NHL Rumours: Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, NHL

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome back for the Monday edition of NHL Rumours! We are less than two weeks away from the official start of NHL free agency and news coming fast as teams prepare. Last Word on Hockey will bring you the best analysis as the postseason bubble comes to a close and teams get ready for one of the most interesting offseasons in recent memory. Today’s NHL Rumours feature Boston Bruins defenceman Torey Krug, the New Jersey Devils, and the NHL’s preparations for 2020-21.

NHL Rumours

Torey Krug

Rumour: The individuals behind the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast indicate that Krug’s negotiation rights could be dealt as soon as Monday.

Analysis: It’s not particularly surprising that the Boston Bruins are looking to deal Krug before official negotiations can begin.  The team has a tight cap situation with a handful of players to potentially re-sign. They have almost $14.5 million in cap space but Krug’s next contract is projected to consume most of that figure if he stayed in Boston. His next deal is projected to be roughly for five years with a cap hit of $7.38 million. A team like the Bruins can’t afford to use half of its cap space on one player.

It’s hard to know what Boston will receive in return given that these are only negotiation rights. The acquiring team will not give up major assets unless it is absolutely certain that Krug will sign a deal with his new team. Additionally, relatively few teams could even afford the projected contract. Boston might have to be content with a late-round draft pick and an average prospect. They certainly can’t expect a huge return unless a contract is signed prior to a trade.

The Colorado Avalanche are one such team with both assets and money. They could easily send a sixth or seventh-round pick and a young defender in exchange for Krug. The Avs shouldn’t consider a top prospect like Bowen Byram but someone like Conor Timmins could interest Boston. Timmins briefly reached the NHL in 2019-20 but the team has a packed blue line. Trading a piece from the defensive prospects for a player of Krug’s calibre would be huge. It would increase Colorado’s odds of being a Stanley Cup champion going into 2020-21.

New Jersey Devils

Rumour: There is news coming out of New Jersey as to what the team will want in exchange for either the 18th or 20th pick in the 2020 Draft. 

Analysis: This could be a huge draft for the Devils.  They have three picks in the first round to help build around young stars Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. The first pick is seventh overall but that should be untouchable. The team is correct in fielding offers for the other two, though.

The draft is deep enough that New Jersey can give up one of the non-lottery picks and still add a quality future asset or two. One thing to note is that a late first-round pick would be enticing for a team that is close to the cap ceiling of $81.5 million for 2020-21. The Devils can offer one of the two later picks in exchange for helping the other team relieve some financial stress.

There are several teams that could send someone in the age range that New Jersey desires and use breathing room as free agency approaches. One of the more obvious candidates would be the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto has just $6.11 million in cap space with multiple players to potentially re-sign. New Jersey could try to pry an interesting player like Pierre Engvall or Rasmus Sandin out of the Leafs organization. A late first-round selection isn’t worth a major impact player but it’s certainly capable of bringing in a young, decent middle-six skater or defender with upside.

NHL

Rumour: The last of today’s NHL rumours comes from the Sportsnet staff. They examine just how the NHL and NHLPA will approach the 2020-21 season.

Analysis: There is still plenty to come regarding the next NHL season. The United States still struggles with large numbers of COVID-19 cases with no end in sight. That will excite a league whose offices are located in Canada. The league and players union will not agree on another bubble environment for the regular season so a different system will need to be in place regarding travel and where games can be played.

That could impact when the season opens and how many games it contains. It is currently scheduled to being on December 1st but that could be easily pushed back to later in the month or into January. A January start, regardless of fan attendance, might mean a compressed schedule so operations can return to a more normal state for 2021-22. There is no rush on these decisions considering the huge financial implications facing the league as the next season approaches. However, those same financial decisions are huge incentives for both sides to make decisions sooner rather than later. Neither side wants to lose even more money on top of what has been estimated in the current postseason bubble.

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