Welcome to a Monday edition of NHL Rumours. We are more than a week into November and things continue to shift almost nightly with injuries and other events. Last Word on Hockey will continue to bring you the best news every day. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Analysis: Nashville has officially no important players coming up for free agency after this year with Josi’s deal. Josi’s eight-year worth almost $9.06 million each season locks down this spot for the Predators without crippling them too badly. The team has roughly $69.2 million committed to 2020-21 with only seven on the NHL roster that will hit the open market after this year. The question at this point is if any of those players are worth retaining or more valuable as trade bait?
Mikael Granlund stands out among the pending free agents. He counts against the cap the most right now with a hit of $5.75 million which would probably go up slightly next year. He has had an awful time scoring with Nashville with a points-per-game mark of only .27 but was a consistent point producer with the Minnesota Wild. Granlund scored at least 40 points in five of his seven seasons in Minnesota. He consistently skates next to Matt Duchene and averages almost 2:30 on the power play through 17 games. The points should come.
Granlund’s potential could force Craig Smith out but it is more likely that both stay in favour of trading Kyle Turris. Smith’s production is also down but could take a team-friendly deal to remain with the only organization he’s ever known. Turris is more expensive than either and is overperforming if you believe certain stats; his goals/60 minutes is almost half a point higher than his expected goals/60. He is also shooting several percentage points higher than his career average. Moving him would allow Nashville to bring back almost anyone they wanted or chase a mid-tier free agent this summer.
Analysis: A failure to sign Krug to a new deal would be absolute insanity for a Boston team currently dominating this year. Krug is fourth on the team in scoring with 13 points, 11 of which have come on the league’s best power play. It is almost impossible to imagine Boston letting their best defender walk but it is certainly possible.
The big sticking point at this stage is unsurprising. The 29-year-old Krug would love a long-term deal similar to those recently handed out to Nashville’s Roman Josi or Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks.
However, Boston is right up against the cap and will have to make decisions on players either in or entering their primes. Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake Debrusk also hit free agency this summer assuming none are traded. None of those three will command a huge amount of money but they are solid parts of Boston’s current roster. Boston simply might not want to make Krug the highest-paid player on roster when there are other pieces to retain.
The Detroit Red Wings do stand out as a suitor should Krug reach the open market but they wouldn’t be alone. The Winnipeg Jets would kill for someone of Krug’s calibre considering their murky future on defence. The Columbus Blue Jackets could also enter the mix with a large amount of projected cap space but with more defensive clutter. Krug will have his pick of destinations should he not receive an offer he feels is worth his time. That’s why he’s a hot topic of NHL rumours.
Rumour: Our third NHL Rumour of the day comes to us from The Athletic once more. This time, Pierre LeBrun entertains several topics including a possible trade move from the Carolina Hurricanes.
Analysis: Carolina is in an interesting position. They have a very talented roster. Most of their important players are signed for extended periods of time as well. Yet, the Hurricanes are stuck in the middle of the Metropolitan Division and several players aren’t playing up to expectations. Both Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Staal are struggling to score despite being two of Carolina’s more expensive skaters. They could move someone from their deep defensive group to pump up the offence in the short-term.
However, Carolina seems a victim of poor luck than anything. Their roster is talented enough that they don’t have a major hole anywhere. Niederreiter and Staal should start to rebound based on their career averages. Several other players are also scoring below expected rates which would help correct things.
That doesn’t mean the Hurricanes won’t still make a trade. Trevor van Riemsdyk is almost 29, makes $2.3 million, and has only two points in nine games. They are getting more out of 23-year-old Haydn Fleury who costs significantly less. In van Riemsdyk’s place, they could recall top blue line prospect Jake Bean from AHL Charlotte. The former first-round pick has one goal and seven points for the Checkers. Trading for a forward seems unnecessary; a better backup goaltender than James Reimer seems like a smarter move but Carolina has reason to acquire another scorer. They feel they are very close to being a Stanley Cup contender.