NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2022
In today’s NHL rumor, a look at this summer’s free-agent goaltending market plus a possible conundrum between the pipes for the Canadiens.
WILL THIS SUMMER’S TOP UFA GOALIES STAY PUT OR TEST THE MARKET?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun considers the Minnesota Wild’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper, St. Louis Blues’ Ville Husso and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell as the top tier of UFA goalies this summer. All four could improve their value with solid performances in the upcoming playoffs.
Sources indicated the Wild would like to keep Fleury despite their limited salary-cap space for 2022-23 but there’ve been no discussions yet. LeBrun said the Blues aren’t giving up on struggling starter Jordan Binnington and believed Husso will be heading to free agency in July.
There haven’t been many contract discussions between Avalanche management and Kuemper’s camp. The Avs offered a one-year extension last summer but it was rejected by his agent.
Campbell had a strong start to this season but struggled and was sidelined in the second half. His agent said it was status quo on the contract front.
Teams that could be in the market for a starter this summer could include the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs and Avs could also seek help in goal if their respective starters hit the open market in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury, Kuemper, Husso and Campbell will draw considerable interest if they hit the UFA market on July 13. It will be interesting to see how their value is affected by their performances in the 2022 playoffs and whether they stay with their current clubs or test the market.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS’ GOALTENDING SITUATION
THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun pondered whether Carey Price wants to continue his playing career and if it would be with the Montreal Canadiens. If he wants to join a Cup contender, the Canadiens would have to absorb part of his $10.5 million cap hit to make it happen.
LeBrun also wondered if clubs come calling for Jake Allen. The Canadiens backup has a year left on his contract with an affordable $2.875 million cap hit. He was playing well until suffering a season-ending groin injury.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also weighed in on the potential offseason goalie conundrum facing the Canadiens. He cited RDS’ Francois Gagnon indicating it’s a complex question given the 34-year-old Price’s contract, injury history and stated intent to play in Montreal for the long term. He also holds a full no-movement clause.
Should Price agree to accept a trade, D’Amico believes they’ll need to find a long-term replacement. UFA options could include Ville Husso or Darcy Kuemper.
LeBrun’s fellow TSN insider, Darren Dreger, said Allen was a much sought-after asset leading up to last month’s trade deadline. D’Amico pointed to the improved play of Samuel Montembeault, suggesting the Canadiens could opt for a more affordable backup and put Allen on the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s age, hefty contract, NMC and his long list of injuries make him seemingly untradeable but it could be folly to assume it won’t happen. That being said, the Canadiens would have to retain between $4 million and $5.25 million of his cap hit to make his contract palatable to interested parties. His movement clause would also complicate matters by limiting potential trade suitors.
Allen would be much easier for the Canadiens to trade. However, that depends on whether management sees the 25-year-old Montembeault as a reliable backup for Price, who has a good working relationship with Allen.
Montembeault is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $750K contract. He would be an affordable re-signing for the Habs at a cap rate lower than Allen’s.