NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2020
Will the Blue Jackets shop for a scoring forward? Who could become trade bait if the Sharks become a lottery team again? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will add a scoring forward before the start of 2020-21. It will depend upon the cost of re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois because they’d prefer to know how much salary-cap space they’ll have once the 22-year-old center is under contract.
The Jackets have an opening on their second line with winger Gustav Nyquist out 5-6 months recovering from shoulder surgery. They’ll explore internal options but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t rule out signing a forward if the right opportunity presents itself and they have the flexibility to do so. Wingers Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund remain available in the unrestricted free-agent market.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman recently saying the Jackets tried to move forward Brandon Dubinsky’s contract. Friedman also speculated they could be among the clubs that looked at Hoffman and/or Granlund.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $9.2 million in cap space. That’s more than enough to re-sign Dubois. Kekalainen has downplayed how long it’s taking to get the center signed, pointing out many notable RFAs usually aren’t signed until close to training camp.
Assuming it costs $6 million annually to sign Dubois, the Jackets would have around $3 million to add an affordable forward. They could get additional wiggle room to exceed the cap by placing Nyquist and his $5.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve, though they’d have to shed salary to become cap compliant if he returns during the season.
Kekalainen also hinted earlier in the offseason that Dubinsky ($5.85 million) could also end up on LTIR owing to a nagging wrist injury. Perhaps he’ll try to trade Dubinsky’s contract to a cap-strapped club in hopes of landing something worthwhile in return.
Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year contract between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. His agent claimed 13 teams expressed various degrees of interest in his client. Most could be playing the waiting game hoping he’ll drop his asking price. The Jackets could be among them. Granlund might be a more affordable option.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked which member of the San Jose Sharks could be traded (apart from Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic) if they’re a lottery club in 2020-21.
He doesn’t see any circumstance under which the Sharks would trade Tomas Hertl. Burns has a three-team trade list and Vlasic a full no-movement clause, making it very difficult to attempt to move either player. Kurz, however, speculates Burns might be open to moving if he believes the Sharks will struggle for the next couple of seasons, “especially with his beard buddy (Joe Thornton) now in Toronto.”
If the Sharks become sellers, Kurz feels the most likely trade candidates are pending UFAs like Devan Dubnyk, Stefan Noesen, Matt Nieto, Marcus Sorensen or maybe Patrick Marleau again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson is counting on his club to stage a bounce-back performance and be a playoff contender this season. If they’re not, the UFA selloff will begin as the deadline approaches. I agree with Kurz that they won’t move Hertl. I also doubt Burns and Vlasic will be going anywhere.
If Burns agreed to be moved his contract and age work against him. He turns 36 in March, his production dropped sharply last season (from 83 points in 2018-19 to just 45 in 70 games) and he’s carrying an $8 million AAV for five more years. Unless the Sharks agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit, I don’t see many clubs agreeing to take on that contract. The same goes for the 33-year-old Vlasic and his $7 million AAV for six more years.