NHL Rumor Mill – April 16, 2021
Expect more three-team trades involving salary retention plus the latest Flyers and Canucks speculation for the offseason in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL had no issue with the three-team trades involving salary retention that took placed leading up to the recent trade deadline. Some team executives weren’t comfortable with a player’s salary being retained by two teams before being acquired by the third team. However, there is no money outside the system, all the salary-cap money is accounted for, and a hockey asset was acquired by the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also suggested in The Athletic that teams with salary-cap space acting as third-party brokers in trades between cap-strapped teams will happen more frequently under the flattened salary cap. He feels we can expect to see more teams renting out salary-cap space to acquire draft picks.
Some observers called it salary-cap circumvention but there’s nothing in the collective bargaining agreement preventing teams from doing this. This provides a measure of much-needed flexibility for teams in salary-cap hell because of the unexpected adverse effect of COVID-19 upon hockey-related revenue. I doubt we’ll see this avenue blocked off in the next round of collective bargaining.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall believes Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher faces some tough decisions in the offseason to address his club’s shortcomings following this disappointing season. He believes the trade market is the best route for Fletcher because of salary-cap limitations.
They need a top-pairing defenseman and Hall suggests drawing from their forward depth to address that need. Fletcher, however, cautioned that type of player is difficult to find though he’ll see what opportunities present themselves this summer and see how some of the Flyers blueliners perform over the remainder of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor shares Hall’s viewpoint that a big move this summer could be required to address the Flyers’ blueline situation.
Trading a forward for a defenseman, however, won’t be easy under the flattened salary cap. Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes have big cap hits and no-movement clauses. Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk lack no-trade protection but their expensive contracts won’t be easy to move unless a three-team trade similar to those described by LeBrun takes place.
Sean Couturier could be a solid bargaining chip. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status but do the Flyers really want to part with the defending Selke Trophy winner? Rival GMs could have more interest in younger, cheaper forwards like Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom or Joel Farabee. On their own, however, those players won’t fetch a No-1 defenseman.
I’m not saying it’s impossible. Fletcher could address his blue-line need with some creativity in the trade market. Nevertheless, Flyers fans must be realistic with their expectations. Fletcher could opt to shore up his second and third-pairing depth if he can’t land a top-pairing guy.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently reported the Vancouver Canucks have limited salary-cap space for next season after re-signing Tanner Pearson and Thatcher Demko. They’ll also be re-signing restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes this summer, leaving even less room to fill out the remainder of the roster.
GM Jim Benning doesn’t expect to have any salary-cap issues this summer. Johnston speculates winger Jake Virtanen could be traded. Virtanen and forward Antoine Roussel could be bought out with limited impact on next year’s salary-cap total. They could also get some cap relief if center Jay Beagle is sidelined longer than anticipated.