NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2022

by | May 23, 2022 | Rumors | 42 comments

How could the Penguins’ re-signing Bryan Rust affect efforts to retain Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang? Could they bring back Marc-Andre Fleury? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel believes the Penguins’ recent signing of Bryan Rust to a contract extension is confirmation the club isn’t going into a rebuild under their new owners. It’s also an indication they don’t intend to replace Ron Hextall as general manager.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

The Rust signing leaves the Penguins with 15 players under contract and $24 million in salary-cap space for 2022-23. Vensel suggests there’s room to bring back Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang if the pending unrestricted free agents are willing to compromise with management.

However, it could close the door on Rickard Rakell’s return and also make it difficult to sign Evan Rodrigues. Restricted free agent Kaspari Kapanen should receive his modest qualifying offer but things could get dicey if arbitration is required to settle his contract situation.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien also wondered if the Penguins can afford to sign Malkin, Letang or both. He felt the possibility of what happens if they lose both to free agency is a debate worth having.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it comes down to a choice between Malkin and Letang I believe they’ll keep the latter because they’ll need his puck-moving skills on the blueline.

That’ll depend, of course, on how much Letang wants on his next contract and for how long. There’s talk he seeks a four-year deal for slightly less than his current $7.5 million cap hit, which is a hefty investment for a 35-year-old player even if he’s playing well at an age when most players’ skills deteriorate.

Malkin, meanwhile, reportedly sought a three-year deal but he and management are said to be far apart on salary. His current cap hit is $9.5 million and while he obviously knows he won’t get that much again from anyone he could seek something in the $7 million neighborhood.

NHL WATCHER: recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on his “32 Thoughts” podcast talking about a possible reunion between the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Friedman believes there’s been an understanding it could happen. He said one of the reasons Fleury didn’t accept a trade to the Washington Capitals before the trade deadline was that he wanted to return to Pittsburgh. The veteran goalie felt that wouldn’t happen if he agreed to a move to Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, I guess. Fleury, 37, earned an annual average value of $7 million on his current contract and won’t get that much on the open market. He’ll have to accept a significant pay cut and perhaps a backup role behind Tristan Jarry, who silenced his doubters with a solid performance as the Penguins’ starter this season.

That decision, however, will also depend on the outcome of the Penguins’ negotiations with Malkin and Letang. If both return, there might not be enough cap space for a possible Fleury reunion.


  1. Pens need to start looking for “The next ones”. In the words of George Jones:. “who’s gonna fill their shoes”

    • Craig you are right but don’t forget George also sang “I don’t need your rocking chair” admitting age doesn’t catch up stubbornly haha.

      I guess it takes a Hextall to have the balls to rid some old contracts even though it is weird seeing Hex as a top Pen with all the ink.

      • Dueling George Jones quotes! Well played guys. Just another reason to love this forum.

      • He stopped loving her today. My personal favorite. Sounds like a lot of hockey fans.

    • No point in rebuilding yet. Crosby still a star.

      I’d love to see maf back if cash appropriate. 1a1b with Jarry would help Jarry who played too much. Get maf the second place in all time wins.

      • Agreed Crosby is still élite and there will be money to build around him.

        I think Malkin is gone of course i thought Rust was too and he resigned at a team friendly deal.

        Malkin frees up $9.5 million…if letang walks too that is $7.5 million and all the other UFAS /RFAS the Penguins will have between $29-$ 32 million in cap space.

        Plus the cap space goes up $ 1 minion so that helps with the bottom of the roster

        Will be an interesting of season in Pittsburgh

  2. I am not a Penguins fan but I must admit that the Bryan Rust contract extension made me smile. Finally a player taking a hometown discount because his family was more important than maybe getting a few more million in the open market. He has had 20 plus goals in the last three seasons. Most players would be demanding the 7-8 million range by now. Good for you Rust and I hope you continued success except when you play against the Hurricanes.

    • On what planet would a 30 year old player, with 3 twenty goal seasons, be “demanding” 7-8 million? 6 years and almost a 2 mil per year raise isn’t exactly a hometown discount.

