NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2018
Reviewing Sportsnet’s recent update on this summer’s notable unsigned RFAs in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of this summer’s noteworthy unsigned restricted free agents.
Center William Nylander hopes to ink a long-term extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He said he intends to take it day-by-day and see what happens, adding he hasn’t thought about the possibility of still being unsigned when training camp opens next month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Still plenty of time for Nylander and the Leafs to reach an agreement. Still, if there’s no deal in place when the calendar flips to September, we’ll likely start hearing a lot more speculation over his status. Some observers suggest the Leafs trade Nylander for an upgrade on defense. His name could surface in the trade rumor mill if he’s not re-signed by the time training camp starts in mid-September.
The Detroit Red Wings and center Dylan Larkin are working on a five- or six-year contract. He’s confident he’ll be signed before training camp begins. The Wings only have around $2.8 million in cap space, meaning they’ll have to shed a salary after signing Larkin to be cap compliant when the season opens in October.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s talk Larkin could get between $5.5 – $6 million annually on his next contract. They’ll get over $3.9 million in cap relief by placing Johan Franzen on LTIR at the start of the season, but as Fox points out, they’ll still have to find a way to free up cap room before then.
Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving doesn’t foresee any difficulties getting recently acquired defenseman Noah Hanifin under contract. The club recently freed up salary-cap space by buying out winger Troy Brouwer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanifin is the Flames’ only remaining free agent. As per Cap Friendly, they’ve got over $7 million in cap room. The only sticking point here is how much he wants and how much (and for how long) the Flames are willing to pay. I’ve got a feeling he’ll get a long-term deal with an annual cap hit over $5.5 million.
Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill last week said there was no updates on forward Sam Reinhart’s contract situation. Reinhart’s name surfaced at times last season in trade rumors. Botterill doesn’t view re-signing the young forward as a difficult situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart exceeded 40 points in each of his three NHL seasons, but he tends to be a streaky scorer. That could lead to him getting a bridge deal.
Anaheim Ducks center Ondrej Kase is due a significant raise over last season’s $670K cap hit. The Ducks have around $8.7 million in remaining cap space with Nick Ritchie also to re-sign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing Kase gets a two- or three-year contract worth around $3 million per season.
With just under $5 million in salary-cap space, the Edmonton Oilers could be forced to go with a short-term deal for defenseman Darnell Nurse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a salary-dumping trade by the Oilers to clear more cap room, Nurse could end up with a two-year contract worth around $4 million annually with the promise of a lucrative long-term agreement down the road.
Fox wonders if Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey will accept a two-year bridge deal in hopes of landing a more lucrative deal after that.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That might be the best move for Morrissey and the Jets, who must also re-sign Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor next summer.
Barring a big trade, defenseman Shea Theodore should be a key part of the Vegas Golden Knights blueline for years. Theodore was mentioned as part of the rumored return in a proposed trade for Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, “but those talks have stalled if not disappeared.” Cap space isn’t an issue for the Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Golden Knights could still be interested in Karlsson, recent remarks by GM George McPhee about possibly adding a forward at some point during next season suggests his interests have changed. I also think McPhee is keen to retain Theodore, who should blossom into a reliable top-pairing rearguard.