NHL Rumor Mill – November 5, 2020

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Rumors | 29 comments

How will the Islanders find cap space to sign Mathew Barzal? How will the Blue Jackets replace sidelined Gustav Nyquist? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.


NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the Islanders have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space with center Mathew Barzal still to sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello will also find it challenging to bring back unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene and to add goaltender Cory Schneider.

Don’t expect the New York Islanders to buy out Jordan Eberle to alleviate their cap crunch (NHL Images).

Pulock filing for arbitration provides the Isles with a second buyout window that opens for 24 hours on Friday. However, they can only buy out a player earning an annual average value of over $4 million, ruling out Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey as options.

Lamoriello could attempt another cost-cutting trade. It’ll be difficult to find takers for Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) or Andrew Ladd ($5 million AAV) in this economic climate.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin indicates buying out Boychuk or Ladd won’t provide much immediate relief. The way their salaries are structured, a Boychuk buyout would give the Isles $833K in savings for 2020-21 while Ladd’s would be over $666K.

Larkin wondered if Lamoriello could place a player like Ladd on long-term injury reserve. Failing that, he’ll have to dump another salary via trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple also weighed in on the Islanders’ options. He indicates Martin, Greene and Schneider already have agreed-upon deals with the club but they’re being kept off the books for now in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.

Lamoriello could take a drastic step like buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy but Staple doubts he’ll go that far. He also doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually from the Isles unless Lamoriello can find a taker for Boychuk and at least one other contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple believes Lamoriello will have to get creative given how the trade market has dried up and the complications of going the LTIR route. He has a well-earned reputation for creativity when it comes to finding wiggle room under the cap, but this situation will still be a significant challenge.

Leddy has surfaced as a trade candidate. He’s under 30, doesn’t have a long injury history like Boychuk and Ladd, lacks no-trade protection and carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. With Devon Toews shipped to Colorado last month in a cost-cutting deal, it’s unlikely Lamoriello parts with Leddy now.

He could try to move Komarov ($3 million AAV through 2021-22, seven-team no-trade list) and Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, lacks no-trade protection. Both could be easier to move than Boychuk and Ladd, though it will still be challenging drumming up interest for either guy.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might pursue Mike Hoffman now that winger Gustav Nyquist is sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Losing Nyquist is a big blow for the low-scoring Jackets, who still haven’t suitably replaced the offense lost when Artemi Panarin departed via free agency to the New York Rangers last year.

Larkin acknowledged adding Hoffman won’t make the Jackets a Stanley Cup contender, but it would provide a much-needed injection of offense. He’s the type of player who can score given the opportunity at five-on-five or on the power play, which he’ll certainly get with the Jackets.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t a big fan of free agency. Instead, he’s expected to continue to play the waiting game with the handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs in the hope one of them will be willing to trade away a quality player on the cheap.

Portzline also examined internal options for the Jackets. They could slide Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner into left wing on the second line. Nyquist’s absence could also create an opportunity for rookie Liam Foudy to skate on the third line with Mikko Koivu and either Foligno or Jenner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets still have to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. With over $12 million in cap space, however, they’ve got sufficient room to do that and to find a suitable short-term replacement for Nyquist.

Hoffman is the best choice in the UFA market. He’d prefer a long-term contract but recent reports indicated he’d accept a one-year deal worth $6 million. That’s probably too rich for Kekalainen’s blood. He could be keeping an eye on the Lightning to see if he can land Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.

As with his efforts to sign Dubois, Kekalainen can afford to remain patient. He might not move on finding Nyquist’s replacement until training camp, which could be at least two months away.


  1. A whole lot of quiet coming out of Tampa. True, there is probably three months before the start of the season and there are still teams with needs. But that is surely a double edge sword for Brisbois. Does time bring more flexibility, or reduce it?

    • LJ, the resounding quiet out of Tampa does not necessarily means that Brisebois hasn’t been active on the phone, laying the groundwork for what would ultimately be the least painful – in terms of talent lost – of the moves he must make. In his case, the closer it gets to a formal training camp announcement and season start the more imperative it becomes to do something.