      • He’d have got six plus easy. But I’d balk at hometown discount cause I think rust bought a year or two in length for that deal. But still an awesome signing.

      • So yesterday, Laffrienere 20 years old primary playing bottom 6 who has 19 goals is a “slow learner” but Today, Rust 30 years old, a 20 goal guy , primarily playing top 6 is on a great contract and could have commanded 6 per?

        Please try to explain that one.

      • Slick62…..It happens on Mars all the time …. so there !! I’m not sure why folks like you have to be so condescending. There are plenty of contracts around the NHL where players that score less are getting more than what Rust is getting. But since you are the resident expert in these matters you figure out who they are and get back to us. The reason there are very few posters on this site is because folks like you always have to make a point by first attacking another persons post. So please don’t bother responding to this post because I could give a crap what you think about matters.

      • Snuffy. Wasn’t being condescending at all. But apparently, you get to post opinions and nobody else can? That’s pretty condescending if you ask me. I’m a Ranger fan and imo Strome playing center should have a higher value. And I’d say same thing if anyone thought he should be demanding 7-8 mil. I would hope Rangers wouldn’t even offer him the same deal as Rust.
        And FYI, I’ve taken far worse jabs from others here.

      • I would send the 2oa pick for rust either…. Once again… whoosh.

      • Wouldn’t

      • Then again, you don’t see much outside of Pittsburgh games either.

      • Slick he would have been able to get $6 million on the open market.

        Teams like Boston will jump on him/Detroit likes him/Anaheim/Los Angeles need more scoring take your pick.

        He is a solid right winger and would have been in demand…Penguins got a team friendly deal would have rather seen 5 years not 6 but???

      • The Bruins are unable and I’m certain unwilling to sign Brian Rust for that kind of money and term.

      • @blackngold If Yzerman would give Rust a 30 year old that played with Corsby or Malkin 6 mil or more and 6 years long for a 20 goal scorer, i would say he has lost all common sense. Rust fills none of the Wings most pressing needs. He’s not a 2nd or top line center or a left defenseman.

        If Yzerman spends big money on players in the UFA market it better damn well be on a proven 2nd line or top line center and on left side defense. Anything else will just be a waste of money and not make the Wings any better than what they were this season.

  3. Both E-Rod AND Rakell can be re-upped even if bith Tanger and Gino are re-upped

    If per above : “ There’s talk he seeks a four-year deal for slightly less than his current $7.5 million cap hit” is true; and previous reports of Gino fully good with a home-town discount…. Both should be able to be had for $14.5 M total

    Retain $2 M; punt Zucker
    Give QO to Kappy (only $840 K)

    That leaves $12.6 M for 6 spots including

    Rackell; E-Rod; Heinen

    2 WBS depth fwd promotions….. Leaves $10.8 M for

    Rackell; E-Rod; Heinen; back-up

    Tight , but can be done

    All starts with the Zucker expulsion…. Would much rather have Rackell than Zucker

    A concurrent option….. move Dumo; promote P-O J:

    Tanger matheson
    Marino Pettersson
    Freidman PO-J
    *7th….UFA @ league min

    Dumo out; P-O J up…. Frees up an additional $3.2 M (The Flower ??)

    Again…. All starts with Zucker move

    • Without Eric Staal as his pivot, Zucker is a stagnant hockey player.
      I kind of figured he’d mesh well with Sid……….
      I was wrong on that one.
      Maybe Seattle would have interest in him with 3 Mil held?

      • Anybody… just punt him

        Max held allowed is $2.75 M (50%)

        I think some team will take him (without sweeteners) if $2M retained

      • $750,000 will get you a Spezza or almost get you a Gio. The Pens might have to retain the full amount of $2.75 mil

      • Shoreorpark.. I thought the Bruins had some cap flexibility this summer?

        I don’t think Bergeron is coming back..He may can’t see him anywhere else….he is a Bruin

        I think Rust would be a good fit in Boston glad he stayed in Pittsburgh…he would fit nicely with Taylor Hall

      • And nobody to center Hall or Rust?

        Are you trying to convince Bruins fans, or yourself that Rust would be a good fit?

