NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022
RUMORS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” PODCAST
SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.
Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.
Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.
Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.
Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.
Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes have multiple picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe one of those teams made that pitch for DeBrincat. Discuss!
Regarding his report of the Tampa Bay Lightning looking into shopping Ryan McDonagh, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the suitors. He thinks the 32-year-old defenseman would be a good addition to their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.
Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.
Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.
POTENTIAL CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES
THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic topped Mike Stephens’ recent list of potential contract buyout candidates. The buyout window opened on July 1 and runs until 5 pm ET on July 12.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are still without a full-time replacement for general manager Doug Wilson. Still, it didn’t stop them from axing Bob Boughner as head coach on July 1.
I doubt they’ll find any takers for Vlasic in the trade market given his hefty contract and the decline in his play. We can’t rule out a buyout before July 12.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.
The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated White could indeed be bought out by the Senators. The Panthers could do the same if they can’t find a club to take him off their hands in the trade market.