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NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome to a Friday edition of NHL Rumours! The offseason has slowed down since the initial frenzy at the beginning but there is still plenty of stuff happening. Teams continue to build out their rosters for the 2020-21 season in the hopes that activity can mostly return to normal in spite of a global pandemic. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues.

NHL Rumours

Ottawa Senators

Rumour: Pierre LeBrun is indicating that the Senators are not done spending money this offseason.

Analysis: Ottawa signed Evgenii Dadonov on Thursday but that can’t possibly be the last move before the 2020-21 regular season. That contract leaves them with $60.062 million in salary commitments, which is roughly $140 thousand below the league’s cap floor of $60.2 million. The Senators will probably find a way to spend as little of their $21.44 million in remaining cap space as possible but money will go somewhere.

There are still major holes in the roster to address if the team wants to do so. Forward depth is very weak outside of a projected top-line featuring Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, and Dadonov. The bottom-nine might feature at least one rookie in Tim Stutzle and several other young, unproven options. The blue line also seems very poor with only Thomas Chabot as a guaranteed producer.

The open market contains several respectable options to improve both the forward and defencemen groups. Carl Soderberg would be an inexpensive veteran addition to help down the middle after 17 goals and 35 points in 70 games for the Arizona Coyotes. Mike Hoffman would provide points on the wing as one of the better pure scorers left on the market. If the team would prefer a defensive reinforcement, Travis Hamonic is probably the best of the remaining options. Anyone one of them would help Ottawa win more games without endangering draft position or costing too much money.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: Elliotte Friedman detailed on his recent 31 Thoughts that the Leafs have expressed interest in veteran Joe Thornton.

Analysis: Toronto would need to clear a bit of money but Thornton might be an ideal bottom-six addition. The 41-year-old posted seven goals and 31 in 70 games in 2019-20, which is fantastic for a player of that age. The Maple Leafs might fit in either next to Wayne Simmonds or Jason Spezza as gritty older players who still have some offensive punch left.

Thornton recently signed a deal with HC Davos in Switzerland but might be tempted to come back for a real contender like Toronto. He’d add plenty of experience to a roster that has been short on such things in recent years. The Leafs might also represent one of the best options he has to chase a Stanley Cup if another contender isn’t interested.

However, the biggest obstacle to this signing isn’t necessarily money. It is Thornton’s long-standing relationship with the San Jose Sharks. The Pacific Division team probably won’t be very good in 2020-21 and they do have the money to bring back the franchise icon. They still have $2.35 million in space and have brought back both Patrick Marleau and Matthew Nieto. Thornton might want to come back and play with former teammates for one more season even if it might not end well.

St. Louis Blues

Rumour: The same Friedman article also reveals a league-wide concern regarding what the Blues will do with young defender Vince Dunn.

Analysis: The Blues are in a major cap crunch. They are $1.2 million over the salary ceiling and can’t sign the promising defenceman without another move. It would be a surprise if St. Louis did nothing and allowed one of the most promising defensive prospects in the organization to depart. Dunn just posted a third consecutive season with over 20 points. He should be a rockstar if gets a bigger role in St. Louis.

The team just needs to make space for him. He averaged just 16:16 per game and 1:29 on the power-play. He is capable of far more. That time should go up in the coming season except the team signed Torey Krug to replace departed star, Alex Pietrangelo. Then there’s the presence of Justin Faulk, who has extensive power-play experience himself. The Blues seem very intent to limit opportunities for the 2015 second-round selection.

St. Louis will have to move at least one player if they want to retain the developing mainstay.  Tyler Bozak is the most obvious trade candidate with his cap hit of $5 million for one more year but league-wide cap concerns and a partial no-trade clause complicates things. Those circumstances might force the team to move two cheaper players like Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev. The sad alternative is letting a young player leave via the offer sheet and accept the associated pick compensation.

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