NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2020

by | Dec 31, 2020 | Rumors | 35 comments

How will the Bruins replace Zdeno Chara? Are any moves coming for the Penguins before the season opens? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins could go with one of the younger defensemen within their system to fill the gap on their blueline left by the departure of Zdeno Chara. The former Bruins captain yesterday signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.

The Boston Bruins are said to be interested in free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen (NHL Images).

The Bruins have three young left-shot defensemen in Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Urha Vaakanainen. Shinzawa observes they’ve played a combined 44 NHL games. He also noted team president Cam Neely last week indicating the Bruins were studying the trade market for help on defense, something they’re liable to keep doing as cap-strapped clubs seek to shed salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could also look to free agency for affordable options. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited sources saying they’re interested in Sami Vatanen and Karl Alzner, while his colleague Joe Haggerty recently reported they’re looking at Ben Hutton.

Management will likely evaluate the roster during training camp to determine if they need to make a move. Given Neely’s remarks and the rumors they’re checking out free-agent options, it wouldn’t be surprising if they add a veteran left-side rearguard before the season opens on Jan. 13.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently observed the Penguins weren’t in on affordable free agents Carl Soderberg or Erik Haula to bolster their third-line center position. He wonders if GM Jim Rutherford is saving his cap space to perhaps swing an impact trade during the regular season.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Rutherford doesn’t intend to make any trades before the season opens on Jan. 13. “I would say it’s highly unlikely,” said the Penguins GM, adding he wants to see his club play and see what they have.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is a proven wheeler-dealer so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll make a trade before the season begins. That probably won’t happen, however, until he gets an opportunity to evaluate his roster in training camp.


  1. To Lyle and Family and to all here

    Wishing you the very best in 2021

    It goes without saying…. 2021 “should” be much better than 2020… but here’s hoping and praying that it actually is


    • Peng and All

      Healthy and Happy in 2021

      The PERFECT 3C that Rutherford is ALWAYS in search of is Tyler Bozak. It would be a loss for the Blues, but replaceable by O. Sundquist. Maybe a McCann for Bozak??

      For the Bruins, an inexpensive “veteran left-side rearguard” would be Carl Gunnarson. The 1.7 million would continue to bring the Blues some cap relief.

      PS. You’re correct–the potential/pending signing of Hoffman was my FAVORITE Christmas present

      • Iowa prince
        I’ll never read a sentence from you ever again
        Blozak has worst plus minus in Toronto history
        An actual fact
        Should be iowa annoyance lol

      • Jeff,

        I stand by my statement 100%–Bozak is EXACTLTY what GMJR needs (not Armstrong/Blues). He wins an occasional faceoff, he has moderate speed, he will sometimes check, he was a +/- ZERO last year, and when wide open he is capable of scoring. You tell me–does that NOT sound like Rutherford’s kind of guy!?!

        OOPS, now I have upset Pengy—sorry bud.

        Happy 2021

        The IP annoyance

    • I second that Pengy! I enjoy your comments as well as many others on here.

      Lyle, Thank you for providing us with amazing hockey coverage. This is my go to website. Hat tip to you Sir!

    • Pengy..I like your idea of jack rosolvic he wants out of Winnipeg..

      Watched his highlights last night he can scoot, pass, nice shot, has some grit fast, and he is 23…base salary $836, 500. cap hit $ 894,166

      Winnipeg wants defense we have that jusso rikola smooth skater passer maybe we add a pick hell yes..hell give rudwhedel too

      We get younger faster more skilled..

      Guentzel 26
      Kapanen 24
      McCann. 24
      Rosolvic. 23
      Jankowski 26
      Rust. 28
      Zucker. 28
      Blueger. 26

      Drew O’Connor 22 Dartmouth forward and sammy poulin 19. not too bad are coming soon will get a long look in camp

      Would love vatanen seems Boston is on him…

  2. Happy New Year to you too Pengy.
    And a toast to Big Zee from a life long B’s fan.
    Except when you play Boston, which will be 8 times this season.

    • As stated yesterday T Wilson is going to have fun chasing these Bruins around without looking over his shoulder for Big Z coming after him …WOW !! that’s a Big Cap team

  3. Happy New Year to all. I enjoy seeing hockey thoughts and opinions from fans across the globe. Several regular posters often have takes that make me re-evaluate my own opinions. The one thing we all have in common is a passion for hockey.

