Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 13, 2020

Could the Rangers trade Tony DeAngelo? Does the acquisition of Joel Edmundson signal more moves ahead for the Canadiens? What’s the latest on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEANGELO ON THE BLOCK?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers could attempt to trade Tony DeAngelo rather than re-sign the restricted free agent defenseman. That’s because a contract of longer than one year for the 24-year-old DeAngelo would all but ensure losing promising Nils Lundkvist to unrestricted free agency on June 2, 2022 without the 20-year-old rearguard having played a game for the Blueshirts.

Lundkvist signed to play in Sweden next season. The Rangers hold Lundkvist’s rights until June 1, 2022. However, Brooks doesn’t like the odds of the young Swede signing with the Blueshirts when they’ve already got DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox filling the right-side blueline spots. He feels the Rangers will need a steady flow of impact players on entry-level contracts over the next several years to support and counterbalance the expensive contracts at the top of the depth chart.

Brooks believes it’ll cost the Rangers between $5.5 – $6 million annually to re-sign DeAngelo, who’d be filling the third-pairing spot on the right side. He said there’s no inclination to move him to the left side. Instead, he feels they’ll use DeAngelo as trade bait to bring in a long-term solution for their second-line center position. They could find more affordable options to replace DeAngelo on the third pairing via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $67.1 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, with DeAngelo, center Ryan Strome, goalie Alexandar Georgiev and winger Brendan Lemieux as their notable restricted free agents. Jesper Fast is an unrestricted free agent who’s reportedly headed to the market.

Brooks has frequently suggested DeAngelo as a trade candidate this year because of the Rangers’ depth on the right side of their blueline and their need to address their second-line center role. General manager Jeff Gorton could re-sign Strome, who has arbitration rights and is a year away from UFA eligibility, but there’s a question over whether he’s worth a potentially expensive long-term investment, especially given the current economic climate.

The Rangers could get some cap relief if aging goalie Henrik Lundqvist is traded, bought out or retires. Trading him would require picking up a healthy chunk of his $8.5-million cap hit. Retirement would be the best option as it would clear the entire cap hit from their books.

The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello believes the most likely scenario is a buyout. However, that will only clear $3 million of his cap hit, as well as leaving $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22. Nevertheless, that could be their only solution.

If Gorton goes the buyout route it could affect what he does with DeAngelo and Strome. It will also depend upon what’s available in the trade market to suitably address the Rangers’ second-line center needs. DeAngelo would be an intriguing trade target but finding a club willing to part with a good second-line center for him will be challenging for Gorton.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS?

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens acquisition yesterday of left-side defenseman (and pending UFA) Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes raises questions over what general manager Marc Bergevin has in store for his club in the coming weeks. The addition and possible re-signing of the 27-year-old Edmundson could create congestion at that position, especially if promising Alexander Romanov makes the roster next season.

Analyst Mike Bossy wondered if more moves are coming, suggesting perhaps Victor Mete’s days with the Habs might be numbered. Mete is a restricted free agent in October and due for a raise.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently observed the trade speculation brewing about Canadiens center Phillip Danault. He feels it would be a bad idea to move the two-way center and suggests the Habs should learn from what happened to the Buffalo Sabres when they traded away Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.

The Sabres made that move in part because they felt promising Casey Mittelstadt was ready to move into the No. 2 center role. Instead, Mittelstadt struggled and spent time last season in the minors while O’Reilly went on to greater things with the Blues. Larkin doesn’t want the Habs to risk repeating that mistake with promising Nick Suzuki. He believes Danault would be difficult to replace.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson’s addition indicates the Canadiens want more size, experience, and toughness on the left side of their blueline. Maybe that means Mete gets traded, maybe not. It’ll depend, of course, on whether Edmundson re-signs before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9.

I agree with Larkin’s take on Danault. Some of that trade chatter is stoked by the 27-year-old playing a third-line role during the playoffs and some because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason on the top-two lines, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can expect that level of play throughout next season. Maybe they’re ready for prime time, maybe not.

Better to hang onto Danault for next season and observe how things shake out. If Suzuki and Kotkaniemi keep Danault permanently on the third line, then they can look at moving him before the trade deadline. If they’re in the playoff chase, better to hang onto him when depth at center will be invaluable, even at the risk of losing him to free agency next year.

