Hello and welcome to a regular Monday edition of NHL Rumours! The 2020-21 season isn’t starting soon, but it approaches every day. Last Word on Hockey remains committed to bringing the best news and analysis as it breaks. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and the Seattle Kraken.
Rumour: Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet recently listed several teams, including the Nashville Predators, that could use cap space aggressively.
Analysis: Nashville looks like an ideal team to use some remaining money going into 2020-21. The Predators have just under $13 million with a good, but not great, projected roster. It makes sense for them to try and either use that space to sign someone or tempt a team into trading with them.
The team could certainly stand to add a quality scoring option to its middle-six. The top two lines should be fine, but after that, the offence could drop off significantly. The third line could use reinforcement to put next to likely options Rocco Grimaldi and Colton Sissons. There aren’t many good two-way wings left, so the team might choose to reach out to another organization. Skaters like Mike Hoffman and Andreas Athanasiou don’t seem like good fits in Nashville’s defensive scheme and Carl Soderberg is declining with age.
However, there are several potential opportunities for trade with teams who will need to get under the cap at some point. The smartest of those trade partners might be the Vancouver Canucks, who have a crowded roster of forwards vying for playing time based on CapFriendly’s current overview. Nashville could easily try and snap up someone like Antoine Roussel, who has both some scoring ability and the uncanny ability to agitate opponents. Such a skillset might work perfectly on a cap hit of $3 million.
St. Louis Blues
Rumour: Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic recently explored if St. Louis might look to add another forward.
Analysis: The Blues have a complicated salary situation going into next year. They are $1.2 million over the cap ceiling and have yet to re-sign free agent Vince Dunn. A new contract for the promising young defender would push the team even further into negative money territory.
St. Louis would need to trade someone out to drop under the ceiling, but still might add someone if they want to challenge for the Stanley Cup again. The centre position has Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, and potentially Oskar Sundqvist holding down three of the four spots. The third is currently Tyler Bozak, but the 34-year-old’s cap hit of $5 million makes him a trade candidate if they can find a partner. Moving Bozak would open a spot on the team’s middle-six and clear enough space to potentially sign a forward to a reasonable short-term deal.
If that indeed happens, Corey Perry could be an outstanding addition. The veteran just completed a run to the Stanley Cup finals as a primary agitator for the Dallas Stars. He would add a veteran presence without adding a lot of money. St. Louis is still in the middle of its Stanley Cup window, so flipping an expensive veteran for a cheap one feels like the likely move before the season begins.
Rumour: The last NHL rumour for today comes from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. He details how Seattle might leverage itself into a strong roster for its inaugural season.
Analysis: Teams should be hesitant to fall for the same trap of trading good players to protect another. That was how the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore prior to their expansion draft in 2017. It is hard to imagine teams wanting to give Seattle an extra boost before they begin play.
The problem is that the lack of revenue the fan-less postseason caused could force some teams into awkward financial situations. Owners and front offices certainly didn’t expect a flat salary cap. It creates a murky money situation right before they need to decide how to protect as many assets as possible. Some teams will probably be fine, but a handful of teams are in tight positions already and might do something similar to when Vegas’ draft was coming up.
It’s hard to know who Seattle will try to defeat in trade negotiations, but there are a few teams worth watching. That includes the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is one of the deepest teams in the league, but has multiple players to protect regardless if they chose to keep seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie. They already waived Tyler Johnson, but nobody claimed his contract or its no-trade clause that requires protection. He is an obvious trade candidate, but he won’t be the only player Seattle tries to pry out of an organization in exchange for not selecting someone good elsewhere. The lack of revenue has given the Kraken a huge potential boost before its draft.
That’s it for this edition of NHL rumours. Be sure to check back again for our next article.