NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2022

The Hurricanes hope to retain some key free agents, the possibility of some RFAs not receiving qualifying offers, plus updates on Jack Campbell and David Perron in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HURRICANES HOPE TO RETAIN TROCHECK, NIEDERREITER & DEANGELO

NHL.COM: Kurt Dusterberg reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent forwards Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter. Meanwhile, head coach Rod Brind’Amour hopes restricted free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo also returns.

Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal indicated he’s not thinking about a contract extension this summer, preferring to play out the final season of his contract before determining his future. Waddell indicated they want Staal to play as long as he feels like doing so.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander reports DeAngelo would love to stay with the Hurricanes. He said he believes everyone in the organization knows that and believes they want him back, expressing appreciation for the trust they put in him following his troubled final season with the New York Rangers.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

DeAngelo, 26, has arbitration rights and is a year away from becoming eligible for unrestricted free agent status. Waddell indicated there’s interest in signing him to a multi-year contract.

Alexander’s colleague Luck DeCock believes the Hurricanes need an upgrade in pure scoring skill. He suggested parting ways with forward Martin Necas, who regressed during this season and bringing in a scoring winger to replace him via trade or free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell called signing Trocheck a priority. That increases the likelihood he won’t become available in this summer’s UFA market. It will depend on whether the two sides can reach an agreement before free agency begins on July 13.

Trocheck tends to be a streaky scorer but he would draw plenty of interest if he tests the market. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson daydreamed about Vancouver signing him but there’s no indication that’s the direction Canucks management intends to take.

DeAngelo made the most of his opportunity with the Hurricanes. While both sides are pleased with how this season turned out, arriving at a suitable deal could be a challenge.

Cap Friendly indicates the Hurricanes have $19.4 million in cap space with 14 players under contract next season. Parting ways with Necas won’t free up additional cap space as he’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Trocheck earned an annual average value of $4.725 million while Niederreiter’s was $5.25 million. It could cost a combined $12 million to retain them. DeAngelo, meanwhile, could seek a return to the $4.8 million annually he was earning with the Rangers before agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Hurricanes for this season. Re-signing that trio won’t leave much room to add a scoring forward.

TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggested limited salary-cap space among NHL teams could lead to some of them not bothering to qualify the rights of some arbitration-eligible RFAs.

Some worth watching include Carolina’s Ethan Bear, Dallas’ Denis Gurianov, Pittsburgh’s Kasperi Kapanen, Chicago’s Dylan Strome and New Jersey’s Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha. He also noted there was speculation that Ondrej Kase could depart Toronto but believes talks are underway between the winger and the Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players could bolster the depth of talent in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. There’s no certainty, of course, that most or all of them will hit the open market. Still, it could be worthwhile as Friedman suggested to keep an eye on their respective contract negotiations.

Speaking of RFAs, Friedman believes the Leafs will qualify defenseman Rasmus Sandin’s rights. However, they have a logjam on the left side of their blueline. He pointed out that their cap situation doesn’t afford Sandin contract room.

Meanwhile, there haven’t been any contract talks between the Leafs and goaltender Jack Campbell for months and anything previously discussed is no longer relevant. His agent said there’s been no material contract conversation since the end of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Leafs will get something done with Campbell because there aren’t many suitable replacement options in this summer’s trade and UFA markets. The best free-agent options are Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury and there’s no certainty either guy can be wooed to Toronto.

As for Sandin, he’ll obviously be more affordable to sign than Campbell. Given the priority given to the latter, however, they could end up shopping Sandin if they can’t free up sufficient cap dollars to re-sign him. However, I think Leafs management will try to free up cap room by trying to move out veterans like Petr Mrazek and Wayne Simmonds, though peddling either guy won’t be easy.

Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators will be worth watching as they have their first-round picks in play for talent with a lot of team control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, a player with more than a year remaining on their contract.

He also doesn’t expect St. Louis Blues winger David Perron will hit the open market on July 13.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele to return next season, an update on Vincent Trocheck plus the latest collection of Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHEVELDAYOFF DOESN’T EXPECT TO TRADE SCHEIFELE

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele will return with the club next season. The 29-year-old center made headlines in the Winnipeg media last month when he seemed to question his future with the club after missing the 2022 postseason.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Cheveldayoff said his exit interview with Scheifele went well, chalking up the center’s comments to the emotion of missing the playoffs. The long-time Jets forward has two years remaining on his contract.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Jets are better off retaining Scheifele than attempting to trade him. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on May 7 that the center hadn’t asked management to move him.

