Hello and welcome to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. Every day brings us closer to the NHL’s return but we aren’t there yet. In the meantime, the news keeps coming regarding what teams might do when it does or when the offseason begins. Keep checking with Last Word on Hockey for the best news and analysis each and every day. Today’s NHL rumours feature the New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Corey Masisak of The Athletic recently speculated on what the Devils might do to address goaltending in free agency.
Analysis: The Devils might buy out the final two seasons of Cory Schneider‘s contract. The 34-year-old will still count as $6 million towards the salary cap through 2021-22. This was the veteran’s worst season with a .887 save percentage and 3.53 goals-against-average. He was also near the bottom in goals-saved-above-average with a mark of -7.90. That put Schneider in the same territory as Laurent Brossoit and Craig Anderson for 2019-20.
The Devils will need a veteran backup if they indeed go with MacKenzie Blackwood as the primary starter in 2020-21. A smart target could be Thomas Greiss who has been very good for the New York Islanders but he might cost New Jersey a significant amount of money based on his recent play. Brossoit might be an even better option if the Winnipeg Jets decline to bring the 27-year-old back.
Brossoit has been up and down in the past several seasons. He has a .895 save percentage and 3.28 goals-against-average in 2019-20 but was excellent in 2018-19. He had a .925 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against. Brossoit should get a slight raise from his current salary of $1.225 million but he would be an interesting buy-low option with upside on a rebuilding Devils squad. New Jersey also has a young internal option in Zane McIntyre acquired from the Vancouver Canucks. McIntyre only had four games with the AHL affiliate in Binghamton but posted an outstanding .977 save percentage and .75 goals-against.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: There is little doubt that Kapanen is one of the most valuable assets on the Leafs’ roster. The 23-year-old has a cap hit of only $3.2 million through 2021-22 but he has been a very effective skater in 2019-20. Kapanen has 13 goals and 36 points in 69 games. His production is down compared to last year but Toronto has had several significant injuries this season and been forced to shuffle lines.
Kapanen is in an awkward spot because Toronto’s stars are established but they also need good supporting players that are also cheap but he is both younger and chapter than Alexander Kerfoot. Fewer injuries would help Kapanen contribute more consistently and avoid the trade market. Giving him more time on the second line next to John Tavares and Mitch Marner would be one outstanding potential line.
He would also serve as an interesting trade piece if Toronto goes that direction. Kapanen could return a high draft pick or several prospects as future assets. The Leafs could promote Ilya Mikheyev to a more prominent role. They also have the option of back-filling his spot with Nick Robertson or another option from its AHL squad. Toronto is better-served keeping Kapanen but a possible flat salary cap could push a good player like him out.
Los Angeles Kings
Rumour: Our third and final NHL Rumour comes from Lisa Dillman had a mailbag last week where they answered questions regarding the upcoming free-agent period, among other things.
Analysis: The Kings are at the very beginning of their rebuild. They traded several players around the deadline and will likely let Trevor Lewis walk away in free agency. The team also has large contracts for Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty that make any long-term deals difficult to imagine.
However, the Kings will need to spend money somewhere to remain above the salary floor of $60.2 million assuming that stays flat in 2020-21. The Kings have one of the strongest farm systems in the NHL but they could use an impact player to lead and mentor the team’s young core. Taylor Hall is certainly among the most notable names available this summer and would add a scoring punch LA has lacked this year. The veteran wing has 16 goals and 52 points in 65 games split between the Devils and Arizona Coyotes. Hall would be an immediate boost for the Kings’ top-six.
There’s also the possibility the team focuses on defence and hunts for someone to put next to Doughty. Torey Krug would be an outstanding fit on the left side of the defensive pairing. He currently has nine goals and 49 points for the Boston Bruins. Krug could stay in Boston but he could just as easily try to maximize his earning power in free agency. He could take over as the Kings’ power play leader and let Doughty anchor the second unit.
That does it for the Monday edition of NHL rumours stay tuned for another exciting edition in the week.
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