Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022
In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.
They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.
Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.
If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.
Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.
The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.
TIDBITS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” SATURDAY SEGMENT
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.
The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.
Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.
Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.