Alex Pietrangelo, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi, NHL Rumors, St Louis Blues, Top Story

NHL Rumors: Oilers, Blues, Blackhawks, Seattle Expansion Changes

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is word out of Finland that the Jesse Puljujarvi’s coach wants him to stick around another season, there is buzz about how much the St. Louis Blues are willing to spend to retain Alex Pietrangelo and who else might be interested, and there’s news that the Chicago Blackhawks are concerned about a flat salary cap for next season. Finally, could this NHL pause affect the plans for Seattle’s expansion into the NHL?

Will Oilers Have Puljujarvi Next Season?

Former Oilers forward (technically, still Oilers forward) Jesse Puljujarvi likely heard his coach in Finland speak a little about Puljujarvi’s possible future in the NHL, saying he’d like to see the 21-year-old forward spend another season in Finland, according to reports from Kaleva.Fi.

Ivan Provorov, Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi, and Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Matt Slocum)

His current head coach Mikko Manner spoke on a recent episode of the Kaleva Sports Podcast and said Puljujarvi played “nearly perfect season.” and believes Jesse “made the perfectly right decision when he decided to return to the familiar club – and got a big role in the match.” He noted that staying in Finland another season would be best for Puljujarvi’s game, the next step being to “develop the details and skills to strengthen his mental, tactical and technical footprint.” He believes sticking with his current team is the best option.

It will be interesting to see if Puljujarvi agrees. While he’s publicly said he’s pretty much ruled out coming back to the Oilers, perhaps another NHL would have been an option if traded this off-season. But, if the signs are he’ll stay in Finland, what team would be willing to risk trading for his rights?

Related: NHL Owners: Who Are They?

Bidding War for Alex Pietrangelo?

Tom Timmerman of STLToday.com answered a mailbag question about whether or not St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong would or should pay between $8.5 million to $9 million annually over six years to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo. He also wondered how many teams might be in the bidding for Pietrangelo if he hits the open market?

Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

A flat cap next season might actually help the Blues. While other teams will struggle to fit all their players in, should the cap not jump, the Blues won’t have as many competing bids for Pietrangelo, keeping the price down a touch.

Timmerman asks:

One interesting thing will be what the market is for Pietrangelo. How many teams will be in the bidding for him? Vegas? Tampa Bay? That will be a factor in driving his price tag. 

source – ‘Tom Timmermann: Read his complete Q-&-A from this week’s Blues chat’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch – 03/12/2020

Related: St. Louis Blues’ Mount Rushmore

Seattle to Hold Off Team Name Announcement

Scott Charles of NBC Sports reports that, via the Sports Business Journal, Seattle will be pushing back the release of the team name. Seattle’s plan had been to release the name of the new franchise sometime in April, but that appears to be on hold for now with everything that’s going on in the NHL right now.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun also noted, “followed up today, status quo regarding the Seattle expansion calendar. NHL source says nothing has changed at this point regarding Seattle timeline.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Sharks, Players Making Plans, More

Blackhawks Crossing Fingers For Higher Cap

Like many teams, the Chicago Blackhawks will be closely watching what next season’s cap will look like when this pause is all said and done and Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun Times notes that if the cap remains at $81.5 million, it’ll leave the Blackhawks only $8 million to re-sign Corey Crawford, Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik and Drake Caggiula.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That basically means the Blackhawks can’t fill out the rest of their roster, nor can they find a backup goaltender after letting Robin Lehner go in trade to the Vegas Golden Knights. Pope notes that all of the players on the Blackhawks to-extend list might be pricey (outside of Drake Caggiula).

He also wonders if buying out defenseman Olli Maatta and center Zack Smith to free up an additional $5.5 million, would be an option.

Pope writes:

But even if all those dominoes fall Bowman’s way, the Hawks still will struggle to retain the same below-average roster they fielded this season, much less make necessary improvements. Bringing in outside free agents would be unfeasible.

source – ‘Postponed season, lost NHL revenue might affect Blackhawks’ free-agency plans’ – Ben Pope – Chicago Sun Times – 03/15/2020

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