NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2021

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Rumors | 57 comments

The latest on Brady Tkachuk’s contract talks with the Senators and some speculation about Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly’s next contract in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports all eyes are on Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk after Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks over the weekend. Tkachuk is the sole notable restricted free agent.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion remains in constant contact with Tkachuk’s agents and both sides hope to get this resolved as soon as possible. It’s believed the Senators have pitched an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Friday the Tkachuk camp seeks north of $8.4 million.

No one knows what effect Pettersson’s three-year bridge contract with the Canucks will have on Tkachuk’s negotiations. St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland said the Senators prefer a seven- or eight-year deal while Tkachuk seeks a bridge deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Tkachuk signs for three seasons, he’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and can seek a much higher annual average value. It’ll also bring him within one year of eligibility for unrestricted free agency.

The Senators obviously want to avoid that scenario. For now, there’s no indication the two sides are getting closer to an agreement though that could change quickly with the start of the season fast approaching.

TSN: Darren Dreger talked about Morgan Rielly’s contract situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Asked what a hometown discount would be for Rielly, Dreger speculates it would be north of $8 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With several notable defensemen inking big-money contracts this summer, Rielly is going to seek a comparable deal. A hometown discount would be at least $8 million annually.

The Leafs have over $67 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Even if Rielly accepted $7 million annually, it would still take a big chunk out of their cap payroll with goalie Jack Campbell also slated to become a UFA and defenseman Rasmus Sandin a restricted free agent. In other words, unless the Leafs shed salary they’re going to have a difficult time keeping Rielly beyond this season.


  1. That last line should read “In other words, unless the Leafs shed salary they’re going to have a difficult time having 20 players under NHL contracts beyond this season.”

    • Tkachuck will hold the Sens hostage. The Sens and hockey media made him out to be a key star first line player who scores at a 3rd liner rate. No way he should sign a 3 yr deal because if he does, he’ll bolt once he’s UFA plus I doubt as much as the Sens fans and management says they are ready to compete, 3 yrs won’t be enough time to show Tkachuk the Sens are cup contenders. Welcome to the Sens start of cap juggling and player headaches. Too bad you’re gonna over pay for average or slightly over average players.

      • I guess they should just move the team, eh?

  2. Part of me wishes the Sens tell Tkachuk to go play in the KHL and see you next year.

    Morgan Rielly, another player supposed to get big money despite never winning anything to earn it.

    Jake Evans signed a three year $5.1 million contract and his comment was so refreshing:

    “Playing in the NHL it’s a great life. No matter what salary you’re getting it’s good money and you’re playing the sport you love and just having fun with it. So I’m just really happy.”

    • There is a growing feeling among the Ottawa fan base – gleaned from casual chats at grocery stores, hardware stores, barber shops – that share that view on Tkachuk. It appears more and more that, always lurking in the background – and very much a part of the decision-making – is Papa Tkachuk.

      The guy has had 3 seasons in the NHL and if you calculate his offensive production for each season on the basis of 82 games, he has remained at 52 pts for each season. Yes, he brings other intangibles to the table … but is that worth “north of $8.4 million ….” over 8 years? Not in my book … and that opinion is becoming widespread here.

      If he holds out for that bridge deal (putting Ottawa in the same position as that faced by Calgary 3 years down the line), then sign him … and then deal his ass, preferably to a team – if possible – just starting their own re-build, such as San Jose or Arizona or Detroit or Buffalo. Then let him endure 3 more years of that.

      • George: late to this party and in a rush, but Habfan30 has a point about the KHL.

        If Brady won’t sign a reasonable long term deal – in which both parties share the risk – then offer him a drop dead date for a 3 year deal. Brady can then do some serious thinking about whether he would rather enjoy the benefit of 7 million this year in the NHL, or 1 million (the KHL cap, I think), and whether over his NHL career he will make up the 6 million difference.

        As I understand it, the Sens will still own Brady’s rights and he will still be in his RFA period next year if he does go to the KHL.

        The Sens are – sorry – not likely to risk losing playoff revenue this year without him – and at the end of a three year deal starting this year or next they will still have to bid for his services.

        Have a talk with your buddy Dorion and see if this works for him.

        That, on the fly, is how I see it.

