NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

by | May 29, 2021 | Rumors | 42 comments

Are the Oilers making progress in Nugent-Hopkins’ contract talks? Will they trade or buy out Mikko Koskinen or James Neal? Could Oscar Klefbom be exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Oilers general manager Jim Matheson faces a long to-do list this summer. Topping that list is signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay but Matheson wondered if Holland will go higher than $6 million per season or $5.5 million and over five years. He also feels the Oilers see him now as a top-six left-winger rather than a center and want to pay him as such.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson’s colleague David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming Nugent-Hopkins contract talks haven’t gone well and his status remains uncertain. They were apparently close to a deal before the season began but things fell apart at the last minute.

Plenty of time for the two sides to work things out. I’d get concerned, however, if they haven’t gotten any closer when the calendar flips to July. Nugent-Hopkins will draw plenty of interest around the league if he goes to market on July 28. Someone will pay him what he wants.

The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old goaltender Mike Smith. As for Mikko Koskinen, Matheson believes his return is less than 50-50. They might not buy out Koskinen but Matheson wondered if they’d absorb part of the goalie’s $4.5 million cap hit to facilitate a trade or include a player or draft pick to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples noted Friedman said buying out Koskinen was a possibility. He also cited NHL insider Brian Lawton telling Oilers Now show host Bob Stauffer the Oilers shouldn’t bring Koskinen back. However, Staples suggests finding a suitable replacement this summer won’t be easy.

Koskinen, 32, struggled at times this season and wasn’t a reliable backup for Smith. He has just one year left on his contract. I think Holland will try to trade him, even if it means eating some of his salary. Failing that, he’ll probably go the buyout route at a cap hit of $1.5 million for 2021-22 and 2022-23 as per Cap Friendly.

Turning to the blueline, Matheson wondered if Holland will leave Oscar Klefbom unprotected in the expansion draft. He’d be taking a chance on the Kraken being scared off by the defenseman’s season-long absence with a shoulder injury.

Pending UFA blueliner Tyson Barrie is looking at a long-term deal and will see what’s out there. Matheson expected Holland will re-sign Adam Larsson, perhaps around the same $4.1 million range of his current deal. The question is whether it’s three or four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign Darnell Nurse to a contract extension. He’s slated to become a UFA next summer but contact talks can begin this summer. If Klefbom is selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft it’ll free up $4.1 million from their cap payroll, giving Holland extra room to sign Nurse or make other moves.

Matheson considers it likely Holland will buy out veteran winger James Neal. Doing so would free up $3.83 million in each of the next two seasons to target an unrestricted free agent winger such as Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Toronto’s Zach Hyman. If Neal is bought out, Matheson sees him returning to Pittsburgh where he had his best seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector believes Holland should buy out Neal, considering him dead cap space already at $5.75 million annually and barely playing. It would count as $1.92 million over the next four years against the Oilers cap.

He also suggests Holland should explore trading Neal, absorbing half his salary for the final two years of his contract to make it work. However, he feels there would have to be something else included in the deal.

A trade is possible. A buyout is more likely. And no, he won’t be returning to Pittsburgh even if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin like him. He’s a fading star who won’t address the Penguins’ need for a better starting goalie and more skilled toughness in their lineup.

Matheson also suggested St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Vegas Golden Knights versatile forward Mattias Janmark and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth as possible free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland would have better luck landing Janmark and/or Nemeth than Schwartz. The Blues hope to re-sign him. Failing that, he’ll draw considerable interest in the free-agent market. The Oilers might not win a bidding war for his services.


  1. A GM is going to pay RNH very well to be a center

    • With what Ottawa is paying white. Yeah RNH will get paid.

  2. Ken Holland’s best days as a manager are long behind him … another typical recycled dinosaur managing in the stone age … Mike Smith???

    and Neal back to Pittsburgh is utterly ridiculous … but I can see Hextall trying to free space to sign Coleman …

  3. It will likely be a full 82 next year. Goaltending issues will be more apparent . Smith is hitting 40 . Maybe the Oil can grab Andersson . Leafs will likely will not. I would be hot on Florida. What about Bob ? ( not the movie ). I would give a couple of picks and a prospect for Driedger .

