NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2023
The Bruins’ roster could look different next season, the latest on Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha plus some Flames speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
BRUINS WON’T BE THE SAME TEAM NEXT SEASON
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted yesterday that salary-cap constraints mean he can’t re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Garnet Hathaway, Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi right now even if he wanted to.
Sweeney also said his club isn’t setting a timetable for answers from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci as to whether they’re returning next season or retiring.
Haggerty noted that the Bruins only have around $6 million in salary-cap space. He anticipates that Sweeney faces a busy summer shedding salary while finding more affordable talent and young players to build around their roster core.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggested Taylor Hall and Matt Grzelcyk as cost-cutting trade candidates.
Hall was a difference-maker because he regularly played on the Bruins’ third line and there were times when he was strictly a five-on-five player. They cannot afford to carry a $6 million player that low in their lineup.
Grzelcyk could be moved to free up cap space or for help up front. Mike Reilly’s trade value is limited and Derek Forbort would fetch a mid-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the salary cap rises higher than expected for next season, Sweeney has little choice but to make a cost-cutting trade or two. That means moving one or two players that he’d prefer not to part with but has to in order to become cap compliant and still ice a full roster.
LATEST ON THE CAPITALS
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber cited player agent Sergei Fedotov suggesting Evgeny Kuznetsov’s time with the Washington Capitals should come to an end sooner rather than later.
Fedotov isn’t Kuznetsov’s agent but is a long-time friend of Kuznetsov who represents prospect Matvei Michkov and several other players. He says the Capitals center no longer has the joy or spark in his game that he had in 2018. He believes things started going downhill for his friend over the past few seasons, citing his positive test for cocaine in 2019 plus other disciplinary issues.
Kuznetsov has a family now and Fedotov said he is doing fine in his personal life. However, he believes the veteran center needs a change of scenery to get more spark from hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov denied a report from a Russian source claiming that he requested a trade in March. However, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan expressed his unhappiness with the soon-to-be 31-year-old’s performance this season.
Kuznetsov’s on-ice struggles won’t help his trade value. He also carries a tough-to-move contract with a $7.8 million cap hit through 2024-25 and a 10-team no-trade clause.
Silber also reported that the Capitals could retain Anthony Mantha. With a new head coach coming in, perhaps Mantha can change and improve his game. Trading him could free up salary-cap space but his trade value is low right now.
UPDATE ON THE FLAMES
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve MacFarlane suggests Calgary Flames forward Tyler Toffoli’s trade value has never been higher following a career-best performance this season. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and was a supporter of former Flames coach Darryl Sutter.
MacFarlane believes it’s unlikely the Flames will re-sign Toffoli. He considers the winger among their most likely trade candidates this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With his affordable $4.25 million cap hit and lack of no-trade protection, Toffoli would garner plenty of interest if the Flames are willing to entertain offers for him. However, that will depend on what plans the club’s new general manager has in store. That person has yet to be hired.
SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag segment, Pat Steinberg included Toffoli among his list of potential cost-cutting candidates for the Flames. Others with a year remaining on their contracts include Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.
Steinberg noted the return of Oliver Kylington and the possibility of re-signing Troy Stecher could provide the Flames with sufficient blueline depth that they could afford to trade a defenseman like Hanifin or Zadorov.
He wouldn’t be surprised if the Flames shopping backup goalie Dan Vladar to make room for promising Dustin Wolf. He felt Wolf has nothing left to accomplish in the minors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see if the new general manager will consider any of those options for the Flames this summer.