NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2021

by | Sep 21, 2021 | Rumors | 17 comments

Updates on the notable unsigned restricted free agents as training camps approach in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, Ottawa Senators left winger Brady Tkachuk and Minnesota Wild right winger Kirill Kaprizov are among the notable restricted free agents still without contracts as training camps open later this week. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlen and St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas are also among those without contracts.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

  THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Canucks fans probably won’t see Pettersson and Hughes when training camp begins on Thursday in Abbotsford, BC. General manager Jim Benning maintains they’re continuing to have good dialogue and hopes to get something done sooner rather than later. Kuzma wonders if bridge deals for the young stars might be palatable for both parties.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal cited sources in Pettersson’s camp saying the young center has departed Vancouver and flown to Michigan to be with Hughes. Both are close friends and represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. They will remain in Michigan preparing for the upcoming season while awaiting a resolution in negotiations.

It’s expected the Canucks will sign Pettersson first because Hughes isn’t eligible to receive an offer sheet. While the threat of an offer sheet is remote the club doesn’t want to take any chances. Of the two, Hughes could be the more likely to ink a long-term deal. The Canucks have up to $16 million in cap space if necessary to sign both but would ideally prefer $14.5 – $15 million.

There’s also speculation whatever Kaprizov gets with the Minnesota Wild will affect how much Pettersson receives from the Canucks. However, that’s considered remote within the industry. The Wild face a unique salary-cap crunch in the near term so inking Kaprizov to a bridge deal has little benefit for them.

The comparables for Pettersson could be the bridge deals signed by Tampa Lightning center Brayden Point ($6.75 million annual average value) and the New York Islanders Mathew Barzal ($7 million AAV).

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the lines of communication remain open between the Senators and Tkachuk but the two sides remain at a stalemate. While things can change with one phone call, it’s expected the Senators will open training camp tomorrow without the 22-year-old left winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of these players could be under contract by tomorrow morning. Then again, negotiations could drag on through the opening days of their respective camps.

The Canucks probably won’t get Pettersson and Hughes under contract for less than a combined $14 million. Pettersson could come in at $7.5 million and Hughes close to $7 million. By the sound of things, Pettersson could end up with a bridge deal.

It’s been reported the Senators have an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually on the table for Tkachuk. Maybe his representatives are pushing for $9 million or perhaps they seek a shorter term in hope of cashing in on a more lucrative deal in three or four years’ time.

Kaprizov will miss the opening week of training camp. Even if signed today, he would reportedly face a seven-day quarantine period before joining his Wild teammates. His side wants a short-term deal in order to qualify for UFA status as soon as possible while the Wild prefer between five and eight years. It’s believed he’ll eventually get a five-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million.

Not much to report on Dahlin and Thomas. Talks are said to be ongoing between the Sabres and the 21-year-old blueliner but no word on possible contract terms. Thomas, meanwhile, took part in the Blues’ development camp sessions last week. He’s said to be seeking more than teammate Jordan Kyrou’s $2.8 million AAV on a two-year deal.


  1. 21 and 22 year olds holding out for 5 plus mil pee year…does that sound rediculous? Gotta get agents out of the way and put player in a room with gm and bang it out. All this drama over something they didn’t have before, most of them anyhow, just sours the fans and makes for a worse product (guys not playing up to their now bad contract, cap hell, cap dumps, buyouts, guys not in sync with the team on the ice and more) don’t sign by camp don’t play might fix it a bit

    • Precedence has been set by the likes of the Toronto boys who got paid before they won anything. You cannot blame young players and their agents following suit.

      Elias Pettersson keeps saying he wants to win… so he needs to follow players like Bergeron and others who took less to fill out a complete roster in order to compete in the salary cap era.

      • Just a thought : your comment made me think of the unanimity of positive comments, regarding Patrice Bergeron. It reminded me of the great Jean Béliveau. Have you ever heard anything negative said, about those men ?

    • AZHockeyNut I agree 100% and was thinking I wish during my work life I could have had an agent that did my “dirty” work for me. I can’t believe that one person is so valuable to a team that they are worth all this drama. One player at 8 million per year would be approximately 10% of the total cap hit. I don’t know what the solution is but for these players not to show for training camp to me puts a bad taste in the mouth of those that do show up and work their butts off just to hopefully make the team. Talk about an “elite” group !!!

      • Agree – which is why, when I posted my thought that Brady Tkachuk’s signing would be announced on the opening of training camp for maximum publicity (which is tomorrow – not Monday as I erroneously posted a few days ago), I added that there was also an extreme possibility that, if he and his agent are holding out for a shorter term than the alleged 8 years wanted by Dorion, he could find himself signed to such a deal … and then dealt for the top 2 C they supposedly still seek. It was done before in Ottawa with Hossa – signed and traded the same day.

