NHL Rumor Mill – May 1, 2023
What next for the Avalanche and Bruins following their early postseason exits? What’s the latest on the Jets and Wild? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Roundup.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND BRUINS?
He wondered if center J.T. Compher could be the member of the Avs to depart via free agency due to their limited salary-cap space. Young players like Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook will need raises coming off their entry-level contracts.
Clark also noted the uncertainty over the status of team captain Gabriel Landeskog, who missed this entire season with a nagging knee injury. His return would bolster their top six but it’s possible his recovery drags on into next season.
THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla also raised Landeskog’s status in assessing where the Avalanche goes from here. He noted Valeri Nichushkin’s banishment from the lineup during the series with the Kraken following an incident involving an intoxicated woman in his hotel room in Seattle before Game 3.
Kiszla wondered if a major roster renovation rather than retooling might be in order if Landeskog doesn’t fully recover and if Nichushkin cannot be trusted as a key member of this squad going forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche with $13.2 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 13 roster players under contract. That won’t leave much to re-sign Compher, Byram and Newhook and leave enough for the rest of the roster.
They could get $7 million in wiggle room if Landeskog remains sidelined heading into 2023-24, though they’ll have to become cap compliant if he returns to action at some point in the season. As for Nichushkin, we don’t know what the outcome of this will be. He’s not facing any criminal charges but the Avs not bringing him back into the lineup raised questions about his future.
A rebuild would involve shedding salary by moving out one or two key players. I don’t think that’s something management has in mind. However, it’s going to be difficult to add upgrades given their cap limitations.
The Bruins must also decide whether they’ll re-sign trade-deadline acquisitions Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway, who are slated to become UFAs on July 1. Meanwhile, backup goalie Jeremy Swayman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited cap space will also complicate the Bruins’ offseason plans. Cap Friendly shows them with $10.5 million in projected cap space with 14 roster players under contract. However, that doesn’t appear to take into account the $4.5 million in carryover bonus overages for Bergeron and Krejci.
They’ll still have enough for Bergeron and/or Krejci if they wish to return on affordable one-year contracts. However, they’ll have to shed salary to re-sign Swayman and to fill out the rest of the lineup. I don’t see them being able to clear sufficient space to retain Bertuzzi, Orlov and Hathaway. One of them, perhaps, but that’s it.
LATEST ON THE JETS AND WILD
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was evasive regarding his offseason plans other than confirming Rick Bowness and the coaching staff will return next season.
Some of it was understandable. For example, it’s too early to tell where someone like goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stands regarding a contract extension. However, Cheveldayoff didn’t say if he’s going to rebuild the roster but didn’t rule it out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friesen was caustic in his analysis of Cheveldayoff’s press conference yesterday. He thinks the Jets are in decline but the general manager doesn’t seem to believe it.
The always-cautious Cheveldayoff may be unwilling to tip his hand publicly but that doesn’t mean he won’t make a move or two to shake things up. Actions, as always, speak louder than words. We’ll learn his true intentions over the course of this offseason.
Silber observed Capitals GM Brian MacLellan hopes to revamp his top six and add secondary scoring. She noted that the futures of Jets forwards Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers are in question.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff could get better returns for his trade candidates than Kuznetsov and Mantha. The former has undeniable skill but his inconsistent play and previous off-ice issues are concerning while the latter is oft-injured and has consistency issues of his own.
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani wondered what it will cost the Minnesota Wild to re-sign goaltender Filip Gustavsson. He was their starter in this year’s postseason and is poised to be their No. 1 netminder even with Marc-Andre Fleury returning next season. He’s a restricted free agent slated for a big raise next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap room will be an issue for the Wild next season with $3.4 million in projected space and 22 players under contract. Gustavsson is coming off a two-year deal with a cap hit of less than $788K per season. He has arbitration rights this summer.
Mizutani also wondered if this is Matt Dumba’s final season with the Wild. While the pending UFA defenseman would love to stay in Minnesota, there aren’t sufficient cap dollars to keep him.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Joe Smith also wondered about the Wild’s offseason plans. They agree that re-signing Gustavsson should be their priority as well as shoring up their depth at center.
They also wondered if puck-moving defenseman Calen Addison could become a trade candidate after he was scratched from the lineup multiple times during the second half of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Addison, 23, is coming off his entry-level contract and had 29 points in 62 games this season. His defensive game needs improvement but a rival club could be intrigued by his offensive abilities. Perhaps he become a trade chip if the Wild are squeezed for cap space. Maybe he could be used as trade bait to land a center.