NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2022

by | Jun 13, 2022 | Rumors | 29 comments

More speculation over the Rangers’ free-agent situation plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at which Rangers’ free agents will be back next season and which ones could be playing elsewhere.

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (NHL Images).

Kaapo Kakko’s surprising scratch from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals raises questions about his future with the Rangers. He’s a restricted free agent who would be an affordable fit with a two-year bridge deal between $2 million and $2.5 million. Should the 21-year-old winger entertain offer sheets between $4.2 million and $6.1 million, however, the Rangers wouldn’t be able to match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offer sheets are rare but there’s a chance Kakko could sign one. Walker’s colleague Larry Brooks pointed to the Carolina Hurricanes’ successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens last summer. He acknowledged the Hurricanes’ move was based on a certain amount of payback because of the Canadiens’ failed attempt in 2019 to sign away Sebastian Aho.

Kakko could be upset enough over being scratched from Game 6 to perhaps entertain offer sheets from other clubs. However, it’s not a preferred tactic by most general managers. With limited salary-cap space for next season, they’re likely to invest their dollars this summer on more established talent.

Ryan Strome’s lack of production in this year’s postseason combined with the Rangers’ cap situation could see him depart as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker also noted Strome is among the Rangers’ alternate captains and one of his best friends is linemate Artemi Panarin. Those are good reasons for the Blueshirts to retain him, perhaps by freeing up cap space by making a cost-cutting move. If that’s not possible, Strome may have played his final season as a Ranger.

Walker considers Andrew Copp as the priority signing among their trade-deadline acquisitions. He could get more on the open market than the Rangers can afford to pay but perhaps he’ll accept less to remain in New York if he believes they’re close to winning the Stanley Cup.

Fourth-line forward Tyler Motte’s willingness to sign a team-friendly deal could come down to contract term. RFA Sammy Blais played well before suffering a season-ending injury in November. He’ll likely re-sign a deal that works for the Rangers.

UFA winger Frank Vatrano might not be the team’s answer to filling out their top-six. Depth forward Greg McKegg could also return on an affordable contract. Walker wonders if the Rangers can afford to bring back fourth-line Kevin Rooney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker anticipates UFA defenseman Justin Braun and RFAs Alexandar Georgiev and Julien Gauthier will likely be playing elsewhere next season.


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports multiple sources said the Pittsburgh Penguins’ priority is getting Kris Letang signed to a new multi-year contract. The 34-year-old defenseman is due to become a UFA on July 13.

Discussions between the team and the representatives of Letang and UFA center Evgeni Malkin are ongoing. However, the club wants to determine the cost of signing Letang before turning their attention more seriously to Malkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point season. Recent reports suggest he could seek a new deal close to his current annual average value of $7.25 million. Malkin is reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million AAV. Whatever Letang wants could determine how much cap room they’ve got left for Malkin.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently reported some teams have contacted the Penguins to express interest in Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Sources said the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens were among the clubs that looked into the promising 22-year-old defenseman before the trade deadline.

Kingerski suggested Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry as a potential replacement for Kris Letang if the latter departs via free agency. Petry requested a trade earlier this season but reportedly reconsidered after Martin St. Louis took over a head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens could ask for Joseph as part of the return for Petry if they were to peddle the latter to the Penguins. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Dallas Stars were also thought to have some interest in Petry.


  1. None of those names will ever grace the bruins roster as long as Neely and Sweeney are running the show. They’ll most likely end up with someone like Phil Kessel .Watch Sweeney do couple of victory laps around the gardens with that one. I would suggest Sweeney read a couple of pages from ‘ the hockey Canada’s manager manual’ before he and Neely do any more collateral damage.

    • Rangers are lacking a legitimate 1C. They should swing a trade for Scheifele.

      Lafreniere and Schneider for Scheifele and Heinola.

      Resign Copp as well.

      • thought……Rangers trade for Bruins Pasta then turn around and sign David Krejci as a FA….

      • Zibanejad is a legit #1 C.

      • Zib had 24 points in 20 playoff games. Tampa barely gave him an inch and he still had the effort trying to create plays.
        and he is better in his own end than Scheifle.
        That said I would run that 1+2 punch

      • So Mika isn’t a no1 center?

        And you trade proposal wont happen, at this point laf straight up for Schef would be an over pay.

        He’s younger but you can see his game gets stronger each year.

      • The Lightning made Mr 60, Lil Mitchy, MeLander and Johnny its not about the money Tavares disappear, they blanketed Hubredeau, Barkov and Giroux.
        Not a Rangers fan but I wouldnt get overly alarmed at having Zib and Kreider shut down.

