NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2017

by | Jul 29, 2017 | Rumors | 15 comments

Can the Detroit Red Wings afford to bring back Thomas Vanek?

Another look at Sportnet’s list of the top-10 remaining UFAs in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: With defenseman Andrei Markov heading to Russia, Luke Fox recently updated his list of the top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. Left wing Thomas Vanek tops the list. He’s been in touch with the Detroit Red Wings but they must re-sign restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou first and have limited salary-cap space. 

Forwards Jaromir Jagr and Mike Fisher are second and third on the list. The 45-year-old Jagr recently skated with his hometown club of Kladno and still believes he can play in the NHL this season. As for Fisher, the Predators hope to learn more about his future plans next week. The 37-year-old could return with the Preds for one more season or opt for retirement. 

Puck-moving defenseman Cody Franson was linked to the Chicago Blackhawks as a possible tryout candidate in September. The New Jersey Devils need  blueline depth but reportedly aren’t interested in the 29-year-old Franson.

Earlier in July, there was reportedly mutual interest between winger Drew Stafford and the Minnesota Wild but they must first re-sign RFAs Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Marcus Foligno. The Boston Bruins also had some interest earlier in the month. 

Aging forwards Brian Gionta, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan haven’t ruled out playing next season. Iginla and Doan, as well as Fisher, recently received invitations to join Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team if they don’t land NHL contracts for 2017-18. Doan’s agent said he’s spoken with four or five NHL teams but declined to name them. 

Former LA Kings forward Andrei Loktionov is returning to the club on a professional tryout offer. Center Matt Cullen is pondering his future. The 40-year-old could retire but it’s also possible he could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Minnesota Wild also expressed some interest in signing him. So far, he’s yet to reach a decision. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much change in the status of these players since the last time Fox updated this list. Many of these players could be waiting until September to secure NHL contracts, especially older guys such as Jagr, Iginla, Doan and Gionta. As for Fisher, he’ll likely retire if he doesn’t sign with the Preds. Given his personal ties to Nashville, I don’t see him signing elsewhere. 

The Wings will be under the cap by around $900K once they place Johan Franzen on injured reserve. If defenseman Ryan Sproul (knee) joins him, that’s an additional $600K. However, that won’t be enough to re-sign Athanasiou, let alone to bring back Vanek. 

Some observers are surprised Franson hasn’t signed  yet. Perhaps he’s hoping to land with the Blackhawks via tryout. If Cullen decides to return to the Penguins they’ll still need to pursue a decent third-line center. Given Cullen’s age, I don’t see him filling that role.

The Wild could sign Cullen or Stafford, but that’ll depend upon how much cap space they’ve got left once Niederreiter, Granlund and Foligno are under contract. They’ve got over $15 million in cap space, but new deals for those three will eat up most of it.

Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Will Butcher could soon be added to Fox’s UFA list. The 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner intends to test the market on Aug. 15. The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports a source said the Detroit Red Wings will pursue Butcher. Custance also lists the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks as potential suitors. Others could include the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. 



  1. Very surprised nobody signed Markov. He must have been firm on his $$$ demands, I don’t know what he got in the homeland.

    • Don’t forget the chance to represent his country at the Olympics, and most likely win gold. I’m sure that played a role in his decision.

      • Are you saying Russia will most likely win gold? Lol maybe if Canada the US and Sweden are disqualified! Russia has looked horrible in the last while at international play.

      • He also said he talked to a couple teams but couldnt see himself playing on another nhl team other then the habs

      • Actually Noel yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. With all the talent that Russia has in the KHL and the fact that Canada, Finland and Sweden’s best players are in the NHL. Russia has got to be the favorite going into the tournament.

        Plus I’d say there is a decent chance that some other players from the NHL join them with the way guys like Ovechkin and Malkin are talking. You know damn well no Canadian will do that.

        I’ll obviously be cheering for Canada all the way, but I can separate my mind from my heart.

      • Also Noel, you can’t compare this Olympics to last few cause its not a best on best tourney, its a best of the rest. So its a moot point how Russia has fared in the past.

      • Actually you can say the same about Russia’s best – they, too, are all in the NHL. The KHL is chock-a-block full of quasi-AHL calibre players. The country I’d watch closely is Switzerland.

        But speaking of “moot” – with that wing-nut in North Korea rapidly testing ICBM capability, and estimated to have one capable of reaching all the way to Chicago by next year, the LAST place I’d want to be is at the Olympics in South Korea because that’s just the world-wide attention that screwball could take advantage of with his missiles.

      • Can’t say I care one bit about the Olympics. World Juniors has become much more entertaining than the “O” could ever hope to be.

      • I’ll take the Olympics of the Jr’s. I prefer to have the best on best at it’s highest caliber. Unfortunately that won’t be this Olympics.

      • Why not stock Team Canada with the best juniors mixed with some select seasoned players available currently playing in leagues like the Swiss or Swedish Elite?

      • Last time canada won gold with out professionals from the NHL was 1952. Yeah so i wouldnt cout on us be favourites. I believe 1998 was when nhl talent joined the olympics and 2002 was win canada got their first gold since 52. But need to check. Correct me if im wrong.

  2. Why don’t old over the hill players just not go away quietly?
    Anybody else sick of these has beens in the news?

    • Nope. I l9ve me a hasbin.

  3. Maybe the NHL can set up a Seniors league ala the PGA.

  4. League name of course is HOCKEY