NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021
A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.
Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.
Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.
Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.
Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.
Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.
Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.