NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Flames, Sharks, More

In today’s NHL Rumors rundown, how has Brent Seabrook handled being a healthy scratch the past two games? Plus, can the Calgary Flames extend defenseman Travis Hamonic during the season, and what’s the status of head coach Pete DeBoer after the San Jose Sharks’ slow start? Finally, what does the return of John Tavares and Zach Hyman mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Seabrook Upset with Being Scratched

In Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators, the Chicago Blackhawks scratched veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook for the second straight game. They lost 3-0 and allowed 51 shots on goal. The 34-year-old has struggled the past few seasons and only has one point in nine games in 2019-20 while averaging a career-low 17:39 of ice time. Him being scratched comes after he’s received criticism in recent years, much of which surrounds his contract that has four years left on it after 2019-20 with a $6.875-million cap hit and a full no-move clause through 2021-22.

After learning he was being scratched in last night’s game, Seabrook voiced his frustration in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Ben Pope:

I’m 34. You guys seem to want to write articles about my age and my speed. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer in this league and still be a good player for somebody.

from ‘ Brent Seabrook, scratched again by Blackhawks, vents about “tough situation,”‘ Chicago Sun-Times, 10/29/2019

As Pope points out, Seabrook’s inclusion of the words “for somebody” speaks volumes. Even through the criticism of his play, he had never hinted at waiving his no-move clause, yet “for somebody” makes it appear as though he would consider waiving said clause. However, even if he were to agree to a trade it doesn’t mean the Blackhawks would be able to move him. His cap hit, when combined with the contract’s remaining term and his age, make a trade unlikely, but not impossible. The Blackhawks would have to retain the maximum 50 percent of his cap hit, but even that may not be enough and they could have to add in a draft pick.

Brent Seabrook Blackhawks
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Look for the Blackhawks to do everything possible to trade him, though, because his contract is going to make life difficult for the team with the need to re-sign restricted free agents and the expansion draft looming in the coming years. Perhaps the team plays him more to prop up his value and show he can still play, but with the team trying to be competitive this season, playing Seabrook may not be in the team’s best interest for 2019-20.

Hamonic Not Willing to Negotiate Mid-Season?

On this week’s Insider Trading, TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke about the Flames and their pending free agent defensemen, T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic. Dreger reports that the Flames had discussions with Hamonic and his representatives over the offseason, but nothing came from them. Now, Hamonic has decided to not negotiate during the season.

Travis Hamonic Calgary Flames
Travis Hamonic, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If that is the case, general manager Brad Treliving could have a difficult path ahead. The Flames only have 11 players currently on their NHL roster who are signed through next season with only $22 million in cap space for 2020-21. Treliving may be forced to turn his attention to Brodie before circling back to Hamonic in the offseason. Another option, although unlikely considering the Flames are a Stanley Cup contender, is potentially trading Brodie or Hamonic in order to not lose either in free agency.

Are the Sharks Considering a Coaching Change?

It’s safe to say that the Sharks have not gotten off to the start they had hoped for in 2019-20. With a 4-8-1 record, they’re currently in seventh place in the Pacific Division and eight points out of first place. That naturally leads to speculation surrounding the job security of head coach Pete DeBoer. However, Pierre LeBrun doesn’t think there’s any reason to believe DeBoer is on the hot seat.

Not right now. In fact, if you look at (GM) Doug Wilson’s history, he doesn’t make coaching changes in the middle of the season. I know everyone is wondering about Pete DeBoer’s future.

Pierre LeBrun

LeBrun goes on to talk about Ron Wilson and Todd McClellan, DeBoer’s predecessors, and how both were let go over the offseason. Instead, LeBrun thinks that the Sharks’ problems are rooted in their top players under-performing. Specifically, he points out Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson, Martin Jones, and Timo Meier. Couture, Karlsson, and Meier have just four goals between them and the Sharks currently rank 23rd in goals scored.

San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer
San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Meanwhile, Jones, their starting netminder, is sporting an .890 save percentage (SV%), while his backup, Aaron Dell, isn’t much better, at .891. When combined, the Sharks are tied for the league’s sixth-worst save percentage, which is slightly better than last season when they were dead-last. It’s going to be a difficult problem to face, however, as the have just over $300,000 in cap space and a lot of long-term contracts given to aging veterans. Any substantial trade will require money being moved out.

Maple Leafs Getting Reinforcements

The last rumor involves the Maple Leafs and the return of forwards John Tavares and Zach Hyman. Tavares has been out several weeks with a broken finger and could be back in the lineup as early as this weekend. Meanwhile, Hyman has been recovering from an ACL injury and could still be a couple of weeks away. And while their returns will certainly boost a struggling Maple Leafs team that has started the season 6-5-3, moves will have to be made to create space for them.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Tavares is due to return to the lineup sooner and that Hyman’s return is the one that will force the front office to make moves. He suggests that the team will have to send three players to the minors to get them under the salary cap. Currently, the Maple Leafs have $217,000 in cap space and that includes Hyman’s $2.25 million on long-term injured reserve. And when he returns from injured reserve his contract will count against the salary cap, meaning they will need to create roughly $2 million in space. This means multiple players will have to be moved, with forwards being the most likely option since they only have seven defensemen on the NHL roster. Nic Petan, Jason Spezza, and Nick Shore seem to be the most obvious candidates.