NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2023
The latest on Jonathan Toews and an update on the Islanders in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
IS JONATHAN TOEWS FACING FINAL GAMES WITH BLACKHAWKS?
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is treating the club’s final two home games as his last with the franchise after 15 seasons. The 34-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s not treating it as the end of his career as he thinks he could be playing elsewhere next season but he believes he’s coming to the end of his time with the Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are rebuilding with younger talent, shipping Toews’ long-time teammate Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers before the March 3 trade deadline. He might’ve been traded to a playoff club too if he hadn’t taken himself out of the lineup for two months dealing with health issues.
If Toews decides to continue his playing career it’s unlikely that he’ll be returning to the Blackhawks. He still wants to win and would like one more shot at adding a fourth Stanley Cup ring to his collection.
Toews turns 35 on Apr. 29, which will make him eligible to receive a 35-plus contract, meaning a team can sign him to a one-year contract with a low base salary and plenty of performance bonuses.
Despite his health issues, there could be contenders willing to sign him to that type of contract.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently pondered whether the New York Islanders can afford to re-sign pending UFAs Pierre Engvall and Hudson Fasching. Both are in their late-20s and seem like the type of players that general manager Lou Lamoriello would like to keep around on his aging roster.
Re-signing both could require some salary-cap gymnastics by the cap-strapped Islanders. Kurz suggested a four-year, $16 million deal for Engvall and a three-year, $3.6 million contract for Fasching, meaning it would cost the Isles a total of $5.2 million to keep them.
The Islanders have over $76 million invested in their 2023-24 roster. Kurz speculates that pending UFAs Semyon Varlamov and Scott Mayfield will likely get better contracts elsewhere. He also suggested a contract buyout for Josh Bailey and burying Ross Johnston’s $1.1 million in the minors.
However, the Isles have restricted free agents like Oliver Wahlstrom and Samuel Bolduc that they’ll want to keep around. Kurz thinks they’ll have to make another cost-cutting move or two to re-sign Engvall and Fasching.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could mean shopping the 32-year-old Casey Cizikas and his $2.5 million average annual value through 2026-27. Perhaps they try peddling 35-year-old Cal Clutterbuck ($1.75 million) or the 33-year-old Matt Martin ($1.5 million), who are both a year away from UFA status.