Another Thursday means another publication of Last Word on Hockey’s NHL Rumours series. Every day, our team of writers push out pieces breaking down rumblings reported by some of the NHL’s top insiders. Today’s edition deals with salary cap economics, struggling teams looking to sell off assets, and an expansion franchise possibly benefitting from the last one’s mistake. Read on to find out what’s going on with the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and NHL Seattle.
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Analysis: A cursory look at the team’s CapFriendly page would raise some eyebrows. Their projected cap space at the moment is slightly under $2.2 million, leaving fans wondering how acquiring a huge contract burden would even be possible for the Ducks. However, 35-year-olds Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves, both of whom may very well never play another NHL game due to injury, have stayed on normal injured reserve all season. This means that Anaheim has taken no cap relief from their contracts. Moving Kesler’s $6.875 million AAV (average annual value) deal along with Eaves’ $3.15 million AAV deal to long-term injured reserve would open up much more cap space for the Ducks, therefore allowing a trade like that to happen.
Teams that come to mind as fits are the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. As the Canucks enter a salary-cap crunch of their own this summer, the departure of Loui Eriksson‘s monster deal would be a wonderful thing for Vancouver. Eriksson has two seasons remaining after this at $6 million a season. The 34-year-old Swedish winger has six points in 28 games.
As for Montreal, we look at a player that hasn’t touched NHL ice at all this season: Karl Alzner. After signing a five-year deal worth north of $23 million in the summer of 2017, Alzner only lasted one full season with Montreal before being demoted to the AHL’s Laval Rocket the following year. Alzner comes at a steep $4.625 million cap hit for the same length as Eriksson’s, but the cap hit is slightly easier to swallow for the Ducks.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: A season where there’s talk of a team trading away two of their top five players in terms of points can’t be a good one, and it hasn’t for the Devils. Palmieri leads the team in points with just 31 in 44 games, but Coleman leads the team in goals with 18.
Coleman would be an interesting player for many teams. The Texas-born 28-year-old didn’t make his debut until he was 25 but has developed into a quite solid third-line-type player. He had 22 goals last season and will almost certainly pass that mark by the end of this regular season. He’s a defensively solid forward, too, something that many teams would salivate over.
Palmieri is the bigger name here, and rightfully so. His 29th birthday is next month, and in the prime of his career, he can be money in the bank for 50 points on a more well-rounded offensive team. His career-high was 57 in his first year with New Jersey. But he’s put up at least 40 points for four straight seasons now, and will surely do so again this season. The Devils could certainly get a solid return of prospects and draft picks for him, and it might be a wise choice considering their trajectory.
Analysis: This roller coaster of a season just keeps rolling, as the Vegas Golden Knights have fired someone who many thought was untouchable. While Vegas currently sits tied for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, lower than most expected, they still sit five games over .500 and any sort of streak in such a tight division would rocket them to the top. It seems like an impulse firing, unusual for a team that’s been as well-built as Vegas.
So, this all presents an interesting opportunity for Seattle. In an era where coach personalities and personal track records are becoming much more important, Gallant has one of the best reputations in the league. He’s well-loved by nearly all of his players and is an excellent motivator. If Seattle is looking to replicate Vegas’ incredible first-year success, it only seems fitting that they’d look to take on a part of that team. Hiring Gallant seems like a no-brainer for this new franchise, if they can convince him to come.
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