NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2021

by | Aug 7, 2021 | Rumors | 28 comments

A look at the best players still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: listed the best available UFAs still available.

The notable goaltenders include Tuukka Rask, wingers Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev, centers Casey Cizikas, Travis Zajac, Ryan Donato and Alex Galchenyuk, and defensemen Jason Demers, Sami Vatanen and Zdeno Chara.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox took a more in-depth look at the top-10 UFA still on the market.

Will Tuukka Rask return with the Boston Bruins this season? (NHL Images)

Rask’s future depends on his recovery from offseason hip surgery. If he does return, he’s indicated it’ll only be with the Boston Bruins. In his absence, the Bruins will start the season with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman as their goalie tandem.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writing appears on the wall with Ullmark signing a four-year, $20 million contract with the Bruins. If Rask is ready to return later this season, they could go with him and Ullmark as their tandem and demote Swayman as he’s waiver-exempt this season.

Palmieri, Cizikas and Zajac are believed to have handshake agreements with the New York Islanders but those agreements haven’t been officially announced yet. There’s also talk they’ve signed winger Zach Parise, who was bought out last month by the Minnesota Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Consensus among most pundits is Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has most or all of those aforementioned players under contract. It’s believed those deals haven’t been officially announced because he doesn’t want his rival GMs to know how much salary-cap space he actually has left.

It’s the same tactic Lamoriello took during the last offseason with Matt Martin, Andy Greene and Cory Schneider. Those deals weren’t officially announced until just before the start of last season.

That’s fueled speculation the Isles GM is working on a trade. It could be for a winger like St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko or a left-side, top-four defenseman to replace Nick Leddy, who was traded to Detroit last month.

Chara is spending the offseason in his native Slovakia with his family. His agent said his client is working out hard and keeping all his options open. During his season-ending Zoom call, however, the big defenseman seemed uncertain about returning for a 24th NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara had a decent season with the Washington Capitals but it was obvious the 44-year-old blueliner was slowing down. If he does return it would be on an affordable one-year deal and in a third-pairing role.

Fox indicated the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t fully closed the door on bringing back Galchenyuk. He also said the Montreal Canadiens were said to have some level of interest in a reunion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there’s a fit for Galchenyuk with either club. Both have limited cap space and have already invested in other low-cost options.


  1. Time for Chara to pack it in.I never want to see Rask in a bruins jersey again in my lifetime. Always some excuse not to play, he can never win the big game, lose him.

    • Win a lot of big games in your pro sports career Rick?

      • Ah ah, good answer, Ray. I hate those peremptory judgments, on legendary players. Chara is one, and Rask, one hell of a goalie, who, OH NO, happened to remember, he has a family. How dared he ?

    • Rick–good points pretty spot on. I still think 33 can play a 3rd pair role for a team that needs some mentorship. Wouldn’t be shocked to see him on Long Island

  2. No matter who your team is, how great would it be to have Chara on your 3rd pairing? He did average over 18 min Average Time On Ice in 20/21. Or am I just living in the past on memories?

    • Yup, I’d take him in a heartbeat.

  3. Lamoriello is so smart and truly ahead of his time. Playing his signings “close to the vest” with verbal handshake agreements, so rival GM’s never know how much Cap room he has remaining is quite intelligent.

    It won’t be long before other GM’s begin utilizing this strategy.

    • He isn’t fooling anyone … and after losing Eberle, does he really think that Palmieri & Parise are the answers to his anemic offense? yawn …

    • If hockey pundits are writing about these handshake agreements, don’t you think the other gms are aware of them too? Just doesn’t seem like a very well kept secret to me.

    • Ahead of his time? He is over 70 years old and has been doing this job forever. All he is doing is not officially announcing who he may have already signed. It’s obvious that other GMs are aware of it as another person commented. Not officially announcing signings to the media is not exactly an amazing super strategy. If other GMs contacted player agents and that agent did not want to work a deal then it would be pretty obvious to other GMs what is going on. The only people who would be “tricked” by this are fans that don’t really follow this stuff.

  4. He traded Leddy and now needs to replace him ?
    I think he cleared some dollars to take on Tarasenko in a trade with no dollars held. Waiting on STL
    I believe he needs that to happen before the other dominoes can fall. Has to see what dollars are left prior to signing Palmieri and Praise and company.

  5. I think Demers would be a good veteran RD option for the Leafs. He would be very good insurance to play 3rd pair RD if it ends up that Dermott can’t play his off side or Liljgren isn’t ready.

    Not sure if Galchenyuk is hoping for a long term contract or a big raise on what he made last year? Kind of surprised he hasn’t re-signed in TOR. 2 years @ $1.5M would seem to be a reasonable contract. I’d prefer Galchenyuk at $1.5M to Engvall at $1.25M

  6. As a Blues fan, i don’t think it’s waiting on Tarasenko . If you have……Parise, Palmeri, Zajac, & Cisikas waiting on handshake deals….. they’re going after someone like, Cam Fowler or, someone like that .

  7. So anyone else fall over laughing at Nurses new contract?

    9.25 for a 6mil a year defenseman is awesome!

    • MP would you mind listing the $6M D-men that are as good or better than Nurse?

      • Ray, I have one Ivan Provorov at $6.75m

        Still say the $9m is an overpayment by all of them

      • Ya saw him too Caper, I checked before I said it as I knew somebody would, I don’t think he is as good yet, but should be when he hits UFA. And will get paid too. For sure now.
        On a crappy defensive team, so tough to judge him.

        I don’t think the Oil wanted to pay him that either, but whadda ya gonna do? Market is set. Thanks Stan.

    • I DID ! 🤣🤣🤣🤣

      The only D-Man that signed to that much money, & deserves it is…..Makar .

      He’s the only D-Man that has signed to that kind of deal that can change a game himself .

  8. If I were king of the NHL, I would require that all UFA signings have to be made within one month of the start of free agency. Players should have clarity over where they’re going to play and fans should know what their team is basically going to look like and not have GM’s play the “we’re still looking at things” game.

  9. Ryan Reaves when he sees Tom Wilson for the first time this upcoming season:


  10. If Chara don’t get a invite to play anywhere a spot behind the Bruins bench would be nice at some point

    • Ya Joe, would be good to have him in the organization.
      Asst coach, minor league coach, advisor, player development, fitness, Mgt trainee, security, greeter, manager of something that somebody else actually does, etc etc. Just having him around is a good idea.

      • The guy that interacts with fans during TV timeouts, doing “pizza box shuffles” and giving away gift cards

      • Guy who puts the star on top of the locker room Christmas tree.

      • Like the fan interaction idea Augustus.
        Throw in the t-shirt launcher, and it’s perfect.

  11. Would like to see the Bruins add a Samuel Morin or a Ross The Boss to the team both would be nice ….. they have no protection what so ever for their playmakers

    • I don’t think we need that anymore. Charlie can stick up for himself. Pasta can too. If all else fails, Marchand can carve someone’s face off in a pinch.

  12. Don’t be so sure about that Shoreorrpark.

    The days of the on ice enforcers are not over with just yet. No matter how hard they try to turn this great sport into a tennis match, hockey is and always will be a contact sport played by men.

    There will always be a need for every Team to have an enforcer. History has shown that at any moment during a game, especially when the Stanley Cup is on the line, players will hit hard and eventually in the heat of the moment cheap shots will occur. Just look at last year’s Rangers team after Tom Wilson “rag dolled” their $11 million star player. Standing up for your teammates is necessary.

    Players Policing the game will never leave, no matter what how much NHL Management tries to remove it from the game.