NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021

by | Jan 12, 2021 | Rumors | 40 comments

Some noteworthy pending unrestricted free agents to watch this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently looked at several high-profile pending UFAs to watch during this upcoming season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

LeBrun reported Alex Ovechkin didn’t seem too concerned about his contract situation with the Washington Capitals when training camp opened last week. The long-time Capitals superstar noted there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin sounds like he wants to stay with the Capitals and they want to keep their franchise player. The question, of course, is how much and for how long.

LeBrun noted contract talks between the two sides were shelved during the summer. His colleague Frank Seravalli last week indicated Ovechkin’s pre-pandemic asking price was $12.5 million annually.

Taylor Hall surprised the NHL world last fall by signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Playing alongside Sabres superstar Jack Eichel this season could boost his value as he seeks a long-term deal this summer. LeBrun thinks Hall could stick with the Sabres if he and Eichel develop solid chemistry and the club improves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Sabres with $45.6 million invested in 10 players for 2021-22. They’ll have plenty of room to keep Hall in the fold. However, that depends on how much he’ll seek on his next contract and how well the Sabres perform this season.

LeBrun wondered what the future holds for Tuukka Rask with the Boston Bruins. While the goaltender’s agent said his client is happy living and playing in Boston, offseason rumors had Bruins general manager Don Sweeney taking calls about Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney may have been listening to calls on Rask but that doesn’t mean he was keen to move him. The Bruins don’t have anyone in their system to replace Rask after this season.

They could seek a replacement via free agency but the options could be limited to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Nashville’s aging Pekka Rinne, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Arizona’s injury-prone Antti Raanta and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer. Unless the Bruins find a better choice via the trade market, they could have little choice but to sign Rask, especially if he plays well this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton’s representatives have had preliminary contract discussions. LeBrun speculates the Hamilton camp could seek something comparable to Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo’s $8.8 million annual average value. The Hurricanes could counter with some similar to St. Louis’ Torey Krug’s $6.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton was considered a contender for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman until suffering a season-ending leg injury last January. If an agreement isn’t reached between the two sides soon, a healthy, Norris-worthy performance by Hamilton this season could push his asking price into Pietrangelo’s range or higher.


  1. One more sleep and hockey is back. Woot Woot

  2. The writer has obviously not checked Vlader’s AHL record. While not immediately ready, he should be after this year although the NHL requirement of having to keep 3 goalies on the roster, could hurt his development.

    • The writer HAS checked Vlader’s AHL record. It’s no indication he’s ready to become a full-time NHL starter and it would be folly on the Bruins’ part to put him into that role next season.

    • Lyle is right, not only does Vladar need this year in the AHL and then he needs to be a backup behind Rask for a year or two. Rask was behind Thomas for some time.

      Hopefully 5 years from now Vladar and Swayman are rocking for the Bruins in the NHL

    • The Bs lack two postional players in development. A center and a goalie at this point. I do remember 2009 with Bergeron recovering from concussions, and Krejci turning pro that the media sports pundits of Canada predicted gloom and doom much like 2015 and now 2022. Same goes for the goal tending although Toronto realized their error in trading Rask by 2009. So I will go with Studnicka as a replacement for Krejci and Swayman for Rask. Yet the next two years will have Krejci and Rask in Bs uniforms.

    • People thought that Garret Sparks was ready for the big time, who btw had an identical GAA 1.79 and SAV% .936 in 2017-18 as Vlader did last year. We saw how that worked out. AHL Success does not equal NHL Success

  3. Well Lyle, you got us through the drought, many thanks!!!

    Re: Hamilton, I must admit I have not see much of his work. Is he truly a Norris contender or more of a premiere offensive dman? I would imagine with their current core and pipeline that Carolina will not go to $8 million. Is he worth Pietro money in free agancy?

  4. I mentioned yesterday re teams still over Cap but able to manage….

    Bolts, Blues, Isles, Caps, Oil, Ducks, Jets, ‘Nucks are ALL over but WILL manage to be compliant using LTIR

    After that group (in CapFreindly Order of Cap spending) is Leafs at 23 players and just a tad over $1M over Cap… but Dubas has already said that he’ll play the up/down game with ELCs to make things work… so he’ll just send 2 ELCs down before year start , be at 21 players and compliant

    The above are safe

    Knights are not… basically at almost $1M over; 21 players; 1 ELC (on CapFreindly )… Glass…. that they could move down today w/o having to clear waivers…. BUT that puts them at 20 (min roster per CBA I believe) AND still over the Cap…. not much… only $111K, but still over

    Am I missing something or must they not HAVE to do a move today?

