NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2022

by | Jul 29, 2022 | Rumors | 43 comments

A look at the best remaining talent in the unrestricted free agent market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox did a quick rundown of the best players still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

Fox doubts Nazem Kadri will be returning to the Colorado Avalanche unless the 31-year-old center accepts another discount. Paying him $7 million into his mid-30s is a luxury they can’t afford.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Kadri is reportedly waiting for some interested teams to clear cap space for him. There are rumblings the New York Islanders could make a push to sign him. Fox pointed out the Calgary Flames have money to spend now and the Columbus Blue Jackets could use a playmaker for Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets had to ship Oliver Bjorkstand to the Seattle Kraken for next to nothing in a cost-cutting deal after signing winger Patrik Laine to his new contract. No room for Kadri in Columbus unless they can shed more salary.

Kadri rejected a trade to the Flames three years ago. Maybe he had a change of heart if they’re willing to meet his asking price but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Islanders would also have to move out some salary. Perhaps they’d do that by shopping Anthony Beauvillier, who’s been a fixture in the rumor mill since last season.

Fox noted the Carolina Hurricanes, Seattle Kraken, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators were linked earlier this month to John Klingberg. The Dallas Stars attempted to bring back the 29-year-old defenseman but those talks fell through. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, acquired Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Fox suggests, it appears Klingberg overplayed his hand, leading to his change of agents earlier this week. With the Stars having to re-sign rising stars Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger, I don’t think there’s sufficient room for him to return to Dallas now.

Fox said the Red Wings speculation persists. The Senators, meanwhile, are rumored to be in the market for a top-four defenseman.

A report last month claimed Patrice Bergeron was returning to the Boston Bruins on a one-year contract. So far, however, there’s no confirmation from either side that this has happened. The Bruins are also in talks with David Krejci about a possible comeback.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could be taking a page from the Lou Lamoriello playbook by waiting until the start of the season before officially announcing the deal for salary-cap reasons. Perhaps that decision is tied to getting a deal done for Krejci. Or maybe Bergeron just hasn’t made up his mind yet if he’ll return. Your guess is as good as mine but I think he’s coming back to the Bruins for one more season.

There’s a rumor linking Phil Kessel to the Edmonton Oilers. He’s coming off a 52-point performance last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel could be a worthwhile short-term addition to a playoff contender seeking an affordable depth scorer.

The Winnipeg Jets haven’t closed the door on bringing back Paul Stastny. There was also speculation linking him to the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny would be a more affordable option for the Flames than Kadri but he won’t produce at the same level as the former Avalanche center.

Fox wondered if veteran defenseman Anton Stralman might be a fit with the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stralman would be a cost-effective signing for teams with limited cap space. However, the Canadiens are pressed against the $82.5 million cap. Stralman isn’t a fit there unless they dump some salary via trade or Carey Price and Paul Byron start the season on long-term injury reserve.

Sonny Milano has plenty of potential as a middle-six forward despite being cast off by the Columbus Blue Jackets and being cut loose by the Anaheim Ducks. Meanwhile, former Pittsburgh Penguins middle-six forward Evan Rodrigues drew some interest from the Vancouver Canucks, Flames, Red Wings and New Jersey Devils.

Veteran defenseman Calvin de Haan could be an economic second or third-pairing guy. He’ll have to be prepared to take a pay cut.


  1. Most of the league are taking a two week vacation. We will see some continuation of the action packed activities come mid August.

    Milano is interesting . A highly touted and former first rounder. I thought he was a fit with Anaheim and Zegras . Will add some goals somewhere

    • Anaheim will circle back on Milano now, if Sonny can suck up his pride.

  2. Not only are the Jackets against the cap, they also have more forwards than roster slots for them. Not is it likely that, even if there was cap space, Jarmo would be interested in Kadri as Jarmo and the front office stress character as much as skill/talent. Kadri simply isn’t the type of person who gets signed by Jarmo.

  3. Stralman would be a solid pick up for the Habs at a position of need. Would be a one year low cost deal. As it is, they would have to ship out some salary, but not a huge amount. There are still teams that need to get to the floor, so a salary dump can be done, even if it comes at some cost.

    • Agreed. The Habs also have to sign Dach; which I think is a higher priority than Stralman.

  4. Re: “Fox pointed out the Calgary Flames have money to spend now ….”

    Where does he get that? Right now they have $9,300,000 with which to sign 3 to reach 23.

    They also have two key RFAs to re-up. Mangiapne, coming off a $2,425,000 cap hit, had 35g 20s 55 pts and was a +20 and in 12 playoff games added 3g 3a 6 pts. Wioth arbitration rights, he’s going to come in at around $5 mil and Kylington, coming off an ELC of $750,000, gave them 9g 22a 31 pts and was a seasonal +34 in 73gp, adding 1g 2a 3pts in 12 play off games. He’ll require most if nit all of what’s left over.

