik Lundqvist is traded, bought out or retires. Trading him would require picking up a healthy chunk of his $8.5-million cap hit. Retirement would be the best option as it would clear the entire cap hit from their books.
The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello believes the most likely scenario is a buyout. However, that will only clear $3 million of his cap hit, as well as leaving $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22. Nevertheless, that could be their only solution.
If Gorton goes the buyout route it could affect what he does with DeAngelo and Strome. It will also depend upon what’s available in the trade market to suitably address the Rangers’ second-line center needs. DeAngelo would be an intriguing trade target but finding a club willing to part with a good second-line center for him will be challenging for Gorton.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens acquisition yesterday of left-side defenseman (and pending UFA) Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes raises questions over what general manager Marc Bergevin has in store for his club in the coming weeks. The addition and possible re-signing of the 27-year-old Edmundson could create congestion at that position, especially if promising Alexander Romanov makes the roster next season.
Analyst Mike Bossy wondered if more moves are coming, suggesting perhaps Victor Mete’s days with the Habs might be numbered. Mete is a restricted free agent in October and due for a raise.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently observed the trade speculation brewing about Canadiens center Phillip Danault. He feels it would be a bad idea to move the two-way center and suggests the Habs should learn from what happened to the Buffalo Sabres when they traded away Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.
The Sabres made that move in part because they felt promising Casey Mittelstadt was ready to move into the No. 2 center role. Instead, Mittelstadt struggled and spent time last season in the minors while O’Reilly went on to greater things with the Blues. Larkin doesn’t want the Habs to risk repeating that mistake with promising Nick Suzuki. He believes Danault would be difficult to replace.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson’s addition indicates the Canadiens want more size, experience, and toughness on the left side of their blueline. Maybe that means Mete gets traded, maybe not. It’ll depend, of course, on whether Edmundson re-signs before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9.
I agree with Larkin’s take on Danault. Some of that trade chatter is stoked by the 27-year-old playing a third-line role during the playoffs and some because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason on the top-two lines, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can expect that level of play throughout next season. Maybe they’re ready for prime time, maybe not.
Better to hang onto Danault for next season and observe how things shake out. If Suzuki and Kotkaniemi keep Danault permanently on the third line, then they can look at moving him before the trade deadline. If they’re in the playoff chase, better to hang onto him when depth at center will be invaluable, even at the risk of losing him to free agency next year.
UPDATE ON ANDERSON
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports the Blue Jackets would like to re-sign Josh Anderson. The 26-year-old right winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported Anderson would like to stay with the Blue Jackets, but it would take a long-term deal to do that. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might not be keen to do that, as he’s looking to fit him within their roster structure and their salary cap. The flattened salary cap for next season will also affect negotiations.
Arace points out Anderson doesn’t have much leverage. Despite his arbitration rights, he missed most of this season with a shoulder injury. He also noted Anderson’s agent, Darren Ferris, threatened to have his client play in Switzerland during their previous contract talks before an agreement was reached.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently wondered if a new Blue Jackets negotiator might help the situation. Before accepting the Florida Panthers’ GM role, Bill Zito’s biggest role as Blue Jackets assistant GM was handling contract negotiations. Maybe his replacement can smooth things out. If not, Kekalainen could start listening to trade offers next month.