NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2020

by | Nov 4, 2020 | Rumors | 24 comments

The latest on the notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the latest regarding the remaining notable NHL restricted free agents.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello reportedly hopes to sign center Mathew Barzal to around $7.5 million per season. The young center’s camp would prefer a higher figure. Fox feels it’s highly unlikely a rival club will sign Barzal to an offer sheet worth $10.9 million or more per season as the compensation to the Isles would be four first-round picks.

Speaking of the Isles, Fox considers it a no-brainer they’ll sign defenseman Ryan Pulock after trading Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in a cost-cutting move last month. Pulock’s arbitration hearing is on Nov. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An offer sheet for Barzal remains possible but increasingly unlikely. With Cap Friendly indicating 23 of the Isles rivals have less than $10 million in cap space (22 of those with less than $7 million), the possibility of an offer sheet remains remote.

Whatever Pulock gets on his contract will put a big bite into the Isles’ $8.9 million cap space. They’re allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when next season begins. Lamoriello must shed some salary to sign Barzal and ensure he’s under the cap.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue having difficulty freeing up salary-cap space to sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. GM Julien BriseBois has attempted to move veteran winger Tyler Johnson but his difficulties doing so indicate how hard it is to shed salary under the current economic conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois will have to package Johnson with a good draft pick or a quality prospect as a sweetener. Even then, he might have to pick up part of his $5 million salary-cap hit. He could find it easier trading Alex Killorn but could still be squeezed to add a pick or prospect in the deal.

Contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and center Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen remains unconcerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski didn’t sign last year until just before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. The Jackets also have over $12 million in cap space as a sufficient offer-sheet deterrent. No wonder Kekalainen isn’t worried.

Contract talks between the New Jersey Devils and Mackenzie Blackwood are expected to pick up shortly. The Devils bought out Cory Schneider and brought in a suitable mentor for Blackwood in Corey Crawford. Fox speculates he could seek a deal comparable to the two-year, $8 million contract of Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins. He also doesn’t expect the Devils will have much difficulty signing winger Jesper Bratt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have over $17 million in cap space. Even if they don’t spend to the cap, they’ve got enough for Blackwood and Bratt.

Fox thinks second-line winger Jake DeBrusk’s contract talks have taken a back seat to the Boston Bruins’ attempts to reshape their blueline after losing Torey Krug to free agency. That’s led to DeBrusk popping up in the trade rumor mill. With over $6 million in cap space, the Bruins have room to sign him but they’re also poking around the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk lacks arbitration rights so the Bruins could ink him to an affordable bridge contract. That would leave enough cap room to add a defenseman via the UFA market.

Ryan Strome’s upcoming arbitration case could be worth watching. Fox cited the New York Post’s Larry Brooks back in April speculating the Rangers would prefer signing the center to a one-year contract without going through arbitration. The Rangers had debated not qualifying Strome’s rights before doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks reported Strome filed for a one-year contract worth $5.7 million with an arbitrator while the Rangers countered with $3.6 million. He speculated they could walk away if the arbiter awards Strome over $4.538 million.

Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar surfaced in trade speculation but GM Bill Zito insisted he remains a member of the Panthers. The blueliner is slated for arbitration on Nov. 8. Fox speculates Weegar could use Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s four-year, $14.75 million contract ($3.687 million AAV) as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar’s situation could also bear watching if it takes arbitration to settle his contract. Perhaps Zito attempts to trade the rearguard if an arbiter-awarded salary is more than the Panthers are willing to pay.

Fox suggests St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn could end up with an affordable bridge contract. The 23-year-old is coming off his entry-level deal. The same goes for Edmonton Oilers blueliner Ethan Bear.

Fox also projected the next salary for forward Roope Hintz could come in around $3 million, which will fit within the Dallas Stars’ $4.1 million cap space. It’s expected the Philadelphia Flyers will sign defenseman Philippe Myers to a short-term deal but there could be some benefit to locking him up to a longer-term deal.


  1. Barzal and Dubois should not get more than last year’s crop . Point Tkachuk etc. There were several

  2. Pullock signed. 2 years. 5M per

    • Slick62, late yesterday Nevinsrip asked us what we thought Pullock might get and I responded by saying

      “Hoo-boy – he is the poster boy for what EVERY frikken team is seeking on D – big 6’2″ 220lbs RD just turned 26 who was a 1st round pick – 15th overall in 2013, has a 105mph cannon, with 234 NHL seasonal games under his belt and who, except for a -4 in 2017-18 in 68gp, has been a constant +, adding 3g 11a 14pts in 36 playoff games.

      He was also the second youngest D to ever score a goal and an assist in a playoff game (the other one was some guy named Denis Potvin).

      If there’s one RFA out there who has to be signed long-term and for at least $6.5 mil per, he is it. The whole package here. Don’t blow it Lou.”

      Now, after 2 years at $5 mil per, he’s a UFA at age 28. Did Lou blow it? You have to wonder what an arbiter might have accorded and why he didn’t go there. Nice big increase over what he was making … but, man, you have to think an award would have been closer to $6 mil.

      But, he signed so I guess he’s happy so who are we to judge?

      • Would he have been worth a 1st and a 3rd for a $6 mil offer sheet? I’m sure Lou would have matched but …

      • Thanks George, When Pulock’s two years are up the lsles will have 20 million in expiring contracts of mostly spare parts. Boychuck, Leo K, Hickey, Clutterbuck, Cizkas and Leddy are all up. Ladd drops off the following year.
        Cizkas will probably stay, but he is injury prone and I’m not sure his body can take 2 more years at the type game that he plays.
        Leddy may come back but at a cheaper deal.

        Besides we have no idea what will happen in 2 years. The Cap might rise. Buyout rules may change. Long term injuries may occur.

