Can’t get enough NHL rumors? Lyle Richardson’s weekly Rumor Roundup column serves as a one-stop guide to the latest rumblings around the league.
As the NHL trade deadline approached, Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty was among the notable players in the rumor mill. While the deadline passed with Pacioretty still in Montreal, the 29-year-old captain faces a murky future.
Following the Feb. 26 deadline, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Pacioretty was linked to the Kings, Wild and Panthers. While there was undeniable interest in the five-time 30-goal scorer, the asking price was high. It’s believed the Canadiens sought Tyler Toffoli from the Kings, Charlie Coyle from the Wild and Vincent Trocheck from the Panthers.
With the Kings, Wild and Panthers jockeying for playoff positioning, their unwillingness to part with such key players at the trade deadline was understandable. It’s obvious, however, the Canadiens want a scoring forward as part of any future deal for Pacioretty, who’s now sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Pacioretty has a year remaining on his contract. He carries an affordable $4.5 million salary-cap hit and lacks no-trade protection.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin can afford to be patient and revisit the winger’s value in this summer’s trade market. By then, there will be more teams flush with extra salary-cap dollars potentially willing to meet his asking price.
Mike Hoffman could remain on trade block
For much of this season, Senators winger Mike Hoffman was a fixture in the NHL rumor mill. With the Senators expected to rebuild this summer following a disappointing performance, the 28-year-old forward could attract interest this summer from clubs seeking scoring depth for next season.
Hoffman is poised to exceed 20 goals and 45 points for the fourth consecutive season. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual average value of over $5.18 million and a limited no-trade clause.
Last week, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Boruk reported the Flyers expressed interest in Hoffman before the trade deadline. However, the asking price of defenseman Travis Sanheim and a first-round draft pick proved too expensive. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reported the Blues also pursued Hoffman. Other clubs linked to the winger included the Flames, Oilers and Sharks.
Considering how many teams at various times kicked the tires on a Hoffman trade, one or more could revisit their interest this summer.
Will the Capitals pursue a defenseman?
It will be worthwhile keeping an eye on the Capitals in the offseason. They could be in the market for a top defenseman via trade or free agency.
Last week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told NHL Network he believed the Capitals attempted to acquire blueliner Ryan McDonagh prior to his trade to the Lightning. He also thinks they inquired about Senators star Erik Karlsson. Given the Capitals’ limited salary-cap space, Friedman wasn’t sure how they could’ve pulled off a deal for either player. Still, he felt they at least tried.
Adding McDonagh or Karlsson would’ve bolstered Washington’s Stanley Cup hopes this season. Both, however, were out of the Capitals’ reach.
The Lightning paid a considerable price (a roster player in Vladislav Namestnikov, two draft picks — including a first-round selection — and two prospects) to pry McDonagh and winger J.T. Miller away from the Rangers. The price tag for Karlsson (rumored to be between five-to-seven assets, or a more affordable deal if winger Bobby Ryan was part of the trade) was far too costly.
The Capitals must also consider the status of John Carlson. The 28-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and will seek a considerable raise over his current annual cap hit of $3.96 million.
Carlson is the Capitals’ only core player eligible for free agency this summer. Should he decide to test the market, they’ll need a suitable replacement as soon as possible. While McDonagh’s out of the trade market, perhaps they’ll circle back to their interest in Karlsson.