NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2021
LATEST ON THE KOTKANIEMI OFFER SHEET DRAMA
SPORTSNET: Lukas Weese cited Elliotte Friedman suggesting there’s a legitimate chance the Montreal Canadiens won’t match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed on Saturday with the Carolina Hurricanes. He believes the Habs are weighing the merits of that deal against the first- and third-round picks they’ll get from the Hurricanes as compensation plus the salary-cap flexibility gained with the young center off their books.
Friedman speculated Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could take those picks and shop them around the league, perhaps to the Arizona Coyotes for center Christian Dvorak. He’s not sure the Habs are willing to pursue a big fish such as Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, citing an earlier offer they made which they knew was lower than the Sabres’ asking price.
RDS.CA: Norman Flynn believes the Canadiens must match the Hurricanes offer. Kotkaniemi’s departure would leave them thin at center after losing Phillip Danault last month to the Los Angeles Kings via free agency. He also wondered if Kotkaniemi still wants to play in Montreal after being a healthy scratch in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examined the pros and cons of matching the Hurricanes’ offer. Larkin believes the Canadiens could put themselves in a financial bind matching that offer for a player who hasn’t performed like a top-six forward thus far and may or may not reach his potential.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Examining the long list of busted first-round picks by the Canadiens, Stu Cowan believes Bergevin should accept the compensatory package from the Hurricanes and trade the first-round pick for a proven player.
TVA SPORTS: suggested five potential candidates as Kotkaniemi’s replacement. Dvorak, Eichel and Calgary’s Sean Monahan are the trade options. Vancouver’s restricted free agent center Elias Pettersson was also mentioned as was bringing back Eric Staal via the unrestricted free agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those in the media advocating matching the offer appears to be in the minority. Ditto social media where several polls by Canadiens’ bloggers showed most Habs fans prefer letting Kotkaniemi go and accepting the draft picks.
The silence is deafening thus far from the Canadiens’ front office on this subject. That could be because Bergevin is calling around to find a suitable replacement for Kotkaniemi in the trade market. He could dangle those picks from the Hurricanes or bundle them with another pick or a prospect.
Dvorak would make the most sense provided Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is willing to part with him. The cost for Eichel remains far too expensive in return and salary. Monahan’s name was floated as trade bait earlier in the offseason but Flames GM Brad Treliving seems reluctant to move him. The Flames center also has a 10-team no-trade list and the Canadiens could be on it.
The Canucks aren’t trading Pettersson and GM Jim Benning stated several times he’ll match any offer for his young center. Staal saw checking-line minutes during his short tenure with the Canadiens. He won’t address their need for a second-line center.
Bergevin has made up for his poor drafting with a solid trade record. His acquisitions over the years include Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Nick Suzuki, Phillip Danault, Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, Joel Armia and Joel Edmundson. He could bring in a solid replacement for Kotkaniemi with those picks from the Hurricanes.
SHARKS STUCK WITH EVANDER KANE?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked if there was any trade interest in embattled San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane. He said they tried to move him earlier this summer but couldn’t find any takers. He feels any suggestion of moving him now is ridiculous, especially with four years remaining on his contract.
Kurz isn’t sure how the Sharks will handle Kane in the wake of reports several of his teammates no longer want him on the club. One way could be to waive him, not make him report to their AHL affiliate and buy out the remainder of his contract next summer. However, that would leave even more dead cap space, which wouldn’t be ideal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way out at this point is if the NHL finds Kane did throw games betting for money in their current investigation into those allegations made by his estranged wife. That could be grounds for the Sharks to terminate his contract without penalty.