NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson reported Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson cleared up any ambiguity about a fast rebuild for his club. He didn’t put a timeline on it but suggested it could take at least three-to-five years.
Long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews recently remarked they saw no reason the club couldn’t turn things around within a year or two. With a year remaining on their respective contracts, they have no choice but to go along with Davidson’s plans unless they agree to waive their no-movement clauses and ask to be traded.
Davidson believes Kane and Toews have a place in the club’s plans and made his expectations clear to both during their exit interviews.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reported Davidson also said those conversations were healthy and productive and he’s pleased with how they went. It’s believed the Blackhawks GM intends to keep his two aging stars in the loop regarding the club’s direction.
Whether that silences the trade speculation about those two (especially Kane) that surfaced in the final weeks of the regular season remains to be seen.
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined the New York Islanders’ offseason priorities.
Finding a high-end winger for first-line center Mathew Barzal topped his list. He advocated the cap-strapped Islanders pull off some “salary-cap gymnastics” to pursue Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Florida’s Claude Giroux if they become available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Isles with $70.2 million invested in 18 active players for 2022-23 with Noah Dobson as their only notable free agent to re-sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have to shed considerable salary to free up space to make a serious offer for Gaudreau, Forsberg or Giroux.
Gaudreau could seek $10 million annually if he hits the open market while Forsberg could come in around $8 million. Giroux is 34 and would be more affordable but a lot could depend on how well the Panthers do in this postseason.
Kurz also suggested the Isles need to sort out their goalie tandem. Semyon Varlamov made it clear he was happy not being moved at the March trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if he’s willing to take a back seat next season to Ilya Sorokin.
If not, perhaps the Isles should attempt to trade Varlamov and the remaining year on his contract this summer. He carries a $5 million cap hit plus a 16-team no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of teams calling the Islanders about Varlamov. Given general manager Lou Lamoriello’s secretive nature, we have no idea if those calls were seriously entertained or even took place.
Moving Varlamov and his cap hit would make it easier for Lamoriello to pursue a top-six winger for Barzal’s line. Sorokin has proven himself as an NHL starter but he and Varlamov work well together as a tandem. Lamoriello could be reluctant to break that up for next season.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis intends to see more goal-scoring for his club in the offseason via free agency. He’ll be looking for someone who can play in their top-six or top-nine. Francis also mentioned he could seek a blueline upgrade, especially for someone who is offensively inclined.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken has the cap space to invest in a scoring winger or a puck-moving defenseman this summer if they’re willing to spend toward the cap. They have $59.6 million committed to 14 players next season with no expensive core players to re-sign.