Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 3, 2021

by | Oct 3, 2021 | Rumors | 22 comments

Which notable players in next summer’s UFA class could get shopped at the March trade deadline? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently looked at which notable players among the 2022 unrestricted free agents could become trade candidates later this season.

Those UFAs include the Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly, Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville Predators’ Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm, New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Duhatschek pointed out those players belong to clubs that see themselves as playoff or even Stanley Cup contenders this season. He believes they’ll be retained as “own rentals” by their current teams.

The prime trade candidates will likely come from clubs that could be out of playoff contention with five weeks remaining in the regular season. Those could comprise the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. Trade bait could include Sharks center Tomas Hertl, Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, and perhaps Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek suggested Phil Kessel could fetch something of value for the Coyotes. Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and Red Wings blueliner Nick Leddy could draw interest from clubs seeking blueline depth.

Keep an eye on the Flames’ Gaudreau and the Predators’ Forsberg. Those clubs aren’t a sure thing to reach the 2022 playoffs. Trade speculation has dogged Gaudreau for the past two years. Ekholm seems more likely to be re-signed by the Predators than Forsberg, who could get around $8 million annually on the open market.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes Filip Forsberg’s contract negotiations could determine the Nashville Predators’ true intentions. Trading him for draft picks and prospects will signal the rebuild is on rather than a soft reset, marking the end of an era for the club.

Estes believes Forsberg will be traded unless this year’s team turns out to be better on the ice than anyone expects. Re-signing him will cost considerably more than his current $6 million annual average value. It isn’t something a rebuilding club would do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Estes also noted Forsberg’s seemingly indifferent comments about his contract talks, which suggest a lack of progression. If this persists, Forsberg will be a goner by the March 21 trade deadline if the Predators are out of the playoff race.


  1. Hextall will watch the ruins of Rutherfords trainwreck Penguins miss the playoffs this season justifying letting Letang and Malkin walk as FAs next off season or moving them at the trade deadline.

    Canucks get Hughes and Pettersson signed. Now all thats left is to find an NHL calibre defence, get a real coach and find themselves a competent GM.

    Eichel? Who cares? Hes not going anywhere until he proves on the ice he is 100% healthy.

    • I would have moved both Letang & Malkin after last year but those ridiculous NMC’s prohibited that, plus Malkin is injured (what else is new) Mario has to learn how to separate loyalty from good business decisions … the one good thing that will happen is Hextall holding on to future first rounders … Pens have a lot of dead wood …

  2. Leafs new look Marchand
    The “greasy rat”
    Michael Bunting

  3. What might the Penguins team do with the $17 million it gains in cap space by letting Malkin and Letang walk if it finds that Barkov chooses to go to the highest bidder?

    • Need size and toughness for one … and a #1 goalie

      • Would you go after Barkov if he were a UFA?

      • Hell yes. Malkins money right on over. Letang should be resigned though.

  4. Zito will need to do some major shuffling to resign Barkov with 15 million cap space and 13 players signed as of today. AZ has a pile of cap space next year, could Zito entice Armstrong to take on Bobrovsky’s contract by including a couple of high end prospects & or picks ? Armstrong has done a great job dumping and reloading. 3 first round picks and 5 seconds next year. Would Zito consider trading a budding stud like Lundell if it means gaining 10 million to resign Barkov?

    • Fergy22, not as much as you’d think. They’re actually in pretty good shape if the reports of 9.5-10MM per year are to be believed.

      Vatrano, Acciari and Nutivaara are likely gone after this year (or before) and Hornqvist is also going to be bait at some point (likely next offseason or before the TDL next year) to free up the money for Huberdeau’s extension.

      Bob has a full NMC for the next 3 years so that’s a no-go unless he waives.

  5. Something has to give. Too many players expected to get around $8 million on the open market.

    $83m cap. 23 players per team. If 6 players get $8 each, that leaves $35m to sign the rest of the squad, which is an average of only $2.05m.

    I dunno, it just doesn’t seem to work out.

