NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2018
Latest on the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE PREDATORS?
ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Nashville Predators second-round exit from the 2018 playoffs, Emily Kaplan feels they’re in good shape going forward if they stay the course. She suggests they re-sign restricted free agents Ryan Hartman and Juuse Saros and recommends they keep getting younger, including keeping an eye on prospect defenseman Dante Fabbro.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $67.5 million invested in 19 players, the Preds have more than enough cap space to re-sign Hartman and Saros and still leave some room for additions if required. I don’t expect any significant roster changes by the Predators this summer. Unrestricted free agents Scott Hartnell, Mike Fisher, Alexei Emelin and Anders Lindback aren’t likely to be re-signed.
They could avoid taking on an expensive, lengthy contract via free agency as they must ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign Ryan Ellis, Kevin Fiala and Colton Sissons by next summer. Pekka Rinne is also slated for UFA status next summer, but they could take a wait-and-see approach with the 35-year-old goaltender.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Noting Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s intention to have promising winger Daniel Sprong in the lineup next season, Jason Mackey wonders who could be moved out to make room for the youngster. He speculates Carl Hagelin or Conor Sheary are the most likely trade candidates. Hagelin has a year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $4 million, while Sheary is signed through 2019-20 at an annual average value of $3 million. Mackey considers moving Phil Kessel a less likely option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Kessel’s career-high 92-point season ensures his trade value is very high, those numbers are also good reason why the Penguins will keep him for another run at the Stanley Cup next year. I expect Hagelin or Sheary will be dealt this summer.
UPDATE ON THE BRUINS
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney intends to explore very option to improve his club this summer. Given the salary cap, he acknowledged it’s unlikely they can re-sign all their unrestricted free agents. Conroy doubts Sweeney will overpay to retain bottom-six forwards such as Riley Nash or Tim Schaller. It sounds as though the Bruins GM is interested in re-signing backup goaltender Anton Khudobin. If the Bruins pass on re-signing Rick Nash, they’ll have to find a top-six winger. It’s unlikely Brian Gionta or Tommy Wingels will return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $65.3 million committed to 17 players with all their core players under contract for next season. There’s sufficient room to re-sign Khudobin, restricted free agents Sean Kuraly and Matt Grzelcyk and leave sufficient space for an addition or two via trade or free agency. Khudobin’s expressed interest in returning with the Bruins so don’t be surprised if he’s re-signed. I doubt the other UFAs will be back.
Sweeney must also ensure he’s got sufficient room beyond next season, as Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato will be restricted free agents.