NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022
More conjecture on the Bruins’ offseason plans, the latest speculation linking the Senators to Kevin Fiala, and which troublesome contracts the Coyotes could target in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes finding a center and holding firm on Jake DeBrusk could be among the priorities of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, assuming he’s signed to a contract extension.
The need for a center will become more urgent if captain Patrice Bergeron retires when his contract expires in July. There’s no one within their system who can step up and adequately replace him, plus they still haven’t fully addressed David Krejci’s departure last summer.
DeBrusk signed a two-year contract extension in March. While his play improved down the stretch and in the playoffs, he hasn’t withdrawn the trade request made in November. Shinzawa believes Sweeney won’t be quick to move DeBrusk if he still wants out.
Shinzawa includes Bergeron among his list of Bruins he believes will depart this summer. He thinks the 36-year-old center is confirming to himself that it’s time to retire.
Nick Foligno, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly and Craig Smith are among Shinzawa’s list of trade candidates, though he acknowledged a buyout seems more likely for Foligno. He also recommended trading star winger David Pastrnak if there’s any sense of uncertainty over whether he’ll sign a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could retire and go out while still among the league’s elite players (especially if he wins the Selke Trophy this year) would cap a fine Hall-of-Fame career. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns for another season to buy the Bruins some time to find a suitable replacement or at least bolster their depth at center.
Pastrnak becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. He loves playing in Boston and the Bruins obviously hope to retain him past 2023. However, Bergeron’s possible retirement and the club’s direction could leave him thinking carefully over his future. He’d be among the top players in the 2023 UFA market and would land a lucrative long-term deal. It’ll be interesting to see how his situation plays out.
There’s speculation the Bruins would welcome back Krejci if he felt like returning to the NHL next season. So far, however, there’s no indication he’s planning a comeback in Boston or anywhere else. As for DeBrusk, he said he hasn’t given much thought to his request but will spend some time considering it over the offseason before making a decision.
COULD THE SENATORS PURSUE FIALA?
The asking price could be the Senators’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft plus an affordable center or backup goaltender. A downside would be Fiala’s next contract as he could come in between $7.5 million and $8 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan recently suggested Fiala would check a lot of boxes as a fit with the Senators, though he also pointed out his next contract will be expensive. He also suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny as another option, carrying three more years on his contract with a $5.5 million annual average value. He’s also familiar with Ottawa having played his junior hockey with the OHL’s 67s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the expense of Fiala’s next contract, he will draw lots of interest if the Wild decide to peddle him. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported several teams believe Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin will find a way to keep Fiala. If he can’t, Friedman mentioned the Senators, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings as potential trade destinations.
Konecny could be a viable alternative for the Senators if they’re in the market for a scoring winger and lose out on Fiala. He lacks no-trade protection and the Senators have promising young prospects that could tempt Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. That will depend on how much tinkering Fletcher intends to do with his roster this summer and whether he sees Konecny as a trade chip or part of the club’s long-term plans.
WHICH TOXIC CONTRACTS COULD THE COYOTES TARGET?
GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently looked at 31 NHL teams’ troublesome contracts the Arizona Coyotes could target in their quest to add more draft picks and prospects this summer. His suggested options include the Montreal Canadiens’ Shea Weber, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Petr Mrazek, San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc, New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey and the Philadelphia Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed many other notables, including the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Boston Bruins’ Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan, the Florida Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky and the San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Those players, however, have full or partial no-trade clauses and probably won’t waive them to go to the Coyotes.
Weber, Labanc, Bailey and van Riemsdyk, however, lack no-trade protection and would be prime cost-cutting candidates. Mrazek has a partial no-trade clause but might accept a trade to the Coyotes if he knows he doesn’t have a future with the Leafs.