NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2021
TKACHUK CONTRACT IMPASSE WITH SENATORS CONTINUES
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators head coach D.J. Smith is making plans to start the upcoming season without Brady Tkachuk. The 21-year-old left winger’s contract talks with management remain at a stalemate.
Garrioch cites St. Louis broadcaster Andy Strickland reporting Tkachuk wants a three-year contract but the Senators prefer a longer-term. It’s believed they tabled an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million.
Strickland said Tkachuk loves Ottawa but wants to be cautious and see how the next three seasons unfold. Garrioch said the club has nothing but respect for Tkachuk and doesn’t want these negotiations to get vindicative or personal. However, a bridge deal could adversely affect his chances of being named team captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strickland took to Twitter yesterday reporting a lack of communication from the Senators is a big reason why a deal hasn’t been reached yet, sometimes going several days without reaching out to the winger’s camp. This runs counter to reports out of Ottawa claiming Sens general manager Pierre Dorion is in constant contact with Tkachuk’s representatives. Strickland also points out the Senators have a history of doing this to their best players under owner Eugene Melnyk.
Meanwhile, TSN’s Chris Johnston reports Senators sources said they can reach the salary-cap minimum for this season without Tkachuk under contract. They aren’t feeling pressure to become cap compliant by the league’s 5 pm ET deadline on Monday.
LATEST ON HERTL, KESSEL AND BARKOV
TSN: Pierre LeBrun considers Tomas Hertl an early name to watch for on this season’s trade-bait board. The 27-year-old San Jose Sharks center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. LeBrun believes the Sharks would’ve loved to extend Hertl’s contract this summer but he wasn’t ready to enter that type of conversation. He could be in play by the trade deadline if the Sharks are out of playoff contention by then and he remains unsigned.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl also recently hinted at a willingness to accept a hometown discount but winning also remains a priority. The Sharks’ performance this season could determine his future in San Jose.
Darren Dreger believes the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel will also be on this season’s trade-bait list. He’s a UFA next summer and doesn’t appear to fit into the rebuilding Coyotes’ plans. The 34-year-old winger wants a fresh start with a competitive team, if not a contending club. He’s got a big cap hit and some no-trade protection. However, the actual salary is only $1 million. He could be a fit elsewhere later in the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel earns $6 million in actual salary but $5 million of it was as a signing bonus which the Coyotes already paid. He could draw interest by the trade deadline from playoff contenders looking for scoring depth.
LeBrun believes Aleksander Barkov will be staying with the Florida Panthers for the rest of his career. There’s been a lot of talks between the 26-year-old center and the Panthers about a long-term contract extension. He doubts Barkov will hit next summer’s free-agent market, suggesting a deal could be struck within the next several weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are a rising force in the Eastern Conference. Barkov plays a critical role as their captain, first-line center and top two-way forward. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t get a long-term extension done.