NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2021
TARASENKO WANTS OUT OF ST. LOUIS
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues and the club is working on moving him. The 29-year-old winger made the request earlier in the offseason.
Sources said Tarasenko was unhappy over how the Blues’ medical staff handled two of his three shoulder surgeries and he no longer trusts the club. His third surgery was performed by doctors outside the organization, who discovered the ligament damage wasn’t sufficiently addressed during the previous two operations. He also felt the club waiting too long to conduct further testing when he complained about discomfort in his shoulder prior to joining the club for last summer’s playoffs in Edmonton.
Rutherford cites several unnamed NHL general managers saying Blues GM Doug Armstrong has been quietly shopping Tarasenko. The winger has a no-trade clause but sources say he provided Blues management with a list of 10 trade destinations.
Tarasenko has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million but an actual salary for 2021-22 of $9.5 million. It drops to $5.5 million for 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were rumors in recent weeks suggesting Tarasenko was unhappy with the Blues. One linked him to the Calgary Flames for St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk but that was firmly denied by the Flames.
Tarasenko’s contract and his shoulder surgeries could make it tough for Armstrong to find suitable trade partners. As per Cap Friendly, the Islanders have just $5.76 million in cap space with restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin to re-sign, as well as unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas and Travis Zajac to replace or re-sign.
The Rangers have over $23 million with Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and Filip Chytil as their notable free agents. They can afford Tarasenko but must leave sufficient cap room available to re-sign or replace Mika Zibanejad before his UFA eligibility next summer. They could also have their sights elsewhere as rumors link them to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LIGHTNING AND CANADIENS?
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap constraints will force management into cost-cutting offseason trades. They’re currently sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $5 million.
The expansion draft could provide an opportunity if general manager Julien BriseBois is willing to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken. He could try again to trade Tyler Johnson ($5 million annual average value through 2023-24) but might have to buy out the winger if he can’t find any takers.
BriseBois will have to move some players under contract if he hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. Trade candidates could include Johnson, winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV through 2022-23), Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million through next season) or Yanni Gourde ($5.16 million through 2024-25).
Greg Wyshynski pointed out the Montreal Canadiens have over $10 million in cap space with Joel Armia, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal, Michael Frolik, Corey Perry, Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill slated to become unrestricted free agents. He wonders how many could be brought back.
Wyshynski also noted the Canadiens could lose a good player via the expansion draft. Jake Evans, Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen and perhaps Jonathan Drouin could be left unprotected. He wondered if they’ll cut a side deal with the Kraken to ensure they don’t take someone the Habs want to retain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are at greater risk of losing a couple of good players than the Canadiens. They must shed at least $10 million to have enough to fill out the rest of their roster and still be cap compliant when next season begins.
BriseBois has a well-earned reputation for cap management. He caught a break this season when Nikita Kucherov underwent hip surgery sidelining him throughout the regular season. That allowed the Bolts GM to place the high-priced ($9.5 million AAV) winger on long-term injury reserve, providing some welcome cap relief enabling him to keep his roster almost intact.
Unless another expensive player ends up on LTIR before next season, BriseBois will have to get creative to address his cap issues. Johnson, Killorn, Palat and Gourde have no-trade protection clauses in their contracts.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, could attempt to re-sign Danault, Armia and perhaps Perry. The rest will be cut loose. Danault reportedly turned down a six-year, $30 million offer earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see if that offer remains on the table.
LATEST ON KEITH AND HALL
TSN: Darren Dreger reports trade discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks regarding Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. He said there’s mutual interest in getting a deal done.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wants to do right by Keith but he’s seeking a quality return. Dreger wonders which young defenseman from the Oilers needs to be included to make this happen.
Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins are engaged in contract extension talks with Taylor Hall’s camp. There’s outside interest in the 29-year-old left winger from other clubs, including the Toronto Maple Leafs if they’re unable to re-sign Zach Hyman. However, Hall’s preference is to stay in Boston.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers feel Hyman could get up to $6 million annually on the open market. If the Leafs can’t afford Hyman they probably can’t afford Hall. Then again, the latter is a more naturally talented winger than the hardworking Hyman. Perhaps they’d feel the Bruins winger would be worth it. We’ll see.