NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2018
Latest on Matt Duchene and Sebastian Aho plus the Lightning are open to moving a defenseman in your NHL rumor mill.
DUCHENE’s FUTURE IN OTTAWA REMAINS UNCERTAIN
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie giving his take on Matt Duchene’s status with the Ottawa Senators on Ottawa’s TSN 1200. Duchene is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. McKenzie doesn’t think there’s been serious discussions between the two sides over how this situation could shake out. He expects the 26-year-old center will let this season play itself out and see if there’s any improvement in terms of the atmosphere around the Senators.
McKenzie feels it’s in Duchene’s best interest to play well in his contract year. He suggests there’s a difference in Duchene’s mindset compared to teammate and fellow pending UFA Mark stone, noting he played in a losing environment in Colorado and probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience in Ottawa.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene and Stone haven’t ruled out re-signing with the Senators, but the latter seems more keen on doing so. Still, a lot depends on the club’s performance in 2018-19.
A repeat of last season’s collapse and the toxic environment that came from that could make Duchene and Stone unwilling to invest long-term with the Senators. If they’re both reluctant to re-sign before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, they could be playing elsewhere before then.
HURRICANES HOPING FOR NEW DEAL WITH AHO
THE NEWS & OBSERVER’s Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon considers re-signing forward Sebastian Aho to a long-term contract extension to be a “high priority.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor but I can speculate over how much Aho could get. He had 24 goals and 49 points as a rookie in 2016-17, finishing second in team scoring. Last season, he was the Hurricanes’ leading scorer with 29 goals and 65 points. The 21-year-old could reach 30 goals and 70 points this season. He’s going to get a big raise on his next contract.
Aho is now in the final season of his entry-level contract. His his camp could be keeping an eye on what forward William Nylander eventually gets when he ends his contract standoff with the Toronto Maple Leafs and perhaps use it as a comparable. They could also have Edmonton Oilers’ center Leon Drasaitl’s eight-year, $68-million deal in mind.
LIGHTNING SHOPPING A DEFENSEMAN
THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports hearing the Tampa Bay Lightning are open to moving Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. “They’ve been calling other teams. One week until season opener, so should be interesting. The fact Cernak opened some eyes in camp gives TB another option.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek could be easier to move than Coburn. The former is a 24-year-old defenseman carrying a very affordable salary-cap hit ($865K) who’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. Coburn, on the other hand, is a 33-year-old blueliner with a $3.75-million cap hit and due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Lightning might prefer moving Coburn’s cap hit. As for a return, I don’t think new GM Julien BriseBois wants to take any significant salary back, preferring to leave cap space for possible moves later in the season.