UPDATE ON ANDERSON

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports the Blue Jackets would like to re-sign Josh Anderson. The 26-year-old right winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported Anderson would like to stay with the Blue Jackets, but it would take a long-term deal to do that. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might not be keen to do that, as he’s looking to fit him within their roster structure and their salary cap. The flattened salary cap for next season will also affect negotiations.

Arace points out Anderson doesn’t have much leverage. Despite his arbitration rights, he missed most of this season with a shoulder injury. He also noted Anderson’s agent, Darren Ferris, threatened to have his client play in Switzerland during their previous contract talks before an agreement was reached.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently wondered if a new Blue Jackets negotiator might help the situation. Before accepting the Florida Panthers’ GM role, Bill Zito’s biggest role as Blue Jackets assistant GM was handling contract negotiations. Maybe his replacement can smooth things out. If not, Kekalainen could start listening to trade offers next month.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2020

The latest on Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford plus updates on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ANDERSEN AND CRAWFORD

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Claude Lemieux, the agent for Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, understands the recent trade speculation about his client is part of the territory when a team with high expectations like the Leafs suffers an early playoff exit. Lemieux also indicated Andersen has not requested a trade.

There’s media chatter suggesting Andersen is being shopped by the Leafs. Lemieux said the club hasn’t spoken to him about a trade. He also stated he hasn’t had contract extension talks for his client, whose contract expires at the end of next season. Rumors have linked the Leafs to Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Corey Crawford hopes to return with the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs need a better goalie than Murray if they’re thinking about moving Andersen. While Murray has two Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017) on his resume, Andersen has had better health and better stats since 2017 with a heavier workload.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope recently reported Corey Crawford wants to stay with the Blackhawks. The 35-year-old goalie will become an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 1. He’d consider a three- or four-year deal if the Blackhawks prefer, but would also accept a short-term deal.

Crawford also indicated playing time matters more than his next salary. “I don’t want to play half the games and sit on the bench for stretches at a time,” he said. “I’m way more valuable playing games and playing consistently.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite his age (35) and injury history, Crawford proved his value as a starting goalie this season to the Blackhawks. His next deal won’t be worth $6 million annually like his current contract. I’ll be surprised if the Hawks commit to anything over two years.

Crawford’s age would allow him to sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary that could take him up to $5 million if he meets all bonus requirements. It would provide him with an opportunity to finish the season with a significant salary while giving the Blackhawks some cap flexibility. That depends, of course, on whether he would accept a one-year deal.

RANGERS

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano recently looked at several possible off-season trade targets for the New York Rangers. He believes they need a center and a left-handed defenseman.

Centers include Calgary’s Sam Bennett, Ottawa’s Logan Brown, Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, and Toronto’s William Nylander. His defense options include Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi, and Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mercogliano lists his targets in descending order and explores the pros and cons of each player and the potential cost to acquire them. Follow the link above to get the details. I’m just going to briefly add my two cents.

The Flames won’t part with Bennett as he’s a versatile forward who always elevates his game in the playoffs. He’s among the few Flames who could hold his head high over his performance in this year’s postseason. I don’t believe the Senators will give up on Brown. The Bolts intend to re-sign Cirelli. Danault is the Habs’ best two-way center so he’s not going anywhere.

Hertl is very talented but his injury history makes him a risky acquisition. Nylander’s cap hit ($6.9 million) makes him too expensive for the Blueshirts under a flattened salary cap.

I believe the Canucks will remain patient with Juolevi. Brodin and Lindholm might be available but the asking price for Brodin could be a center (which the Rangers need) while the Ducks will likely want a top-six winger for Lindholm.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Anthony Scultore cited Swedish reporter Johan Rylander wondering why Frolunda is one of only two Swedish league teams still holding closed-door practices. “Is it because (Henrik) Lundqvist is training for return? Or is it simply due to fear of covid-19 from two journalists 40 meters from the ice?”

Rylander confirmed Lundqvist is in town and practicing somewhere to stay in shape. Frolunda, meanwhile, issued a statement indicating their closed-door sessions are to protect their players as much as possible from the virus. The team stated it had no information on Lundqvist other than he is not a member of their roster or their team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report indicates Lundqvist is allowed to practice with the club as per IIHF rules. He spent several seasons with Frolunda before joining the Rangers in 2005-06. Perhaps he’s considering NHL retirement and finishing his career with his old team. Or he could simply be staying in shape before training camp opens later this fall.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 16, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 16, 2020

Has Tuukka Rask played his final game with the Bruins? Could the Rangers be tempted to trade the first-overall pick? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

COULD THE BRUINS AND RASK PART WAYS?

