We are inching closer and closer to the resumption of the NHL season. Only a few more days before the start of training camps. With hockey coming, the rumour mill is starting to pick up even more. With things heating up on and off the ice, the team here at Last Word On Hockey will keep the fans up to date on the latest NHL rumours and rumblings around the league. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers.
Rumour: Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston is reporting that Boston Bruins restricted free agent Jake Debrusk will not take a hometown discount.
If Jake DeBrusk "is a $6 million a year player" as some like @Bob_Stauffer have suggested, then the Bruins might be in salary cap jeopardy…particularly after DeBrusk's agent suggested today that a Black and Gold hometown discount wasnt in the plans 🏒🏆💰https://t.co/wdSlyIxx2Q
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) July 6, 2020
Analysis: The Bruins are one of the teams that will face a salary cap crunch over the next couple of years. With the NHL-NHLPA agreeing to a new CBA keeping the salary cap flat at $81.5 million, this means the Bruins only have $18 million to spend to the cap next season. In addition to DeBrusk, the Bruins need to sign restricted free agents Matt Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork as well as unrestricted free agents Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. At the top of the list is Krug. As reported earlier in our rumours segment, Krug could fetch up to $8 million dollars. That does not leave a lot of room for the Bruins to sign the remaining players. And with DeBrusk’s agent coming out and saying he will not take a hometown discount, his days in Boston may be numbered.
The Bruins have a habit of signing their players to team-friendly contracts. Just look at Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. These guys are underpaid by today’s standards, but they chose winning over money. However, DeBrusk’s agent feels his client is a $6 million player as his client averaged 20 goals and 40 per season with a high of 27 goals last season. He is playing a top-six role being the winger to second-line centre David Krejci. Not to mention DeBrusk’s playoff performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.
If you look at DeBrusk’s peers from the 2015 NHL Draft class players like Travis Konecny ($5.5 million AAV), and Brock Boeser ($5.875 million AAV), both put up similar numbers to DeBrusk prior to signing their new deals. So DeBrusk and his agent are expecting a big payday. And if he has another good postseason look for that number to be even higher. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has some work to do to if they want to keep DeBrusk in the mix.
Rumour: Rick Dhaliwal of TSN 1040 and the Athletic Vancouver writes that the Vancouver Cancuks have a tough decision to make with Harvard University draft pick Jack Rathbone.
Analysis: With the new CBA agreed upon between the NHL-NHLPA there is a new transition rule that could speed up defenceman Jack Rathbone’s decision on whether or not to play for the Canucks next season or return to Harvard. The term states there is a 53-hour window to signs rookies and burn a year of their entry-level contracts. With Rathbone being 21 years old, he is eligible to sign a three-year deal. Based on the rule, however, if Rathbone were to sign, he is not eligible to play this season and would burn a year on his entry-level deal.
The big question for Rathbone is whether or not to sign here or go play elsewhere. With Ivy League schools cancelling all fall sports and Harvard having online classes this upcoming academic year, will Harvard ever take to the ice next season? Right now that does not appear to be the case. Rathbone is a player the Canucks could use next season and could gain experience being in one of the hub cities for the playoffs. He is a good puck-moving defenceman that not only can play defence but has great offensive output. Dhaliwal doesn’t think Rathbone will sign in Europe, so the only option is to burn a year of his contract and wait until next season for him to play.
Rumour: Allan Mitchell of the Athletic writes that Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland has some tough decisions to make when it comes to the salary cap and the players he wants to keep.
It's a guarantee that free agency 2020 will have some massive bargains, but in Edmonton money is too tight to mention for the Oilers. A look at the current state of affairs, and some painful decisions ahead for Ken Holland via @TheAthleticEDM https://t.co/VPK3FQgBAa
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) July 6, 2020
Analysis: The theme of these rumours continue to be the salary cap. Mitchell writes the Oilers are facing some tough decisions with a flat salary cap of $81.5 million. Edmonton has free agents they would like to keep going forward including goaltender Mike Smith and checking centre Riley Sheahan. Not to mention restricted free agents Andreas Athanasiou and Matt Benning. Plus players like Ethan Bear, Mike Green, Tyler Ennis and Patrick Russell will also need new contracts. Mitchell suspects that Smith, Athanasiou, and Bear will command most of the money with their new deals. That does not leave room for the others on the list.
The Oilers have already committed $71.9 dollars to the 2020-21 roster. That leaves them $9.6 million to sign all these players. That means Holland will need to get creative. The Oilers could save some money on Kris Russell or Alex Chiasson‘s deals. However, the best option for the Oilers is to buyout James Neal. He is set to make $3.8 million and his production has gone down. He isn’t the same player he once was. If the Oilers feel they can get significant value for Russell and Chiasson, then Holland will do his best to move their salaries as well. However, the Oilers will have to turn to some young players to fill out their opening night roster.
That does it for this edition NHL Rumours stay tuned for another edition within the coming days.
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