NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2022
LATEST ON WEBER, CHYCHRUN, HERTL AND HAGEL
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports several capologists responded to his recent musting about whether it would make sense for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Shea Weber’s contract from the Montreal Canadiens. The capologists don’t believe the Wild would do it as it would prevent them from accruing cap space, robbing them of flexibility. They also pointed out that a team cannot acquire a player on long-term injury reserve without activating him first, something few teams (like the Wild) can afford to do.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Weber’s LTIR contract would only be suitable for low-spending teams looking for a creative way to reach the salary-cap floor, not for those bumping against the cap ceiling seeking a way to exceed it.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports eight teams are “seriously” pursuing Jakob Chychrun. Based on the Arizona Coyotes’ high asking price for the 23-year-old defenseman, it could come down to the March 21 trade deadline. The primary suitors include the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ asking price is reportedly a first-round draft pick, a top prospect and a good young NHL player. Bear in mind some of these clubs (Blues, Hurricanes, Panthers) have limited salary-cap space so they’ll have to send some salary back to the Coyotes or make a separate cost-cutting deal to make the dollars work.
Chychrun is also signed through 2024-25 so there’s no rush on the Coyotes’ part to move him at the trade deadline. They can wait until the offseason if they don’t get any suitable offers over the next couple of weeks.
Pierre LeBrun reports teams have been calling the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl but they’re still trying to sign the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. However, he speculates they could attempt to move him if there’s no progress in contract talks seven days from now. Teams have also called about penalty-killing defenseman Jake Middleton.
Dreger also reports there’s lots of interest in Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Hagel given his play and affordable contract. However, there’s no guarantee he’ll be moved as he could have a place in the Blackhawks rebuild. Dreger said the asking price could be a first-round pick and something else.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers put the likelihood of Hagel getting moved at the trade deadline at one percent.
LATEST ON THE DUCKS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek is willing to test the trade market on pending unrestricted free agents such as Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell and Nic Deslauriers. It doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be traded as there’s a little more wiggle room with Lindholm. Winger Max Comtois could also be available after struggling through this season.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Ducks have opened contract talks with Lindholm but not yet with Manson. Some believe management wants to see how negotiations go with Lindholm and if they fall through they could try to sign Manson before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much could also depend on where the Ducks are in the standings. They’re currently four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Verbeek could be more inclined to become a seller if they don’t gain ground before the trade deadline. Nevertheless, he’s indicated he doesn’t want to lose those guys to free agency for nothing, so he could move them regardless of where his club sits in the playoff race.
RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” COLUMN
There’s increased interest in New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit and a no-trade clause that covers half the league. Friedman doesn’t see the Edmonton Oilers as a destination.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are bumping against the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling. They’ll have to get creative to take on the remainder of Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit.
It will be tough for the New Jersey Devils to move P.K. Subban’s $9 million cap hit. However, his actual cash to him is $2 million. With most of that already paid out, Friedman wondered if it would make sense for the Devils to terminate his contract and let him sign elsewhere for similar money. He said he hasn’t run that idea by the league yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be interesting to learn the league’s response. I daresay it would be considered salary cap circumvention rather than Subban violating the terms of his deal, which is the reason behind the San Jose Sharks terminating Evander Kane’s contract earlier this season.