In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news out of St. Louis when it comes to the future of Alex Steen. In Vegas, it sounds like the Golden Knights might be leaning towards a move with defenseman Deryk Engelland. Could the Calgary Flames see major turnover this season and will the Edmonton Oilers buy out James Neal?
What Will Happen with Blues’ Steen?
Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that recent rumors suggest the St. Louis Blues will buy out veteran forward Alex Steen in an effort to create salary space for pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo. Timmermann isn’t buying it.
Instead, he believes it’s more likely that Steen, one of the most popular players on the team and a leader as well, will retire at the end of this season. If so, that saves the Blues from having to make the unpopular decision to buy him out, or worse yet, saving them from the decision not to do so because of their loyalty to the player.
Everyone always wants to buy Steen out. The team loves him. The players love him. He’s a leader on and off the ice. For those reasons alone, it would be a very difficult thing for the team to do. A more likely scenario would be Steen retires after this season.source – ‘Quick Hits: Timmermann on the Blues’ Tom Timmermann – St. Louis Dispatch – 04/29/2020
Questions Surround Deryk Engelland
With so many blueliners in the system, there are real questions surrounding the future of soon-to-be UFA defenseman and team leader Deryk Engelland. SinBin Vegas’ Ken Boehlke suggests his time with the team could be over soon.
Despite praising Engelland’s leadership and dedication to the franchise, Boehlke points out that under new head coach Peter DeBoer, Engelland hasn’t exactly gotten opportunities. He’s played in only five games since DeBoer took over and was a healthy scratch in the team’s last 12 games (17 of 18).
DeBoer said about scratching the veteran:
Tough situation, veteran guy, we had to scratch him some games here recently before the pause. The messaging to me was ‘I just want to be a part of this. When you need me, let me know, and I’ll be ready to go.’ You can’t have enough of that and that’s what makes groups like this special.”
But, that may not be enough for Engelland to keep his job.
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Flames to See Huge Exodus of Players?
Scott Cruickshank of The Athletic recently took a look at which Calgary Flames players may leave the organization in the off-season. He noted all of T.J Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, Michael Stone, Cam Talbot, Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, and Sam Bennett could be on their way out. All but Bennett are unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
Cruickshank suggested the Flames should try to hang onto one Brodie or Hamonic, as well as retain one of Forbort or Gustafsson. He writes:
Of the fivesome, Brodie is coming off the best year. He can play both sides and both special teams. He’s a smooth-skating puck-mover. Hamonic — whose price of acquisition had been steep (one first-rounder and two seconds) — boasts a heart-and-soul, shot-blocking style. Forbort is an owly crosscheck-planting old-schooler, while Gustafsson, slick along the offensive blue line, is a power play whiz. Stone, who’d been bought out and re-signed for the league minimum last summer, is a Calgary resident who can handle depth duty.source – ‘Who stays, who goes? Analyzing the Flames’ roster for the 2020-21 season’ – Scott Cruickshank – The Athletic – 04/29/2020
He also notes that Mark Jankowski is also close to a lock to not return.
Maple Leafs Sign KHL Star
According to an official announcement from the Maple Leafs organization, the team has signed former Kontinental Hockey League defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to a one year contract.
The contract will be a one-year entry-level deal. Arguably the best defenseman out of the KHL, this is a huge get for the organization during a time they need to re-shape their blue line and on the cheap.
Oilers Likely to Buy Out James Neal
When asked if the Oilers should use a compliance buyout on James Neal — should the NHL permit it this coming season — Mark Spector of Sportsnet suggested the team would be wise to take advantage. It would be best for the Oilers to get out from under that contract ($5.75 million per season over the next three years.)
In fact, The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis goes one step further and suggests the team consider buying out Neal even if compliance buyouts aren’t offered to teams. The over $1.9 million in dead cap space over the next six years, would be acceptable with the uncertainty facing every NHL team coming out of the pause.
In a compliance buyout scenario that decision would be a no-brainer given his age, production and the length of his contract, but even under standard conditions there is an argument for it.”source – ‘If the Oilers need to clear money with a buyout, they have one real option’ – Jonathan Willis – The Athletic – 03/26/2020
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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.”