NHL Rumours: Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome to a Sunday edition of NHL rumours! The season starts in just three short days and teams are busy finalizing rosters. That means plenty of activity to track by visiting Last Word on Hockey for the best news and analysis. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, and the Anaheim Ducks.

NHL Rumours

Washington Capitals

Rumour: Frank Seravalli of TSN recently indicated during an Insider Trading roundtable that Alex Ovechkin‘s pre-pandemic contract request was $12.5 million per year from the Capitals.

Analysis: Wow. $12.5 million for a player in their mid-30s would be incredible in the modern salary cap era. Only one player has a cap hit that large and that is Connor McDavid and he is only 23-years-old. The same amount of money for a player, even as one as good as Ovechkin, who is over a decade older is borderline insane.

And yet, who can honestly say the Russian wing hasn’t earned top money? He’s led the league in goals nine times in 15 years. He has been a perennial all-star candidate, won three Hart Trophies, and numerous other accolades. There is no question that Ovechkin is one of the best players in league history and has been worth every penny to the team that took him first overall in 2004.

It’s not as though Washington has a cap crunch after this season, anyway. The other most important pending free agents after 2020-21 are Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov. Yes, there are others like Conor Sheary and Zdeno Chara, but they are far from real obstacles when people are talking about the most important player in franchise history. Giving Ovechkin $12.5 million for several more years would only raise the team’s cap commitments to roughly $76.3 million. That should leave plenty of room to fill the remaining roster gaps assuming the cap ceiling doesn’t stay flat at $81.5 million. The Capitals will surely try to talk their leader down from his initial asking price, but he’s done everything to earn that money and more.

Dallas Stars

Rumour: A recent 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Stars made an effort to sign Erik Haula before he signed in late December.

Analysis: Haula might have not been a good fit in Dallas until Tyler Seguin suffered an injury that should keep him out long term. That opened up a spot on the team’s top-six that could have been perfect for Haula before he decided to sign a 1-year deal with the Nashville Predators. The Stars will instead rely on internal options to cover that spot.

Haula would have been a reasonably low-cost option if he had gone to Dallas. He scored 12 goals and 24 points in 48 games splitting time between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes in 2019-20. His 49.8 Corsi For and -3.7 Corsi For weren’t great, but his ability to grind would have worked well in Dallas’ system. They also would have benefitted from his above-average production on the power-play. Four of his goals and eight of the 24 points overall came with the advantage. That is something the Stars could have used while down a star to start 2020-21.

It’s unclear what Dallas will do to cover up some of its current roster gaps. The top line is especially weak without Seguin’s scoring ability. The Stars will likely try Roope Hintz as one possible option. The young Finn broke out last year with 19 goals and 33 points in 60 games. That is fine individual production, but it’s unclear how much chemistry he will have with his potential linemates. Life without Seguin is something to monitor as the season gets underway this month.

Anaheim Ducks

Rumour: The final NHL rumour for today takes us back to Insider Trading. Pierre LeBrun lists a number of teams, including Anaheim, that might make an offer for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Analysis: The Ducks would certainly accelerate their rebuild if they acquired Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 22-year-old’s production dipped in 2019-20, but he remains an intriguing top-six skater due to age and ability. He’d be an immediate centrepiece with the Ducks and take over one of the top two centre roles.

Dubois is talent enough to bring back significant assets in return. Columbus doesn’t have the deepest group of centres, so targeting someone like Sam Steel or Troy Terry would make perfect sense. The Blue Jackets’ return could be even better if they are willing to take back part of a big contract like Ryan Getzlaf. Anaheim might love the idea of moving their largest contract at a time when finances are allegedly very tight. The Ducks have a farm system with enough talent to make a major deal like this.

It’s safe to say that Dubois will go somewhere before his contract expires following 2021-22. He has very little leverage as a restricted free agent, but public discord isn’t something many teams enjoy. That includes an organization like Columbus, which has done a good job remaining competitive in a tough division. Their ability to make big trades has net them major contributors over the years. The Jackets might find themselves caught in the middle with Dubois, but moving him sets them up for further success. A trade with Anaheim sets both franchises up for long-term success.

That does it for the Sunday edition of NHL Rumours. Stay tuned for another edition on Monday.

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