The New York Rangers rebuild has been going better than most could have expected. That was also buoyed by winning the Draft Lottery in both 2019 and 2020. Alexis Lafreniere (#1, 2020) and Kaapo Kakko (#2, 2019) will be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.
NHL Rumors: Rangers expected to be sellers
While the Rangers continue to make strides and have MVP finalist, Artemi Panarin and sniper Mika Zibanejad on the roster, they are not yet Cup contenders. This has Rick Carpiniello thinking the Rangers will be sellers at the trade deadline again.
Two of his top candidates are veteran defensemen on expiring contracts in both Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson. Shockingly, he mentions the possibility of trading Mika Zibanejad for Jack Eichel, but I just don’t see it.
Over at Forever Blueshirts, I dove into the possibility of trading Pavel Buchnevich who is also in the last year of his deal. That would depend on how Kakko is progressing and if they believe Vitali Kravtsov belongs on the second line.
Carolina Hurricanes looking to extend Dougie Hamilton
The Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton have yet to start talks on a new deal. However, GM Don Waddell wants to keep him in Carolina. At 27 years-old, Hamilton is hitting the prime of his career and it would make sense to retain his services.
“We’re getting close to talking about it,” Waddell said Thursday. “Dougie’s not back here, yet. He’s still up in Toronto. He’s coming back here I think at the end of the week. … He is a UFA at the end of the year, so we’d like to get that one done sooner than later. That one, you would have doubts if you play out the season, so it makes sense to try to get something done before the start of the season.”NHL.com
Latest on NHL’s plans for next season
TSN’s Pierre Lebrun is reporting that the NHLPA’s Return to Play Committee has 16 representatives. When the league was working on completing last season, the NHLPA only had 5 reps.
Here’s what Lebrun wrote in a string of tweets:
NHL Board of Governors call today and also an NHLPA Executive Board call (31 player reps), so matching updates on the state of affairs for each side. But that’s really what it is, an update. Still no hard decisions made yet on the 2020-21 season.
Of note, there are now 16 players on the Return to Play committee, including the likes of Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Claude Giroux and Ron Hainsey among many other players. It appears the committee is working in a different fashion so far compared to the spring RTP committee.
While the spring RTP committee (which had 5 players) had joint calls with the NHL throughout the process, so far the 16-player committee has worked more internally NHLPA-wise. The NHL-NHLPA communication has been more at the higher levels, not in the bigger RTP joint group.
There was a call last Sunday, for example, where Ian Cole and Zach Hyman joined NHLPA and NHL big dogs on a call. But so far we haven’t seen the full 16-player RTP joint committee all meet on a call. Although that may come as things heat up.
And finally, given the continued border restrictions, looking more and more like a 2020-21 season begins with an all-Canadian division at least until they can figure out how to cross the border later in the season… so that should be fun. But again, nothing decided for sure yet.