Welcome back to another week’s worth of NHL Rumours with Last Word on Hockey. Teams are finishing up their regular seasons. For some teams, this brings about the start of the best time of year with the playoffs. For others, it marks an abbreviated offseason ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. And with the compressed nature of free agency this year, even playoff teams are thinking ahead to offseason decisions. Today we look at the Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, and New York Rangers.
Rumour: In the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Darren Dreger states that the Oilers’ Tyson Barrie is expected to test the free-agent market rather than talk extension in Edmonton.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
– #NYR interest on Gerard Gallant
– Latest on Oilers and pending UFAs Adam Larsson & RNH; Tyson Barrie expected to test market
– Why Nolan Patrick is a name to watch this summer
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) May 13, 2021
Analysis: Tyson Barrie has had what many consider to be a bounce-back season this year in Edmonton. He’s got 48 points in 55 games, blowing his 39 points in 70 games last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs out of the water.
However, there’s been a raging debate this season among Oilers fans and detractors alike about how Barrie’s point totals may be inflated. Only 22 of those 48 points (less than half) have come at even strength for the Oilers. He’s been absolutely deadly on the power-play, no doubt, but he’s playing on a unit with a generational talent in Connor McDavid. Even considering his even-strength totals, 13 of his 22 points were secondary assists.
Barrie, as a defenceman totalling almost a point per game, is likely to net a big contract this summer after settling for a small one-year pact last offseason. However, the Oilers may realize that they already have a similar player in Darnell Nurse who’s also cheaper and younger. Edmonton may see that a better allocation of cap space would be on scoring depth or defensive help rather than a Barrie extension. It’s likely the right move for a team that’s still had struggles with depth scoring despite finishing second in the North Division this year.
Rumour: During a recent Headlines segment on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman mentions that the Senators are working on extensions for a pair of defensemen in Artem Zub and Victor Mete.
Quickie Wednesday Headlines: Ron’s tribute to Helen Hutchinson/Senators doing business/Rangers coaching search/Sabres coaching search/Eichel/Toews. See you on Saturday for first night of the playoffs. https://t.co/qiyRrPSAam
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 13, 2021
Analysis: The Senators’ recent hot streak has highlighted the play of a few up-and-coming NHL contributors. Zub and Mete are both players who’ve impressed this season during their time in Ottawa.
A 25-year-old rookie who’s been playing in the KHL, Zub was brought over as a free agent this past offseason. While not known for his offence, he’s still been able to provide 14 points in 47 games. Where Zub has signed is his defensive game. He’s arguably been the Sens’ best player in that regard. A short-term extension of around $2 million should be the expectation here.
Mete was acquired off waivers around a month ago from the Montreal Canadiens. He’d shown the ability to be effective at the NHL level but had fallen out of favour within the organization. He was waived to make room for trade acquisitions in Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson. He should command a similar extension to Zub, but he’ll likely still be a restricted free agent at the end of his deal. Both Mete and Zub could (and probably should) see looks in the Sens’ top-four next season as younger players come in.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Also on the latest edition of Insider Trading, it was revealed that the Rangers have received permission from the Vegas Golden Knights to interview their former head coach, Gerard Gallant.
Analysis: Gallant has yet to work after being fired by the Golden Knights over a year ago now. He’ll be a hot commodity this offseason no matter what, but the Rangers appear to be the first team with a coaching vacancy to inquire about his services.
Gallant has a track record of success with his new teams. While the Golden Knights have built a respectable roster since their inaugural season, no one can argue away Gallant’s importance to that team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. As the Rangers become ready to take the next step, a coach more experienced at the NHL level may be a better option for them. Gallant certainly brings that experience as well as playoff success. He would also help solve some of the defensive woes the Rangers have had over the past few seasons. At first glance, it’s a good fit.
Make sure to tune back in for more installments of NHL Rumours.
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