NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2019
Updates on Mikko Rantanen, Justin Faulk, and Rasmus Ristolainen in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: cited The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark reporting “it is understood” the Colorado Avalanche are looking at signing Mikko Rantanen to a six- to eight-year contract worth between $8.4 million and $8.75 million.
On Thursday, Pierre LeBrun reported the Avs made a long-term offer to the 22-year-old winger earlier this month but there’s been little progress since. LeBrun said the Avalanche are unwilling to pay Rantanen a deal comparable to Mitch Marner’s six-year contract ($10.9 million annual average value) with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Some observers wondered if Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen might attempt to sign Rantanen to an offer sheet. LeBrun doubts that will happen. While the Jackets have plenty of cap space, the Avalanche have much more and would easily match it.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW’s Adrian Dater subsequently took to Twitter citing Rantanen’s agent, Mike Liut, calling reports about a possible deal between $8.4 to $8.75 million “inaccurate.”
Dater reports the Rantanen camp seeks around $9.5 million annually. He believes something “like a five-year, $47.5 million offer would close a deal right now. Or, a two-year, $19 million offer would close a deal right now. Or a three-year, $28.5 million offer would close a deal right now.” Beyond five years is harder to nail down.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs could be trying to keep as much long-term cap space open as possible for other significant signings (Gabe Landeskog, Cale Makar, Tyson Jost, Nikita, Zadorov, to name a few) over the next two years. Maybe the two sides will agree to something closer to $9 million than $9.5 million.
Don’t expect anyone to try and offer sheet Rantanen. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $15.6 million in cap space, more than enough to match an offer right now.
FAULK AND RISTOLAINEN
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported it’s widely known Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is available while the Buffalo Sabres are listening to offers for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, who would apparently welcome a change of scenery.
A potential trade that would’ve sent Faulk to the Anaheim Ducks fell through. Sources claim the Ducks checked in with the Sabres on Ristolainen but the asking price was high. Given the Winnipeg Jets’ depleted blueline and uncertainty over Dustin Byfuglien’s future, it would make sense for them to be monitoring Faulk or Ristolainen.
LeBrun also noted the Columbus Blue Jackets could be moving a defenseman in the coming weeks. He speculated left-side blueliner Ryan Murray and right-side rearguard David Savard would attract the most interest. One source recently said the Florida Panthers could be in the market for a left-side shutdown d-man but it’s not an urgent need.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the trade speculation swirling around Faulk, he told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti he’s blocking out the rumors and preparing for the upcoming season as a member of the Hurricanes. It could take time to move Faulk but I think he’s aware his days are numbers in Carolina. Much will depend upon whether the Canes can get a decent return and their own blueline depth.
Same goes for Ristolainen. If Bradon Montour’s recent hand injury turns out to be more serious than expected, Ristolainen won’t be going anywhere for a while.