NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020
A look at some predicted destinations for the top remaining UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently predicted destinations for the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.
Wegman last month predicted the Los Angeles Kings as a destination for winger Mike Hoffman, considering him a good fit alongside Anze Kopitar on their top line. He suggested a four-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: With Cap Friendly indicating the Kings have $13.6 million in cap space, they can easily afford Hoffman. However, I doubt general manager Rob Blake would bring a 30-year-old winger to a rebuilding roster on a multi-year deal.
Hoffman is reportedly willing to consider a one-year deal for between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. Maybe Blake would be interested in a one-year contract if he can get Hoffman at a lower rate and then flip him for futures at the trade deadline.
Wegman also suggested Anthony Duclair for the Kings. While his defensive game leaves something to be desire, his abilities could prove useful in offensive-zone starts and on the power play for a club that struggled to score last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 25-year-old Duclair could be a better fit with the younger Kings and much more affordable than Hoffman. His defensive play and streaky scoring, however, are areas of concern here.
Erik Haula could address the San Jose Sharks’ lack of bottom-six depth at center. He wouldn’t be overly expensive for the Sharks, who have $2.3 million in cap space. While injuries hampered him over the last two seasons, he tallied 29 goals and 26 assists in his last full campaign in 2017-18.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula could be a good, affordable short-term investment as a third-line center in San Jose. Given his injury history and age (29), the Sharks probably wouldn’t invest beyond one year.
The Florida Panthers could use an experienced winger like Mikael Granlund to provide much-needed secondary scoring. He’s coming off a down performance last season with the Nashville Predators but averaged 63 points per campaign in the three previous seasons. He’d be guaranteed second-line minutes with the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Panthers could be trying to bring back Hoffman. Nevertheless, Granlund’s low production last season and the current economic situation would work in their favor here. A one-year deal for between $3.5 – $4 million might get it done.
Wegman suggests Andreas Athanasiou as a middle-six forward option for the Nashville Predators. The speedy 26-year-old winger didn’t play well last season with Detroit and Edmonton but he tallied 30 goals with the Red Wings in 2018-19.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think the Predators are playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping to land him for a lower price. If that’s not possible, maybe they’ll take a chance on Athanasiou or Duclair on a low-cost one-year contract.
Manitoba native Travis Hamonic could be a perfect fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The 30-year-old defenseman would play close to home and help improve the Jets’ porous blueline. While they’re listed as not having any cap space, they could get some wiggle room by placing center Bryan Little ($5.29 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic and the Jets could be waiting to see how things shake out with Little before reaching an agreement. Then again, maybe the Jets have no interest in him.
Wegman suggests Sami Vatanen could be the best veteran free-agent defense option available to the Philadelphia Flyers, who didn’t bring in a suitable replacement for recently retired Matt Niskanen. The 29-year-old Vatanen has played 21 minutes per game in recent years and would give the Flyers a third right-handed shot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us, but I get the impression Erik Gustafsson will be his only UFA signing this year.
Hoffman will not sign a 4 year deal with an AAV of only $5.5m. He believes he’s worth more than that, although obviously the market wouldn’t give that now. What he wants to do now is sign a 1 year Taylor Hall type deal and hope that by next year, the virus will be under control and he will be able to sign a longer term deal at more than $5.5m.
Hoffman turns 31 next week. He’s put up good numbers but I don’t see him getting better with age. Taking a 1 year deal and betting you’ll get a better deal next off season is a huge gamble. 5.5 isn’t much more than he’s getting now and leaving Fl for LA would eat up most of that in taxes. Panthers have space, but are only showing 19 on roster. At some point you’d expect Tippett and Denisenko to crack roster. Still, after letting Dadinov go, I’d keep Hoffman. Maybe there’s an offer there, and he’s just weighing his options.
It will be interesting to see who gets signed first, problematic one-dimensional goal-scorer Mike Hoffman or problematic one-dimensional goal-scorer Andreas Athanasiou.
I think it would be hilarious if a team brought both of them in as camp invites.
Kind of unfair to label players as “problematic”. Issue in Ottawa seemed more between spouses. He was with Org. For 7 seasons. He played well for 2 full seasons in Florida and I’d think if he was a problem, they’d have tried to move him at last deadline. As I said, I wouldn’t rule out a return to Florida.
Hamonic situation is confusing . He might end up retiring . His daughter has health issues and the main reason he opted out of the Covid Cup was the virus. That ain’t going away for another year. If he continues his career it will be with Calgary or Wpg. Maybe the Wild .
KHL’s Bobby Orr is on his way to TO.
last years top KHL dman and this year hes 8 goals and 17 assists in 17 games…and he had COVID during this season.
Oh yeah and at 925k for a top pair dman.
Take a bow Kyle.
How about we wait until he’s played a game in the NHL.