NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2022
The latest on Matt Dumba and Phillip Danault plus an update on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag, Michael Russo was asked when he thought Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba might be traded. He believes that will happen whenever Wild general manager Bill Guerin gets the return he wants. However, money is tight around the league and he doesn’t see a Dumba trade happening anytime soon.
Russo felt the Vancouver Canucks weren’t really interested and he doesn’t feel the Wild were interested in Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan. He doesn’t see Dumba getting shipped to the Winnipeg Jets because they don’t have the centers.
The Ottawa Senators also weren’t interested while the Toronto Maple Leafs moved on once they knew they weren’t getting Alex Pietrangelo. Noting the Florida Panthers were interested in Pietrangelo, Russo speculated perhaps a trade could be made there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Dumba trade rumors have cooled in recent weeks I don’t rule out the possibility he’ll be moved before the 2021 NHL trade deadline. He’s the only member of their top-four defensemen lacking a no-movement clause, meaning the Wild risk losing him to Seattle in next summer’s expansion draft unless Guerin protects four defensemen or cuts a side deal with the Kraken.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes there will be plenty of interest in Phillip Danault if Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin fails to sign him before the center’s UFA eligibility next summer. Cowan speculates the 29-year-old Danault could see a six-year extension worth at least $5 million annually.
Bergevin will be up against the cap ceiling after 2020-21 with Danault, Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia slated to become UFAs while Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen will be restricted free agents. Losing Danault would put pressure on youngsters Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki to face off against the other team’s top line as well as take faceoffs in key situations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have $65.2 million invested in 14 players for 2021-22. I can see them letting the inconsistent Tatar depart via the UFA market. It could go either way with Armia depending on the type of season he has. Lehkonen is currently making $2.4 million and shouldn’t be an expensive re-signing, though he does have arbitration rights. Kotkaniemi is coming off his entry-level deal and could get an affordable bridge deal with the promise of a bigger payday in two or three years’ time.
Those moves could leave enough to re-sign Danault, but Bergevin could attempt to use the flat cap to justify a short-term contract or a longer-term for less than $5 million per season. A lot will also depend on how well Kotkaniemi and Suzuki perform in 2020-21. If they outperform Danault, the coming season could his last with the Habs.
ARIZONA COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan believes Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has opted to stand pat for now. “What you see right now will pretty much be how we open up on opening night,” said Armstrong last Friday.
That means he’s staying patient with goalie Darcy Kuemper, forwards Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller, and veterans Jason Demers, Antti Raanta, Alex Goligoski and Derek Stepan. The latter four are slated to become UFAs next summer. Morgan notes the Coyotes GM had multiple trade talks but wasn’t able to secure fair market value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s probably the best course of action for now. Maybe the trade market improves during the regular season leading up to the trade deadline for some of those UFAs. Armstrong can remain patient with those under contract beyond next season or those who are restricted free agents.