Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 1, 2022
Check out the latest on the Canadiens and Jakob Chychrun’s future with the Coyotes in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
BUSY OFFSEASON AHEAD FOR THE CANADIENS
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes indicated he’ll need clarity on the condition of Carey Price before he can begin to address his roster needs in the offseason. The 34-year-old goaltender indicated the current condition of his knee would prevent him from playing a full season. Price said he’ll be seeking a second opinion and didn’t rule out a second surgical procedure.
Pat Hickey suggests the Canadiens could see a roster teardown in the offseason. He pointed out they’re up against next season’s $82.5 million salary cap with 19 players, including the probably permanently sidelined Shea Weber, under contract. They’ll get some cap relief by trading Weber’s contract or placing him on long-term injury reserve next season, but it won’t allow enough to go on a free-agent spending spree.
It’s expected Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry and his $6.25 million cap hit. However, that won’t put them further ahead if they were to pay $7 million per season to sign a pending free agent like Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. They also must free up cap room to sign restricted free agents Alexander Romanov and Rem Pitlick.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reported Hughes said he’ll evaluate all options to navigate his tricky salary-cap situation. He also said he wouldn’t be trading futures for short-term gains that would adversely affect the club’s long-term success.
Hughes said he has no plans to trade winger Brendan Gallagher, who has five seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million. He’s hoping the 29-year-old winger will have a solid bounce-back performance next season.
The Habs GM made no comment about the futures of winger Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia. Drouin, meanwhile, hopes to make a full recovery from wrist surgery and prove himself to Hughes and head coach Martin St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sooner Hughes gets more clarity on Price’s condition the easier it’ll be to conduct his offseason roster plans. If the long-time Canadiens’ starter looks to be sidelined again for a lengthy period or if his playing career is over, Hughes will place his $10.5 million cap hit on LTIR for next season. If he can return to action next season, the Habs GM will have to make some deep cost-cutting moves.
Hughes will try to shed some salary even if Price can return next season. We already know he attempted to trade Weber’s contract ($7.857 million through 2025-26) before the March trade deadline and will try again this summer. He’ll likely target budget teams looking to reach the cap floor. Clearing the full amount of Weber’s contract, however, could mean bundling him with a draft pick or a prospect.
Petry made a trade request earlier this season that Hughes attempted to fulfill. The 34-year-old defenseman yesterday said he didn’t want to close the door on his tenure with the Canadiens, saying he’ll be discussing it with his family this summer. Nevertheless, I think Hughes will quietly shop around for the right deal. It also wouldn’t be surprising if he explores Drouin’s value in the trade market.
There’s speculation suggesting Letang could come home to Montreal or that Hughes could target his former client if the 35-year-old blueliner hits the open market. Given the Canadiens’ cap issues and their other roster needs, I don’t see Letang suiting up for the Habs next season.
UPDATE ON CHYCHRUN
GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Jakob Chychrun doesn’t sound like he’s keen to be part of another rebuild with the Arizona Coyotes. The 24-year-old defenseman said he loves playing in Arizona but the recent roster teardown has been difficult for him, saying he badly wants to play for a winner.
Chychrun is under contract for three more seasons with an affordable $4.6 million annual salary-cap hit. He also recalled advice he once received from former teammate Mike Smith about only having so many chances and not letting them go by every year. “You really have to take advantage of the short time you have in this league because it flies by,” said Chychrun.
Morgan indicated Chychrun hasn’t approached Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong about a trade. However, his comments suggest he’s open to the possibility. Armstrong said he will explore the trade market this summer and admitted that moving Chychrun could be one of his options.
As for the Coyotes’ pending free agents, Morgan reports contract talks have started with RFA forward Lawson Crouse. He also anticipates they’ll bring back RFAs Barrett Hayton and Christian Fischer, as well as explore signing pending UFA defenseman Anton Stralman, who’s indicated a willingness to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan believes there’s a good chance Chychrun could be traded this summer. However, that depends on whether a club is willing to pay what’s believed to be a high asking price by Armstrong. He also felt the Coyotes GM will try to repair the relationship with his defenseman if a trade doesn’t materialize.