    • Re Dreidger is a UFA

      • Hi George

        I was typing slowly with one finger

        Your post was not there when I started typing

        When I hit send, it was

        Sorry for the duplication (re UFA… below)

      • Not yet

      • No, technically not yet a UFA but I just don’t see how Florida can sign him. Right now they have $71,813,373 invested in a full complement of 23, with $9,686,629 to spend …. on what? Yes, some of those 23 were taxi-squad players normally playing in the AHL, and that’s where they’ll be next season. But they also have 9 RFAs – all of whom have arbitration rights (Bennett, Duclair, Wallmark, Lammikko, Palskie, Carlsson, Juulsen, Forshing, Montembeault) along with 8 UFAs – one of whom is Driedger, coming off an ELC of $850,000.

        As pengy points out, his NHL sample size may be small (42 gp) but that 2:18 gaa and 0.926 save % will catch the eye of a number of teams needing goalie upgrades and since he just turned 27, this will be his first big chance at financial security.

        I can see some team dangling a 3-year $2.5 to $3 mil per deal – and maybe the most desperate will go even higher on both. Florida, with $10 mil Bob, simply can’t match AND re-sign all their RFAs, never mind any of their other UFAs they may wish to retain (Wennberg, Gusev, Wilson, Montour, Connauton, Desrrosiers).

      • Would love him in the Black and Gold of the Pittsburgh Penguins…

    • Would the Oilers pay Andersen starter’s money? I doubt it.
      An interesting angle for discussion, Lyle, would be players on NHL rosters this year whose careers are likely over. With the flat cap in place, that list could be a long one.

      • Would they ??
        Could they ??
        Should they…….. noooooooo

    • Hi SilverSeven

      Driedger is UFA; so it would have to be a sign ‘n trade for Zito to get that return

      Bobo untradeable ; Knight is their future wunderkind

      Driedger … just turned 27; 927 save %; UFA…. agent would be wise to wait for UFA market

      Krakken…. could take him if they truly felt they could sign him; otherwise a waste of a pick just for another team to sign him as a UFA

      Why wouldn’t Oil bid on him?

      Yes only a total of just less than 40 NHL games but I would think many teams would have interest

      • @Pengy…. We need a goalie to be the new number one starter or someone to at least push Jarry.

        Columbus is looking to move either Korpisalo or Merzlikins…

        Anaheim’s John Gibson Pittsburgh native, 27, @ $6.4 for six more years.

        Maybe Zucker, Poulin and a high pick land him…

        I would make a big play for free agent Dougie Hamilton, 27, 6ft 6 230, offensively gifted, great skater, passer, and sound defensively ..

        Unlike letang. Once Carolina is finished ! Hamilton is at $5. 7 maybe offer him letang money.. $7.25 or more.

        Don’t sign any of our UFAS Rodriquez, Gaureau, Janikowski, Sceviour, Trottman, Weber,Ceci (I do like ceci though)

        $4.5 million there UFAS
        Move Zucker & Pettersson $9.5 million
        Letang to Montreal $7.25 million

        $21.2 million ufas & trades

      • After watching the Pens implode, I think that signing Driedger would be an ideal move for them.
        The Pens are too soft.
        Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman would really fix a lot of the Pens problems. I can’t see any way that Tampa can keep both of them.

        Hextall has some work to do.
        The question is, how much will Burke interfere?