      • LJ, I can only hope that Dorion doesn’t cave and hamstring the team by adding a cap hit “north of $8.4 mil” for 8 years. Would he be missed? Probably to some degree from the “leadership” aspect, but his annual 3 year average of 52 pts over 82 games will, I believe, be more than made up by Formenton. And Stutzle, Norris, Batherson, Pinto, Conor Brown and Paul should each show progress in the offensive category.

        Then there’s also the player (or players?) they might get back if Tkachuk was signed to a bridge and then dealt to consider.

        If St. Louis wants to have both Tkachuks down the line, then see what they’re prepared to offer for Brady – either now as an unsigned RFA or af ter he signs a 3-year bridge. Who knows, maybe daddy will convince his boys to take “team friendly” deals when it’s time to re-sign in St. Loo so they’ll all be “home.”

      • I’m all for guys making as much as they can… but agree with your take.

    • There are lots of players that have not won anything. You have to accept that in a league with only one winner an only so many individual honors. There are no placeholder awards that show how close of a value others are.

      To suggest that if you have not won anything you don’t deserve to get paid your value is another example of how your logic is flawed in this regard.

      • I take the point, Flying V.

        Perhaps another way of looking at it is how much the player contributes to the team’s wins, and at what cost in terms of salary versus overall cap hit. Presently the system seems to be like buying houses, where the market value is based on what a similar house in the neighbourhood costs.

        I get that star power can also contribute to ticket sales but fans will support a winning team even if it doesn’t have a McDavid or Crosby. Heck, the Wings, Wild and the Preds all were in the top 20 in attendance, out of the top ten by about 1,000 tickets. Even the Sabres made the top 20.

        And the Bruins got a lot of mileage out of their approach to salary and cap management these past years.

      • The NHL isn’t like the NBA where one star player can take an average team to a championship. Lebron plays like 50+ minutes of a 60 minute basketball game. McDavid averaged 22 minutes a game last season. That is a little more than a third of the game. A star player in the NHL in on the bench the majority of the game. There is only so much they can do.

    • Hey habfan30, I see the Habs just signed Arber Xhekaj to a 3-year entry deal – if he makes it to the NHL some day he has to be the first ever whose surname starts with an X!

      • would love to hear a bill chadwick or derek sanderson have a go at it with that name

      • Just verified on Hockey-Reference & HockeyDB…
        You are right, sir!

      • Never heard of the kid till the rookie camp this year, undrafted and looked pretty good.

        I’m guessing Albanian heritage

        Rudy on ice? lol

      • He’s certainly a big bugger!

      • Hi Rich

        I’m keen on hearing ANY play-by-play guy call out his name…. Hope he makes it and touches the puck often

        Can you imagine Grapes having a go at his name ?

        Perhaps they give him a nickname (“Axe” ??) making it easier on his teammates and coaches LOL

      • Cherry would probably just do what Dizzy Dean used to do when broadcasting baseball and came across an unpronounceable name – call him “alphabet”

      • fyi, it’s pronounced jack-eye

      • I have heard “X-man” as a nickname for him already. Unfortunate, as I’d love to hear the announcers from around the league have a go at it!

    • I don’t involve my fan feelings in contract negotiations. I save everything for the games I watch. The business of hockey is not a subject where we can ever fully understand all the nuances.
      Wishing a player any form of penance (KHL🥴?) is simply silly!

      • Well, I’m not “wishing” it – but then again, I’m also not in favor of caving to an unrealistic cap hit for someone who hasn’t even come close to an $8.4 mil plateau in his first 3 consistently 52-pts per year career.

        So, maybe the KHL becomes his only option IF he wants to play competitive hockey over the coming season and he’s not under signature to some team by December 21.

    • Refreshing???? Were I a 7th round pick & a fringe NHL player, I to would be pleased as punch if I was earning 1.7 million a year to play in the NHL. That’s akin to winning the lottery.

