Hello and welcome to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. The regular season only has a couple of weeks left and that means teams are looking to the playoffs and offseason. Last Word on Hockey will bring you the best news and analysis as we move into the postseason and beyond. Today’s NHL rumours feature the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators.
St. Louis Blues
Analysis: The Blues would love the cap to increase to its maximum level of $88.2 million. The extra $6.7 million would help St. Louis re-sign most, if not all, of their upcoming free agents. Pietrangelo is one of the big stars in the 2020 free-agent class and could command a significant increase in salary. His current cap hit is just $6.5 million but his 13 goals and 49 points this year could make him one of the highest-paid defenders in the league. Erik Karlsson has the highest cap hit among blueliners at $11.5 million.
The Blues have approximately $73 million in cap committed for 2020-21 not counting players currently in the AHL. That figure includes Vladimir Tarasenko‘s return from injury. $15 million is plenty to re-sign a player of Pietrangelo’s calibre but there are several other needs to address. For starters, Vince Dunn will be a restricted free agent after his entry-level contract ends this summer. The 23-year-old has 9 goals and 23 points in 68 games. St. Louis also has to consider if it wants to bring back Marco Scandella who has looked great as a Blue.
The maximum cap increase would give St. Louis the flexibility it needs to offer Pietrangelo a contract with a cap hit in its preferred range of $8.5-9 million. He could certainly take the hometown discount and give up money to chase another Stanly Cup. However, not many players ever have the chance to be the highest-paid at their position. The Blues will need to convince one of their stars to abandon earning power in favour of a title chase.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: Sportsnet’s 31 thoughts revealed that Columbus has been receiving early calls regarding forward Josh Anderson.
Sorry a bit delayed today coming back from meetings: https://t.co/qfSJQ9Is9V
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 4, 2020
Analysis: There is almost no chance Anderson returns to Columbus for 2020-21. He is a restricted free agent this summer but he would be free to choose his team for the 2021-22 season. Anderson has only played in 26 games this season with one goal and four points. Injuries have derailed what could have been a chance to improve on 2018-19’s 20 goals and 47 points.
There is plenty of potential in Anderson’s game if the 25-year-old returns to full health next season. He might not score 27 goals again but Anderson should consistently score 15-25 goals moving forward. He is also a great physical option with over 100 hits in each of the past three seasons. Anderson’s two-way ability is perfect for a team that needs an additional middle-six wing option.
Anderson’s trade value could be lower with his lost 2019-20 but Columbus should try to peel at least a second-round pick and prospect if someone is interested. The Blue Jackets could use some extra selections in the next several drafts after spending a lot of capital last season for their playoff run. There will be concerns surrounding Anderson’s health for next season but several teams would love his game if his production returns.
Rumour: The last of our NHL rumours for today comes courtesy of Sportsnet’s Saturday Headlines segment. It discusses how Ottawa is currently in a position to have two lottery picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Headlines: Coronavirus plans/Ottawa/Draft lottery/Gorton, Drury extended — https://t.co/kpcCVJrhF8
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 8, 2020
Analysis: The Senators would have the third overall pick if the season ended today and if the lottery broke down in perfect order. They would also have a chance for the fourth overall pick they acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the deal that sent Erik Karlsson away in exchange for several other players and picks. That gives the team an unparalleled opportunity to acquire reinforcements for their rebuild.
Unfortunately, Ottawa might not have a chance to draft top prospect Alexis Lafreniere but they will have several fantastic secondary options. There is a very real possibility that they could draft both Tim Stutzle and Quinton Byfield as star forwards. Lucas Raymond and defender Jamie Drysdale will also be on the board if Ottawa picks twice in the top five. There is no doubt they will have one of the best draft classes with those two picks alone.
Sens fans will also be delighted when they remember their third first-round pick acquired from the New York Islanders in exchange for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Isles’ pick will be later in the round but they could still acquire a solid talent with that selection. Watch the lottery closely when everything is revealed on April 9th.
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