NHL Rumours: Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights

NHL Rumours
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Hockey fans are buzzing everywhere after the reported plans to start the season were announced earlier this week. Our NHL Rumours series is here keeping you up to date as the January 13th date approaches, as many rosters still need to be shuffled before the puck drops. Many free agents still remain unsigned, and many teams are still trying to improve their rosters or shed cap space. In today’s edition of NHL Rumours, we’ll look at the Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, and Vegas Golden Knights.

NHL Rumours

Boston Bruins

Rumour: The Fourth Period expresses that the Bruins have trade interest in Calgary Flames defender Noah Hanifin.

NHL free agent frenzy

Analysis: The Bruins and general manager Don Sweeney have seemingly had an interest in Hanifin every offseason. This time, however, the need is apparent and it could be for real. Hanifin is certainly something more than a potential deadline rental — he carries a $4.95 million cap hit for the next four seasons. However, Boston’s blueline has been rather depleted this season with the departure of Torey Krug. In addition, it is unclear if Zdeno Chara will be back for the Bruins this season. This means Matt Grzelcyk will have to step into a top-pairing role alongside Charlie McAvoy, there’s an opening on the second pairing next to Brandon Carlo.

While certainly no Krug replacement, Hanifin could certainly be a more capable presence in that role than anyone they already have. While certainly not an offensive dynamo, he’s a capable two-way defender that can easily put up 25 to 30 points in a full season. He’d bring 389 games of NHL experience to the squad as Boston would look to extend their championship window.

Hanifin is rather pedestrian defensively but not anything terrible. Supporting him with a defensive stalwart in Carlo would be a beneficial coaching decision, as his play-driving is his strong suit. A Hanifin acquisition would give Boston two capable puck-moving defence pairings, re-solidifying their top-four ‘D’ as championship calibre. Hanifin could also slot in on the second power-play unit as well, assuming McAvoy slides onto the first power-play unit.

Nashville Predators

Rumour: Due to the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s ever-so-tricky cap crunch, The Athletic’s Adam Vingan theorizes that the Preds could put forth an offer sheet for RFA centre Anthony Cirelli

Analysis: So, no one told you life was gonna be this way Bolts fans?

A cursory look at Tampa’s CapFriendly page shows that they’re more than $1 million over the salary cap with a bare-bones roster and still Cirelli and Erik Cernak to sign. They’re running out of salary dumping moves they could make, and with every passing day, they seriously run the risk of losing Cirelli.  Teams could look at acquiring him for well under market value, with some estimates even south of a $5 million cap hit.

Nashville is a clear candidate to make this move, as evidenced by their cap space and draft capital. If they make this move, they could be acquiring the surprise first-line centre that Ryan Johansen never was. In his second full NHL season, the 23-year-old Cirelli posted 44 points in 68 games and finished fourth in Selke voting. Cirelli has no glaring holes in his game, as he’s a decent shooter but also plays on both sides of the puck. He’s effective on the power-play as well. Pairing him with some of Nashville’s more skilled sharpshooters in Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson could pay off in spades for the Preds. A Cirelli acquisition would also allow Johansen and Matt Duchene to receive more favourable matchups, improving their effectiveness. If Nashville wants to return to championship contention, this could be the move that does it.

Vegas Golden Knights

Rumour: On the latest episode of Insider Trading, the TSN panel discusses the prospect of the Golden Knights moving star forward Max Pacioretty.

Analysis: Like Tampa, the Knights are another team in a cap crunch that may force them to make some tough decisions. And while the pure shock value of the rumour may lead some to say “no way,” moving the man known as ‘Patches’ might not be the worst idea in the world.

There’s no denying Pacioretty was one of Vegas’ most important players last season, leading the team in goals (32). However, Pacioretty has seen his point and goal totals vary wildly over the past few years. Concerns about his consistency have been raised. And at age 32, Pacioretty is still under contract for the next three seasons at a $7 million cap hit. The last couple of years of that deal could pose problems for Vegas if Pacioretty truthfully starts to decline. It may not be the worst idea to get out from under the deal while the veteran winger still has trade value.

However, his departure would still leave a huge hole in the lineup as it stands. Next to Mark Stone, he was Vegas’ best forward last season. A beast in every zone and at every strength, his play and veteran leadership were crucial in guiding the Knights to their second Western Conference Final in their first three seasons as a franchise. It won’t be easy saying goodbye.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours stay tuned for another edition coming your way this week.

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