    Then, lurking in the background, is Monahan and his $6,375,000 cap hit, currently on LTIR. But should he come back some time during the season, that could be problematic.

    So no – they don’t have money to spend – at least not anywhere else OR unless there’s another big salary dump coming.

    Lyle, any idea what Fox might be seeing that we don’t?

    • Maybe the Ducks help them out by taking Lucic, but the Flames would need to pony up the FLA 1st in ’25 and eat some salary (about a $1M), both! A big price to pay, and who is worth all that?

    • Also, George, if Detroit is really interested in Klingberg (I really do not see it, unless it is about a $6M x 5 contract); that would mean Hronek is to be traded. I see quite a few teams would be interested in Hronek and his youth and affordability. Maybe Yzerman makes a Chycrun-like demand! LOL….that is the only way he would do this.

      • Yzerman mentioned in an interview in the last few weeks, “expecting a big year from guys like Zadina and Hronek” (code = step up or your Gandhi). Hronek was Holland’s pick, not Yzerman’s, so he may not be invested in the kid. At $4.4 he should be easy to move. As I mentioned in a post below, the challenge is what coming in the Wings pipeline, plus what happens to Seider post ELC. Here’s to hope the Yzer-plan is still proceeding forward.

    • If Monahan was on LTIR they would have over 15.0 mill in cap space & remember they have 10 D on 1 way contracts. So probably a little more room than you think with pieces that wouldnt be so hard to move. We have heard that Monahan is supposed to be ready for training camp.

      So would a Hanafin for Batherson have any appeal? Hanafin can play both sides.

      • In Dorion’s search for a RD I’m sure he’s looking to deal with a team that is over or tight up against the cap and still with players to sign – that way the team he deals with won’t be looking for any cap hit to come back their way – more in the nature of a good prospect + pick(s).

        No way he deals Batherson for a D.

      • Fair enough George. Seems to me the moves Sens have done point to wanting to contend sooner than later & Dorion has the green light to spend. You need that top pairing D & I dont see a top pairing D out there as a cap dump. Going to have to pay the price for one.

        Agree about Kadri, we could sign him & put ourselves in a horrible position. I read that when Flames approached the Kadri camp they were told not to bother. Which is fine by us. We need a #2/3 Centre. Like you, there are some cap strapped teams that maybe one could be had. Maybe a deal with Vegas to get Karlsson for Valamaki & a 3rd or 4th pick. Frees up 5.0 mill for them. Dont see why we just dont offer sheet Roy on a 3 year 3.5 mill type of offer sheet, cost is only a 2nd.
        Hawks may be a team if Toews wants to play for Sutter next year, perhaps Valamaki, Monahan & a 3rd for Toews & Hawks eat 3.0 mill. Who knows.

      • The thing is Kevin, Dorion started out searching hard for a top 2 scoring RW for the 2nd line to supplement Batherson on the 1st. He got that when he obtain DeBrincat. Dealing Batherson would put him tight back in the same spot.

        Much as I like Hanifin, that would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

        There are still 13 or 14 team that absolutely must clear cap space and the closer we get to September with key RFAs still unsigned the greater will be the pressure for most to make some sort of cost-clearing move. With prospects like Bernard-Docker and Thompson still waiting in the wings, and Jake Sanderson still an unknown factor at the pro level – but with high expectations – Dorion can afford to be patient.

      • I don’t think the Flames would move Hanifin, he is starting to be the player that he was projected to be when he was drafted by Carolina. He and Andersson were a solid pairing.

        He is signed to a good contract for a few more yrs. He had 10g, 48 pts, was a plus 27 and logged a lot of minutes for the Flames last season.

  5. “Fox said the Red Wings speculation persists.”

    Yeah, Detroit makes a lot of sense. Yzerman just spent $5.6M signing Andrew Copp to be his second line centre, I’m sure he’s really considering bringing in another, MORE EXPENSIVE second-line centre to then give the Wings the most expensive third-line centre in the league.

    • Garth — think you are mixing up the Kadri one and the Klingberg one. Yep…. the way its framed, it looks like the Klingberg blurb is an extension of the Kadri one.

      From a Wings perspective, you could bring in Klingberg, sign him to $8M for 5-8 years. But the Wings have Seider, who will hit a homerun at the end of his ELC, and then you have 2 or 3 more studs in the pipeline (Edvinsson and a couple of promising 2nd rounders [Wallinder, Johansson, Tuomisto, Buium]) that could be 2-3 years away… then you are stuck with a 34-35 year D with a boat anchor contract. Then again, Steve could be feeling some heat to make stuff happen now. Would be interesting.