Despite a decline in Scheifele’s numbers over the past four seasons, O’Brien still believes it’s worthwhile retaining him for at least the coming season. His performance could improve under a new coach. If the Jets need to clear some cap space. O’Brien suggested moving a defenseman such as Nate Schmidt or Brenden Dillon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets wouldn’t have any problem finding trade partners to take Scheifele off their hands. He’d be much easier to move than Schmidt or Dillon.

Most of the calls for a Scheifele trade were based on the Jets’ need to change a team culture that has eroded since their franchise-best 2017-18 season. Cheveldayoff could be betting on a new bench boss addressing that issue. Former New York Islanders coach (and Manitoba native) Barry Trotz recently interviewed with the Jets and could be just what’s required to reverse their fortunes.

If the problems persist next season, however, the calls for Scheifele (and perhaps other core players) will grow louder. Cheveldayoff might not have much choice by that point. Scheifele could force the issue by calling for a trade.

WILL TROCHECK RE-SIGN WITH THE HURRICANES?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported re-signing with the Carolina Hurricanes remains an option for Vincent Trocheck. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

The Hurricanes, however, might not be the best financial choice. Friedman said he’d heard the club made an offer to extend Trocheck but it didn’t get done. He pointed out that Hurricanes’ management rarely deviates from their view of a player’s value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.75 million. He’ll probably want something close to $6 million per season.

The Hurricanes could re-sign Trocheck but they might also seek a more consistent option through trade or free agency. Trocheck won’t be back if they acquire a second-line center before free agency opens on July 13.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently listed the health of key players such as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson among the big three questions facing the Washington Capitals in the offseason. Backstrom has been troubled by a nagging left-hip injury while Wilson could miss up to the first half of next season recovering from knee surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber observed the Capitals could get some cap relief for next season by placing Backstrom and Wilson on long-term injury reserve. That would free up space to add an experienced starting goalie, a reliable top-six forward or more depth at center via trade or free agency.

If Backstrom were to miss significant time, Silber pondered whether Colorado’s Nazem Kadri would be a good fit if he becomes available on the free-agent market. She acknowledged there would be a cap crunch if Backstrom returned during the season after signing a player like Kadri. Silber also suggested Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin as a possible free-agent replacement for the sidelined Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom’s cap hit for next season is $9.2 million while Wilson’s is $5.16 million. That’s a big chunk of change that the Capitals could free up if necessary by placing one or both on LTIR.

Backstrom could be the more likely LTIR candidate if he’s unable to play without pain going forward. He’d be all but retired by that point, alleviating any concern about a cap crunch by bringing in a replacement this summer through trade or free agency. It would be riskier if he has a timetable to return at some point next season should he undergo another offseason surgical procedure on his hip.

For now, there’s no clarity on Backstrom’s status. The Capitals really can’t make any significant moves based on his health until they determine for certain his status for next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2022

Check out the latest speculation on the Hurricanes and Blues offseason plans in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski noted the Carolina Hurricanes have several key free agents to deal with this summer. Forwards Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi and defensemen Ian Cole and Brendan Smith are due to become unrestricted free agents. Forward Martin Necas and blueliners Ethan Bear and Tony DeAngelo are restricted free agents.

Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (NHL Images).

Wyshynski observed that Trocheck tends to be inconsistent. DeAngelo, meanwhile, led their defensemen with 51 points in 64 games after signing a one-year, $1 million contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander pointed out that Necas’ erratic third NHL season raises questions over where he fits into the Hurricanes’ plans. Bear, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch throughout this postseason.

Luke DeCock also weighed in on the difficult decisions facing Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell, with what to do with DeAngelo and Niederreiter topping the list. He felt Trocheck’s departure via free agency and cutting bait with Necas should be easier. DeCock also noted coach Rod Brind’Amour’s comment about the Hurricanes lacking elite goal scorers.

THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian suggested Waddell explore the “elite goal scorer” market this summer. She pointed out the Hurricanes lacked a scorer in the top-20 this season despite being among the NHL’s best teams. Their scoring leader was Sebastian Aho, whose 81 points placed him 30th overall in the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes have $19.375 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. Not everyone among those key free agents will be back, especially if Waddell and team owner Tom Dundon decide to pursue a scoring forward this summer.

Maybe they’ll try to sign Colorado’s Nazem Kadri if they let Trocheck walk. Perhaps they’ll pursue Kevin Fiala if the Minnesota Wild decides to shop the pending RFA winger.

I think they’ll bring DeAngelo back after his bounce-back performance this season. Trading Necas could be a mistake but he could be packaged with a draft pick or prospect to land a more established scorer.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong doesn’t believe his roster needs major changes after falling in the second round to the Colorado Avalanche. With a number of key players under contract, he felt his team is in a good position for next season.

Armstrong acknowledged the salary cap will affect efforts to re-sign key UFAs David Perron, Ville Husso and Nick Leddy. Still, he believes there’s sufficient time to work things out. He also said he’s not worried about Vladimir Tarasenko returning next season despite last summer’s reports about a trade request. He praised the winger’s bounce-back performance this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reported Perron said he’d love to be back with the Blues, though he declined to speak about his contract situation publicly. Armstrong also indicated he’d like to bring the 34-year-old winger back, citing his ability to still elevate his play despite his age.

Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly can sign a contract extension this summer. He said he absolutely wants to remain in St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron earned $4 million annually on his current contract and could return for the same cap hit on a two- or three-year deal. Leddy was a good fit with the Blues after joining them in a late-season trade. However, the 31-year-old defenseman will have to accept a pay cut from his $5.5 million to stick in St. Louis.

Husso made just $700k this season so he’s going to get a significant raise despite his postseason struggles. He could cash in on the free-agent market if he wants more playing time as a starter.

Tarasenko hasn’t publicly said he’s changed his mind about a trade but I’d say Armstrong’s comments are a strong indication he won’t be shopped this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

What will the Capitals do with their goaltending this summer? Are the Sharks open to trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns? Will the Blackhawks seek improvement between the pipes? Who could the Red Wings target via free agency? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE CAPITALS LOOK TO IMPROVE THEIR GOALTENDING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski considers the Washington Capitals goaltending an interesting situation worth monitoring during the offseason. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are both restricted free agents. Vanecek had a solid regular season but fared poorly in the playoffs while Samsonov was the opposite.

Wyshynski wondered if the Capitals will seek an upgrade between the pipes. If they decide to keep their tandem intact, for how much and for how long? He also believes their blueline needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals need a reliable starter. There are only four suitable options via this summer’s unrestricted free agent market and one of them (Marc-Andre Fleury) apparently isn’t interested in playing for them. Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper, Toronto’s Jack Campbell and St. Louis’ Ville Husso could be available but will be expensive to sign. The Capitals would face competition from other clubs for those goaltenders should they test the open market on July 13.

General manager Brian MacLellan could try the trade market by looking at netminders such as Anaheim’s John Gibson, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Vegas’ Robin Lehner and the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov. Acquiring either of them, however, won’t be easy and will cost assets as well as salary.

Limited salary-cap space will also impede the pursuit of a goalie upgrade or the addition of a quality defenseman. Cap Friendly shows the Capitals with $73.5 million invested in 17 active players for 2022-23 with Vanecek and Samsonov as their key free agents. MacLellan might have to shed a contract or two to find sufficient cap space to address those needs.

THE SHARKS COULD BE OPEN TO TRADING KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks interim general manager Joe Will indicated he has no problem talking to other clubs about trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer. Both players recently surfaced in the rumor mill after the Sharks missed the playoffs last month.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Will said nothing was off-limits in terms of looking at ways to improve the roster wherever they could. However, he added that would be a decision left to whoever becomes the club’s general manager. He stated no changes are imminent but they’re open to discussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Will is talking about a hypothetical trade scenario involving Karlsson or Burns rather than something that will actually take place. He or his successor are making it known they’re open to offers for their high-end talent but that doesn’t mean they’re actively shopping those players.

