NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2023
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Johnston believes it remains an open question as to where Patrick Kane signs once he’s ready to return from his offseason hip resurfacing procedure. The Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers are among the clubs with an interest in the 34-year-old winger. The plan for the Kane camp is to wait until early November before engaging more seriously with those potential suitors.
In a recent mailbag segment, Johnston’s colleague Matthew Fairburn was asked about the possibility of the Sabres landing Kane. He noted the winger’s ties to general manager Kevyn Adams and head coach Don Granato during their time with Kane in Chicago.
Kane would bring plenty of playoff experience to the young Sabres. However, there’s the question of whether they actually need him and how well he’d fit within the lineup.
Meanwhile, Eric Duhatschek noted the Detroit Red Wings have been mentioned as a destination for Kane along with the Sabres and Rangers. He believes compensation could be a factor as the Wings and Sabres have the cap space to sign the veteran winger while the Rangers would have to shed salary to bring him back.
Roster need would be another, pointing out the Rangers’ scorers have struggled in the early going this season. He suggested the Red Wings’ need for scoring might not be as acute given the offseason additions of Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher and Daniel Sprong.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman noted that Kane’s been linked to the Sabres, Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers, who acquired him before last season’s trade deadline. He suggested the Dallas Stars might be a good destination for Kane if he wants to chase a Stanley Cup this season. One downside, however, is the Stars’ travel schedule given their location.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Except for Friedman’s mention of the Stars, there’s not much really new here regarding possible destinations for Kane.
The Sabres could use his experience but they’re loaded with young scoring forwards. The Wings have the cap space but adding someone like Kane might not be as pressing a need as it once was.
Like the Panthers and Rangers, the Stars lack the cap room to take him on unless they dump some salary to create space for him. While the Panthers have some wiggle room with Aaron Ekblad on long-term injury reserve, they must be cap-compliant when he returns in December or January.
THE ATHLETIC: As for other notable remaining UFAs, Johnston reports Phil Kessel had a couple of close calls with contracts in recent weeks. A few interested clubs could attempt to free up cap space to sign the 36-year-old winger. Kessel is the NHL’s reigning Ironman but he understands that he might not be playing every night wherever he signs.
Johnston also indicated that interest may be high in Jesse Puljujarvi, who has recovered from offseason hip surgeries and is skating in his native Finland. The 25-year-old winger is aiming at a return in late November or early December. Johnston suggested he could be an intriguing low-cost, low-risk signing.
Winger Danton Heinen continues to skate and travel with the Boston Bruins. He joined the club on a professional tryout offer in September. The Bruins are trying to sort out their salary-cap issues to free up space to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston also mentioned Zach Parise could be getting the itch to return after taking some time to ponder his future. As I noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, if he does return it’s expected he’ll sign a one-year contract with the New York Islanders at the league minimum salary of $775K.