NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2023
How might John Tavares’ contract talks with the Leafs pan out next summer? Are the Sabres interested in Ducks center Trevor Zegras? What’s the latest on Blues defenseman Torey Krug? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
WILL TAVARES HAVE TO ACCEPT A PAY CUT TO REMAIN A LEAF?
Stamkos, 33, raised eyebrows last week when he voiced his disappointment to reporters over the lack of contract extension discussions with Lightning management this summer. Bolts general manager Julien BriseBois said that his captain will have to wait until the end of this season for those negotiations to begin.
McGran wonders if Leafs GM Brad Treliving will ask Tavares, who will be 34 next summer, to accept a pay cut like Evgeni Malkin did with the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer. Malkin’s pay dropped from an average annual value of $9.5 million to $6.1 million. He also mused over whether Treliving might have other ideas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares is earning an AAV of $11 million on his current contract, which expires at the end of the 2024-25 season. He’ll have no choice but to accept a pay cut if he hopes to continue playing for the Leafs, especially if his production declines between now and then. That’s assuming management intends to keep him once this contract is completed. How big a cut will depend on his performance over the next two seasons.
SABRES EYEING ZEGRAS?
TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie recently weighed in on the lack of progress in contract talks between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent Trevor Zegras. He claimed the Buffalo Sabres have an interest in the 22-year-old center, believing Zegras will help them end their 12-year playoff drought.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I missed this one when it was first reported last week. The Sabres are already set with Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens centering their top two lines. Zegras can also play wing but they’re loaded at those positions too. Goaltending and blueline depth are the bigger concerns for the Sabres entering this season.
If the Sabres are looking into Zegras’ availability I doubt the Ducks are willing to part with him. If they are, the asking price will be significant plus there’s also the cost to the Sabres of re-signing him to a new contract.
The Sabres have the depth in assets to make a competitive trade offer for Zegras and the cap space to sign him if he’s seeking under $8 million annually starting this season. Long-term cap space, however, could be an issue with Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Casey Mittelstadt due for new contracts (and big raises) next season.
LATEST ON KRUG
The 32-year-old defenseman cited his unwillingness to uproot his young family from St. Louis, his closeness to his Blues teammates, and the fact that he didn’t want to join a rebuilding club in Philadelphia.
Krug acknowledged he was upset that Blues management was looking at trading him. However, he said he took some time to deal with the aftermath of the situation and insists he has a great relationship with general manager Doug Armstrong.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Korac and The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford noted that Krug was within his rights to reject the trade. However, Rutherford believes the pressure will be on the blueliner to step up his game in 2023-24 and prove that he wants to be part of the solution after the Blues missed the playoffs last season.