NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2023
NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2023
A look at some of this summer’s notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand for this summer’s noteworthy NHL restricted free agents. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting cases:
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg Jets: Fox noted the “grand suspicion” that the 25-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is biding his time until his eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agent status when it’s believed he’ll sign with the Montreal Canadiens.
Fox felt Dubois’ future in Winnipeg would’ve been the subject of more speculation by the trade deadline had the Jets not been enjoying a bounce-back performance this season. Head coach Rick Bowness recently praised Dubois’ performance while expressing the hope that he’ll sign a long-term extension this summer with the Jets.
Dubois’ kept quiet on the matter. Fox believes he could get an average annual salary of $9 million on a long-term pact.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Dubois trade rumors died down after he signed his current one-year, $6 million deal last summer. However, the speculation never fully went away.
Given his strong performance this season, you can bet those rumors will ramp up again in the offseason unless he puts pen to paper and signs a lengthy extension with the Jets.
Timo Meier, New Jersey Devils: It’ll cost the Devils $10 million to qualify the 26-year-old winger’s right unless the two sides agree to a new contract before June 30. Fox indicates that Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is making a long-term extension for Meier a priority, pointing out that the Devils have sufficient cap space next season to extend him.
Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils: Fox also observed that the 24-year-old winger is about to make the Devils pay after agreeing to a one-year, $5.45 million contract last summer. Like Dubois and Meier, he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. After tallying a career-high 73 points in 2021-22, he had 60 points in 68 games this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Devils have $35.6 million in cap space for 2023-24 with 11 players under contract. There’s enough to re-sign Meier and Bratt though it could eat up over $18 million combined. Fitzgerald must also decide if he’s willing to pay Meier and Bratt each more than Jack Hughes’ $8 million AAV. If he’s not, things could get very interesting in New Jersey this summer.
Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa Senators: Fox believes the 26-year-old winger holds all the leverage in contract negotiations with the Senators this summer. His AAV is $6.4 million but in actual salary, he’s earned $9 million this season. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility. Contract talks will begin following the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also noted that Senators GM Pierre Dorion is happy with DeBrincat’s performance this season. Nevertheless, the winger’s name surfaced occasionally in the rumor mill.
Considering the high price that Dorion paid to pry DeBrincat away from the Chicago Blackhawks last summer, a long-term extension worth around $9 million annually seems likely.
Others on Fox’s list included Montreal’s Cole Caufield, Anaheim’s Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras, Seattle’s Vince Dunn, the New York Rangers’ K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil, Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard and Toronto’s Ilya Samsonov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players rarely (if ever) appear regularly in media trade chatter during this season. There’s a chance that contract negotiation for some of them could become more contentious than expected. Nevertheless, I expect those in this group will all be re-signed by their current clubs before training camps open in September.