Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Justin Williams, Mikko Rantanen, NHL Rumors, Top Story

NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Flames, Avs, Oilers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on Justin Williams and his decision about playing hockey next season, buzz that the Calgary Flames may be looking to make a trade for a defenseman and are the Colorado Avalanche running into issues with getting Mikko Rantanen signed to a deal? Finally, what do the Edmonton Oilers have planned for newly acquired winger James Neal?

Williams Still Undecided

The Carolina Hurricanes have been patiently waiting for forward Justin Williams to make up his mind regarding his playing future. There was no expectation he’d play anywhere else and a good number of people believed he’d play for at least one more season with a decision coming soon.

Justin Williams Carolina Hurricanes
Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sports editor for North State Journal and Carolina Hurricanes beat writer Cory Lavalette, notes that unfortunately, there is no update on Williams playing this season and if he is ready to play, the Hurricanes aren’t aware of it. Lavalette notes that Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said yesterday that Williams is still deciding on whether to play next season or retire.

Still with the Hurricanes, the contract given to Don Waddell to stay the general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes apparently doesn’t mean all that much to owner Tom Dundon.

Media employee of the Hurricanes, Mike Maniscalco writes, Dundon said about Waddell’s contract: “It’s three years and once again he could get fired tomorrow or stay for ten years. The fact that the contract is a thing is strange to me…I value Don.”

At the very least, Waddell knows if he were to get fired, he’d still get paid.

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Flames May Try to Add a Defenseman

Pat Steinberg of the Fan960 notes that after news broke that Calgary Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki was hurt, GM Brad Treliving said the team will look externally for help, as well as consider internal options.

Juuso Valimaki
Juuso Valimaki (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Treliving said that Oliver Kylington is an internal option. They will see what the trade market is like.

The Flames don’t have cap space to sign a free agent since they need all of their $7-plus million in cap space for Matthew Tkachuk. They might need to look at making a trade that moves out a player with salary, brings a lesser player on a cheaper contract back and gives them a bit more room to sign Tkachuk.

This news probably also means that any trade that might have involved T.J. Brodie leaving the Flames is off the table.

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Rantanen and Avs Situation Sticky?

A recent TSN article notes that perhaps Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is starting to get concerned about the fact star Mikko Rantanen has not yet signed with the team.

Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen
Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Sakic recently told he’d prefer re-signing Mikko Rantanen to a long-term contract but is also willing to accept a short-term deal if it means getting Rantanen to training camp on time.

For a GM who wants to get his player to camp so badly, the talks to date have been surprisingly non-existent. Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now cites sources “close to the situations” claiming there’s been no contact between Sakic and Rantanen’s agent, Mike Liut. The two sides haven’t spoken since the NHL Draft in June and there’s been no official offer of any kind from the Avs.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Bruins, Wild, Blues, More

Neal to Play With Nugent-Hopkins

New Oilers coach Dave Tippett spent about 20 minutes chatting with Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer and during that chat discussed a number of topics including his plans for James Neal.

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Saying he was going to meet with Neal next week, his expectation for Neal is that with the opportunities and looks he’ll get at training camp and in the preseason, he’ll put last year behind him quickly. It sounds like Neal’s first real look will be alongside center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Tippett says he knows that from his time with Neal in Dallas, the winger needs to be with strong players who can get him the puck and Nugent-Hopkins is coming off his strongest season to date. This could be a pairing Tippett sticks with for a good chunk of the season if they can find early chemistry.

Related: Oilers Coach Dave Tippett’s Plan: 10 Things

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