NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

Check out the latest on the Penguins and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi report rival team executives believe Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could explore trading Kris Letang, despite Rutherford saying he wanted to keep the blueliner among his core players. One executive claimed Letang still has value in the trade market.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins explore trade possibilities for Kris Letang (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s age (33), annual average salary ($7.25 million through 2021-22), and injury history are significant sticking points. While he has an 18-team trade list, his no-movement clause means he cannot be demoted to the minors. With two-thirds of the teams facing a cap crunch for 2020-21, moving Letang seems a remote possibility.

They also reported the Penguins’ decision to release assistant coach Sergei Gonchar isn’t a sign of renewed strain between head coach Mike Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin, who is close to Gonchar. Despite occasional disputes, management believes Malkin respects Sullivan. They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby let it be known last year that he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved. Malkin has indicated he wants to finish his career with the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s name is always brought up by somebody in the rumor mill as a trade option whenever the Penguins fall short of expectations. Yohe and Rossi remind us he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him full control over his NHL future for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022. Malkin’s not going anywhere unless he wants out, and he isn’t interested in that option.

Yohe also believes Matt Murray could be on his way out, suggesting he needs a change of scenery. He anticipates Rutherford will find a way to move center Nick Bjugstad, who has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.1 million. He also doesn’t rule out Jared McCann and Zach Aston-Reese becoming trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Rutherford sheds salary, the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign Murray and fellow RFA goaltender Tristan Jarry. I think Murray hits the trade block following the postseason.

Yohe doesn’t expect pending unrestricted free agents like Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau, and Conor Sheary will be back.

WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently raised several questions about possible offseason moves by the Minnesota Wild.

One was whether Wild GM Bill Guerin would bundle some assets, including either Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, to acquire a first-line center, or attempt to sign one via free agency. Russo also wondered if Guerin might shop one of his goalies, acquire one via trade or free agency, and/or promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would have better trade value, and might even fetch a first-line center in a one-for-one swap. That move, however, would address one problem but create another, as Dumba is (in my opinion) their best defenseman. Guerin will have to look to the trade market as this year’s UFA market is thin on quality centers. 

As for their goalies, Russo pointed out adding one could mean buying out Devan Dubnyk, a move that could suggest Kahkonen’s not the goalie of the future. Dubnyk’s only got one year left on his contract. It might be worthwhile standing pat between the pipes and see how next season unfolds. They’ll have a better idea of Kahkonen’s readiness and can let Dubnyk walk via free agency.

Russo wondered if Guerin might revisit his failed trade-deadline attempt to ship Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. He also mused about buying out Dubnyk or Victor Rask if they can’t trade them, and if they’ll find a way to move expensive winger Mats Zuccarello, who also carries a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The attempted Parise deal was done before COVID-19 derailed the schedule and flattened the salary cap. I don’t see that trade happening, especially with the Isles’ limited cap space. Buying out Dubnyk and Rask creates around $4 million in dead cap space next season, over $2.1 million in 2021-22, and $1.33 million for each of the following two seasons.

The Wild are likely stuck with Zuccarello for a while unless he’s willing to waive his NMC and they’re willing to either pick up part of his $6 million AAV or bundle him with a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect.










The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)

 










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Minnesota Wild

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 15, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 15, 2020

Could this season be the last for Zdeno Chara? Have we seen the last of Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal as Rangers, or Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu with the Wild? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THIS SEASON BE CHARA’S LAST?

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports Zdeno Chara‘s agent said he and his client aren’t thinking about whether the Bruins captain will return for another season right now. Matt Keator believes he, Chara, and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will meet at the end of the season to sort it out. The 43-year-old defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Dupont feels it would be an anti-climactic end to Chara’s long run with the Bruins if the NHL cancels the rest of the season and the playoffs and Chara opts to retire or management feels it’s time to move on.

Could this be Zdeno Chara’s final NHL campaign? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the salary cap remains at $81.5 million or falls below that figure, the Bruins probably won’t have sufficient cap room to bring back Chara. Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak are also UFAs, while Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Matt Grzelcyk are restricted free agents. With over $61.2 million tied up in 17 players, finding room for Chara on a cheap one-year deal could prove a tight fit if they re-sign everyone else.

HAVE LUNDQVIST  AND STAAL PLAYED THEIR FINAL GAMES AS RANGERS?

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wonders if Henrik Lundqvist has played his final game with the New York Rangers. The long-time Rangers starter had been shunted aside in favor of young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev before the league paused the schedule over coronavirus concerns. The 38-year-old Lundqvist has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.5 million.

Carpiniello doesn’t expect the Blueshirts will go into training camp this fall carrying three goalies. Buying out Lundqvist’s contract this summer is one option. A trade is another, provided Lundqvist waives his no-movement clause and the Rangers absorb half of his AAV. Either way, the Blueshirts will have some dead cap space for next season.

Long-time Rangers defenseman Marc Staal could face a similar fate. He has a year left on his deal with an AAV of $5.7 million and a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe a buyout is more likely for Lundqvist than a trade, especially if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for next season. Even by picking up half his AAV, there won’t be many teams with available space as there might have been under a higher ceiling. The same goes for Staal.

END OF THE LINE FOR KOIVU AND PARISE WITH THE WILD?

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo wonders if this schedule pause spells the end of Mikko Koivu’s NHL career. The 37-year-old Minnesota Wild captain is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Sources say Koivu is leaning toward retirement. He declined to waive his no-movement clause a few weeks ago, indicating he couldn’t see himself playing for another team.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Before the NHL’s pausing the regular-season schedule, Sarah McLellan reported on how Zach Parise’s play had improved following the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Nevertheless, his future with the Wild remains unclear as trade speculation could reignite down the road.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild reportedly discussed a deal with the New York Islanders that would’ve sent Parise to Long Island in exchange for winger Andrew Ladd. Both players waived their no-trade clauses to facilitate the deal but it ultimately didn’t come to pass. There’s speculation the two clubs could revisit it this summer, but a lower-than-projected salary cap could scuttle those plans.

If the season is canceled or the league scraps the rest of the regular-season schedule, we may have seen Koivu’s last game as an NHL player. Not the way anyone envisioned his NHL career coming to an end.










The Minnesota Wild Facing An Interesting Summer

The Minnesota Wild Facing An Interesting Summer

 










What We Learned This Week In The NHL: Post-Trade Deadline Edition

What We Learned This Week In The NHL: Post-Trade Deadline Edition