Latest Bruins and Ducks Speculation in NHL Rumor Roundup
The latest on Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton and Sami Vatanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean believes the Bruins will ride out the 2020-21 season with goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. With both slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer, the Bruins could make their decision on their goaltending based on the performances of Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar in the minors.
The Bruins could attempt to re-sign Rask or Halak for a year to allow more time for Swayman to break in. However, Bean wonders if Rask would be open to a one-year contract. He has hinted at retirement and at 34 his next deal would be a short one.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Bruins need Rask if they intend to remain a Cup contender for 2020-21, especially with two-thirds of their first line (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak) expected to miss the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. The loss of Torey Krug to free agency and Zdeno Chara’s uncertain future could also leave a dent on the left side of their blueline.
O’Brien pondered the possibility of moving Rask by the trade deadline if the Bruins slide in a big way and opt for a mini-reboot. Perhaps they could retain part of his salary to land some futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask’s future in Boston will depend largely upon his performance. If he keeps them among the NHL’s top clubs next season he could end up returning on a one- or two-year contract, though he might have to accept a pay cut from his current $7 million annual cap hit.
O’Brien’s speculation is also worth keeping in mind if he plays well but the Bruins decline. Cap Friendly indicates Rask lacks no-trade protection this season. They won’t lack for suitors if they decide to move him by the trade deadline.
NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Dougie Hamilton and the Carolina Hurricanes have yet to open contract extension talks. Nevertheless, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he hopes to sign the 27-year-old defenseman before the start of the season.
Hamilton is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Waddell noted the flattened salary cap for the next two seasons will affect things, though he’s not ruling out a long-term deal. However, he pointed out only a handful of this year’s UFA class received deals longer than three years.
Waddell also hasn’t ruled out bringing back Sami Vatanen. He indicated he spoke with the blueliner last week and feels there’s still a good fit for him with the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton surfaced in trade speculation earlier in the offseason. There’s a belief the rearguard could price himself out of Carolina if he has another season like 2019-20, where he was considered a Norris Trophy candidate until he was sidelined in January by a broken leg.
Waddell seemed to tip his hand by pointing out the low number of this year’s UFAs getting more than three-year deals. A big raise for Hamilton would also bite deeply into the Hurricanes cap space for 2021-22 when they have over $52 million invested in 12 players. Rising young star Andrei Svechnikov will be due for a big raise coming off his entry-level contract and goalie James Reimer and Petr Mrazek also become unrestricted free agents.
The Hurricanes also have just over $932K in cap space for 2020-21. That doesn’t leave much for Vatanen, though they could get some wiggle room by demoting a lesser-salaried depth player to the minors. Still, Vatanen would be looking at a significant pay cut to return to Carolina.
An update on the plans for next season plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Cam Talbot, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL NETWORK: Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we’ll learn more on the NHL’s plans to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 over the next two weeks. The league and the NHLPA will use that period to see how quickly the season can begin and what it will look like.
Friedman believes a rumored proposal to the NHL board of governors for their meeting today is unlikely as it might be too soon. However, he thinks the governors will be updated over what’s being discussed.
He also feels the league is serious about starting on New Year’s Day. He points to MLB and NFL not playing in a quarantine bubble, resulting in cancellations and things beyond their control. The best option might be to start as early as possible and adjust on the fly like MLB did and the NFL is doing. That would leave a week or two open at the end of the season to make up games if necessary.
If they start on Jan. 1, the number of games played would be 56 and 72. Friedman’s sources didn’t mention 48 games, though he didn’t rule it out. What the schedule will look like, how many games the players are willing to play per week, whether they’ll be played in hub cities or not remain to be determined.
Friedman also said there’s a growing sense from teams that they want to play in their own buildings, though there’s concern from a few teams that they won’t be able to because of government regulations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the NHL and NHLPA don’t have a lot of time to work out the details for a Jan. 1 start to the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the two sides are in constant daily contact but their return-to-play committee has yet to hold its first meeting.
A Jan. 1 start means training camps must open for most clubs in early December, with last season’s seven non-playoff teams (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose) opening camps in late November. All players must return to their home cities before then. Sorting out an exhibition schedule that incorporates the Christmas holidays must be worked out. A regular-season schedule must be planned out and coordinated with their broadcasting partners.
