NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2022
Could Claude Giroux sign with the Oilers? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Senators? Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
OILERS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports there remains mutual interest between Claude Giroux and the Florida Panthers. With the July 13 start of the free-agent market fast approaching, there are other clubs that could pursue the 34-year-old forward.
The Edmonton Oilers could be among Giroux’s suitors if he hits the open market next Thursday. There were internal discussions over whether to pursue him if they’re unable to bring back Evander Kane. Giroux can play center or wing and the idea of his skating alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl is an appealing option.
LeBrun also mentions the Ottawa Senators as a possibility. He wonders if the appeal of playing for a Cup contender might be more alluring for Giroux.
NHL WATCHER: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Toronto Maple Leafs would give the Giroux camp a call to inquire into what it would take to sign him. Friedman pointed out that Giroux is building a new home in Ottawa and made it clear at the March trade deadline that he prefers playing in the East.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that there is no longer an interview process for pending unrestricted free agents to speak with clubs interested in signing them. The Oilers, Senators, Leafs or any team other than the Panthers must wait until the market opens at noon ET on July 13 to speak to Giroux and his representatives.
The Oilers could end up seeking other options to replace Kane if Giroux prefers staying in the Eastern Conference. I don’t think the Leafs can afford him unless he’s willing to accept a significant pay cut. Besides, they have other priorities as we’ll soon see.
Giroux’s been linked to the Senators for months because of the hometown ties. However, they’re still several years from Stanley Cup contention. Giroux wants to win now so there might not be a fit there.
LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION
TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the Maple Leafs must find a way to move goaltender Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. As of today, they can’t afford to sign any of the free-agent goalies (including their own Jack Campbell) who could make a significant difference.
Koshan dismissed the notion of shipping out William Nylander given his value to the Leafs. He suggested forward Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million cap hit) or defenseman Justin Holl ($2.1 million) as trade candidates.
Maple Leafs management must also figure out a way to replace the 21 goals and energetic play of departing winger Ilya Mikheyev. They could attempt to shop his rights heading into the upcoming NHL Draft. Re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin is their blueline priority. Once that’s completed, general manager Kyle Dubas isn’t expected to add to his defense corps as he’ll have seven rearguards under contract.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs are among the clubs with an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Minnesota Wild is interested in bringing back the 37-year-old netminder for another season. He also thinks the Colorado Avalanche could be a good fit for Fleury if Darcy Kuemper heads to free agency next week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just $6.4 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23. Shedding Mrazek’s contract is a must but it could cost them a quality prospect or draft pick to get it done. Even then, Dubas still might have to shed another contract to free up sufficient room to re-sign or replace Campbell, re-sign Sandin and fill out the rest of the roster.
Speaking of Fleury, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen wondered if he’d sign with the New Jersey Devils. I’m not ruling out a return with the Wild, though the opportunity to play with the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche could be tempting if they come calling on July 13.
UPDATE ON THE SENATORS
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is still open to shopping his first-round pick (seventh overall) in the upcoming draft. He’s in the market for a winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle or a top-four, right-shot defenseman.
The Senators made a serious pitch for Kevin Fiala before the Wild traded him last week to the Los Angeles Kings. They had no issue with the $7.9 million salary-cap hit of his new contract but balked at the seven-year term.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat is the most mentioned name in the rumor mill. He’d be a good fit with any team but it has to be determined if he’ll sign a contract extension before going down that road. Other trade options include Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi, and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler or Pierre-Luc Dubois.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ status as a rebuilding club could make it difficult for Dorion to acquire most of those players listed by Garrioch. The best option could be Puljujarvi, who won’t cost their first-rounder to acquire. He could benefit from a change of scenery after struggling with the Oilers and might fit in well with the Senators’ young forwards.
Chychrun lacks no-trade protection until 2023-24 and is under contract through 2024-25. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be very interested in the Senators’ pick but his asking price is said to be quite high, including a top prospect and a good young NHL player. That could prove too rich for the Senators.