Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours on Last Word on hockey. As more team’s hit the off-season, more NHL rumours hit the internet. Today we will be discussing the Pittsburgh Penguins and their contracts with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. As well as the Florida Panthers and potentially re-signing Claude Giroux. And the Toronto Maple Leafs on whether or not they should move William Nylander. All NHL rumours come from the original course and are subject to change.
Rumour: Josh Yohe from The Athletic reports on talks about the Penguins re-signing Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
Analysis: Shortly after the Game 7 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, talks around Malkin and Letang quickly began. General Manager, Ron Hextall, has been very vocal about wanting to keep both Malkin and Letang. Hextall tells an interviewer, “we would like to sign both players.” He goes on to say, “in a perfect world, Geno retires a Penguin. Tangers the same.” Malkin and Letang both made their NHL debut with the Penguins in 2006 and have been with the team since.
Both 35-year-olds come off the books this season, leaving the Penguins with just over 23 million in cap space. Malkin, who signed an eight-year deal, for 9.5 million per year is now a free agent. And Letang, who also signed an eight-year deal, for 7.25 million is now a free agent.
These two players have been pillars for the organization and have helped lead the team to three Stanley Cups. Because the forward and defenceman are 35 years old, shorter contracts are ideal, hopefully on a hometeam discount. It would benefit the Penguins to get these two on cheaper contracts to add some needed pieces for next season. It is expected that these two will sign in the coming weeks.
Rumour: David Dwork reports on asking Claude Giroux about the possibility of returning to Florida.
“I have no negative thoughts on my decision to come here. It’s a fun place to play. I believe in this group. A lot of potential and a lot of good things to come for this organization.”
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 26, 2022
Analysis: After waving his no-movement clause, Giroux was traded to the Florida Panthers after being with the Philadelphia Flyers since 2007. Before the trade, Giroux had stated that he wanted a real chance at a Cup run and believed Florida had that chance. The Panthers won the President’s Trophy this season and defeated the Washington Capitals in six games in the First Round, only to get swept in the Second Round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now that the season is over, the 34-year-old is a free agent and has options to consider.
When asked about potentially staying in Florida, Giroux replied, “one step at a time… the season just ended. I still need time to think.” Giroux’s previous contract was a hefty eight-year, 8.275 million dollar contract. The Panthers, who are already strapped, will have to move some players before they can even think about re-signing anyone. Two of the players that are being discussed to move are MacKenzie Weegar and Brandon Montour. Giroux was over a point-per-game player in his time with Florida. It will come down to numbers for each side, but with a career end in sight, Giroux will probably want to stick with Cup contending teams.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Luke fox from Sportsnet discusses possible trades for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which involves moving William Nylander.
Analysis: After yet another disappointing exit, the Maple Leafs are probably looking to shake things up. Even after having 60-goal scorer, Auston Matthews, and finishing second in the Atlantic Division, the Leafs are still missing something. The source of what exactly is missing is one of the most controversial discussions among fans. Is it goaltending? Defence? Not enough offence? Not enough grit? Nylander, who had a career-high year in goals, points and assists ended the regular season with 34 goals, 46 assists and 80 points in 81 games played.
If the answer is grit, incomes Tyler Bertuzzi into the conversation. It was rumoured that General Manager Kyle Dubas had inquired about Bertuzzi previously but ultimately did not go that route. Bertuzzi had a similarly productive career-high year as Nylander; recording 30 goals, 32 assists and 62 points in 68 games played. With the offensive help that the Leafs could provide in Matthews and Mitch Marner, one could assume Bertuzzi’s production would flourish. What makes Bertuzzi a well-rounded player is that he is a pesky player to his opponents and his physicality elevates his game beyond his offensive production.
Bertuzzi recorded 65 hits this season, while Nylander only recorded 19. Bertuzzi, who is now an unrestricted free agent, comes with a lower price tag. His previous contract was for two years, 4.75 million dollars per year. Nylander, who has one more year on his contract with the Maple Leafs, is more expensive at just under seven million dollars per year. By moving Nylander and signing Bertuzzi, the Leafs could not only get a more physical player with similar offensive production, but they could also free up some cap space.