NHL Rumours: Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes

NHL Rumours

NHL training camps open next week, so naturally, the insiders hear many NHL rumours about unsigned restricted free agents and possible trades. In today’s edition of NHL Rumours, we look at the Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. Let’s dive in!

NHL Rumours

Minnesota Wild

Rumour: Michael Russo of the Athletic writes that Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has made his best offer to Kirill Kaprizov, reported around $9 million per year. 

Analysis: A deal that pays Kaprizov $9 million a season is very generous for a player that has only played 55 games. Yes, Kaprizov is a star and the heartbeat of the Minnesota Wild, but a contract that large with little experience is unprecedented in the salary cap era. The best comparable for Kaprizov is Artemi Panarin. He scored 151 points in his first two seasons in the NHL after coming from Russia in his mid-twenties. He signed for $6 million per year after his second season. Therefore,  it is confusing why Kaprizov hasn’t agreed to a $9 million a year contract. The Wild’s lack of history of paying signing bonuses could be an issue, but the money should be lucrative enough. Kaprizov probably uses the reported $10 million contract to play next season with CSKA Moscow as leverage to get more money.

Russo’s reporting suggests the Wild have gone as far as they can. The good news is Kaprizov will sign with the Wild. It makes no sense for him not to. Once he’s old enough to become a free agent, he can demand the largest contract he can get. It is being predicted that Kaprizov will get $9 million or less, but the Wild give in on what term Kaprizov wants. Russo writes that at this point, Kaprizov will miss training camp time because of work visa processing and quarantine restrictions, the goal now should be not to miss regular-season game action.

San Jose Sharks

Rumour: Elliotte Freidman of Sportsnet reports that the San Jose Sharks want to make a contract work with pending unrestricted free agent Tomas Hertl

Analysis: Over the summer, Tomas Hertl made comments about returning to the Sharks for another season while he was in the Czech Republic saying, “I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me and if I’ll want to stay there. … I’ll start the season and see how it turns out.”  Per Freidman’s reporting, the first part is answered, the Sharks want to re-sign him, the question is if he wants to stay there. It is doubtful Hertl will choose to stay if the team is losing. If the Sharks struggle to start this year, Hertl is likely moved.

The Boston Bruins are a natural suitor because they lost second-line centre, David Krejci. Kevin Kurz of The Athletic writes that the Sharks will be looking for a first-round pick and a top centre or defensive prospect. That’s a steep price, but it’s hard to find a top-six centre during the season. Boston can meet those demands. They could send a first-round pick and either Jack Studnicka or Johnny Beecher. Other teams who could be interested in Hertl are Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild. Calgary could offer a first-round pick and Connor Zary, and the Minnesota Wild with a first-round pick and Calen Addison. Hertl would be an excellent fit with the Vegas Golden Knights, who desperately need a top-six centre. But due to their rivalry, it is unlikely he gets traded there.

Arizona Coyotes

Rumour: Freidman also writes that the Arizona Coyotes could look to trade Phil Kessel early this season. 

Analysis: Phil Kessel has one year left on his contract before he becomes a free agent. With the rebuild Arizona has embarked on, it’s almost certain Kessel will be traded. He scored 20 goals in 56 games last season, so he’s still a great sniper. NHL rumours will continue to be active with Kessel information. Kessel does have a list of eight teams he can be traded to.

Who could be the suitors? The Edmonton Oilers should be at the top of the list. Imagine a goal scorer like Kessel with a playmaker like Connor McDavid. It is unclear whether Kessel will agree to go to another Canadian market after his stint in Toronto. However, the shy Kessel may suck up the media pressure to play with McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. It will be a great way to pad his stats during a contract year. I could see a deal where Kessel goes to the Colorado Avalanche with Martin Kaut being a piece coming back to Arizona. The New York Rangers are another destination. Kessel will be a good fit on the second line with play-making centre Ryan Strome. However, this may not be a need for New York if Vitaly Kravtsov has a breakout season.

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