NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2021
An update on Johnny Gaudreau and the latest on the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz observes there’s been little word on the status of contract talks between Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. The 28-year-old left winger is entering the final season of a six-year, $40.5 million deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
Gaudreau holds a lot of control over his current situation. His no-trade clause has kicked in for this season, limiting the Flames to just five potential trade partners. It puts plenty of pressure on management to sign the winger or risk losing him for nothing next summer.
Gretz speculates Gaudreau’s next contract could be in the $7.5 million to $8 million range per season at a minimum. The Flames must also re-sign restricted free-agent forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. That will make things tight under a salary cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, Gaudreau’s contract status will be the dominant storyline following the Flames this season.
If the Flames improve it could improve their chances of keeping Gaudreau in Calgary. If they remain a middle-of-the-pack playoff club, they risk losing him to free agency next summer.
And if they struggle as they did last season, I expect they’ll try to find a suitable trade partner among the five clubs on Gaudreau’s list of preferred destinations before the March 21 trade deadline.
THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Mattias Ekholm still hopes to remain with the Nashville Predators beyond this season. The 31-year-old defenseman s entering the final season of his six-year, $22.5 million contract and is due to become a UFA next July.
“I want to be here. I want to stay here,” said Ekholm, adding his agent is dealing with Predators general manager David Poile. He remains hopeful they’ll work something out. “I’d rather have it done yesterday,” he said.
Skrbina notes Ekholm’s name surfaced in trade rumors last season, which made the blueliner uncomfortable as he and his wife had a four-week-old baby at that point. He could get a raise for around $6 million annually.
Ekholm’s teammate and fellow UFA, Filip Forsberg, said his focus is on training camp and not on his contract status. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $36 million deal.
Forsberg: “I have no rush to sign. I mean I still have a full year. I don’t know, I feel like you have to play your contract out. Obviously I have a full year. I love this place. I’ve loved every minute since I got here. I definitely feel like we have a really good opportunity
— Robby Stanley (@RStanleyNHL) September 28, 2021
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Ekholm and Forsberg are unsigned the more likely their names will surface in trade speculation this season, especially if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the March trade deadline approaches. It will be worth keeping an eye on their respective situations.