  3. The math is simple for Leafs…. If they keep all their top paid players and extend Reilly at a “hometown” $8M…..that’s $68 M on 8 players…. (4 F, 3 D, 1 G)….with an expected bump to ceiling of $82.5 M….. that’s $14.5 M for 15 players….$966 K each…. Basically almost all at league min…. Sign Campbell or equivalent… will cost likely $2.5…. so that’s $12M left for 14 players…. Less than $860 per player left

    So…. for 22/23 (note , second last year of Mathews)…. They can’t keep ALL of their top 4 forwards; top 3 D and their 2 current goalies

    At LEAST one (maybe 2) of the big contracts (now with the above scenario, includes Reilly) has to go by start of 22/23….. and Leafs are still not even the top of their own Div ; let alone any hopes of a deep run, SC appearance; or a SC victory

    There MUST be changes for the start of 22/23 and they will need to be significant

    It won’t be JT…. Full NMC/NTC

    What are the prudent moves for Leafs after this upcoming season?

    • That’s some scary math! But what about the architects of this situation? Do they get off Scot-free?

      • You mean whoever created the covid virus, George?

      • LOL. Well, them too.

    • Stared watching the Leaf doc “All or Nothing”. Guess they should have changed the name to “All for Nothing“ lol

    • @Pengy, there really isn’t much the Leafs can do until the start of the 2023-24 season.
      If they trade Marner/Nylander, what is the plan if Matthews leaves?
      I think what they might be waiting for is contract extension time, if he isn’t resigning, he gets traded for a bunch of assets – having a look at what Arizona has in terms of picks and prospects, that would be the first call.

      I don’t want to lose Matthews, but losing him for nothing is a far worse outcome.

      Get the assets for Matthews, keep nylander, tavares and Nylander, then build around that.

      • Nylander, Tavares and Marner*

      • Hi Taz

        It may come down to that (trade of AM) but does not have to wait until start of 23-24… can be done next summer…. Acquiring team gets him for 2 years plus rights to negotiate an extension on 1/7/23

        The trade market (interested teams) will be large

        What needs to be considered…. Adams is holding out for the equivalent of 4 firsts…. Eichel as a healthy player is not as good as AM; add to that the uncertainty/risk re his neck (surgery or not; what surgery if done; potential failure in surgery; even if successful… how productive is he on return)

        With that “value” being held out for by Sabres…. What could AM fetch?

        If there is a team that is say willing to give up (next summer) a mid 20’s 1C that is say in the 30 G, 75 point range; and a very good mid 20’s 2nd pairing RD…. Both with term; with combined Cap hit of say $9 M – $9.5 M (saving Leafs $2M minimum in Cap) ; and 2 1sts (or equivalent prospects or say depth forwards)…. That, IMHO , would be a smart move

        That’s converting 1 player Cap hit(albeit a great player) in to 4 players on the roster (1C; 2RD; and 2 4th line wingers)…. At the expense of production loss (AM to the replacement ) of maybe 20 Goals (but with a 2RD and 2 depth Fwds that may make up 6 or 7 of those)

        I’m sure Vegas would jump at a chance

        Rangers would be interested for sure

        These strategies need to at least be discussed internally and with a cone of silence

        Keep the top 4 until 1/7/24 when AM walks….. to me… chances of a cup in next 1/2 decade very very slim

      • Pengy, what you propose is worth a look. Let the season play out and in case of an early exit get on the phone and see what Auston can bring in.
        Realistically, they can make do with a 2C/1LW, prospects and picks. JT moves to 1C.
        When you consider that they are able to get that prospect pick currency, get a 2C (or equivalent pick) and get to keep Reilly, thats a haul that should be considered.
        Would stephenson fit that 2C? Would they add Krebs or Cormier?

  4. I am not in agreement that $8M would be a home town discount. Although there have been multiple $9M contracts handed out for defensemen lately, Reilly isn’t in that league. I am generally in disagreement with any player making more than about 10% of the salary cap, which makes is difficult to field a full quality team. In any case, the defensemen who received these big contracts are either younger than Reilly, or are much better defenders. Anything north of about $6M is an overpayment for a skilled offensive player who is also only average (at best) defensively. No thank you.

