NHL Rumor Mill – December 30, 2021

by | Dec 30, 2021 | Rumors | 29 comments

Evgeni Malkin talks about his next contract, suggested trade blueline trade targets for the Penguins, and the latest on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel reports Penguins center Evgeni Malkin isn’t sweating his next contract and still believes his club can be a Stanley Cup contender. Currently working his way back from offseason knee surgery, the 35-year-old superstar said he likes what he’s seen of the Penguins this season and hopes he can provide them with more power upon his return.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Malkin said the uncertainty of his contract status won’t affect his performance. “No, no, I’m not thinking about that, my contract,” he told the press yesterday. “I don’t think about money. I’m like pretty rich guy,” he said with a chuckle which drew laughter from the media. He added he’s not thinking about money, putting his focus on regaining his level of previous performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin added he hopes to continue playing for another three or four years. Whether that’ll be with the Penguins or another club remains to be determined.

He’s completing an eight-year deal worth $9.5 million per season. Cap Friendly shows the Penguins with over $33 million in projected available cap space for 2022-23 though we can add $1 million to that to account for the rise of the salary cap to $82.5 million next season. However, they only have eight players under contract for ’22-’23 with such notables as Kris Letang, Kasperi Kapanen, Jeff Carter, and Bryan Rust also due for new deals.

Malkin will have to accept a significant pay cut to finish his playing career with the Penguins. It will be interesting to see if he and management can find an acceptable level to make the dollars work.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently observed the Penguins will have to shed some salary to make room for Malkin’s return. That could result in a cost-cutting deal involving a depth forward such as Zach Aston-Reese, Danton Heinen or even Brock McGinn.

Kingerski also believes the Penguins could use another right-handed defenseman. He suggested Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Justin Braun ($1.8 million) or the Buffalo Sabres’ Colin Miller if the Sabres would agree to take some salary back in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski also suggested struggling winger Jason Zucker would be the most desirable to move but that could be difficult given his declining performance and $5.5 million cap hit.

Zucker has since been listed as week-to-week with a nagging lower-body injury. If he should end up on long-term injury reserve for the rest of the season it would help the Penguins’ efforts to clear cap space for Malkin’s return.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple was asked if the New York Rangers could pursue a big fish like San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl at the trade deadline given their high placement in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Staple indicated the Rangers are among a handful of playoff clubs with sufficient salary-cap space to make additions at the trade deadline. He suggested they should go all-in this season, proposing they make inquiries about Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux, Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown or Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan.

Hertl’s three-team trade clause could make him difficult to acquire. Staple said he’d pass on Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel. He also noted the possibility Reilly Smith ($5.5 million, UFA in July 2022) could be available as the Vegas Golden Knights will have to shed salary when Jack Eichel returns in February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are projected to have $28.8 million in projected salary-cap space by deadline day. General manager Chris Drury showed his willingness to make deals in the offseason by acquiring Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him shopping for a winger and/or a veteran defenseman leading up to the March 21 trade deadline.

Giroux and Brown probably won’t be available as long as their clubs remain in playoff contention. There’s also no certainty either guy will agree to waive their no-movement/no-trade clauses if asked to do so. Smith could be the best option if the Golden Knights are looking for a cost-cutting deal.


  1. Zucker and Kapanen are gone….

    • Kappy isn’t going anywhere and Hextall couldn’t give Zucker away …

    • One can only hope Steve. But both have little to no value.

      • I’d think there would definitely be a market for Kapanen

    • Kapanen and Zucker agreed…also I think Rust may go as well before Kapanen ??

      Rust is a UFA, a good goal scorer, skilled, and quick and will want north of $5.5 – $ 6 million next season

      Rodriques had made Rust moveable and Kapanen is still young at 24/25 so he stays and he plays well with Malkin..

      I think it will be Rust and Zucker….

  2. Ny’s biggest problem is the lack of production from their young players. Chytil, Laffrienere, Kakko, Miller etc.

    Way to rush these youngsters!

    Maybe a guy like Hertl on the 3rd line between Kakko and Laffrienere can light a fire under their butts?

    As an experiment, I’d move Miller back to a forward position, and trade for an experienced d-man at the deadline, insert Hajek on either Troubas line or 3rd pairing with Lundkvist.

    Nemeth to Hartford. And he and Tinordi can just stay right there.

    Ny can’t expect to even make the playoffs never mind succeed in the playoffs with Strome, Panarin, Kreider , Zibanejad , Fox and Sheterkin carrying this team on their backs every game.

    Ny is trapped exactly where I feared they would be. Caught in between a rebuilding team and a hopeful contender.

    They should have let these kids light up the AHL for a couple of years before pushing them into the NHL unprepared.

    • If a first and second overall pick need two years in ahl that’s a bad sign.

