NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2020
The latest on Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton and Sami Vatanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean believes the Bruins will ride out the 2020-21 season with goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. With both slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer, the Bruins could make their decision on their goaltending based on the performances of Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar in the minors.
The Bruins could attempt to re-sign Rask or Halak for a year to allow more time for Swayman to break in. However, Bean wonders if Rask would be open to a one-year contract. He has hinted at retirement and at 34 his next deal would be a short one.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Bruins need Rask if they intend to remain a Cup contender for 2020-21, especially with two-thirds of their first line (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak) expected to miss the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. The loss of Torey Krug to free agency and Zdeno Chara’s uncertain future could also leave a dent on the left side of their blueline.
O’Brien pondered the possibility of moving Rask by the trade deadline if the Bruins slide in a big way and opt for a mini-reboot. Perhaps they could retain part of his salary to land some futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask’s future in Boston will depend largely upon his performance. If he keeps them among the NHL’s top clubs next season he could end up returning on a one- or two-year contract, though he might have to accept a pay cut from his current $7 million annual cap hit.
O’Brien’s speculation is also worth keeping in mind if he plays well but the Bruins decline. Cap Friendly indicates Rask lacks no-trade protection this season. They won’t lack for suitors if they decide to move him by the trade deadline.
NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Dougie Hamilton and the Carolina Hurricanes have yet to open contract extension talks. Nevertheless, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he hopes to sign the 27-year-old defenseman before the start of the season.
Hamilton is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Waddell noted the flattened salary cap for the next two seasons will affect things, though he’s not ruling out a long-term deal. However, he pointed out only a handful of this year’s UFA class received deals longer than three years.
Waddell also hasn’t ruled out bringing back Sami Vatanen. He indicated he spoke with the blueliner last week and feels there’s still a good fit for him with the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton surfaced in trade speculation earlier in the offseason. There’s a belief the rearguard could price himself out of Carolina if he has another season like 2019-20, where he was considered a Norris Trophy candidate until he was sidelined in January by a broken leg.
Waddell seemed to tip his hand by pointing out the low number of this year’s UFAs getting more than three-year deals. A big raise for Hamilton would also bite deeply into the Hurricanes cap space for 2021-22 when they have over $52 million invested in 12 players. Rising young star Andrei Svechnikov will be due for a big raise coming off his entry-level contract and goalie James Reimer and Petr Mrazek also become unrestricted free agents.
The Hurricanes also have just over $932K in cap space for 2020-21. That doesn’t leave much for Vatanen, though they could get some wiggle room by demoting a lesser-salaried depth player to the minors. Still, Vatanen would be looking at a significant pay cut to return to Carolina.