NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2021

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Rumors | 47 comments

What could the future hold for Predators forward Matt Duchene and defenseman Mattias Ekholm? Could Tyler Bozak re-sign with the Blues? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes Matt Duchene must prove his worth as the Nashville Predators jockey to hang onto the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division. Recently returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury, the 30-year-old winger has not held up his end of his $8 million per season deal.

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene (NHL Images).

Vingan believes Duchene must earn his keep or risk emboldening critics who feel he’s more of a hindrance than a help to the Predators. Trying to move the winger’s hefty contract this summer could prove difficult. He suggested leaving Duchene exposed in this summer’s expansion draft but admitted convincing the Seattle Kraken to select him will take some work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s been a big disappointment for the Predators. He managed 42 points in 66 games last season but only nine points in 26 games this season.

It could take tempting the Kraken with a high draft pick or a top prospect. Even then, the idea of carrying an overpaid 30-something underachiever for five seasons probably won’t be appealing to Seattle general manager Ron Francis.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes reports Mattias Ekholm is happy to still be with the Nashville Predators following weeks of speculation leading up to the recent NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old defenseman was at one point atop TSN’s trade-bait list until the Predators surged in the standings.

No one knows how close Predators GM David Poile came to moving Ekholm. Reports claimed the asking price was a first-round pick, a top prospect and another asset. Poile has suggested Ekholm, who has a year remaining on his contract, isn’t going anywhere, indicating a desire to re-sign the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm’s strong play was a key factor behind the Predators’ rise over the past month into playoff contention. Depending on how much he wants and for how long, a contract extension could be worked out during the offseason. If he’s not resigned, don’t be surprised if his name pops up in next season’s rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas recently reported Tyler Bozak would like to re-sign with the St. Louis Blues. The 35-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent this season. He’s completing a three-year, $15 million contract and was sidelined 21 games this season by concussion issues.

Bozak’s played well centering the Blues’ third line since returning from injury. Whether they can afford to keep him with the salary cap remaining flat is another matter. If they do re-sign him it’ll be a short-term deal for less than his current $5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bozak will have to accept a significant pay cut to stay in St. Louis for another season. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $63.3 million invested in 15 players next season. Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman are also pending UFAs while Vince Dunn, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford are restricted free agents.


  1. Kyrou will need to get a bump . Good young player. Hoffman walks

    Duchene has always been over hyped. Even in Junior. He has yet to put a string of seasons together warranting one of the top paid in the league . Every year ( & Forsberg included on that list) get hurt. Top paid should come with the ability of games played.

    • I see Bogosian is out. Surprise surprise

      • Did you see how he was injured? Do you care?

      • no and no?

      • This year aside Bogosian could have played over 1100 games. He sits at 644. Almost half missed due to injury . I did see the play this go around could have been much worse. It is not what or how but how many. Stamkos latest reaching for a puck.
        Back to my point -salary should be hinged with the ability to stay fairly. Insistently in the lineup. Every player gets banged up. Teravainen was top 10 current Ironman has only played 13 games this season but not year over year year.

    • I agree that St. Louis can’t wait to cut ties with that mistake named Hoffman.

      Is there a team willing to fork over what he thinks he’s worth? If so that’ll be a team headed for disaster. It’s no coincidence that Florida surged upwards the season after they let that one-dimensional player walk.

      • George

        So are you saying that because he got 4 mill a year contract he should be scoring more? I am not defending the amount he made I am just curious how you cam to this conclusion.

        Hes a plus player this year, forth on the blues in scoring and making less the Krug who I would say they were expecting a lot more from for the 6.5 mill they shelled out for him.

        To me Hoffman is more of a pure scorer and needs someone to get him the puck like he had in Barkovv and Huberdeau.

        There are many players that make more money and are bringing less to the table, by the is just my opinion

      • GGonzo, I don’t watch St Louis this year as they don’t play BOS or EDM.
        How is Krug doing, stats aside?

