The Labor Day holiday is over, and with some ironic symmetry, so too are the additional COVID unemployment benefits as millions are now headed back to work. So, too will the hockey world as training camps are set to begin, and in a couple of weeks, some rookie camps will soon launch. It seems like yesterday that free agency and the offseason NHL trade market began.
It’s time for a roundup of the things you’ve missed.
Over the weekend, our colleague Jimmy Murphy reported with impeccable sources that Carolina Hurricanes owner essentially forced GM Don Waddell into the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet. Now Carolina’s cap situation is problematic beyond this season, which could cost them Vincent Trocheck. PHN was apprised of the source of information and is confident in the report.
“This was pure ego pleasure by an owner who has no idea what he’s doing,” the source said. “Take a look at what they have coming up to sign. Dundon royally f…ked Waddell here. This is what happens when an owner doesn’t understand how to run a team and doesn’t let the hockey people do their jobs.”
The hockey world was certainly chattering well before the decision about Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s activity on the NHL trade market.
Perhaps the comments lost a bit in the setting, or Bergevin meant to be a little bit cold.
“Would we have loved to have kept (Kotkaniemi)? Of course,” Bergevin said on Monday. “But not at $6.1 million and not with Christian Dvorak available to us.”
In other words, we got better and cheaper. However, now Bergevin has to find a way to jettison about $6 million to get under the salary cap. Cue the next NHL trade drama…
Tomas Hertl, Contract, NHL Trade Rumors
The San Jose Sharks recognize Tomas Hertl’s off-ice value. Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now reported that sources inside the organization believe Hertl is a “culture-setter” in the mold of Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.
That should be the good news.
However, both personally and professionally, Evander Kane’s behavior greatly soured some teammates who didn’t want to come back if Kane returns.
While other stars in Hertl’s orbit, such as Couture, received contracts on the first day they were eligible, a source also told San Jose Hockey Now that there haven’t been any serious discussions between Hertl and the San Jose Sharks about an extension so far this summer: “Nobody is talking to him yet.”
The trade chatter was set in motion last week when PHN put Hertl on the top five list of centers to watch on the NHL trade market.
NHL GMs should see how this plays out and get it done quickly. No team or GM which has played chicken with a first or even second-line center has come out on top. Some teams salvaged something, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets getting Patrik Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Still, most teams get zonked like the New York Islanders holding out hope for John Tavares only to see him post pictures of his 12-year-old self in Toronto Maple Leafs pajamas after signing a monster deal with Toronto.
If the player wants to be there, make it happen. If he doesn’t, get it done quickly because the noise filters into the room, the noise filters into the player’s game, and the noise grows.
I can’t help but look at the Pittsburgh Penguins situation with three centers who are 34-years-old and older and think it’s probably time to start shopping for another center capable of first or second-line duties. Such players don’t come cheap, and San Jose GM might do something like tie Erik Karlsson’s contract to acquiring Hertl (which would immediately be a non-starter for this armchair GM), which would exclude the Penguins ability even to consider it.
Otherwise, that could be something that makes sense for the Penguins.
P.K. Subban Trade Rumors
Murphy also reported the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are poking around on New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban. The Maple Leafs have expressed “more than lukewarm interest” in the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman. The Boston Bruins have been floating about the NHL trade market for a year, and they have tried multiple times to get New Jersey GM Tom Fitzgerald to eat half of Subban’s $9 million AAV.
“Of course, no team is doing that trade unless ‘Fitz’ eats at last half of that cap hit like you said,” the source told BHN. “With the Bruins, they would obviously need to move more cap space out even to afford that, but it really makes a ton of sense for them at the right price.”
There aren’t much bigger stages than Boston or Toronto.