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NHL Rumours: Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers

NHL Rumours

The season is upon us and the last major RFA signing happened this week, Kyle Connor finally signed with the Winnipeg Jets. As the dust has settled, there are still NHL rumours alive and well. There are nine teams over the salary cap limit of $81.5 million. That means there will be more action this week before the first puck drops.

Today we will cover NHL rumours affecting the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers. There’s no better way to start your week than to read about NHL rumours. We have it all for you here at Last Word on Hockey.

NHL Rumours

Pittsburgh Penguins

Rumour: Our first NHL rumour comes from Josh Yohe of The Athletic who confirms that a source within the Penguins organization and an independent league source both confirmed that Jack Johnson was told over the weekend that many potential deals are on the table for general manager Jim Rutherford. As well, that Johnson is involved in the majority of them.

Analysis:  One source said there was a “75 to 80 percent chance” that Johnson will be moved before the season begins. With Johnson’s salary of $3.25 million for the next over four seasons financially strapping the team, it is expected he will be moved as opposed to paying a player with that salary to sit in the press box.

The Penguins lost both Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust to injury in their final pre-season game. Crosby’s condition has been updated to day-to-day. However, there has yet to be an update on Rust. Either way, the Pens need to find some cap room and it seems unlikely long-term injury reserve will be the case.

It’s well known that the Penguins have not been pleased with Johnson’s poor play. Paying him that high of a salary is just not working out for them. He only accumulated one goal, 12 assists while performing in all 82 games last season. His possession statistics seem to be the most bothersome. He had a Corsi for of 45.8, with a Relative Corsi of -5.5. He averaged 19:17 minutes of playing time.

With the Pens feeling more secure about the blueline play of John Marino, the services of Johnson become even less important and financially acceptable. It is believed that two NHL teams are currently willing to take on Johnson’s contract. Any potential specifics of a deal are unknown. It has been widely known that one team especially is hurting for defencemen and that is the Winnipeg Jets.

New York Islanders

Rumour: Arthur Staple of The Athletic wrote about what might happen to the Islanders’ defence if promising prospect Noah Dobson makes the team.

Analysis: Veteran defencemen like Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey, or Johnny Boychuk may be sitting out the opening night contest against the rival Washington Capitals. The logical solution may be to look into trading Hickey. He has $2.5 million AAV and would be the easiest D-man to move. His contract expires after the 2022-23 season.

Although Dobson has been impressive in the pre-season games he was scratched from the Islanders’ final pre-season game. Head coach Barry Trotz, never one to tip his hand on moves won’t commit as to whether the youngster has made the team. If he does the team will have eight defencemen which are more than what they need to function. Someone will need to be traded or waived.

Watching the 19-year-old Dobson on Saturday in Newark was to see not only a future top-pair defenceman but a player who deserves a spot on this season’s roster. “You’d never know he was 19 years old,” Trotz said.

As usual, it becomes a numbers game when deciding a final roster before a new season begins. Trotz has a decision to make and he usually doesn’t make too many bad ones.

New York Rangers

Rumour: Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post tell us that veteran forward Ryan Strome wants to establish himself as part of the Rangers’ core. He’s a unrestricted free agent next summer and he realizes how the team has shipped out pending talent over the last couple of seasons. His future with the team is in jeopardy.

Analysis: Strome realizes that the Rangers’ possess some good young talent displayed in training camp. The former No. 5 overall pick of the Islanders in 2011 also knows some of those up and coming players are natural centres just like him.

He told Cyrgalis, “A lot of guys talking about the young guys fighting for spots, but I want to prove that I can be a part of the core here. I think that’s a challenge I have to take with myself and if I take that challenge individually, that’s going to help the team get better. So that’s the inner competitiveness.”

Strome hopes his flexibility to go from wing to centre will add to his value for the team. He feels comfortable playing with the Rangers and wants to be part of their future.

Strome will certainly need to improve on his numbers of last season. He only managed 18 goals and 15 assists in 63 games. His $6.2 million deal will not justify his presence again if he doesn’t step up and produce.

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