      • Ray

        he only has 1 goal and 7PP points I read. He made his money on the PP and I was just using him as a comparison because to me he is one dimensional and I am sure they were expecting more then 1 goal for 6.5 mill.

      • I was on the fence for the B’s keeping him. Glad they didn’t pay him that kind of $.

        B’s PP has been good, just like it has been for a while. It runs through Marchand, Pasta and Bergy and Krug benefited from that.

        Still a good player, but ya too much $.

  2. “Trying to move (Duchene’s) hefty contract this summer could prove difficult.”

    Try next to impossible. He’s become Louie Erickson east (erly).

  3. Duchene is the gift that keeps giving to the AV’s….

  4. It won’t only be Bozak who’ll have to accept a significant cut in pay from among the many UFAs this year. That, in fact, is going to become the theme of free agency 2021. There will be the odd exception – but for most it’s going to be “accept this or good luck elsewhere.”

    There are going to be a fair number of RFAs not qualified as well – adding to the UFA heap, while others will be faced with accepting what’s offered or sitting out. Until the fans are back 100% – and that may take longer than thought with the rapid spread of the Covid variants and their growing resistance to the current vaccines – more and more teams will be following the leads of teams like Ottawa and moving more of their young ELCs onto their rosters.

    • Similar to the conversation yesterday George, some decent teams have space coming up. Their own guys to sign if they want sure, but the flexibility is also an opportunity to get good players for less than they are earning today.

      Or they pay too much again. We’ll see.

      What is RNH worth? He makes $6M today. Skilled guy, not having a great year at 5 on 5. I would suggest he is having a crappy year 5 on 5, and while there is value being good on the PP, it helps to be on a great PP.
      I have no idea, but going to be interesting.
      There are a few guys like him out there.

      • I beg to differ. RNH is have a stellar year. You gotta watch him play. He covers 200 feet of the ice. Him and the two big guys are all Edmonton has.

      • RNH is a good player, but the word stellar does not apply. I’m not trying to devalue the guy, he has scored 20+ goals five times. He also has had 4 seasons where his – is double digits.

        Besides, his game and scoring stats are surely elevated by playing with the crazy good McDavid. Given that the Oilers need to upgrade forwards and defense to become true contenders it will be an interesting choice for Holland come the off season.

      • Ray RNH is worth whatever he can get really. LJ mentioned a 5x 20+ goal seasons and the plus-minus stat is more team than the player.

        Is $6M good for a 20 goal scorer? Does he bring another element that can’t easily be replaced? As a manager, you need to assess your assets and see if you can replace a player with a low-cost one, preferably one that is under cost control to maximize the organization.

        For example, the Leafs vs the Habs cap situation is similar to the point that both teams are sort of strapped to make moves to boost their team at this point in the season. At this point of the season, the Leafs are still in first place in the division and the Habs are floundering in 4th. The Leafs have a half dozen of star players, (for those that hate to hear that, let’s call them players you don’t need to worry too much about because you’re not going to be able to replace what that player can do with anyone in your organization or get on the market without overpaying – which you would want to avoid) the Habs don’t have such players yet. I’m basically talking about the core which I believe the Habs are very behind the Leafs in that regard – The Leafs can tinker around that core with replaceable players that you hope you’re upgrading what you’re replacing. The Habs are still building the core and can’t because of the cap. They can’t even add a cost-controlled, possibly irreplaceable player now when they need him. Not good at all.

        So what’s a player’s worth? It depends on where you see him in your organization and how easily can you replace him and not lose what that player brings to the team, ie goals, saves, PK, PP, points, smashing faces, etc. Ohhhh also capspace. 😉

      • Jeff, I have watched 75% of the Oilers games this year and live in Edmonton.

  5. I think Nashville made a huge mistake by not selling at the deadline. This team is nowhere good enough to really compete.

    Poile was long praised as one of the better GMs in the league for years. But this team is truly a disaster, Johansen and Duchene awful contracts. 16 million for 26 points between the two.