I’m not saying these details can’t be worked out in short order, but the league and the players must get cracking to reach a workable agreement to drop the puck on New Year’s Day.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said his club is “full steam ahead” with goaltender Tuukka Rask for 2020-21. “I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” said Cassidy, referring to Rask’s leaving the team for family reasons during the 2020 playoffs. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s silly to even imagine the Bruins not returning with Rask next season. They have no viable replacement options within their system or via the trade and free-agent markets. Rask’s departure had the full support of the club and his teammates. I don’t believe it was an issue or will be one going forward.
NBC SPORTS: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is part of a fundraising drive that raised $17 million to save Alabama-Huntsville’s hockey program. Talbot is a UAH alumnus. He pointed out it’s still important for the UAH Chargers to get into a college conference. They’re the only NCAA Division 1 hockey program in the Southeastern United States.
SWISS HOCKEY NEWS: A recent report claims NHL free-agent center Carl Soderberg is seeking a well-paid deal in Switzerland. That could be difficult given the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. Soderberg is also receiving interest from Sweden.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle is making good progress in his recovery from a broken bone in his hand. Stuetzle was selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: One year after Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet, Ken Campbell believes the hockey world is better off.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cherry’s supporters believe otherwise. For what it’s worth, I think his replacements, Kevin Bieksa and Brian Burke, did a good job. Bieksa is a breath of fresh air breaking down plays and is a natural TV personality. Burke provides the inside hockey observations and old-school attitude without veering far off-topic like Cherry used to do.
SHL: Former NHL goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has announced his retirement. “The Monster” played eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers from 2009-10 to 2016-17, with a career record of 72 wins, 67 losses and 23 overtime losses, 2.88 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and seven shutouts in 179 games. He spent the last four seasons with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gustavsson in his future endeavors.
A look at next year’s unrestricted free agent class in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently previewed the NHL’s 2021 unrestricted free agent class.
The notable forwards include Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar, Boston Bruins center David Krejci, and Avalanche winger Brandon Saad.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s already signaled his intent to re-sign with the Capitals. Unless Getzlaf feels he’d like one more shot at a Stanley Cup run, I can see him staying with the Ducks on a short-term deal. The Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins are discussing a long-term contract extension. I doubt the Avalanche part ways with Landeskog and I don’t see the Blues letting Schwartz depart after losing Alex Pietrangelo to free agency this year.
Hall could stay with the Sabres if he develops strong chemistry with Jack Eichel and the club significantly improves. Otherwise, he’ll test the market again. Tatar’s inconsistency means the coming season is likely his last in Montreal. The Bruins could let Krejci go unless he accepts a significant pay cut. Saad could be a one-year rental unless the Avs fail to re-sign Landeskog.
Noteworthy defensemen on O’Leary’s list include the Carolina Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Oilers’ Adam Larsson, and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Alec Martinez.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four could end up hitting the market next summer. Cap constraints could make it difficult for Hamilton, Larsson and Martinez to remain with their current clubs. Savard will turn 31 next October and the Jackets could be reluctant to invest too much in him for too long.
The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, the Blues’ Jordan Binnington, and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer are among next year’s best UFA goaltenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Bruins re-signing Rask to a short-term deal provided he doesn’t opt for retirement at the end of 2020-21. Andersen is likely a goner after next season.
The Blues parted ways with Jake Allen this year by trading him to the Montreal Canadiens. Things will really have to go sideways for them to let Binnington walk next summer. Grubauer’s future in Colorado could depend upon his performance in the coming season, especially during the playoffs.
The Jets are reportedly close to acquiring Paul Stastny, Justin Williams retires, the Canadiens re-sign Josh Anderson, the Devils buy out Cory Schneider, and much more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck cites sources claiming the Jets are working on a trade that would bring Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg. Stastny was briefly part of the Jets in 2017-18, helping them reach the Western Conference Final before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights as a free agent. It’s believed the Jets will take on his full $6.5 million salary-cap hit on the final year of his three-year contract, with the two clubs also swapping draft picks.
