NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

by | Aug 14, 2021 | Rumors | 19 comments

A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.

Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.

Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.

Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.

Contract terms seem to be the sticking point between the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Svechnikov. Nevertheless, the young winger expressed confidence a deal will be done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.

The Detroit Red Wings remain flush with cap space after signing Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi. Fox believes defenseman Filip Hronek could get more term on his new contract than any of his teammates.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.

Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.


  1. Lyle, the Red Wings signed Tyler Bertuzzi, not Todd. Love your column!!

    • Fixed, thanks for the heads-up, David!

  2. Its kinda funny. The white whale “offer sheet”, its probably the perfect conditions with a salary cap ceiling and another team flush with space. Problem is those are currently with RFAs are mostly the same teams with cap space right now. What a wacky NHL world we live in.

  3. I don’t think Brady’s contract length will really indicate where he sees himself in the future. He does want to know that Ottawa will spend to remain a cup contender. He may want to wait out another contract to see words put to action. What is the point of Dorion spending heavily this summer? Add to that this covid thing and I fully suspect he will sign a 2-3 year bridge deal with the hopes revenues will rise and a more lucrative contract arise from that.

    Everything points to him doing a short bridge type deal whether or not he remains with the Sens short term or long term.

    I will say this though. The Senator fans would love to see him signed long term for their own price of mind. This issue will hang around in the minds of the Sens fandom until Melnyk does what he claims he will.

    If he fails to sign then well his future is revealed. Fingers crossed.

    • Jeff, Tkachuk’s agent and family have got to be more than aware of Mr Melnyk’s history & behaviour as an owner and business person. If a commitment from the team to spend what’s necessary to build a winner is a must then it’s definitely
      in his best interests to sign a bridge contract and play wait and see. Oh the joy’s of being a Sen’s fan…

  4. Bruins have waited too long and have not filled in the departing gaps adequately. Terrible terrible free agent signings. Prediction last place finish

    • It always makes me laugh when I read this column and see there’s a Boston Bruin comment but there wasn’t a single world about the Bruins in the column. Gotta love those die hard Bruin fans!

      • Nasdaq40,

        It’s because Sweeney is a stoic version of LL and hasn’t told anybody but RWM that he signed Eichel a couple of weeks ago.

      • Bruins fan here, totally agree. Then again Toronto fans think any player mentioned will be acquired because, well, it is Toronto.

    • Let Buffalo rejoice. The Bruins in last place. This is your year Sabres, get r dun!

    • Another Maple Leaf troll eh Murray?

  5. Again, I reiterate my assertion that a $10 M offer (on just over a $12M total team cap) by his KHL club …. Is completely bognine … not real… a phantom… made up…. Ether…. 🐎💩…..

    Just a negotiation tactic

    Very good player… but not even a full 82 game season under his belt…. big bucks WITH long term is a risk….This will come down to Billy G’s blinking point. Let’s not forget that Billy G will only have just a tad over $69 M to field 23 players next year (nigh $13 M in dead cap; followed by 2 years of almost $15 M in dead Cap)

    Re offer sheets on remaining RFAs…. Yes the official line out to media is always…. “We’ll match”… however there is always a point where matching is not prudent long term for a team…. of course they’ll match a $7 M offer…… but if there ever was (there won’t be this year) an offer sheet for $14 M ….. that is the point where 4 1sts are looking better than locking into a multi-year (and if it’s $14 M …. Count on 7) contract

    So the goalposts are $7 M and $14M…. Where is the “decline to match” point

    Add to that…. offer sheets happen all the time (that is the offer to an RFA… according to TSN … actual offers are in the 10-15 per year range)…. But official offer sheets (new team AND player sign)…. are very rare

    Lastly…. Teams with picks (must be their own) to cover the compensation AND the space; then open themselves up to an offer sheet for one of their future RFAs…. e.g. Power (Sabres)

    With that in mind…. I have little confidence in an “official” (dual signed) offer sheet this year

    I’d love for an official offer sheet to happen…. it’s part of the CBA and can be a smart tactical move…. GM’s have been gun-shy

    There is no chance either of my fav teams get to make an OS…. That’s due to mismanagement of assets

    Tanenbaum or Mario need to call Vinny to find out what it costs to swap GMs…. Zito is the man!!

    • Zito’s the guy who just signed Joe Thornton, right?

      • Yep….League min… still we start season with 23 players and almost $3M in Cap space…. More flex than almost all of the contenders…..almost zero risk for a leadership/mentor roll …. At the lowest he can pay any player…. League min…. Yep …. Good move IMVHO

        Zito, IMHO, is an excellent GM

        If just a fraction of his insight/aptitude/creativeness could rub off on Dubas or HexBurkie …👍👍👍🙏🤞🙏🤞🙏🤞

      • To quote an old Black Sox Scandal,say it ain t so Joe.Stop chasing the Stanley Cup Dream.You are starting to look like THE hockey version to be compared to Drew Bledsoe the football version.Two players who played much smaller than they are.

    • Isn’t there a caveat in the KHL that a team can have a player contract that doesn’t count against the cap?

  6. Quote

    Per the MOU, signing bonuses and player performance bonuses are not included when calculating escrow which is presently set at 20 percent of a player’s salary before taxes for the upcoming season.

    This is where imo EP & Hughes contracts hinge. Less escrow should be enticing.

  7. Cap issues but benning loves to sign bottom 6 players to 2.5 like Dickinson to 3 years

  8. Interesting thIng going on in St Louis. the blues are desperately trying to find a taker for Zach Sanford now that they know that no one will take Tarasenko without retention. They are cap tight and young RFA forward can’t be signed until they find cap space.

    What’s worse star defender Colton Parayko needs a new deal after the season. Of all teams the Blues are probably in the worst situation cap wise with so many long term, high dollar contracts