NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2020
The latest on the notable remaining unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Mike Hoffman remains atop the list of players still available in the 2020 unrestricted free agent market. The 30-year-old winger tallied 29 goals and 59 points in 69 games last season with the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Adam Vingan reports Hoffman’s agent claims 13 teams are interested in his client, with five or six that he considers serious. However, he feels those clubs are paralyzed a bit by the flattened salary cap. He also said the winger has no issue signing a one-year contract.
Vingan speculates the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators could be among those suitors. He thinks Hoffman could draw a salary between $5 million and $8 million on a one-year deal.
NBC Sports’ James O’Brien, however, lists Hoffman among his “buyer beware” players. He suggests his offensive impact is overstated while he contributes little defensively.
Center Erik Haula and wingers Corey Perry, Mikael Granlund and Anthony Duclair round out the top five. Defensemen Sami Vatanen and Zdeno Chara, winger Andreas Athanasiou, center Carl Soderberg and defenseman Travis Hamonic complete the top-10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien also includes Duclair and Athanasiou in his “buyer beware” category, saying teams will be getting some offense at the expense of abysmal defense from those players. Granlund, however, is considered a safe free-agent bet.
Chara was expected to return for another season with the Bruins, but GM Don Sweeney seems to be leaving that up to the big blueliner, whose agent claims other clubs have expressed an interest in his client. No word on what’s going on with Perry but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns for another season with the Stars.
The Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators have been suggested as destinations for Vatanen but there’s no indication he’s in discussions with those teams. Nothing of note regarding Hamonic, though the speculation linking him to the Winnipeg Jets hasn’t gone away.
Other notables still available include Ilya Kovalchuk, Matt Martin, Conor Sheary, Michael Frolik, Colin Wilson, Alex Galchenyuk, Andy Greene and Drake Caggiula.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Montreal Canadiens would bring back Kovalchuk but their acquisitions of Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli probably puts an end to that idea. Martin is reportedly in talks with the New York Islanders, who’ve indicated Greene could also return next season.
Sheary, Wilson and Caggiula should land somewhere on inexpensive one-year deals. Frolik and Galchenyuk have declined in recent years and could have difficulty drumming up interest in their services around the NHL.