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont suggests it might be time for the Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask to part ways. This comes in the wake of Rask’s decision to return home for family reasons. While the club is supportive of the goalie’s decision, and Dupont is also sympathetic, the pundit points out this isn’t the first time he’s taken a leave of absence for family reasons.

Rask has one season left on his contract, but Dupont feels the Bruins cannot have uncertainty between the pipes, especially in the starter’s position. He notes the Bruins can trade the netminder to one of the 15 teams on the list he was obligated to provide in February. He believes Bruins general manager Don Sweeney “will be working the phones.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every statement coming from the Bruins’ organization supports Rask’s decision and I feel they’ve handled this situation well considering the circumstances His critics will condemn him for bailing on the team. We don’t know the full story but it appears to be something he carefully considered for some time.

I don’t fault Rask for putting his family first. The same goes for anyone else regardless of profession. It’s difficult to focus on a job when you’re worried about your family.

Rask’s decision, however, does raise questions over the goaltender’s future in Boston. Some will suggest a trade, others retirement.

Dupont feels the Bruins GM and coach need to know who they can count on during the good times, bad times, and especially during the playoffs. If that’s the rationale the Bruins use to trade Rask (and that’s a big “if” at this point), it will hurt his value in the trade market. If Rask returns next season, they could keep their goalie tandem intact with Jaroslav Halak for one more season. 

Will the New York Rangers use the first-overall pick to select Alexis Lafreniere? (NHL.com)

COULD THE RANGERS SHOP THE FIRST-OVERALL PICK?

ESPN.COM: The New York Rangers won the draft lottery, but Greg Wyshynski notes this year’s top prospect, left-wing Alexis Lafreniere, won’t address their need for a skilled centerman. They’re already well-stocked at the left-wing position with Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider.

Wyshynski points out the Rangers could land a proven center and help on defense by shopping the first-overall pick. A bidding war could get started among clubs seeking a skilled left-winger. However, just because it’s an option doesn’t make it the best one.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman cites former NHL GM Brian Burke suggesting the Rangers have got to listen if someone is going to come after that pick hard, but he notes those offers usually aren’t good.

Dillman wondered if the Los Angeles Kings, who own the second-overall pick, might contact the Rangers. The presence of No. 2 prospect Quinton Byfield (a center) might entice the Rangers to listen. While the Kings have depth in center prospects and the Blueshirts have a need at that position, it doesn’t mean there’s a fit there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if the Rangers don’t get some calls about that pick. Maybe from the Kings, perhaps from the Ottawa Senators, possibly from the Montreal Canadiens or another club in dire need of a potential scoring star. However, it’ll take a significant offer to convince them to part with that pick. Ultimately, I expect the Rangers will keep the pick, select Lafreniere, and find other ways to boost their depth at center, either internally or through the trade or free-agent markets. 

LATEST ON THE PANTHERS

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards noted whoever becomes the Florida Panthers new GM will have decisions to make regarding unrestricted free agents such as Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman.

Richards suggests the flat salary cap could work to the Panthers’ advantage if they want to re-sign a couple of their UFAs without breaking the bank. Dadonov and Hoffman seem to enjoy living in Florida and playing for the Panthers, but they might have to accept short-term deals if they hope to stay. However, their production could make them cost-prohibitive if the Panthers decide to cut payroll.

Improving the defense should be the Panthers’ priority. Richards notes blueliner Mike Matheson has six years left on his contract at $4.8 million per season and was scratched from the final two games of the postseason. If they’re willing to give up on Matheson’s potential it might not be easy to move his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of a state tax also works in the Panthers’ favor if they hope to re-sign Dadonov and Hoffman. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires with those two as they approach free agency. They could test the market and then return to the Panthers if there’s nothing to their liking. That’ll depend, of course, on who takes over the GM’s chair between now and then.

Matheson frequently surfaced in this year’s rumor mill. The Panthers could be stuck with him as the decline of his play over the last couple of seasons could hurt his value in the trade market. Still, I can see the next GM calling around to see if there’s a club willing to take a chance on him.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

Could the Rangers shop the first-overall pick? Are changes coming for the Penguins? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE RANGERS LISTEN TO OFFERS FOR FIRST-OVERALL PICK?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton will spend the coming weeks deciding if he’ll use the first-overall pick to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere or shop it for the No. 2 center his club badly needs.

