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.
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.