We’re less than 48 hours away from a deluge of hockey signings that will go down in some circles as that time Karl Alzner’s hefty contract overshadowed Canada’s 150th birthday.
So let’s get right to the rumour mill. Take everything you read on Twitter with a grain of salt, but remember that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
The truth is out there, not in the whispers we’ve gathered below for your gossipy pleasure.
Kings want Thornton?
The Los Angeles Kings have made no bones about their desire to create more scoring, so why not pursue the best setup man on the open market?
Though a bitter rival of Joe Thornton’s current team, L.A. is reasonably close to San Jose and would keep Jumbo relatively close to home. Such a signing would feel like a stab in the back to Sharks loyalists, no doubt.
Multiple reports have Thornton in “communication” with the Kings.
I've always more or less expected Thornton to re-sign in SJ. But I've also heard from a source that LA considers Joe to be a "priority."
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) June 27, 2017
Several teams have reached out to the centreman, as should be expected.
Sources say one of those was the Vancouver Canucks, but Thornton isn’t believed to be interested in joining them. New coach Travis Green was a linemate of Thornton’s back in his Boston Bruins days.
Montreal and Nashville are also on the hunt for a centre.
Radulov asking for the moon
TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that Alexander Radulov has 12 teams hunting for his services but hasn’t ruled out a Montreal return.
Radulov is asking for six years times $7 million, Lavoie told Jeff Blair Thursday (listen below). That’s a price that Montreal should be comfortable walking away from now that it’s signed Jonathan Drouin. The term is a killer for an 18-goal winger who will start next season as a 31-year-old.
According to Lavoie, fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin reached out to Radulov to try to convince him to join the Penguins on a short-term bid to win a Cup, but the UFA sees this summer as his chance to hit a financial home run.
On the one-year anniversary of the Nashville-Montreal blockbuster trade, Lavoie also makes some interesting comments regarding Subban-Weber at the 14:30 mark here:
GM shoots down salary-shedding report
Eyebrows raised when the Florida Panthers exposed Jonathan Marchessault ($750,000 cap hit) to Vegas and traded Reilly Smith ($5 million) to the Golden Knights. Then the name of top-four, right-shot defenceman Jason Demers ($4.5 million) popped up in trade rumours.
According to multiple reports, general manager Dale Tallon had been instructed to shed $10 million in salary.
Tallon denied he’d been given that mandate, telling Florida reporters, “It’s not true.”
Iggy’s future still up in the air
Jarome Iginla is a future Hall of Famer. At 39, he’s also coming off his least productive season (27 points, minus-30 rating) as a professional hockey player.
Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan, appeared on Prime Time Sports Wednesday evening (listen here) and declined comment when asked if clubs had been calling on Iginla during the free agent negotiating window.
Iginla, a father of three, is at home relaxing. He will take time to decide if he wants to play in 2017-18.
Meehan, like all of his peers, is a big fan of the UFA meet-and-greets leading up to July 1. “It makes all the sense in the world,” he said. “It was mad chaos in the old system.”
Much debate about Duchene’s trade value
Centre Matt Duchene, long considered on the outs in Colorado, was offered by Avs GM Joe Sakic to Isles GM Garth Snow as part of a package to land defenceman Travis Hamonic over the weekend.
In the wake of Hamonic’s trade to Calgary, conflicting reports have emerged as to how much Sakic wanted in return for Duchene and how frustrated Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, is:
Also hearing: rumor of Duchene's agent being all ticked off is vastly overblown, though he has not responded to request for comment
— Adrian Dater (@adater) June 28, 2017
Everyone needs a Mr. Game 7
Washington’s re-signing of T.J. Oshie essentially sealed Justin Williams’ testing of the market.
The number of inquiring teams is reportedly in the double digits. The Kings, Islanders, Maple Leafs and Stars are expected to be among the interested parties.
“You just want to be wanted. It’s an interesting time,” Williams told CSN Atlantic (watch below). “It’ll be a lot more clearer in the next few days.”
Weal, Weal, Weal!
Flyers GM Ron Hextall is attempting to lock up Jordan Weal — the 25-year-old who erupted for 47 points in 43 AHL games this past season in Lehigh Valley, but the kid will have plenty of options. Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are reportedly among a dozen suitors — with the Canucks being a front-runner.
Weal visited Vancouver Wednesday and traveled Thursday to Boston, where he lives and trains in the off-season.
During his 2016-17 call-up stint as a Flyer, Weal registered eight goals and four assists in 23 games. The North Vancouver native (hence the Canucks rumour) is being viewed as a bargain pickup who could pay off huge.
“I plan to review everything with him today,” J.P. Barry, Weal’s agent, told Philly.com Wednesday morning.
The Flyers have also been linked to goaltender Brian Elliott, who also has interest in Winnipeg.
Lightning target Shattenkirk, again
Plenty of GMs are trying to improve their blue lines, but to the surprise of no one, Steve Yzerman has taken the most aggressive approach.
The Lightning traded away Jonathan Drouin — a potential 30-goal winger for years to come — in order to land smooth-skating Mikhail Sergachev, then paid Vegas to take buyout candidate Jason Garrison instead of a cheaper, more valuable D prospect like Slater Koekkoek or Jake Dotchin.
