The NHL free agent frenzy has died down a little bit as we roll into early August. However, there is still lots of NHL rumours around the league. The New Jersey Devils are reportedly close to a contract with left-winger Tomas Tatar. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also reportedly shopping left-shot defenceman, Marcus Pettersson. One team that has been oddly quiet so far is the New York Islanders, but even though they’re quiet, there might be a lot happening behind closed doors.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: According to Tomas Prokop, a Slovakian hockey insider, Slovakian winger Tomas Tatar is close to signing a deal with the New Jersey Devils.
— Andy & Rono 📊 (@HockeyStatsCZ) August 5, 2021
Analysis: The New Jersey Devils have had a busy offseason and they might not be done. They signed the jewel of free agency in defenceman Dougie Hamilton, traded for defenceman Ryan Graves, and signed goaltender Jonathan Bernier. They’ve addressed every area of their roster except for their offence. The Devils were sixth-worst in the NHL in goals last season, so they can use some help. They have two young star centremen in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, they need to add good wingers.
Tomas Tatar would be an excellent addition to New Jersey. He scored 58 and 60 points from 2018-2020 and was on pace to score 50 points over an 82 game season this year. He’s equally capable of setting up his teammates and burying chances. He also has excellent puck possession numbers. Throughout his nine-year career, Tatar has been between 56 to 63 Corsi For percentage. Pairing him with either Hughes or Hischier will create an excellent duo for the Devils.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman said on 31 Thoughts the Podcast that the Penguins are trying to move defenceman Marcus Pettersson. He said teams are interested in him but worried about his $4 million salary-cap hit.
Starting with the biggest news first, some inside intel on the #Pens from @FriedgeHNIC 31 Thought’s podcast-
the Pens are indeed trying to move Marcus Pettersson. Several teams are interested & like his playing style, a few are a little hesitant on his contract number ($4M) tho
— PENS REPORT (@pensreport) August 3, 2021
Analysis: Pettersson is a 25-year-old two-way left-shot defenceman. Before this season, he scored 22-25 points in his previous three and his Corsi For percentage usually hovered around 50 percent. However, he had a down year this year. Pettersson was on pace to score 16 points over a normal season. His Corsi percentage dropped slightly to 48.7 and his ice time fell from 19:24 to 16:29. Mike Matheson jumped him in the depth chart and Pierre-Olivier Joseph might do so this season. A change of scenery looks to be best for both sides. There may be many NHL rumours about Pettersson in the weeks to come.
Teams are worried by Pettersson’s $4 million salary-cap hit, not wanting to acquire a bottom pair defenceman for that number. He’s also under contract for four more years. However, there is a solid chance Pettersson can bounce back. Last season was a down year for him, he’s shown through his previous three seasons that he is a better player when given more opportunity.
New York Islanders
Rumour: David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reports that the New York Islanders have deals completed with free agents such as Kyle Palmeri, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas, but hasn’t announced them.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) August 1, 2021
Analysis: In another life, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello might have worked in the intelligence business, because he has no problem keeping secrets. It’s not surprising that the Islanders haven’t released details on the contracts they have signed, the question is why?
The Islanders have $17.6 million in salary-cap space to sign all the free agents named above and restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. That cap space will go quickly and the Islanders should be tight against it when they’ve signed everyone. If they announce their free-agent signings now, it makes them vulnerable to an offer sheet to one of their restricted free agents if they have little cap room. That is why the Islanders are probably waiting to get deals for Beauvillier, Pelech and Sorokin done before announcing their other signings. Pelech filed for salary arbitration, so we will know his deal before the season starts. Sorokin and Beauvillier’s deals will be more difficult to agree on. They both elected to not file arbitration, meaning they probably want more money, term or both than what an arbitrator will award them.
Out of the speculated free-agent deals that were signed, Pagnotta reports Palmeri and Cizikas’s contracts are longer-term while Parise and Zajac’s are shorter. As long as they are not announced, there will be many NHL rumours about the Islanders plans.
NHL Rumours Main Photo:
UNIONDALE, NY – JUNE 17: New York Islanders right wing Kyle Palmieri (21) skates during the first period of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoff Semifinal