Even as everything has seemingly calmed down post-Trade Deadline, the Last Word on Hockey team is still here with our daily NHL Rumours pieces. Each article takes some of the biggest rumours from around the NHL and offers our writers’ analysis of each one. Today’s edition looks at the happenings of the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers while also taking a look at the future of the NHL’s salary cap.
Rumour: In a Q&A with Preds general manager David Poile, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentions that the long-serving GM is interested in retaining the services of both Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith for next year.
Analysis: In an inconsistent year for the Predators, both Granlund and Smith have been inconsistent as well. While Granlund has had a couple of big goals lately and has been one of the Preds’ best forwards recently, he’s still only tied for tenth on the team in points with Smith. The two Nashville forwards both have 30 points on the season. Smith has potted 18 goals, while Granlund has 17.
Both Granlund and Smith have seen much different usage this season, though. While Granlund has seen about four more minutes of ice time per game than Smith, Smith has a +18 rating compared to Granlund’s -3. That’s a stark difference. Smith has arguably been the more consistent of the two, as he’s produced right around his expectations. Granlund, while turning it on as of late, has largely underproduced for Nashville this season. Surprisingly, Poile is interested in retaining his services, considering he hasn’t been the best fit for the team. Smith, however, is a longtime Pred who is an important locker room presence for the squad – it’s easy to see why Poile wants to keep him around.
Rumour: Per Elliotte Friedman’s ever-dependable 31 Thoughts podcast, the Panthers may be interested in breaking up their core if the rest of this season doesn’t pan out.
Sorry a bit delayed today coming back from meetings: https://t.co/qfSJQ9Is9V
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 4, 2020
Analysis: Obviously, the movement of no. 2 centre Vincent Trocheck raised multiple eyebrows in the Panthers fandom, as it appeared largely as a salary dump. Florida has continuously disappointed fans year after year, and it’s not exactly a team flush with cash. Their attendance figures continue to sit stagnant, among the bottom teams in the league.
So, then, is it a feasible question to ask: will the Panthers consider moving a Jonathan Huberdeau? An Aleksander Barkov? If this core really can’t get it done for them, general manager Dale Tallon is looking head-on at a huge rebuild process, one that will have the team sitting stagnant for another few seasons, at least. But it might be worth the risk, considering the Panthers’ efforts so far to become a playoff contender have all fallen through. With Huberdeau especially having a career year, Florida could get quite the return for him in the offseason if that’s the route they decide to go with.
Rumour: Per Pierre LeBrun again on Twitter, the NHL salary cap could rise to anywhere between $84 and $88.2 million starting next season, with the possibility of also creating multi-year salary cap numbers to stabilize it into the future for better planning.
Bill Daly says he gave GMs a salary cap projection today for next season: the cap will be anywhere from $84 million to $88.2 million. The exact figure will be negotiated with the NHLPA.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 4, 2020
Analysis: Toronto Maple Leafs fans everywhere: rejoice. And Arizona Coyotes fans. And Vancouver Canucks fans. Or, if you’re a fan of any of the 17 teams that currently have less than a million dollars in cap space, you can be happy too.
Last summer was an interesting one for NHL teams, as many had to scramble to fit under the cap after it didn’t increase as much as hypothesized. With this announcement, a minimum increase of $2.5 million means the world to many NHL teams. There are several important RFA signings this summer. Many teams with budding young stars can sleep a little easier at night.
The news for next season is important. However, the opportunity for a multi-year structure is also a large benefit to general managers everywhere. As teams with multiple young stars like the Maple Leafs a few years ago look to lock up their assets, a long-term solidified cap projection makes financial planning considerably easier. Teams will have a much better idea of how much they can spend and when they can spend it. It’s a win for pretty much every team.
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