Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 29, 2022
The latest on the Flames and Bruins plus the market value of Andrew Copp in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
FLAMES EXPECTED TO START TALKS WITH GAUDREAU AND TKACHUK SOON
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Calgary Flames won’t waste time starting contract talks with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer while the 24-year-old Tkachuk is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who is a year away from UFA eligibility.
Friedman believes the team will approach negotiations quickly and aggressively to find out where things stand with both players. That will determine whether they can re-sign them or what their next course of action will be.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Mcfarlane reports Gaudreau sounded like he’d very much like to remain with the Flames during his end-of-season press conference on Saturday. He spoke of how much he and his wife enjoy living in Calgary and admitted he could have a considerable legacy if he remains with the Flames. The winger indicated he’ll sit down with his agent sometime this week to discuss what’s best for himself and his family.
Flames general manager Brad Treliving said earlier this season he’d move heaven and earth to retain his club’s best offensive player. During Saturday’s presser, he reiterated his intent to sign Gaudreau.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson and Daniel Austin report Tkachuk is open to a long-term deal with the Flames. “Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve loved it here. I’ve grown up here.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of re-signing Gaudreau and Tkachuk will take a big chunk out of their salary-cap payroll for years. It could end up costing a combined $20 million to keep them in the fold.
Cap Friendly shows the Flames with $55.575 million invested in 12 players for 2022-23. They can afford to sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk but won’t have much left for Mangiapane or to fill out the rest of the roster and address their roster weaknesses, such as bolstering the blueline depth.
As I’ve said before, Treliving will have to shed salary to make this work. Sean Monahan is frequently mentioned as a trade candidate but his $6.35 million cap hit, 10-team no-trade list and the ongoing decline in his performance due to nagging hip injuries make him difficult to move.
Mikael Backlund has been suggested as a trade option. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5.35 million and a 10-team no-trade list. The 33-year-old’s age could be a concern but he’d still have value as a middle-six center.
LATEST ON THE BRUINS
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins’ top-three offseason priorities are finding a top-six center, adding a scoring winger and bringing more young players into their lineup.
The Bruins will desperately need a center if captain Patrice Bergeron retires. If he returns, it’ll still be a pressing issue for their second line. Neither Erik Haula or Charlie Coyle are legitimate top-six centers. Free-agent options include Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin and Nazem Kadri but the Bruins would have to clear cap space to add one of them.
What happens with Jake DeBrusk could affect efforts to add a scoring winger. DeBrusk intends to take some time to determine if he’ll withdraw last November’s trade request. The Bruins can’t afford to move him unless they get a similar player in return.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa points out the Bruins need to clear salary-cap space if they intend to add a center. He proposed trading Mike Reilly ($3 million through 2023-24) or Craig Smith ($3 million through 2022-23) or buying out Nick Foligno ($3.8 million through 2022-23).
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Bruins will consider moving blueliner Brandon Carlo in a deal for a top-six center. He also noted Bruins fans clamoring for the club to shop Matt Grzelcyk. Murphy indicated Connor Clifton was “out there in the trade market” at various points this season so it wouldn’t be surprising if he is again.
If the Bruins aren’t going to go all-in building up their depth at center, Murphy suggested bolstering their top-four defense. Dallas Stars rearguard John Klingberg could be worth looking into in the UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer will be challenging for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. He faces the potential retirement of first-line center Patrice Bergeron, first-line left winger Brad Marchand will miss the opening two months of the season recovering from hip surgery, and he must free up cap room to address the roster weaknesses.
The Bruins are screwed at center if Bergeron retires. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns for one more season to buy the club time to shore up their depth at that position.
DeBrusk or Carlo could be used as trade bait to add a center or a winger. However, interested clubs could insist the Bruins included a decent draft pick or prospect in the deal.
Trading Reilly or Smith or buying out Foligno will help clear cap space. Those savings, however, are no certainty that Bruins management can find the right players to address their roster needs in this summer’s trade and free-agent market.
A LOOK AT CONTRACT COMPARABLES FOR COPP
Marek speculates Copp’s next deal could be somewhere between what Phillip Danault got from the Los Angeles Kings last summer and what Zach Hyman received from the Edmonton Oilers. Danault got six years and $33 million while Hyman’s was seven years and $38.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault and Hyman are each earning $5.5 million annually. Copp’s current contract pays him $3.64 million this season.
The Rangers are believed to be interested in re-signing him but he could price himself out of their market. They’ve got $12 million in cap space with Ryan Strome also slated to become a UFA while winger Kaapo Kakko is coming off his entry-level contract and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev is an RFA with arbitration rights.