Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 7, 2023
Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 7, 2023
A look at rumored candidates for the Rangers’ head-coaching job plus the latest Penguins speculation in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
WHO REPLACES GERARD GALLANT AS RANGERS HEAD COACH?
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wondered who would replace Gerard Gallant after he and the Rangers mutually agreed to part ways on Saturday.
Brooks reports Joel Quenneville will not be among the candidates. He remains under an unofficial and open-ended suspension by the NHL for his failure to act responsibly in the Kyle Beach sexual assault issue while coaching the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. The Rangers will not approach the league to ask commissioner Gary Bettman to lift his suspension.
General manager Chris Drury and his staff have begun compiling a list of candidates but there is so far no clear front-runner. It’s uncertain whether candidates such as Patrick Roy who didn’t get an interview two years ago will be in the mix now.
Prior to Gallant and the Rangers parting company, a source suggested former Calgary Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter to Brooks. However, he doubts that a coach who alienated part of his roster this season while failing to reach the playoffs would be a candidate for the Blueshirts’ coaching gig.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This being one of the notable head coaching jobs in the NHL, we’re likely to hear plenty of rumors in the coming weeks over who will be Gallant’s replacement. I agree with Brooks that Sutter probably won’t be a candidate after the season he had with the Flames.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Rangers bring in. Will they go with an experienced NHL coach or look toward someone from the minors, junior or college ranks? We’ll likely know before the NHL Draft (June 28-29) as I daresay they’ll want that position filled before then.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat recently suggested the Pittsburgh Penguins look toward the Winnipeg Jets as possible offseason trade partners.
The Jets could be looking at shaking things up this summer following their disappointing performance down the stretch and their first-round elimination by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Connor Hellebuyck could be of interest to the Penguins, who need an upgrade in goal. The former Vezina Trophy winner is 30 and has a year left on his contract with a cap hit of $6.1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Horwat believes Hellebuyck would be worth every penny for the Penguins. Cap Friendly shows them with over $20 million in cap space for 2023-24 so they can afford to acquire him.
Hellebuyck also lacks no-trade protection. If the Jets decide to shop him, their asking price could include the Penguins’ 2023 first-round pick.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski was asked by several readers if Hellebuyck or Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson could be in play in the offseason trade market.
Kingerski doubts the Ducks will peddle Gibson if they get a top-two pick in this year’s draft. If they do make him available, he doubts the Penguins can afford to acquire him, suggesting the Ducks could seek two first-round picks and more in return.
Hellebuyck, on the other hand, could be a different story. He believes the Jets might be amenable to a player-for-player trade, though the Penguins convincing one of their players with a no-trade or no-move clause to accept a move to Winnipeg could be a problem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski also noted the Ottawa Senators are reportedly interested in Gibson but can outbid the Penguins. However, the Senators might not be on his list of acceptable trade destinations.
Recent rumors suggest the Ducks are willing to help Gibson find a suitable trade destination, preferably one that isn’t rebuilding. The Pittsburgh native could accept coming home to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Penguins will likely have to give up their first-rounder in the deal but the rest of the asking price might not be that expensive. The Ducks already have six picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft and in next year’s as well. They could be more interested in moving Gibson’s contract, which has four years remaining with an annual cap hit of $6.4 million.
Horwat also suggested center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Neal Pionk as trade targets. He admits the 29-year-old Scheifele might be hard to fit in on a club already deep with centers but felt he’s the kind of talent you find a solution for. Horwat considers Pionk more obtainable, suggesting he’d be a good replacement for Jeff Petry.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele is talented and could skate on the wing alongside Sidney Crosby or perhaps he could center the second line with Evgeni Malkin shifted to the wing. Like Hellebuyck, he has a year remaining on his contract. Scheifele has also faced criticism in recent years for his inconsistent play.
Pionk would be a good replacement for the aging Petry provided the Penguins can find a taker for him to clear his $6.25 million annual cap hit from their books. That’s assuming the Jets are willing to move Pionk.
Horwat also looked at possible buyout candidates. The first choice would be Jeff Carter but he’s on a 35-plus contract, meaning his annual cap hit would still count in full against the Penguins’ salary cap.
Jeff Petry and forward Mikael Granlund are other possibilities. However, there’s also the concern that those buyouts could become anchors if the rest of the roster is built incorrectly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins appear stuck with Carter for the final season of his contract. They can’t buy him out and he’s got a full no-movement clause.
I suspect the Penguins would prefer trading Petry and/or Granlund even if they have to retain a portion of their salary rather than buy them out. Whether they go either route remains to be seen. New management could see how both perform next season.