In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is news surrounding the Winnipeg Jets’ negotiations with restricted free agents Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine. There is also news out of Toronto from Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. Are the Montreal Canadiens serious about dealing Jonathan Drouin? Finally, are the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues making progress on extensions for Roman Josi and Alex Pietrangelo, respectively?
Are the Jets Close to Signing Connor, Laine?
On Wednesday’s edition of Insider Trading, Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun discussed the Jets’ two restricted free agents (RFAs), Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine. Now that Brayden Point and Matthew Tkachuk are signed, the feeling is that the remainder of the high-profile RFAs will get signed in the next few days. Regarding Laine, LeBrun believes that the Jets and Laine are close to a deal after a meeting occurred between Laine’s agent and the Jets this week.
It appears that both sides are interested in a bridge deal and it’s reported that the Jets offered Laine a two-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) around $6 million. However, LeBrun believes that Laine and his agent are looking for at least $7 million per year.
My sense is that the Laine camp led by Mike Liut would rather be north of $7 million a year on a two-year bridge.
Pierre LeBrun on TSN’s Insider Trading
Meanwhile, according to McKenzie, Connor appears to be looking for a longer term deal, perhaps something in the six-year range. While this term would also be attractive to the Jets, the two sides haven’t agreed on salary and no deal is imminent.
Drouin Made Available by Canadiens
Yesterday I mentioned that the Canadiens may trade a forward or two to create room on their roster for prospects. One player mentioned as a trade candidate is Jonathan Drouin. According to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, Drouin is available. Engels reports than an Eastern Conference team executive texted him during the Canadiens’ game on Wednesday to confirm that Drouin’s name is out there.
‘His name is definitely out there,’ texted an Eastern Conference executive during Wednesday night’s game.
Eric Engels, Sportsnet
The biggest potential hold up in dealing him is that the Canadiens would be trading low on him after he finished the 2018-19 season with just 6 points in his final 26 games. The Canadiens have given him every chance to succeed this preseason, playing him on lines with Max Domi and Nick Suzuki at times, but nothing has worked. They’ve also played him more than the typical veteran does in the preseason to establish a fit.
It’s easy to see why the team wants Drouin to work considering they gave up defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev to acquire him. However, it’s possible the Canadiens will move on from him if they receive anything of value for him. At this point, to quote Engels, “you really have to wonder if management will view the scenario of trading him as an addition by subtraction.”
Dubas Learned of Matthews’ Incident on Twitter
According to multiple sources, including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas learned of Auston Matthews’ disturbing of the peace incident the same way the public did: on Twitter.
Matthews quickly owned up to his actions and apologized, but when asked about why he didn’t tell the team’s management when the incident occurred, he called it “an error in judgment.” Considering the Maple Leafs recently signed Matthews to a six-year extension and that he’s considered one of the leading candidates to be named team captain, one has to wonder the impact this incident will have moving forward.
Can Predators, Blues Extend Josi, Pietrangelo?
The Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, both members of the Central Division, find themselves in eerily similar situations. Both teams’ captains and No. 1 defensemen are playing on expiring contracts and neither have signed extensions yet.
In Nashville, the Predators have every intention of keeping Josi, but fitting him into their salary structure will be difficult. LeBrun still thinks it’s possible, though, as both sides want to get a deal done. He believes the Predators are willing to go to $8.5 million per year, likely on an eight-year deal. However, Josi and his team are looking for at least $9 million per year, which would make him the third-highest paid defenseman in the league. Regardless of what the number is, Josi is the team’s best player and should be the Predators’ highest paid player.
I suspect this will get done. But the fact that it hasn’t yet with the season around the corner is quite interesting.
For the Blues and Pietrangelo, the situation became a bit more interesting after the team acquired and extended Justin Faulk with a seven-year deal. Like Pietrangelo, Faulk is a right-shot defenseman, as is Colton Parayko. It’s widely thought that the Blues acquired Faulk to protect against potentially losing Faulk, but the belief is, according to McKenzie, that Pietrangelo wants to stay in St. Louis and that the Blues want to retain him. McKenzie expects Blues GM Doug Armstrong to meet with Pietrangelo’s agents early in the season.
Regarding an extension, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Jeff Gordon believes that Jay Bouwmeester’s $3 million cap hit coming off the books after 2019-20 could provide the room to retain Pietrangelo. (from ‘Gordo: Armstrong seizes another opportunity to strengthen Blues’ defense,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 09/25/2019)
coming off the books after 2019-20 could provide the room to retain Pietrangelo. (from ‘Gordo: Armstrong seizes another opportunity to strengthen Blues’ defense,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 09/25/2019)
The salary cap math was looking easier for Pietrangelo. The team could just give him a $3 million raise with Bouwmeester’s expiring contract money, then slide in one of their promising entry-level defensemen to make the numbers work.
Regardless of what occurs, the team’s recent actions show that they’re all-in on 2019-20 and Pietrangelo will be a big factor in that.