        Dorion has proven before that he has little patience with such “negotiations” … I still see that as an extreme option – but it wouldn’t surprise or annoy me.

        It won’t be, however, to St. Louis for a Terasenko or even their unsigned RFA.

      • Not sure comparing regular employees with NHL players is accurate.
        For one thing, if you don’t you get paid enough go work for somebody else, and if you are really good at what you do, and there is a lucrative market for what you do, you should get paid.
        Plus the NHL is the best of the best and as competitive a job as there is. Can’t say that is true for 99.9 % of the population.

        The difference for these guys is they can’t take their services to the competition unless there is an offer sheet, which we have debated ad nauseum. There are reasons GM’s don’t use them often.

        So they play the only card they have, hold out for better deal by applying pressure/leverage that the team will lose without them, fan pressure builds, falls too far out to make playoffs and that $, etc.

        If Benning has the stones to wait this out, the player will lose more $ than he can pickup on a better deal especially if he ends up sitting the year. Can he hang on that long?

        Benning needs the Nucks to play well out of the gate, but having 2 of your best young players missing in camp sure doesn’t help that. No offence to VCR fans, but they aren’t winning the cup this year, this should be about the long term and getting them on the best deal possible for VCR should be job one.

    • So put a 21 or 22 year old in a room with a 50+ year old GM who has a history in the Business of Hockey?
      I am sure that will go over well.
      I understand Backstrom, DD, Ovie, and Thornton are some of the guys who negotiated their own contracts later on in their careers, however a 21 or 22 year old is not going to fully understand these negotiations, and a Agent is not going to sign off on a deal he wasnt involved with structuring.

    • Their careers are short to start with… and injuries happen… NOW is the time to maximize earnings.

      Don’t blame them a bit. It’s an entertainment industry and they’re stars. Stars make more… a lot more… and should.

      This is merely the negotiating game. As a player… I wouldn’t give a F*** what the fans think. Frankly… I don’t think it’s their business. I’d prefer if contracts were not disclosed…

      … because when it comes down to it… it’s none of your business how much someone earns.

      • Unless you’re the tax man!

      • I agree and have said this for years . It actually makes the agents job easier They just look at what player makes and compares this to their client, then negotiates more or agrees to have his client get less. Better if agents didn’t know what players make

      • Problem there is, most agents have a number of player clients … and who’s to stop them from talking to one another?

  2. As long as you accept that the best player on the team deserves the highest pay, there’s nothing wrong with young studs and their agents wanting the pay.

    The salary structure needs and should be based on merit and to a degree history.

    Its up to the GM and executive to instil the culture in the team, a culture of winning coming before personal gain, Boston is such a team for the most part.

    • Agree HF30, but having watched EDM hand out long term deals to all 3 of their young guys coming out of ELC’s (Hall Eberle) under the last MGT team , an argument can be made about whether or not it is a good idea.
      Too much $$ too fast doesn’t work for every guy in his early 20’s. Either with regards to health, talent, maturity, team play etc.

      Sometime the bet pays off and and you end up with a guy like McKinnon on a great deal as he continues to strive to win and work his butt off.
      Not every guy is like that.
      Better be sure, or sign them to the bridge.
      Is Benning sure about these 2 guys?

  3. Pretty sure the 8 year term and even the 8 mill has in theory already been agreed upon by the Sens and the Tkachuk camp. The issue is the bonus money and the structure of how and when during the 8 years he gets paid.

    • I hear that theory as well Dark G. Seems to be the position of Gord Brown and a few others. Let’s hope they iron it out.

  4. I think every player coming off an ELC should be bridged. It is better for the league and ultimately the fan. In fact I would like to see it in the CBA. Which will take away a lot of the risk
    Not that long ago rookies who had not played a minute were getting mega deals. Ala Alexander Daigle
    Tough running a business having a particular cost go from 900k to $8 million . Even if you know it is coming. Good Players will get their money ultimately . Just not 3 years in.
    I predict all the players noted today will get bridge deals .

  5. The CBA was negotiated in good faith ,if an RFA chooses to hold out for max return that is his right, as it is the teams right to refuse to pay beyond what it considers fair value.
    Very few players are worth contracts outside of the CBA .
    GMs that agreed to too many of such contracts have helped create the current enviroment wherein unexceptional RFAs are holding out.
    As was stated GMs need to stare some of these down , make the kid sit for a year to level the field. Fans will accept it if it is reasonable.
    Congrats to Canada for holding a boring , uneventful election.
    Noone died , a few bigots and cheats were outed and it will all be forgotten in a few days.