NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, NHL CBA

NHL Rumours
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 06: Ryan Poehling #25 of the Montreal Canadiens pokes the puck away from Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on April 6, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Welcome back to NHL Rumours from the Last Word on Hockey crew. We’re now on the first Monday of September meaning training camp will soon get underway. While August is usually a down month for club’s, the NHL rumours will certainly pick up now that we’re just over a month away from opening night. Today we have NHL rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars as well as some updates on the NHL CBA.

NHL Rumours

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: While speaking about Jake Gardiner recently on Sportsnet Tim and Sid, Elliott Friedman lists the Montreal Canadiens as one team who has interest in Jake Gardiner. Sportsnet’s Luke Fox also states Montreal or the Detroit Red Wings as the best fits for the left shot defenceman. 

Analysis: It’s surprising to see Gardiner not signed yet now that we are at the beginning of September. However, as Friedman states, Gardiner is being picky. As he should. It is his right and this is a big decision for him and his family.

There has been a lot of chatter in the twitter-verse that Gardiner may just be holding out to see if the Toronto Maple Leafs can somehow manage to fit him in under the salary cap. This seems impossible given the calibre of the player, as well as what makes sense for him long term. If he were to take a short-term deal with the Leafs, Gardiner would not be able to increase his value on his next contract due to the fact he would get significantly fewer minutes there compared to somewhere else and would see much less powerplay time. This would hurt the value of the player, making it a poor decision for his long-term goals.

Montreal, on the other hand, would be the perfect opportunity for Gardiner. Marc Bergevin has been in the market for a top-pairing left-shot defenceman as well as some powerplay help. Gardiner checks off both of these boxes. While Victor Mete has served as a solid partner for Shea Weber, Gardiner would be an upgrade, especially offensively, and would solidify the Canadiens defence. The only concern the Canadiens might have is that recent back troubles Gardiner has had and whether or not that is going to be an issue moving forward.

Dallas Stars

Rumour: Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News recently wrote about what the Dallas Stars could do with the money freed up from putting Martin Hanzal on LTIR.

Analysis: Hanzal is expected to be placed on the LTIR as his chronic back injuries have made him incapable of playing hockey. By doing so, the Stars would free up most of the $4.75 cap hit that Hanzal currently holds from the team. DeFranks mentions the possibility of going after pending UFA’s such as T.J. Brodie, Tyler Toffoli, or Jake Muzzin amongst other that they could potentially target.

In regards to team need, Brodie or Muzzin would be the best target for the Stars. However, T.J. Brodie makes the most sense. Brodie is a left-shot defenceman who has been playing the right side mostly in Calgary, however, he can play the left which makes him very versatile for the Stars.

At the moment the Stars after John Klingberg, the right side is pretty bare. Stephen Johns is an outstanding defenceman but at this time it’s undetermined if he will be able to return this season. Johns has been sidelined due to post-traumatic headaches which kept him out the entire 2017-18 season. They’re also expected to trade youngster Julius Honka, who is a restricted free agent at the moment. Acquiring Brodie would solidify the depth for the Stars on defence, to complement their already upgraded forward group. The Stars acquired Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry earlier in the off-season to help bolster their offence. Acquiring Brodie could turn them into a Stanley Cup contender.

NHL CBA

Rumour: With the NHL declining their option re-open the current collective bargaining agreement, the ball is now in the NHLPA’s court. According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, all indications point towards the league and the NHLPA extending the players September 15th deadline, which should in-turn help work on an extension to the current CBA and avoid a lockout. 

Analysis: Campbell states that the extension should give the players another few months, perhaps until January 1st, to decide on a new deal. According to Campbell the two sides are already in deep negotiations and could work on a three-year extension which would take them to the 2024-25 season.

Campbell explains why this would be a calculated risk by the league. However, could, in turn, work out in favour of both parties in the end. Escrow remains the biggest issue for the players as they forfeit 12 to 14 percent of their paycheck. They want that number reduced. This could happen given the number of new revenue streams which Campbell noted in his article. These include the Seattle expansion, live streaming games, legalized sports betting and a new U.S. television deal. If all goes well, the player’s escrow concerns would be addressed. This would make it much easier to come to a new deal after the 2024-25 season.

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