NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2022
What teams could the Canadiens ship Jeff Petry to this summer? Should they pursue Kris Letang, Kevin Fiala or Jakob Chychrun this summer? Check out the latest collection of Habs speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
He suggested the Pittsburgh Penguins as a salary-dump destination if they lose Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust to free agency. The Seattle Kraken could be an option for a return of futures if the Habs retain some of Petry’s $6.25 million cap hit. The Nashville Predators were also among his proposed destinations if the Habs agree to take on Philippe Myers’ $2.25 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is expected to gauge Petry’s value in this summer’s trade market. However, he’s made it clear he’s not moving him unless he can find a deal that’s fair for both sides. We already saw examples of that this season with his trades of Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak.
The Habs need to clear some cap space if they’re going ahead with a rebuild and Petry would be a prime cost-cutting candidate. Whether he ends up with the aforementioned teams or is peddled elsewhere remains to be determined. His 15-team no-trade list and his cap hit will limit where the Canadiens can send him.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico believes the Canadiens should steer clear of Kris Letang if the 35-year-old Penguins defenseman hits the open market. He doesn’t believe it’s worthwhile to invest over $7 million annually for multiple years given the uncertainty over Carey Price’s future, the glut of young defensemen in the system and management’s intent to build for the long-term future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s been linked to the Canadiens because he’s from Montreal and Hughes is his former agent. None of those factors, however, means he wants to become a Hab or that Hughes sees him as a piece for the future. The Canadiens’ limited cap space should put the kibosh on the notion of them signing a big-ticket UFA like Letang.
Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Canadiens will make a pitch for Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala if he hits this summer’s trade block. He also pondered if they might pursue defenseman Jakob Chychrun if the Arizona Coyotes lower their asking price.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala and Chychrun will draw plenty of attention if they’re available in this summer’s trade market. The Canadiens possess considerable depth in draft picks and prospects to offer up as trade bait. Of the two, Chychrun would address their more pressing need for skilled blueliners.
Hughes could conduct his due diligence here. However, I’ll be surprised if either guy ends up in Montreal.
Fiala is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer coming off a career-best 85-point performance. He’ll seek a big raise over his $5.1 million salary for this season on a long-term deal. I don’t think he’s a fit with the Canadiens’ rebuilding plans.
Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong isn’t likely to reduce his high asking price for Chychrun. He’s got the blueliner under contract for three more seasons so he can take his time and wait for the right offer. If he doesn’t get it during this summer, he’ll try again around next season’s trade deadline or next summer.
Murphy also listed Washington’s Ilya Samsonov, St. Louis’ Ville Husso and the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev as possible trade targets if Carey Price isn’t able to return next season. Meanwhile, D’Amico listed Arizona’s Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta and the Rangers’ Justin Braun as possible blueline free-agent targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov and Georgiev are restricted free agents with arbitration rights while Husso is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Stralman, Rutta and Braun are all UFAs.
The Canadiens were linked to Samsonov before the trade deadline so perhaps Hughes revisits his rumored interest in the Capitals netminder. Georgiev is a year away from UFA eligibility and could be a decent short-term fit while the Habs await word on Price. Husso played well with a strong Blues team but we don’t know how he’d fare with a rebuilding club like the Canadiens.
Stralman has indicated he’d like to return with the Coyotes next season. They’re also rebuilding but could keep an affordable veteran like him. Rutta or Braun could be reasonable short-term options for the Habs but they could be looking at signing with playoff contenders if they hit the open market in July.