The 2019-20 season is just days away, and there’s still fresh NHL Rumours floating around. Some big names finalized their futures last week, and now its time to focus on the remaining players still stuck in contractural limbo. Let’s shift our attention to the latest NHL Rumours surrounding the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, and Minnesota Wild.
All NHL Rumours are taken from their original source and are subject to change.
Also think there’s a good chance Calgary signs a couple other PTO players in camp. Believe Zac Rinaldo and Andrew MacDonald are in line for contract offers.
Guessing Rinaldo would start in the AHL. Including Rieder, Calgary currently at 44/50 contracts. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) September 28, 2019
Rumour: Pat Steinberg of Flamesnation.ca tweeted that he believes the team will sign some PTO players as training camp wraps up. He suggests that Zac Rinaldo and Andrew MacDonald will be among the group to receive a contract offer.
Analysis: Now that the Flames have wrapped up their deal with star player Matthew Tkachuk, they’re shifting their focus on padding their roster. And with zero cap space left, they’ve got magic to do.
The most common name tossed around to save a dollar- or a million- seems to be Austin Czarnik. Dressing for only 54 games last year, Czarnik gave a less than stellar performance. His presence wasn’t as impactful as the Flames hoped.
Basically, the consensus is to bury his contract in the AHL. Czarnik’s 18 points last season didn’t exactly live up to the $2.5 million deal he is on. On the flip side of things, Calgary does have contracts they can hand out. Seven to be exact.
Rinaldo had a rough year with the Nashville Predators. He was plagued with injuries and only appeared in 23 games. When he was healthy, he didn’t make much of a splash, totaling three points. His versatility could work to his advantage, and he could find himself on a two-way contract, and potentially a future bottom-six role with the Flames.
If he does find his place with the team, there’s still a chance Rinaldo could start the year in the AHL. Then there’s the hole the Flames are looking to fill in their defence.
Que MacDonald. Last season he garnered a whopping nine assists, though he isn’t being brought in for his offence. MacDonald could be a decent defensive presence in limited minutes and will not be a scapegoat on a huge contract like he was in Philadephia. The Flames need depth on left defence. MacDonald is a lefty. It’s a good fit all around.
Analysis: The questions surrounding Byfuglien and his possible retirement are plentiful. Assuming he does opt out of professional hockey for good, that leaves a gaping hole in the Jets blue line. Byfuglien is a staple to the team’s defence.
One option is to fill the hole internally. Put the pressure on other guys to step up and do more every night. Josh Morrissey will be the first to see more ice time. Sami Niku could find himself paired with Morrissey regularly (but would need to play out of position at right defence to do it).
Dmitry Kulikov and the newly acquired Neal Pionk will need to step it up for the team if Byfuglien doesn’t return. It won’t be an easy fix. But take into consideration that Byfuglien only dressed for 42 games last year, and you have to figure the Jets have at least a vague idea of how to survive without him.
Fixing the problem internally isn’t the easier route to take, but trading for someone could prove more problematic. It would be hard for them to win a trade at this point, with teams knowing that they are desperate for right-handed defence and the biggest name in Justin Faulk no longer on the market. Winnipeg also isn’t parting ways with freshly signed Patrik Laine as some suspected.
Beyond that, the club has a solid roster and giving up someone to fill a defensive gap is not going to be easier than telling your perfectly capable players to pick up the slack.
Rumour: Sarah McLellan of the Startribune.com writes that Victor Rask looks like the odd man out of the 12-man forward group. Head coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned there were at least four centers ahead of him.
Analysis: Rask has been tossed around the Wilds lineup all training camp. He’s gone from the bottom of the roster, to then bounced up between Jason Zucker and Kevin Fiala. At Friday’s practice, he found himself acting as a sub.
If that’s not a nail in the coffin of his top 12 hopes, I don’t know how to break it to him. Mikko Koivu‘s rebound after knee surgery certainly tossed the first handful of dirt on top. Rask’s debut with the team last year left something to be desired in Minnesota.
His 23 games with the club brought him three points and an injury. Probably not the way he was expecting it to go. Training camp was his fresh start. It looks like that hasn’t panned out how he expected either.
With three seasons left, running at $4 million each, that’s a hefty chunk of change to ride the bench. Rask needs to find his confidence again if he wants to revive his hopes of cracking the Wild’s lineup.