The Lightning have reportedly reached out to both Kevin Shattenkirk and Dan Girardi, two of the most proven blue-liners on the UFA market. Yzerman had tried to trade for Shattenkirk before the Blues rented him to Washington mid-season.
Alzner racks up frequent flyer miles
A sure bet to leave Washington, stay-at-home defenceman Alzner has hit the road during the negotiating window.
Vegas, Montreal, Chicago and Vancouver are four cities said to have offered plane tickets.
McDavid’s monster deal nears finalization
Peter Chiarelli had to get his captain and franchise face under lock and key before negotiating a final price for No. 2 centre Leon Draisaitl, a restricted free agent.
It sounds like McDavid’s eight-year deal could be signed off on as early as July 1, the earliest date possible. Happy Canada Day, Edmonton!
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos says McDavid’s deal is based on the cap going up by $2 million or $3 million every summer. What if it doesn’t? One guy making $13.25 million could change teammates’ perception of him. “If it doesn’t,” Kypreso warns, “people are going to accuse him of being too greedy.”
Markov, Radulov distracting from real issue in Montreal
So, McDavid’s almost done, but what about Carey Price, who’s also eligible to re-sign for eight years as early as Saturday?
Instead, the buzz in Montreal is about 38-year-old Andrei Markov, who has reportedly asked for $12 million over two (presumably declining) seasons. Markov represents himself in negotiations and is coming off a three-year deal that paid him $5.75 million per.
Markov’s high request may be one of the reasons we’re hearing the Habs linked to Alzner and a few other UFA defencemen.
Blues should look for wingers
After losing David Perron in the expansion draft, trading Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh, and now losing Patrik Berglund until December due to shoulder surgery, St. Louis should be active in the market for wingers.
Due to buyouts Thursday, Scott Hartnell (Columbus) and Benoit Pouliot (Edmonton) just joined the free agent pool. With lower salaries, they should have no issue attracting interest.
Benning busy working phones
A handful of impending UFAs have been linked to Vancouver, though one never knows if the interest is mutual.
In addition to Alzner, Benning has reportedly made calls on Toronto defenceman Matt Hunwick, team-less Nail Yakupov, and Philadelphia centre Weal.
Canucks focused on Miller, Nilsson in net
Friedman has the Ducks as a serious threat to land UFA Ryan Miller. He’d be an accomplished and workload-hungry backup for John Gibson.
The Canucks are trying to come to terms with their No. 1 netminder, but if Miller does sign elsewhere, it could leave Vancouver in a bit of a pickle.
According to News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal, GM Jim Benning has not reached out to interview top-tier UFA goalies Brian Elliott or Chad Johnson. Mike Condon is off the market, and Steve Mason reportedly turned Vancouver down.
One possibility might be Buffalo UFA Anders Nilsson, who quietly posted good numbers on a bad team.
Another is Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, an unsigned RFA backup in search of more starts — starts he won’t get behind Braden Holtby.
The Capitals re-signed third-string goalie Pheonix Copley Thursday to a two-year deal, opening up the option for a Grubauer trade.
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Trevor Daley has suitors aplenty, most notably in Boston and Detroit. (Sidebar: Is there an Original Six team that isn’t aggressively looking to land a defenceman this weekend?)
We wonder if a return to Dallas is out of the question.
Coyotes narrow coach search
The Arizona Coyotes have received permission from the Detroit Red Wings to interview 2017 Calder Cup–winning coach Todd Nelson out of Grand Rapids, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
Nelson, you may recall, coached 51 games as an interim for the Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15. He did a fine job but was replaced behind the bench by big-fish free agent Todd McLellan.
Since firing Dave Tippett, Coyotes GM John Chayka reportedly narrowed his list to just three names. Tippett told local reporters he wants to get right back into coaching.
What will Kulikov sign for?
Dmitry Kulikov, the injury-riddled 26-year-old who fell out of favour in Buffalo, will be an interesting case on Saturday.
Teams are interested because he’s young and his potential is believed to be untapped. But how much does a blah season in which he had just two goals and five points in 47 games affect his asking price?
The Jets, Bruins, Red Wings and Senators are said to be contenders here.
Don’t take your eyes off Vegas yet
Even after the Mark Methot trade, the Golden Knights still have too many defencemen. More trades are coming.
Pierre LeBrun reports the Canadiens have discussed a deal that would send Alexei Emelin back to Montreal. Now down a top-four D, Ottawa is also interested.
Schultz, Penguins thinking long-term
A vital piece of the Penguins’ Letang-free championship run, defenceman Justin Schultz is one free agent GM Jim Rutherford is prioritizing over veterans Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Ron Hainsey and Trevor Daley.
“There’s no hidden fact he’d like to be in Pittsburgh,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the RFA defenceman.
The Penguins filed a qualifying offer of $1.4 million for Schultz, who can expect to make much more than that.
“We will not be signing the qualifying offer,” Arnott told Mackey. “You saw what he did this year. The practical answer is it’s a non-issue.”