NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2020

by | Dec 21, 2020 | Rumors | 34 comments

A look at a recent update on the notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently published her updated list of the top remaining unrestricted free agents.

Mike Hoffman remains atop the list, with the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils among possible destinations.

Could Mike Hoffman soon have a new contract? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports talks have heated up with Hoffman, with as many as six clubs involved. With the dates for training camp and the start of the season now official, Hoffman won’t be the only UFA whose contract discussed will intensify.

Sadler cited Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland earlier this month linking winger Mikael Granlund to the Predators, Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes, among other clubs. She doubts there will be a reunion between the Predators and Granlund, who struggled during his brief tenure in Nashville.

Manitoba-born defenseman Travis Hamonic could be a fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers had had some interest in Hamonic. Sadler also notes his former team, the Calgary Flames, could use him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation persists linking Hamonic with the Canucks, but they’ll have to clear some cap space to do it. One way could be placing Micheal Ferland (head trauma) on long-term injury reserve as well as demoting someone like winger Sven Baertschi. The Flyers no longer seem interested while the Flames seem to be going with younger, more affordable blueliners.

Speculation persists of a possible reunion between center Erik Haula and the Vegas Golden Knights. Given their cap constraints, they’ll have to shed a salary to get under the salary cap and to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent trade chatter about the Golden Knights shopping Max Pacioretty or Jonathan Marchessault was based on them cutting cap payroll and perhaps add an affordable forward like Haula.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley denied Pacioretty was being shopped but we haven’t heard any denials about Marchessault’s trade status. I think the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup hopes are better with those two in the lineup. They’ll have to consider other options if they want to bring back Haula.

Other notables on Sadler’s list include center Carl Soderberg, defenseman Sami Vatanen, forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Derick Brassard and Corey Perry and blueliner Zdeno Chara, as well as winger Matt Martin, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider, plus defenseman Ron Hainsey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Martin, Greene and Schneider already have deals with the New York Islanders that will be officially announced once center Mathew Barzal is re-signed.

Anthony Duclair, Ilya Kovalchuk and Melker Karlsson also appeared on Sadler’s list. Since its publication last week, Duclair signed with the Florida Panthers, Kovalchuk is reportedly signing with a KHL team while Karlsson is under contract with a Swedish team for the rest of this season.


  1. I wonder is there any rumors of Hoffman signing with Boston.

    Boston doesn’t have the cap space. I don’t mind the signing put i think what you see is what you get. Unless there is a trade.

    • The Bruins are frequently linked to Hoffman but there’s no indication they’re actually talking with his camp thus far. Doesn’t mean they aren’t but their limited cap space plus their more pressing need to shore up the left side of their blueline makes this seem unlikely. We’ll find out soon enough…

    • Why would anyone in cap hell sign Hoffman, or anyone else without shedding salary first? We’re about 2 weeks until camps begin.
      Another small side note, would Hoffman be reluctant to sign with a low scoring team. Signing with a struggling team would likely bring his numbers down for his next contract (assuming he’s willing to sign for 1 year). Then again, all (except ads) playoff bound teams are up against it capwize.

      • Avs

  2. Although I never watched them often/closely, I have always thought that Frolik, Grabner, and Sheary would still have some value as experienced, inexpensive wingers. They never seem to get any attention or discussion. For those of you that followed them, has the game “passed them by”??

    While we are on the subject of wingers, what’s the deal with Athanasiou? Why has he been moved so often? No D? Locker room? Inconsistent effort?—Asking for Berube and Armstong

    • Sheary had a good run on Crosby’s line during the back to back cup years(16 and 17). Since then, he spent time in Buffalo and back in Pittsburgh. He’s achieved nowhere near that same level of success. In my opinion, he’s done. If i were a GM i probably wouldn’t take the chance.

    • Iowas Prince, I watched Athanasiou during his time in Edmonton, and listened to to local hockey folks dissect his game.
      Can fly and can wire it.
      The issue is he doesn’t play well with others. Not a locker room thing but a hockey IQ thing. Doesn’t hit open ice at the right time to receive the pass, doesn’t find line mates at the right time and likes to carry it through the zone but doesn’t make a smart play enough when he gets to the O -zone. Hence not a fit with McDavid or Draisaitl at least it didn’t work while he was here.

      Still an NHL player, just not top 6 and not at what he needed to be qualified for in Edmonton when the cap was going to be flat. They may have if it went up as expected.
      Would be a good pickup as a third line winger, who can move up in a pinch and contribute 12-15 goals.

      He would help himself if he became a good PK guy.

      • Sounds like Kapanen without PK ability. If EDM had Dubas as GM they could get a 1st in the top half on the draft and a sure fire NHL prospect. Time for retirement Holland.

      • If Dubas was half the GM that Holland is, he wouldn’t fill his roaster with old cronies like Thornton and company. Oh, by the way, look for Kapanen to have a banner year in Pittsburgh. And who did Dubas select with the Pens pick? Oh yeah, Amirov (Another small forward, who’ll disappear at playoff time.). Rutherford must still be laughing about that trade!