      • [Don’t worry, be happy]

        Mi MI-MI Ka-Ka-Ka Zi-Zi-Ba-Ba Ne-Ne-Jad, Mi-Mi Ka-Ka Zi-Zi-Ba Ne-Ne Ja-Ja Ded…ah don’t worry, be happy now…

      • i would do that

    • RWM……here’s what Jacobs ought to do, have Neely fire Sweeney after telling him his job is safe then turn around a tell Neely you’re fired …lets do a house cleaning

      • That could still happen, I think both will be gone after the next season. I’ve seen the fans turn against them the last couple of years but this is the first time reporters have turned against them.. the reporters at Sweeney’s last press conference were merciless and rightly so they been given stock answers for the last decade and they went for the jugular this time asking questions that I think rattled Sweeney he and Neely are walking a thin line.

    • Flyers will solve your center problems Rick, Kevin Hayes hometown boy is exactly what the bruins need.

      Get it Done Sweeney!!!

      • Id move Hayes to the Bruins. 3rd and a mid level prospect.
        Never liked the Hayes signing, reeked of desperation to me.

        Boston needs a center, Flyers need cap space.

        Bruins want him? Come get him, no reasonable offer refusedl

      • No way in hell the bruins trade for Hayes lol and if so the cryers need to add a 1st rd pick a mid level prospect and they eat half his salary

  2. This off-season is a big game of dominoes . A lot of deals are hinged on what others are doing. They will start to fall late July
    Vatrano fit in well. Certainly better than others Rooney Hunt etc. I would try and keep him .
    Georgiev to the Oilers. Varlamov to the Oilers Husso to the Oilers . M. Smith to the first tee

    • Not sure why people think Mike Smith will walk away from a couple of million dollars.

      • Estimated Career Earnings Tooltip : $48,870,731

        I think Mike Smith is all set

      • I think the talk is due to his year end press conference BCLeafFan, where he was non committal about playing next season when asked.
        Most believe this stems from playing though a bum ankle, then a broken thumb, and then playing hurt again in playoffs (I think later in Calgary series).
        Sooner or later, being in constant pain starts to become something you would rather not continue to do.

        And the odds go up of having to do it as you get older, which you and I can likely agree on.

        When he was healthy his is still a very good tender, he proved it again this year, unfortunately he was only healthy for 20% of the season. Is that gonna change for the better?

      • Although Skinner can do the same job for less money, Mike Smith will do well in the back up role next year, playing 30 games max. And at 2.2 million, that’s what good backups get these days. He isn’t the issue…the lack of a true number 1 in net is.

  3. Thanks, Ray, sounds like many of us he needs to go on LTIR.

  4. Strome is 1 of Panarins bf and is an alternate captain (who isn’t) are not good reasons to give him a 6m per long term deal. Walker wrote that during season he turned down a deal of 5.5 per.
    Clean out day for NY starts about noon today. Hopefully we’ll get a little more insight into Kakko situation.

  5. Kakko is not getting an offer sheet.

  6. Gallant at todays clean out:
    “definitely, 100 percent” sees Lafreniere and Kakko as top 6 wingers next season.

  7. ..and then have the GM come out and say “I need a true #1 goalie”. Ya I’m pretty sure that didn’t sit well with Mike’s ego. Remember it doesn’t matter if YOU think he’s a true #1 it only matters what he thinks.

    • Not sure Smith has an ego issue with Holland’s statement Dark G.
      The guy is 40 and been in the game long enough to know what reality is.

      The reality is they need a starting goalie. Starting the season with a rookie with 14 NHL games under his belt, and a 40 year old tender who has been battling injuries is far from ideal. Smith knows that, not a fool.

      Skinner will be on the team as he needs to clear waivers, and will get claimed.
      So carry 3? Smith LTIR legit? Buyout?

      The hardest part is who can they even get who can play 40 games and be consistent, let alone a “true #1”, of which there are maybe a dozen in the NHL and none of them are UFA’s of even available without giving up someone like Draisaitl.

      • I believe they trade Puljujärvi for a goalie. Samsonov, Reimer. Or clear cap to sign a UFA, it seems unlikely that they try DeSmith….or would they dare….he has a good late season and play-off run…..hmmmm, they could afford him.

  8. Still hard to see players walking away from million$$$
    To retire. Everyone I seen retire but go on ltir so no give up any $$. Maybe they both will go to Robidas island ??

    • John Penisini of the Detroit Lions just retired at the age of 25, walking away from 2 years at $866,544/year.

      • John Penisini Wasn’t a starter. And like most NFL players had no guaranteed $$.