    Thanks Lyle for your continued efforts.

  4. It’s clear the Bruins want to go with their minor league Dmen they might bring in a vet LD to push but the cap $$ won’t allow them to get a top 4 Dman who can play the position …..

  5. BTW … Sami Vatanen,Karl Alzner,Ben Hutton are not top 4 Dmen and don’t move the needle ….. Bruins need to go young and see what they have

    • That looks like the plan Joe. I will say that the top pair will be better this year with McAvoy and Grezlyk together. They were lights out when Chara was out. Dominated possession.
      It is the 2nd pair that concerns me, Carlo and ?
      Chara mentored and carried Carlo when he was a youngster and it worked, hopefully he can do the same with Zboril or Vaak.
      Both these guys were drafted in the top 20, so the talent is there. The question is are they ready mentally and have they put in the time in the gym to be in NHL shape.
      There will be bumps in the road with young D.

    • @joe..I would have lived chara in Pittsburgh..he could play 3td pairing play 15 17 minutes a game and provide leadership and toughness.

      But like Boston Pittsburgh is going younger on D..they have some really good young dmen close.

      Pierre oliver Joseph

      Cam Lee big physical

      Joshua Maniscalco

      William rielly RPI Captain

      East division is a bear huh !

  6. Bruins can seamlessly insert Hal Gill for Z without missing a beat.

    • Any 7 foot pylon will do …

    • Hall Gill hasn’t played since 2014 and is 45 years old …. way past his prime … pass

      • I see you are well into your new years celebration already. Yikes hide his keys

      • Nothing to celebrate the Governor won’t let me leave my house & the cupboards are bare

      • Governor? or warden?

        (Asking for raging romanian)

  7. Losing Chara is only a big deal in stature.

    Great Bruin, thanks for your time, skill and leadership. Let us know when you want to be a coach.

    Zboril will get his chance, the bruins will be more mobile, but unless Carlo steps up the physicality there won’t be much team toughness on the back end and very little up front. Should say Lauzon will other some toughness and Kevin Miller will see limited playing time.

    Will be interesting to watch Chara play against the Bergeron line if it happens.

    • Plus that shiny object Ben Hutton is dangling out there to solve their problem, right NYR4 ??!! lol

  8. Rutherford’s urge to trade suddenly abated after Penguins part owner Ron Burkle took him on a tour of Neverland a few days ago. That same day, The Wall Street Journal reported that Burkle purchased the one-time Michael Jackson private amusement park for $22 million as a land banking opportunity. Almost uncannily, Spector contemporaneously wrote of a New York Post report that said that Burkle;s Penguins were the only one of 123 teams in the NFl, NHL, NBA, and MLB to receive a loan authorized by the CARES Act. That’s how the rich and famous start the new year.

    Here’s hoping everybody has a year as prosperous as Burkle’s.

  9. The bruins have some serious filling in to do. If they don’t I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs too many teams Mon leafs Ottawa
    even Buff have added a ton of players. The bruins as usual have done nothing! Bergeron is one of the best bruins of all time but he’s always injured everyone’s older. Very worried about this team I don’t think they’ll make it! Which in a way is a good thing cause I think Sweeney’s gonna be called on this season .Neely will also have some answering to do as well. On Chara I think they treated Z as almost an after thought he deserved better. I didn’t want to see him suit up for b’s they should have treated him a lot better than this!

    • Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto are irrelevant with respect to Boston making the playoffs this year.

    • The B’s treated him fine Rick. They didn’t think he was good enough and it seems want to make room for a couple guys that they drafted high and have invested in. Time for them to play.
      Chara is a pro of pro’s, not a narcissistic child. He gets it and it isn’t like there wasn’t plenty of discussions. They simply disagree on the best move going forward. Z will go play for the Caps, so good for him, and good for them as they have a spot for him.
      He will be fine and he will be there when they raise #33 to the rafters.
      My guess is he shows up when they play each other as well.
      It is Sweeney’s job to do what is best for the team, short and long term. We will find out.
      No pressure Jakub.

