NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2019
A look at the top remaining UFAs plus updates on the Penguins, Golden Knights, Predators, Oilers, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT’S LEFT IN THE UFA MARKET?
SPORTSNET: Joe Thornton and Jake Gardiner are the notables among Luke Fox’s list of the notable remaining unrestricted free agents. Others include wingers Michael Ferland and Ryan Dzingel and defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m expecting Thornton will sign a one-year, bonus-laden contract with the Sharks. Fox noted the Montreal Canadiens had interest in Gardiner. However, they’re in a holding pattern awaiting the Carolina Hurricanes’ response to their signing Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet.
Fox also said there’s some buzz suggesting the Calgary Flames would like to bring back Ferland. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said he’s still seeking improvement on the right side of his forward lines. We’ll see if there’s a fit there.
COULD THE PREDATORS SHOP TURRIS?
OTTAWA SUN: After the Nashville Predators signed Matt Duchene yesterday, Bruce Garrioch speculates the Nashville Predators could try again to trade Kyle Turris. He said they attempted to move the 29-year-old center during the draft. Garrioch acknowledges moving Turris’ $6-million annual salary-cap hit won’t be easy. However, he believes there are teams in the Eastern Conference that might need help at center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not at $6 million per season. If the Predators want to trade Turris they could be forced to absorb part of his cap hit or include a good young player, a high draft pick, or a top prospect in the deal.
PENGUINS MUST SHED MORE SALARY
TRIBLIVE.COM: After the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Branden Tanev to a six-year, $21-million contract, Jonathan Bombulie believes they must shed more salary. They have only $2.3 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agents Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger to re-sign. Bombulie speculates a forward like Nick Bjugstad or Bryan Rust could become a cap casualty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rust’s name recently surfaced in Penguins’ trade rumors. The Penguins acquired Bjugstad last season and could be reluctant to part with him.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS SHOPPING GUSEV
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger reports sources claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are shopping the rights of winger Nikita Gusev. The Golden Knights hoped to sign the KHL winger to a contract but the two sides remain far apart. With limited salary cap space, they could be forced to move him.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson believes this will come down to how the Golden Knights view Gusev. If they feel he’ll become a top-six forward, they’ll sign him and clear cap space by moving another player like Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves or Nick Holden. Otherwise, they might be better off shopping him for high draft picks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev is a highly skilled forward in his playing prime who could quickly become an NHL scorer. If his asking price is too high (Granger said they’re about $2 million apart) for Vegas, trading him appears their only suitable option.
OILERS SEEKING A 20-GOAL WINGER
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports Oilers GM Ken Holland remains in the market for a 20-goal winger for his second line. He wasn’t keen to pay what many of the UFA wingers received yesterday during the opening day of the free-agent market. Holland also said he spoke with teams regarding winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who recently requested a trade. However, he hasn’t seen anything yet that makes sense for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space. Unless Holland swings a hockey trade that sees some salary heading out, he’ll be limited to bargain hunting in the UFA market.
LIGHTNING TO MOVE DOMINGUE
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s signing Curtis McElhinney means backup Louis Domingue is on his way out. GM Julien BriseBois said they’re working on trading Domingue sooner rather than later. Domingue has a year left on his contract with a $1.1 million cap hit.