Today’s NHL Rumors brings updates from Pittsburgh regarding the Penguins’ plans for the NHL Trade Deadline. Defender Kris Letang is also being talked about. Are the two sides close to an agreement? Meanwhile, there’s talk of which goaltenders the Toronto Maple Leafs might target as they seek a solution to their netmind woes in the league. The New York Rangers could make a move from JT Miller and there are reports the Carolina Hurricanes have signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi on a long-term extension.
Penguins don’t close with letang, deadline plans
In a quote shared by the Organization of the Pittsburgh PenguinsGM Ron Hextall said of his plans for the NHL Trade Deadline:
“I feel pretty good about the depth of our team. Anything else we would like to add beforehand? Yes, that would be a fair statement… I’m feeling good, I don’t feel like I have to do anything, but if we get better I’ll try.”
On to these comments, TSN’s LeBrun noticed, “And more specifically, my feeling is that Hextall would love to add a top-six winger with a term, not a loan. Would prefer the hockey deal route if possible.”
As for defenseman Kris Letang, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli says it doesn’t look like the Penguins and upcoming UFA defenseman are close to an overtime. He notes that Letang is targeting a five-year deal starting at at least $7 million, according to sources. The Penguins don’t want to go five years because Letang would be 40 when that contract expires. He notes that the good news is that talks between the two sides remain cordial and will continue.
Maple Leafs and Goalie Options
The Athletic’s James Mirtle writes that Toronto might want to consider buying Petr Mrazek, and Mirtle wrote on Twitter: “This is my first time looking for the Mrazek buyout. It’s not that bad. But now the Leafs need another goalie. Here are some options…” He followed with an article suggesting Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, James Reimer, Anton Forsberg, Jaroslav Halak and Karel Vejmelka could be options.
TSN’s Chris Johnston noted that the Coyotes may feel the need to get Vejmelka on the trade bloc before the deadline if they can’t sign him for a contract extension. He earns less than $900,000 and is a year away from UFA eligibility. The Coyotes really like him, but they’re unsure if he’ll re-sign. Mirtle writes:
Though Vejmelka isn’t all that battle-hardened at the NHL level, he would give the Leafs an option if Campbell is out for a while and Mrazek continues to struggle.
Source – “With Petr Mrazek imploding, what options do the Maple Leafs have to bring in a goalie before the deadline?” – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 03/10/2022
Are Rangers shifting focus?
The Athletic’s Arthur Staple suggests the New York Rangers shift their focus from JT Miller – who is believed to be unlikely to make another move for the Vancouver Canucks – to a top-six right winger at the Anaheim Ducks. The focus should be Rickard Rakell and there are rumors that if general manager Chris Drury wants to use defender Nils Lundkvist as trade bait, blueliner Hampus Lindholm could somehow be worked into the deal.
The buyers try to wait the sellers. The Rangers are a buyer. They have enough wealth that they don’t have to wait. Perhaps it’s time for Chris Drury to take the plunge and stay ahead of the slow, creeping market to get the player or players he wants.
Source – Ten thoughts on another Rangers clunker: Getting ‘too soft’ on the topic, and is it time to strike a deal?” – Arthur Staple – The Athlete – 03/11/2022
As it looks increasingly like the trading deadline could be fairly quiet, an aggressive strategy by the Rangers could help them acquire some assets from teams looking to sell and unsure of how strong the market will be.
Kotkaniemi committed to long-term deal?
Reports surfaced Friday night that forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi was reportedly given eight-year extensions by the Hurricanes, worth around $4.4 million per season. It’s an interesting deal that came out of the signing of an offer sheet and it certainly shows the Hurricanes’ commitment to the player and his development. Andy Strickland reports that the terms of the contract are in place.
Kotakniemi signed a bid deal and left the Montreal Canadiens last offseason. He’s a defensive first center who has played limited minutes and didn’t deserve the $6.1 million qualifying offer that was due to him this summer according to his year-long offer list. Frank Seravalli writes in a recent Daily Faceoff article, “But both sides acknowledge he didn’t play at that level.” He adds that the offer sheet “was simply a mechanism to win the player over”.
Jim Parsons is a senior freelance THW writer, part-time journalist, and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes NHL news and rumor while also writing features about the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source at The Hockey Writers for more than five years, but beyond that, his mission is to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL gossip and tech talk. Jim is a daily must-read for readers who want to be “in the loop.”
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