We’re close to the start of the new season and the NHL rumours are flying. It’s a new year and teams are trying to set their rosters by the start of the season on Jan. 13. There’s intrigue with the flat salary cap and taxi squads this season. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and buyouts in the next off-season.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman was on Sportsnet 960 discussing the future of defenceman Noah Hanifin.
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) December 31, 2020
Analysis: Friedman addressed reports via The Athletic that the Boston Bruins are a suitor for the blueliner. He said that the Flames won’t just hand Hanifan over to a team for nothing. Freidman added that any package would make Calgary a better team and fans will understand why a trade was made. He said it may make sense for both teams to make a deal, but nothing is imminent.
The Boston native carries a cap hit of $4.95 million until the end of 2023-24 season. His modified no-trade clause starts with the 2022-23 season. Calgary is going to have to find money for restricted free agents like Sam Bennett, Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube in the next couple of seasons. The Flames currently have just over $223,000 worth of cap space.
Boston would love to bring home a player of Hanifin’s stature back to his hometown. He played his college hockey with Boston College of the NCAA and played his formative years in the Bay State. However, the Bruins are usually up against the cap and would have to move things around before discussions go any further.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumour: Joe Smith of The Athletic stated that the Lightning might be in the market for a depth defenceman, but it won’t be free agent Sami Vatanen.
There have been several teams interested in UFA defenseman Sami Vatanen, but I’m told #tblightning isn’t one of them. Still think Tampa Bay could look to add NHL-ready depth on blueline, even if for taxi squad/Syracuse
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) December 28, 2020
Analysis: Tampa Bay has managed to ink many of their key stars like Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak to deals despite the cap hell that awaited them. However, they had to use long-term injured reserve and will be without Nikita Kucherov. Smith’s report stated the Lightning are in the mix for a defender with experience. However, it won’t be the Finnish blueliner.
Tampa does face an interesting situation as the AHL will have to decide who is in or out this season. The Lightning’s AHL affiliate is the Syracuse Crunch and New York has some of the tighter restrictions in the wake of COVID-19. This could leave some of their defenders in limbo without an AHL team to develop players. The taxi squad will be a boon to the cap-tight Lightning and they can keep an NHL-ready body close by in case of injury.
Rumour: Dan Rosen’s NHL.com mailbag said that buyouts may not be used as much in the next off-season.
Toews and the Blackhawks and their injuries plus comments on the North Division, a potential future Rangers captain, some protocols for officials this season and so much more in my weekly #OvertheBoards mailbag:https://t.co/JiAwLrHRQu
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) December 30, 2020
Analysis: Rosen points to the upcoming expansion draft with the Seattle Kraken in this coming off-season as a chance to get some breathing room. All teams but the Vegas Golden Knights will lose a player to Seattle and that will give them some space.
Buyouts are also dead money and costly in actual dollars. A percentage of that cap charge will stay on the books and the player may eventually play against a team. Teams this off-season may prefer to waive a veteran player and have them go to the AHL or the taxi squad for this season. A team pays the AHL salary for anyone on the taxi squad and that can also save some space.
Clubs can also trade to others with cap space, but that is costly in terms of draft picks. The Ottawa Senators managed to get a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft for taking on Braydon Coburn and Cedric Paquette. Cap compliance is a costly venture in this flat cap era.