NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2021

by | May 17, 2021 | Rumors | 34 comments

A look at some of this summer’s top unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton topped Frank Seravalli’s recent list of this summer’s top unrestricted free agents.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell indicated in March the two sides agreed to put aside contract talks until the end of this season. Sources claimed a big gap exists between how much the Hurricanes are willing to pay and what Hamilton’s camp believes is his market value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli believes it makes little sense for the Hurricanes to sign Hamilton before the expansion draft. That would mean protecting him at the expense of perhaps losing blueliner Jake Bean to the Seattle Kraken.

However, the Kraken has a three-day window before the expansion draft to interview pending free agents. Things could get interesting if Hamilton is willing to listen to what they could offer.

Seravalli excluded Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog from this list. There’s no indication either player will be leaving their respective clubs. Both would impact their team’s expansion protection lists if they sign before July 21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs could be comfortable waiting until after July 21 to re-sign them if both players are determined to stay put.

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf was also excluded. The Ducks are open to having him return for another season but it remains to be seen if he’ll look elsewhere to chase another Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf, 36, could be back for one more year. Several factors – including his family, his health and his willingness to accept a lesser role with the rebuilding Ducks – will determine his future.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman and Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie round out the top five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers hope to re-sign Nugent-Hopkins but that will depend on what he’s seeking in terms of salary. He’s completing a seven-year, $42 million contract. Barrie’s future in Edmonton is less clear.

Mutual interest exists between Hall and the Bruins in talking contract after this season but that will depend on his playoff performance. Hyman wants to stay in Toronto and the Leafs want to keep him but their limited salary-cap space could be an issue.

Seravalli includes former Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet on his list at No. 6. He believes Tocchet will draw interest from multiple teams.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault and Florida Panthers forward Alexander Wennberg fill out the top-ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could bring back Rask on a short-term deal if he’ll accept less than his current annual average value of $7 million. Martinez and Danault face uncertain futures with their current clubs as there’s little indication of contract talks. Wennberg rejuvenated his career in Florida. Panthers GM Bill Zito knows him from their days with the Jackets, signed him last fall, and could ink him to a new deal.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, St. Louis Blues winger Mike Hoffman, Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Blake Coleman checked in at Nos. 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Sabres hope to re-sign Ullmark. Whether he wants to stay is another matter. Hoffman was hoping a big season in St. Louis would bolster his stock in this summer’s UFA market. His inconsistent play, however, could put a lucrative new deal further out of reach.

Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest the Oilers are close to a new deal with Larsson. Andersen’s injury history and his uneven playoff performances could hurt his value but not enough to prevent him from landing with another NHL club. Coleman’s physical two-way style and decent scoring touch will draw plenty of attention if he tests the market.

Colorado Avalanche winger Brandon Saad, Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, New York Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri, and Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak fill in spots 16 to 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs likely won’t have the cap space to re-sign Saad as they’ll be keeping Landeskog plus goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Cale Makar must be signed. The Blues prefer to keep Schwartz but their limited cap space will make it difficult to do.

Granlund could be an affordable re-signing for the Predators. Palmieri’s stock took a tumble in the regular season but could rebound with a strong postseason effort. The Stars could part ways with Oleksiak as they’ll need their limited cap room to re-sign blueliner Miro Heiskanen.

Bruins center David Krejci, Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny, Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar, Lightning defenseman David Savard and Bruins blueliner Mike Reilly are in spots 21-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could re-sign Krejci on an affordable short-term deal, especially if they can also retain Taylor Hall. The Jets could retain Stastny if he’s agreeable to a cost-effective contract.

The Canadiens will likely cut ties with the inconsistent Tatar. Savard was a playoff rental for the Lightning as was Reilly with the Bruins. Savard will draw interest from clubs seeking a shutdown blueliner.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Cody Ceci, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Alex Goligoski, Leafs forward Nick Foligno, Canadiens winger Corey Perry and Coyotes forward Michael Bunting complete the top 30.


  1. If the Pens get swept again I can see Sullivan being shown the door opening it up for a Tocchet return …

    • Sullivan should have been sh*tcanned after last years epic choke vs Montreal

      • Psssssst. Have you noticed the season they put together this season when most predicted they would never even make the playoffs?
        As for Rick Tocchet, I don’t see the body of work that allows for such a love affair.
        Stick with Sullivan until the end of this current team’s run which will come in the next year. Then turn it over in preparation for some lean years like Detroit has done.

  2. Landeskog not going anywhere, heart and soul of the Avalanche. The Captain, plays a good two way game and we’re going to need him big time in the series against the Blues!

  3. “The Canadiens will likely cut ties with the inconsistent Tatar.”

    Tatar is inconsistent? This is the first season in his eight-year career that he’s not going to hit a 20-goal pace.

    How’s that inconsistent?

    • Garth,
      right on, if anything Tatar has been the epitome of consistency, popping in 20 goals with regularity.

