NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2020

A look at this year’s top UFA goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, and Washington’s Braden Holtby top Sean O’Leary’s ranking of this year’s top-10 NHL unrestricted free agent goaltenders.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images).

O’Leary observes Lehner has better stats than teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, suggesting it’s possible Lehner could outperform Fleury and take over as the Golden Knights’ starting goalie in the playoff tournament. Nevertheless, he believes it will be difficult for the cap-strapped Golden Knights to re-sign Lehner with Fleury carrying two more years on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some media speculation suggested the Golden Knights pull a swerve by trading Fleury to free up sufficient cap space to sign Lehner. Fleury, however, has a 10-team no-trade list. His age (35) and $7 million annual average value could also make him difficult to move if Vegas wanted to go down that road.

I’ll be surprised if the Canucks part ways with Markstrom. He’s become a reliable starter in Vancouver and they want to keep him. I think the two sides can agree on around $6 million annually, but the term could be a sticking point. Markstrom is 30 and the Canucks could be leery of any deal beyond five years.

Some might be surprised to see Holtby slide to third despite being a former Vezina winner (2016) who backstopped the Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. His struggles over the last two seasons account could hurt his value. 

Holtby will draw interest if he hits the open market, but he probably won’t get the type of big-money contract he otherwise would’ve had his numbers remained strong. Of course, that will change if he carries the Caps on another deep playoff run.

Chicago Corey Crawford and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin are fourth and fifth on O’Leary’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford and Khudobin could stay put. Crawford wants to remain in Chicago but he’ll have to accept less than his current $6 million AAV on a much shorter contract. The Stars, meanwhile, are believed interested in keeping their tandem of Khudobin and Ben Bishop intact. That could require a bump above Khudobin’s current $2.5 million annual salary.

The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, San Jose’s Aaron Dell, and Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss would be a fine backup for any NHL club. Talbot’s bounce-back performance this season could have him looking for a starter’s job.

Smith is in the twilight of his career, but some Edmonton pundits think the Oilers should bring him back for one more season. Dell’s had a rough couple of years as a backup in San Jose. Elliott could be re-signed by the Flyers for another season to back up Carter Hart.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2020

The latest on the Sharks and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH UFAS WILL THE SHARKS RE-SIGN?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently examined which San Jose Sharks’ unrestricted free agents could be re-signed and those who have likely played their final games in teal.

Will the San Jose Sharks bring back Joe Thornton for one more season? (Photo via NHL Images)

He feels it would make sense to bring back Joe Thornton if the long-time Sharks center accepts a $1 million or less salary to provide the club with salary-cap flexibility. He’s leaning toward Thorton’s return but doesn’t consider it a certainty.

Kurz wouldn’t be surprised if the Sharks re-signed Melker Karlsson but could also see him move on to another club. Having traded away a penalty killer in Barclay Goodrow, it might be worthwhile to re-sign Karlsson if he accepts a pay cut.

Backup goalie Aaron Dell won’t be back unless the Sharks can trade starter Martin Jones, but his contract makes him nearly impossible to move. Stefan Noesen will likely get an affordable one- or two-year deal. Unless the Sharks trade Brent Burns, Kurz expects the Sharks will part ways with Tim Heed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve singled out the more notable of the Sharks’ UFAs. I can see Thornton, Karlsson, and Noesen being re-signed if they’re willing to accept cost-effective deals.

Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. General manager Doug Wilson indicated he believes his club can make a quick turnaround from this season’s disappointing performance. To do so, he’ll need those aforementioned free agents to accept affordable one-year contracts or watch them depart via free agency.

UPDATE ON THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently reported the league’s proposed roster expansion to 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders would allow the Minnesota Wild to use Kaapo Kahkonen in the 24-team playoff tournament.

Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock are the Wild’s current goalie tandem. However, coach Dean Evason isn’t ruling out the possibility of the AHL goalie of the year becoming their starter in the tournament if he plays well in training camp. “Whoever is in there that we deem is going to play well for us in whatever position, I’m sure everybody will support him and we will go forward,” said Evason.