      • Ray, as i imagine you heard by now; Sweeney did offer Chara a contract but told him his role would be decreasing.

        No issue with Chara decision or Sweeney offer.

        Pride is a hard thing to swallow.

      • I think it was the playoffs where he really struggled Caper. The layoff didn’t help him it seems.
        We’ll see how he does with the Caps who need to get their GAA down. Might be just what they need and the young B’s D might struggle.
        Gonna be interesting to find out.
        TB outplayed the B’s pretty good in the playoffs, not all Chara’s fault, but maybe Sweeney is starting to think ahead not just about winning right now, and decided that these young guys needed to play.
        Or maybe he wants Grezlyk and McAvoy as his top pair and thinks they will be a better team with Zboril or Vaak playing with Carlo.
        Maybe he’s right.
        Can’t say he is afraid to make the tough call.

  10. Lauzon will be ready. Sign Vatanen and Boston Will be good enough for 56.
    I wonder what dollars were bandied about for Chara. I bet you a lot more than the Caps signing.

  11. Happy New Year to all you hockey fans…..Wish you a wonderful 2021 …..Stay Safe….Stay Blessed.

  12. A thought I had on Chara’s move – wouldn’t Bruce Cassidy have strong input on the decision?
    He must have some idea of Boston’s next move with the defence corps – maybe a shift in style of play.

  13. The whole bruins roster just lost an inch, 10lbs and a little bit of courage.

    Take it from a Jets fan whos team lost a big guy recently.

  14. I see you are well into your new years celebration already. Yikes hide his keys

    • Also pass on GMail

  15. Re Kingerski stating Pens weren’t in on affordable contracts such as Haula or Sodderberg…..

    The list (of thise missed out on) is longer than that

    Jimbo also missed out on any of these


    He has $1.3 M in space now (@23…. so an addition means at least $700 K going down to WBS to make room for any new player…. so he could have spent up to $2M… Duclair, AA, Haula, Sodderberg…. all signed for less than that)

    Goaltending dup is much much weaker than last year

    Yes D massively better just due to the subtraction of the highly detrimental (to all team-mates) JJ…. but only a fair overall D grouping and not “spectacular”

    Top two lines yes got quicker ; younger, better

    Yes bottom 6 got younger and faster….. BUT after the top two lines, then McC…. Pens left with 7 middling 4th liners who really don’t produce

    If Jarry; Sid; Gino; or Guentz go down for an extended period of time …. Pens could very well be on the outside looking in at TDL

    Jimbo was asleep at the wheel

    The big miss IMHO was Duclair at $1.7 M

    Pens third line with McC and Duclair would have been very quick and would have produced very well and much above what is expected to be Pens current starting 3rd line

    Just compare the expected production of

    McC Rodrigues Jankowski …. to say…..for arguments sake….

    McC Duclair Cagiula

    No comparison!!

    Jimbo must do a trade IMHO


  16. I respect Sweeney for having the balls to tell Chara if he was to sign in Boston his roll was going to be reduced to 3rd pairing defenseman and penalty killing roll. The Bruins have seen for 4 years now by the time the playoffs came around his play was deminished.
    The Bruins have invested a lot of draft capital in young defensemen and its time to see what they have and how good they will become at the NHL level. Let’s not forget the free agent defenseman signings as well Nick Wolff 6′ 5″ 235 lbs lbs left shot defenseman, Andrew Peski 6′ 2″ 220 lbs right shot defenseman. Both have played in all situations PK, PP and the rest. Ahcan is a Krug Grzelyck type offensive defenseman and I can’t remember the other kids name. Sweeney seems to do well in the free agent defenseman signings so let’s see if one of them surprises at camp. I don’t recall who said it, Cassidy has wanted to implement his defensive style and Chara was in the way do to his lack of mobility.
    The forwards will get the same chance to make the team. Players like Studnicka, Frederic, Carey Senyshen, Kulhman and a few more all fast, young shooters, energetic and enthusiastic. Players Cassidy coached or is very familiar with since being drafted. He wants an up tempo team, practice fast and play fast. It starts with the defenseman, every pairing having a puck moving guy and a solid defensive defenseman. If both can do both even better. The faster they get up ice the more scoring opportunities the forwards will have and that means more goals scored in theory.