NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2022
Will the Wild re-sign winger Kevin Fiala and who will be their starting goalie next season? What’s next for the Golden Knights? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST ON THE WILD
TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani listed Kevin Fiala’s contract situation and sorting out the starting goaltender position among the five things he believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin needs to address this summer. He also expects late-season acquisition Jacob Middleton will be re-signed but the restricted free agent defenseman will require a big raise.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also considers Fiala’s contract status and choosing between goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot to be among Guerin’s offseason priorities. The 25-year-old Fiala is due for a big raise following his 85-point season but his poor performance against the St. Louis Blues in the first round could affect his negotiations with the Wild GM.
The Wild’s limited salary-cap space also complicates Fiala’s contract negotiations. If Guerin decides to trade him, Russo noted the Ottawa Senators have long had an interest in the winger while the New Jersey Devils are seeking an impact forward.
Fleury, meanwhile, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Russo pointed out Guerin has a long history with the goaltender going back to 2009 when they were teammates on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He could bring back the Fleury-Talbot tandem for another season or trade Talbot and bring in a more affordable backup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over the Wild’s offseason plans is the salary-cap crunch they’ll face over the next three seasons because of last summer’s buyout of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. NBC Sports’ James O’Brien has the breakdown of its effect on their cap payroll. It could also force them to part ways with Fiala, Talbot or Dumba.
Following his playoff struggles, Fiala isn’t sure what the future holds. “There’s no other answer other than, ‘We’ll see’,” he said. “I don’t know.” Guerin could reach an agreement with the winger’s camp on a new contract, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he trades him this summer.
As for the goaltenders, Russo recently suggested Guerin must repair the relationship with Talbot after he was benched for all but one playoff game or trade him this summer. Following the Wild’s elimination by the Blues, Mizutani reported Talbot isn’t holding a grudge and wants to stick with the team. He also noted Fleury’s interest in re-signing with the Wild if the price is right.
That limited cap room for next season means someone – Fiala, Fleury, Talbot or Dumba – won’t be returning with the Wild. It’s shaping up to be an interesting summer for the Wild.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Golden Knights’ sacking head coach Pete DeBoer, Owen Krepps examined some of the important questions facing the club in the offseason.
He wondered who the starting goaltender will be after Robin Lehner’s inconsistent, injury-riddled performance this season. Late-season call-up Logan Thompson’s solid play raised eyebrows, leading Krepps to wonder if Thompson will back up Leher next season or take over as the starter with Laurent Brossoit or someone else in the backup role.
Krepps also wondered how Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon will free up much-needed salary-cap space for next season. He could attempt to trade Evgenii Dadonov again, or try to peddle Lehner, Alec Martinez or William Karlsson. They also risk losing long-time Golden Knight winger Reilly Smith to unrestricted free agency in July.
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger suggested Max Pacioretty could also become a salary-cap casualty. He remains the Golden Knights’ best pure scorer and his trade value could be done following an injury-plagued season. Nevertheless, they’ve shown they’re not shy about unloading expensive contracts for little-to-no value in return, and shedding his $7 million cap hit would free up a lot of room.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Dadonov and Martinez each earn $5 million or more per season. Pacioretty, Karlsson and Dadonov each have 10-team no-trade lists, Martinez has a 12-team no-trade list and Lehner has an eight-team no-trade list. It’s going to take considerable skill on McCrimmon’s part to find a suitable trade partner for one of them given the flattened salary cap for next season and the high number of teams with cap issues of their own.