In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on two major names in Washington where the Capitals will have some big decisions to make, news on Matt Hunwick’s season in Buffalo and how it might affect another defenseman, and an update on the potential re-opening of the CBA by the NHL and the NHLPA. Finally, are the Montreal Canadiens done making moves? The coach doesn’t seem to think so.

Capitals Plans for Backstrom and Holtby


Tom Gulitti of NHL.com writes that the Washington Capitals have preliminary contract plans for both Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby and the organization will start talking to them in September.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 11: Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) warms up prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings on December 11, 2018, at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In Backstrom’s case, he’s said he’d like to stay in Washington for a couple more seasons. The team also knows they don’t have a replacement. In Holtby’s case, the team has options with Ilya Samsonov eventually ready to take on the role as the future No. 1 goaltender. For the Capitals, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to salaries.

Addressing the fact Capitals are currently over the salary cap ceiling, GM Brian MacLellan said:

“I think we’ll probably have to move someone. Injuries and all the stuff that happens in training camp and exhibition season probably dictates it a little bit, but we’re going to be patient. We’re not in a rush. We’ll wait and let it play itself out.”

Meanwhile, Holtby says he doesn’t want to go anywhere. “This is all I know here,” Holtby told NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday. He added, “I’d love [to re-sign]. I think that’s pretty clear.”

Related: Washington Capitals’ 50-Goal Scorers

Hunwick Out for Full Season?


GM of the Buffalo Sabres Jason Botterill has issued the following statement today in regards to defenseman Matt Hunwick:

“After further medical evaluation this offseason, we unfortunately do not expect that Matt will be physically able to play this upcoming season due to a neck condition.”

Buffalo Sabres' Matt Hunwick and Columbus Blue Jackets' Markus Hannikainen
Buffalo Sabres’ Matt Hunwick and Columbus Blue Jackets’ Markus Hannikainen (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Hunwick being on long-term injured reserve does change the optics of the Sabres salary cap a touch and might affect the desire to move a defenseman like Rasmus Ristolainen now.

Related: NHL Players Are Planning for a Lockout

NHL To Decline Option to Re-Open CBA

Pierre LeBrun writes on Twitter that the NHLPA executive board will be meeting next Wednesday to talk CBA items. Among the items to be discussed is the September 15th deadline that allows them to opt-out of the CBA for 2020. The NHL side has until Sunday to opt-out.

LeBrun notes that both the NHL and NHLPA have spoken numerous times this offseason about the next CBA and Darren Dreger adds that the expectation is the NHL will announce in the next day or two their desire to decline re-opening the CBA.

Montreal Canadiens Not Done Adjusting Roster?

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien suggested that the team may not be done tinkering with their roster. He told Sportsnet’s Eric Engels that there are still some things being discussed and accordingly, he didn’t want to anything except let media draw their own conclusions at this time. 

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien
Canadiens head coach Claude Julien (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)


Julien’s lack of detail has led some to believe Montreal has something cooking and another move is coming. Montreal has a good chunk of cap space to make one or two more moves and if they clear out a contract (they are at 48 out of 50) they could realistically add one or two more pieces.

Related: NHL Rumors: Markov, Ehlers, Blue Jackets, Oilers, More