The NHL season is midway through and things are heating up. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the mid-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we’ll cover rumours surrounding the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals.
"…doesn't Kreider look like a guy that would fit in Boston?"
— The Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast (@rayanddregs) December 26, 2019
Analysis: Kreider has been on New York’s trade block for a few years now and, as another trade deadline nears, is re-entering NHL rumours. He’s on the last year of his contract and many think he could be a perfect rental for team’s looking to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
During the podcast, Ferraro says that Kreider, “looks like a guy that would fit in Boston.” This feels almost too true. Kreider is a modest scoring, and very physical, winger with plenty of skill to match his grit. This is the exact sentiment that has embodied the Bruins lineup for seemingly their entire existence. It’s the same motif that nearly won them the Cup last season, as they fought to wear down opposing teams, giving their elite scorers easy work as games progressed.
Although the Bruins are among the Cup favorites at this point in the season, adding Kreider would put them in a league of their own. He’s netted two 50-point-seasons through almost 500 NHL games and is on pace for roughly 50 again this season. Appearing in the potent Bruins offence could serve to exaggerate these numbers even more.
A Kreider trade wouldn’t be entirely out of the question for Boston either. With a pro-rated contract, the Bruins would only need to clear up just over $1 million in cap space to afford Kreider. This could be easily accomplished by dealing away a bottom-six forward like Brett Ritchie or Joakim Nordstrom. With a couple of draft picks to sweeten the pot, a deal isn’t unfathomable at all, as the Rangers are in a position to sell Kreider for cheap or lose him for nothing to free agency.
Analysis: Dayal’s thinking stems from the looming Seattle Expansion Draft. This Draft will likely leave the Canucks choosing between Markstrom and Thatcher Demko. As Markstrom is a free-agent this summer, Vancouver will need to keep the Expansion Draft in mind as they craft a new deal.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that Markstrom has earned a serious pay raise. He currently makes $3.66 million on a deal that was signed in 2016. Since then, though, Markstrom has been terrific for Vancouver. Between the 2016-17 season and the end of the 2018-19 season, Markstrom has recorded a save percentage of .912 and a goals-against-average of 2.72. This year, he has followed suit with a save percentage of .917 and a goals-against-average of 2.66. In tallying these stats, he has also recorded a 73-71-22 since 2016.
While these aren’t jaw-dropping numbers, they do show that Markstrom is due for a $1.5 million raise, at least. This is what Dayal argues in his piece, noting that Markstrom could net a salary of $5 million to $5.5 million on his next deal, with a term of four-to-five years. With that said, Dayal mentions that Vancouver will likely stick closer to a cap hit of $4.5 million, as they head into an off-season with 11 pending free agents and a projected cap hit of roughly $18 million.
Analysis: Recent NHL rumours have emphasized that the odds of Backstrom and Braden Holtby leaving Washington are very slim. This is despite both players being free agents at the end of this season. Rumours say that they’re both likely to take discounts on their deals to stick with the team that they won their first Stanley Cup with only two seasons ago.
Yet, neither player has signed extensions just yet. While Holtby isn’t likely to start contract talks until the end of the year, Backstrom’s party has been in regular negotiations. The two sides are stuck on term, though. Backstrom is looking for a five-year deal. Washington, on the other hand, is looking to ink nothing more than a three-year deal. Backstrom turned 32 in late November.
Per the Washington Post piece, Backstrom is fighting to be more involved in the negotiation process. The star centreman said, “I want to know what is going on, like, behind the scenes. When you have an agent, you only hear what the numbers are. I just wanted to see how people react and stuff.”
Backstrom’s wanting to see peoples’ reactions is a likely testament to his care for the Capitals franchise. In his interview, he went on to say, “I feel like I don’t need to go in there and be specific… We can just have a normal conversation, and that is what we are having.”
With this lenient tone, it’s likely that a Backstrom extension isn’t too far off. His tone seems to only clarify previous rumours that he isn’t likely to leave. As he becomes more involved in talks, negotiations will surely draw to an end.