      • I seem to recall that Montreal kept Lafleur down on the farm for a long time to develop. Seems like I remember he did not have too bad a career, despite his long apprenticeship.

      • Its raining,

        You remember wrong, Lafleur didn’t spend a day on the farm.

        He just didn’t have prodigious seasons till his 4th in the NHL.

        He had 29G-35A-64pts in his rookie year.

      • Well, when talking generational talent , yes a year or 2 in the AHL is bad. When talking non-generational talent , no. Absolutely not.

        These players need either top six , significant pp nhl minutes. Or top minutes in the nhl.

        What’s the point of having them play bottom 6 minutes with scrubs?

        Has Jack Hughes set the world on fire? Hischier? Nolan Patrick?

        Then look at guys like Mathews , Hall, Ekblad, Kane, Nash etc. all given top minutes with significant roles right out of the gate.

        Huge difference. Laffrienere sits behind Panarin (top5-6 player on the league) And Kreider who is on absolute fire.

        Anybody see Byfield yet?

  3. reading this morning the Bruins have signed Rask, nothing official.

    • that does nothing to address the Bruins problems of not having a #2 centre, depth scoring and defensemen (plural) to replace Krug & Chara which Sweeney still hasn’t done …

      • Ed, I don’t disagree but i’ll add I don’t miss either Chara or Krug.

        Imo Sweeney hung onto them 2 players to long and should’ve traded them for some assets.

      • The way Chara is setting the world on fire in NY, it’s no wonder why the Bruins would be missing him!

        Maybe there’s a crash test dummy out there on the UFA market they could replace him with? Maybe call Bobs barricades to see if they have a spare or two laying around?

      • Luv. Krug. But not at 6.5 mil till he is 36. Scored 2 goals last year. Only 4 this year. Chara is done just watch him play. Every D man in Boston is better then Z. A playmaker 2 ctr is the prize for deadline if bruins want to get out of 1st rd.

    • Caper,
      Any link or confirmation on that yet?

      • Francois, nothing yet and hasn’t been reported by any of the insiders.

  4. I wonder if Letang would have any interest in playing on a $1M one year contract for a contender next season.

    • Pens are signing him for 1 mil! Wa boo!

      • Honestly, if there is a choice I keep Letang over Malkin…

        Malkin yesterday said in his press interview after practice yesterday I’m a pretty rich man” we will see.

        I could see a Joe Pavelski type deal he is 35 left San Jose for Dallas..
        3 years $ 21 million ($7 million per)
        That saves us $ 2,5 million per each year

        Letang 3 years $18million saves us $1.5 million over each season

        That is $ 4 million a year in extra cap space and we keep them…otherwise i keep Letang and trade or let Malkin walk and use that
        $9.5million to sign Tomas Hertl more than enough.

    • Hi WestBrandKid

      I can’t see any way that Tanger even considers anything below $5M

      He has 3 cups…. I’ll take the media viewpoint that he wants to retire as a Pen…

      Gino and Tanger…, 3 years…. Combined cap somewhere in the $12M -$13M range(note right now their combined is close to~ $17M

  5. Ny not going anywhere with Strome and Hunt in 2nd line. Both on ice for all 4 Panther goals. Typical Strome night. Horrible 2 way play. Gets assist passing puck out of his own end to a wide open Panarin who schooled Ekblad and scored. Takes lazy slashing penalty. Missed golden scoring chances and continually turns over puck in offensive zone while on power play. Trade him and start thinking of packaging Lafreniere for a young, stud center. Put some feelers out on PLD, Pettersson and Suzuki

    • How is that even possible? Strome was a-2 and only on the ice for 1 goal for with 1 assist? No power play goals against NY.

      That 3rd Florida goal? 100% on Sheterkin.

      Suzuki? Lmao! Stop it! 18 points in 32 games -15.

      Strome 22 points in 27 games -1.

      Stop it!

      • Strome 11 give away this year. 10th on NY.

        Come up with better excuses to hate this guy.

    • Pettersson for

      • Hi Gordie

        As a Pens fan I git real excited with your proposal

        I realize though 😞 that u were talking about the Petterson on the West coast

  6. -2. Got assist on Panarin goal and was on for Kreiders goal with Shesterkin pulled. Watch game.

  7. Let me rephrase then. Unforced errors. Passes broken up and cleared out of offensive zone NYT team keeps possession. Have to regroup and gain zone again just as bad as a turnover. Strome 2nd on team in penalty minutes. I’ve seen enough of him to know there’s no way they can extend him. Dubois had his best season playing with Panarin. Anisimov had 2 of his 3 best seasons playing with him. Suzuki is 22 and playing on one of the worst teams in league. Has same amount of goals as guy playing with best playmaking LW in game.

  8. Zucker off team