NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2021
NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2021
Check out the recent rumblings about the Canucks, Flyers and Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston wondered if a rival club will attempt to sign Elias Pettersson to an offer sheet. The 22-year-old Vancouver Canucks center becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
Johnston acknowledged the unlikelihood of that happening. Nevertheless, he pondered the possibility of the Seattle Kraken or Montreal Canadiens taking advantage of the Canucks’ limited cap space to make an offer that might be difficult to match.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston brought up the Canadiens in part because they signed Sebastian Aho to a deal two years ago that was easily matched by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canadiens could try again but I doubt they’ll go that route. Cap Friendly shows them with $67.7 million invested in 15 players. Attempting to sign Petterssen will likely cost at least $8 million annually, leaving little room to re-sign or replace free agents such as Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Joel Armia.
I don’t see Kraken GM Ron Francis giving it a try. He didn’t make such a bold move during his tenure as the Hurricanes general manager so it seems doubtful he’ll use the offer sheet gambit to build his club.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi speculates the Flyers’ bad season could show GM Chuck Fletcher he must make major changes to his roster. Promising goaltender Carter Hart was among the league’s worst, the special teams were a disaster and poor starts were the norm.
The most mystifying was how much the Flyers collapsed following the offseason retirement of defenseman Matt Niskanen. Fletcher failed to replace him with a more defensive-minded option. Erik Gustafsson and Philippe Myers both flopped with Gustafsson traded away for next to nothing.
Carchidi felt the club had too many passers and not enough shooters. He wondered if the Flyers who contracted COVID-19 earlier this season suffered any lingering side-effects. He also pondered if the constant line changes prevented the players from building on-ice chemistry or if the players began tuning out head coach Alain Vigneault.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher has little choice but to make changes this summer via trades and free agency. He can’t return with the same roster next season and expect improvement. Backup Brian Elliott should be replaced with a younger goaltender to help Hart share the workload while the struggling starter regains his form. They must add an experienced shutdown defenseman and scoring forward.
With over $70 million invested in 18 players, however, those changes could prove easier said than done. Fletcher tried and failed to find anyone to take struggling blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere off his hand.
Some observers suggest trading Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and/or James van Riemsdyk but it won’t be easy moving those high-salaried players with the cap remaining at $81.5 million. Giroux has a year left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $8.275 million ($5 million in actual salary) and a no-movement clause.
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently reported sources claiming the Seattle Kraken could target Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger as one of their netminders for next season. Driedger becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s played well this season for the Panthers but they’re likely to promote promising Spencer Knight as Sergei Bobrovsky’s full-time backup. The Kraken have a three-day window before the expansion draft (July 18-21) to interview free agents. Perhaps they can convince Driedger to join them.