  6. Looking at Duhatschek’s musings I got curious as to how the 32 teams compare when looking at the top 5 cap hits for each in terms of % of the cap, and wonder how that will affect what teams do with their rosters at the trade deadline. When looking at these % consider that the league average is 41.7% of the cap for the top 5 cap hits – and also that Buffalo’s % does not include Eichel’s cap hit (with him it rises to 42.8%), and that Ottawa’s % will also jump IF and when Tkachuk signs

    Tor 56.6
    TB 52.0
    SJ 50.9
    Veg 50.9
    Dal 50.4
    Wash 49.0
    Chi 48.8
    L.A. 46.8
    Edm 46.2
    Col 46.0
    NYR 45.6
    Pit 45.3
    Nash 44.2
    Pha 43.5
    Fla 42.5
    Min 42.4
    StL 42.3
    Van 42.1
    NJ 41.6
    Wpg 41.4
    Car 41.4
    Mtl 41.3
    Clb 39.1
    Cgy 38.6
    Ari 38.4
    Bos 37.9
    NYI 37.7
    Sea 37.3
    Ott 34.9
    Buf 34.3
    Ana 33.7
    Det 32.6

    • George O,

      Good call,

      I think that distribution is an important aspect that needs to be considered as well.

      Are goaltenders, defencemen and forwards evenly balanced or are they accentuated in a direction that gives the team a lack of balance that keeps getting exploited.

    • One thing I know is that all of the cup winners over the last 10 years are in the top half of your list except for maybe St Louis who was there when they won. So I guess you have to ask if your goal is to win the cup or not. I also notice that most of the worst teams in the league are in the bottom half with a few exceptions of course but there will always be a few exceptions.

      • Maybe that’s the lesson?

      • It’s also safe to assume that most of the teams in the bottom half, while their Top 5 % is low also probably have a better collection of higher draft prospects either a year or 2 into their NHL careers, or in the system, than those in the top half. That will start to change as those with the top half teams near the end of their careers – or have to be dealt simply because there’ll be no room under the cap to retain them.

      • What the heck==Your observation, though accurate, is somewhat skewed because four of those Cup wins are repeats by the same teams. Maybe saying that eleven of the top sixteen teams on George’s list haven’t won a Cup in the last ten years would be more revealing.

      • Boston is near the bottom of George O’s list because their top players continue to sign team friendly deals. Many of the other teams near the bottom don’t have the depth of five high priced, high skill players.

      • Not yet Mike. But wait until some of them come up for renewals – as is happening with Tkachuk right now. If he signs at the rumored 8 year $8 mil deal that’ll give Ottawa two at $8 mil. And still with Norris, Formenton, Stutzle, Zub and a couple of other high picks to deal with down the line IF they develop as expected. A lot of those bottom-half teams have the same situation brewing to varying degrees.

        By then, a lot of the high-priced players on teams in the top half will be at or near the end of their big production (e.g. Pavelski and Radulov in Dallas) and if they don’t have any – or very few – top prospects as a result of drafting low in each round (some will get lucky – it always happens), they’ll be in the bottom half eventually.

      • Francis what you can also say is that none of the teams are the bottom have won a Stanley cup in the last 10 years except for St Louis who was near the top when they won. Only 1 team can win the Stanley cup a year so obviously there will be more teams even in the top half that haven’t won it. My point is accurate. The Boston players did not sign team friendly deal at the time. Bergeron and Marchand hadn’t even had close to point a game season and both signed to what would have equated to almost 8% of the cap at the time. They were amongst the top 15 paid players on the league at the time even though they hadn’t even played close to that at that point in time. It ended up working great for Boston because both players got better each year and the cap kept going up at a record pace. Just like McKinnon, great bargain now but he signed a fair contract at the time. Nobody left money on the table.

      • “What the heck” is correct on the Bergeron and less so the Marchand contracts (his numbers were worthy of a bigger contract (his connection to Bergeron was an important part of his signing). The Bruins lesson though is how and when to extend a player and a certain amount still applies. Law of diminishing returns needs to be applied to the team as well as the player.

  7. Just looking at the 5 teams with over 50% of their cap spent on 5 players, the only one with seemingly expendable players currently in their top 5 is Dallas with both Pavelski $7 mil) and Radulov ($6,250,000) being UFAs – which will cerianly help them keep Klingberg, another UFA at $4.250,000.

    Toronto, of course, has to deal with UFA Rielly – not currently among their top 5 – who’s coming off a $5 mil cap hit and, not insignificantly, Jack Campbell, another UFA coming off $1,650,000. If he shines this season how much is he going to seek?

    Vegas has Reilly Smith, a UFA at $5 mil not currently among their top 5, San Jose has Hertl, coming off $5.625,000, and TB has Palat at $5.3 mil.

  8. Sweeney is a much better capologist than talent evaluator.Must be that Harvard education.