Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 30, 2017
Latest on the Lightning, Canadiens, Bruins and Avalanche in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks points out Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov will have the hammer in his next round of contract talks with Bolts general manager Steve Yzerman. Kucherov is entering the second year of his three-year deal worth over $4.7 million per season.
Brooks believes the sniper will more than double his money next time around, when he’ll be a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility and holding salary arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a rumor but it is something worth noting for next summer. That’s when the Lightning will be able to open contract extension talks with Kucherov.
Kucherov led the Lightning in goals (40) and points (85) last season. Another performance like that in 2017-18 and he’ll be in line for well over $8.5 million, which is the current annual salary-cap hit of team captain Steven Stamkos. Should Kucherov outperform Stamkos, his agent could seek around $10 million annually.
Yzerman, however, has proven a master thus far at getting his best players to accept less than market value. Wouldn’t surprise me if he manages to get Kucherov to accept $8.5 million annually on a seven- or eight-year contract by front-loading the deal.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton observes the Montreal Canadiens might be unable this coming season to adequately replace departed defenseman Andrei Markov. Despite his age, the 38-year-old blueliner was second to Shea Weber among Habs defensemen in points last season and remained an effective puck-moving rearguard.
There’s not much help for the Habs via free agency. The notables include Cody Franson, Eric Gelinas and aging d-men such as Dennis Wideman, Fedor Tyutin and Francois Beauchemin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have over $8 million in salary-cap space if they wish to add another experienced defenseman. But as Clinton notes, there’s not much left via free agency.
Forward Alex Galchenyuk was often mentioned last month as a trade candidate, but moving him for a top-four blueliner would hurt their already thin offense. Their best bet could be targeting teams with limited salary-cap space, such as Detroit and Washington, but those clubs don’t have much to offer that could significantly help the Canadiens blueline.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty notes there will be plenty of interest in 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency on Aug. 15. While he expects teams such as Detroit, Pittsburgh and Toronto to pursue Butcher, he doesn’t think the Boston Bruins need another undersized, unproven youngster on their blueline. He points out the Bruins are already well stocked with promising d-men.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Unless the Bruins decide to trade someone like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in a package deal for another scoring forward (and I don’t see that happening), I don’t believe they’ll get into the bidding for Butcher.
BSN DENVER: In a recent mailbag segment, Adrian Dater cast doubt on the possibility of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov heading to the KHL next season. He points out there isn’t much difference between Zadorov and the Avs in contract talks. “I’m told Zadorov is looking for $2.75 million to $3 million per year on his next deal. I’m told the Avs are offering about $2 million,” writes Dater.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not much of a gap to close between Zadorov and the Avs. He gave the club until the end of this month to come up with an offer he considers worth signing. I can see them agreeing to around $2.3 million annually.