      • Methinks that Wendy has a boycrush on Dubas.

  3. Iowa: I loved Grabner when he was with Rangers. He’s 33 now, but was always a bit of a fitness freak. Didn’t have great numbers in Arizona. Considering they bought him out I think somebody will pick him up for league min. Still could be an experienced 3/4th line guy that kills penalties. Not a big name FA but will end up on a roster.

    • The man can fly.

    • No problem if Rangers brought Grabner back.
      Anythng to keep Strome and Howden off the PK

    • I agree with slick . I have said on here before that the Oilers would be a great landing spot for him as he is one of the few that can keep up with McDavid.

  4. Somebody please sign Mike Hoffman already …

  5. Just tossing this out there …. Bruins package Nick Ritchie & Kase for a LD who can be used on PP and sign Hoffman

    • Moving Ritchie & Kase and with their cap space will give them right around 7 million to use ….. would be nice if they can move Moore also

    • Ask and ye shall receive!

      Jake Gardiner (4.05M) is on his way up I-95 now for your two guys (4.09M). Cap works perfectly. You get your PP LD, and the Hurricanes get some needed size.

      • nice come back Whalercane

      • I’ll take the other LD

    • That package might get you JJ, lol

  6. Re Knights and Haula

    This moving Patches or Marsh @#$& has to stop…. it makes no sense

    Easy peezy… Martinez out.., Hague up…. that’s $2.2 M left for 2 more depth forwards

    They had a cup contender last year… they were one Russian (who absolutely stood on his head) away from another SCF appearance…

    with current roster and above move… now with a better D … and only significant change in forwards is Statsny replaced by the bigger, way faster, 14 years younger Glass (@ 13 % of Statsny’s Cap hit BTW)

    Martinez is from the Detroit area

    Sweeteners …. give Stevie Y Devils 2nd (will be a very low 2nd rounder) AND one of Lechyshyn OR Elvenes OR Duggan

    Something has to come back in the trade…. so take one of their 6th or 7th round prospects from any one the last 3 drafts

    With $2.2 M…. can get Haula

    Petro and Hague IMHO… much better ; and also bigger, faster and combined younger than Schmidt/Martinez …. note Petro/Hague has lower Cap hit!

    Glass and Haula IMHO…. better ; also at much lower Cap, combined much younger, bigger , faster….. than Statsny/Cousins

    Knights IMHO …. have one major hurdle to get over to get back to the SCF…. Avs

    Moving Patches or Marsh provides a much higher hurdle in overcoming Avs

    Keeping them , and moving Martinez and bringing in Haula…. the hurdle is lower.

    They could have got Duclair for $1.7 M. !!!

    If they do somehow end up moving Patches (it would have to be Preds I’d think)…. then signing Hoffman would be a must

    • I think that’s the kind of move that Yzerman could get on board with, especially if he could flip Martinez to another team and receive additional picks / prospects. Detroit has too many D’men already, although Martinez would certainly be an upgrade over most of them.

    • Martinez to Oilers. Klefbom out for year.

      • Edmonton needs to sign Bear first Slick.
        That will give them their 6 NHL D as Jones has earned a full time role IMO and they want him playing vs 7th D.
        So Lagesson as #7, with Bouchard as the call up as they would be wise to keep him playing in the AHL vs Taxi squad.

  7. I am thinking some UFA’s may not be signed until the season starts and LTIR’s kick in.
    Could the Bruins strike a deal with Hoffman that they would sign him once the puck drops and Pastranak + Marchand cap hit come off the books?

    • also thinking that over the next couple of weeks we will start hearing about older players with season ending injuries going to LTIR. Ladd, Backes are a couple of candidates.

  8. I’m totally confused with taxi squads and how this will play out with cap. Would appear now that teams won’t have to carry guys as healthy scratches? I’m not even going to try to figure out how waivers work or movement between roster and taxi squad. NFL has been confusing as heck with moves every week between practice squad and game day rosters.

  9. Can a team bring a player in on PTO contract (wink, wink), with the promise to sign them once season starts and LTIRs kicking in?? this would allow the players into training camp with their new team.

    • I’m not sure you need the (wink, wink) – I think that that is almost exactly what the PTO is designed for, no?

    • There’s a 10 day training camp with no exhibition games why waste time on a PTO when you need to evaluate and get systems in place?

      With a shortened season, teams slow out of the gate are done there’s no time for a strong kick.

  10. If Sweeney doesn’t do anything before the season and I’m talking about a stellar move he deserves to be fired!

  11. Marchand may not miss a game. At least at the start. Without any set back that is.
    Stamkos in Kucherov out.
    No excuses now with the realignment

  12. Looked at all rosters tonight have Bruins rated in top 3 from top to bottom plus have tons of leadership and experience.