Hello and welcome back to the Monday edition of NHL Rumours. The trade deadline is in the rearview mirror and we are only a few weeks away from the postseason. Continue to check in with Last Word on Hockey for all the newest news and best analysis. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils.
All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Analysis: It is no surprise teams would contact Philadephia regarding Laughton’s future. The 25-year-old former first-round pick is a fine player but is getting caught in the team’s increasingly crowded depth chart. The Flyers have several players who look capable of taking away Laughton’s spot in the top-six as soon as 2020-21.
Laughton has 12 goals and 24 points in 44 games this season. His per-game scoring rate puts him on a pace to exceed last season’s 12 goals and 32 points in 82 games but he is also shooting well above his career rate. Laughton has typically scored on 9.5 percent of his shots but is almost double that this year at 17.9. Philadephia could have sold high on their skilled forward but see him as a key piece to their immediate future. Laughton also has a very team-friendly contract that counts against the cap for $2.3 million through next season.
It is hard to know what Laughton’s future is with Philadelphia. He doesn’t seem capable of being a true 40-50 point scorer at this stage of his career to make him a reliable top-six option. The team could have Nolan Patrick back for 2020-21 and Morgan Frost will make case for a roster spot in training camp. Laughton is safe for now but has value as a trade chip next season. His name will also come up this summer as a way to acquire reinforcements in the offseason.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: Scott Burnside of The Athletic recently speculated that the Golden Knights could pay a hefty premium to acquire Alex Pietrangelo in free agency.
What a month March is shaping up to be. Our Power Rankings and some thoughts on Alain Vigneault, Taylor Hall and Chris Kreider. https://t.co/72O2khH9iw
— Scott Burnside (@OvertimeScottB) March 1, 2020
Analysis: Pietrangelo will be one of the most sought-after names in the free agency market this summer. He has 13 goals and 49 points in 65 games this season. Only John Carlson, Roman Josi and Victor Hedman have more. That sort of production will allow him to become one of the league’s highest-paid defenders.
However, the St. Louis Blues might not be able to pay him $10-11 million per season. They have several other players who will need new contracts this summer including defensive prospect Vince Dunn. The team will also need to fit $7.5 million back onto its books when Vladimir Tarasenko returns. The Blues could certainly trade some of the less-productive veterans for more space but adding a big contract for a blueliner entering his 30s is not something most franchises want to do.
If Vegas is indeed serious about spending money this offseason, it will be hard to find a better option than Pietrangelo. He could take over on the team’s first power-play unit or share it with Shea Theodore. Moving to Vegas would also reunite Pietrangelo with his old teammate Paul Stastny. The Golden Knights would need to clear up a large amount of cap space but several contracts will come off their books after this season. Expect a large amount of interest in Pietrangelo from Vegas and others if he does not re-sign before the start of free agency.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman explained on Sportsnet’s headlines segment that the New Jersey Devils have interviewed former player and GM Mike Gillis.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 1, 2020
Analysis: Gillis was last employed in 2014 when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. He has the advantage compared to other possible options of not being with a team right now. That means New Jersey can talk to him whenever they want.
Gillis would inherit an interesting rebuild in New Jersey. The Devils have traded a half-dozen players since the season started including Taylor Hall, Blake Coleman and Wayne Simmonds. The current front office has decided to rebuild Nico Hischier and the struggling Jack Hughes but more pieces are needed. Gillis would have to decide the best way to supplement his two most notable players while balancing large contracts.
New Jersey has a large amount of cap space but a rebuilding franchise typically has a hard time attracting premium free agents. They do have an average farm system but didn’t bring in top prospects when they traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. Multiple first-round picks in the next two drafts will be the primary method of restocking. Rebuilds are challenging for GMs because there is immense pressure. Gillis would love to get back into hockey but might not enjoy the stress of rebuilding a franchise such as New Jersey.