Will the New York Rangers keep the first-overall pick and select Alexis Lafreniere? (NHL.com)

The Rangers already have left-wingers Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, making it difficult for Lafreniere to be an immediate fit in their roster. Garrioch expects Gorton will find a place for the youngster unless he gets an offer too good to refuse. He believes the Ottawa Senators (with the third and fifth overall picks), Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators, Canadiens, and Red Wings lack the type of center the Rangers would want as part of the return. I think Gorton will listen to offers but he might not get one to his liking. He could also surprise us by taking Quinton Byfield instead of Lafreniere with that pick, but I believe he’ll stick with the time-honored adage that you take the best available player.

CHANGES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated changes are coming during his end-of-season press conference yesterday.

Team sources indicate there could be an assistant coach change at some point this week. Rutherford indicated no changes are coming to the roster core. He expressed disappointment in defenseman Justin Schultz’s performance, an indication perhaps the pending free agent won’t be re-signed.

The Penguins GM also spoke about goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. The pair are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Rutherford acknowledged it would be difficult to keep both. He also feels his roster needs to get younger.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Penguins are leaning toward keeping this year’s first-round pick (15th overall) and sending next season’s first-round selection to the Minnesota Wild. As per conditions in the Jeff Zucker trade last February, the Penguins have seven days following the lottery to reach a decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s comments should put to rest recent suggestions that Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang should hit the trade block. Unless he can free up salary-cap space, he’ll have to choose between Murray or Jarry. I expect he’ll take the younger, affordable option with Jarry.

It won’t be surprising if Schultz doesn’t return. He hasn’t been the same since fracturing his leg last season.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must decide if he’ll re-sign goaltender Frederik Andersen to a long-term deal given his recent history of giving up soft goals in the playoffs.

Do the Leafs really want to tie into Andersen for the long term? Can they afford to? Do people really think the Leafs will turn into Stanley Cup contenders if Dubas acquires Matt Murray?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To answer those questions in order: No, they shouldn’t. No, they can’t. No, they won’t. Andersen has a year left on his contract. Unless better options appear via the trade market or free agency (provided Dubas can free up sufficient cap space), best to ride it out with Andersen for one more year and see what becomes available during next season or next summer.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports his understanding of Dubas’ no-trade promise after re-signing William Nylander last season was that it was solely for the immediate aftermath of the agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Dubas promised Nylander, the young winger could soon find out that a general manager’s promises are easily broken for the good of the team or the GM’s ongoing employment.

Friedman also believes San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton could be on the Leafs’ radar, depending on what happens with Jason Spezza.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All due respect to Thornton, who’s had a wonderful career, but he’s well past his best-before date. Besides, the Leafs already had an aging former Sharks on their roster in Patrick Marleau and it cost them their 2020 first-round pick to get rid of the final year of his contract. They don’t need to repeat that mistake. Yes, I know, they could get Thornton to agree to a one-year, bonus-laden deal, but he’s not going to make the Leafs a better team next season. 

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones reports Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he’s got some decisions to make going forward after his club was eliminated from the qualifying round. Noting Holland spoke about the flat salary cap for next season, Jones speculates Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Smith, and James Neal might not be back.

Jones also thinks one of the Oilers’ top-four defensemen other than Ethan Bear could be shopped. He guesses Adam Larsson could be available in a “semi-major trade.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Holland could decide not to qualify the winger’s rights, making him a UFA. The Oilers GM could then attempt to sign him to a more affordable contract, or simply look for a better option elsewhere.

The 38-year-old Smith is no longer an effective NHL starting goalie. The Oilers need a better option to split the duties with the erratic Mikko Koskinen. Neal is signed through 2022-23 and his age (32), the cap hit ($5.27 million) and offensive inconsistency will be difficult to move. A buyout is possible here.

Larsson was acquired four years ago from New Jersey for Taylor Hall. Holland might have to bundle him with a draft pick or prospect or pick up part of his $4.16-million cap hit for next season. Larsson also has a modified no-trade clause.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2020

The Rangers win the 2020 draft lottery, the Panthers formally part company with Dale Tallon, the opening round of the 2020 playoffs begin today and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

  NHL.COM: The New York Rangers won Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday, giving them the first-overall pick and the opportunity to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic.

