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NHL Rumours: Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers

It’s time for another round of NHL Rumours as we close in on the end of March. There’s plenty of Madness going on with the close of the 2023-24 campaign coming. College hockey seasons are ending soon and that means some undrafted free agents could hit the market. These players could help a shore up their lineup or prospect pool at a low price. Other teams are also thinking about their summer plans and might be a player in free agency. Today’s NHL Rumours focus on the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers.

All NHL Rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Eric Engels of Sportsnet said the Habs are looking to take the next step in their rebuilding process. Montreal will have cap space this offseason and look to take advantage of that luxury.

Analysis: The Canadiens do have some exciting players like Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky. This team has shown some flashes of brilliance in parts of the season. Conversely, injuries and other factors have caused some inconsistent results. However, General Manager Kent Hughes is looking to take things to the next level this offseason. Montreal is going to spend money in the free agent market. Therefore, the Canadiens are going to be smart about their free agent choices.

Montreal likely won’t hand out many long-term deals on July 1. The Habs brass likely won’t give out longer-term contracts to players 27 years or older. Hughes is seeking to continue the youth movement with the franchise.

Engels points out that Hughes and team President Jeff Gorton have four first-round choices and three second-round picks in the next two drafts. This gives Montreal some flexibility in what they want to do. They can make the selections and keep stocking up a promising pipeline. Montreal could also maybe use some of those picks to acquire some of their targets and accelerate their rebuild process.

New York Rangers

Rumour: Mollie Walker of the New York Post started more NHL rumours when she said the Rangers are interested in college free agent Colin Graf of Quinnipiac. The 21-year-old has drawn interest from a number of teams.

Analysis: Experts like Steven Ellis rate Graf highly and he’s been a key cog for coach Rand Pecknold’s team. Ellis said that Graf could be a potential middle-six fixture in a lineup. Graf and teammate Jacob Quillan could get some offers whenever the Bobcats season ends. Quinnipiac is the defending champion and will likely have a chance at another deep run.

The Massachusetts native assisted on the game-winning goal against Minnesota in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Division I National Championship Final from Tampa, Fla last season. Furthermore, Graf had scored the game-tying goal to force overtime against the Golden Gophers.

Walker points out that Graf has been in the development camps of the Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers. Graf is a Hobey Baker Award candidate and has posted 48 points in 22 games this season. One of the teams that are interested in Graf are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Penguins interest during a recent episode of 32 Thoughts. Teams that are close to the salary cap like the Rangers and the Penguins could use Graf as a low-cost option.

College free agents are often a chance to replenish the prospect pipeline at a relatively low cost. There are some diamonds in the rough that can help and carve out impressive career. Martin St. Louis, Adam Oates, Joe Mullen and Ed Belfour are just some of the names that were college free agents that had amazing NHL careers. We’re not saying Graf is in that company. However, he could be a massive help for a team wherever he signs.

Main photo by: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports


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