Can’t get enough NHL rumors? Lyle Richardson’s Rumor Roundup column serves as a one-stop guide to the latest rumblings around the league.
It appears Max Pacioretty’s tenure with the Canadiens could be ending soon. The Athletic’s Marc Antoine Godin reported Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin won’t offer the 29-year-old winger a contract extension, intending instead to trade him as soon as possible.
A five-time 30-goal scorer, Pacioretty is due to become an unrestricted free agent next July. As a result, the Montreal captain became a frequent fixture in the NHL rumor mill this year.
During last month’s NHL draft, the Canadiens reportedly had a trade in place to ship Pacioretty to the Kings. However, the deal fell through because a contract extension couldn’t be worked out. The Kings went on to sign free-agent left wing Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year deal.
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Pacioretty recently replaced longtime agent Pat Brisson with Allan Walsh, who claims his client wants to stay in Montreal. Bergevin, who never publicly comments on contract negotiations with his players, hasn’t commented on the report.
Having signed well below market value ($4.5 million annually for six years) on his current contract, Pacioretty is expected to seek a substantial raise in his next deal. He’ll likely look for something comparable to James van Riemsdyk‘s new five-year, $35-million contract ($7 million per season) with the Flyers.
If the Canadiens are shopping Pacioretty, clubs that failed to land John Tavares via free agency — like the Sharks — could come calling. The Habs’ asking price could be a scoring forward, preferably a center. Landing that type of return, however, will be very difficult if Pacioretty intends to hit the open market next summer. The Blackhawks have also surfaced as a suitor after clearing all-but-retired winger Marian Hossa’s $5.275 million cap hit in a trade with the Coyotes on Tuesday.
A sign-and-trade scenario seems unlikely. If the Canadiens attempt to re-sign Pacioretty, he could seek assurances they won’t trade him during the final season of his current contract.
Lightning still in on Erik Karlsson
The Lightning locked up a key member of their core on Monday, re-signing right wing Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension.
With Kucherov set to earn $9.5 million annually starting in 2019-20, the Lightning will have over $65.8 million invested in just 12 players for that season. Having that much tied up in so few players could adversely affect their rumored efforts to acquire and sign Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, however, doesn’t appear concerned. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Yzerman said the Kucherov signing wouldn’t impact any attempts to acquire a high-salaried player. However, he didn’t indicate if that player might be Karlsson.
With over $2.6 million in projected cap space for 2018-19, the Lightning would have to move one or two players signed through 2019-20 to take on Karlsson’s $6.5 million cap hit this season and create sufficient room to ink him to an extension. The Athletic’s Joe Smith suggested right wing Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million annual average value) or Tyler Johnson ($5 million) as possible trade options, though their respective no-trade clauses could complicate efforts to move them.
Latest on Justin Faulk
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk continues to surface in media trade chatter. The club’s recent front-office changes, as well as their recent additions of blueliners Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan, is fueling speculation he’ll be on the move soon.
Faulk’s been linked to the Blackhawks in recent weeks. Having shipped Hossa’s cap hit to the Coyotes, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman could be freeing up dollars to pursue the 26-year-old rearguard.
The Athletic’s Scott Powers believes Faulk would be an upgrade for the Hawks blueline but he could prove too costly to acquire. He cited “multiple reports” claiming the Hurricanes want winger Brandon Saad in return.
The Blackhawks aren’t the only team with possible interest in Faulk. Newsday’s Andrew Gross suggested he’d be a good trade target for the Islanders, while Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the rebuilding Red Wings could be eyeing him.
The Hurricanes could be looking for a left winger as an eventual replacement for Jeff Skinner, who’s also rumored to be on the trade block. Their asking price from the Islanders could be Anthony Beauvillier while the Red Wings might have to part with Tyler Bertuzzi or Andreas Athanasiou.