With NHL training camps right around the corner and the 2021-22 season weeks away, fans are excited to see their teams take the ice. There are plenty of NHL rumours in the air as the season opener approaches, so let’s get right into it. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: David Schoen from says that there haven’t been extensive contract negotiations between the Vegas Golden Knights and forward Nolan Patrick.
Analysis: Unlike previous Golden Knights RFAs like Shea Theodore, there shouldn’t be any holdups from Patrick for a new contract. Patrick, the second-overall pick in 2017, ended a horrendous season. He scored four goals and five assists for nine points in 52 games. He also registered 20 PIM and a -30 on a disastrous Philadelphia Flyers team. Unfortunately, for the 23-year-old, career-threatening injuries have set him back significantly. He missed the entire 2019-20 season due to migraines, which clearly hurt his development. He was a solid player before as he averaged 30 points in around 70 games. His struggles with injuries have hurt his overall game, and his advanced analytics are bringing him down even further. So, Philadelphia traded Patrick to the Nashville Predators, who flipped him to Vegas. The team is hoping that he can bounce back on a contending Golden Knights team.
For Patrick’s contract, Schoen uses Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt‘s contract as a comparable. Mittelstadt signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract this offseason. He broke out last season, with 22 points in 41 games. Like Patrick, he had ups and downs in his development. He is now going to be a top-six forward for the Buffalo Sabres. Unlike Mittelstadt, who stepped up, Patrick took a step down due to injury. So, he isn’t currently worth $2.5 million per season. Ideally, Vegas signs Patrick to a one-year contract with a $1 million AAV because of health concerns. Vegas is up against the cap and defenceman Dylan Coghlan also needs a contract, so cap management is key. The 2021-22 season should serve as a prove-it season for Patrick, where he needs every opportunity to revitalize his career.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Luke Fox of Sportsnet states that Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly is the team’s “own rental” for the 2021-22 season and could potentially walk in free agency in search of earning what he is worth.
Maple Leafs Mailbag: Morgan Rielly is totally walking after this season, right? | Any truth to P.K. Subban trade rumours? | What will Opening Night lineup look like? | Final Atlantic Division standings? + more https://t.co/4fktO80Pe7 pic.twitter.com/sw0TGZOssD
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) September 13, 2021
Analysis: This is a crucial year for Morgan Rielly and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only does Toronto have immense pressure to make it to the second round, but they also have to re-sign their top defenceman for the long term. Last season, Rielly had 35 points in 55 games with 14 PIM and a +11 rating. He is arguably the most important defenceman and logs the highest TOI. He also provides additional offence. Currently, Rielly is in the last year of his contract, which has a $5 million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list. In the worst-case scenario, Rielly is not signed to a contract and general manager Kyle Dubas isn’t confident that they will get him signed before free agency starts. Therefore, he gets traded at the deadline. Although, it is more likely that he will sign a long-term deal because of his value to Toronto’s defence.
Toronto fans are particularly worried about Rielly because of their recent history with notable UFAs. They have let players such as James van Riemsdyk, Tyson Barrie, and Zach Hyman walk to free agency without any trade return. Dubas is patient with his players, which ends up being a detriment to the team. Rielly may choose to hit the open market in 2022 and cash in as one of the top available defencemen. Rielly’s agent is J.P Barry, who notably negotiated Dougie Hamilton‘s contract this offseason. This makes things harder for Kyle Dubas, since the cap space is increasing by only $1 million next season. Toronto has $13.7 million left for the 2022-23 season while having to sign players such as Jack Campbell. Dubas should extend Rielly to a long-term contract as soon as possible to avoid what he has done with pending UFAs in the past.
St. Louis Blues
Analysis: After starting his NHL career with two strong seasons, Thomas took a step down last year. He had 12 points in 33 games, down from the 42 points he had in 66 games the year prior. Albeit, Thomas only played 60 percent of the season due to thumb and shoulder injuries. When negotiating a contract for Thomas, the Blues have to make a tough decision. Will they get the 2019-20 or the 2020-21 version of Thomas moving forward? The Blues may consider Thomas’ performance in the 2020-21 season because it gives them more cap relief. However, Thomas’ camp may argue that he could have replicated his 2019-20 performance had he not been injured, Due to Thomas’ injury, Jordan Kyrou stepped up had 35 points in 55 games during a contract year. As a result, Kyrou earned a two-year, $5.6 million contract.
Thomas’ camp might be deciding how he compares to Kyrou. Thomas had a good year followed by a bad year, and vice versa for Kyrou. Rutherford states that the Blues, who have $2.3 million in cap space, are more comfortable with providing Thomas with an AAV in between what Ivan Barbashev and Kyrou earn. This is in the $2.25-2.8 million range. However, based on Kyrou’s offensive production and ice-time, he is underpaid. Many players who have a similar offensive output to Kyrou are paid in the $4.5-5 million AAV range and have more ice time, so Kyrou’s contract is a steal. Thomas could have had a great season, but injuries disrupted his chances. Based on his overall play the past two seasons, his value should be at least in the $3.25-$3.5 million range. The Blues don’t have the cap space, so putting Oskar Sundqvist on the LTIR or trading a disgruntled Vladimir Tarasenko is a good idea.
Be sure to keep an eye out and check back soon for another edition of NHL Rumours!