NHL Rumor Mill – December 29, 2020
Check out the recent Bruins and Canadiens speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa last week reported a league source was uncertain if the Boston Bruins would bring back Zdeno Chara for another season. The source said it feels like they’re waiting to see if anything opens up in the trade market.
Shinzawa observed the Bruins have sufficient salary-cap space to bring back Chara, but there are concerns over the 43-year-old defenseman’s performance. His days of logging over 20 minutes per game may be over. The Bruins also want to see how former first-round picks Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen could complement Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and John Moore.
Trading for a younger left-side defenseman could be the Bruins’ preference. However, they’ll have to part with assets and try to make the acquisition fit under the cap.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss recently reported Bruins team president Cam Neely last week observed some teams were pressed for cap space and will probably have to do something. He’s sure general manager Don Sweeney is still looking at tweaking or adding to the roster over the next couple of weeks.
Goss noted Sami Vatanen, Ron Hainsey and Travis Hamonic remain available in the free-agent market. He also pointed out the Bruins’ limited prospect pool and cap space could make it difficult to address their needs via trades.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observes there are reports suggesting the Bruins could be looking at Ben Hutton. The unrestricted free agent had 16 points and plus-minus of plus-five in 65 games last season with the Los Angeles Kings. Haggerty feels the 27-year-old blueliners could be an affordable fit if Zboril, Vaakanainen or Lauzon aren’t ready for prime time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is catching flak from some Bruins fans for not making any moves in recent weeks. A lack of cap space and suitable options are the sticking points. Nevertheless, there are some intriguing short-term free-agent options that could be had for the right price.
As for Chara, he could return for one last hurrah with the Bruins. However, there’s a growing sense that he could sign elsewhere. His agent claimed last week he’s received inquiries from over 20 teams. The Bruins prefer Chara to play a third-pairing role but that might not be to the big blueliner’s liking.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports the Canadiens’ recent signings of veteran forwards Corey Perry and Michael Frolik pushed the club over the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.1 million. Some decisions will have to be made before the season starts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some players, perhaps even Perry and Frolik, could end up on the Canadiens’ taxi squad, enabling the Habs to be cap compliant when the season opens. Doing so, however, means they’ll have to pass through waivers where they could be claimed by other clubs. Some observers believe GM Marc Bergevin might not be done dealing. We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.