Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We’re just over a month away from what is the anticipated start date of the 2020-21 season. With the season drawing near, NHL rumours are still swirling around teams as they gear up to start training camp in the coming weeks. Today, we focus on rumours from the Montreal Canadiens and the Minnesota Wild.
All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Analysis: Danault goes on to say “I know who I am and I know who I’m becoming. Ultimately it’s not my decision, but I’d like to stay in Montreal.” That statement is not overly surprising to hear, as Danault is a Quebec native who grew up cheering for the Canadiens. Playing for his childhood team has been a dream come true.
“I know who I am, and I know who I’m becoming…Ultimately, it’s not my decision, but I’d like to stay in Montreal.” – Phillip Danault on his contract situation. Says he is living day by day and not worrying about it as much as he might have when he was younger.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) November 24, 2020
However, there could be some complications with keeping Danault around. Marc Bergevin went on a bit of a shopping spree this offseason. Bringing in players like Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Joel Edmundson and Jake Allen. As well, he extended Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry, as well as Jake Allen, who were all set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end. This leaves the Canadiens with just over $16 million in cap space for next season, with Danault, Tomas Tatar, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Joel Armia, Arturri Lehkonen and Victor Mete all in need of new deals. There simply won’t be enough cash to go around.
So what do the Canadiens do? Danault states that he plans to honour his contract, which is a given. However, if he continues his high level of play, he could price himself out of Montreal. Danault is a capable top-six centreman. But with the emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Danault finds himself sliding down the Canadiens depth chart. Will Danault be willing to take a discount to stay with the club? Or will he decide to take his talents elsewhere when he becomes a free agent next offseason?
Analysis: It will be a strange look seeing someone other than Mikko Koivu wear the ‘C’ for the Wild, however, it seems as though we will see a new team captain to start the 2020-21 season. Koivu, who had been team captain for the past 11 seasons, signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason. This leaves the captaincy vacant. Guerin stated that he feels that “it’s an important position to fill and you just don’t want to leave the team in limbo.”
As mentioned in the article, two names to watch here are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Both players signed identical 13-year deals with the club back in 2012 and despite their careers winding down, are still two of the top players on the roster. However, Parise was rumoured to be dealt to the New York Islanders prior to last year’s trade deadline, however, the deal apparently fell apart. If this was true, it would be surprising to see him named team captain. As well, considering their careers are winding down, they would both be short-term solutions. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wild take a different direction.
That direction would be defenceman Jared Spurgeon. Spurgeon signed a seven-year extension with the Wild in 2019 and is one of the most important players on the Wild roster. Spurgeon is the longest-tenured player on the Wild roster, having spent his entire career with the Wild. At just 30 years old, Spurgeon is still in his prime. His play on the ice matched with his high hockey IQ and outstanding character make him an easy choice.
Mathew Dumba Not Being Shopped
Rumour: In the same article, Guerin mentions that he is not shopping defenceman Mathew Dumba and is content to start the season with him on the roster.
Analysis: Of course, Guerin is content having Dumba on the roster. He is an outstanding young defenceman. Despite the dip in production this past season, he brings a fire and work ethic that coaches and general managers salivate over. He also put up 72 points in 114 games from 2017 to 2019. He is a prime bounce-back candidate for the upcoming season. However, with all of Jonas Brodin, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon having no-movement clauses, Dumba is the odd man out.
The chances of either of them moving their no-movement clause are slim to none. Especially Brodin and Spurgeon, as they both just recently signed their contracts. This will leave Dumba exposed if the Wild decide to go the route of protecting seven forwards and three defencemen rather than the eight of any position route. Which is more than likely the route they’ll choose.
Given Dumba’s dip in production, his stock might be a little lower than it would have been a year ago. So, it seems Guerin would rather bet on his player to up his stock before moving him. There is also the option of trading an asset to get Seattle to choose a different player. However, given the quality of the player and his age at just 26, the ask to stay away from Dumba would be a lot. Guerin finds himself in a tough position. However, it’s a position most general managers would love to find themselves in having so many quality names on the point. As Guerin states, he put his defence group up against anyone. And rightfully so. Unfortunately for him, he may end up losing a big part of that in the near future.