NHL Rumor Mill – January 12, 2021
Some noteworthy pending unrestricted free agents to watch this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently looked at several high-profile pending UFAs to watch during this upcoming season.
LeBrun reported Alex Ovechkin didn’t seem too concerned about his contract situation with the Washington Capitals when training camp opened last week. The long-time Capitals superstar noted there’s plenty of time to get a deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin sounds like he wants to stay with the Capitals and they want to keep their franchise player. The question, of course, is how much and for how long.
LeBrun noted contract talks between the two sides were shelved during the summer. His colleague Frank Seravalli last week indicated Ovechkin’s pre-pandemic asking price was $12.5 million annually.
Taylor Hall surprised the NHL world last fall by signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Playing alongside Sabres superstar Jack Eichel this season could boost his value as he seeks a long-term deal this summer. LeBrun thinks Hall could stick with the Sabres if he and Eichel develop solid chemistry and the club improves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Sabres with $45.6 million invested in 10 players for 2021-22. They’ll have plenty of room to keep Hall in the fold. However, that depends on how much he’ll seek on his next contract and how well the Sabres perform this season.
LeBrun wondered what the future holds for Tuukka Rask with the Boston Bruins. While the goaltender’s agent said his client is happy living and playing in Boston, offseason rumors had Bruins general manager Don Sweeney taking calls about Rask.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney may have been listening to calls on Rask but that doesn’t mean he was keen to move him. The Bruins don’t have anyone in their system to replace Rask after this season.
They could seek a replacement via free agency but the options could be limited to Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Nashville’s aging Pekka Rinne, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Arizona’s injury-prone Antti Raanta and Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer. Unless the Bruins find a better choice via the trade market, they could have little choice but to sign Rask, especially if he plays well this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton’s representatives have had preliminary contract discussions. LeBrun speculates the Hamilton camp could seek something comparable to Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo’s $8.8 million annual average value. The Hurricanes could counter with some similar to St. Louis’ Torey Krug’s $6.5 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton was considered a contender for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman until suffering a season-ending leg injury last January. If an agreement isn’t reached between the two sides soon, a healthy, Norris-worthy performance by Hamilton this season could push his asking price into Pietrangelo’s range or higher.