    Martinez plus sweetener????

    They could waive Martinez …. if picked up… problem solved without sweetener. If not picked up… $1.07 M buried …. they are at 20 and just under Cap

    Unless I am missing something… MacCrimmon has to do calls and/or paperwork today

    • Doesn’t waiving Holden and his 1.7m clear enough? I thought they were fine with that move

      • Hi Roads

        Yep that would do it as well… but only clears $1.07 M of Holden’s $1.7 M

        However the talk for so long seemed to be to move Martinez… then at 20 players with a tad over 3 in space… easy Peezy

        The demotion of either Holden OR Martinez …. puts them at minimum roster… 20…. and with burying $1.07 M (either player) …only 33 K room for any call ups for short term injury replacement…. not sustainable IMHO…. and leaves them with only 6 D on roster

        To me a few options pop up…

        Martinez plus sweetener out the door … frees up $4M… then 3 roster spots to fill… with just over $3M in space… Hague up for sure

        Pick or prospect for Zetterberg… Devils 2nd ?? Use LTIR space

        Martinez (Grew up 1/2 hour from Detroit) and pick and/or prospect for Zetterberg…. space galore… this should have been the move weeks ago and MacCrimmon could have then afforded both Vats and Duclair

        No matter what… MacCrimmon must do something today

        Will be interesting to see what he does

  5. The Sabres biggest need is for Skinner to return to form.

    • Biggest need is an NHL caliber goaltender … Sabres aren’t going anywhere this season.

    • Fergy, that’s where Staal comes in.

      • for sure , I liked that trade from a Sabres perspective. Staal should be a good vet presence for Eichel as well & if Cozens sticks we will benefit too

      • Maybe something will change but Skinner and Staal were like oil and water when playing together in Carolina.

  6. Hamilton is not worth nor will he get anything around 8.8m . i will eat my shorts if “even higher”. Pietrangelo is not a comparison . Captain and Team Canada . First round pick and AHL defence of the year Jake Bean ( who has made opening day roster) will step in and replace if Hamilton’s demands get too high. Traded before year end.

    • To Pittsburgh for Kristopher LeTurnover … bwa ha ha ha ha

  7. A bit of fun: according to TSN’s poll of 22 NHL management types:

    Team that improved the most: Montreal.
    Team that improved the least: Vancouver.
    (no surprise there, surely).

    Which Canadian team will make the finals:
    Montreal (3 votes).
    Which Canadian team got no votes:
    All the rest.

    Projected Cup winner: Colorado – 11 votes
    Best off season trade acquisition: Josh Anderson.
    Best rookie: Tim Stuetzle (we’ll know how to spell that by the end of the season).

    Looks like my Habs are getting deserved props. Oh, I am going to enjoy forwarding this to my Leafs fan pal!

    Check the whole article out:


    • Thank christ LJ, if it were the leafs…the cries of TSN’s arse licking of Toronto would be filling a few comment boxes today.

      Good for Montreal

      • Glad I finished my breakfast before I read that – LOL!

    • Best rookie: Lafreniere!!
      And don’t sleep on Rangers. Youngest team in league. K’Andre Miller appears to have won a starting job in camp. If him, Shesterkin and Lafreniere play up to hype, and Kakko has a better second season, this team could make some noise.

  8. This Leaf fan has no doubt the Habs have improved the most and have the character in key players that produce winners.

    Achilles heels. Is the defense too (spelling error sorry) is the real deal. I don’t but the players around him maybe able to cover for him.

    I do not think it is the Leafs that are ready and cringe every time some expert says that they will win the Canadian division.

    My predictions just for fun…..Montreal or Edmonton 1 & 2. Calgary or Toronto 3 & 4. Vancouver 5….Winnipeg 6 and Ottawa 7.

    These predictions seat of the pants variety. Anyone else have different lists. Would like to read them.

    • I think a lot of people are underestimating the Jets. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish a head of the Flames.
      There is also that one team a season that surprises everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sens are that team. If Murray can return to form, their UFA signings work out the way they should, and their young guys like Tkachuk have a breakout season they may just finish ahead of the Canucks.

