Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022
A look at five players on non-postseason contenders with something to play for down the stretch in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
DAILY FACEOFF: Phil Kessel and Travis Konecny are two of the five players on non-playoff clubs that Matt Larkin believes still have something to play for over the remaining weeks of this regular season.
Kessel sits second on the all-time consecutive games-played list with 971. He won’t catch Keith Yandle’s record of 989 but he could reach 982 by season’s end if he stays in the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s pursuit of the NHL Ironman record isn’t a rumor, but it could play a part in his efforts to find a new club after this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and the Coyotes aren’t expected to bring him back.
Kessel’s best seasons are behind him but the 34-year-old right winger sits third on the low-scoring Coyotes with 44 points and is their leader with 37 assists. Those are respectable numbers and could make him enticing as an affordable short-term free-agent signing by a playoff contender this summer.
Konecny, meanwhile, has struggled over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s difficult to judge the 25-year-old winger’s performance when the entire club has underachieved. Larkin’s colleague Frank Seravalli reported Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had spoken with other clubs about Konecny. While no deals materialized before the trade deadline, the groundwork may be laid for an offseason move. His performance over the remainder of this season could determine his fate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s contract could also become a factor in whether he’s traded this summer. He carries an annual average value of $5.5 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor recently suggested he could become a trade candidate if Fletcher decides to shake up the roster core this summer.
Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic’s inconsistent play this season saw him become the subject of trade rumors. A restricted free agent this summer, the final weeks of this season could give him an opportunity to show the Jackets that he’s worth retaining. Larkin speculates he could accept the Jackets’ qualifying offer in the hope of improving his value next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic had six points in 10 games leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. He had a four-point performance Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings (including a hat trick) but that’s accounted for most of the six points he’s had in the 10 games since deadline day.
Dylan Strome’s erratic production frequently surfaced in trade chatter this season. However, the 25-year-old center has 22 points in his last 17 games since being moved to the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat at the start of March. If he continues playing well with those two it could earn him a multi-year extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Blackhawks could also try to trade Strome this summer while his value is up.
Larkin also wondered what the future could hold for Erik Brannstrom as the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman attempts to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. A solid effort down the stretch could earn him a bridge deal with the Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin observed Thomas Chabot’s season-ending hand injury has opened the door for Brannstrom. He’s been paired with Artem Zub and is seeing regular top-four minutes. However, the addition of top prospect Jake Sanderson could make Brannstrom’s future in Ottawa an uncertain one.