      • Hi BnG and Nevinsrip

        I’d also go after Driedger

        Gibson far too expensive in trade

        Untouchable futures…. Poulin, Legere , P-O J

        Zucker must ABSOLUTELY go… still peeved at that trade…. they’ll get a pick in the late teens to early twenties of the first round AND Addison was already playing for Wild in playoffs

        Agree BnG re ur proposed shuttling of UFAs save for Gaudreau and Ceci

        Gaudreau will come in $750 K – $900 K….. for his versatility…👍👍👍. Fits in fine at 3W; is a natural Centre; can in a pinch jump up to 2nd line wing for a couple of periods or a game (sparing for an injury); and is very good defensively 5 on 5 and good on PK

        Ceci was well worth $1.25 M… if accepts that again (I doubt it)… jump on it.Price point will determine f he re-signs

        Heavy spending on D by Rutherford… so highly unlikely about going after Dougie H…. would be good though

        Great acquisition of Carter…. 3rd line C locked

        Protection from Krakken… they better go 7-3 and not 8 skaters

        Sid/Gino will (must anyway under CBA) be protected

        Guentz, Rusty, Kappy, McC a must

        Leaving one forward slot for Turbo, ZAR, Blueger

        ZAR not a big loss

        Turbo (per his moniker) is a lightning rod on skates impersonating a “motivational speaker”

        Would hate to lose him ; but Hex may gamble on that

        If they expose Blueger (he won’t be 3C as Carter has that) then Gaudreau (at basically same Cap hit) will replace fine

        D’s protected will be Tanger; Dumo; Marino

        Exposing Matheson (I doubt Krakken bites due to his contract) and Pettersson …. maybe Krakken takes the bait

        Of course the hopes are that Ronny F takes mushrooms and Ludes pre expansion draft and selects Ruhweedel

        Goodrow or Coleman…. will have at least 1 Cup under their belt…. price goes up…. Coleman older, but more expensive Cap hit….. better choice is Goodrow

        “Pugnacity”…. what’s the trade cost for DesLauriers ….. 1 more year at $1M… if Ducks would take Laffy and Ruhweedel for DesLauriers ….. sign quickly before they change their minds

        If they can somehow rid Zucker and say Krakken takes Pettersson….

        Sid Guentz Rusty

        Gino Kappy *

        Carter McC Poulin

        Blueger Gaudreau Turbo

        Deslauriers /Legere

        Marino/P-O J

        1A/1B ….. Jarry/ Driedger or Driedger/Jarry

        Above is in the $75 M range …. leaving $6 M plus for *2LW…. Nuge? Hoffman? Tater Tots? Hyman?

        If they go after Hamilton (unlikely but if they do)…. Marino becomes expendable … and perhaps Ducks do Marino & Laffy for Manson & Delauriers ….

        Sid Guentz Rusty

        Gino Kappy McC

        Carter Poulin Legere

        Blueger Gaudreau Turbo

        Deslauriers /Zohorna

        Friedman/P-O J

        1A/1B ….. Jarry/ Driedger or Driedger/Jarry

        That comes in about $81 M

      • Sorry

        D with Hamilton would be

        Manson/P-O J

        Still roster in the $81 M level

        Sadly….. at 35, 35, 36 next year for Sid, Tanger, Gino….. is Burke strategizing a re-build?

        Doubt it at all… but say Knights beat Av…. one golf game between Mac K and Sid…. perhaps Sid asks Mario to be moved to Avs…. basically high probability of another cup for him

        Hextall better be calling the shots

      • I don’t think Marino needs protection pengy.

      • @Pengy… Can you imagine

        Hamilton / Dumoulin

        Zadorov / Marino


        YES!! Kris Letang if he stays needs to play less minutes to be more effective he isn’t half the player Hamilton is right now..

        Zucker for Zadorov Blackhawks need scoring have the cap space we need the git, snarl and talent of Zadorov a Matt Martin/Tom Wilson deterrent.. we also save $ 2.4 million in the transaction..

        Hamilton 27, 6ft 6 230 uber talented offensively sound defensively.

        Zadorov 26 5ft 235 absolute beast, checker, enforcer and can skate and shoot..

