Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours. With the draft and off-season approaching, teams are soon going to be engaging in some heavy trade talk. As well, teams will be looking at their cap situation in order to make room for some highly coveted free agents. Today we have rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, and the Buffalo Sabres.
Rumour: We start with one of the fairly moderate NHL Rumours. TVA Sports posted an article focusing on the top five buyout candidates this off-season. The top candidate was Montreal Canadiens defenceman Karl Alzner. Other candidates included Milan Lucic, Andrej Sekera, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Loui Eriksson.
Analysis: Not much of a surprise here. Alzner has been a complete flop for the Canadiens since being signed to a five-year $23.125 million deal on July 1st, 2017. Alzner spent the majority of last season playing for the AHL’s Laval Rocket. It is a hefty cap hit for a player not playing on the roster.
The best move for the Canadiens might be to buy out the remaining term of the contract. According to the numbers presented by TVA, which come from the always reliable CapFriendly, Alzner’s buyout would cost the Canadiens just over one million per year for the next six years. In terms of cap, this is much more manageable than the $4.625 million he’s getting for the next three seasons. It may be time for Bergevin to rid himself of the mistake he made two seasons ago.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Sports reporter Kevin McGran of The Toronto Star was asked if he thought the Leafs would make off-season trades involving Nazem Kadri or William Nylander. McGran goes on to say the Nazem Kadri would be more vulnerable to a trade than William Nylander.
Analysis: At this point, it’s hard to see Kadri not being traded. He has hurt his team by getting suspended in both of the past two Stanley Cup Playoffs. This alone is enough to want to cut your ties with the player. Don’t get me wrong, Kadri is a solid hockey player on a tremendous contract. Getting suspended twice in the playoffs as a result of not being able to keep your emotions in check is too much, though.
Kadri has an annual cap hit of $4.5 million for the next three seasons. He’s proved he is capable of being a 30 goal scorer when given the opportunity. Although his production dropped off last season, we can chalk that up to the arrival of John Tavares.
Teams will certainly be calling general manager Kyle Dubas if Kadri is made available. Moving Kadri could rid some cap for the Leafs to help sign Mitch Marner. It could also get them some defensive help for the right side, something the club so desperately needs.
Rumour: Mike Chambers of the Denver Post states the Avs General Manager Joe Sakic expects to be aggressive when free agency opens on July 1st. Sakic is quoted saying “We already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we’re going to want to talk to about joining our club.”
Analysis: You can bet these targets Sakic is speaking of are forwards. The Avalanche already have a steady defence corp in place for next year. Youngsters like Cale Makar make this defence even better.. Sakic will certainly need to get some more scoring help so the Avalanche can become more than a one-line team. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen were one of the most productive lines in the NHL last season. However, outside of that line, the offence fell off.
Rumour: The most prominent of the NHL Rumours, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported via Twitter that the Sabres have had continued dialogue with the Jeff Skinner camp, who was waiting to see who the next head coach would be. With Krueger hired, they will now turn their focus on getting Skinner locked up long-term.
#Sabres have had continuing dialogue with pending UFA Jeff Skinner’s camp, which has been waiting to see who the next coach will be. Now that it’s Krueger, I’d expect a face-to-face meet between him and Skinner as the next step in the process.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 15, 2019
Analysis: Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said “If you’re going to sign a long-term contract with an organization, you kind of want to know who the head coach is. We’ve kept in dialogue with Jeff and certainly made him aware of who we were going to name here as head coach today, just as we did with a lot of our leadership group.”
Surely it’s important to Skinner to know who he will be playing for and keeping him involved in the process is certainly key in getting Skinner locked up long-term. The current speculation is that the Sabres are very close to a deal with Skinner if the face-to-face meeting goes well.
Skinner led the Sabres in goals with 40 last season, setting a new career high. He also finished third overall in scoring. His 63 points also matched a career high. He certainly enjoyed playing next to superstar Jack Eichel. After having so much success in Buffalo, Skinner’s return wouldn’t be much of a surprise. With the amount of young talent the Sabres have in Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, Sam Reinhart, and Casey Mittelstadt amongst others, the Sabres future looks very bright. All signs are pointing to Skinner being a part of it as well.