NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2021
Will Tomas Hertl re-sign with the Sharks? Could the Capitals trade Evgeny Kuznetsov? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
“I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me, and if I’ll want to stay there,” Hertl said, indicating he’ll see how things unfold during this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently pointed out two variables that could determine whether this season becomes Hertl’s last in San Jose.
Money will be the first as Hertl could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually on his next contract. The Sharks only have $14 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. The other is whether he wants to stay. A recent report indicated he was believed among the players unhappy with teammate Evander Kane flouting team rules last season.
Gretz also wondered if Hertl will be keen to spend the remainder of his playing prime with a team that is probably years away from becoming a contender again.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren took note of the recent speculation over Hertl’s future. He believes the Senators could acquire the versatile forward with the right offer, drawing in part upon their well-stocked cupboard of prospects. He also notes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and Sharks GM Doug Wilson have a trade history, pointing to the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Rangers have sufficient salary-cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects to make competitive bids for Hertl this season. That’s assuming, of course, the Sharks decide to shop him.
That move, however, probably doesn’t occur until later this season, likely near the trade deadline if the Sharks are out of playoff contention by that point. Hertl also has a three-team trade list, significantly narrowing potential destinations. He could agree to broaden that list depending on where Wilson would want to move him.
Hertl’s UFA status is also a point of concern. He’d have to be considered a playoff rental player this season. If the Senators and/or Rangers aren’t in contention it doesn’t make any sense for them to pursue a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked whether the Washington Capitals will trade Evgeny Kuznetsov. One reader claimed hearing talk of the 28-year-old center becoming a New York Ranger at the start of the season.
El-Bashir believes if Kuznetsov were to be traded it would’ve happened by now. His $7.8 million annual cap hit through 2024-25, 15-team no-trade clause, and the Capitals need to get a suitable replacement in return are key reasons working against it.
He does wonder if a team interested in Jack Eichel could shift their attention to Kuznetsov if and when the Buffalo Sabres captain is traded. Kuznetsov’s attitude and mindset during training camp could also be worth watching.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too many factors work against a Kuznetsov trade. His off-ice baggage also hurts his trade value. If he returns in the right frame of mind and plays well it will improve his stock but it could also entice the Capitals to retain him.