NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2020

What’s next for the Bruins after signing Jake DeBrusk? What’s the latest on Matt Dumba’s trade status? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: D.J. Bean praised Bruins general manager Don Sweeney for signing winger Jake DeBrusk to an affordable short-term bridge contract yesterday. The move also leaves Sweeney with “somewhere between $2.9 million and $3.7 million”, enough to bring in a left-side defenseman or another left winger, though they’ll have to shed some salary to address both issues.

With Jake DeBrusk signed, will the Boston Bruins bring back Zdeno Chara? (NHL Images)

Bean suggests there’s enough to bring back Zdeno Chara for next season in perhaps a third-pairing role. However, they’ll have to bid Chara adieu if they decide to sign unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty took note of my recent Bleacher Report piece listing the Bruins fourth among my top-five destinations for Hoffman. I pointed out the Bruins’ limited cap space puts them at a disadvantage with the three teams ahead of them in my ranking.

Haggerty speculates Hoffman could be waiting for the right team to make some cost-cutting moves to free up sufficient cap space to sign him. That could bode well for a club like the Bruins.

In a recent mailbag segment, Haggerty suggests Anthony Duclair as an affordable alternative if they can’t sign Hoffman.

He also said acquiring Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larson wouldn’t be an idiotic decision. He praised Ekman-Larsson’s offensive abilities while suggesting his size wouldn’t make him a defensive zone liability like the smaller former Bruin Torey Krug.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $2.9 million in cap space. Unless they shed salary they can’t afford to bring back Chara and add a third-line left winger or a second-line right wing.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. If he won’t budge from that asking price, the Bruins can’t sign him without making a cost-cutting trade.

Haggerty’s suggestion about Hoffman waiting for the right team to clear some cap space to sign him is a reasonable one, but I don’t think that helps the Bruins. I don’t see who they can move that would free up sufficient cap room without weakening the roster elsewhere.

The same goes for acquiring Ekman-Larsson. While he could agree to waive his no-movement clause before next year’s trade deadline if the Coyotes approached him again about going to Boston, I don’t see how the Bruins could free up sufficient room to take on his $8.25 million cap hit. They’ll want the Coyotes to pick up a healthy chunk but I don’t see them agreeing to that. The only reason they explored trading Ekman-Larsson was to get his full cap hit off their books.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin reiterated he’s not shopping Matt Dumba. The 26-year-old defenseman was the subject of trade speculation in recent months, but Guerin said he’s prepared to start the season with Dumba, praising his energy and competitiveness.

There was talk Dumba could be available after the Wild signed Jonas Brodin to a seven-year contract extension. The club might not be able to protect Dumba in next year’s expansion draft with Brodin, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon under contract for five more seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin, Suter and Spurgeon all have full no-movement clauses meaning they must be protected by the Wild in the expansion draft unless they consent to waive those clauses. Dumba lacks that protection. Guerin could decide to protect those four defensemen but it would mean leaving an extra forward exposed.

Guerin saying he’s happy to start the season with Dumba doesn’t full slam the door on the speculation over the blueliner’s future in Minnesota. Assuming there’s a 2020-21 season, don’t be surprised if he resurfaces in the rumor mill if the Wild are struggling before next year’s trade deadline.










Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2020

A look at some predicted destinations for the top remaining UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman recently predicted destinations for the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.

Would Mike Hoffman be a good fit with the Los Angeles Kings? (NHL Images)

Wegman last month predicted the Los Angeles Kings as a destination for winger Mike Hoffman, considering him a good fit alongside Anze Kopitar on their top line. He suggested a four-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: With Cap Friendly indicating the Kings have $13.6 million in cap space, they can easily afford Hoffman. However, I doubt general manager Rob Blake would bring a 30-year-old winger to a rebuilding roster on a multi-year deal.

Hoffman is reportedly willing to consider a one-year deal for between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. Maybe Blake would be interested in a one-year contract if he can get Hoffman at a lower rate and then flip him for futures at the trade deadline.

Wegman also suggested Anthony Duclair for the Kings. While his defensive game leaves something to be desire, his abilities could prove useful in offensive-zone starts and on the power play for a club that struggled to score last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 25-year-old Duclair could be a better fit with the younger Kings and much more affordable than Hoffman. His defensive play and streaky scoring, however, are areas of concern here.

Erik Haula could address the San Jose Sharks’ lack of bottom-six depth at center. He wouldn’t be overly expensive for the Sharks, who have $2.3 million in cap space. While injuries hampered him over the last two seasons, he tallied 29 goals and 26 assists in his last full campaign in 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula could be a good, affordable short-term investment as a third-line center in San Jose. Given his injury history and age (29), the Sharks probably wouldn’t invest beyond one year.

The Florida Panthers could use an experienced winger like Mikael Granlund to provide much-needed secondary scoring. He’s coming off a down performance last season with the Nashville Predators but averaged 63 points per campaign in the three previous seasons. He’d be guaranteed second-line minutes with the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Panthers could be trying to bring back Hoffman. Nevertheless, Granlund’s low production last season and the current economic situation would work in their favor here. A one-year deal for between $3.5 – $4 million might get it done.

Wegman suggests Andreas Athanasiou as a middle-six forward option for the Nashville Predators. The speedy 26-year-old winger didn’t play well last season with Detroit and Edmonton but he tallied 30 goals with the Red Wings in 2018-19.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think the Predators are playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping to land him for a lower price. If that’s not possible, maybe they’ll take a chance on Athanasiou or Duclair on a low-cost one-year contract.

