NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2022
WAS ZUCKER NEARLY TRADED TO THE FLYERS?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari reports a league source claims the Penguins got a trade offer for Jason Zucker this summer. The move would’ve allowed them to shed the 30-year-old’s $5.5 million average annual value from their salary-cap payroll for the coming season.
The trade proposal reportedly came from a Metropolitan Division rival. It would’ve involved packaging Zucker with a first-round draft pick for “well, basically nothing” in return.
Penguins general manager Ron Hextall is believed to have rejected the offer because he didn’t want to part with a first-rounder. The Penguins also aren’t prepared to give up on the oft-injured Zucker as a significant contributor.
Molinari indicates Hextall declined to respond to a request to confirm or dispute the information.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi speculates the Flyers could be the team that had the interest in Zucker. He points out that general manager Chuck Fletcher is very familiar with the winger going back to their days with the Minnesota Wild. The first-rounder they would’ve gotten in the deal is much-needed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder when that pitch might’ve been made. Perhaps it would’ve been leading up to the opening round of the 2022 NHL Draft in July when the Penguins would’ve been looking to shed salary after re-signing Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
THE LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Canadiens GM Kent Hughes could turn to the trade market to help his club gain more salary-cap flexibility for the coming season. He acknowledged there hasn’t been much trade activity of late but could turn to waivers or “different things that we have forthcoming.”
It’s rumored the Canadiens were looking to make a cost-cutting trade before officially announcing Kirby Dach’s new contract. “We’ll revisit and we’re comfortable we can conclude a deal,” said Hughes. He indicated if they could’ve done another transaction they might not have had to go into offseason long-term injury reserve (LTIR), giving them more flexibility during the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes also observed that he’s continuing to work the phones and remains confident that something could get done. Murphy noted that the Habs GM was looking to move some salary for a defenseman or a package of draft picks and prospects.
While the Canadiens placed Carey Price and his $10.5 million cap hit on LTIR, Murphy indicates their limited cap wiggle room could hamper efforts to make in-season moves. Hughes could attempt to shed salary with a trade leading up to the start of the season next month.
TVA SPORTS: cited ESPN’s Kevin Weekes yesterday saying the Canadiens are talking contract with Jake Allen. The 32-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The goal of those discussions is to reach an agreement for more than one year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could add more fuel to the fire over Price’s long-term future. If his career is over, the Habs will want some veteran stability between the pipes.
UPDATE ON VIRTANEN
OILERS NATION: Zach Laing cites Vancouver Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal claiming the Edmonton Oilers are among several teams believed to have an interest in Jake Virtanen, who spent last season in the KHL.
Virtanen, 26, played six seasons with the Canucks until 2021 but was placed on leave by the club in May 2021 after the right winger become the subject of a sexual assault investigation. His contract was bought out later that year. He was charged in January with one count of sexual assault but was found not guilty by a jury in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers might no longer be among those interested clubs. They recently signed Justin Bailey to a professional tryout offer.