The NHL is back in full swing with the qualifying rounds are starting to wind down. In addition, the seeds in each round are taking shape as the round-robin is down to the final games. Even with the march to the playoffs in full force, the team here at Last Word On Hockey will continue to keep fans up to date on the NHL rumours and rumblings around the league. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, and New York Rangers
Analysis: Markstrom is the biggest free agent for the Canucks this season outside of Tyler Toffoli. Benning has made it clear from the beginning that Markstrom is the number one priority. The team had been negotiating with Markstrom prior to the pause. However, they felt it best to push it off and focus on making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Markstrom and Benning have a great relationship and in are constant communication. Markstrom wants to remain with the Canucks and Benning will sit down with his agent once the season is over to work on a good deal. And while his performance will not be affected by the qualifying round series, Markstrom is having a good series for the Canucks against the Minnesota Wild.
Since arriving in the 2017-18 season, Markstrom has been Vancouver’s number one goalie. He is having one of the best seasons of his career with a record of 23-16-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. With $58 million tied up in contracts, they will be able to sign Markstrom to a nice deal. On his current deal, he is averaging $3.6 million, which will go up some. He will be looking for something in $5-$6 million range person season. Even though Thatcher Demko is the future, they need to lock up Markstrom as the Canucks only get better and better.
Rumour: According to Craig Morgan of Coyotes Insider (a paid subscription) Taylor Hall‘s agent Darren Ferris met with Arizona Coyotes management to discuss parameters of a new deal. It is believed the team offered him a deal that was lower than expected.
Analysis: Every since the 2019-20 season started when Hall made it clear he wanted to test the free agency. In addition, Hall stated he wants to go to a winning team. Therefore, the Devils traded him to the Coyotes to get value for him. Management made it clear that when they acquired the forward they wanted to sign him to a long term deal. If Hall really wants to go to a winner, does he think Arizona is the place? Details from the meeting are vague, but according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet Hall was offered a five-year deal worth $7.25 million a season.
This is low in the eyes of Hall and his camp. Hall is looking for somewhere between $8-$11 million per season. However, what makes this offer interesting is that the Coyotes need to shed cap space to keep Hall going forward. There are not many contending teams that have the cap space to sign a big free agent like Hall. Hall has only tasted the Stanley Cup Playoffs once with the Devils during his Hart Trophy season of 2018. With the Coyotes on the verge of making the playoffs, will that be enough to keep Hall in Arizona long-term?
New York Rangers
Analysis: The Rangers like most teams are facing a salary cap dilemma next season. With the cap remaining at $81.5 million, the Rangers have tough decisions to make. Fast is in the final year of a three-year deal that pays him $1.85 million per season. And Fast is going to be looking for a pay raise after posting 29 points (12 goals and 17 assists). He moved up to the second line and became one of the better defensive forwards on the Rangers. General manager Scott Gordon was trying to get a new deal done before the trade deadline but could not get one completed. Operating with an $81.5 million salary cap makes things tough since Alexandar Georgiev, Ryan Strome, and Anthony DeAngelo are all pending restricted free-agents looking for new deals.
What makes things complicated with Fast is that he has done everything David Quinn has asked of him. In an ideal world, the Rangers hope that Kaapo Kakko will take over a second-line role and Fast will go back to a bottom-six role. During the qualifying round against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers saw what Fast’s absence truly means. If Fast were to leave, it will be hard to replace what Fast brings to the table.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours, stay tuned for another edition in the coming days.
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