In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there are questions about what it took from the Vancouver Canucks to get Andrei Kuzmenko to commit to signing with the team as a free agent.
Meanwhile, have the Chicago Blackhawks hired a new head coach? Ethan Bear has been given permission to talk to other teams, and will Johnny Gaudreau test the free agency market?
Why Did Kuzmenko Agree To Deal With Canucks?
Landing one of the KHL’s most coveted free agents is a big get for the Canucks, but how did they do it? According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic, “Bruce Boudreau drove 6 hours for a meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Kuzmenko last Friday. Patrik Alvin drove for 4.5 hours for that meeting too. Kuzmenko was impressed.” This comes after other reports that Boudreau was instrumental in pitching the Canucks to Kuzmenko and a report by Darren Dreger that top-six playing time and an opportunity on the power play were part of the offering.
Kuzmenko wants to have a big season and an opportunity is going to be a huge factor in him putting up some numbers that will get him paid. Puck Pedia is reporting that the one-year entry-level deal he will eventually sign with the Canucks is the max permitted: $855K NHL Salary, with a $95K Signing Bonus and an $80K Minors salary of 850K. He’ll get “A” Performance Bonuses and come in at a cap hit of $950K, and an AAV of $1.85 million.
There’s also some chatter that having Vasily Podkolzin on the team was a big deal.
Blackhawks Close to Hiring New Head Coach
As per Kevin Weekes of ESPN, “Per my last tweet, been in touch with people close to the @NHLBlackhawks HC process, as I’m told “situation remains fluid, working towards hiring new HC.” Will keep you great @NHL Fans posted as we hear more.” This post came as somewhat of a retraction saying that a deal might have been completed.
Weekes removed his first tweet that the hiring was complete and there was speculation that the Blackhawks had found their man in Calgary Flames Assistant Ryan Huska.
Gaudreau To Test Free Agent Market?
TSN’s Darren Dreger was on The Instigators show this week and said the Calgary Flames and pending UFA Johnny Gaudreau have been talking about an extension, but that no deal is close. Dreger says there isn’t much in the way of an update and that the Flames intend to be patient because they don’t have much choice. Dreger said he wouldn’t be surprised if Gaudreau tested the free-agent market.
Dreger isn’t the only one to think this as other reports have come in that Gaudreau would like to at least see what his value is out there. It doesn’t mean he’s ruled out Calgary or that he won’t circle back, only that this is his one chance to know what he’s worth to other teams and get a feel for what free agency is all about.
Hurricanes Prepared to Move On From Ethan Bear?
As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports, the Carolina Hurricanes have given defenseman Ethan Bear permission to talk to other teams and gauge what the market is like for him. Friedman notes that the Hurricanes are open to signing Bear, but that the two sides are not close on what a deal might look like with Bear thinking he’s worth a lot more than the Hurricanes do.
Friedman points out that it is a bit of an odd decision to let Bear speak with other teams since they have control over his contract as a pending RFA. Perhaps they simply want him to get a dose of reality and understand that as a player who was not an NHL regular, he’s only worth so much.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”