      Pro-rated, his 176 goals in 625 NHL games translates to 23 goals per season.

      You can set your watch to him, oh yeah, he’s been doing it against opposition top scoring lines. while being a Hab.

    • It’s an interesting situation, Garth. Tatar – to my eyes – has been inconsistent this year. But Danault had a terrible offensive season, he and Gally missed games due to injury, and the team as a whole was a marvel of inconsistency.

      To me the key is whether Tatar is willing to take a pay cut and a two year deal to stay. I’d be surprised if he does.

      • LJ,

        Interesting that you mention eye test and Gallagher while talking about Tatar.

        Tatar: 50 games, 30 pts, .60 ppg

        Gallagher: 35 games 23 pts, .657 ppg

        Tatar would have finished with 2 pts more at .657 ppg , negligible.

        Gallagher gets lots of love and a $6.5 million long term contract.

        I’m not saying Tatar deserves Gallagher money, but he’s a consistent contributor who on an off year did as well as Gallagher.

      • Interesting comparison, Habfan30. I think Berg overpaid for Gally, just as he overpaid for Price.

        i would be happy if a reasonable contract could be made with Tatar. But if I am Berg I am using Toffoli’s 28 goals for 4.25 per season as the comparison.

        Remember too that Danault’s contract cost has to be factored in. I don’t fancy Danault walking as a ufa, nor do I fancy paying him in excess of the 5 million he turned down for his 5 goal season. These are, as all signings, interconnected.

    • The Canadiens would be better served by cutting ties with Bergevin. Hes basically Jim Benning East.

  4. Larsson and Nuge will resign with the Oilers in the offseason. Barrie has already said he is going to test to the market, but also hasn’t ruled out resigning with the Oilers. Not sure how the Oilers will make things work on the right side if Barrie does resign. Larsson, Bear, Bouchard, and possibly Barrie.

    • LIke you say Kevjam, not sure that works.
      IMO if they sign Larsson, they have made their decision and they keep Larsson vs Barrie.
      Barrie has been good, but Bouchard needs to play. Not at the level of Barrie yet obviously, but PP is his biggest strength so far. They don’t have another RD who is like Larsson.
      It is the right call IMO.

      Also Klefbom uncertainty still out there. When will they know about him?

      • I haven’t heard much about Klefbom in the last few months. I expect that the Oilers will protect Bear over Klefbom in the expansion draft. Klefbom has a lengthy injury history and I think that the Kraken will select Caleb Jones over Klefbom. Jones is a lot younger without the injury history.

  5. Florida is going to have an interesting set of decisions in front of them. Sam Bennett is an RFA and has been light out since coming to Florida. Wennberg a UFA who certainly had a resurgent year! If both were to continue to play at the level showed this year, Barkov – Bennet – Wennberg certainly makes for an attractive amount of center depth. What type of contracts do you give them though?

    Florida also has to ask … do they think Tippet will evolve to a Top 6 RW as projected? Do you bring back Duclair? Will Denisenko be a Top 6 RW? The one area where I think Florida is lacking is in this department. They have Hornqvist as well, maybe I am over thinking it here, but I think the Panthers would really like a true first line RW!

    Will be an interesting off season in the Sunshine state.

    • Another interesting decision the Panthers have is their goalies. Bobrovski has to be protected because of a a full NVC, Knight who has looked good in his few games he has played in the NHL this season is expansion draft exempt, which would mean that Driedger will be left exposed and would most likely be the guy who the Kraken select.
      Like I said above if Barrie does end up resigning with the Oilers something will have to happen with the crowded right side of their blue line. So either Bear or Bouchard could be offered as part of a package for Driedger. Bear is the more NHL proven d-man but will need to be protected, which is why the Oilers would probably prefer to add him. Bouchard is less NHL proven but has more potential and is expansion draft exempt.

      • Good point. Yes, 100% the Panthers will have the option of dealing from a position of “strength” when it comes to goaltending. Driedger has certainly proved to be a late bloomer (as an Ottawa fan, this hurts). But a solid 7 last year and he has arguably been Florida’s best goalie this year and it was quite shocking to me that they didn’t give him the nod in net against Tampa.

        I am sure that the Panthers would much rather find away to unload Bobrovsky, but at $10million for another 5 years it would be difficult and likely only a buyout could get them out of it. I agree that Florida would love to get something for him, but currently as a UFA, Seattle could just sign him away.

        Sam Bennett’s play also complicates the situation in my eyes because you have to make him a core piece of the puzzle moving forward. Florida also has an interesting puzzle as Stralman, Yandle, & Bobrovsky have certainly not played up to their contracts. So it makes me wonder if maybe Florida could use a guy like Driedger to maybe get one of these contracts off of their books?

        Bennett is not going to be an inexpensive resign, not overly expensive, but still will get a raise based on play (and even elevation to the first line with Huberdeau & Tippet) to start the playoffs!

