NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2023
What will the Avs do with Gabriel Landeskog sidelined for 2023-24? Could they find a way to trade Valeri Nichushkin? Should the Canadiens trade their first-round pick for Pierre-Luc Dubois? What’s the latest on the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE LATEST ON THE AVALANCHE
THE DENVER POST: Bennett Durando pointed out that the Colorado Avalanche will get $7 million in salary-cap relief if necessary by placing Gabriel Landeskog on long-term injury reserve. The 30-year-old Avs captain is expected to miss the entirety of the 2023-24 season recovering from knee surgery.
Durando observed the Avalanche would have nearly $21 million to work with if the salary cap rises to $83.5 million as projected. Part of that will be used to sign restricted free agents Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook to new contracts.
Should they go the free-agent route they could look at short-term signings for pending UFAs such as Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, the Rangers’ Patrick Kane, Toronto’s Ryan O’Reilly or Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk.
Assuming they want a younger, long-term setup among their top six, they might have to move someone like Devon Toews or Samuel Girard to free up sufficient cap room.
During a weekend mailbag segment, a reader told Durando’s colleague Mark Kiszla that the Avalanche should trade Nischushkin.
Kiszla acknowledged that we may never know why Nichushkin disappeared from the Avs. However, he doubted they’d have a chance of moving him unless they come clean with a potential trade partner over what happened with the winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche will place Landeskog on LTIR and use the savings to re-sign Byram and Newhook while attempting to address their second-line center position. They’ll either re-sign Compher or seek a more experienced option via free agency or a trade.
Free agency might be the better way to go if the Avs don’t want to get entangled in an expensive long-term deal for an aging veteran. It could also help them avoid shopping Toews or Girard this summer.
Moving Nichushkin will be difficult even without knowing what happened to him on that fateful day in Seattle. He’s signed through 2029-30 with an average annual value of $6.125 million and a full no-movement clause.
SHOULD THE CANADIENS SWAP THEIR FIRST-ROUND PICK FOR DUBOIS?
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Brendan Kelly doesn’t believe Montreal fans will remain patient with the Canadiens for another season if they don’t show signs of real progress with their rebuild.
One way to do that, he argues, is to trade their 2023 first-round pick (fifth overall) to the Winnipeg Jets for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The rumor mill has linked the 24-year-old center to the Canadiens since last summer as speculation persists he wants out of Winnipeg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois could help the Canadiens accelerate their rebuild. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and is a year away from UFA eligibility so there’s a good chance the Jets could shop him this summer if he won’t sign a long-term deal. The Habs could make a pitch for him that includes a first-round pick.
If they do, it’ll likely be the first-rounder they acquired last year from the Florida Panthers bundled with a couple of promising prospects or a young player. It won’t be the fifth-overall selection.
The Jets won’t be negotiating from a position of strength if Dubois intends to test next summer’s free-agent market. They’ll want to get the best deal possible. Sure, another club could swoop in and outbid the Habs but it would be risky if he’s not interested in a contract extension.
In that case, the Canadiens don’t have to put up their first-rounder but can simply wait until next summer when they can sign him as a UFA. That’s assuming that the Habs want Dubois in the first place. For all we know, they’ve got their eyes on other plans.
UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS SEARCH FOR A NEW GM
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas is in the final season of his contract with the Leafs. There’s rampant media conjecture that they could part ways if the club is eliminated from the second round by the Florida Panthers.
Despite the Leafs’ playoff difficulties under Dubas they have reliably been among the league’s top teams during his tenure. That could help him land with another club following this season if his time in Toronto is coming to an end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been less than two years since Bowman lost his job over his role in covering up Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually abused by former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich. Any club hiring him can expect a considerable backlash from fans and pundits. Horwat also pointed out that he did a terrible job during his final seasons with the Blackhawks as they went from a Stanley Cup dynasty to a bottom-feeder with bloated contracts.