NHL Rumor Mill – November 27, 2021
Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Phil Kessel or Reilly Smith? What free agents should the Canadiens pursue next summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the New York Rangers might kick tires on Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel or Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith to add a scorer to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.
Rosen likes the idea of Smith as he’s more versatile than Kessel and previously played for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. The Golden Knights will need to shed salary to make room for recently-acquired Jack Eichel when he returns to action from neck surgery in February.
The Rangers don’t have to rush into finding a winger for Zibanejad and Kreider. They’re winning games while using the time to determine what they have in young forwards Julian Gauthier, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those young forwards could improve in the coming weeks to the point where the Rangers won’t need to pursue a top-six winger. If not, they’ll go shopping for one leading up to the March 21 trade deadline, maybe for Kessel, Smith, or whoever else could be useful to them at a reasonable price.
TVA SPORTS: Anthony Martineau and Nicolas Cloutier discussed possible offseason free-agent targets for the Montreal Canadiens next summer. Martineau suggested pursuing San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl while Cloutier recommended Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman (and Quebec native) Kris Letang.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens aren’t in any position financially to pursue any of next summer’s noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Cap Friendly shows them with a projected $84.8 million invested in just 14 players for 2022-23. They’ll get some cap relief if Shea Weber ($7.857 million annual average value) remains on long-term injury reserve, but they’ll still have to shed considerably more to free up cap space to fill out the remainder of their roster.
The Canadiens’ poor performance this season and the fishbowl existence for Habs players in Montreal won’t be enticing to any of next summer’s notable UFAs. It’s a pipe dream. Moving on…