        Only The Shadow knows….

        So, the isles will have money to spend to sign Pulock long term. Same with Barzal when that time rolls around

  3. Why is everyone saying that an offer sheet to Barzal will be $10.9. Why cant someone make an offer of $8.0 – $8.5 and be in a lower tier than the $10.9 tier? Especially if the offers he has from the Islanders are only for $7.5?

    • Dov, I think the 7.5 is a number Isles are hoping to get him to agree to short term. If he were to get an 8-9 mil offer sheet, Isles would surely match.

    • A 7 year, 8.0 mill per year offer sheet also falls in the 10.9 million compensation.

      Striker isn’t here so I felt compelled to mention it

      • That’s only if the contract is for more than 5 years. Some team could come by and offer $8-8.5 for 2-3 years. NYI would have to match and then in 2-3 years pony up the big bucks again. Barzal would gain an extra $1M a year. Why shouldn’t the player use this against team management to get a higher salary?

  4. I think CBJ’s should try to sign PLJ to a longer contract if possible. He’s a number one center on 85-90% of NHL teams. Barzal should get a long term deal as well in 8-9 vicinity.

  5. Armstrong has indicated that he’d like to add some offense during Tarasenko’s recovery. I think that a desperate Tampa Bay is a good place to look. Killorn would be a perfect fit! Less than 4.5 million for 3 more years—a pretty consistent goal scorer. Army could probably get a pick included too (although he doesn’t have a lot of leverage or cap wiggle room).

  6. the notion of this lockout/pandemic close out lasting until Feb-March – Sure does make signing players and player movement feel irrelevant.

  7. Boston needs to amp up the defense. They have some young guys that can step up as forwards full time….. Bjork, Blidh, Senyshyn and Kuhlman, so they need some more on the back end.

    Package Debrusk and some others to Calgary for Hanafin

    • You say that like, all they need to do is offer DeBrusk “and some others” to Calgary for Hanifin and, bingo, it’s a done deal.

      Why on earth would Calgary give up a 23 y/o 6′ 3″ 215 lb D-man costing a very cap-friendly $4,950,000 off the cap for 4 years, while having just $1,344,194 in cap space, to take on a F that Boston seemingly can’t afford to re-sign now even with $2.6 mil more in cap space that Calgary would have even with the addition of Hanifin’s cap??

      Not to mention that Calgary would then be in the same boat Boston is in now – i.e., filling a huge hole on D!

      • Depends on who they add to the trade and who they take back. Calgary has said to be wanting to shed some money.

        And Boston CAN afford him, easily. Just seems like they are looking at addressing other needs and trading Debrusk may be part of the solution. Boston has almost 7 million in cap space, so signing him is definitely not the issue.

        Something like….

        Bos: Hanafin and Lucic

        Calgary: Debrusk, Ritchie, Moore and a 2nd

        Lucic played well with Krejci and could give Kase and Krejci some protection. Hanafin fills the hole Krug left and then some. Would also leave room to bring back Chara or sign a veteran dman to play with Clifton or Lauzon (Vatanen, Alzner or Hamonic)

        Calgary gets two young left wingers and a number 5/6 dman, plus a high end pick AND shed Lucic’s salary.

      • No way Calgary relinquishes Hanifin if the only viable D coming back is Moore, and the F is an RFA seeking Lord knows what.

        The only player they have left to sign is Kylington and they have enough in space to do that, which will bring them to 22. More than enough to start a season as is.

      • BosBrn32, CGY might actually do that to dump Lucic.
        Can’t see Sweeney taking Lucic though.
        I have watched a lot of Lucic over the years as a Bruins fan living in Edmonton for the last 9 plus years.
        Playing Lucic on a top 2 line will simply kill that line. He is a really expensive 4th line winger IMO.

  8. My thoughts

    Like to see the B’s sign Anthony Duclair and trade DeBrusk and one of their young Dman for a LD … probably not enough cap space to do that though

  9. Hanifin is as secure as a player can be.

    Rewording my earlier note.
    Why would Barzal get more than Point and Tkachuk signed last October ?
    A bridge of 3 years around $7m
    In Theory and in Light of current conditions should be less dollars. No ?

  10. @BosBrn32 Lucic is $5.25m of dead weight that can bring down any team. I don’t think there’s any way Boston or any other team could possibly be interested in Lucic or his contract without multiple sweeteners.

    • Nasdaq40, He played his best hockey with Krejci, a player that knows how to slow the game down. He was a fan favorite in Boston. And the sweetener would be Hanafin, which is more than enough.

  11. Perhaps now that Donald trump doesn’t have a job the flyers could sign him to fill the void left by Matt niskanen

  12. George O, I disagree 100%. I think they would if they were dumping Lucic’s salary and getting a 2nd rounder. Debrusk has no arbitration rights, so they could sign him to a very reasonable bridge deal. Ritchie is still a UFA and would be a 3rd/4th liner, at a much better price than Lucic. Moore doesn’t get any respect because he doesn’t play as much. He is only 29, big body (6’2″, 210lbs) and on a very reasonable contract. Calgary will have to protect Giordano and Tanev, plus either Hanafin or Anderson from Seattle. They WANT to shed salary….. which Lucic fits that, but at what cost.

    Ray, I’d agree if it was any other second line center. Krejci knows how to slow down the game. Lucic played his best hockey with Krejci and I think going home (to his first team) would light a fire under his ass. As far as Sweeney goes…. to get someone to replace Krug (and then some) and to get a fan favorite back….. it would work. I understand Lucic isn’t Hall, Dadonov or Hoffman but he is known in Boston and many fans love him!

  13. Nasdaq40, He played his best hockey with Krejci, a player that knows how to slow the game down. He was a fan favorite in Boston. And the sweetener would be Hanafin, which is more than enough.