Is an offseason shakeup in store for the Rangers? Is Alec Martinez any closer to re-signing with the Golden Knights? What’s the latest on Rod Brind’Amour’s contract talks with the Hurricanes? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers could face an offseason shakeup following Thursday’s season-crushing 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. He singled out marquee players such as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad as well as the leadership group and head coach David Quinn.
Brooks pointed out the lack of production from the Rangers’ core players (Panarin, Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome) against the Isles throughout this season, combining for just one goal against their rival. He feels the Rangers lack the mentality and personnel to adjust against a tight-checking opponent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks wasn’t as harsh in his assessment of the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday, perhaps because, as he pointed out, that loss felt inevitable. He did, however, suggest the Rangers lacked the physical presence to deal with rugged Islanders winger Matt Martin. He noted the Blueshirts attempted to sign Martin during the offseason before he returned to the Isles on a four-year deal.
The Rangers could make some offseason changes, perhaps behind the bench as well as in the lineup. There’s no shortage of former NHL coaches who’d relish the opportunity of coaching the promising Blueshirts. Gerard Gallant, Claude Julien and Bruce Boudreau could be among the potential candidates.
As for the roster, Cap Friendly shows the Rangers have $55.6 million invested in 17 players for 2021-22. Buchnevich and goaltender Igor Shesterkin are their notable free agents, with both being RFAs holding arbitration rights. Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek are coming off their entry-level contracts.
The Blueshirts have sufficient cap space to re-sign their key free agents and perhaps have some space to tap into the UFA market to add some toughness to their lineup. They could, however, forego an expensive signing by going the trade route.
Zibanejad and Strome are one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Their names popped up in trade speculation in the recent past and could surface in the offseason if management decides core changes are needed.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen recently reported there haven’t been any contract talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Martinez is hopeful this season won’t be his last with the Golden Knights. He has 27 points on the season and averages over 22 minutes per game. General manager Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged the blueliner’s value to the lineup, adding talks will happen when appropriate and declined to comment further.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez is completing a six-year, $24 million contract and turns 34 in July. His age will work against him getting a significant raise. So will the Golden Knights’ limited cap space. They have $75.4 million invested in 17 players next season. He’ll have to accept at least the same annual cap hit on a short-term deal to stay in Vegas, and only if they can free up some cap room.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest issues in the Carolina Hurricanes contract negotiations with head coach Rod Brind’Amour is he wants contract extensions for his coaching, training and equipment staffs. Like Brind’Amour, their respective contracts expire at the end of this season.
Friedman believed Brind’Amour will re-sign with the Hurricanes. However, he’s made it clear the future of his staff is as important as his own.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour was a team guy during his playing days. That attitude has carried over into his coaching career. Given the success he’s had turning the Hurricanes within three years from an also-ran to a Stanley Cup contender, he’s justified in wanting to keep his staff intact.