      Right now he has $3,850,843 in cap space, but with just 18 under contract. Undoubtedly 2 of the 5 to reach 23 (assuming he wants the full complement) will likely be the best of his ELCs in the minors or, perhaps, good prospects returned as part of the trades he must make. Then there are his 3 key RFAs – C Anthony Cirelli (16g 28a 44pts +28 in 68gp) coming off an ELC of $728,333; RD Erik Cernak (5g 7a 12pts +11 in 67gp) coming off an ELC of $697,500; and LD Mikhail Sergachev (10g 24a 34pts +15 in 70gp) coming off an ELC of $894,166.

      That cumulative cap hit of $2,319,999 will, conservatively – and barring any offer sheets – be more in the range of $10,175,000 if and when all 3 are re-signed, which means he must clear cap space to the tune of around $6,500,000 to add to what he has on hand to pat for, not only the 3 RFAs, but for replacements on the roster for those dealt away. And THEY can’t have hefty cap hits.

      Being encumbered with a slew of NM-NT contracts limits his trade options, even with lists of teams to which they’d agree to go since those teams are most likely to be top-rated teams who are all almost right at the cap themselves.

      That leaves players like Point, Vasilevski, Coleman, Paquette, Goodrow, Stephens and Schenn without such NT-NM clauses, but you know he’s not about to deal Point and probably couldn’t deal Vasilevsky with that contract, and none among Coleman ($1,800,000), Paquette ($1,650,000), Goodrow ($925,000), Stephens ($737,500) and Schenn ($800,000) cost enough individually or even as a package deal (which is ridiculous to begin with) to make trading them worthwhile (even if he could find anyyone interested).

      That leaves the 3 RFAs themselves. And since neither their current salary nor their anticipated settlemernt are reflected in the existing cap situation, it stands to reason that nothing in the way of a significant cap hit can be part of the return.

      And remember, the closer he waits to a firm start-up date to make his move the more difficult it will be to find a trade partner from among the top-rated teams for any of those NT-NM contracts since, by taking one of those on, that team would then have to find somewhere to move the cap they’d then need to shed.

      That’s why I think Brisebois is going to HAVE to deal at least two of those RFAs (Sergachev and Cirelli most likely since they’ll cost the most to re-sign) and it will ultimately be to one among N.J., L.A., Nashville, Ottawa and Columbus. You can bet he’s already held preliminary talks and is weighing the best returns.

      • Yeah, I think that is about it.

        Some talk has teams playing with 21 on the roster to manage cap issues, and maybe Brisbois is thinking that is an option.

        But if the season has a compacted schedule even fewer overall games will mean lots of back to back and 3 in 4.

        With that schedule injuries are more likely, and speaks to a need for a full roster.

        And I have to think the more teams that add players the less teams for Brisbois to deal with. It will be interesting.

  2. Rangers signed Strome…. 2 years, 9 million.

    • Decent signing Ron – that leaves Gorton with $8,483,201 to sign 1 to reach 23 with RFA Lemieux the only one left to ink. Once he’s done, he’ll still have a good chunk of cap “wiggle room.”

      • George, I’m a little surprised Rangers settled. Curious what trade talks they had about Strome before they qualified him. They must’ve had an inkling there’s an interested team willing to pay Strome more than the 3.6 mil walk back number. Could still see a trade there. Also, as a side note: Rangers have about 4 .5 left in cap space when you figure the bonus cushion. Lemieux will be around 1.5 mil

      • I like what Gorton has done with the Rangers too – and they have some promising kids in the minors such as Morgan Barron from Cornell and Justin Richards from U. of Minnesota and hefty D-man Darren Raddysh.

      • George, overall Gorton has done well over last few years. Hasn’t really done anything in off season. They were sitting outside playoffs at deadline last season and dealt away Skjei. Their defense was 2nd worst in SOG against and have now also traded away Staal. I think they’ll be starting season with a better goalie this year in Shesterkin, but any other improvements will have to come from other rookies. You’re hoping Lafreniere is an impact player from the get go. I don’t think Strome is worth 4.5M. His numbers are directly tied to Panarin. In the 3 playoff games he had 1 point. (An errant pass that ended up in Panarin’s stick for a goal).

  3. I wonder if Lamoriello might be better off if Barzal did sign an offer sheet. Or perhaps finding a trade partner. Club did fine after Tavares bolted.

