NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2019
Updates on Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Dustin Byfuglien in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Bob McKenzie doubts Brayden Point’s new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning will affect the negotiations of Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk, and Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. Point signed a three-year deal yesterday with an annual average value of $6.75 million. McKenzie believes that would be considered too much of a club-friendly deal by the other RFAs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has three advantages over the other clubs. They’re a Cup contender, they play in a city without a state tax, and they have a recent history of convincing their best players to accept less than market value.
McKenzie reports Connor’s agent dismissed reports claiming his client is close to a new deal with the Jets. It’s believed none of the aforementioned RFAs are closer to signing with their respective teams. The Connor camp could be open to a deal comparable to Timo Meier. The San Jose Sharks winger’s new four-year deal carries an AAV of $6 million but jumps to $10 million in actual salary in the final season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Such a deal would ensure Connor receives a high qualifying offer when his new contract expires.
Pierre LeBrun believes “if and when” Laine signs with the Jets it’ll be a three-year bridge deal. He also reports teams have contacted Laine’s agent Mike Liut over the past week. LeBrun doesn’t know if they’re checking in because of a potential offer sheet or looking into trading for Laine.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There aren’t many clubs that could offer to pitch an unmatchable offer sheet for Laine. As per Cap Friendly, only four teams – Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Ottawa Senators – have the cap space to offer up $8.5 million annually, which I consider the absolute minimum that might tempt Laine.
Scratch the Ducks as they’re in the market for a right-shot defenseman, not a winger. The Avalanche must re-sign Rantanen so I don’t see them offer-sheeting anyone. The Blue Jackets lack the second- and third-round pick necessary as part of the offer-sheet compensation. The Senators appear intent on building with their own young players.
If those unnamed teams are looking into a trade, the asking price will be expensive. It could be at least a top-pairing defenseman and a promising young winger, along with a high draft pick or a quality prospect. I’m not saying the Jets would get that much but they won’t just give him away. They’ll need something of significant value in return for the skilled young sniper.
Darren Dreger said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff continues to await a decision from Dustin Byfuglien. The big defenseman is currently on a leave of absence mulling his future. The club suspended him for not reporting to training camp and Dreger believes that might not change for a while.
Dreger suggested terminating Byfuglien’s contract could be considered by the Jets but that would require the involvement of the league. He also said the Jets are talking to teams about potential trades but the Byfuglien situation complicates things.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger was only speculating about contract termination. That would be an extreme position suggesting the relationship between the Jets and Byfuglien has irrevocably broken down. I doubt it’s anywhere close to that right now.
He’s also not saying they’re shopping Byfuglien, only that his situation is complicating trade talks that I’m assuming is about other players. Those talks could be efforts to bolster a blue line already depleted before Byfuglien took his leave of absence.
The Jets and the Byfuglien camp are keeping mum for the most part. The club confirmed Byfuglien was informed of the decision to suspend him and he understood it was for cap flexibility and roster protection. Head coach Paul Maurice claimed he had a good meeting with the blueliner last Thursday but offered no details.