Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We’re at the final stretch of the regular season and teams are still jousting for playoff position. However, rumours are still swirling as teams are already thinking about next season. In today’s NHL rumours segment, we’ll focus on rumours involving the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.
All NHL rumours come from their original sources and are subject to change.
Analysis: It is hard to imagine that the Canadiens would trade their francophone star after dealing Mikhail Sergachev for him just three seasons ago and locking him up longterm. However, the Canadiens have a surplus of forwards in the NHL and on the way up from Laval. Their prospect pool is also filled with forwards. This gives Bergevin the trade chips he certainly needs in order to improve his mediocre defence group.
So why Drouin? Drouin has all the skills to be a star in the NHL. However, his time in Montreal has not gone as planned. His first season he tried to transition to the centre ice position. That failed. He then had an up and down season last season, however, he managed to tie a career-high in points. This season started with him being the player everyone thought he could be. However, it has been met with a ton of injuries limiting him to just 27 games. With so much hype around the player coming to Montreal, it’s been disappointing to not see him breakout.
Drouin to Colorado?
The speculation of moving Drouin is definitely stemming from Marc Bergevin‘s extended visit to Colorado. There’s the fact that Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon were teammates for the Halifax Mooseheads in junior hockey. The thought of them playing together again would be outstanding for the Colorado Avalanche. Also, Colorado has a surplus of defenceman two of which are restricted free agents at the end of the season, Ryan Graves and Nikita Zadorov. While neither of these players would fetch Drouin one for one. There could be a package surrounding one of those players.
The real targets for Bergevin, however, would be Samuel Girard or prospects Bowen Byram and Conor Timmins. Girard just locked up on a long-term seven-year deal with an average annual salary of $5 million. It’s hard to imagine they would move him after just locking him up.
Byram would be the prime target for the Habs, however, he is the Avs top prospect and very unlikely to move as well.
That leaves Timmins. Timmins is an excellent defenceman who plays a well-rounded game. He does everything well, which is a huge plus for the Canadiens. However, the issue with Timmins is he is a right-shot defender, which is the Habs strong side. The Habs are looking to improve their left side in particular. While it’s not the end of the world to move players to their offside and some actually prefer that, it’s not always the preferred option for the team.
There is definitely a trade to be had for the two teams. Just a matter of figuring out what works best for both.
Montreal Canadiens Part Two
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun mentions that after speaking to Marc Bergevin about the offer sheet he extended to Sebastian Aho last offseason if he would explore that option again. Marc Bergevin stated that he would do it again if he felt the offer sheet made sense and he could use it to improve his team.
From @TSNRyanRishaug & @PierreVLeBrun: Examining Marc Bergevin’s decision to stick with Claude Julien for next season and what could be coming in the off-season https://t.co/bXO6Bnl34e #TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/R5GpkRFpRV
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) March 4, 2020
Analysis: Bergevin managed to get Aho to sign the offer sheet last season. However, Carolina matched and many considered the offer to be extremely week. It was a calculated play by Bergevin, however, Carolina Hurricanes Owner Tom Dundon could not afford to let his star centre leave for draft picks.
So now Bergevin is thinking about doing it again. Of course he would, why not? It’s a tool available to the franchise that has cap space that can be used to improve their team. While the market isn’t as large as it was last season there is still some big names set to become restricted free agents this season. These include Mathew Barzal, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Anthony DeAngelo and former Canadiens defenceman Mikhail Sergachev. Either of these players would be a significant upgrade for the Canadiens.
New York Rangers
Analysis: Lundqvist is certainly not the goalie he used to be. However, he is 38 years old. It shouldn’t be expected for him to be playing at the same level he has played his whole career. This is causing an issue for the Rangers though as they now have three quality NHL goaltenders and not a whole lot of cap space available. With some key free agents to be signed in the offseason, such as Ryan Strome and Anthony DeAngelo, the Rangers may want to look to clear The King’s $8.5 million dollar cap hit.
The King to a Contender?
As Yost mentions, it should not be overly hard considering the contract only has one year remaining. So teams looking to meet the cap floor could easily take on the cap hit for a season as long as the Rangers throw in a sweetener. The issue here is Lundqvist holds a full no-movement clause. This means he needs to accept any deal the Rangers try to make to move him. At this point in his career, Lundqvist surely doesn’t want to go out playing for a rebuilding team. He would certainly want to go to a Cup contender. It would be extremely hard for a Cup contending team to fit $8.5 million under the cap without sending cap back to the Rangers. However, if it’s a piece the Rangers could use to help their club, that may be the only option they have. Any cap savings is better than none for the Rangers at this point, especially given their crowded crease.
If they can’t find a suitor for Lundqvist, we’d have to expect the team to trade Alexandar Georgiev.