The NHL Rumours are swirling. The Stanley Cup Finals are underway. Some of the best quality hockey is on display, but that does not take away from the behind-the-scenes stuff going on. The offseason has been ongoing for many teams who are trying to answer things for themselves internally. We live in a hard salary cap world, and there is only so much money. With the teams trying to figure out their house money problems and the coaching carousel, it’s been a whirlwind. This week’s rumours focus on the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Edmonton Oilers.
GM Ron Hextall on Malkin and Letang: "We have had discussions recently and we will continue those discussions… In a perfect world, Geno retires as a Penguin – and Tanger is the same. These two are generational players. They don't come around very often… I have no timeline." pic.twitter.com/7czDh3LsoQ
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 23, 2022
Analysis: These rumours surround two of the best players that are not named Sidney Crosby. For the better part of two decades, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin have spent their entire careers in the Steel City. Both have helped deliver three Stanley Cups for the organization. Management and ownership now see the two long-time members headed for free agency.
Multiple NHL sources state that the Penguins’ top priority is to re-sign Kris Letang. He is the top defenceman on the team and has been the anchor on the back end for a long time. Letang went on state after the playoffs that he would like to play for at least five more seasons. General manager Ron Hextall would love to keep Letang and Malkin in Pittsburgh until they retire. League sources have also said that the Penguins will want to see what the cost of Letang is before they turn their heads to Malkin.
After gaining new ownership, they would love to keep Malkin and Letang until they decide to hang up the skates. There is not enough money to go around, but the goal is to keep them both in town. It would be strange to see either of them in a jersey that does not have a penguin on the front of it.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Mollie Walker from the New York Post discusses the Rangers addressing their in-house free agents.
Analysis: These rumours surround the free agents for the team. Chris Drury has his work cut out for him. With only $10M in cap space to work with, there is a slew of big names pending free agents. The notable names are second-line centres Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp, followed by RFA Kaapo Kakko. Copp was the headline acquisition at the trade deadline and ended up costing a first-round pick.
Strome and the team could not agree during the season. With the little cap they have, it could end up parting ways. The Rangers could take their chances on the open market. They are in a similar situation with Copp. Depending on what the numbers look like, he could fetch more on the open market. Chris Drury has his work cut out for him.
The most significant question mark is Kaapo Kakko. The former 2019 second overall pick is a pending UFA. After being scratched in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, questions are swirling around his future with the club. Does Drury sign him to a short-term bridge deal? Or is a team willing to make an offer sheet for the young fun? All eyes will be on Kakko come draft time. Frank Vatrano is another prime player headed for free agency and the team has agreed to terms with Tyler Motte. Vatrano was successful in the big city and thrived on the top line. It’s now a numbers game for everyone that’s available.
With Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller coming up on contracts, Drury will need to be smart with how he spends his money.
Rumour: Kevin Weekes reports that the Edmonton Oilers are closing in on extending Jay Woodcroft.
**Breaking News** 🚨 📰 .
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) June 18, 2022
Analysis: The rumour is swirling around the Edmonton Oilers head coaching position. Current head coach Jay Woodcroft is closing in a reported 3-year deal. That is huge for the Oilers. After the firing of coach Dave Tippet, Woodcroft came, and the team had a good turnaround.
After coming in and stepping up behind the bench, Woodcroft finished with a 26-9-3 record and transformed the Edmonton Oilers. There even-strength play grew under him as they finished the season with a 52.47 Corsi For Percentage and an expected goals percentage at 51.47. All within the top 10 in the league. He would then guide them to the Western Conference Finals in what would be a massive step in the Connor McDavid era.
If this rumour is true, it is a massive win for the Oilers. They can now make the right moves and build upon what they accomplished this postseason run.