      • Hi Chrisms and BnG

        Chrisms… re Marino and protection…. yes had a bad year…. but that is not unheard of for a rising player… very good year, then falters, then back on track

        I think Krakken would move on him


        You had me at “ Zucker for”….. would have taken “for bundle of mis-delivered sticks” just to save $5.5 M off cap

        He dragged down Gino and Sully wouldn’t change his mind on playing Zucker with Gino

        Zadorov is RFA , not sure how much he would need to be signed for…. Bowman is smart hockey guy…. Zucker for Zadorov prob won’t fly

        Zadorov is a stay at home DMan , pairing with a rushing DMan (Marino is) would be wise. I’d do Z with Hamilton

        Re Letang…. clearly Pens best DMan this year…. yes cut his minutes…. Hamilton addition does that

        Not a chance they move Letang to bottom pairing and they won’t move him from Dumo

        That said, If Hamilton comes, no point in adding another DMan in Zadorov …. the size pugnacity issue can be covered with DesLauriers

        Marino/P-O J

        Note this means Pens need a trade partner for Pettersson

        In truth, Hamilton is a pipe dream

        Let’s say miraculously Bowman gets drunk and does the trade….

        Zadarov (on RHD…. he’s a leftie that can play right)/Matheson

        Still need a trade partner for Pettersson


        If you don’t think he needs protecting ; and aren’t protecting him…. who do you protect over Marino?

    • Holland should definitely go after Andersen as a UFA given his record over time.

      TML have no appreciation for how good he is and keep hanging him out to dry behind porous D and blaming him.

      Smith had a bumper year but is 8 years older and never put up these numbers as a starter playing more games.

      Oilers with a 1-2 of Andersen and Smith would be a big upgrade to the team.

      • Agree about Andersen. I’d like to see him re-signed but the Leafs seem ready to look elsewhere. Re-signing Hyman might be a higher priority, who knows. Not a lot of wiggle room that’s for sure.

      • Habfan30

        Are you saying that EDM defence is better than TOR? I can’t see Andersen’s numbers being any better in EDM. I actually recall somebody roasting me on here last summer when I suggested Koskinen wasn’t a goalie worth keeping.

        Campbell seemed to fare pretty well behind the same defence…

        Holland was in on Markstrom in the offseason but didn’t want to give the extra year. Would EDM fate be different if Holland got a goalie?

        TOR will not likely re-sign Andersen because Campbell looks like he can handle himself.They will use his salary savings to re-sign Hyman.

      • Daryl,

        As a matter of fact Edmonton defense is better than TML since they don’t have anchors like Bogosian and Brodie.

        Andersen has had a consistent career with good numbers and a Tippet coached team will play team defense eventually.

        Campbell isa career backup goalie who has never been a starter in a full season and will probably be exposed next season.

        Players don’t show their true colours so deep in their careers, he’s a nice guy, a feel good story.

      • Before you sign Hamilton,evaluate him in the Tampa Bay series.I think he is soft and not near what pietrangelo is.Buyer Beware!

  4. Very interesting reading the comments from yesterday about Monahan. I realize how hard it is to make a trade in the NHL.
    Monahan has been a #1 center for most of his career and would be no worse than a #2 center on any team. He consistently scores 25-35 goals in a normal year but the trade scenarios talked about from yesterday you would think he was a #3 or fringe #2 center.
    It makes you think if those would be the offers the Flames would be better off keeping him.
    It’s the old adage be careful what you wish for this could turn out bad.

    • Is Monahan hard to play against?
      I have little watching experience with him.

      • DS

        He is maturing into a 200 ft center that wins face offs and very responsible in the defensive zone.
        Gets most of his goals from the slot with a very quick release.
        He is a #1 center on 50% of teams and a #2 on any other team except Toronto and Edmonton.

      • When he scores 30+ goals I guess define if he is hard to play against. His problem is the last 3 years he has played through pretty bad injuries, this year he had hip surgery. I cant imagine how hard it would be to play through an injury like that in the NHL. When healthy, he is a solid #2 C on most teams. Playing thru these injuries was a bad management call IMO when they had a young Bennett chomping at the bit for some extended top 6 C ice time & both Backlund & Monahan played most of the games. Personally, with the underwhelming offers for a perennial 30 goal scorer that is only 26, I would rather trade Backlund for that type of return & keep Monahan for our #2 C.

