NHL Rumor Mill – December 7, 2021
Which players could the Canadiens trade? Will the Canucks make big roster changes? Should the Bruins sign Tuukka Rask? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHO STAYS OR GOES FOR THE CANADIENS?
TVA SPORTS: Jonathan Bernier examined which Montreal Canadiens players with long-term contracts could be traded if executive VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton decides a rebuild is in order. Gorten recently told Bernier’s colleague Renaud Lavoie he and the club’s next general manager will initiate discussions with several players to take stock of their careers.
Bernier believes Carey Price should be traded. While he has a no-movement clause, he might lift it for an opportunity to join a Stanley Cup contender. Given his $10.5 million contract over the next four seasons, the Canadiens will have to absorb part of it to facilitate a trade or take back a bad contract.
Shea Weber’s career is likely over. His $7.857 million annual cap hit could be placed on long-term injury reserve again if the club remains near the cap ceiling should they attempt to sign an unrestricted free agent or re-sign one of their promising players next summer.
Defenseman Jeff Petry likely won’t want to be part of a rebuild. He has three seasons remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $6.25 million and a 15-team no-trade clause. His struggles this season could also make him difficult to move.
Bernier also suggests shopping wingers Brendan Gallagher and Joel Armia and defenseman David Savard. Gallagher has five years remaining on his deal at $6.5 million annually with a six-team no-trade clause. Armia could be easier to shop with three years left on his contract at an AAV of $3.4 million. Savard has three years at $3.5 million and Bernier believes his fate could be tied to Petry and pending UFA blueliner Ben Chiarot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how Gorton and his GM handle this situation. If it’s to be a rebuild, it has to start with moving Price. That means picking up half of his cap hit and perhaps getting a third team involved that’s willing to pick up another portion of his salary in exchange for a decent draft pick or prospect.
Gallagher would also involve some salary retention or taking back a comparable contract. Petry’s age and struggles this season could affect his trade value but there could be a general manager out there willing to bet he’ll regain his 40-point form on a better club. Armia could be the easiest to move of the bunch. Bernier said there’s speculation the Boston Bruins are interested in him.
Renaud Lavoie, meanwhile, spoke with player agent Kent Hughes, who was mentioned by Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman as a possible GM candidate for the Canadiens. “I don’t control speculations,” said Hughes. “I had no discussions regarding the GM job.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also said the Canadiens hadn’t held any talks yet with Hughes but he was believed high on their list of potential candidates. That could still be the case even though they haven’t had any discussions yet. Hughes also didn’t say he had no interest in the job.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy reports former Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is said to be high on the Vancouver Canucks’ list of candidates to replace Jim Benning as general manager. Bergevin was fired as Canadiens GM over a week ago.
SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Canucks chairman Francesco Aquilini said he hasn’t yet spoken to Bergevin. He also hasn’t ruled out bringing back a former employee such as former GM Mike Gillis.
Aquilini indicated the club will conduct a thorough and exhaustive search for the club’s next general manager. He also suggested the possibility of hiring a president of hockey operations.
MacIntyre doubts the Canucks will embark on a rebuild and sell off assets even if the new general manager decides a rebuild is necessary. He pointed to the club’s handful of core players 26-and-younger including Bo Horvat, Thatcher Demko, Conor Garland, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. They also have promising youngsters such as Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend upon the club’s performance over the remainder of this season under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. I don’t see there being many changes if they show significant improvement and claw their way back into playoff contention. As MacIntyre points out, their young core gives them plenty for the next GM to work with going forward.
SHOULD THE BRUINS PASS ON RASK?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: D.J. Bean observes it’s becoming increasingly likely the Bruins will sign goaltender Tuukka Rask once he’s ready to return to action next month. Doing so, however, would mean demoting Jeremy Swayman to the minors as Linus Ullmark has a no-movement clause.
Bean suggests the Bruins should pass on Rask and stick with their current tandem of Swayman and Ullmark. They’re a fringe playoff team and not a Cup contender. Swayman has a solid .918 save percentage and sending him back to the minors could be a step backward for him. If they still want to sign Rask, they should find another way to make room for him.
There’s a slim possibility the Bruins could trade Swayman for help at forward or defense but Bean doesn’t expect they’ll go that route. He believes it would be a stupid move that would be harmful to the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve encapsulated Bean’s article and I suggest folks read the entire thing before piling on him for daring to suggest the Bruins pass on Rask. He makes a good point given Swayman’s development and where the Bruins are this season as a playoff contender. However, even he acknowledges they’re probably going to bring Rask back and Swayman will likely be demoted to make room for him.