Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. While the status of the current season is still up in the air, general managers around the league are still hard at work prepping for the 2020-21 season. Today, we will focus on NHL rumours from the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
In his latest Canadiens Mailbag, @EricEngels explores the possibility of a Mikhail Sergachev offer sheet, playoffs/play-in scenarios vs. draft lottery positioning and the potential of an off-season trade with the Avalanche.https://t.co/87mTJ7dfSt
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 20, 2020
Analysis: Boy would this be a huge move by Marc Bergevin. Bergevin has shown he is not afraid to use the offer sheet option, as he used the offer sheet to sign Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho last summer. However, it was matched and Aho remains a member of the Hurricanes. So here we are again. Bergevin once again has plenty of cap space and could take advantage of a team that does not. Tampa Bay is certainly one of those teams. They currently have over $76 million spent on just 15 players. So if Tampa Bay wants to hold onto Sergachev, they’re going to have to move some pieces.
There’s a couple of things to consider here, however. One, Marc Bergevin would need to make the offer stronger than the one he made for Aho. As Engels mentions, Bergevin will need to be prepared to make an offer in the $8 million range. This also means he needs to be willing to part with the compensation of a first, second and third-round pick if Tampa Bay does not match.
Two, Marc Bergevin traded Mikhail Sergachev. And Sergachev never got the news from Bergevin. Sergachev said he found out he was traded from a fan after they messaged him on Twitter saying “good luck in Tampa”. This frustrated and shocked Sergachev, although he says his phone did not work where he was located so Bergevin could not get a hold of him. Would Sergachev have any animosity towards the Habs and Bergevin for trading him? In which case, would he even sign an offer sheet from them?
It’s an interesting target. As the Habs could certainly use the young promising left-shot defenceman. A left-side featuring Sergachev and Alexander Romanov would be scary moving forward for the Canadiens.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: In the most recent Maple Leafs Mailbag, Luke Fox was asked what Kyle Clifford‘s next deal could look like.
Maple Leafs Mailbag: Will Soo connection help Toronto land Matt Murray? Trade Marner for Heiskanen? Most elaborate dressing room prank? Kyle Clifford’s next contract? Why did I underestimate the Oilers? https://t.co/3NwffZmCeW #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/wBkzRWGi0h
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) May 18, 2020
Analysis: Clifford has been a welcomed addition to the Leafs lineup and is certainly the type of player they needed. They have a ton of skill, but not much sandpaper in the lineup. Outside of a player like Zach Hyman, who likes to play agitator. Clifford brings an element that has been vacant in the Leafs lineup over the past few seasons and there is a mutual interest here.
While the Leafs are tight up against the cap, Clifford’s next contract is not going to break the bank. Fox’s thoughts are it would be a two-year, $2.5 million deal. This would bring a cap hit of $1.25 million per season. It is slightly less than his current cap hit of $1.6 million which is split between both Los Angeles and Toronto. The Leafs need to have cheaper contracts like this in their bottom six in order to stay compliant with the cap. So to get a player who fits a need on a cheap contract would be a win for the Leafs.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: Schneider has had a few rough years. After coming over in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks, Schneider put up three solid seasons. However, in 2016-17, everything started to go downhill. His goals-against-average went from a 2.15 to 2.82 and his save percentage went from .924 to .908. This trend continues to this day, as every year gets worse for Schneider. His poor play made way for MacKenzie Blackwood to take over the number one role. Pushing Schneider to back up duties and to the AHL for a stint. Schneider admits he is not naive to the business side of things. A buyout of the veteran goaltender is highly possible.
If the Devils were to buyout Schneider, they would be stuck with a cap hit of $2 million for the next four seasons. Double the term, however, at a third of the cap. This would allow the Devils to free up some cash in an attempt to bolster their lineup. They could attempt to make another run at Taylor Hall and bring him back into the fold. Or a big name defender like Alex Pietrangelo who would be a huge addition to bolster the blue line and take youngster Ty Smith under his wing. The new number one netminder MacKenzie Blackwood is in need of a new deal as well and will get a nice raise.
While there is a ton of different options for the Devils, clearing up that cap and giving Schneider and chance to chase a better opportunity and a fresh start may be the best for both clubs.