      • Strome, Howden and Buchnevich to Calgary for Monahan and Lucic!

      • @slick
        close but Buch is a complete player. We cant keep letting 2 way players leave…
        Zuc…Fast…. Buch is next

  5. Lyle,

    I’m interested to hear you say “the Blues hope to resign Schwartz”–I don’t know what to hope for!?

    I DON”T want term and dollars to further restrict and limit the Blues long-term.

    I maybe would be OK with 5.5 million for 5 years, but I don’t think Schwartz would be.

  6. St. Louis signing Krug was huge mistake he wasn’t very good this year they didn’t need him especially for that money. Schwartz when healthy is a great player ,blues need the offense not sure they can afford to let him sign elsewhere.

    • when healthy………..

      good, not great……

    • Good non signing by the Bruins,I wished they had traded him before he walked for nothing.Grezlyck has more than made up for his loss.B s made a good decision on Chara and Krug.Both watching the playoffs from their couches.

  7. Schwartz (didn’t not look it up ) has missed time every year. Certainly feels that way. I think he walks for a 2 year deal where he wants to play. He will have choices if his price is right

  8. Two days ago Lyle reported that the Oil have $28 million to spend this coming season. That’s plenty of room to re-sign RNH and a couple of others, and add needed pieces.

    I believe that McDavid’s talent will be a draw for other players who want to win. He has a kind of gravitational pull that can bring others into the Oiler orbit. If the right pieces are added UFAs can see the Oilers becoming legit contenders. They are several years away from being final 4 material, but in each succeeding year they can get better.

  9. Jayden Schwartz,s injury history is long. Like I said when Schwartz is healthy he is very effective can score between 25-35 goals in a full season when healthy.

  10. My God LJ that is an optimistic take on the Oilers situation.

    • I agree with him OBD. I live in EDM, so some bias, but a B’s fan.
      They need top 6 LW’s. 1 if RNH stays, 2 if he doesn’t. And a tender.
      Klefbom is the big question mark. His shoulder problem is chronic arthritis. The surgery fixing it to a level to play in the NHL is a big maybe. His main goal is being able live without pain and sleep without meds and hopefully play with his kids. NHL is a bonus at this point. 50/50 at best IMO.
      If he is out they need a quality 2nd pair LD. Jack of all trades type. Physical and skate.
      So 2 top 6 LW’s (likely), a 1B tender and a 2nd pair LD.
      If Holland succeeds, yes a contender IMO. Having the $ is one thing, signing/trading for
      quality is another. Not gonna be easy.

  11. Buying out Neal is a given, Im also on the Koskinen buyout but it depends on whats out there. Andersen is interesting if he costs something on a 4.

    If the Oilers exposes Klefbom, he will be picked by the Kraken I think, not much else to choose from and jackpot if he is ok.

  12. @Pengy…Marino and POJ are automatically protected because of the 2 years or less service to the NHL club rule….found that out. Don’t need to worry about the expansion draft with them.

    So who is the 3rd D you protect? Matheson ??

    I would leave Matheson and Pettersson both unprotected…

    You protect Dumo/Letang/ ???????

    Ceci a UFA Can’t protect that…so????

  13. Wouldn’t it make sense for the Oilers to just bury Kostinen for the final year in the AHL or loan him to a European team so he doesn’t hurt development of other goalies in the system?

    They’d still keep him as an asset in case of injury. Yes, he’d still count almost $3.5M against the cap (frees up $1M from current cap amount to sign another competent backup) next year but trading him is only going to save you an additional 1.75M on the cap if you retain 50% salary and you lose him as an asset plus the draft pick or other player you have to give up. If you buy him out, he’ll count $1.5M for two years so he hurts you for a year beyond too.

    Maybe if he spends some time in the A he also gets to find his game some and gains some consistency and becomes a win-win.

    I’d rather they buyout James Neal – those dollars make more sense and frees up money for top up to Nugent Hopkins contract and another mid-level forward!