  6. Some of these pundits just throw crap out there for clicks. Your assessment of Calgary’s finances make a lot more sense.

    That Matthew Joseph contract was a tad rich.

    I feel bad for Kadri. His timing of his best season is awful. He’s gonna have to settle. 6×3 or something similar.

    • Dark G , I figured Joseph would get 2.5×3 so 2.95×4 is not far off. I really think Joseph will turn out to be a versitile player for Ottawa. Likely part of the reason they shipped Brown to the Caps.

  7. Is it October yet?… already sick of the guessing games.
    While i do like having a salary cap, this has turned into a game of $9 million players and $750K players. Kinda sucks to be that guy who scores 20 goals and 40 points a season. No real home or loyalty from your team.

    • It’s also created one undeniable fundamental fact of life for a GM: when dealing with the big $$$ you simply cannot afford to make a mistake in judgement without hurting your team – often for several seasons.

      • Exactly, Goes back to my theory, that EVERY player makes $3 million (except ELC)…the extra $$$ is through bonuses.

      • To make it even harder George you can exercise sound judgement, and still get burned.
        Look at Monahan, if he was healthy and playing like he did before the injuries, his contract would be a steal. Maybe he gets his wheels back, but far from a sure thing. He’s only 27, so the bet the Flames made was sound based on all available info.

        Even the Leafs, which we have discussed before, with no pandemic and the new TV deal, the cap would be pushing $90M or over next season. How different would those contracts look? How would their blueline look? Is Campbell (which was a great pickup by Dubas) still there?

        Sh*t happens I guess, but it has impacted some teams and GM’s more than others and it is nothing more than bad luck. Actually helped some teams who had cap space because they were in a rebuild, or coming out of one, and could weaponize it.

      • It does make for a whole different sort of mindset when it comes to managing a team that more or less just crept up on everybody – so none have related experience on which to draw in functioning with current reality. Never have so many gone into repeated new seasons with a hope for “luck” becoming THE overriding factor.

        It just should not be that way.

      • Fair points George, the new plan seems to be:

        Suck for a while, move assets that have any value, to get more picks & prospects and ensure you suck and pick high with your own picks.
        Then lock up the good ones while they are coming out of ELC so you get their prime years.

        Hope they continue to develop, and hope the draft classes you sucked in have players that are better than the teams who sucked just before you or after you.

        Fill in around the edges.

        If you get crappy draft classes like the Yakupov draft, it doesn’t work quickly. If you suck in the good draft classes, especially a couple of them, like McDavid/Draisaitl, Crosby/Malkin, Toews/Kane etc. it does.

        There is totally luck involved in getting the best core guys. The rest requires some skill, but if you don’t have the top end guys, you have no chance at the big prize.

        Just not sure how else you do it to ensure that their is a competitive balance. Not like OTT or CLB can just move to TOR or CHI and compete head to head and try to beat them fair and square. Their market is their market.

        Revenue sharing is an option, but we can see in MLB that the wealthy teams win and are competitive WAY more than the small market teams. You get the odd outlier, but it is consistently the big teams that dominate MLB.

      • And that, Ray, will ultimately drive some among the various fan bases away from the sports. But only from that part of the fan base who bother to stay on top of the details of the various games and their participants beyond just painting one’s face in team colours and spending small fortunes on sweaters, etc., while cheering mightily for their team of choice.

        And, I suppose, as long as they remain in the majority among the various fan bases – as I’m sure they are – no substantial changes will ever be made.

      • Maybe George, I just accept the reality of what it is and understand why the league has a hard cap.

        Even when there was not a hard cap, teams couldn’t afford players. The only difference was, it was the small market teams that couldn’t afford what the big market teams were paying.

        Same difference, just an uneven playing field. Especially when you are talking about non traditional hockey markets without the loyal fan bases that have been built up over decades.

        If there is a better system than what the league has today, I haven’t seen one that doesn’t have a bigger downside than the one the NHL currently has.

  8. Last season Phil Kessel only scored 8 goals. Kessel’s +/- stats for the past four seasons : -19 , -21 , -17 , -24…

    • @ Speed Kills…Fair points about the plus minus over the last 4 years…although pretty much everybody that plays for Arizona is a minus player.

      Look Kessel 2 years ago scored 20 for that s**t team…I’m telling you he can help a teams third line and really help a teams power play. Pittsburgh had such an amazing power play when he was on the team because (he still has a great shot) and he has a shoot first mentality. Penguins power play hasn’t been near as good since he left……period

      Even Tampa was looking at him last week so…

      He can help some ones third line and 1st or second power play unit

      Pittsburgh / Boston / Tampa / Los Angeles / Minnesota and some more teams can use him…

  9. Milano grew up on Long Island was an Isles fan wonder if he would take a cheap show me contract. I think he would be great with Barzal. But Lou is on summer vacation looking for nursing homes.