That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharks management quietly gauged the market for Karlsson or Burns. However, Karlsson’s injury history, the 37-year-old Burns’ age, and their respective hefty contracts and no-trade clauses make moving either defenseman a difficult task in an offseason where the salary cap is rising by only $1 million for 2022-23.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus recently reported goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. Current netminders Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are slated to become UFAs this summer.

GM Kyle Davidson said Lankinen and Delia are part of the conversation but there are players in this summer’s free-agent market the Blackhawks will be looking at. He also didn’t rule out a foray into the trade market. A source claims the club hasn’t started contract discussions yet with Lankinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Blackhawks could keep Lankinen or Delia as a backup as they pursue a reliable starter via free agency or a trade. Many of the options I listed for the Capitals could also apply here.

Davidson has $61.4 million committed to 14 players with Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach, Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev slated to become restricted free agents. There is sufficient room to add a decent starter provided those RFAs can be inked to affordable deals. Strome or Kubalik could be traded or allowed to depart as UFAs.

WHO COULD THE RED WINGS TARGET VIA FREE AGENCY?

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen recently published a list of forwards who might interest Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman in this summer’s UFA market.

Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nick Paul were Allen’s top three candidates

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck and Paul should be available this summer but it remains to be seen if they want to sign with a rebuilding club. Copp, however, could be off the market as the Rangers are quite keen to re-sign him.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, Rangers center Ryan Strome and Lightning winger Ondrej Palat were also among Allen’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings’ plentiful cap space means they could afford to pay Forsberg a big raise. Like Trocheck and Paul, he might not prefer joining a rebuilding team.

Strome’s situation with the Rangers could go either way. Yzerman drafted Palat when he was GM of the Lightning so the latter might be willing to consider a reunion.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin, Avs winger Andre Burakovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev and KHL forward Andrei Kuzmenko round out Allen’s listing.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 23, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Jets could face offseason changes following the disappointing outcome of this season plus a look at some potential decisions facing the Red Wings.

CHANGES COULD BE COMING THIS SUMMER FOR THE JETS

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe believes the Winnipeg Jets must begin the process of repairing a winning culture that’s been in decline in recent years starting with their remaining games in this season. He feels the franchise’s foundation is showing cracks in need of repair.

The Jets have plenty of offensive skill but they’re not scoring on a consistent basis. They’re giving up too many quality scoring chances, they don’t defend well enough around their net while their special teams have struggled.

Wiebe feels some of those issues were papered over by goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s play in recent years. However, they were exposed when he wasn’t playing at a Vezina-caliber level this season as the volume of shots and scoring chances against him increased.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck shares Wiebe’s concern that there are cracks in the Jets’ foundation. He pointed out that players such as Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Stastny and Josh Morrissey have publicly admitted the team’s performance is not up to snuff, with Connor also admitting a culture change is needed.

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff (NHL.com).

Billeck believes that will be up to general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff or his replacement if ownership decides a change is needed in the front office. It could also have an effect on contract talks with center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to conduct a full examination to address the malaise gripping the club. He wonders if that will be conducted by Cheveldayoff or his boss, Mark Chipman. The Jets owner has to be seeing the effects on the ice and in the stands, where the Jets are averaging 1,500 – 2,000 empty seats per game.

McIntyre also pondered the possibility of the Jets bringing in an experienced and sharp hockey mind from outside the organization as other clubs have done in recent years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The focus of these pieces center on whether there will be changes in the front office after this season. Cheveldayoff’s been in the job since 2011. While he built them up into a Western Conference finalist in 2018, they’ve been steadily declining since then. Perhaps a change in management is necessary.

Whoever is the Jets general manager this summer must decide if a roster shakeup is required or if the problem could be addressed with a coaching change. Long-time bench boss Paul Maurice stepped down in December claiming the team needed a “new voice” to reach the next level. Assistant coach Dave Lowry took over on an interim basis but was no more successful than his predecessor.

Some roster changes could still be in order if the Jets replace Cheveldayoff and hire a new head coach. McIntyre has suggested moving out a couple of expensive veterans to clear roster and cap space for promising young defensemen such as Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola.

