NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2019
The latest on Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Mikko Rantanen, Jonathan Drouin, and Jake Virtanen, plus updates on the Wild and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON LAINE, CONNOR, AND RANTANEN
TSN: During last night’s “Insider Trading” segment, the panel discussed the contract status of Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen.
Pierre LeBrun believes the Jets recently offered Laine a two-year bridge deal worth $6 million annually but feels the Laine camp seeks north of $7 million per season. The Avalanche, meanwhile, are focused on a long-term deal for Rantanen. LeBrun thinks the two sides could reach an agreement on a seven-year deal worth $9 million per season, speculating it could be signed within the next couple of days.
Bob McKenzie believes the Jets and Connor are talking about a six-year deal. However, they don’t appear close to a deal at this time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These players could sign new contracts before the regular season opens on Oct. 2. Still, negotiations could drag on into the start of the season. Jets coach Paul Maurice is preparing for the upcoming schedule without Laine and Connor on the roster. Even if these three are signed soon, it’s going to take some time before they’re up to speed with their teammates.
WILD AND PENGUINS IN THE TRADE MARKET
Darren Dreger reports Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin wants to acquire a first- or second-line center. He points out the Wild can draw upon their abundance of wingers, prospects and draft picks for trade bait. Dreger also notes Guerin understands it won’t be easy to address that need.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jason Zucker was nearly traded twice by Guerin’s predecessor but it appears the Wild winger is off the market. Cap Friendly indicates the Wild have all but one of their picks (no third-rounder) in the 2020 draft and all their picks in the 2021 and 2022 drafts.
Dreger believes Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will move a defenseman. Veteran Jack Johnson’s been the subject of trade speculation but his contract is tough to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson has an affordable salary-cap hit ($3.25 million) but his contract runs through 2022-23. With the 32-year-old defenseman in decline, it’ll take a significant sweetener to convince another club to take on that contract.
JOSI AND PIETRANGELO
LeBrun believes the Nashville Predators are willing to go to $8.5 million per season on a long-term deal to re-sign Roman Josi. The 29-year-old Predators defenseman and captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. LeBrun speculates the Josi camp would prefer something over $9 million. He believes they’ll get it done though it’s interesting it hasn’t happened yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have over $60 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21. Josi would be their most important signing. Most of their other free agents, apart from Josi and Mikael Granlund, could be affordable to retain or replace. Josi’s new deal, however, would take a big bite out of their cap space.
McKenzie also noted St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo is in the same boat. It’s expected Blues GM Doug Armstrong will meet with the rearguard’s representatives when the Blues visit Toronto early in the regular season. The recent addition of Justin Faulk could provide the Blues with a bit of leverage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted Jay Bouwmeester comes off the Blues’ books at the end of this season. He suggested they could give Pietrangelo a $3 million raise over his current $6.5 million AAV.
Gordon believes Armstrong is committed to re-signing Pietrangelo and center Brayden Schenn but can probably keep only one. He feels Pietrangelo could be easier to retain. “If Kevin Hayes can get a seven-year, $50 million deal in Philadelphia, what could Schenn fetch in the open market?”
ARE THE CANADIENS SHOPPING DROUIN?
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports an “Eastern Conference executive” texted him claiming Jonathan Drouin’s name is out there in the trade market. The 24-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward has had what Engels called two mostly disappointing seasons and hasn’t looked good in preseason play. At this point, Engels feels the Canadiens would be selling low, so much so they might have to hang onto Drouin and hope he turns things around soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin was listening to offers but it remains to be seen if he’s actively shopping Drouin. Bear in mind that preseason play isn’t necessarily an accurate forecast of a player’s regular-season performance. I agree Drouin’s trade value will suffer if his inconsistency persists this season.
Chris Johnston on SN650 yesterday said he expects Jake Virtanen to be traded for another player who needs a change of scenery at some point, but not in the next week or so.
— James (@Account4hockey) September 24, 2019