Welcome to a SPECIAL edition of Full Press Hockey’s NHL Rumors! The Stanley Cup Final is history and the Colorado Avalanche have won Lord Stanley’s Cup. Needless to say, leading up to the NHL Draft on July 7th, and free agency on July 13th, there are endless rumours abound. Clubs are always working to improve their rosters for next season. In this special edition of NHL Rumors, we will take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Ilya Mikheyev
Rumor: Per – Pierre LeBrun – TSN.com. Lebrun stated that the Leafs are open to trading the rights to pending UFA Ilya Mikheyev. Obviously, this is a move to create more cap space for GM Kyle Dubas to make some moves to help his team get past the first round of the playoffs.
The Leafs have informed teams they're open to trading the rights to pending UFA Ilya Mikheyev.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 30, 2022
While Mikheyev’s $1.645 million contract doesn’t seem like a lot when the Leafs have a mere $6.44 million in cap space every little bit helps. It’s no secret that the Maple Leafs are almost always running out of cap space. They feel even though Mikheyev’s contributions of 21 goals and 11 assists in 53 games are acceptable, he is the one who may be expendable. You see, Dubas must decide if he can pay goalie Jack Campbell‘s demands of $5 million. Trading Mikheyev would bring his cap space up to just over $8 million AAV.
There are others Dubas needs to consider besides Campbell. Rasmus Sandin is a restricted free agent and at 22 years old, Dubas would like to keep the Swede. You see, there’s only so much money in the cap space pot. Dubas already secured defenseman Timothy Liljegren with a two-year $1.4 million AAV extension. Does that mean Sandin is next to be sacrificed? Things should get clearer in the coming days as the draft and free agency begin to take the headline.
Mikheyev has his best year yet averaging 0.60 points per game. There may be numerous teams interested in adding him to their roster. Scoring 21 goals has to be an attraction, and his contract is quite reasonable.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Evgeni Malkin/Kris Letang
Rumor: Per – Josh Wegman – thescore.com. The Pittsburgh Penguins may be in jeopardy of losing two franchise icons to unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Contract talks with star center have not materialized since the Pens’ season ended on May 15th. Malkin has made it known that he is open to taking a pay cut to remain in Pittsburgh, we just don’t know how much. Even at the age of 36 Malkin is an impact player. He managed 42 points in just 41 games due to injuries. It would be tough (especially for Sidney Crosby) to see Malkin walk. He ranks third in franchise history with 1,146 points in 981 games.
The case of Letang is a bit different. Even at his elevated age of 35, he is demanding a five-year deal at a high price north of $8 million AAV. He thinks he deserves it since he had a great 2021-22 season with a career-high of 10 goals, 58 assists in 78 games… and he may be right. The problem as always is cap space is at a premium. Other players like Kasperi Kapanen ($3.2M), Rickard Rakell ($3.79M), Evan Rodrigues ($1M), and Danton Heinen ($1.1M) will need to be considered.
Wegman suggests perhaps trading D-man Marcus Pettersson who carries a $4.03 million cap hit. Apparently, the Pens feel Pierre-Olivier Joseph is ready to make the jump and you guessed it… he’s a restricted free agent needing to be signed also. Even keeping the free agents salaries at their present level and giving Malkin say $7M, and Letang $M, they will be over their cap limit. The life of an NHL GM has to be pure hell!
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Chicago Blackhawks – Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa?
Rumor: – Per Scott Powers, Ian Mendes – theathletic.com. The rumors have been plentiful regarding where/if the Chicago Blackhawks may trade forward Alex DeBrincat. Most teams can’t meet his salary or the demands for a possible return to Chicago. How about the Ottawa Senators, though? They could be an ideal fit.
The Ottawa Senators have made it known they searching for a top-six forward this offseason. DeBrincat fits that category and the Sens have the cap space to pay his present contract and a raise after next season… or before. The catch here is would the Sens want to acquire DeBrincat and pay him his remaining contract of $6.4 million, plus pay him a $9 million qualifying offer only to lose him after two years?
That’s where the creativity of a trade comes into play. Powers and Mendes offer this trade scenario to perhaps get a deal done.
2022 1st round pick (7th overall)
2022 2nd round pick (63rd overall — from Tampa)
Matt Murray (25 percent salary retained by Ottawa)
That’s an interesting trade concept and it would be fascinating to see if both clubs went along with it. It will certainly create additional NHL rumors as days go by.
This concludes our special edition of NHL Rumors. Watch for our regularly scheduled Sunday edition, and who knows maybe another special edition if the rumors continue to trend. Thanks for reading!
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