NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2023
This summer’s thin free-agent market could spark more offseason trade activity plus the Lightning could lose Alex Killorn to free agency in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD THIS SUMMER SEE A MORE ACTIVE TRADE MARKET?
TSN: Chris Johnston noted the lack of a headliner in this summer’s unrestricted free-agent market could result in more activity in the offseason trade market. While there are notable pending free agents such as the New York Rangers’ Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, their best seasons are behind them. He also indicated that several teams with extra first-round picks in this year’s draft are willing to trade them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The TSN insider panel noted the top scorers among this year’s UFA market are Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn (61 points), Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (57 points) and David Krejci (56 points), Dallas’ Max Domi (55 points), Kane (also 55 points), Colorado’s J.T. Compher (50 points), Toronto’s Michael Bunting (47 points) and Tarasenko (46 points).
None of those players are getting lucrative long-term deals. Their stats pale in comparison to the big numbers being put up by the league’s top stars, all of whom are under contract for at least next season.
Killorn is having a career year but his age (33) will make teams leery of investing too much in him for too long. Bergeron and Krejci are UFAs but everyone knows if they return next season it’s with the Bruins.
The 28-year-old Domi’s stock has improved and he should get a decent contract but I don’t see teams beating down his door with seven-year deals worth over $6 million annually. Compher, 28, and the 27-year-old Bunting are in the same class. They’ll get substantial raises and more years on their next contracts but they won’t break the bank for whoever signs them.
Kane and Tarasenko would’ve been headliners if they were healthier and a little younger. The 34-year-old Kane’s recent lower-body ailment is believed to be a nagging hip injury that will require offseason surgery. Tarasenko, 31, has a well-documented recent history of shoulder injuries that could factor into how much he gets and for how long.
COULD KILLORN BE THE NEXT LIGHTNING PLAYER TO DEPART VIA FREE AGENCY?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes it’s going to be difficult for the Tampa Bay Lightning to re-sign Alex Killorn. He’s enjoying back-to-back 25-goal seasons as well as leading this year’s UFA class with a career-high 61 points.
LeBrun points out that Killorn’s earning $4.45 million annually on his current contract. Meanwhile, the Lightning have three key players in Erik Cernak, Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli whose new contracts kick in next season. He noted that the Lightning need to clear up $7.4 million in cap space. They’ll try to re-sign Killorn but LeBrun believes he’s headed to market on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s salary-cap constraints led to a steady departure of depth talent since 2020. It started biting more deeply last year when Ondrej Palat departed for New Jersey last summer. Killorn’s departure will also be keenly felt unless he’s willing to accept a “hometown discount” on a short-term deal.