NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2016
Latest on Nikita Kucherov, Hampus Lindholm and Jaroslav Halak in your NHL rumor mill.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Lightning restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov won’t report to training camp until he’s signed a new contract. GM Steve Yzerman said this was simply part of the process, adding he has no intention of trading Kucherov.
The Lightning currently have between $5 – $5.5 million in cap space. Yzerman said whatever Kucherov’s contract ends up being will determine how much cap space the Bolts might have to clear.
Jones specuates Yzmerman could move another salaried player to make room for Kucherov’s new deal. He doesn’t anticipate this contract standoff to last for long. Jones also wonders if Kucherov might accept a short-term bridge deal with plans to hit a bigger payday later.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s anticipated Kucherov could seek a long-term deal worth at least $6 million per season. Even if he agrees to a bridge deal for $5 million per season, it won’t leave the Bolts much cap space for the upcoming season.They will get some short-term cap relief by placing sidelined winger Ryan Callahan ($5.75 million) on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll have to clear some cap space when he returns in late-November. Smith has suggested center Valtteri Filppula or defenseman Jason Garrison as possible trade candidates. Both carry no-trade clauses.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens reports Anaheim Ducks RFA defenseman Hampus Lindholm won’t report to training camp until he’s got a new contract. Lindholm’s agent, Claude Lemieux, sees his client as comparable to that of Florida Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad, who recently signed an eight-year contract extension worth $7.5 million per season. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Lindholm camp seeks at least $6 million annually, perhaps even as high as $6.5 million. The Ducks prefer something between $5 – $5.5 million per season. A two-year bridge deal currently isn’t up for discussion.
The Ducks also face a contract impasse with winger Rickard Rakell, who’s reportedly seeking a six-year, $24 million deal. While Rakell also hasn’t reported to training camp, negotiations between the two sides are believed to be making some headway.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $7.5 million in cap space, the Ducks will have to shed salary even if they get Lindholm to accept $5 million per and Rakell to accept less than $4 million per season. This will only heighten speculation that Cam Fowler ($4 million cap hit) will hit the trade block in the near future.
NEWSDAY: Responding to a reader’s question regarding the New York Islanders goaltending for the upcoming season, Arthur Staple thinks management has changed its mind over trading Jaroslav Halak following his superb performance for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey. He suspects they could once again start the season carrying Halak, Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Halak’s ability isn’t in question, but rather his injury history. When healthy, he’s a solid, reliable starter. If they’ve changed their minds about moving Halak, they’ll have to deal with that logjam between the pipes again.