Manitoba native Travis Hamonic could be a perfect fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The 30-year-old defenseman would play close to home and help improve the Jets’ porous blueline. While they’re listed as not having any cap space, they could get some wiggle room by placing center Bryan Little ($5.29 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic and the Jets could be waiting to see how things shake out with Little before reaching an agreement. Then again, maybe the Jets have no interest in him.

Wegman suggests Sami Vatanen could be the best veteran free-agent defense option available to the Philadelphia Flyers, who didn’t bring in a suitable replacement for recently retired Matt Niskanen. The 29-year-old Vatanen has played 21 minutes per game in recent years and would give the Flyers a third right-handed shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could surprise us, but I get the impression Erik Gustafsson will be his only UFA signing this year.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

The latest Bruins speculation plus some free-agent options available to the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean examined what’s left for the Bruins to do during this offseason. They must sign winger Jake DeBrusk, determine if defenseman Zdeno Chara will return and fill a need for depth among their middle-six forwards.

Will Zdeno Chara return to the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space ($7.35 million per PuckPedia) and DeBrusk’s streaky scoring, Bean believes the 22-year-old restricted free agent should receive a short-term deal worth somewhere in the range of $4 million annually.

Nothing much has happened with Chara, but if the unrestricted free agent wanted to leave, Bean thinks he would’ve done so by now. He feels the Bruins could use him as a third-pairing, left-side defenseman.

Bean believes the Bruins need additional left-wing depth. Possible options could include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula or Andreas Athanasiou. He doubts they have sufficient cap space for Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins intend to sign DeBrusk on that short-term deal suggested by Bean. It’ll likely happen by the time training camp opens, which could be around mid-December if the NHL begins its 2020-21 schedule on Jan. 1.

Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the schedule forward for ’20-’21 looks like before deciding if he’ll return for another season. I concur with Bean that if the 43-year-old rearguard was signing with another club he would’ve done so by now, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’d get a better offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe his preference is playing for the Bruins.

The Bruins could go the free-agent route to address their need for another left winger. Unless they make a cost-cutting trade, however, they can’t afford Hoffman. They might have to go into the bargain bin.

They could also go the trade route to address that need. Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports prospect defenseman Urho Vaakanainen could be a trade candidate.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the free-agent options available to Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen if he wants to bring in additional depth.

The Jackets could use a short-term replacement for Gustav Nyquist, who’s sidelined for five months recovering from shoulder surgery. Options include Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and former Blue Jackets Derick Brassard and Anthony Duclair. However, Hedger believes Kekalainen could instead look at promoting a promising young player.

Hedger feels the Jackets’ blueline depth took a bit of a hit when Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara were traded in cost-cutting deals. He suggests Sami Vatanen would be a good fit on the right side of the third pairing.

Kekalainen might need an experienced goalie if he decides to trade Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for additional cap space. Options could include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets popgun offense was a concern before Nyquist was sidelined. Kekalainen could go the UFA route or promote from within, but I’ve also read reports suggesting he could instead target a cap-strapped rival in the trade market.

Kekalainen could look to within his system to address his need on the third pairing but I wouldn’t rule out making an affordable short-term free-agent signing. Vatanen might be the best option but might not be cost-effective.

If Kekalainen trades Merzlikins or Korpisalo I believe he’ll promote Matiss Kivlenieks rather than add an aging UFA netminder.










When Will The NHL Offseason Trade and Free-Agent Activity Resume?

When Will The NHL Offseason Trade and Free-Agent Activity Resume?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

The latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Mike Hoffman plus an update on the Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tracey Myers was asked about the trade rumors surrounding Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and if a move to the Philadelphia Flyers would help his production.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau was the subject of trade speculation (NHL Images).

Myers acknowledged last season’s dip in Gaudreau’s production but believes he’ll bounce back in 2020-21. She noted the winger has two years remaining on his contract and his desire to stay in Calgary. While there might be Philadelphia fans who’d welcome seeing the Salem, NJ native in a Flyers jersey, Myers doubts the Flames are ready to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were plenty of calls from many of the Flames faithful demanding Gaudreau be traded following the club’s disappointing performance in the 2020 playoffs. However, Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down that notion and defending his embattled scorer. I agree with Myers’ take, but that situation could change if Gaudreau has another sub-par performance or the Flames make another early postseason exit.

Myers was also asked if the St. Louis Blues could sign free-agent winger Mike Hoffman to a cheap, one-year contract, and if he’d be a good fit in the tight Blues locker room.

She noted they found sufficient offense when winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed most of last season. With Tarasenko sidelined again with shoulder surgery for five months, she suggested inking Hoffman to replace some of his offense might be worth looking into. Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract and Myers feels he’d be a good fit with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn’t rule out making another addition via free agency but suggested it might not make sense dollar-wise. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues sit above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.175 million with defenseman Vince Dunn still to sign.

Armstrong gets some cap relief by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and Alex Steen ($5.75 million) on long-term injury reserve, but he’ll have to clear cap room when they return to the lineup at some point during the season. Hoffman is also believed seeking $6 million on a one-year deal, which could prove too expensive for the Blues to absorb.

Asked if the Chicago Blackhawks could find a buyer for one of their four big contracts, Myers believes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will finish their careers in Chicago.

Toews, Kane and Keith are signed through 2022-23, Seabrook through 2023-24. They all have full no-movement clauses. She noted Toews recently said he has no interest in playing anywhere else and would be surprised if Kane and Keith felt differently. The Blackhawks have given no indication they’re trading Seabrook. Given his contract, Myers considers it unlikely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe one or more of those four will feel differently in a couple of years if the rebuilding Blackhawks haven’t made sufficient progress. For now, I don’t expect either of them to be changing teams. Their contracts remain tough to move and their no-movement clauses give them full control over their futures.