NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2021
In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: more moves could be in store for the Sabres, the Canadiens might not be done dealing plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets.
ARE MORE MOVES IN STORE FOR SABRES?
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports the Buffalo Sabres are open for business after shipping Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens yesterday for two draft picks. The Sabres also retained part of Staal’s salary and are allowed to retain salary on two more players this season to facilitate trading pending unrestricted free agents such as Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour.
Hall has a full no-movement clause. However, he has indicated his willingness to discuss trade options with general manager Kevyn Adams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Adams has spoken with multiple teams about Hall. His colleague Pierre LeBrun said he’s heard a first-round pick is part of the asking price for Hall but it could be difficult for the Sabres to find that in this buyer’s market.
Hall will draw plenty of interest if the Sabres agree to pick up half of his $8 million annual average value for this season. The same goes for Montour and his $3.85 million AAV. The asking prices for those two will be draft picks and prospects.
It’ll be interesting to see if Adams attempts to move any players carrying term on their contracts or one of his restricted free agents. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen fits into the former category and Sam Reinhart the latter. Both have surfaced in recent trade speculation. Those moves could be made in the offseason if Adams doesn’t receive any decent offers by the April 12 trade deadline.
CANADIENS NOT DONE DEALING?
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t done dealing after parting with two draft picks for Eric Staal yesterday. Bergevin didn’t meet with the press following the announcement of Staal’s acquisition, sparking speculation he could be trying to free up more salary-cap space.
The Habs don’t have much cap space ($486,095) to add another player, including promising prospect Cole Caufield whose college season ended yesterday. Engels speculates the Habs can wait and accrue more cap space to sign him because he’s on their reserve list and there’s no deadline to put pen to paper.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs could use another skilled left-side defenseman. Cap Friendly indicates he’s got $2.33 million in trade deadline cap space and 12 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft to draw upon as trade bait, including 10 between rounds two and five.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES AND BLUE JACKETS
NHL.COM: cites Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell telling The Athletic he could consider trading one of his goaltenders. Alex Nedeljkovic and James Reimer have split the goalies duties since Petr Mrazek was sidelined earlier this season with a broken thumb. Mrazek is now close to returning to the lineup.
Waddell pointed out his club has limited salary-cap space, suggesting he could use one of his goalies as a trade chip if he decides to add to his roster before the trade deadline. He also didn’t rule out retaining all three netminders for the playoffs. Waddell suggested he’d like to add a right-shot defenseman to his blueline corps.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams in need of goalie depth with pending UFA right-shot defensemen include the Sabres (Brandon Montour) and Ottawa Senators (Erik Gudbranson). Reimer and Mrazek, however, are also UFAs and could be unwilling to sign with either club.
The Colorado Avalanche could still be in the market for a reliable backup for Philipp Grubauer. Greg Pateryn is a pending UFA right-shot rearguard but might not be what Waddell is looking for. I don’t see the Avs parting with any of their top-six plus they don’t have many right-shot defensemen to spare.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Aaron Portzline said he could see Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen attempting to acquire a center if his club remains in the playoff race. He anticipates it would be a depth center with at most a year left on his contract for a mid-to-late-round draft pick.
Portzline rules out Kekalainen being a big-game hunter at the deadline as he was two years ago. He doubts the Jackets GM will mortgage too much of the future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any efforts to acquire a first- or second-line center will likely take place in the offseason. That could involve shopping one of his goalies.