We’re only two days away from the opening of NHL free agency, and the rumours are coming in rapidly. NHL insiders are as busy as Quebec Nordiques goaltender Ron Tugnutt when he faced 73 shots from the Boston Bruins in 1991. If Tugnutt was playing today, there might be two teams looking at him. Instead, they’re looking at Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes. There’s also news of Ryan Getzlaf hitting free agency and trade news surrounding Nikita Zadorov. Let’s jump in!
Rumour: According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes are interested in trading for Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
LeBrun on TSN: “Both the Leafs and Hurricanes have shown trade interest in Darcy Kuemper…In the meantime Carolina is also trying to re-sign UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier, whose rights they acquired last week.”
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) July 26, 2021
Analysis: Darcy Kuemper only has one year left on his deal, and if he doesn’t want to re-sign in Arizona, it makes sense for the Coyotes to move him.
Two teams in need of a goaltender with no problem parting with draft picks are the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. Both teams are in win-now mode and need a starting goaltender. Carolina doesn’t have any goalies under contract after trading Alex Nedeljkovic, and Toronto is looking for a partner for Jack Campbell. Both these teams have been contenders for a while but haven’t received the greatest goaltending, especially in the playoffs.
This season was a bit of a down year for Kuemper with a .907 save percentage, but he had a .928 and .925 save percentage in his previous two seasons. It is a good bet that he can bounce back. A more normal year and a fresh start next season could help him. If any of these teams offer Arizona a first-round pick, they can probably grab him. Toronto only has a first, second and third-round pick; if they trade one or two for Kuemper, they almost have no picks left for the 2022 draft.
Rumour: Also, according to LeBrun, the Anaheim Ducks and captain Ryan Getzlaf are not close on a new deal, and Getzlaf is preparing himself to hear from teams on Wednesday.
LeBrun: “They’re certainly not close to a new deal right now, which doesn’t mean he necessarily won’t re-sign and stay in ANA…I still think that possibility is on the table, but what I was told today is that Ryan Getzlaf is readying himself to hear from teams come Wednesday.”
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) July 26, 2021
Analysis: LeBrun mentioned that it is still possible Getzlaf signs with the Ducks, but right now, they’re not close. Anaheim is looking at Getzlaf as a bottom-six option at centre. Adam Henrique is their top centre, and Trevor Zegras is emerging. The Ducks were also linked to Jack Eichel, so they could be looking for outside help at the centre position.
If Getzlaf leaves, there will many many NHL rumours for suitors, who are the best fits? Getzlaf would certainly want to go to a contender. The Vegas Golden Knights are probably the top option. They need centre depth, and Getzlaf’s winning and leadership abilities can help them. After spending his whole career in Anaheim, Vegas is still close to Anaheim and has a familiar warm climate. The Colorado Avalanche is another option depending on if they think Alex Newhook is ready to be a top-nine centre.
Quickie blog heading into a wild week. Enjoy! https://t.co/uqLMx4lpfu
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 26, 2021
Analysis: Chicago is low on cap space after signing Seth Jones to an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $9.5 million. It looks like they are trying to move Zadorov, who is a restricted free agent, to make cap room. The Blackhawks didn’t protect Zadorov in the expansion draft but the Seattle Kraken decided to take John Quenneville instead.
Bruce Garrioch of Ottawa Postmedia reported that the Ottawa Senators pushed to acquire Ryan Graves before he was traded to the New Jersey Devils. Zadorov and Graves are the same age and both big punishing left-shot defencemen. Naturally, the Senators would be a trade partner for Zadorov. Ian Mendes of the Athletic wrote about it. Ottawa has two smaller defencemen on their blueline in Victor Mete and Erik Brannstrom, but Ottawa appears to prefer bigger players. Last offseason, they added three six-foot-five defencemen in Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn and Josh Brown.
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