NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

Should the Islanders pursue Johnny Gaudreau? What’s the latest on Jakob Chychrun? Could the Blackhawks have an interest in Petr Mrazek or Matt Murray? What’s the latest on the Oilers, Golden Knights and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD ISLANDERS TRY TO SIGN GAUDREAU?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks made the case for the New York Islanders to sign Johnny Gaudreau if the Calgary Flames left winger hits the open market on July 13. He acknowledged it would be an expensive undertaking but suggested general manager Lou Lamoriello should shed a combination of Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier to do it.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need a high-scoring winger to skate alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal. However, it’s unlikely Lamoriello will set his sights on such an expensive target as Gaudreau.

Lamoriello seems unwilling to move Varlamov. Bailey could be a cost-cutting candidate while Beauvillier becomes a trade chip to add a forward or defenseman. However, I don’t see them being part of a grand plan to land a blue-chip free agent like Gaudreau.

CHYCHRUN STAYING IN ARIZONA?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said not much has changed on the Jakob Chychrun trade front. He’s still willing to entertain offers but for now, he expects the 24-year-old defenseman will be returning with the Coyotes for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no one’s made an offer that would entice Armstrong to part with Chychrun. That could change this week leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on Thursday and Friday.

If not, Armstrong seems content to have Chychrun in the lineup for the ’22-’23 campaign. The blueliner is under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million annual average value and lacks no-trade protection for the coming season.

COULD THE BLACKHAWKS TAKE ON MRAZEK OR MURRAY?

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the Chicago Blackhawks could begin to address their goaltending this week. They anticipate GM Kyle Davidson could contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about Petr Mrazek or the Ottawa Senators regarding Matt Murray. He might be willing to take on one of them in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects.

Mrazek carries a $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two seasons. Murray is signed through 2023-24 with an AAV of $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson will likely ask for a sweetener like a draft pick and/or prospect to be packaged with Mrazek or Murray. He also won’t part with a high draft pick or prospect to do this favor for the Leafs or Senators.

LATEST ON THE OILERS, CANUCKS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND SABRES

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports the Edmonton Oilers are still awaiting answers from Mike Smith and Duncan Keith before free agency begins next week. Both players have a year remaining on their contracts and there’s talk they could retire. Given Smith’s injuries, it appears more likely he’ll go on long-term injury reserve for next season than retire.

Nugent-Bowman also reports winger Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t requested a trade. It sounds as though he’d like to return with the Oilers as a top-six winger. The Oilers could ask the restricted free agent to start the season on their third line and see if he can work his way higher in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Smith goes on LTIR, Keith returns to finish his contract, and Puljujarvi gets traded.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps acknowledged recent trade speculation swirling about Golden Knights defenseman Nic Hague. He believes it wouldn’t be a bad thing to move him in a cost-cutting deal given their blueline depth, allowing the Golden Knights to recoup some assets in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pundits I’ve read on the subject believe moving Hague isn’t an option at this point. However, the Golden Knights might not have much choice if they can’t find other ways to reduce their payroll before 2022-23.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres signing goaltender Craig Anderson last week to a one-year deal doesn’t mean they’re done seeking help between the pipes. He anticipates they’ll sign or trade for a netminder while allowing Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen more time to develop.

Harrington doesn’t expect they’ll pursue notable UFAs such as St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Toronto’s Jack Campbell. Free-agent targets could include Dallas’ Braden Holtby, Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith or Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie. Trade options could be the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, San Jose’s James Reimer or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted earlier, the Isles seem unwilling to move Varlamov. I think the Sharks intend to retain Reimer for the coming season. Georgiev could be a good addition if they’re looking beyond 2022-23.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

Are the Penguins in danger of losing Malkin and Letang to free agency? What’s the latest on the Lightning? Could a couple of Golden Knights become offer sheet targets?

ARE MALKIN AND LETANG EDGING CLOSER TO FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting sources claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t had regular contract talks with Evgeni Malkin since mid-May. A number of agents and several people within the Penguins organization believe the 35-year-old center won’t be returning. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Yohe also reported the Penguins offered Kris Letang a three-year deal. However, the 35-year-old defenseman wants a five-year contract worth over $8 million annually. Like Malkin, he’s due to become a UFA on July 13.

Malkin was reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million annual average value. Letang, meanwhile, seeks a raise over his current $7.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A recent report indicated management intends to turn its focus toward Malkin once they’ve sorted out Letang’s situation. That could explain the lack of discussions.

Letang could be pricing himself out of Pittsburgh. What he’s asking for is two years too long for the annual salary he’s seeking. Perhaps the Penguins would agree to $8 million annually for three years. If that’s not acceptable to Letang he could test the market but I don’t see many teams lining up to meet his asking price.

Re-signing both players will bite deeply into the Penguins’ $23.2 million in salary-cap space for 2022-23. Yohe indicated a defenseman such as Marcus Pettersson, John Marino or Brian Dumoulin could become a cost-cutting candidate. One assumes they’d move one of them after signing Malkin and Letang. No sense doing so if one or both end up departing via free agency.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois indicated during his post-Stanley Cup Final press conference that he’s hopeful of re-signing Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. The trio is slated to become UFAs on July 13.

The Lightning, however, once again has limited salary-cap space. To retain at least Palat and Paul would mean shopping a salaried player to free up sufficient dollars.

Smith believes they have several players with value in the trade market. One of them is Alex Killorn, who has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million and a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The one advantage the Lightning have, apart from their championship pedigree, is the lack of a state tax in Florida. That makes it possible for them to sign players for less than market value because their dollars will go further in that state.

Paul was traded by the Senators because he reportedly spurned a four-year, $10 million contract offer. He could seek something between $3.5 and $4 million annually. Palat was earning $5.3 million annually on his current contract. He could get as much if not more on the open market, but maybe the 31-year-old winger will accept a little less to stay put.

Killorn was a frequent subject of trade speculation whenever the issue of the Lightning needing to free up cap room comes up. This time, however, it could become a reality. The 32-year-old winger only managed four points in the postseason but enjoyed a career-high 25 goals and 59 points in the regular season.

COULD TWO GOLDEN KNIGHTS BECOME OFFER SHEET TARGETS?

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculated over whether Nicolas Roy or Nicolas Hague will be targeted for offer sheets by rival clubs. Both players are restricted free agents with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Roy is coming off a career-best 15 goals and 39 points in 2021-22. The 25-year-old forward was on a two-year deal earning $750k annually. Hague, 23, had 14 points in 52 games. The defenseman is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

The Golden Knights lack salary-cap space at this time to sign both players after shipping out Evgenii Dadonov to Montreal earlier this month. Another cost-cutting move could be on the horizon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy recently reported at least two Eastern Conference clubs had “serious interest” in Hague. That could force the Golden Knights to make that cost-cutting move before he becomes eligible to receive an offer sheet on July 13.