2020 NHL DRAFT ORDER

1. New York Rangers

2. Los Angeles Kings

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)

4. Detroit Red Wings

5. Ottawa Senators

6. Anaheim Ducks

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Buffalo Sabres

9. Minnesota Wild

10. Winnipeg Jets

11. Nashville Predators

12. Florida Panthers

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)

14. Edmonton Oilers

15. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Hurricanes received the Leafs pick as part of the return in last June’s Patrick Marleau trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was 24 hours of suck for the Maple Leafs. They would’ve kept that pick had they won the lottery.

As a result of the Penguins acquiring Jason Zucker in February from the Wild, Pens general manager Jim Rutherford has seven days to decide if he’ll send this year’s first-rounder to the Wild or defer the pick to 2021.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with general manager Dale Tallon. He’d been with the club for 10 years, most of that period as GM. The club issued a statement indicating the decision was mutual. It’s believed they’ll look outside the organization for a replacement. Assistant GM Eric Joyce takes over on an interim basis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers made little progress toward their goal of becoming a Stanley Cup contender during Tallon’s tenure. His replacement must build around the club’s core talent (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad), addressing their weaknesses (such as their poor defensive play), and change the culture of losing that’s dogged this franchise for over two decades. 

NHL.COM: The opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs begins today with four games. The Columbus Blue Jackets face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning (3 pm ET), the Calgary Flames meet the Dallas Stars (5:30 pm ET), the Carolina Hurricanes square off against the Boston Bruins (8 pm ET), and the Chicago Blackhawks go up against the Vegas Golden Knights (10:30 pm ET).

SPORTSNET: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is sidelined indefinitely. As per league protocols, no information was revealed regarding his condition.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek (undisclosed) will be a game-day decision when his club faces off with the Canadiens in Game 1 of their opening-round series on Wednesday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Sammy Blais could miss the start of his club’s opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks. He suffered an apparent leg injury during Sunday’s round-robin loss to the Dallas Stars.

TSN: The NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests in its first two weeks in their secure zones in Edmonton and Toronto.

NHL.COM: The Hockey Hall of Fame has postponed its Induction Weekend ceremonies (Nov. 13-16) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rescheduling plans will be made during the board of directors meeting on Oct. 29.

TSN: Long-time NHL insider Bob McKenzie is scaling back his schedule in what he deemed a “soft retirement”. He’ll still appear in special events like the World Juniors and the NHL Trade Deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie is the best-connected man in hockey and the most trusted insider. Best wishes in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

More Rangers speculation and what the Penguins will do with their free-agent goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers are in need of a first-pair defenseman. He feels Brendan Smith is not up to logging those minutes alongside Jacob Trouba. Brooks points out Trouba was still trying to adjust to his new club when paired with rookie Libor Hajek earlier this season. Perhaps they might be a better fit next season. Promising K’Andre Miller might be able to fill that role one day, but it would be expecting too much for him to step into that position next season.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players next season, with Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev becoming restricted free agents with arbitration rights in the off-season. They would get some cap relief by trading or buying out Henrik Lundqvist, but that won’t be enough to re-sign those four and acquire a top-pairing blueliner via trade or free agency.

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano examined the Rangers’ possible off-season moves. He noted they’ll have about $13.5 million to spend on re-signing their free agents and can’t afford to keep them all.

Strome and DeAngelo earned the right to seek multi-year contracts, but their play against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying-round series didn’t help their cause. To address their defensive issues. Mercogliano believes general manager Jeff Gorton will explore trade possibilities, with Strome, DeAngelo, and Georgiev as bait.

Regarding Henrik Lundqvist, if he’s unwilling to return as Igor Shesterkin’s backup next season or if the Blueshirt stick with Georgiev, Mercogliano speculates they could buy him out. Retirement is also possible but perhaps a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton has some big off-season decisions to make. Landing a top-pairing defenseman could involve shopping DeAngelo in a package deal. Still, acquiring that type of rearguard would eat up a lot of their cap room. Perhaps he’ll consider more affordable moves while waiting to see how things shake out next season with their younger players.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Starkey was asked about the long-term implication if the Penguins chose to re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry over Matt Murray regardless of the outcome of this postseason.

Starkey believes the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign both for even more than one season. They’re each slated to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It could come down to what each goalie seeks on his next contract. Murray’s performance in this year’s playoffs could also be a determining factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray appeared in the Penguins’ first three games of their qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s been out-played by the Canadiens’ Carey Price. If the Penguins are eliminated with Murray in net, that could have implications for his hopes of re-signing even a one-year deal.