While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are winding down, things off the ice are picking up. That is the case this week as we here at Last Word on Hockey are giving you a second helping of NHL Rumours. In this edition of NHL Rumours, we take a look at the news surrounding the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Vancouver Canucks.
Rumours: Scott Burnside of the Athletic looked at all 31 teams and their needs in this off-season. In there he writes that the Edmonton Oilers need goaltending and Matt Murray is a good fit.
Analysis: If you look at the Oilers goaltending, you see they have Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. That goaltending duo does not scare many teams in the Western Conference. This season Smith had a goals-against-average of 2.95 and a .902 save percentage. Meanwhile, Koskinen had a goals-against-average of 2.75 and a .917 save percentage. These numbers don’t spell elite in the NHL.
Enter free-agent Matt Murray. During this past season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Murray had a 2.87 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Those numbers could suggest the Oilers should pass on Murray during free agency. The Oilers have not had much success in upgrading that position recently, just look at how Cam Talbot worked out.
Not to mention, Koskinen still has two years left on a three-year contract he signed back in 2019. Koskinen has been the better goalie for the Oilers. While it is ideal to have a veteran goalie between the pipes, the biggest problem for the Oilers is in front of the goaltender. It does not matter who is in net for the Oilers, they need to be able to defend better. Once they do that, it helps the guy in between the pipes.
Look, Murray has two Stanley Cups, but in a world of what have you done for me lately, there are better options on the free-agency market. Plus how much will Murray be asking for considering the salary cap will be at $81.5 million and the Oilers have other pressing needs?
Rumour: According to Scott King of NBC Sports Chicago, the Chicago Blackhawks want veteran goalie and free agent Corey Crawford back between the pipes as they offered a one-year contract extension.
Analysis: The two-time Stanley Cup winner and 35-year-old goaltender Crawford raised his value during the Blackhawks run to the first round of the playoffs. He played great in the qualifying round against the Oilers eliminating them in four games. His luck ran out against the Vegas Golden Knights. While his goals-against average was over three in the playoffs he had a .907 save percentage.
His numbers in the regular season were solid as he had a 2.77 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Those are excellent numbers for a guy getting up there in age. Most 35-year-old goaltenders do not put up those numbers. Since most of the core group is still intact, it would be wise to bring Crawford back. Not to mention the options behind him.
At $3.5 million that is not a bad deal at all on a one-year contract considering how often Crawford gets injured. They will need for Malcolm Subban to step up to back up Crawford unless they sign another goalie or hope one of their goalies in the system is ready to come up. However, Crawford gives the Blackhawks the best chance to win night in and night out. And as we saw in the playoffs, he can steal a series. If the Blackhawks believe they have a chance to compete next season, they need to bring Crawford back and this offer is more than fair.
Rumour: According to Rick Dhaliwal, Tyler Motte‘s agent Rich Evans says that Motte was to remain with the Vancouver Canucks and hopes to have a new contract soon.
RFA Tyler Motte’s agent Rich Evans : “Tyler wants to be a part of this group in Vancouver going forward, and we hope to make that happen with a new contract.”
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) September 7, 2020
Analysis: Canucks general manager Jim Benning faces a lot of tough decisions this off-season. The biggest ones revolves around free-agent goaltender Jacob Markstrom and winger Tyler Toffoli. And while Motte is an RFA, the Canucks know they have a little bit more control over him than the UFAs. Not to mention, agents are always looking out for what is best for their clients and sometimes like to do it through the press. Motte, in 34 regular-season games recorded eight points (four goals and four assists). He stepped up for the Canucks in the playoffs matching his goal mark with four. Those goals were big especially in the first round when the Canucks were facing elimination.
However, with an $81.5 million salary cap this season, dollars will become a premium. Motte earned $975,000 this season and will be looking for a pay raise. However, players like Motte may not get the dollars they think they will. Plus, players like Motte are expendable. They can easily be replaced.
However, Motte was a significant improvement on the bottom-six to what the Canucks had there before. Every dollar is so meaningful, especially when there are two pending UFAs on the team. Motte might have to take a hometown discount in order to stay with a group that has the potential to get back to the playoffs next season.
That does it for the second edition of NHL Rumours for a Wednesday stay tuned for the Thursday edition.
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