NHL Rumors Roundup: Blues, Penguins, Rangers, Sabres, and Senators

Your massive Sunday NHL Rumors update!

tyler bozak
Mar 16, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith (1) makes a save against St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak (21) during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Rumors Roundup is back with the latest around the league from last week up until today.

The St. Louis Blues appear set to start the season with Vladimir Tarasenko. Despite the forward’s open request and desire to be traded, GM Doug Armstrong refuses to give him away or retain salary to facilitate a deal.

NHL Rumors: Blues starting season with Tarasenko

Head coach Craig Berube was recently on the Cam & Strick Podcast and gave the following update on Tarasenko.

“I expect Vladi to play for us. I’m going to treat him like every other player. And yeah, he asked to be traded, and things happen, but again, you know, we want Vladi to play good hockey for us,” he said. “He’s going to have a role on the team like he always has, we’ll deal with it internally and we’ll go from there. That’s what it boils down to.”

The 29 year-old Tarasenko has two years left on a deal that comes with a $7.5 million AAV and a 10 team no trade clause. It is likely that he’d be willing to expand that in order to get a deal done, but a third team may need to also get involved for cap purposes.

Andy Strickland also notes that “there’s at least one team willing to retain a portion of Tarasenko’s salary” in order to help get a deal done.

That team is most likely the Detroit Red Wings who are still looking to build up future assets as they weaponize their $15 million in cap space. Another possible team that needs help getting to the cap floor are the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres. Either team makes sense as a third wheel.

Penguins looking for center help

The Penguins are likely to start the season with their top two centers recovering from offseason surgery. Sidney Crosby (wrist) and Evgeni Malkin (knee) are going to miss camp and possibly some games. Pittsburgh will want to be cautious and ease them back in.

Veteran center Brian Boyle who did not play last season was signed to a PTO and has a chance to get a contract. Another center on their radar is Tyler Bozak, but he may be an expensive option.

The 35 year-old Bozak scored 17 points in 31 games last season playing bottom six minutes. There’s no doubt he can still be a productive contributor.

Two other possible options could be 27 year-old Alex Galchenyuk or 36 year-old Eric Staal.

Rangers working on Zibanejad extension and missed out on Ritchie

mika zibanejad extension
May 6, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Larry Brooks’ latest report indicates he’s unlikely to get to UFA status.

“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 for POST SPORTS+ (subscription required).

No deal is imminent, but the desire for both sides to stay together is there.

Another interesting note is the Rangers went after Nick Ritchie, whom the Bruins did not qualify. It turns out that Ritchie turned down the Blueshirts to sign with the Maple Leafs because he felt he’d get more ice time there.

Considering the Rangers abundance of wingers, which includes youngster like Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov he had a good point.

Sabres sent out feelers on Jack Eichel

eichel neck surgery
Mar 7, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) reacts after a goal by the New York Islanders during the second period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the Sabres met with Jack Eichel’s new representatives led by Pat Brisson. He termed it an “introductory meeting” as both sides try to keep this as quiet as possible.

After the meeting, the Sabres reached out to teams that had expressed interest over the summer. They are believed to be the Ducks, Kings, Golden Knights, Wild, and Rangers.

“I do believe Buffalo re-engaged with interested teams to see where everyone stands,” Friedman said. “We will see where things go.”

Eichel is reportedly set to have neck surgery which will keep him out until December. It’s possible that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams wanted to just see where teams are at based on some of the newest information available. That way, once Eichel recovers he knows which teams to re-engage with.

Bridge deal for Brady Tkachuk?

The Ottawa Senators and RFA Brady Tkachuk continue to work on a new contract. The good news sounds like a deal will get done before camp.

While the goal for both sides is to work a long-term deal out, they seem to be okay with a bridge deal for now.

“Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion (with a fresh contract extension) told the FAN 590 morning show on Thursday, “Are we confident (restricted free agent Brady Tkachuk) will be signed by the time camp starts? Yes. These negotiations aren’t always easy and they take me a bit more time.” Over the last little while, the word is the Senators and Tkachuk have been grinding away on a long-term deal — believed to be similar to Thomas Chabot’s 8×8 extension”

Sportsnet

Brady Tkachuk is just 21 years of age. In his three seasons with the team, he’s scored 125 points in 198 games. The Sens see him as the face of the franchise along with Thomas Chabot. Either one of them could be named the next captain in Ottawa.