NHL Rumor Mill – October 4, 2016
Latest on Nikita Kucherov and Kris Russel, plus an update on the Anaheim Ducks in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN 690 (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie looks at the potential cost to the Tampa Bay Lightning if restricted free agent right wing Nikita Kucherov signed an offer sheet with a rival club. Should the Lightning match, it would create a salary-cap nightmare for them, giving the Bolts limited cap space to re-sign Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat next summer.
The cost for a rival club signing Kucherov to a deal worth between $7-$7.5 million annually would be a first, second and third round pick. The Lightning would also have to shed considerable salary to become cap compliant before the season opens next week.
McKenzie also notes the rarity of offer sheets these days, in part because a team that goes that route could one day find themselves in the same situation as the Lightning right now. He also points out a number of teams already have limited cap room for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames have sufficient cap space to offer up a $7 million per season offer sheet to Kucherov. Of those clubs, the Panthers are well-stocked with scoring right wingers, the Oilers need blueline depth and the Jets, Sabres, Ducks and Flames have key RFAs of their own to re-sign. While the Hurricanes and Devils could certainly use a winger like Kucherov, they’re not expected to pitch an offer sheet to him or any of the other unsigned RFA forwards.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell and his agent overestimated this summer’s free agent market. With the start of the NHL season only a week away, Russell remains unsigned. Spector notes only 13 teams have more than $4 million in salary-cap space, and some of those (Calgary, Buffalo, Anaheim) still has prominent restricted free agents to re-sign. While Russell could end up signing with a club in the coming weeks, he won’t receive the same money that he might’ve gotten in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No question about it, Russell and his agent blew it. There’s talk the Flames want to bring him back, but that depends upon how much cap space they have left once they get young superstar winger Johnny Gaudreau under contract.
Of the teams that could afford Russell, rule out the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers, as they’re already deep on defense. The Stars have no interest in bringing him back. That leaves the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and maybe the Buffalo Sabres as possibilities.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford believes the Anaheim Ducks are primed to make a move. He notes RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell remain unsigned, NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire telling TSN 1040 last week the Ducks were in trade talks with an Eastern Conference team to unload a “significant salary”, the club giving plenty of preseason playing time to young blueliners Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson, plus the club’s already limited salary cap space.
With Lindholm expected to be re-signed, the Ducks could shed a blueliner. One possibility is Cam Fowler, who was linked this summer in trade rumors to the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. Simon Despres could be another option as he lacks a no-trade clause. Veteran Kevin Bieksa’s age (35) and no-movement clause makes him difficult to trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Buffalo Sabres were also very interested in Fowler back in June. I daresay the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers might be interested in him. Fowler would net the Ducks the best return, but the Ducks can’t afford to take on significant salary in return. Moving Despres and his $3.7 million annual cap hit through 2020-21 might be the better option. Trading Bieksa is possible, but also unlikely at this stage of his career.