The season is in full swing, and there’s still plenty of NHL Rumours buzzing around. Last Word On Hockey is dedicated to keeping you up to date with the latest rumblings from across the league. Sunday’s edition of NHL Rumours will focus on the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Washington Capitals.
All NHL Rumours are taken from the original source and subject to change.
My understanding is that preliminary discussions began over the past week between Montreal and Victor Mete's camp. Mete is in the final year of his entry-level contract. Track record for agent Darren Ferris is to wait until after the season is done but we shall see…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 26, 2019
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic tweeted that contract discussions between the Canadiens and Victor Mete‘s agent Darren Ferris are in the early stages. He notes that Ferris has a track record of waiting until after the regular season to finalize any deals.
Analysis: Is this a case of “the goal heard around the league”? Mete finally found the back of the net after 127 games, and now the contract chatter is picking up around him. Whether it’s just good timing on Mete’s part or management is convinced he is poised to take off, any contract talks are good contract talks. Especially after he was demoted to Laval last season.
Mete found his legs afterward and put in a full off-season of dedicated training. The defenceman is fast, with his speed being one of his most valuable assets. Mete pairs comfortably with Shea Weber, so keeping the two together is in the best interest of Montreal.
Having Weber behind him could make him a more confident defender. Weber brings the big body element to the pair that Mete lacks. Now that he’s broken his scoreless drought, and his entry-level contract is concluding, the 21-year-old is due for a pay bump.
Rumour: Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that a trade could stutter the Senators rebuild efforts. Garrioch suggested that the best options for the team will have to come from their own organization.
Analysis: The Senators bench has been a bit lighter lately. With Colin White and Artem Anisimov out with injuries, the club was forced to fill the gaps. Ottawa is in the midst of a rebuild, and trading away assets to bring someone in who may not fit for the long term makes no sense whatsoever.
The team has an abundance of picks and developing players. They should have a grip on them as tight as the grip that Pierre Dorion has on his wallet. So it makes sense for the Senators to solve their problem internally.
Dip into the pool of talent they have in Belleville. Logan Brown and J.C. Beaudin were called up to pad the team’s roster. Both players expressed their desire to stay in the league. Head coach D.J Smith was impressed with their performance. He noted their hunger to compete for a regular place on the ice.
Let the team build up some consistency. If they can utilize the young talent and expect more from their current veterans, then the Senators can continue their rebuild efforts without sacrificing any invaluable future assets.
Rumour: During TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun spoke about the Capitals and their need to re-sign both Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom. With both of them being an integral part of the Capitals’ recent Stanley Cup win, he believes they will both remain with the team.
Analysis: The subject of Holtby and Backstrom seems to stir up Caps fan’s emotions. Most believe that re-signing them both won’t be an easy task. Neither player has ever played for another team, and after riding the high of their Stanley Cup victory, it’s hard to imagine them in different sweaters.
Holtby and Backstrom are both on the last year of their current deals. While both of them likely want to stay in Washington, it gets a little muddy when you consider the details.
Netminder Carey Price may have set a new precedent since earning himself a contract north of $10 million. Holtby’s new deal will certainly be valuable, but $10 million isn’t it. The Capitals could not wrap up that amount in just one player. Especially when you consider the emergence of goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
Backstrom’s deal might end up being the easier one to negotiate. Backstrom is on a team-friendly deal that carries an average annual value of $6.7 million. He posts between 70 and 80 points per season. The center deserves a pay bump.
Will he come to the team asking for more than they can afford? If he did, wouldn’t it be well earned? The short answer is yes. The long answer is that Washington doesn’t have the funding to dump a pile of cash on Backstrom any more than they do Holtby.
The Capitals would have to dissect their roster and trim edges to give Holtby or Backstrom a high-priced payday. In theory, the front office could try the good old tactic of “take a little less money to stay in town.” They may bite. Or they may opt to explore their unrestricted free agency status for a bit.
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