Russo suggested it also makes sense for Wild general manager Bill Guerin to play Kahkonen to determine if the 23-year-old netminder is ready to become their No. 1 or No. 2 goalie next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s goaltending situation could get interesting in the off-season if Kahkonen outplays Dubnyk and Stalock in the proposed return-to-play tournament. Dubnyk has one season left on his contract with an annual average value of over $4.33 million and a 19-team trade list. Stalock has two years left at a cheap AAV of $785K. Should Kahkonen prove himself NHL-ready, Guerin could be tempted to use Dubnyk or Stalock as trade bait to address other roster needs.

Russo also reported Marcus Foligno hopes to sign a contract extension with the Minnesota Wild. The 28-year-old forward will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno’s become an effective third-line forward for the Wild. He carries a $2.875-million annual average value on his current contract. The Wild have over $39 million invested in just seven players for 2021-22, leaving plenty of space to re-sign Foligno if they choose.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – San Jose Sharks

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – San Jose Sharks

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Canadiens, Rangers, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked about backup goaltender options for the Montreal Canadiens. The Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin a prime target but would the Canadiens pay more than the $2.5 million AAV he currently earns when they’re paying Carey Price $10.5 million annually? Engels thinks they have the cap flexibility to do it.

Engels felt the Canadiens should consider trading Brett Kulak because they’ve got Alexander Romanov coming next season. Kulak’s affordable contract ($1.85 million AAV through 2021-22) could net the Habs some help elsewhere on the roster. He also feels it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk rejoins the Canadiens in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the Canadiens should make a serious effort to sign Khudobin. They need a skilled, experienced backup to spell off Price over the next couple of seasons under promising Cayden Primeau is fully ready for prime time.

Kulak might not fetch much, but with some teams potentially looking to shed salary under a possible flat cap next season, maybe he could fetch a decent depth player. Kovalchuk should be an affordable, short-term signing on a one-year, bonus-laded deal.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie still believes the Canadiens should bring back former Hab Mikhail Sergachev by signing the young Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to an offer sheet.

Should the Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist if the NHL allows for amnesty buyouts in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has over $76 million invested in 16 players for next season, which explains why Sergachev could be a tempting offer-sheet target. However, that’s assuming he’s willing to listen to offers from rival clubs. If he’s not, it’ll be a waste of time. Besides, it’s assumed the Lightning could move a veteran like Alex Killorn in the off-season to make room to re-sign Sergachev.

RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked If Henrik Lundqvist or Marc Staal would be the target of an amnesty buyout if the league allows such buyouts before next season. Buying out Lundqvist would free up $8.5 million for next season, compared to $5.7 million for Staal. “Sentiment aside, I do not think this would be a difficult choice,” replied Brooks.

Brooks admitted the possibility Lias Andersson could be in the Rangers’ 2020 training camp, but it would require a lot of work to breach the differences between the unhappy young winger and the organization, particularly with head coach David Quinn. He felt Andersson could be traded in the off-season as part of a bigger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If amnesty buyouts are permitted this off-season, shedding Lundqvist’s cap hit makes the most sense. It would be a sad way for his career with the Blueshirts to end, but this is a business decision that would allow them salary-cap flexibility for 2020-21. As for Andersson, I’ll be surprised if he’s still with the Rangers’ organization next season.

SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if Martin Jones would keep his job as the San Jose Sharks’ starting goalie next season. His guess is Jones will be back, but he also felt the Sharks must seek a goalie with NHL experience who can play 35-40 games. Braden Holtby could be out of their price range, but perhaps Robin Lehner or Cam Talbot fits the bill. Pashelka also doesn’t rule out Aaron Dell returning if Lehner or Talbot proves too expensive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby will be in the market for a lucrative long-term deal. Lehner could be more affordable, but he’ll also want some long-term security. Talbot might be the best option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he remains with the Flames.










What Are Doug Wilson’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The San Jose Sharks?

What Are Doug Wilson’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The San Jose Sharks?

 










Surveying the NHL Sellers – San Jose Sharks

Surveying the NHL Sellers – San Jose Sharks