Center Mark Scheifele recently surfaced in the rumor mill as an offseason trade candidate. Some Jets fans would like to see captain Blake Wheeler replaced but his age (35), $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 and full no-movement clause makes that option difficult to achieve.

LATEST RED WINGS SPECULATION

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen and Bob Duff recently addressed some questions about the Red Wings’ future plans. They don’t see Jeff Blashill returning as head coach, with Allen saying he’s heard GM Steve Yzerman could look at some tough, demanding coaching candidates if he replaces Blashill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill’s been the Wings’ head coach for the past seven seasons. He couldn’t be faulted for most of the club’s struggles during the earlier years of its rebuild. However, they were expected to make significant improvement this season, perhaps even contend for a wild-card spot. Their second-half collapse amid ongoing concerns over their defensive play suggests it’s time for a fresh perspective behind the bench.

Allen and Duff both believe Yzerman’s roster priority is to bring in a second-line center. They also expect he’ll seek an experienced second-pairing defenseman. Possible forward options could include the New York Rangers’ Andrew Copp and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Vincent Trocheck via free agency. Duff’s also hearing Yzerman could target Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg if he hits the open market.

They also suggest Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina as trade candidates if the Wings don’t see them as part of their long-term plans. Bertuzzi is a year away from UFA status while Zadina is a restricted free agent this summer. They could retain the latter as they appreciate how hard he’s working to become a better player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman’s shown a willingness to make bold moves, first by shipping Anthony Mantha to Washington for Jakub Vrana at last year’s trade deadline and acquiring goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from Carolina last summer. I wouldn’t be shocked if he peddles Bertuzzi and/or Zadina to land that second-line center or second-pairing blueliner this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, the Hurricanes could face a salary-cap crunch next summer, and an update on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BALLY SPORTS MIDWEST’s Andy Strickland hosted St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube on his “Cam and Strick” podcast on Sept. 7. Asked about Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade request, Berube doesn’t expect the 29-year-old winger to be moved.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

I expect Vladdy will play for us, and I’m gonna treat him like any other player,” said Berube. He added Tarasenko will continue to fill his role on the team and they’ll deal internally with the trade request.

Strickland followed up on Twitter the next day, suggesting a third team might have to get involved if Tarasenko gets traded. “There’s at least one team willing to retain a portion of Tarasenko’s salary,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take a third team to make a Tarasenko trade happen at this point. We saw those types of moves at last season’s trade deadline (David Savard, Nick Foligno) where three clubs would share portions of a player’s annual cap hit.

Whether it happens before the start of the season is another issue. Tarasenko could end up waiting until the March 21 trade deadline at the earliest for the Blues to honor his trade request.

Strickland didn’t mention which team is willing to pick up part of Taraseko’s $7.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. It could be a rebuilding club with plenty of cap space willing to do so if the Blues or the team receiving Tarasenko kicks in a draft pick. Potential candidates include the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported the Carolina Hurricanes may have put themselves into a bind for the next offseason because of their successful signing of Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet.

Murphy cites an NHL executive suggesting the addition of Kotkaniemi could create difficulty for the Hurricanes to re-sign him and their other key free agents. Kotkaniemi and Martin Necas are restricted free agents while winger Nino Niederreiter and center Vincent Trocheck are unrestricted.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes with a projected $56.5 million invested in just 12 players for 2022-23. Tony DeAngelo and Ethan Bear are also slated to become RFAs next summer.

A qualifying offer for Kotkaniemi would be $6.1 million but the two sides could agree to a long-term extension for less money in the New Year, depending on his performance this season. The Hurricanes will have to pay raises to Trocheck ($4.75 million AAV) and Niederreiter ($5.25 million) to keep them out of the UFA market. Bear and DeAngelo won’t be expensive to qualify but they possess arbitration rights.

Necas could be the one to watch here. He’s in the final season of his entry-level contract. If he builds on last season’s promising 41-point performance (in 53 games) he’ll be in line for a lucrative pay raise.

He could become an offer-sheet target depending on what the Hurricanes do with their other free agents and how much cap space they’ll have. Unless, of course, they decide to avoid that hassle and ink him to an extension before next summer.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers could bring in a right-hand defenseman on a professional tryout offer. Most likely candidates include Michael Stone and Jason Demers.