Even as we approach mid-July, NHL rumours are still aplenty. Most top free agents are signed, however, there is still uncertainty surrounding some more veteran names and certain restricted free agents. Today we’ll look at rumblings that surround the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Minnesota Wild.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour 1: TVASports suggests seven targets that the Habs could go after with their cap space, including Nikita Gusev, Shayne Gostisbehere, Chris Kreider, and others.
Rumour 2: Another TVASports report delves into acquiring some Quebecois free agents that are still available: Jason Pominville, Derick Brassard, and Gabriel Bourque.
Analysis: Even as it stands, Montreal is probably a playoff team. What the Habs are looking for here is an insurance policy that could potentially help them fight for a top-three spot in the Atlantic. Montreal has about $4.84 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. That number could be increased by sending some players down to the AHL (Karl Alzner‘s name comes to mind). An acquisition on defense seems to be the smartest move here. A left side of Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, and Brett Kulak is okay, but the addition of a Gostisbehere or similar player makes that list look a lot more attractive.
In terms of the Quebec-born free agents, they each have their own merits. Pominville, while old, can still put up considerable production and would fit in well on their third or fourth line. Expect him to put up at least 20 points. In terms of Brassard, however, he would be a reclamation project for this team. He’s come a long way down since being a solid top-six forward for the likes of Ottawa and the New York Rangers, only tallying 23 points last year across three teams. Maybe playing in his home province would help him get his career back on track.
Rumour: NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty examines how the Bruins can make room under the cap to sign RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. He recommends dealing from their defense pool, as names like Kevan Miller and John Moore come to mind.
Analysis: According to EvolvingWild’s contract projections, it could cost slightly over $11 million to sign both McAvoy and Carlo. They’re currently sitting with $8.1 million in cap space, and just dealing one of Miller or Moore won’t clear enough. They can’t get traded until they’re healthy, considering they’re both injured at the moment. If that doesn’t happen, expect both defenders to start the season on long-term injured reserve. That’s Boston’s only option to be cap-compliant.
Boston has a luxury here, though. Even if their salary cap situation has forced their hand, they aren’t in that much of a hole. If they’re forced to deal Miller and/or Moore, they still have names like Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer that have both shown their capabilities. They also have young prospects like Urho Vaakanainen that could be ready to take the next step. Their blueline is far away from trouble.
Rumour: Blackhawks writer Michael Wagner reports that the Blackhawks are shopping both veteran centre Artem Anisimov and winger Brendan Perlini.
Interesting thing from last nights @MadhousePod, @JayZawaski670 mentions the Blackhawks are shopping Anisimov (no surprise) but also have been shopping RFA Brendan Perlini. Interesting, not sure the return on Perlini would be great but forward is becoming a logjam.
— Michael Wagner (@MichaelDWagner) July 10, 2019
Analysis: Anisimov has been nothing but solid at both ends of the ice since joining the Hawks in 2015, but as they transition towards a younger centre core that includes Dylan Strome and possibly Kirby Dach, there isn’t a whole lot of room for him anymore. He could net Chicago a nice return and open up some roster and salary cap space for the team.
Perlini is a bit more interesting. Perlini had 15 points in 46 games for Chicago. Consistency and all-around game have been two issues plaguing Perlini throughout his career. It seems Chicago wants to move on in order to free up some roster space for their own prospects. The fit just doesn’t seem to be there.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Michael Russo says that it appears that Jason Zucker is here to stay with the Minnesota Wild, after appearing in many trade rumours.
Analysis: Jason Zucker is a really, really good hockey player. This is not a bad thing for either party. Minnesota retains a (hopefully) more motivated Zucker’s services as they attempt to remain relevant, and Zucker stays in a community where he has built quite the following. Zucker should still be good for around 50 points, and hopefully he can invigorate surrounding pieces like Mats Zuccarello, Zach Parise, and Eric Staal as Minnesota attempts to finagle their way into the 2020 playoff field.
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