Welcome to today’s second edition of NHL Rumours. Things are heating up as July 1st fast approaches, and Last Word on Hockey is here to cover all the rumblings around the League. In this edition, we have updates on the Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, and Winnipeg Jets.
Rumour: The first NHL Rumour we have is TSN’s Darren Dreger stating that prized UFA Matt Duchene met with the Montreal Canadiens yesterday. No other information about a potential contract number was given.
Duchene met with the Montreal Canadiens today. https://t.co/Vy2XZjgBne
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 27, 2019
Analysis: After most assumed that Duchene was going to sign with the Nashville Predators, Duchene is keeping his options open. Duchene will have a hefty price tag, and Montreal only has $8.75 million in cap space. Though more can be freed up as that is based on a 24 man roster right now. Arturri Lehkonen and Joel Armia are also restricted free agents.
However, if the Canadiens can get him, this surely vaults them into solid competition for a divisional playoff spot. The Atlantic Division will be absolutely packed with the likes of Tampa, Boston, Toronto, and Florida also in the mix. This certainly gives them an extra weapon in addition to things like a healthy Carey Price and Shea Weber. It also gives them very solid depth down the middle with Phillip Danault, Max Domi, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Rumour: Speculation from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun says that the Canadiens would join the fray of teams looking to offer-sheet RFAs this summer. There’s no mention of any specific players.
Pierre LeBrun on Overdrive about which teams he thinks might be in the offersheet game. He mentioned Montreal as a team along with a few others. Says he would not be shocked if they sent one out #HabsNews
— Costa Rontzocos (@Rontzeeez) June 27, 2019
Analysis: This is the summer of the potential offer sheet. With the plethora of elite RFAs like Mikko Rantanen, Sebastian Aho, Mitch Marner, Brayden Point and Matthew Tkachuk, teams are intrigued by possibly acquiring one of these players. It’s possible that some of these players can’t settle on a deal with their current teams and will look elsewhere.
This is a plan B if the Habs can’t get their hands on Duchene. They certainly don’t have the cap space to hunt down a player that will cost them upwards of $8 million a season as well as a Duchene contract that will likely be in that range. Signing an elite player like this would have the same effect on the team, however, youth is at a premium in this league. Signing a younger star would be the far more attractive option for Habs brass and fans.
Rumour: We go back to Pierre LeBrun at TSN, who says that teams are beginning to have conversations with Sebastian Aho’s agent.
It’s been busy on the opening of RFA speaking day: also hear that teams have called into Sebastian Aho’s camp. I think Aho’s only desire is to sign with Carolina but doesn’t stop teams from doing their dilligence.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 26, 2019
Analysis: It was previously reported that Carolina and Aho were far apart in contract negotiations, with Carolina management low-balling him significantly. That certainly isn’t good for the relationship between Aho and Carolina, and other teams are picking up on that.
Aho’s ask has been in the $9.5 million a year range, and even though it seems a little high, it is probably fair considering the market he’s in with other RFAs. It’s been well-documented that Carolina doesn’t like to spend money, but they have to get their star locked up. Aho is a number one centre, and teams certainly are calling to try to pry him out of Carolina.
Analysis: This is something the Jets need to do. Connor cracked 60 points and 30 goals last season, and while Laine had a down year, he still hit 30 goals and 50 points. He’s also played in all 82 games the past two seasons.
The Jets knew they were entering a cap crunch, and they knew they were going to lose depth. They’ve already lost defenseman Jacob Trouba via trade, and plan to lose others like Tyler Myers and Brandon Tanev through free agency. If they’re losing their depth, they can’t afford to lose their stars, who, by the way, are the reason these players are departing in the first place. Even if it does end up being an overpayment, the Jets have no choice but to match to stay relevant.
Rumour: Our last tidbit for NHL Rumours is TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting that the Flames are looking at Stanley Cup champion winger Patrick Maroon.
Sounds like Flames are among several teams looking into Patrick Maroon.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 27, 2019
Analysis: After a disappointing end to their season, the Flames are looking for a little change. While they have slightly under $13 million in cap space to spend, most of that is going to re-signing Tkachuk and Sam Bennett.
However, Maroon is coming off a down year at only 28 points and could come cheap depending on what the market demands. He would bring grit and experience to the wings, and, if they can move James Neal‘s contract, would fill that hole as well. But the market for Maroon is very uncertain, and Calgary could end up getting priced out very quickly.
That’s everything for this afternoon edition of NHL Rumours — check back tomorrow for more news from the Last Word on Hockey team.
Main Photo: BOSTON, MA – APRIL 27: Matt Duchene #95 of the Columbus Blue Jackets reacts in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Boston Bruins during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)