NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2020

by | Dec 3, 2020 | Rumors | 17 comments

A look at the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance observes it’s been nearly eight weeks since an NHL trade was made and a month since the last unrestricted free agent signings (Dominik Kahun with the Edmonton Oilers). However, there’s still discussion and negotiation going on among general managers and player agents.

UFAs like Mike Hoffman could be waiting a while for new contracts (NHL Images).

Drance cites an NHL player agent saying those markets have slowed of late because of ongoing uncertainty over when the 2020-21 season will begin. “We want to see what develops out of this,” said the agent. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to do something until we know what things look like.”

The agent, who represents one of the top UFAs, said teams remain interested in his client but some of them are waiting. Clarity on provisional rules, such as recalling players from the minors, could also affect UFA signings. There’s talk of allowing teams to use a so-called “taxi squad” of players this season who can be re-assigned and disappear from a team’s cap payroll, perhaps without having to pass through waivers.

Drance believes a second wave of trade and free-agent signings will begin once the league and NHLPA agree to a start date for the season. He notes there are five UFAs who produced at least 30 points last season (such as Mike Hoffman) as well as some decent depth forwards like Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry and Andreas Athanasiou. Defense options include Zdeno Chara and Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Drance on the factors currently affecting the trade and free-agent markets and when we can expect business to resume. There’s still enough decent UFA talent available, which also includes Mikael Granlund, Anthony Duclair, Sami Vatanen and Erik Haula, to draw interest among general managers. Most of those UFAs, however, could be forced to accept inexpensive one-year deals given the few teams with cap space to invest in the free-agent market.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rob Rossi reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is bracing for the possibility of limited trade activity during the 2020-21 season. He hopes to tweak his roster before the puck drops on the new season.

Rutherford, one of the league’s notable in-season wheeler-dealers, doesn’t know how the trade market could be affected by a shortened season or if there could be restrictions that limit player movement. He feels it might be best to get as many players in place before the season begins because it might not be as easy once the schedule is underway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford said he doesn’t have any inside information for his opinion of what the coming season’s trade market could look like. He’s taking the same “wait-and-see” approach as the rest of his colleagues.

Drance noted trades will have to be made by some cap-strapped clubs before the season begins. We’ll likely see a flurry of deals before and during the training camp period as teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to shed salary to re-sign key players and/or to become cap compliant when the season opens.

There’s also usually plenty of activity leading up to the annual trade deadline. This season, however, could be different depending on what provisional rules are implemented and how much cap flexibility teams have as the deadline nears.

The rumors among pundits and fans over possible trades and free-agent signings will continue as they always do. However, we could see fewer significant moves this season compared to other years.


  1. Last time I checked Luke Kunin played for Nashville … not sure what Rutherford has in mind but I pray it includes Kris LeTurnover …

    • You’re right, I meant Dominik Kahun. I’ve amended it accordingly. Cheers!

      • I always read the comments because the readers of this platform are very educated hockey fans

    • Eddie,

      I think Jim R. is on his ongoing, never ending search for a legitimate 3C—Tyler Bozak!? I have always thought a Bozak for McCann made some sense.

    • Rutherfords gonna have to find a sucker to trade LeTurnover.

      Over rated, couldnt check a hat, eggshell noggin and heinously overpaid.

  2. I have a feeling Kahun is going to light it up for the Oil. Him & Draisaitl will have some chemistry.
    The trade market has been brutal for years .
    Do you think we will ever see a 9 player deal like the Flames Leafs pulled off a number of years back ? I don’t .
    At this point I just hope the season gets off the floor. Having some doubt

    • With all due respect, it was actually a 10-player deal- Gilmour, Macoun, Nattrass, Wamsley and the rights to Manderville for Leeman, Berube, Godynyk, Petit and Reese. As someone has ably said, tough to do nowadays.

      • Safe to say the Flames won that one.

      • Ha!

  3. Perhaps, teams have informally agreed to trades that are contingent on a season start date. With that date being dictated by a continuously and abruptly changing medical situation, there won’t be a lot of bargaining time between its announcement and its implementation. Maybe, an expert capologist (George O?) could determine the possibility of an unprepared team finding itself unable to become cap compliant by season’s start. How would that affect the season?

  4. Hmmm “provisional rules, such as recalling players from the minors, could also affect UFA signings. There’s talk of allowing teams to use a so-called “taxi squad” of players this season who can be re-assigned and disappear from a team’s cap payroll, perhaps without having to pass through waivers.”

    Sounds like this might not be good for trades, UFAs, and borderline players. This won’t help teams much with cap issues but will help teams evaluate players/team/farm system.

  5. Strange times means strange measures are coming.

    Division alignment only a small part of it.

    Still expect to hear some groundwork will be announced soon. From there I see a mid too late January start up. Jan 2nd camps.

    Advertising details for revenues will happen imo.
    On jerseys & electronic on tv.

  6. Sign Hoffman Sweeney or get off the pot you’re done for at the end of this season anyway.

  7. GM Don Sweeney needs to be fired…The worst , most inactive GM in all of sports.

  8. Will trades even be allowed if (a big if) the season gets under way? Anyone traded to a Canadian team would have to isolate for 14 days. A little unfair if that happens. The numbers keep going up. I don’t think the feds will let the NHL circumvent the quarantine period.

  9. Agree

    Less in-year trades and TDL moves this upcoming year (if it’s a go) just due to shortened season….

    if the TDL is set proportionately (fraction of season left) near previous seasons part of the season; and season only 48 games…. only have maybe 30 games to see where needs/strengths/surpluses are; and will have likely only seen inter divisional play ; and possibly , depending on schedule design , may not at TDL, have played a game against the closest ranked divisional opponent

    Jimbo’s moves in 18/19 and 19/20 didn’t result well re playoffs…. streak over now; but he has moved on from the singular reason the streak is over…. 👍😄👍😄👍😄; and has got younger and faster.

    Some space yet for a move ; and there have been some floated *rumours re moves ; but as long as #2 is kept off the ice; fair outlook IMHO

    23 players…. $80.2 M with ZAR’s amount (LTIR… and therefore 24 th player) included in the $80.2 M…. Jimbo could send down a League min player (#2 👍👍) and add a $2M UFA and be at ceiling with still ZAR’s LTIR relief to start the season

    If somehow he’d take $2M…. #2 to WBS and sign Vats 👍👍👍👍

    * the two that I heard that I was keen on…. Carter at 50% retained for Zucker then signing Duclair; or Zucker for prospect(s) then signing Hoffman to a 1 year…. that would be nice

    Sid Guentz Kappy

    Geno Rusty Carter or Hoffman

    McC Poulin Duclair or Jankowski

    Blueger Turbo Jankowski (if Carter/Duclair move); Sceviour or Rodriguez (until ZAR returns)




    Riikola Ceci

    *interchangeable 2nd/3rd pairing