      • Bruins need a couple of top 6 centers. Not a winger who is merely a beneficiary of playing with Sid. He’d be lucky to pot 5 playing with friggin Nosek

    • Kappy goes to arbitration at only an $840K QO where he will be awarded about $2.5M
      That will gum up the works.

      • Not a chance Arb awards him $2.5 M JZ

        PENS can always walk if they don’t like the award

    • Deja vu all over again! LOL

    • I really just can’t see a market for Zucker without a sweetener, even with $3M retained.

      • Someone will take him… note max retention is $2.75 M (50%)

  4. Regarding the Pens and all the UFA…
    they need to fill 8 spaces to brining them up to 23 man roster….now they have Re-signed Rust…7

    Top 5

    Some players like Malkin & Letang That are Not Spring chickens any more…. going on 36 years old will have to take a home discount deal 2-3 years at $4-5 Mill tops⁉️ as there play will start to deteriorate over the next few years

    1) Flurey re signing for $2-3 Mill PA for 2 year deal maybe 3 ..?
    He is a Big Team guy and will lead the way for the other 2 big pens UFA to re=sign at a Cap friendly pay rate

    2) Gino & Letang, $4- to -$5 mill for 3 years

    3) Re sign Richard Rackel…? 6 years at $5.-$5.5. Mill
    2nd line wingers all look like that the pay range they are in

    the other 3 positions, maybe a couple of there young guys they need to look at
    -22 yr old LD man Pierre Olivier Joseph
    -21 yr old Big Winger Sam Poulin
    -24 yr old speedy winger Alex Nylander

    Not sure what they are going to do with Kasper Kapanen an RFA @$3.2 M to re sign him they are looking at $$3.6 Mil & they may trade him to free up cash at the draft…⁉️

    With the Cash left over maybe they can sign a UFA Winger & A good 3rd line Centre to make a last run at the cup….❓

    • 😶‍🌫️

    • Willie I can’t say I disagree with you about the soring chicken statement..

      Letang who had his best all around season at 35 isn’t taking less than he is making now and that is a fact.
      Penguins low balled them both at $ 5milion each they both said no.

      Honestly, Malkin isn’t worth more than
      $ 5 million.

      -Half of Malkins points were on the power play, he has terrible 5 on 5 stats, and he is awful defensively.. His $9.5million can get us younger and better players

      • Blackgold,
        I agree with you as fair as paying Malkin less than Kris Letang…
        But these guys are All Very Very tight,..⁉️

        Could be a New Term for all these old Hockey players some dont know it time to call it a day🤔 ( Spring Chickens )…
        The Pens have a lot of Capons “old, tough, slow, Chickens…❗️

        When you spend 15-16 years togther ….. its going to take Crosby & Flury to talk Malkin into taking less between KL & EM to make it work $10 mill $6M for KL & $ 4M for EM…. I dont see Any team paying A 36 year old EM more than $4-$5.❗️ unless its the Maple Leafs money bag’s GM…..

        The Pen’s need that cash to sign better support players, Like this year they could not get it done…
        Just like the Leafs to much $$$ tied up in 4 players and the Leafs support is not there Thats 6 years in a row for them out in the first round …⁉️ you need balanced scoring on any team

  5. Malkin > Tavares.

  6. Willie W. I agree with what you are saying we need some of that money to sign younger /better players to make the roster better.

    The Penguins out played the Rangers. The out scored them 36-28, the out played them 5 on 5 stats in their favor.

    They took New York 7 games and OT
    – Without # 1 goalie Jarry for 6 games # 2 goalie De Smith6 games
    -Without 2nd line RW Rakell for 6 games
    – Without best player Crosby (who they had no answer for) gooned him out of 1;2of game 5 and all of game 6
    With out their # 2 defenseman Dumoulin for 6 games.
    They bombed Shesterkin.

    I’ll give the Rangers credit they took advantage of a depleted roster, solid comebacks and opportunist

    Captain Obvious—well dah you need to add a second line center thats Obvious Rust is a good player not sure why you don’t think he wouldn’t fit in Boston???

    you have one right wing listed David Pasternak….so ???? where is your logic !!

