Welcome to the Sunday edition of NHL rumours. Well, the 2019 NHL Draft is in the books and there were some surprises. Day one featured only one trade, and it was a pick swap. However, things got more interesting with some big moves on Saturday, including P.K. Subban heading to New Jersey.
Teams are continuously attempting to better themselves for next season and a good time to do that is during and after the draft. Of course, free agency is in a little over a week, so there’s plenty of chatter going on amongst the general managers.
Rumour: According to Shawn Hutcheon, the Bruins correspondent, the Beantown team is kicking the tires on Jason Zucker.
— Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) June 21, 2019
Analysis: Now, the Boston Bruins have been thinking about trading Torey Krug as he heads into the last year of his contract, and Zucker would fit in nicely with their forwards.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) June 17, 2019
Zucker, 27 is 5’11”, 183 pounds and was Minnesota’s 59th overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft. Currently, he has four years remaining on his five-year $27.5 million contract. So, he earns $5.25M per year. He has had 118 goals, 96 assists in 411 NHL games. His best season was 2017-18 when he scored 33 goals with 31 assists. This past season his production decreased significantly to just 21 goals, 21 assists.
Zucker has been rumoured to be traded twice recently including in a deal sending him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Phil Kessel. Kessel nixed that proposed deal and Zucker is again in the rumour mill to be traded.
Krug, 28, is 5’9″, 186 pounds and played at Michigan State and then moved on to the AHL Providence Bruins for a season. He then moved up to the Bruins and is entering the final season of his four-year $21 million contract. Boston may want to move on from Krug fearing that they cannot agree to an extension. He wound up with just six goals but reached 53 points in just 64 games last season. He excelled in the playoffs with two goals and 16 assists in 24 games.
NHL Rumours: Colorado Avalanche
Rumour: The Colorado Avalanche may be looking to move star defenceman, Tyson Barrie. The Vancouver Canucks look to be very interested in gaining his employment according to Adrian Dater who covers the Avalanche. Of course, there are other options as well with a skilled D-man like Barrie, and the proposed deal he referred to didn’t happen over the weekend. However, Barrie is still in the mix of trade rumours.
Analysis: The Colorado Avalanche chose Bowen Byram who was by far the best defenceman in the draft. Now, he may be playing for Vancouver Giants in the WHL next season but the Avs have solidified an already young group of blueliners for years to come. With Cale Makar (20), Samuel Girard (21), and Connor Timmins (20) the thought of keeping Barrie may fade into the Rockie mountains.
Now, Barrie certainly is a talented defenceman with a $5.5 million cap hit and a contract expiring after next season. He has had an average of 58 points in his last two campaigns and this is another situation where his team may not be confident in getting a contract extension beyond this season. It is getting crowded on the right side of their blueline with Makar, and Eric Johnson already there, and Timmins on his way soon.
The Avs biggest issue is a lack of scoring depth behind their top line. Could they get a forward like Nikolaj Ehlers for Barrie? He’s younger (23) and similarly priced, with a $6 million AAV, though his contract runs through 2024-25. He has three 20-goal seasons and averages 0.60 points a game. Ehlers could give the Avs some scoring balance behind that top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog.
NHL Rumours: Buffalo Sabres
Rumour: The Buffalo Sabres are shopping Rasmus Ristolanen, but no team has stepped forward as of yet.
The @BuffaloSabres are still trying to trade Rasmus Ristolainen. No takers so far but it could change at one point in the next few days.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 22, 2019
Analysis: But according to Jon Vogl who writes for The Athletic, Buffalo general manager Jason Botterill states differently.
Sabres’ Botterill on Ristolainen: “We value Risto a lot as a player. … We understand there’s going to be inquiries about him. We’re open as an organization to continuing to trying to find ways to improve our team, but we’re very glad to have Risto as part of our organization.”
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) June 21, 2019
So, depending on who you believe more Ristolanen could be moved or not. He is not an exceptional possession defenceman with just a career 44.6 Corsi for percentage. In his six years with the Sabres, he is a whopping -143 plus/minus. He does average 0.46 points a game but his defence leaves much to be desired.
His size is an asset at 6’4″ and 215 pounds and he has handed out 959 hits in his NHL career. Ristolainen signed a six-year $32.4 million contract which he is now half-way through. Are the Sabres looking to improve their blueline under new head coach Ralph Krueger?
This is more like let’s see if anyone offers us a good deal type of thing. More than likely Ristolanen isn’t going anywhere.
DAL GM Jim Nill says team continues to talk to Mats Zuccarello, but expects the winger to explore the free agent window.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 22, 2019
Analysis: The 31-year-old left wing made an immediate impact with the Dallas Stars by scoring a goal and two assists in two regular season games. He, unfortunately, broke his arm in his Stars’ debut, but his scoring prowess was displayed admirably in the playoffs when he came back from his injury. He tallied four goals, seven assists in 13 games and was often their best player.
Thus, his worth improved extensively and he is testing the market to see what other teams may offer him. Zuccarello will begin meeting with other interested teams and the Stars will host meetings with other free agents on Sunday when the meeting period opens.
Zuccarello could want five or more years on his next contract in order to give him long-term security. Conversely, the Stars may be looking to keep his salary down considering their current cap situation, and the announced salary cap number of $81.5 million.
This is new to Zuccarello as he has never been an unrestricted free agent before. He’s doing his homework now let’s see if the Stars do likewise.