In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois still thinks he’ll get Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak under contract. Why is he so confident considering the Lightning’s cap situation? In Edmonton, one scribe looks at how good Connor McDavid is going to be and what that means for a second big contract in Edmonton. What’s next for the New York Islanders? Does Johnny Boychuk’s retirement mean a Mathew Barzal deal is imminent? Finally, are there any updates on Zdeno Chara’s situation in Boston and what’s going on with Hockey Canada after the positive COVID-19 cases?
Lighting Plan to Make Trades to Clear Space
After signing Mikhail Sergachev to a three-year contract on Wednesday, Julie BriseBois remains confident he’ll get restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak under contract, even though the team is now above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.9 million.
BriseBois noted that he’ll be moving players to free up the cap space he needs, saying, “There’s a lot of progress being made. We’re working on a bunch of different fronts, there’s a lot of balls up in the air. Nothing has materialized yet.”
Joe Smith of The Athletic writes:
That the Lightning officially signed Sergachev is a good sign that BriseBois has a move in place or in the works to clear some cap room. For what it’s worth, it’s been pretty quiet on the Johnson front.source – ‘How Lightning deal with Mikhail Sergachev got done: ‘I want to retire in Tampa’ – Joe Smith – The Athletic – 11/25-2020
NBC Sports contributor Adam Gretz also listed Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat as Lightning trade options.
McDavid Has Yet to Hit Peak Seasons
Allan Mitchell of The Athletic took a closer look at Connor McDavid’s contributions in Edmonton so far in his still early career and noted that despite his already huge production, McDavid just keeps improving and is only scratching the surface of his “peak seasons” as a player.
Mitchell writes that he expects McDavid’s peak will bring with it “shock and awe” and that the next three seasons will be scary for the rest of the NHL. It will also mean that the Oilers need to be ready for what it’s going to cost to keep him on a new contract in 2025. Mitchell writes:
McDavid will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2025-26 campaign. At that point in his career, we should see him delivering 100 points in an 82-game season, meaning his third NHL contract has the potential to be earth shattering.
Mitchell also suggests that if McDavid can stay healthy, he is going to reach the heights of all-time NHL scorers.
What’s Next for Islanders After Boychuk Retirement?
With the news on Wednesday that Johnny Boychuk is now officially retiring from the NHL, NBC Sports Adam Gretz writes that the path is now much clearer when it comes to getting restricted free agent Mathew Barzal signed.
The Islanders now have $3.9 million in cap space but can exceed the $81.5 million cap by the equivalent of Boychuk’s $6 million annual average value. That should be enough to get Barzal done. From there, the Islanders might be able to start officially signing some of the players that are pending such as Matt Martin, Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider.
The other concern for the Islanders is now what to do about their blue line. They were already forced to trade Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche. Might losing two blueliners make adding another defenseman a priority? UFA options include Zdeno Chara, Sami Vatanen, Ben Hutton or Slater Koekkoek.
Bruins and Chara Update
We’ve kept a close eye on the situation in Boston when it comes to defenseman Zdeno Chara. The latest comes from Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com who says the belief is still that Chara to the Bruins is a deal that will eventually get done, but the confidence level has lessened lately. If Chara is ok with whatever format the NHL chooses to move forward with, he’ll play a reduced role on the team.
Chara has received interest from other teams and there is still a chance he signs elsewhere, but the buzz is that if he does play, it will be with Boston.
Hockey Canada Selection Camp Suspended
The World Junior Championships are hopefully not in jeopardy, but things took an unfortunate turn on Wednesday when the WJC camp for Team Canada was shut down thanks to close contact with positive cases of COVID-19. The team has been forced to quarantine for two weeks.
Hockey Canada released a statement about the situation saying:
Hockey Canada has confirmed that all players, coaches and staff are considered close contacts and are therefore subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period under Alberta Health Services’ Order 05-2020. Hockey Canada will continue to abide by all protocols and guidelines set forth by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, as it is not exempt from Order 05-2020, and will put a pause on all camp activities until the quarantine period is complete.
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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.”