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NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Dustin Byfuglien's Contract, Braden Holtby's Future

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2020

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) stands on the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Though the 2019-20 NHL season remains on hiatus, teams will be planning for the offseason and how to improve for next year.

For several organizations, this could mean parting with stalwarts to make room for future contributors.

Here is a look at several players who will likely be on the move before the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

                          

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

For 15 years in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist has only played for one team: the New York Rangers.

The goalie has been as reliable as they come throughout his career, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12 while consistently ranking among the league leaders in shutouts, goals-against average and wins.

He hasn't been quite as dominant the past couple of years, however, starting in 2018-19, when he had a .907 save percentage and 3.07 goals-against average—the first time in his career he allowed more than three goals per game over the course of a season.

Lundqvist had more problems during his 30 appearances in 2019-20, with his 3.16 GAA and .905 save percentage being the worst marks of his career. It could signal the end of his time in New York.

"I expect Lundqvist to be bought out, with the Rangers going with an Igor Shesterkin-Alex Georgiev tandem in nets," Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported.

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Scott Burnside of The Athletic agreed, saying a trade is possible if the Rangers eat part of his remaining salary but that a "buyout is much more likely than a trade given the moving parts."

Lundqvist has one year remaining on his contract with a $8.5 million cap hit, per Spotrac, and he simply hasn't been worth the price as of late. Burnside listed the Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks as possible destinations for the 38-year-old.

                            

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

After missing the entire 2019-20 season, it appears Dustin Byfuglien has likely played his last game with the Winnipeg Jets.

The defenseman has one year remaining on his contract with a $7.6 million cap hit, per Spotrac, but he's likely to become a free agent soon.

"The players' association, the league, the player and the Winnipeg Jets are all aligned on the termination agreement, but it hasn't been executed yet," Darren Dreger of TSN reported.

It seems like a matter of time until he hits the open market. Byfuglien underwent ankle surgery in October, and the Jets announced he would miss the entire season in February.

Despite the lost year, the 35-year-old could be an impact player for a number of teams in 2020-21. Though he was at his best in 2009-10 when he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup with 16 points in 22 postseason games, he has been a reliable part of the Jets with an average of 45 points in his eight seasons since the franchise moved from Atlanta.

He also averaged at least 22 minutes of ice time per game in each season with Winnipeg.

If healthy, Byfuglien would be a useful addition for a contender next year.

                         

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Unlike the other players on this list, the Washington Capitals likely don't want to let go of Braden Holtby, but it might not be an option.

The goalie is a free agent this season and should be a hot commodity on the open market, which could hurt the Capitals' chances to keep him.

J.J. Regan of NBC Sports left no wiggle room when asked whether the hiatus could allow Washington to hold on to Holtby.

"No," Regan wrote. "With what money?"

The Capitals already have at least $7.8 million committed to each one of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson for the 2020-21 season, which could limit cap flexibility.

As Burnside noted, the Seattle expansion draft, set for 2021, could also cause problems because the Capitals wouldn't be able to protect both Holtby and promising youngster Ilya Samsonov.

Though going into next season with Samsonov as the No. 1 is risky for a Stanley Cup contender, the 22-year-old was a first-round draft pick in 2015 and has all the tools necessary to be a star in the NHL.

It could be enough for Washington to move on from Holtby despite his resume as a Vezina winner and Stanley Cup champion.

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