    Johansen for Jones? Wow! Awful!

    It’s hard to imagine any team taking on Duchene.

    • I disagree with what you are stating. End goal is they want to get into the playoffs and have played there way back into the playoff picture, which is why they kept them.

      I also think that most teams were not willing to deal a 1st which is what was being asked for as part of the package for both Ekholm and forsberg

      End of the day both those guys that were mentioned in getting traded could still get traded in the off season as they have a year left on their deals and still get back at a min the same package offered up this season.

      • Four 1st round picks exchanged hands this year. Foligno, Savard indirectly, Mantha and The Zajac / Palmeri deals.

        I’m Positive that both of those players could have commanded a 1st. It may have taken some creativity as some of the deals above took. But at least one of those players could have got a decent return whether it be picks and or prospects.

        Either guy could be dealt later. But if Nashville thinks they’re going to make a real push they’re kidding themselves.

        They’ve iced much better teams than they are currently. And we can say “if you get in you never know “. But I have some serious doubts that this team could get past any one of Florida, Carolina or Tampa. Never mind two of them or beyond.

      • Right or wrong making the playoffs is not only huge for every team. Not only do the teams get extra $$ for playoffs but so do players so it is a huge deal.

        There is no way Nashville has a chance at playoffs if they trade those guys. They very well could have commanded a 1st as part of the deal, and I do not think that changes this off season. And if those players become available in the off season, more team could come into play on acquiring them.

      • Well this year there is no gate revenue to speak of, so that’s not really something Nashville needs to worry about.

        Players can make 20k-240k max. 240k being cup winners. For the entire playoffs.
        I don’t think that’s a factor either. Certainly not for the organization.

        I agree, they had no chance trading those players. But they have about the same chance with those players. I think it’s easier to trade players in the off-season. But I dare say without even looking that more 1st rounders are dealt at the deadline than at the draft and outside of the final week or two leading up to the tdl.

        Also, they haven’t made the playoffs yet. This is all based on the assumption they will. Dallas is 2 points back with 3 games in hand. Chicago is 3 points back. There’s a very solid chance they rolled the dice and lost here.

        Then player , organization revenue is out the window, and they missed out on the return.

  6. Adam Vingan believes Matt Duchene must prove his worth as the Nashville Predators

    One of the most ridiculous things I have ever read … prove his worth? and if he doesn’t??? all he has proven so far is that he has a brilliant agent …

    the Preds are stuck with him and they know it ..

  7. Nothing that keeping 50% of his salary & a 1st round draft pick wouldn’t fix. Throw in a prospect.

    • Problem is, Vincois, with so many teams smack up against the cap there are likely far better expensive contracts teams would be willing to move by withholding 50% and tossing in a top a pick/prospect. The guy has NO value – even at $4 mil per – with so many years left on the deal.

      Meanwhile, a pick and a prospect are, at best, shots-in-the-dark that may – or may not – pan out. Just not worth it.

  8. Lyle, we haven’t seen anything of late from Old Blue Dog – hope everything is OK ,,, can you ask?

    • I second that, Lyle.

    • Maybe he’ll make a surprise comeback post by quoting mark twain

    • I’ll look into it, George.

    • Put Kal El on the missing list as well.

      • Oh yeah, for sure!

  9. From a viewing perspective Id much rather watch Toronto vs Edm/Win in the first round as opposed to Leafs/Canadiens (Zzzzzzzz). Even Leafs/Canucks offers up a far more entertaining series.

    Fast paced highly skilled matchup vs having to watch the Habs get blown out while being forced to listen ad nasuem about how great Carey Price is every single game.

    Matthews/Marner vs McDavid/Draisitl over 7 games vs Matthews/Marner vs Suzuki/Gallagarb way better viewing.

  10. Somebody in the lower mainland hired a plane yesterday to tow a #Fire Benning banner all over the Vancouver area.

    Too funny. Year7 of Dim Jims 5 year masterplan.

