NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2016
Latest on Brad Marchand, Evander Kane and Kris Russell in your NHL rumor mill.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently observed Brad Marchand’s performance with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey could make him more expensive for the Boston Bruins to re-sign. Marchand, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. While Marchand might not match last season’s career-high 37-goal performance, Haggerty believes he’s in fine form entering his contract year.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Stephen Whyno also noted Marchand’s strong chemistry with Pittsburgh Penguins center and Team Canada linemate Sidney Crosby at the World Cup of Hockey. Whyno wonders how well the two would mesh full time, noting Marchand’s UFA status next summer. If the Penguins ship out goalie Marc-Andre Fleury before next June’s NHL expansion draft, he believes that would free up sufficient cap space to sign Marchand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Whyno observes, Marchand and Crosby playing together full time with the Penguins is an intriguing possibility. However, it’s not a certainty.
Marchand is earning an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million. He could command over $6 million per season on a long-term deal. The Bruins have already signaled their intention to re-sign him and hope to do so as soon as possible, perhaps before the start of the upcoming season.
If Marchand hits the open market, the Penguins will have just over $50 million invested in 12 players (assuming they move Fleury and his $5.75 million annual cap hit) for 2017-18. More than enough to sign Marchand, However, they must also re-sign or replace goalie Matt Murray, defensemen Trevor Daley, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot, and forwards Nick Bonino and Conor Sheary. That’s assuming they don’t re-sign Chris Kunitz.
If all those players perform well this season, they’ll be in line for raises. If Penguins management decides to pursue Marchand, some of those players won’t get re-signed. Signing Marchand coud come at the cost of roster depth.
TSN 1040 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Asked about the trade status of Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, Pierre LeBrun expressed doubt that any club is interested in pursuing the winger at this time. He believes the Sabres’ best hope is Kane has a quiet year off the ice and improves his on-ice performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is currently facing misdemeanor charges for an incident in June in a Buffalo bar, and recently filed a countersuit against a woman who filed a civil suit claiming he assaulted her in a Buffalo hotel last June. No one’s pursuing a trade for him now. If Kane puts his legal issues behind him this season and plays well, that might bolster his trade value over the course of the season.
TSN 690 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): When asked if there’s a chance the Montreal Canadiens could sign UFA defenseman Kris Russell, Darren Dreger guessed that it’s possible, noting the Habs and the Toronto Maple Leafs had some interest in Russell leading up to the start of the UFA market on July 1. He believes Russell is getting closer to signing with a team, noting a few are still involved in the process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Oilers are rumored to be talking contract with Russell, and there’s speculation the Calgary Flames would like to bring him back. As for the Habs, if they trade Nathan Beaulieu for a left wing, perhaps they look at signing Russell. The Leafs reportedly didn’t make any contract offers to the Russell camp and supposedly don’t have any interest in him.