With the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, 2021 NHL Entry Draft and free agency now behind us, things have started to slow down. However, there are still lots of NHL rumours flying around the league, so let’s get dive right into it.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Larry Brooks from the New York Sports speculates that once Adam Fox’s entry-level contract expires at the end of this season, he will command a contract with a minimum AAV of $9 million.
Around five years ago, this type of AAV would seem very far-fetched. Only a legitimate superstar in the league would get such kind of money. However, after Seth Jones’ massive contract, we have seen AAV’s over $9 million being given out to defensemen. They include Cale Makar, Darnell Nurse, Dougie Hamilton, and Zach Werenski (it is up to you to decide who deserves that AAV). Unlike some of them, Fox makes a good case for a large AAV. He just won the Norris Trophy and will certainly improve his game as the Rangers improve.
In their current situation, this may be a problem for the Rangers. Heading into the 2022-23 season, Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Lindgren, and Ryan Reaves account for almost half the salary cap. This doesn’t include the $9 million that Fox will supposedly receive on his next contract. It also doesn’t include the money for a first or second-line center they are desperately searching for. Setting aside a reasonable amount of money for them, that brings them up to almost 80% of their salary cap dedicated to just ten players. It will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with their cap situation while signing Fox to a reasonable contract and keeping key players.
Rumour: According to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, David Krejci told Bruins management of his plans to return to the Czech Republic at the end of the season. Cassidy also states that he has not ruled out a return to the NHL because he did not mention retirement.
Krejci has been one of the most underrated and underappreciated Bruins players of the decade. Most of the credit goes to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. In 962 NHL games, Krejci has amassed 215 goals and 515 points for 730 points, all with Boston. He has been a consistent second-line center for the Bruins and plays a great two-way game. His departure is a bit of a stinger for the team as he was vital to their success for a decade. Nonetheless, the idea that Krejci hasn’t ruled out retirement from the NHL yet opens a door for him to return to Boston. This will surely not be the last time an NHL return is speculated for Krejci in NHL rumours.
One player whose play might suffer from his departure is forward Taylor Hall. In the tail end of the season, Hall had 14 points in 16 games while playing alongside Krejci. He seemed to be benefitting from playing on Krejci’s wing and showed flashes of his old self again. Hall signed a four-year, $24 million contract at the end of the season, guaranteeing a spot with the Bruins for the near future. Not having Krejci beside him could impact how well Hall plays this season. To replace Krejci, Bruins GM Don Sweeney signed depth pieces such as Erik Haula, Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek. Taylor Hall’s play this season should be looked at carefully.
Rumour: According to Arthur Staple, Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner has slowly started to fall out of favour. He has been waiting for surgery and may not be ready for the start of the season. Additionally, chances are that he may not be available for weeks beyond that.
The Carolina Hurricanes were one of the busiest teams this offseason. They signed players like Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. They also acquired defenseman Ethan Bear from the Edmonton Oilers for Warren Foegele. Currently, the Hurricanes have eight defensemen on one-way contracts, including new acquisitions Bear and Tony DeAngelo. With others like Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Ian Cole in the mix, there is no room for Gardiner. Carolina would not like paying Gardiner $4.050 million for two years only to use him as a depth option.
To add to that, his injury is of concern. He is due for surgery and could take some time before he is fully healthy and ready to play. This separates him from the conversation of who makes the opening night lineup for Carolina. If things go well for the team, there is no reason to put Gardiner in place of another defenseman. Again, using him as a depth piece at that price tag is not the best management of cap space. So, the ideal option is to find a suitable fit via trade where he can get the opportunity to play top minutes while being able to fully get rid of his contract. There is just no room for Gardiner on the back end, and with a bad contract, it makes him a good trade candidate.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another edition of NHL Rumours!