    • Hi Iago

      Your argument/stance certainly has merit and I support it in general

      That said…. Re 10%….. there are IMHO , likely more players above that level (basically $8.2 M or more) than are warranted

      ….. but guys like McD, Sid, and Mathews, certainly deserve more than 10%

      Then there are guys, due to time of signing bridge deals, that are underpaid…. Mac K at $6.3 M has to be one of (if not THE) best deals (for ownership) in the league

      What it comes down to is (1) what the market will dictate ; and that number skewed by the (2) “need”; “want”; “desire” by GM (persuaded by ownership and/or fans) to keep/acquire that player (a “premium” payment) ; with that number tweaked by (3)(bargaining power of player… hold out, offer sheet etc); tweaked again by (4) agreeable term and/or amount of SB; and finally a “modification” of (5) player willing to sign for a little less than they could push for (tax benefits of city, desire not to uproot, desire to be with/stay with this team etc)

      Some players are definitely overpaid

      In general, since so many teams are basically at/near ceiling, it can be argued that too many players are overpaid

      Spend just to below the ceiling efficiently ; barring major injuries…. Ownerships investment (in players salaries) of just over $80 M, to win a SC👍👍👍…. But 31 other owners also have those dreams (“investment strategies”)

      To me, Iago, Leafs “mix” of Salary distribution MUST change in order for them to win the cup

      As at now…. They are not even assured of a playoff spot…. I’m counting Bolts and Panthers as definite since Atl…. leaving Leafs needing to beat out one of Habs or Bruins (not ranking that BTW) …. and that certainly is NOT guaranteed; and if not…. beat out 5th place in Metro (again not guaranteed)

      Regardless…. Even if they make it to the playoffs…. the odds of getting past the second round his year …. Slim at best; win the East….. ummmmmmm methinks it’s an Uber Uber longshot; win the SC next June…… you get the picture

      Something SUBSTANTIAL needs to be done next post season

      • I agree with you about Toronto Pengy. They are most definitely top-heavy on the big four….all forwards. I have and still maintain that the problem began when they signed Tavares. Adding him (at a little overpayment) solved a problem that Toronto didn’t have….scoring goals, which they were already very good at the year before JT arrived. The money needed to be spent bolstering their defense core. I might say the same about Vegas signing Pietrangelo. They were already very good defensively, but couldn’t put the puck in the net enough in the playoffs, and have been bounced two years in a row because of that. Toronto and Vegas would be better off if Tavares played in the desert, and Pietrangelo was wearing blue and white.

      • Hi Iago

        The mindset re acquiring JT may be inked as the potential start of the Cap make-up problems; but acquiring him was not a bad issue at the time; and at the time, the over-pay may have been argued at say $500 K per

        That said… the true catalyst to Cap he’ll lay elsewhere

        I rarely agree with Burke; but I’m 100 % behind him (in fact in front of him since I posted the same almost word for word; a few months before he said it live on HNIC) on the downfall beginning with the Nylander capitulation

        Burkie/Pengy stated/posted that he should have sat the year (post season remains the same) and that would have put Dubas in the negotiating power seat when eventually finalizing his deal and then AM’s and MM’s

        Burkie/Pengy stated/posted that the capitulation ended up costing (combined cap on the 3) about $4M – $5M per (that could have been more prudently spent on D) AND it cost them an additional year of AM

        To me… Dubas was had (Nylander deal)…. now Cap hell

        Covid or not…. still cost $4M -$5M per…. That buys a good DMan

      • Pengy, I think you’re right that Dubas was “had” at the time of the Nylander signing … but right now I’d take him at that cap hit – his point totals since that first year when he missed so much time have warranted that deal – over Tkachuk at $8.4 per.

        No, he doesn’t have the “grit” possessed by Brady, but he does produce offensively, and Ottawa right now has several players who can provide any missing “grit” from Tkachuk quite nicely.

    • Just something to consider regarding making bets on young players with regards to long term deals.
      The they have won anything, or what have they proven etc. We all make them.

      Pengy brought up MacKinnon as a great deal, because it is at $6.3. That deal kicked in 2016/17 season. He had 53 pts in 82 games, minus 15. He turned 21 at the start of that season.
      Previous 3 years averaged 51 pts, but also missed some time.
      Other FWDS in his range back then Bergy, Monahan, Johnny H, Thorton, Marleau, Pavelski, RNH, Lucic, Eberle, Sheifele, etc. You get the drift.
      He had proven less than all of them, and today is better than all of them.

      Only point is, teams bet on young players they believe in. If you’re right you’re brilliant, if you’re wrong, you’re fired.