    • You could argue they did fine when Tavares left because they had Barzal.
      I don’t see anyone who replaces Barzal in the pipeline.

  4. Cbus and Long Island a match? Eberle to jackets for a b prospect?

    • Sure Chrisms, how about Trey Fix-Wolansky.
      I think the kid makes it to the NHL and produces.

    • Ray Bark. True. But they didn’t get any return for Tavares either. Could someone offer up a young, NHL ready prospect plus picks for Barzal?

      • Ya they could, but you would want a C back wouldn’t you?
        Or a #1 D if you are trading a legit #1 C. In the end, they don’t have to do anything unless he gets and signs an offer sheet.
        You don’t want to low ball a guy like him but a reasonable bridge of $7M plus for a couple years seems doable. Move a Komarov or Eberle and off you go.

      • Boys, with the new arena scheduled to open next year the Isles are not trading Barzal.

        Pulock gave a interview yesterday in which he stated that he and Barzal have spoken about taking less, in order to keep the team together.

        LL will find a way. I think 2 years at 7.5 gets it done.
        20 million comes off the Cap after next year and another 5.5 the year after, for Ladd.

        It was refreshing to see a player talking about the team more than himself.
        The Isles got a taste of success last year and are hungry for more. They appear to be a close group. I’ confident that LL will somehow work everything out.

  5. Columbus signed Gavrikov. They now have 22 on roster and 9.2M in cap space to use toward Dubois.

    • CapFriendly shows current cap space as $12,268,451 – but either way they have more than enough to sign Dubois. They also likely won’t go with 14F at the NHL level so someone is ticketed for the AHL – Stenlund? Gerbe? That would add anywhere from $750,000 to $824,175 to the cap space.

  6. Why doesnt Tampa trade a player like Johnson with Cernak as sweetener? There is no way they can keep all three anyway. Then sign Sergachev and Cirelli to short term deals to kick the ball down the road so to speak.

    • Probably because Johnson, who just turned 30, has 4 more years at $5 mil per and a NTC with a limited list of teams he’d agree to go to – and since you can bet that doesn’t include any of the teams with loads of cap space, what team could take him on AND deal with Cernak’s RFA settlement. It won’t be huge, but after a decent season it’ll be a lot more than his expiring $697,500 ELC.

      Assuming Brisebois could find a team on Johnson’s list prepared to take both, they’d very likely then find themselves in the position of having to find takers for the cap space they’d need to clear.

      Easier said than done.

  7. I almost hate to say it but the rangers are gonna be one of the more teams interesting teams next year. So many questions

    Can deangelo keep growing as a defender or was that an aberration?
    Is Mika a true top center or was that a one off?
    Is strome a solid top 6?
    Can kappo grow or will he stagnate?
    Is lefreniere gonna be a legit threat out of the gate? Gonna be a learning curve year one? A dud? (Unlikely)
    Can the young goalie duo play to expectations?

    Interesting team.

    • Very interesting Chrisms. Very promising long term as well.
      Helps to win lotteries, but Gorton does seem to be good at his job.
      I am skeptical that they are a playoff team next year because they are so young. Even on D once you get past Trouba, Smith and Norris candidate JJ. They take a while, just the way it is most of the time.
      High end forward prospects, multiple good D prospects that are still on the way. 2 excellent young tenders.
      NYR vs OTT East final in 2024/25.
      Lose to Oilers in SCF.

      • Nah. Pittsburgh will have sunk low enough in a few years to get the next crosby mcdavid and be right back in the finals.

        It’s science.

      • Now you’re starting to sound like Wendel !

      • I think the B’s beat the Pens to the punch Chrisms and draft Shane Wright first overall in the 2022 draft.

      • George. I gots history on my side. Not fantasy’s.

  8. Would love to see Leddy in b’s uniform but with Sweeneys horrid track record we’ll probably end with up with someone like Hal Gill. please fire Sweeney!

    • You mean Hal Skill?

  9. I think that Johnson has dug in. If it’s not on his terms,, he ain’t leaving.
    He holds all the cards and Tampa can’t do a damn thing about it.

  10. The thing about the draft is the lottery

    Killorn is who I would want from Tampa Bay. Might get a little salary off the top ( 500 k) and a minor leaguer OR mid round draft pick