NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

by | Dec 18, 2020 | Rumors | 19 comments

How will the Capitals replace Henrik Lundqvist? Will the Blues go the free-agent route to replace retired Alexander Steen? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir wonders how the Washington Capitals will replace Henrik Lundqvist as a heart condition has sidelined the 38-year-old goaltender for this season.

Could Ryan Miller be an option for the Washington Capitals to replace Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images).

Among the options is signing an unrestricted free agent. Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard are available. It’s believed Miller prefers to remain out west with his family but El-Bashir wonders if he’d be tempted by the opportunity to play for a contender during a shortened season.

The Capitals could go the trade route or bring in Vitek Vanecek or Pheonix Copley to back up Ilya Samsonov.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen believes the Capitals’ limited cap space makes it difficult to trade for a goaltender. In addition to Miller and Howard, he listed Craig Anderson and Cory Schneider as UFA options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller prefers staying in California and could sign a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. If that’s not possible, maybe he’d consider joining the Capitals.

Anderson is 39 and it appears his NHL days are over. Schneider is believed to have an agreement with the New York Islanders to be officially announced once they’ve signed Mathew Barzal.

Howard is keen for a bounce-back season following a poor 2019-20 performance with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. He could be the Capitals’ best bet if they cannot find a suitable replacement for Lundqvist via trade or from within.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Alexander Steen’s retirement due to a back injury will provide the St. Louis Blues with salary-cap flexibility. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.2 million but will get some wiggle room by placing Steen and his $5.75 million cap hit for this season on long-term injury reserve. They will use part of it to sign restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn, who might cost approximately $2.5 million.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin suggests the Blues could also use that cap relief to add a scoring winger. His suggested free-agent options include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also suggested Hoffman, Granlund and Athanasiou, as well as forward Erik Haula as UFA targets for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could get additional cap relief by placing sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. However, he’s expected to return later this season, prompting Rutherford to speculate they probably won’t “borrow” from his $7.5 million cap hit.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Maybe he’d accept a lower price to play for a contender but I think he’ll try to stick to his guns. Granlund, Athanasiou and Haula could be more affordable options.


  1. Blues replace a Swede with a Swede

    • SS,

      Are you suggesting that the Blues simply plug in Sundqvist to replace Steen on their checking line OR are you seeing another Swede??

      I think that the Vince Dunn contract needs to come in closer to $3 million than the 2.5. Hopefully for 2 or 3 years at least.

      A couple inexpensive, under-the-radar, veteran wingers that have my attention are Grabner and Frolik.

      I think Granlund (and others) are above the price range or the Blues.

      • I was thinking Granlund but he would have to be less than Steen”s deal. Sunquist looked real good on the SC team and should be a lock. Is Berglund skating 🙂

  2. The Capitals will not be able to replace Lundqvist from within. They have a young starting goalie coming off his rookie season and entering his first year as a starter. He will need a veteran back-up.

    • But this season is not going to be the regular 80+ game season. I think they will give Copley the nod as opposed to bringing in Miller/Howard. Split games giving Copley 15-20.
      Why does everyone think that newly found cap space makes teams run out and sign a UFA? If you really think there’s a UFA out there that will help the team, you sign him regardless of your cap space & deal with cap repercussions later. But, it’s crunch time now!

    • That’s why I keep suggesting Craig Anderson on a PTO. He’s a fitness freak who, having just turned 39 in May, is only a year older than Lundqvist.

      And their stats this past season were almost identical:

      Anderson – 3.25gaa/0.902 save % in 34gp

      Lundqvist – 3.16gaa/0.905 save %

      And Lundqvist had a far better team in front of him than did Anderson!

      • Lundqvist – in 30gp

      • George 0…I agree with you Craig Anderson is a solid goalie with some good years on a bad team.

        I was hoping Pittsburgh would sign him to back up Tristan Jarry..real good insurance policy..dont fully trust de Smith

      • Why?

  3. Antti Raanta to Washington?
    Adam Hill is a capable backup for Darcey Kuemper

  4. Haula seems like a decent bottom 6 C and seems unusual he is not signed…

    • It is weird ds.
      Maybe he is waiting for a specific team to make some room. Vegas?

      • Duclair – a 5’11 198 lb LW who turned 25 in August – coming off a cap hit of $1,650,000 – scored 23g 17a 40 pts in 66gp with Ottawa last season and has career averages of 18g 19a 37pts over 353gp with 5 different teams and is joining his 6th team in 7 years – he had to settle for a 1-year $1,700,000 deal – a raise of $50,000

        Haula – a 6′ 193lb C who turns 30 in March – coming off a cap hit of $2,750,000 – scored 12g 12a 24pts in 48gp with Carolina & Florida last season and had career averages of 17g 18a 35pts over 405gp with 4 different teams in 7 seasons and, if not re-signed by either Florida or Carolina, will be on his 5th team in 8 seasons

        If Duclair had to settle for a modest deal and 1 year perhaps Haula hasn’t as yet accepted that reality. Does anyone think he’s worth any sort of raise over $2,750,000? Apparently, no teams do to this point just because he’s a C?

        If and when he accepts the new reality, look for him to sign somewhere for around $2 mil and 1 year.

      • “just because he’s a C” should appear after “any sort of raise over $2,750,000”

    • Ds..He is waiting on Vegas he wants to return there…knights trying to move cap space..

      Would love him as the 3rd line center in Pittsburgh behind Crosby & Malkin.dont think it will happen..uugghh

  5. My assessment of the goalie options discussed:

    Lundqvist is washed up
    Miller is washed up
    Howard is washed up
    Anderson is washed up

    …hey! how about Frederick Andersen??

    • My assessment of you – clueless

    • I think you have missed the point in getting any of the mentioned goalies.

      They are looking for a mentor not a starter.

    • Anderson is serviceable

      Howard. Is washed up

      Miller is serviceable

      Lundquist well Injured now but on a decent team serviceable..

      None of these goalies are starters anymore but serviceable back ups except howard his angles and positioning have been off for years…along with mrazek Carolina