NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Doughty, Versteeg, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is talk the Montreal Canadiens might seize an opportunity this offseason to use their cap space while other teams struggle to fit in players,. Meanwhile, the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have lost out on a Russian player to the KHL and Drew Doughty comments on the odds NHL action resumes. Finally, a veteran forward announces his retirement.

Montreal Sees an Opportunity Few Other Teams May Have

Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic took a close look at the situation in Montreal and as the Canadiens plan for the offseason. In the past, the organization has resisted spending, but this season, with the salary cap potentially flatlining and with other teams struggling financially, it may benefit them to use this small window to pounce on trades and free agency.

Montreal Canadiens Marc Bergevin
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)

The team has flexibility this offseason and next and head coach Claude Julien dropped a hint as to what the Canadiens might be thinking. He explained:

“This is a question Marc (Bergevin) would probably be more comfortable answering than me, but I would say with the cap situation we have right now, we have cap space on our side. And I know if we were to ever run into a problem, there are many teams around the league who will have far more serious problems than we will. I’m thinking of teams who are at the cap right now and have much more difficult situations to manage. So, I think in our situation, where Marc has left the team with space under the salary cap, we’re in a good position.”

source – ‘ Why the Canadiens are positioned to take full advantage of a flat NHL salary cap’ – Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin – The Athletic – 04/07/2020

At the same time, Sportsnet’s Ryan Dixon wonders if the Canadiens might swap a forward, such as pending RFA Max Domi, for a defenseman if there’s a match out there this offseason. The salary cap situation for other teams means Bergevin may not need to move someone like Domi to make a trade like that happen.

Related: Islanders’ Denis Potvin: Overlooked Greatness

Konstantin Okulov to Sign in KHL

As per a report by Igor Eronko, Konstantin Okulov has turned down contract offers from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens in favour of re-signing a one year deal with CSKA Moscow of the KHL.

Chris Johnston of Sportsnet notes that next season, Okulov could re-examine that decision. Johnston states in a Twitter post:

Uncertainty around COVID-19 has given pause to some European free agents that intended to sign with NHL teams this off-season. They’re facing a long layoff if next season doesn’t start until November — which is why some, like Okulov, might choose to hold off until next year.

Doughty Doesn’t Expect NHL to Resume Play

As per a report on TSN Monday, often outspoken and 2016 Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty doesn’t like the chances of the NHL resuming play this season. The defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings said he’s doubtful this season will resume and doesn’t believe the NHL will even have a partial playoffs to hand out the Stanley Cup.

Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“Honestly, I don’t see how the season is going to return,” Doughty said during an interview. “I really don’t. We have no idea when this virus is going to be over.” Saying he doesn’t like the idea of awarding the games biggest prize without finishing the regular season, “I just don’t want things to go into next season and affecting those (games).”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman continues not to rule out a resumption of play, saying, “We’re exploring all options, but when we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,”

Related: Top 12 Fastest Skaters Ever in the NHL

Kris Vertseeg Officially Retires

Kris Versteeg has decided to hang up his skates after choosing to part ways with the Rockford IceHogs earlier this season. On Tuesday, the veteran forward officially announced his retirement.

Kris Versteeg Chicago Blackhawks
Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates with the Stanley Cup, June 15, 2015 (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Over the course of his NHL career, Versteed played in 643 regular season games. He recorded 358 points plus 48 more in 93 playoff appearances. He’ll be remembered as a key part of two Stanley Cup victories with the Chicago Blackhawks.

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