Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s NHL Rumours series. Training camps start today for seven of the NHL’s 31 teams, putting the 2020 in the 2020-21 season. However, many teams are still in the process of finalizing their rosters as they scramble to be competitive in this shortened season. With the addition of taxi squads and a flat cap added to an already challenging 2020-21 campaign, every minute decision matters now. The Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets are featured in today’s piece.
Rumour: Per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the Canadiens were aggressively pursuing Zdeno Chara this offseason. He signed a one-year deal yesterday with the Washington Capitals.
Told the @CanadiensMTL were trying to sign Zdeno Chara. He liked the way the team was build in MTL during the off season but decided not to play for a Canadian team because of issues related to COVID-19. His family will stay in Boston during the season.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) December 30, 2020
Analysis: Quite frankly, if made, this would’ve been a mystifying move for general manager Marc Bergevin and the Habs to make. While not elite, Montreal’s depth on left defence was already quite fortified. Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak, Joel Edmundson, and Victor Mete were all NHL bodies. None of them were going to be moved to the taxi squad, and neither was Chara if he was signed. With Montreal’s forward depth, it’s not like they were going to carry eight defensemen, either.
However, if the price on the deal was anything like what he received in Washington, it would’ve been an incredible value deal for Montreal. It’s not often you get to acquire the services of a man who’s tormented you for 14 years, and his leadership and aggression would have proved invaluable in mentoring young Habs like Alexander Romanov. But Chara’s concerns were definitely understandable, and he’ll instead get a chance to show what he can still do at age 43 in the capital of the United States.
St. Louis Blues
Rumour: Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest reports that the Blues and RFA defender Vince Dunn will have a deal done before the Blues’ training camp starts on January 3rd.
Some progress to report on the Vince Dunn contract talks. Looks like it’ll get done in time for him to be in camp. #stlblues
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) December 29, 2020
Analysis: After an offseason of uncertainty in NHL rumours, the Blues almost have all of their financial ducks in a row. After losing captain Alex Pietrangelo to free agency due to salary cap concerns, Dunn sat unsigned throughout the offseason. However, once news broke that Alexander Steen would spend the season on LTIR, and Vladimir Tarasenko would spend at least part of it there, they were given additional flexibility. According to CapFriendly’s Blues team page, the Blues have $13.25 in cap overhead that will sit on LTIR once Steen’s and Tarasenko’s contracts are put there. They’re already about $1.175 million over the cap, so they’ll have around $12 million to sign both Dunn and PTO addition Mike Hoffman to deals.
Many viewed the Blues as a lost or broken team after Pietrangelo’s departure. But the work of general manager Doug Armstrong has been redeeming. In Pietrangelo’s place, he’s been able to acquire both Hoffman and Torey Krug this offseason, adding scoring to a solid team that’s notably lacked it. Even with their star in Tarasenko still injured, the Blues could be back to contender status this season.
Rumour: Jets beat writer Mike McIntyre reports that Jack Roslovic has asked for a trade from the team. He is still an unsigned RFA.
Jack Roslovic will NOT be at #NHLJets training camp when it opens Sunday.
His agent, Claude Lemieux, tells me the 23-year-old restricted free agent is still in Columbus, awaiting either a trade or a new contract.
Quick story, more to come: https://t.co/CyMfWn1xn4
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) December 29, 2020
Analysis: It’s an ill-kept secret, especially in NHL rumours, that Roslovic hasn’t been happy with his time in Winnipeg. A first-round pick in 2015 (25th overall), Roslovic’s played in almost 200 games with Winnipeg but hasn’t unlocked his full potential, only scoring 67 points. Roslovic has always projected to be more than just a depth scorer and he still has that talent. However, Winnipeg’s coaching staff has neglected to give him opportunities higher in the lineup, stunting his growth, production, and market value.
Roslovic just wants a chance to be successful, which you can’t exactly blame him for. Many American teams could use his services higher in their lineup. Roslovic could play any forward position in a second-line role, realistically. His hometown Columbus Blue Jackets are still looking for scoring punch and could be a realistic destination in light of Gustav Nyquist‘s injury. Where Roslovic ends up remains to be seen, but it proves to be an interesting next few weeks for him.
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