NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2021
What’s the latest on Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks? Do the Blue Jackets still have roster needs to address? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TWINCITIES.COM: John Shipley reports Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin isn’t concerned about the possibility of Kirill Kaprizov signing with KHL team CSKA Moscow. “It’s not my decision, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. Asked of the report of the 24-year-old winger signing a one-year, “eight-figure” deal with the Russian club was true, Guerin said he couldn’t tell if it was true or not.
While Guerin had nothing new to report on Kaprizov’s contract talks, he believes things are going well. “We still have lots of time. There’s no rush or panic. I’m in constant communication with Kirill’s agent, and we continue to move forward.”
Guerin reached an agreement yesterday with winger Kevin Fiala on a one-year contract. He indicated Kaprizov’s deal will be longer.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Wild have been rebuffed in his attempts to sign Kaprizov to seven- or eight-year contracts in the range of $9 million per season. They’re now willing to discuss a mid-range deal lasting four, five or six years.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz points out a lucrative deal for Kaprizov could complicate efforts to re-sign Fiala to a long-term deal starting next season when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter start eating up a big chunk of cap space over the following three years.
Gretz suggests embracing a rebuild, perhaps by shopping Kaprizov for a big return. While it wouldn’t be the best PR move, he felt it would be the best long-term option. He also recommended shopping Fiala if they’re not sold on the winger. It might also be too cost-prohibitive to retain defenseman Matt Dumba, who’s earning $6 million annually through 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin is calling Kaprizov’s bluff, confident the young forward will return to the Wild. The winger has little leverage except to threaten to return to the KHL. Most observers doubt he’ll follow through. A four-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million seems likely.
Guerin’s bold decision to buy out Parise and Suter will cost the Wild over $12 million in dead cap space in 2022-23, and over $14 million in each of the following two seasons. Big new contracts for Kaprizov and Fiala will make it difficult to re-sign future free agents like Dumba, Cam Talbot, and Jordan Greenway. It will also be tough to add new players over that period.
A rebuild suggested by Gretz seems unlikely at this stage. A lot will depend upon the club’s performance this season, especially with the younger players already on the roster and those who could crack the lineup this season. Affordable youth stepping up could provide Guerin the room to navigate through his difficult salary-cap situation after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim in the free-agent market. Right-hand shot blueliners include Jason Demers, Sami Vatanen and Erik Gudbranson. Centers include Eric Staal, Tyler Bozak, Artem Anisimov, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas, though the latter two could already be under contract with the New York Islanders.