      Would I bet $8M x 8M on Brady? Nope. But he will be a very good NHL player for a long time IMO, not a franchise player. That is franchise money. If he thinks he is, then he needs to prove it and do what Nurse did when they tried to lock him up long term, he bet on himself and was right. Now he gets paid.

      I also believe the cap will be up significantly in a few years if we can have full arenas. I think GM’s and ownership expect the same.

      • Unfortunately, Ray, that last is a big big IF with the way things are unfolding all over the globe – and not just related to Covid variants. Economies are on the brink in a lot of places.

      • That is true George, there are also examples of countries with high vaccination rates that are doing well and reopening. I used the Denmark example yesterday.
        45.8% of the world has at least 1 shot. 6.36 billion doses in basically 10 months. If we do that again, things should look better this time next year. Assuming no variant emerges that evades the vaccine. Higher in advanced economies, lower in poor countries where we need to also get it going.

        Mandates work, we will see them more and more as it is good for business.
        Call me cautiously optimistic and the NHL does well again.

      • No the cap will be stagnant for most of these players careers. The owners will be asking for the ,money back from the last 2 seasons plus this one. they will be demanding their share of the revenue lost to CoVid/ It is why they asked for escrow so that this happens faster. Which would help the cap rise faster than it’s going to in the present state. The players that end up paying it back are still in Jrs, college even minor hockey.

      • You sound pretty sure about that Swamp Dragon, I am less so.
        Aware of the escrow, which is why I think it will happen faster.
        I think this year and next, flat or basically flat.
        Maybe the year after, or a portion of which so would see a minor bump.
        The new US TV deal is a big chunk win.
        Time will tell.

  5. The Leafs GM should take a contract lesson from Boston,they have their entire team under 7 million.37/6.8 63/6.1 88/6.6 it stays that way until Mcavoy is up.At least win a [playoff series before you spend money crazy.I see 2 Bruins castoffs are playing on your top 9 forwards.GOOD LUCK!

  6. Is it a Tkachuk family tradition to have a contract hold-out situation at least once in your career?

    I like him as a player, but I don’t see 8.4M x 8 years. Everyone you overpay in a cap system means less depth in your lineup.

    If they’re offering 8M, and the kid is holding out for 8.4M, start the season without him. You’ve got other contracts coming up, and if you overpay now, you’ve set the precedent for future holdouts and overpayments.

    • Bingo!~ Spot on.

    • TKACHUK…….This is the American way of negotiation…..bully your way to opponents submission…

    • he is not worth 8×8 IMO , this dance is a sign of more things to come. Sign him to a bridge and start working on a deal to move him in the off season.
      Not the type of person that you want as your captain , sure he gives it all on the ice but a captain needs to set an example for the rest of the players on the team.

  7. Reilly isn’t worth 8 as he isn’t good enough on D, 6,5-7 tops. Leafs need to trade one of M, M or N, they need to have 2-3 players at 3-5m to play in middle 6 that can produce. As of now, if the big 4 are in a drought they are toast.

    • Kent

      I agree

      Change up needed… or Cup…. Forgedddabowdit

      • Good thing you have a backup plan, Pengy.
        Go Pens Go!

      • Hey how many years or times do you guys need to be so wrong over and over again and it not be sad?
        These comments are effing boring man!

      • Got rubbed the wrong way eh Ron? What’s boring is listening to clowns like you annual defending the undefendable. Come back when they actually win a series.

  8. Brady T ain’t worth Matt Tkachuk money. Certainly ain’t worth Pettersson money on a bridge. This might drag on as he is not that prolific offensively and wingers of his stature ain’t worth 8.4 . We will see who blinks. Almost always the player because they like to play and careers are short . 8.4 vs 8. really. I have a hard time believing it that close.

    • SilverSeven, I also believe that the real reason why Dorion is so adamant about not granting a NMC clause – and the Tkachuk camp is well aware of it – is because, if forced to go to the bridge deal, Dorion has every intention of dealing him, probably before the ink is dry.

      • Ray is correct. Nmc etc can’t hit until so many years in the league. That particular reason isn’t applicable George… unless Brady is demanding a handshake nylander type of deal!

      • That’s true Chrisms – forgot that aspect.

    • I don’t think players can qualify for a NMC/NTC unless they are eligible for UFA status?
      Not 100% but think it is the case.

      If so Brady’s wouldn’t kick in until he only had a couple years left.