NHL Rumors: John Tortorella wanted out a year ago, Rangers could target Zach Hyman, and Lightning likely to move Tyler Johnson

Mar 18, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella walks off the ice after the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

John Tortorella wanted out of Columbus a year ago? According to Aaron Portzline that was exactly the case and could partially explain this very difficult season. Also, the Rangers are looking to make some changes and Zach Hyman fits the bill.

John Tortorella wanted out a year ago

Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is reporting that John Tortorella wanted out a year ago. It appears Torts could see the writing on the wall and that the Blue Jackets new direction wasn’t lining up with his own philosophy.

The Athletic confirmed this week, however, that Tortorella tried to step down last offseason after the Blue Jackets were bounced from the bubble in Toronto following a qualifying-round win over Toronto and a first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay. The veteran coach was reading the room and reading the tea leaves, realizing the direction of the club was heading was nothing close to what he thought they were building just two years earlier.

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So what brought Torts back this season? Portzline writes that it was Nick Foligno who met with the coach to come back and finish what they started. It obviously did not work out and Foligno is currently playing with the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The question for me is, will Foligno go where Torts lands this offseason? Free agency opens on July 28 so stay tuned.

Rangers have interest in UFA Zach Hyman?

One of Drury’s top priorities is reshaping the bottom six of his lineup in order to diversify the way the Rangers play. Currently the Blueshirts top three lines are a mirror image of each other with just different degrees of skill. This summer they will be looking to have a lot more bite into their lineup.

rangers zach hyman
Dec 28, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (72) battles to stop Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman (11) from playing the puck in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Hyman is a 28 year-old pending UFA whom the Maple Leafs want desperately to retain. His next contract is likely to come in at the $5.5-$6 million range which could be more than Toronto can handle. Prior to the dismissal of John Davidson and Jeff Gorton there wasn’t much chatter about the Rangers going after a player like Hyman in free agency. That was due more to the fact his next deal was closer to top six money and not something they were looking to do.

The Rangers are aiming to make the playoffs next season and Hyman is exactly the type of player they need. From what I can gather, Hyman is on their radar but the cost to sign him over other options is a concern. Keep your eyes on this one as it should gain more traction after the playoffs.

LIghtning still likely to move Tyler Johnson

Stop me if you heard this one before, the Lightning are trying to move Tyler Johnson. He was already placed on waivers twice this past season and Tampa needs cap space. According to Joe Smith who has been covering the Lightning for years, he believes they may even include a “sweetener” to get the deal done this summer.

Well, judging from how cap space is the league’s most coveted asset, it’d likely take some creative maneuvering for the Lightning to find a way out of this. Our Pierre LeBrun reported that it sounds like it would take at least a first-rounder to move a contract like Johnson’s $5 million AAV for three years. Tampa Bay has already dealt several of its picks, including this year’s first-, second- and fourth-rounders, so it won’t have as much to give up. It might take some younger players or prospects to make it work, with forwards like Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk, for example, making promising strides this season.

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