    Oh yeah Rust is proven LAFRA is not so hence the hogher salary…. not long ago they were calling Lafra a bust he broke out this year that’s not consistency

    if i’m investing $ 6 million it is on something that is consistent and proven…Lafra isn’t there yet

  7. Captain Obvious-

    – First of all Rust is a proven NHL commodity that is why he is getting the nice contract.

    – If I’m investing $ 5 million i want a sure return on that money.

    – Lafra isn’t a sure thing at all. He burst out this year which is great but so did Evan Rodrigues of the Penguins (also 19 goals) i’m not paying either of them what Rust got…so moving on..

    – Lafra is not proven and hence why he isn’t getting big money yet….that seems obvious

    -If you don”t think Rust would be a good fit in Boston well……..your not being realistic..

    – Of course it is Obvious that you will need a second line center…but Looking at the Bruins roster you have one right wing listed David Pasternak..so Hello

    • Well, Laffrienere, isn’t getting big money because……..,.,, he’s still under his elc contract! But that should be “obvious “ wait, a player didn’t sign a big contract not being able to sign ANY contract? Shocking! Way to stay with it!

      Rust has broken 50 points TWICE in his career. He’s 30! Laffrienere is 20!

      Not only do I not think Rust is a good fit, but you have BRUINS fans telling you he’s not a good fit! But what would they or any person that thinks a team with no #1-2 center thinking a 30 yo RW (who is often injured. Surprise surprise, a penguins player being often injured?) is the perfect fit? Lmao!

      30 years old, often injured, playing with Crosby, only putting up 50 TWICE? What a steal! Lmmfao!

      Stop! Your homer is showing!

      • Captain Obvious states Rust only putting up 50 TWICE? Captain Obvious doesn’t go into details and when Rust 50+ points occured.

        Regular Season Stats :

        2019-20 Rust played 55 games , Goals 27 , Assists 29 , Points 56 , +/- +14.

        2020-21 the shortened season , Rust played 56 games , Goals 22 , Assists 20 , Points 42 , +/- +9.

        2021-22 Rust played 60 games , Goals 24 , Assists 34 , Points 58 , +/- +7.

        Two of the past three seasons , Rust was averaging around point per game – IMPRESSIVE !! Suppose Rust plays near a full season , the stats shall be ???!?!?!

        On a recent Top 30 Unrestricted Free Agents list , Rust was #6 ahead of Letang #10 , Malkin #12.

      • Captain obvious. The bruins cant score unless its the perfection line.

        Rust would be a good fit sorry you cant see ir..bruins offense is putrid..but ok stick with haula and compzny good luck

      • Speed kills,

        Yeah we’ll all be sitting here waiting for Rust to stay healthy.

        What YOU’RE forgetting,
        He averages .60 pts per game over his career.. you don’t get to count “ifs” , wishes and crossbars. You don’t. Period.


        It’s odd you consider Bostons offense bad? They finished 4 spots behind Pittsburgh with 255 goals. Could that have more to do with the center situation than missing an often injured winger putting up .60 points per game?

        I’m guessing yes.

        Does Boston have anything remotely even close to Crosby for him to play with? No, nothing. But you keep trying to justify it.

        I’m all for Pittsburgh putting the same exact team together. It’s played out well for them the last 4 seasons.

        Why mess with that chemistry that’s got them bounced every year in the 1st round?

        I like it!

  8. Captain Obvious funny you are ridiculing the Penguins..

    – No team has more Playoff appearances since 2000 than the Penguins-

    – Three teams are tied for the most Stanley Cup final since 2000 New Jersey, Tampa Bay and oh Yeah Pittsburgh (don’t see Boston in either of these huge categories.

    – Three teams have the most Stanley Cup championships since 2000 Tampa Bay, Chicago and oh yeah Pittsburgh

    -You sensing a them her it is quite OBVIOUS to me and even you Im Boston isn’t listed..

    – So before trashing the Penguins oh yeah out the same team together look in your own back yard bro

    mic drop BOOM