NHL Rumors: Rangers’ Zibanejad extension update; Kessel trade talk will heat up; and Bozak with Penguins?

The New York Rangers have made a lot of moves this summer. A new front office and head coach were put in place in May and June respectively.

They then went out and revamped their lineup to add toughness and glue guys that have defined roles on the bottom six.

Now they look to start locking up star players like #1 center Mika Zibanejad.

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NHL Rumors: Rangers and Zibanejad working on longterm deal

“Individuals familiar with the situation have indicated that the parties share the mutual objective of getting something done and are earnest in trying to reach that end,” Larry Brooks wrote in his Rangers Insider now part of POST SPORTS+ (subscription required).

Zibanejad, 28, earned $5.35 million on his last deal and is due for an increase. In the last two seasons he has scored 65 goals and 125 points in 113 games. That’s worth big time money, and if he hits the open market next summer he could get 7 years at $10 million per season. That’s regardless of the current flat cap situation expected to stay around $81.5 million for the next few seasons.

Although Brooks points out the Flyers 8 year deal of #1 center, Sean Couturier at $7.75 million per season could work in the Rangers favor.

Chris Drury needs to start following the lead of other teams using that 8th year to lower AAV. Giving Mika an 8 year deal despite the fact that it will take him to 37 years of age makes sense financially.

Phil Kessel trade talk expected to pick up

Mar 14, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Phil Kessel (81) pursues the puck in a game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Kessel, 33, can still produce and would give any offensively challenged team a boost. Last season, he scored 20 goals and 43 points in 56 games for the Yotes.

Arizona paid out his $5M bonus on July 1st. That means he’s only owed $1 million in actual salary which could be perfect for some teams with cap space, but are also looking to be fiscally sound. His cap hit without any cap retention would be $6.8M of his total $8M thanks to the Leafs. They kept some of his cap hit when they traded him.

The Coyotes continue to ship out veterans and have been trying to trade Kessel with little success. That may change soon.

“There were some conversations around the draft,” Elliotte Friedman said. “If he starts out hot, things are going to intensify in a hurry.”

An in-season deal makes the most sense at this point.

Injured Penguins may have interest in Tyler Bozak

May 21, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak (21) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a short-handed goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period in game three of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will miss a minimum of six weeks after undergoing a procedure on his left wrist Wednesday.

That timeline means Crosby likely won’t be ready for the Penguins’ season opener Oct. 12 at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Pens are also without Evgeni Malkin at training camp after knee surgery with no definitive timetable to return. He could miss the start of the season.

That has some wondering if Tyler Bozak would be a fit with the Penguins.

The 35 year-old scored 17 points in 31 games last season playing bottom six minutes. There’s no doubt he can still be a productive contributor. There was some thought he might return to the Blues earlier this summer, but that appears less likely now.