NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2022
A look at the Blues’ potential offseason plans plus the latest speculation over Johnny Gaudreau’s future in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looked at what could be in store for the St. Louis Blues following their elimination from the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche.
She anticipates they’ll re-sign Ville Husso before his eligibility for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. Despite the 27-year-old goaltender’s ordinary postseason performance, he’s a good complement in the crease with starter Jordan Binnington.
Vladimir Tarasenko had requested a trade last summer but that was overshadowed this season by the Blues’ improved performance. General manager Doug Armstrong will have to find the right return if the 30-year-old winger still wants out.
David Perron is also slated to become a UFA this summer. He had a terrific postseason but it remains to be determined where the 33-year-old winger fits into the Blues’ plans.
Armstrong must also shore up his defense corps. That includes new contracts for restricted free agents like Scott Perunovich and Niko Mikkola as well as adding some veterans who can play significant roles.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Ben Frederickson recently opined that the Blues must fight hard to keep Perron in the fold. He cites the winger’s value to the club during this postseason, especially during the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. Frederickson also noted the Blues struggled without Perron during last year’s postseason series against the Avs when he was sidelined by COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frederickson acknowledged Perron’s age and concussion history, but also believes the Blues can’t compete for the Stanley Cup next season without him. He makes a good point. Perron finished this postseason as the Blues’ leading scorer and is second among all scorers through two rounds with nine goals. He always steps up his game in the playoffs.
The problem, as always, is salary cap space. Cap Friendly shows the Blues with over $72 million invested in 17 players for 2022-23 with Perron, Husso, Perunovich and Mikkola as their notable free agents. Nick Leddy is also a UFA but I think he’ll be departing this summer. Ditto 36-year-old center Tyler Bozak.
Perron earned $4 million annually on a four-year deal and might accept a similar salary on a shorter term to stay in St. Louis. Husso’s due for a significant raise over his $750K salary for this season and could get perhaps $4 million annually on the open market.
Assuming Armstrong can re-sign those crucial free agents, he won’t have enough left to bring in some veteran help on the blueline. He’ll have to shed a salary or two. Shipping out Tarasenko if he still wants out will remove $7 million from the Blues’ cap payroll but it creates another problem of finding a suitable replacement.
Armstrong must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign rising stars like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to contract extensions next summer. The duo will be RFAs with arbitration rights next summer and in line for big raises over their identical $2.8 million cap hits of their current deals.
LATEST ON JOHNNY GAUDREAU
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson wonders what the future holds for Johnny Gaudreau following the Flames’ second-round elimination by the Edmonton Oilers. The 28-year-old winger is coming off a career-best 115-point performance and is slated to become a UFA on July 13. He’s completing a six-year contract with an annual average value of $6.75 million.
Gilbertson reminded us of GM Brad Treliving claiming he’d move heaven and earth to keep Gaudreau in Calgary. Without their first-line engine, they could take a significant step back from this season’s improvement.
If Gaudreau stays, he’ll be getting the richest contract in franchise history. Treliving has the advantage of being able to offer an eight-year deal whereas the winger would get seven years via free agency. Re-signing him, however, could complicate efforts to sign RFAs like Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi wondered if Gaudreau would sign with the Flyers if he tests the open market in July. He grew up in South Jersey and was a Flyers fan growing up. In 2016, Gaudreau observed that everyone wants to play for their hometown team eventually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted the Flames’ cap situation and that of the Flyers in my May 27 Rumor Mill. I don’t doubt Treliving will do what he can to keep Gaudreau in Calgary, but he’ll end up having to dump a salary or two to make room for the winger’s new contract and those of Tkachuk, Mangiapane and Kylington.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have much less cap room than the Flames. If they can’t free up between $9 million and $10 million to sign Gaudreau, the dream of Johnny Hockey rocking a Flyers jersey won’t have a chance of becoming a reality.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner mused about the possibility of the New York Islanders signing Gaudreau. With probably $8 million in cap space once they re-sign RFA Noah Dobson, they’ll have to shed salary if they hope to come up with enough to sign him. Cost-cutting candidates could include Josh Bailey, Semyon Varlamov or Anthony Beauvillier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau could be a terrific fit alongside Islanders center Mathew Barzal. I think GM Lou Lamoriello will try to add a scoring forward this summer but could opt for a more affordable option, such as Nashville’s Filip Forsberg.
THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian looked at some possible cost-cutting trade options for the Flames. Milan Lucic is a year away from UFA status but his eight-team trade list is a stumbling block. Mikael Backlund is 33 and has two more years left at $5.35 million annually with a 10-team no-trade list.
But how are the Blues gonna acquire Matty Tkachuk if they have cap problems??? Maybe he goes to NJ for their #2 OA and Sharangovich + !!!!!!!
JZ. You should know rumour writers never consider the cap in the dream wishes
It would be considered I believe, but there would have to be a contract in place beforehand or no deal. And as a Devil’s fan, I like the Rango and 2OA a little bit better and use those dollars on a FA (Forsberg for example) to add on.
Rango? OK, who is Rango?
Sharangovich. Team nickname. Sorry for confusion.
The Blues will let Perron walk, and then trade for him during the season. We’ve seen this movie before.
It would be such a flyers move to give Johnny hockey $10 million lol
This made me chuckle.
The Flames will sign Johnny, plus Johnny has stated many time he wants to stay in Calgary. Pundits love to speculate on connections that really have no bearing on reality.
The Flames will make room by trading Lucic. He is very tradable this year as he is owed 3m bonus then his salary is only 1m. A perfect player for Arizona who get a cap hit of 5.25m and a salary of only 1m. Flames could also throw in Toffoli who is on a reasonable 4.25 m contract for one of their 2nd round draft picks.
That saves the Flames 9.5 million off the cap. Lots of room to sign Johnny, Tkachuk, Mangiapane, and Kylington.
Personally I would like the Flames to somehow trade Tkachuk to Nashville for Forsberg and sign him to a 8.5 contract.
As good as Tkachuk is he really can’t elevate his game in the playoffs and looked slow and plodding against the Oilers. Also I noticed for the first time he does not think the game at a fast pace. He always seemed a bit behind on his reactions and his play. Forsberg would fit very nice in Calgary as he plays faster has better speed and can raise his game in the playoffs.
On a completely different topic, I have come to the conclusion that McDavid is not only the best player in the NHL he may be the best player in the history of the league. He single handled defeated the Flames and Kings. I have never watched a more dominant performance of speed and skill. He was especially good when the chips were down and they needed a goal
Unfortunately people in the east probably don’t watch him very much because of the late start, but if the Oilers get to the finals he will be in prime time with the opportunity to see him 4 or 7 times. I guarantee you, you will be on board with this statement. He is a phenomenal player!!
After watching the playoffs, I don’t think Lucic has any trade value, and Toffoli has less than what the Flames agave up to get him.
If you read what I wrote the second round pick was for Toffoli and nothing for Lucic.
We are basically on the same page.
There was a time when I couldn’t imagine “life without Husso”, but I think he will want a BIGGER role and BIGGER dollars than the Blues can provide. I hope they’ll shop for an experienced, veteran back-up.
Perron had a terrific season and play-off! I expect a team friendly contract will be finalized — maybe 2 year/ 3 million per!?
Would love to sign “Steady Leddy” and dump Scandella’s contract, but not optimistic. I actually would try to step away from Torey Krug’s contract too.
Don’t know what to expect (or hope for) regarding Tarasenko?? REAL good bounce back season, but only an average play-off. His trade value is a little less of a risk for teams now.
Although the cap constraints are significant, I bet Armstrong takes a serious run at Tkachuk.
Some MAJOR help and toughness on defense please!
I’ve said it many times since March this is going to be a disaster of a offseason for the Bruins