August is well underway and hockey season is getting closer with each passing day. What makes things even more exciting is the fact the NHL announced its national television schedule for the upcoming season. Fans continue to water at the mouth for news surrounding their favourite team. Today we’ll take a look at some of these NHL rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Dallas Stars.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Analysis: Two years ago, Markov left the Habs for the KHL, indicating that he could not see himself in another NHL jersey. Markov’s first year in the KHL went really well as he helped lead his team to the Gagarin Cup. However, things were more difficult this past season and the now 40-year-old had just 13 points last season.
Markov would prefer to join the Canadiens, but the 16-year veteran, who is stuck on 990 career games played, is now considering other options. There has been radio silence out of Montreal since the news of Markov considering a return broke. Many have begun to assume that Marc Bergevin is not interested in bringing Markov back.
Rumour: On the NHL Network, Mike Johnson suggested that Gardiner could sign with the Habs in the next few days.
Analysis: Most believed that the Gardiner to Montreal rumours were dead with the signing of Ben Chiarot. However, Gardiner still makes a lot of sense. The Habs could use a strong puck-mover to play with Shea Weber and could also use someone to help their power play. Gardiner could fill both of those needs. He could also come cheap considering that he is still unsigned. A one-year prove-it deal would work for the Habs.
Rumour: The Bruins are preparing to go into the season without Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as the two restricted free agents remain unsigned. Jon Lane of NHL.com cites Cam Neely recently speaking about this.
Analysis: McAvoy played on the Bruins top pair last season, and Carlo was part of the second pair with Torey Krug. The Bruins survived a lot of injuries last season, including the loss of McAvoy, and still were a strong regular-season club and Stanley Cup Finalist. However, this is not something that they would want to repeat if they can avoid it. With less than $7.3 million in cap space fitting the two defencemen under the cap looks difficult.
The Bruins have a few options to increase that cap space though. Their roster is currently at 23 on CapFriendly. When Carlo and McAvoy sign, two other players will need to be cleared off the roster. This likely means two players sent to the AHL. That could clear up to $1.25 million per player in additional space for the Bruins. Another option is trading David Backes.
Rumour: J.J. Regan wrote on the NBC Sports website that the Capitals are still 1.1 million over the salary cap. He indicates that options for the Capitals to get back under the cap include trading defenceman Christian Djoos, moving Chandler Stephenson to the AHL as options. He also mentions that the Capitals could use Vitek Vanecek as the team’s backup goalie instead of Pheonix Copley to save another $400,000.
Analysis: With Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev being close to NHL ready, some are saying that moving Djoos is an option. However, Djoos had a down season in 2018-19 and Regan indicates that his trade value is very low. The Capitals may not want to give up on their young defender with such a low return.
Switching backup goalies also does not make a lot of sense. Every point is important especially in an increasingly competitive Metro Division. The Capitals should keep Copley up as he played well last season.
That leaves Stephenson as the most likely option to get the Capitals under the cap. However, this move alone may not be enough as it leaves the Capitals with very little wiggle room if injuries hit. The Capitals remain a team to watch on the trade front.
Rumour: Sean Shapiro in the Athletic (paywall) reports that the Stars remain committed to moving defenceman Julius Honka. They are waiting for the best possible offer. Shapiro suggests that Honka may only return a fourth-round pick.
Analysis: It’s clear that the Stars have no plans for Honka, who was a regular healthy scratch last season. The undersized defenceman showed plenty of offensive skill in the AHL and in junior hockey but has not been able to make that translate to the NHL yet. The 14th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Honka may benefit from a change of scenery. He could be a good buy-low candidate for a team that is looking for a right-handed defender who can move the puck.
NHL Rumours Main Photo:
MONTREAL, QC – APRIL 20: Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on as he skates against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 20, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)