NHL Rumors and News: notable players still available, restricted free agents filing for arbitration

A handful of impact-free agents are still available as teams sort out their 2023-24 season plans.

After the Alex DeBrincat trade from the Ottawa Senators to the Detroit Red Wings, the summer of blockbuster moves appears to be far from over. Although the clock is ticking towards opening night and every team’s accountants are busy balancing the books, there’s still plenty of NHL rumors to discuss. 

Former Stanley Cup champion free agents still looking for jobs

patrick kane
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Kane is still recovering from hip surgery and should return to the ice in December. His agent, Pat Bission, recently indicated that his client is willing to accept a one-year deal on a contending team. Meanwhile, Kane’s longtime teammate Jonathan Toews has yet to decide his next move after the Chicago Blackhawks opted to move on from their captain of 15 years. 

Although his best days are behind him, he would be a great player in the bottom six and bring a wealth of experience to any lineup. However, a recent Sportsnet report mentioned that the agency representing Toews didn’t include him in the list of available players. 

While those two generational talents are sorting out their plans, the Boston Bruins continue operating under the impression that captain Patrice Bergeron and his longtime teammate David Krejčí are not returning for 2023-24. Out of respect to their contributions to the club over the last two decades, each player still has time to decide their future while the team plans for life without them. 

If one or both players return, the Bruins are running out of cap space with $6.2 million to keep them, since restricted free agents Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic are both due significant raises. 

Vladimir Tarasenko is also still available and willing to accept a one-year deal to prove himself and secure a better contract next summer. Although there is speculation he would rather not play for a Canadian team, if he runs out of options in the United States, he may have to bite the bullet on this one and sign a prove-it deal for 2023-24. 

Many high-profile restricted free agents file for arbitration

Considering the NHL salary cap barely budged from last year to this one, going up by just $1 million, most teams across the league opted to play it safe this summer and didn’t hand out new contracts like candy. Instead of inking players to deals before the end of the season, several young guns like Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Ilya Samsonov decided to refrain from negotiating and wait for the offseason. 

As the calendar reaches mid-July, these players and several others — like Vince Dunn, Evan Bouchard, Gabriel Vilardi, Filip Gustavsson, and Swayman — remain without deals. Realistically, their teams would be crazy for letting these talented players go. However, that will only be the case in some of these situations since these players filed for arbitration hearings starting next week.

If none of these available players work out a new deal, their relationship with their employers runs the risk of being damaged in these hearings as the two sides argue the merits of a new contract. Ultimately, barring a long-term extension, some players will be more than happy to become free agents sooner rather than later. 

NHL rumors: Carolina Hurricanes still tinkering with roster

brendan lemieux
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes added more sandpaper to the lineup when they signed Brendan Lemieux to a one-year deal worth $800k. Despite being only 27 years old, he’s never gotten a real chance outside his days with the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Rangers. 

Heading into his seventh season, Lemieux is about to skate with his fifth team and has never played in more than 63 games in a single season. He’s collected 667 hits in just 275 games, which equals 2.4 a game, a mark many players across the league shy away from. The Hurricanes are tired of losing in the Eastern Conference Final and adjusting everything to ensure they collect their first win in the third round since 2006.

However, this move is surprising and worth mentioning because Carolina is heavily interested in signing Tarasenko and trading for reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. After this signing, the Hurricanes only have $2.5 million in cap space. So, if Tarasenko comes to town, it would have to be at a discount, and if the team acquires Karlsson, they would be shedding a ton of money off the books if either of these deals becomes a reality.