In today’s NHL rumor rundown, what is going on in the NHL that not one free agent has been signed in over a month? Is there another wave of deals coming? In Pittsburgh, Jim Rutherford believes that in-season trades could be tricky. What is he concerned about? Is there a trade option that could solve all of Tampa Bay’s financial issues available? One scribe thinks so and suggests it would be with the Detroit Red Wings. Finally, are NHL teams looking at outdoor games as a solution to fans in attendance issues?
Is There a Second Wave of Deals Coming?
Thomas Drance of The Athletic notes that it’s been over a month since the last unrestricted free agent signing — that distinction belonging to the Edmonton Oilers who signed Dominik Kahun. He cites agents who say the reason is the uncertainty surrounding the NHL right now.
One agent said, “We want to see what develops out of this. He added, “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to do something until we know what things look like.” Drance adds that at some point, when things are settled, there will be another run of trades and signings. He explains:
There is widespread anticipation that once the NHL and the NHLPA come to a revised agreement for the new season, a second wave of offseason activity will begin. This will have to be the case, it seems, since there’s a couple of teams that will need to clear cap space in trades just to be cap compliant. And, of course, there are some very good UFAs still unsigned.source – ‘‘There’s just no dance partners’: Why the NHL is in a major transactions pause – Thomas Drance – The Athletic – 12/02/2020
Names that could come off the board at the point are Mike Hoffman, Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry and Andreas Athanasiou, plus defense options like Zdeno Chara and Travis Hamonic.
Penguins Unlikely to Make In-Season Deals
Meanwhile, Penguins’ GM Jim Rutherford notes that he’s not sure there will be many deals during the season so his plan is to get things done with time to spare before the 2020-21 campaign gets under way.
Noting that quarantine rules between countries, states and provinces could change when a player becomes available after a deal, Rutherford notes, it could a be slow season for NHL trades. He said:
“It’s probably more like football than ever. It’s probably going to be more where you set your team and that’s going to be your team.”
Lightning and Red Wings Trade Partners?
The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek is piecing together a fit between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings, suggesting the two teams do business and the Lightning dump Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn to Detroit.
In a perfect world, I would try to move not just one, but two of the remaining contract headaches (preferably Johnson and Killorn) to Detroit, and be prepared to surrender both a first-round pick and a quality young player to get the Red Wings to bite. Detroit would probably jump on that deal if that quality young player were Cernak, who is highly valued around the NHL.source – ‘Duhatschek mailbag: Getting the Bolts cap compliant, Flyers for real, fire songs’ – Eric Duhatschek – The Athletic – 11/27/2020
He adds that Tampa has no desire to pay that high a price to move salary but they may not have a choice. He believes it would actually be easier for the Lightning to solve all their issues in one big pull-off-the-band-aid type move.
Essentially, what Duhatschek is proposing is Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Erik Cernak and a 1st round pick in exchange for nothing but future considerations.
NHL Teams to Pitch For Outdoor Games?
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet writes that there are potentially four NHL teams considering the option of playing games outdoors this season. He notes, “the Kings and Ducks are doing due diligence for somewhere down the road if they learned they would be allowed more fans at outdoor events than indoor ones.” He adds, that Boston and Pittsburgh are looking at things too.
The Bruins have looked into Fenway Park, while the Penguins have looked into both Heinz Field and PNC Park. In Boston, this is all in the “exploratory phase” as many venues are being considered.
Keep in mind, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had already noted it was not likely they would allow outdoor games as 2020-21 plans don’t “adequately take into account the costs associated.”
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”