        Add in possibly looking to sign Wennberg, Duclair, Montour, & Forsling and it could complicate matters even further. Bill Zito will have some big choices this summer, none of them, in my eyes will be easy.

      • I can see Barrie signing a deal with Seattle. Western team with cap space that no one else would have.
        I don’t see him getting long term anywhere given current cap staying put for next couple of years.
        Maybe 3 years in Seattle but he will find out there simply is not a big market for his services out there.

    • @jjb
      amazing what coach Q can do with smart players like Wennberg etc
      Florida’s Seattle decision stress from players reaching potential is a good problem to have

      • Agreed, it is a problem every team wishes they could have. I think the good part for Florida is, unless I am missing something, no matter who they lose, they have the depth and ability to replace them. They are certainly in a much better position then the Vegas draft, which, wow, was not impressive for Florida! Giving up Smith to force the Panthers to take Marchessault for a 4th round pick is still mind boggling.

        Zito is going to have pressure to make sure he doesn’t do something so incredibly stupid with this expansion draft. Extra pressure to make sure the Panthers make up for it! You could probably argue, that if not for the Panthers, the Vegas Golden Knights are not near the club they are today! Being those two players make up 1/2 their top 4 wingers!

  6. Dougie Hamilton – and the Canes don’t want to pay up? It might just be posturing. But if not I know a few teams that will pony up $8-9 million (looking at you NJ) for a Dman of his caliber. Not sure Hamilton would be interested, but that would be a lot of coin to leave on the table.

  7. Coleman or saad could be Brian Burke type players.

    • Ssssshhhhhhh ! Keep quiet about Coleman…..I want him in Detroit. 🙂

      • I want Coleman in Ottawa or Saad!

    • The same Brian Burke thats never won Jack Sh*t?

      Good luck with that.

      • Brian Burke was the Anaheim Ducks GM when they won the 2007 Stanley Cup. So there is one thing that Burke won.

      • A team he inherited … and then had Pronger literally fall in his lap.

      • Brian Burke was the GM in Anaheim when the Ducks won the cup in 2007.

      • Hey Ron! It’s always fun to cheer for your team in the cup playoffs ain’t it?

  8. I can see Saad and Ullmark getting signed by the Sharks. They have the cap space and the need for sure. As Wilson is calling it a reset and not a rebuild, these two guys would add some credibility to that title.

    • Rock, when you say they have the cap space where, exactly, is it? According to CapFriendly, Wilson has &70,275,000 tied up in 15 players leaving him $11,225,000 to basically sign 8 roster players. I think it’s safe to say that none of his UFAs will be back (Sorensen, Marleau (surely NOT), Gabriel, Nieto and Pateryn) – but those bodies need replacing. He does have 7 RFAs to either re-up or replace (Donato, Truchon-Viel, Gregor, Blichfield, Balcers and Jaros) who, collectivelt, accounted for $6,369,999 off the cap this year. If all are retained, and while the bumps in cap hit may be minimal, that’s still going to take a big chunk out of the $11 mil reserve – either them or whoever replaces them.

      Meanwhile, Saad’s expiring cap hit is $5 mil while Ullmark costs $2.6 mil. Even at those numbers combined – never mind what they’ll be demanding – there’s no room left to fill out a roster. Do you see other cost-cutting moves and, if so, who – and more importantly, who do you see taking what they’d like to clear out?

  9. I would like to see Dorion sign Jamie Oleksiak!

    Also I would like to see Dorion sign one of these four players if they are not resigned before Free Agency.

    1.Blake Coleman
    2.Brandon Saad
    3.Kyle Palmieri
    4.Mikael Granlund

    • Coleman & Saad I wouldn’t mind, I’d add Hyman to that lost.

      Hard pass on Palmieri, he isn’t the player he used to be and we have better options and I feel the same way about Granlund. I’d rather Norris, Pinto, & White have the opportunities at center.

      Saad, Coleman, & Hyman all play left wing, but Paul can shift to the right size. Add anyone of those three with Tkachuk, Stuetzle, & Forementon down the left side and we have so real depth!

      At center, I think Ottawa should focus on a good 4th line center, good in the circle and defensive zone that can play some PK time.

  10. Before the start of the season and the Anderson/Domi trade I had my eye on three players to replace Domi and Danault

    1) Joel Eriksson Ek
    2) Jordan Greenway
    3)Carter Verhaeghe

    Whew, what a difference it could have made

  11. If Leafs get ousted in first round, Leaf brass from Shanny on down should get the boot. Yes or no. discuss.


  1. (5/17/21) BLH's NHL Trade Rumors: "The Oilers may target the Rangers as an offseason trade partner." - Beer League Heroes - […] Lyle Richardson (Spector’s Hockey): The Oilers hope to re-sign Nugent-Hopkins but that will depend on what he’s seeking in…