Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 22, 2020
Check out the latest Bruins speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy intends to take a firmer hand in coaching more offense from his defense. Some of his attention is due to the younger blueliners in the lineup, but also upon how to replace the production lost by Torey Krug’s recent departure to St. Louis.
No one among the Bruins’ current defense corps has tallied more than 32 points in a season. Cassidy suggests Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk could be candidates to replace Krug’s offense, especially on the power play. He also didn’t rule out another move by the Bruins to address that issue.
Haggerty noted the Bruins’ attempt to acquire Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson last month. It sounds like Cassidy is advocating for the Bruins to pursue an Ekman-Larsson type of defenseman, but that won’t be easy given their limited salary-cap space.
Haggerty also wondered if the door was fully shut on acquiring Ekman-Larsson later in the season. The Coyotes’ efforts to move the 29-year-old blueliner ended when a deal couldn’t be reached before his deadline of Oct. 9.
In a recent interview, Ekman-Larsson expressed his desire to remain with the Coyotes. However, the club is currently facing difficult fiscal times. Ekman-Larsson explained why he chose the Bruins as one of the two clubs he’d accept being traded to, indicating they showed interest in him before he signed his current contract plus he spent time in Boston during the 2012-13 lockout.
Ekman-Larsson said he’d leave further trade situations up to Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong. Haggerty speculates that could create an opportunity to revisit a trade to the Bruins at some point during the 2020-21 season. He acknowledged the Bruins would have to shed salary and perhaps convince the Coyotes to absorb part of Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25 million annual average value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible but I doubt an Ekman-Larsson trade could be done during the regular season. Teams have limited cap room in-season during the best of times. There won’t be much space for the Bruins to swing this deal during a shortened campaign. Such a move would probably happen during the offseason when teams have more cap space to work as some contracts come off their books through free agency or trades.
Ekman-Larsson’s cap hit through 2026-27 is a huge sticking point now. The Coyotes would want a team to take on the entire $8.25 million, which would be a tough sell in better economic times. They’ll be reluctant to have part of it counting against their cap for the next seven seasons.
Everything hinges, of course, on Ekman-Larsson waiving his no-movement clause. He could agree if Coyotes management presses the issue but they’ll likely want him to expand his list of preferred destinations. His trade status could remain a topic of conjecture throughout the upcoming season.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently pondered David Krejci’s future with the Bruins. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and has no intention of retiring.
Krejci’s age could be a concern as his production and level of play will inevitably decline. The Bruins, meanwhile, have $45 million invested in 12 players for 2021-22 with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk still to sign plus Brandon Carlo, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie slated for RFA status next summer. Goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak become unrestricted at the end of this season.
Gretz speculates a two- or three-year deal worth around $5.5 million annually seems reasonable for the Bruins given their circumstances. If Krejci wants more, however, he’ll have to test the market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After being the highest-paid Bruin for several years, Krejci probably anticipates having to accept a pay cut to stay in Boston. He could be receptive to a deal like the one suggested by Gretz. We’ll have to wait until next summer to find out if Bruins management is willing to offer up that much.