Welcome to the Christmas Eve edition of NHL Rumours! With the season on pause and World Juniors about to be, there are still things off the ice that can be talked about. Especially things involving the NHL schedule. In addition, we look ahead to potential paydays for some unrestricted free agents. In today’s edition of NHL Rumours, we look at the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and Edmonton Oilers.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: Jesper Bratt is having the best season of his career since his rookie season with the Devils. Bratt is the Devils leading scorer this season with 24 points through 29 games before the season was paused. He is on pace for 68 points this season with the Devils. Bratt is entering the final year of his deal. He currently has a salary-cap hit of $2.75 million. He is expected to hit it big this summer.
General manager Tom Fitzgerald is not afraid of extending players before their contracts are up. Just look when they signed Nico Hischier to a seven-year deal and Jack Hughes to a new eight-year deal when their entry-level deals were up. If the Devils see Bratt as part of their future, they will have to give him a significant raise. Bratt’s game has been taken to the next level thanks to Dawson Mercer. Those two make a great duo. There is no doubt the Devils want to sign Bratt, but what will it cost? Bratt’s agent has to be looking at the Hughes extension to start if not the Hischier contract. Whatever the case, the Devils have their work cut out for them in this negotiating process.
Rumour: According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, he says if the Montreal Canadiens can’t play their home game with fans, the NHL will look to reschedule some games for later in the season when hopefully fans are in the building.
If the Habs can’t have any fans at their home games in January (their next home game is Jan. 4), the NHL is looking at the idea of potentially re-scheduling some Habs home games to later in the season when they can (hopefully) have fans in the building. But nothing for sure yet.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 22, 2021
Analysis: With the season on pause and having to reschedule games, the NHL does not want to come back to empty buildings. That means lost revenue. The Canadiens had to play the Philadelphia Flyers without any fans in the building prior to the season being put on pause. For the majority of last season, the NHL had to deal with no fans in the building. The NHL wants to avoid this at any cost. We know the NHL is a gate-driven league, more than the other North American sports. So if the NHL has to put a team on the road for a period of time until fans come back… they will.
That is an option for the Montreal Canadiens and other teams in Canada, where there could be no fans. While it may not be fair to the Canadiens to be on the road for a long period of time, it has to be considered. The idea would be for the Canadiens to have more home games to close out the season, when fans are hopefully allowed back into the building. But the NHL wants to protect its revenue for this season and its projection for the salary cap for next season. However, nothing is set in stone just yet as the league and the Canadiens will remain in constant contact with the province of Quebec. This will be an interesting situation to follow.
Analysis: Originally it made sense for the Oilers to trade for Chychrun. Edmonton needs to upgrade their defence. Chychrun carries a decent salary cap hit. He is making $4.6 million over the next three seasons. Plus, if the Oilers had got him this season, they would have four cracks at a Stanley Cup with him in the lineup. But the asking price for Chychrun is just maybe too high for the Oilers to match.
Arizona is looking for a similar package to what Vegas had to give up to Buffalo for Jack Eichel. This means the Oilers would have to give up several assets including first-round draft picks. That might not be something general manager Ken Holland wants to do right now. And a part of this deal would have to see a player on Edmonton to go with a similar contract back to Arizona. The Oilers value their young players and want them to grow together. Hence, why the Oilers probably will look from within to upgrade their defence, instead of going big game hunting.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours, stay tuned for another edition after Christmas.
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