  11. Thanks for the concern guys….nothing amiss…and even the Leaf losing streak has nothing to do with my absence from writing. I have been reading almost everyday. I think one of the things getting to me is the narrow range of teams within the North Division.

    I have had some constructive thoughts ( that is a euphuism ) regarding my hockey hero Dubas and his trade deadline decisions. His lack of intuition his over use of numerical data.

    All is okay….thanks again George and LJ

    • The above comment was written by old Blue Dog who has been absent so long he forgot what button to push….don’t get old guys….it is only better than one alternative

      • LOL. Don’t I know it! Glad to hear everything’s OK. With the daily bad news coming out of the GTA – I have family there – you start to get an uneasy feeling.

      • Yeah, but that is a pretty good alternative, OBD. Stick around, please.

      • Frank Sinatra, “Young at Heart.”
        Words to live by, OBD.
        Welcome back.

    • the real name of Old Blue Dog

  12. Even though I live on Long Island, I read the Canadian papers, TSN and Sportsnet every day.

    Probably as most of you do.
    So, today I see all these stories about how Foligno is the answer to the Leafs prayers.

    Huh? To me, this is Dubas making the Tavares mistake all over again.
    Do the Leafs need more offense?

    I think that the Dubas missed the boat when he didn’t land Devan Dubnyk. I watched Rittitch in goal on Tuesday and he looked pathetic.

    Heading into the playoffs the Leafs goaltending tandem is Campbell, Freddy and Rittich.

    Are you Leafs fans comfortable with that?

    Secondly, I am just curious but how many of you have seen the Cup presented on home ice in your lifetimes. I was at all three Isles wins at home in the ’80’s. That’s something that you never forget.

    This is not a slight at Canadian teams. There must be Oiler and Calgary fans here. And I know that the Bruins and Pens have a following (hi Pengy).

    George how about you?

    • Nevinsrip,

      I wasn’t at any of the cup presentations but I do recall 12 Stanley Cups and as a kid thinking that it belonged to Montreal.

    • Well, certainly not involving Ottawa. Not in my lifetime (I ain’t THAT old! LOL). But I did have the good fortune to be in the Montreal Forum for one of the 5 straight cup wins in the 1950s and 1 in their 1960s string. Words can’t explain the electricity that ran through that old barn.

      Re the Ottawa cup wins away back, two of my uncles were there for a few and told me stories about those days, and growing up near Little Italy one of my friends at that time was the son of Milt Halliday who played for the Senators and was a member of their 1927 cup win. He ran a garage just down the street from where I lived and at times he’d tell us stories and show us photographs from the era. I remember in his garage office he had mounted team photos and two of his sweaters – all autographed by team members. Often wonder where they are today – but I lost touch with Barry a long time ago.

    • I lived in Calgary in 2004 and split season tix, and was at game 6 of the finals against TBay that the Flames lost in double OT that would have gave them the cup. And yes Gelinas goal was in.
      TBay won in 7.
      Closest I ever got.
      Got to see some great games that year though, nothing like playoff hockey live.

      • I had season tickets in Montreal for the 1979 season
        Funny thing though I barely remember them beating the rangers but it seems like yesterday watching Lafleur streaking down the right wing and uncorking that slap shot to tie the game in the last minute against Boston
        Was probably the greatest hockey memory for me

    • I was fortunate to see the Wings hoist the cup in 2002 against Carolina. Even got Barry Melrise to autograph my ticket (why you ask? I don’t know). I also was at Game 7 in 2009 against Pittsburgh. That was very sad. I had been invited to a post game celebration with the cup at a suite Zetterberg rented. That would’ve been awesome. But it wasn’t.

  13. Matt Duchene gave us the BS in Columbus that he loved it here and we were really making it hard for him to decide on where to sign. Of course, as he said this crap he was building a home in Nashville.
    CBJ offered him more money than Nashville did and it turned out great for us he signed with Nashville. There hasn’t been a place he hasn’t loved he earns his money as a BS artist.