NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2022
Could the Bruins trade David Pastrnak this summer? What’s the latest on the Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE BRUINS TRADE PASTRNAK?
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports a source close to David Pastrnak said there’s “no chance” he returns with the Boston Bruins with Don Sweeney as their general manager. The 26-year-old winger apparently wasn’t pleased with how Sweeney treated his two best friends, Torey Krug and David Krejci, during their contract years. Krug went on to sign with the St. Louis Blues in 2020 while Krejci returned to Czechia last summer to finish his playing career.
Pastrnak is approaching the final season of his six-year, $40 million contract. It’s expected the Bruins will offer up a lucrative long-term extension. One agent suggested an eight-year, $68 million contract ($8.5 million annual average value) would be fair to both sides. However, the Bruins face uncertainty next season with Patrice Bergeron mulling retirement while Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy are among several players sidelined through the opening weeks of next season.
Shinzawa believes the Bruins must consider trading Pastrnak if there’s any indication he’s hesitant to sign a contract extension. They can’t afford to lose him to next summer’s free-agent market for nothing. The asking price could be a first-round pick, a second-round pick, a young NHL player and a high-end prospect.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney intends to discuss a contract extension with the Pastrnak camp at the earliest opportunity. Murphy also cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting his sources indicated the Bruins fully intend to sign the winger to an extension and have no plans to trade him. However, that could change if the feeling isn’t mutual and Pastrnak decides to play out the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak’s contract status adds another level of intrigue to an already chaotic offseason for the Bruins. The earliest they can sign him to an extension is July 13, which is when, for contract purposes, the 2022-23 season begins.
Pastrnak could get much more than $8.5 million annually in next summer’s UFA market. He reached at least 34 goals and 70 points in five of the past six seasons (including two seasons with 40-or-more goals) and has 48 points in as many games in last season’s COVID-shortened campaign. While the salary cap next summer will only rise by $1 million, I can see Pastrnak getting up to $10 million annually on the open market.
As Shinzawa and Murphy observed, the Bruins have the advantage of offering up an eight-year term compared to the seven years he’d get in the UFA market. However, much will depend on the club’s direction not just next season but also in the coming years.
Bergeron could retire this summer. Marchand has three years left on his contract but the wear-and-tear of 13 years of physical play could start catching up with the 34-year-old winger. The club appears to be entering a period of transition and also lacks depth at center.
Pastrnak could stick with the Bruins if he feels the Bruins’ transition won’t take long. If he has lost confidence in Sweeney, however, it might not matter how many assurances the Bruins GM makes him. That will leave Sweeney no choice but to shop him to the highest bidder.
LATEST ON THE OILERS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Evander Kane hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll re-sign with Edmonton or hit the open market this summer. The 30-year-old winger signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Oilers in January following the termination of his contract by the San Jose Sharks. He meshed well skating alongside Oilers captain Connor McDavid.
Kane said he enjoyed playing for the Oilers and appreciated how well the club treated him. However, he indicated he has a number of variables to sort through. A new contract for Kane could be expensive and could force general manager Ken Holland to shed some salary to free up cap space to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s teammates praised his performance and made the case for him to stay. Finding the cap space to do so, however, won’t be easy. The outcome of his ongoing contract termination grievance with the Sharks could also be a factor in what his next contract looks like, be it with the Oilers or another club.
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector suggested shopping Tyson Barrie and his $4.5 million cap hit, moving Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million AAV and perhaps having to choose between re-signing Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi. At least one of those players won’t be back if Holland gets Kane under contract before his UFA eligibility on July 13.
THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Mike Smith appeared non-committal about completing his contract during his end-of-season interview yesterday. The 40-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his deal.
Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation reported sources telling him Smith is contemplating retirement. When asked about it, Smith replied it was too early to tell if he’ll hang up his pads but Nugent-Bowman observed he also didn’t affirm if he’d be back with the Oilers.
If Smith retires, his $2.2 million cap hit for next season comes off the Oilers’ books. Those savings could be put toward finding a new starting goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland is expected to address the media today. We could get some clarity over his offseason plans but I doubt he’ll tip his hand too much as to his intentions.
I examined the Oilers’ limit cap space yesterday and how much a new contract for Kane will bite deeply into it. Smith’s potential retirement would help free up some space but that will have to go into finding a suitable replacement between the pipes. That will also prove costly.
Holland will likely have to trim some salary from his cap payroll to address those two needs. If it also comes down to a choice between Yamamoto and Puljujarvi it could be the latter who gets traded given the ongoing disappointment in his performance.