NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022
The latest on John Klingberg’s contract talks with the Stars, a difficult postmortem could face the Predators if they’re swept by the Avalanche, and the Blue Jackets’ offseason focus in today’s NHL rumor mill.
STARS GM STILL HOPES TO RE-SIGN KLINGBERG
NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill would love to re-sign John Klingberg. However, he understands the 29-year-old defenseman has to look out for himself as he approaches eligibility for unrestricted free agent status this summer. Nill said he intends to speak with Klingberg’s representatives once the playoffs are over.
Klingberg felt underappreciated by Stars management and expressed his frustration over the lack of progress in earlier contract discussions during an interview in January. However, he’s now indicated he refocused on his game since the All-Star break and has been happy with his performance. Nill is also happy with Klingberg’s play, claiming he’s had many discussions with the blueliner and the two have “a great relationship.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the two sides have patched things up from where they were in the first half of the season. However, it will still come down to what Klingberg seeks on his next contract and whether the Stars are willing to meet his expectations.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek last fall indicated Klingberg sought an eight-year deal worth between $62 million and $68 million. That’s between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually.
THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes the Nashville Predators could face “a tough postmortem” if they’re swept by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night in Game 4 of their first-round series. They face losing the fifth consecutive postseason series.
The Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg in hopes of a playoff run. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Considering how overmatched the club has been against the Avalanche, it should mean more questions for the roster beyond Forsberg.
Head coach John Hynes’ contract expires at the end of this season. Estes suggested he could be retained given the Predators exceeded expectations this season but wondered why it hasn’t been announced yet. He also doubted a healthy Juuse Saros would’ve significantly altered the course of this series with the Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile last summer indicated his club was undergoing a “competitive rebuild”. If he meant remaining in playoff contention while making changes to his roster with a long-term goal of returning to Cup contender status, then it’s mission accomplished for this season.
Whether Forsberg will be part of that process beyond this season remains to be seen. He’s completing a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $6 million and is coming off a career-best 42-goal, 84-point performance in 69 games. That could push the annual average value of his next contract to well over $8 million per season.
There were reports prior to the March trade deadline that there wasn’t much progress in contract talks between the two sides. Unless that changes, we could be seeing the last of Forsberg in a Predators jersey.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BLUE JACKETS THIS SUMMER?
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets face heightened expectations for next season after overachieving in 2021-22. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen must get restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine under contract and shed some salary to make room for the younger players set to join the lineup next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and has arbitration rights this season. Portzline indicated the 24-year-old winger wants to stay with the Jackets. However, Kekalainen will have to pony up some big bucks to keep him in the fold long term.
The Laine camp could seek over $9 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal. They could also prefer a short-term deal to take their client up to UFA eligibility and a shot at a major contract on the open market.
Laine’s new contract will also bite deeply into the Jackets’ cap space. Cap Friendly shows them with over $54 million committed to 15 players.
A likely trade candidate is Gustav Nyquist. The 32-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. He enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season with 53 points. Perhaps a playoff contender seeking offensive depth on the wing would be interested in his services.