**UPDATE** TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Stastny to Winnipeg for a 2022 fourth rounder and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Stastny could address the Jets’ need for a second-line center. That suggests sidelined center Bryan Little’s status for next season remains in doubt while putting to rest the trade speculation swirling about winger Patrik Laine.
It will also signal the Golden Knights are shedding salary to be busy in the free-agent market, which opens at noon ET today. The move could also be an indicator of the difficulty the Golden Knights are having trying to move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a cost-cutting deal.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams announced his retirement yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Williams and his family in his future endeavors. He spent 19 seasons in the NHL with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the Canes in 2006 and two Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the latter run, earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” by holding the record for most points (15) in Game 7 situations. In 1,264 games, Williams tallied 320 goals and 797 points. He also had 41 goals and 102 points in 162 playoff games.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Two days after acquiring winger Josh Anderson, the Canadiens re-signed him to a seven-year, $38.5-million contract. The annual average value is $5.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a hefty new contract for a 26-year-old winger who’s yet to suit up for the Canadiens, has one good season (27 goals, 47 points in 2018-19) and missed most of last season to a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.
General manager Marc Bergevin envisions the 6’3”, 222-pounder as a power forward. This will be seen as a worthwhile investment if Anderson has fully recovered from his surgery and plays up to expectation. Otherwise, it’ll provide additional fodder for Bergevin critics and turn up the pressure on Habs ownership to fire their GM.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out his contract. Schneider, 34, lost the starter’s job to Mackenzie Blackwood. He has two years left on his contract worth $6 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider was among the NHL’s top goalies from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Injuries, however, hampered his performance in recent years. His buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Devils’ cap through 2023-24.
NJ.COM: The Devils also acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray is a skilled defenseman plagued by injuries for most of his career. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.6 million. If he stays healthy he could be a worthwhile addition to the Devils’ blueline. They still have over $25 million in salary-cap space and could use some of it in the upcoming free-agent market.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets also traded defenseman Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers for minor-league forward Cliff Pu. Nutivaara, 26, has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $2.7 million.
THE SCORE: The Jackets also placed center Alexander Wennberg on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout. The 26-year-old has three years left on his contract worth $4.9 million AAV. For buyout purposes, however, he’ll be considered 25 as that’s what his age would’ve been during a normal regular season when the buyout period would be in June. That means his buyout will be calculated at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.
NHL.COM: The Jackets also re-signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The moves leave the Jackets with $14.2 million in cap space, more than enough to re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and perhaps leave enough for an addition or two via trade or free agency.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Long time Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is heading to the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford spent 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, 10 of those as their starting goalie. He backstopped them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) but has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. Expect the Blackhawks to seek his replacement via trade or free agency.
SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. He has a year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another short-term pickup by the Senators to take some pressure off their developing young defensemen. The Ducks, meanwhile, have $4.47 million in cap space and will get an additional $6.875 million in wiggle room should Ryan Kesler remain on long-term injury reserve.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Goaltender Tuukka Rask said he doesn’t want to play for anyone but the Bruins. Rask’s name recently surfaced in trade rumors, prompting GM Don Sweeney to claim the goalie is a “big part of the roster going forward.” Rask is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.
TSN: The Dallas Stars lifted the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness, who is expected to sign a new contract with the club.
SPORTSNET: The Stars also released a lengthy list of their injured players following the Stanley Cup playoffs. Among the notables was Jamie Benn (shoulder surgery before the schedule was paused), Tyler Seguin (knee, torn labrum), Ben Bishop (knee surgery in May), Roope Hintz (fractured ankle) and Anton Khudobin (arm surgery).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin received criticism for his offensive struggles during the postseason. This is yet another reminder that an NHL player failing to play up to expectations in playoff action is usually nursing an injury that would sideline athletes in other sports.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are close to re-signing forward Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract worth around $2 million per season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Sam Lafferty to a two-year contract with an AAV of $750K.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Noah Juulsen to a one-year, two-way contract.
10 Buyouts this year, list below w/ the # of years remaining on deals:
-Jack Johnson (3)
-Bobby Ryan (2)https://t.co/Ihwb2PUs3N
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) October 8, 2020
A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor.
TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade-bait board. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Vegas Golden Knights’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury now sit in the top five.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reports Ekman-Larsson is willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks and Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is talking with both clubs hoping to work out a deal. Dreger believes the Coyotes will either have to retain some of Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value or they’ll have to take back some contracts in return.
The Coyotes lack a first-round pick for this year and next year, but the Bruins and Canucks don’t have first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggested Canucks GM Jim Benning offer up Loui Eriksson, who has two years left on his contract at $6 million AAV, as part of the return. Eriksson’s only being paid $5 million in actual salary over those two years. However, the Coyotes could be on his 15-team no-trade list.
Acquiring Ekman-Larsson would allow the Bruins to replace Torey Krug, who’s expected to depart via free agency next Friday. If the Coyotes aren’t willing to pick up part of his cap hit, the Bruins will have to give up something worthwhile while freeing up some additional cap space to absorb Ekman-Larsson’s contract.
Turning to Murray, Seravalli noted the Edmonton Oilers were linked to him. With free agency looming, he said many observers are wondering if they might set their sights on Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, the Ottawa Senators’ second-round picks, Canucks winger Jake Virtanen and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask round out the top ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said there were rumors the Oilers had an interest in DeBrusk but their cap constraints likely make him too expensive. He’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Maybe he becomes part of the Bruins’ package offer for Ekman-Larsson?
As for Rask, Seravalli cites multiple sources claiming Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been gauging the goalie’s value in the trade market. He’s got a year left on his contract ($7 million AAV) with a 15-team trade list. If he trades Rask, however, he’ll have to find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. While both markets are flooded with goaltenders, that doesn’t mean Sweeney is guaranteed to land an upgrade over Rask.
Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn and Wild forward Ryan Donato come in at 11 to 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Gourde and Johnson have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.
New York Rangers center Ryan Strome, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, and Blue Jackets goalies Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo fill spots 16 to 20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade Pietrangelo’s rights if the two sides fail to hammer out a new contract before the UFA market opens next Friday. The Jackets could be open to moving one of their goalies, either to free up cap room or perhaps in a package deal for a scoring forward.
Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad fill spots 21 to 24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kuemper trade chatter has cooled in recent days as the Coyotes shift their focus on trade Ekman-Larsson. It’s now believed they prefer to retain him. Hanifin recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned his name came up during the Flames discussions with the New Jersey Devils last fall about Taylor Hall. Hanifin might not be available if the Flames let TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic depart next week as free agents.
Nashville Predators forwards Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Nick Bonino, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere complete spots 25 to 30.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said the lack of quality centers in this year’s free-agent market has the Predators believed to be seeking opportunities to move one of theirs. I’m guessing GM David Poile would like to bring in a scoring winger in return or to free up the cap room to pursue one via free agency. Poile would love to move Kyle Turris but the four years remaining on his contract at $6 million per season makes that almost impossible.
I’m not convinced the Hurricanes are keen to move Skjei after acquiring him at the February trade deadline. Domi and Gostisbehere have been fixtures in the rumor mill for some time. Speaking of the Canadiens, Pierre LeBrun said they’re willing to move their first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for the right return. He indicated they’re in the market for a top-six forward.
New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Blues winger Jaden Schwartz are in spots 31 to 35.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re reaching the spot in the list where there are players who could be traded, but various factors likely work against it. For example, I don’t believe the Canadiens intend to trade Danault. While centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi could become the Habs top-two centers next season, they’ll need Danault’s skill and experience in case one or both of those youngsters struggle or become sidelined. Maybe that move takes place at next season’s trade deadline. Not now.
Blues center Tyler Bozak, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, Alec Martinez and Paul Stastny, and Coyotes winger Phil Kessel fill spots 36 to 40.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchessault, Martinez or Stastny could become a cap casualty if the Golden Knights need to shed salary to re-sign Lehner or pursue a big-ticket free agent like Pietrangelo. That’s assuming they can’t find any takers for Fleury.
Edmonton’s Kris Russell, Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour, the Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, Edmonton Evan Bouchard, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, San Jose’s Martin Jones, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky round out the bottom ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli wonders if Bobrovsky’s contract is the NHL’s most unmovable. Bill Zito, the Panthers new GM, should become the front-runner for GM of the Year if he can trade that contract.