  10. have doubts about Stastny back in WPG. There was a post-season/post-game press conference where he hinted at the bad mojo in the locker room (ie. the Scheifele-Wheeler.. how they treat other players and most likely why Maurice pulled the rip cord). Sure, some players are professional enough to look past some of it and maybe he will return, but your chances of winning it all are fairly slim when there is team drama. Paul is clearly past prime date, but still a good 2nd/3rd line center. Hope he gets a gig with a team that has a chance.

  11. It has become laughable how many Pundits continue to find new ways to spin the same free agent stories. For the same reason John Klingberg shot the Messenger a.k.a. his agent for not getting a deal done is the Kadri has not signed and Zito traded Huberdeau to Calgary for five fewer years in Matthew Tkachuk.

    It’s not that owners are not willing to pay the big bucks but in a flat cap world nobody’s giving somebody 29 years or above a seven or eight year contract with the kind of money these players want, whether or not most have earned it Everybody knows there’s little likelihood that most of those kinds of contracts for players that age will age well. In a flat cap world nobody wants a $7M-$10M passenger for the last 2-4 years of that contract.

    I feel bad that some of the players have either been forced to move or sit and wait but for the love of God can we talk about something else?

  12. John Klingberg signs a 1 year $7 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks per Kevin Weekes.

    • LR23 if that’s true it not only underscores my previous point but it reflects the desperation of a clouded mind. If Klingberg thinks it was hard getting the big bucks long term this year wait until he is another year older. It would be a good move if the salary cap was gonna go up to 87 or $88 million next year but I think everybody’s already come to the realization that’s not going to happen. And for this he fired his previous manager?

      • Maybe ShaneinTpa, but there might be more to the firing of his agent than we know.

        Did he have a longer term offer, maybe at less $ than $7M? Did he get advice from his agent that he could do better and the team that offered it moved on and spent the $ elsewhere?

        When he was negotiating on Klingberg’s behalf with Dallas last off season, and this past season was there an offer that he advised against?

        Or was their simply no action as he didn’t have good relationships with multiple teams due to his tactics?

        I have no idea. Klinberg and his agent do that’s about it. Maybe we will find out, but I doubt it.

      • ShaneinTpa

        Now we all know it’s true, Reportedly Klingberg wanted 7 ears $42 million on the open market. Which we all knew he wasn’t going to get. And changing agents and accepting a 1 year $7 million offer kind of makes him look pretty bad right now. Verbeek go a solid deal. And can flip him at the Trade Deadline if Anaheim is out of it.

    • Well, that puts the Ducks over the cap floor anyway – now, for that kind of coin, they had better have plans to pair him with a top stay-at-home D first type and try to lower that -28 he logged with Dallas.

      Better them than Ottawa.

      • George I agree better them than Ottawa since I kind of like your senators. But his -28 in Dallas probably deserves some sort of*given the fact that if you’re not on the first pair there you’re not going to fare too well +/- wise on a team that doesn’t score. And Ray, for the longest time Klingberg had a hard on for Dallas because apparently they didn’t even talk to him about a contract. That could’ve been because of his manager that he fired but this deal with Anaheim doesn’t convince me the new one is any better.

      • Better Anaheim than Dallas too.

  13. That really surprises me in regards to both dollars and term.
    Fowler and Shattenkirk already there. Sounds like Klinger was stuck on the number..”I am worth $7m nothing less”
    Smart play by the Ducks . They lost two veterans at the TD last year and can move Klingberg for more assets at the trade deadline next year

    • S7, yep he will be a tradeable asset if he plays well.
      Teams always need D at playoff time and the cap hit is less at that time. Ducks can eat some if need be.

    • Starsfan

      Most definitely.

  14. Sweeney and Lurch wil spend some time in the Gulag if he blows the Bergy Krecji and Pasta negotiations. Fans’ll run em both out of town. Bank on it . It’s simple, fans will stop going to the games. After signing those three then the real work begins.

  15. If the Jackets attach a 3rd to Nyquist to move his salary.
    They then sign Kadri to a 2 year deal with 5.5AAV.
    Not a bad deal for CBJ getting Kadri for Nyquist and a third.

    For Kadri, he would be the best center on that team and play with Laine and Gaudreau – good things should happen to his stats. Would be a good PP too with Werenski on the point.

    He takes a bit of a risk and maybe get 7-8M on his next shorter 3-4 year deal?