NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2019
Check out the latest on Artemi Panarin, Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee, Patrick Marleau, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
RANGERS WON’T GET INTO BIDDING WAR FOR PANARIN
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the New York Rangers will pursue left winger Artemi Panarin via free agency on July 1. However, they don’t intend to get into a bidding war for his services. A source told Brooks that if they offer a seven-year deal for between $11 – $11.25 million annually, they won’t go higher to increase or match other bids. The Florida Panthers and New York Islanders could also be suitors for Panarin, as well as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Brooks also reports the Rangers won’t sign support players for anything beyond two years. They’re also said to be interested in bringing Brian Boyle back to New York.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be very interesting to see how much Panarin gets on the open market. There’s talk it could be over $12 million annually on a seven-year deal. That’ll price him out of most markets this summer. The Panthers are the favorites to sign him and Bobrovsky on July 1.
KESSEL IN STANDOFF WITH PENGUINS MANAGEMENT?
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports sources claimed several teams remain interested in acquiring Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel. However, his unwillingness to expand his eight-team trade list is creating bad feelings within the Penguins organization and affecting their off-season plans.
Kessel’s off-ice behavior, which includes regularly visiting a Pittsburgh casino, is influencing some younger teammates like Jake Guentzel. He’s also had run-ins with head coach Mike Sullivan. Some also blame Kessel for adversely affecting Evgeni Malkin’s performance. However, Kessel’s supporters among management and the roster believe he’s being unfairly targeted for the Penguins’ problems.
General manager Jim Rutherford is said to be seeking a hockey trade for Kessel, which includes not taking back a lot of salary in return. That could also affect Rutherford’s efforts to move the winger. The Pens GM has received a couple of offers for defenseman Kris Letang but ownership doesn’t want to part with him or Malkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sources for this piece appear to be front-office types unhappy with Kessel’s refusal to expand his list of trade destinations. Perhaps they’re hoping this provides additional “motivation” for the winger to reconsider. That tactic, however, could backfire.
If Kessel sticks to his guns, and he has every right to do so under his contract, this situation becomes more toxic. It could also make it harder to move Kessel. The Penguins will seem desperate, reducing whatever leverage they could’ve had. It could also make potential suitors fearful of Kessel being a “bad influence” upon their rosters.
UPDATES ON PAVELSKI AND MARLEAU
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Ali Thanawalla cited The Athletic’s Craig Custance reporting the number of teams interested in Joe Pavelski is at “double-digits”. Pavelski met with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning this week. The Minnesota Wild are also rumored to be among the suitors.
Custance’s colleague Kevin Kurz took to Twitter yesterday saying there’s an “overwhelming sense” Pavelski won’t be returning with the San Jose Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks signing Erik Karlsson may have spelled the end of Pavelski’s tenure in San Jose. He wants a lucrative deal which they can’t afford now. This could be, as Kurz put it, the end of an era for the Sharks.
THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Patrick Marleau would like to return to the Sharks. The 39-year-old winger believes he has one good season left and would like it to be in San Jose, where he spent 19 of his 21 NHL seasons.
LEE AND ISLES TO PART WAYS?
TSN: In his updated list of this summer’s top UFAs, Frank Seravalli believes New York Islanders captain Anders Lee will be moving on via free agency. He believes the shift in the market means Lee stands to make more than what the Isles expected.
Citing what Mark Stone got with the Vegas Golden Knights (eight years, $9.5 million per season), Seravalli suggests Lee could get at least $7.5 million annually, perhaps more.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most reports out of New York suggested term, not dollars, was the issue. Lee wanted a seven-year deal from the Isles but they would only go as far as five years for the 29-year-old winger. Given their meeting with Artemi Panarin this week, it seems Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is preparing to find a replacement for Lee.
LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said he’s continuing to have “good dialogue” with Mitch Marner’s representative. He praised the pending restricted free agent and hopes to keep working toward an agreement. He’s also expressed interest in bringing back UFA defenseman Ron Hainsey. Meanwhile, the Leafs lack of blueline depth could mean Nikita Zaitsev stays put despite his trade request.
PANTHERS STILL SHOPPING REIMER
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers are still working hard trying to trade goaltender James Reimer. They’d prefer moving him rather than buying him out. “Reimer has two seasons left on his current contract at a $3.4 million cap hit.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The buyout period ends at 5 pm ET on Sunday, June 30. My guess is the Panthers could be forced to go that route. Teams seeking backup goalies could prefer more affordable options via the UFA market.
UPDATES ON BOYLE, JOHANSSON, AND TALBOT
Boyle camp I believe has heard from 5-6 teams and Edmonton is indeed one of them https://t.co/LlunbM2Cdi
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 28, 2019
Johansson was used at RW on the third line in the playoffs & on the Bruins’ PP.
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) June 28, 2019
Cam Talbot will be signing a 1 yr deal with the Calgary Flames https://t.co/K1TobUjXxK
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) June 28, 2019