      • Agree re the Jets, KevJam, they are better than people give them credit for, and the Sens should be competitive if they get good goaltending.
        Speaking of which, will Price play well? Will Andersen play well?
        Montreal and Toronto will be near the top if the answer is “yes” and they could miss the postseason if the answer is “no”.
        Can’t wait.

      • Or at least the Oilers

    • The Jets will be challenging for 1st overall in the Canadian division. They finished with the 2nd most points among the teams last year (and .002 percent behind Calgary in win percentage)

      They have improved significantly in areas where there were huge gaps last year at 2C and defense. The core is getting closer to their prime and a few of the prospects are starting to make a mark (Harkins, Appleton)

      All this and Winnipeg loves an underdog.

      • It has rained for nearly three months straight where I am, but finally a ray of sunshine in the form of speculating on one’s hockey team!

    • Hi OBD

      This Leafs fan also believes Habs have had most improvement AND acknowledging that anything can happen…. on paper I believe Habs roster to be the best overall in CanDiv and has the best shot of winning the Div

      Their goalie tandem is, no ifs ands or buts, the best in the Div

      Their D as a whole for sure is better than Leafs and I would say top two in Div

      No doubt …. Leafs top 4 better than any other CanDiv top 4; maybe could even argue their top two lines are best in Div…. but looking at 4 lines total….. that certainly does not have enough if any separation from Habs to make up for difference in net and D where they are quite a bit behind Habs

      If Oil net duo can step up… Oil can edge out Leafs

      Sens not there this year.. but look out starting 2 years from now ; in three years … that youth movement … that would be 10-12 players all on the rise now …. then 21-25 and in their prime…. wow

      Jets, ‘Nucks, Flames battle tight for 4th:


      Leafs then Oil … OR Oil then Leafs

      Jets/‘Nuck’s /Flames


  9. Man. How is Kane in that much debt!?!?

    • Gambling debts, mostly.

      • Easy to do especially with a lots of states in the US legalizing sports betting and casino betting online running up those CC debt

  10. I’d like to see Rask out of beantown asap! Sweeney still hasn’t solved the problem on the second line and d hopefully this will be that idiots last year in Boston,

    • Who will replace Rask?

    • I have more of a bitch with Sweeney and Neely than any player on the team, last 3 years at their season ending presser they said the same thing … bigger tougher and stronger on the puck and they do the complete opposite, since 2015 how many draft picks has Sweeney hit on and how many trades were a positive move … understand the games has changed since 2014 but at least PC brought players in that were what Sweeney was wishing for …. although he did overpay on a few

      • Ya Joe, they haven’t been the big bad Bruins for a long time. They have some, maybe not as much as you would like and they still won’t lead the score sheet in hits very often.
        Lauzon plays a hard physical game.
        Frederic, from what I have read, and the amount of PIMs suggest he plays that way and might stick.
        Miller being back helps, Ritchie if he can keep up plays that way.
        After that, not so much.
        really curious to see how they play out of the gate. Not sure what to expect.

      • 2011 Ray … my favorite B’s team even more than the 70’s teams

        Right those. 3 players you mention might not even be full time players

  11. If I may my top 6 teams in the Total point standings regular season …….Playoffs are a different animal


    • Hi Joe

      Fully agree with your top 3

      I’m torn on where Bruins finish….. barring lengthy injury; and assuming *Pasta and *March only missing a very short stint at the beginning of the season…. yep 4th not out of the question

      Canes at 5 is a long shot IMHO

      *Currently showing on LTIR… if Bruins formally register them for LTIR for game one… there is (per CBA) a minimum amount of time they must stay on LTIR even if they are fully recovered… I think last year that requirement was 10 games or 24 days (not sure if it was the min or max of those two)

  12. Tuukka needs to be traded now before his contract ends I believe most fans are tired of his attitude over the years we can get a top player or draft pick. At this point I’d welcome a trade to get Rask out of Boston.
    Bruins are older more injury prone and haven’t filled the spots vacated by Kruger and on the second line in order to be a cup contender.

    • Well Rick, this fan isn’t one of them.
      I haven’t heard the answer to the who replaces him question.
      If they want to tank and go fill rebuild, then OK, but they aren’t.
      I worry less about Rask, and more about age of the core and injuries because of that age.
      I’m hoping they have another run in them, but wouldn’t bet a pay cheque on it.
      If they are healthy going into the playoffs, the young D matures quickly, they make an add at the deadline, then maybe we have a shot.