NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020
The latest Bruins speculation plus some free-agent options available to the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean examined what’s left for the Bruins to do during this offseason. They must sign winger Jake DeBrusk, determine if defenseman Zdeno Chara will return and fill a need for depth among their middle-six forwards.
Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space ($7.35 million per PuckPedia) and DeBrusk’s streaky scoring, Bean believes the 22-year-old restricted free agent should receive a short-term deal worth somewhere in the range of $4 million annually.
Nothing much has happened with Chara, but if the unrestricted free agent wanted to leave, Bean thinks he would’ve done so by now. He feels the Bruins could use him as a third-pairing, left-side defenseman.
Bean believes the Bruins need additional left-wing depth. Possible options could include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula or Andreas Athanasiou. He doubts they have sufficient cap space for Hoffman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins intend to sign DeBrusk on that short-term deal suggested by Bean. It’ll likely happen by the time training camp opens, which could be around mid-December if the NHL begins its 2020-21 schedule on Jan. 1.
Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the schedule forward for ’20-’21 looks like before deciding if he’ll return for another season. I concur with Bean that if the 43-year-old rearguard was signing with another club he would’ve done so by now, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’d get a better offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe his preference is playing for the Bruins.
The Bruins could go the free-agent route to address their need for another left winger. Unless they make a cost-cutting trade, however, they can’t afford Hoffman. They might have to go into the bargain bin.
They could also go the trade route to address that need. Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports prospect defenseman Urho Vaakanainen could be a trade candidate.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the free-agent options available to Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen if he wants to bring in additional depth.
The Jackets could use a short-term replacement for Gustav Nyquist, who’s sidelined for five months recovering from shoulder surgery. Options include Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and former Blue Jackets Derick Brassard and Anthony Duclair. However, Hedger believes Kekalainen could instead look at promoting a promising young player.
Hedger feels the Jackets’ blueline depth took a bit of a hit when Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara were traded in cost-cutting deals. He suggests Sami Vatanen would be a good fit on the right side of the third pairing.
Kekalainen might need an experienced goalie if he decides to trade Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for additional cap space. Options could include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets popgun offense was a concern before Nyquist was sidelined. Kekalainen could go the UFA route or promote from within, but I’ve also read reports suggesting he could instead target a cap-strapped rival in the trade market.
Kekalainen could look to within his system to address his need on the third pairing but I wouldn’t rule out making an affordable short-term free-agent signing. Vatanen might be the best option but might not be cost-effective.
If Kekalainen trades Merzlikins or Korpisalo I believe he’ll promote Matiss Kivlenieks rather than add an aging UFA netminder.