NHL Rumours: Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, Michael Frolik

NHL Rumours
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Hello and welcome to a Wednesday afternoon edition of NHL Rumours. We are less than one month away from hockey’s return so the news is starting to come faster regarding the postseason and fall. Continue to check in with us at Last Word on Hockey as we bring you the best news each day as it breaks. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, and Michael Frolik.

NHL Rumours

Calgary Flames

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Eric Francis recently revealed that star player Johnny Gaudreau has been practicing with a group of extra players since summer training camp began for the Calgary Flames.

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: It’s unclear why Gaudreau is skating separately but it could be a sign of tension between Calgary’s best player and the management staff. Gaudreau was rumoured to be on the trade block at one point. However, the 26-year-old winger shrugged them off en route to another fine season. Gaudreau had 18 goals and 58 points in 70 games this year before hockey’s pause. His goals per game were roughly half of what they were in 2018-19 but Gaudreau was still productive.

Things will probably be fine for the play-in round but Gaudreau needs to start practicing with his regular linemates soon. The Flames will have a tough series against a strong Winnipeg Jets team. An absence from Gaudreau or lapse in play like last year’s playoffs could send Calgary home early again this postseason.

We need to wait and see if more surfaces regarding Gaudreau trade rumours. The Flames have approximately $61.03 million committed to the NHL roster going into 2020-21. That is before the team is forced to consider new contracts for Andrew Mangiapane, T.J. Brodie and Erik Gustafsson. They could keep Gaudreau as a key part of the current core but trading him would free $6.75 million for other purposes. A flat fap will force some uncomfortable considerations even for star players.

Washington Capitals

Rumour: A recent piece from J.J. Regan at NBC Sports revealed that Brenden Dillon is open to re-signing with the Washington Capitals in the offseason.

Analysis: Dillon’s next contract is likely his last big one. He is 29-years-old and will be coming off a rather average offensive campaign. Dillion has just one goal and 14 points in 69 games in 2019-20, all of which came with the San Jose Sharks. He has never been a major offensive threat but Dillon did have consecutive 20-point seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. His primary value comes from his physical play where he has contributed over 170 hits for the past four seasons.

The main question is whether or not Dillon brings enough to Washington to justify a new contract. He had zero points in 10 games after the trade with San Jose. He did contribute 16 hits and seven blocks but that is not enough when someone is trying to secure one final big contract. However, Dillon is a cheap option with a current cap hit of just $1.635 million. The salary cap will stay flat at $81.5 million for 2020-21, if not longer. A contract with an average annual value of around $1.8-2 million is probably within reach for the veteran blueliner.

Washington could choose to let Radko Gudas walk in free agency if they did prefer Dillon’s contributions. The 30-year-old Gudas a bit better on offence with 2 goals and 15 points in 63 games but also has 164 hits and 75 blocks in 2019-20. The two are similar but teams only need one major physical presence in the modern NHL. Gudas is slightly better but also costs slightly more at $2.345. His higher cap hit might mean Dillon stays for 2020-21. Dillon can do just about everything Gudas can do.

Michael Frolik

Rumour: The Buffalo News recently indicated that veteran skater Michael Frolik has an offer to play in the KHL for former coach Bob Hartley.

Analysis: Frolik might find a new deal hard to acquire for 2020-21. The 31-year-old saw his production plummet in 2019-20. He scored just six goals and 14 points in 57 games split between Calgary and the Buffalo Sabres. That is a sharp decrease from the 16 goals and 34 points he scored in 65 games in 2018-19. Some of that is due to the trade to Buffalo but it could be age-related as well.

Frolik certainly doesn’t get a raise if he does stay in the NHL. His cap his this season was $4.3 million. He did have a good 51.1 Corsi For and .7 Corsi For Relative with Calgary but possession metrics are worth only so much money. A flat cap situation makes a raise for Frolik even more unlikely. A productive year in Russia might be exactly what he needs to improve his profile. That would also let the NHL’s financial situation settle somewhat going into 2021-22.

However, Frolik might find a home in the NHL if he is willing to accept a pay cut. The Ottawa Senators might take a chance on the veteran with most of the current roster scheduled for free agency. He could also return to his original team, the Florida Panthers if Florida moves on from its expensive free agents. The Panthers have on only $56.5 million committed to next year but a number of players including Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov need new contracts. They might try Frolik as a cheap replacement with finances squeezing almost every team next season.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours stay tuned for another edition coming in the next few days.

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