NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators

NHL Rumours; Aleksander Barkov Panthers
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Well back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word on Hockey. We’re inching closer to the start of training camp and general managers around the league are looking to put the finishing touches on their rosters. With that, rumours continue to swirl around the NHL. In today’s NHL Rumours segment, we take a look at rumours involving the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.

All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Ottawa Senators

Rumour: According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, the Senators have shown some mild interest in acquiring Dylan Strome.

Analysis: It’s no secret that the Senators are in the market for another top-six forward. Specifically a centre. The article also mentions the names of Tomas Hertl and Ryan Strome, however, Garrioch quickly dismisses any Hertl rumours and basically just mentions Strome as someone who would make sense. He states that the Senators have legitimately shown interest in Ryan’s brother Dylan, who has had a rollercoaster of a career thus far. He failed to live up to the hype of the third overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft as he could not put his game together with the Arizona Coyotes. However, after being dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks, Strome quickly turned his game around registering 17 goals and 51 points in 58 games with his new club.

Since then, though, Strome has seen his production dip once again. Following up his breakout season with a 38 point performance in 58 games during the 2019-20 season and scoring just 17 points in 40 games last season. Regardless, Strome has proven he can contribute. Being just 24 years old, he still has time to put it all together and become a solid middle-six centre in the NHL. With the Senators having such a young team, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a flier on the young centre, in hopes he can blossom into a top-six centre for them.

Florida Panthers

Rumour: According to Greg Wyshinski of ESPN, the Florida Panthers are planning to have Aleksander Barkov signed prior to the start of the 2021-22 season.

Analysis: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Barkov has become one of the premier two-way centres in the game. He’s scored at over a point per game pace over the last four seasons while also being responsible in his own end. Barkov plays a 200-foot style of game that every team longs for from their centres. With the captaincy to boot, it’s a no-brainer to get Barkov locked up as quickly as possible.

Barkov is also just 25 years old. This might be surprising to some as it seems like he’s been around much longer than that as he already has 529 games under his belt. After being the number two selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Barkov made the jump to the big leagues immediately. After a slow start to his career, Barkov broke out in 2015-16 and hasn’t looked back. He set a career high in goals(35) and points (96) during the 2018-19 season. The last time the NHL was able to complete a full season. With the league getting back on track and jumping back into an 82 game schedule for the upcoming season, we could see Barkov’s best season yet.

Evolving-hockey.com projects that an eight-year deal with the Panthers will bring a cap hit of $11.6 million per season.

Nashville Predators

Rumour: Predators general manager David Poile appeared on ESPN 102.5 the Game radio station on August 17th. He stated that now that Juuse Saros is signed, the focus will shift to Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg.

Analysis: The Predators are in that confusing place where it’s hard to say if they’re a playoff team or not. They just barely squeaked into the playoffs during the 2020-21 season. However, they still have some solid pieces to right the ship. Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm are two of those key pieces. There were rumours the Predators may be looking to move both players during last season and again this off-season. However, it seems Poile is poised to try to lock both up for the foreseeable future.

Possible Rebuild?

The issue that presents itself is of course if the Predators are going to be competitive or not. Both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. If the Predators fail to make the post-season, all parties will have some decisions to make. Does Poile enter a rebuild and trade two of his best players for a large return? Or do they stick it out in hopes that Poile can bring in talent to make the Predators competitive again?

Poile already started transitioning into a more youthful team, moving Ryan Ellis and bringing in Cody Glass and Philippe Myers during the offseason. Question is, is that enough to make the two want to stay in Nashville, or is this the start of a lengthy rebuild in Nashville, which surely the two won’t want to be a part of. This will obviously be a question during contract negotiations. Whatever way it plays out, it’s an interesting time to be a Predators fan.

 

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