NHL Rumors: Ryan O’Reilly, Mathew Barzal, and Zdeno Chara

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Today’s edition of NHL Rumors looks at the some potential contract extensions for St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly, and New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal. Then we check in on unrestricted free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara and if he’ll be playing in the league this upcoming season.

Let’s dive in.

NHL Rumors: Ryan O’Reilly

The St. Louis Blues made sure to lock up two of their key young players in Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. Each signed identical 8-year extensions with an average annual value of $8.125 million.

With that business done, the Blues should be shifting focus to their captan, who is entering the final year of his contract and will be a UFA next summer.

“I do think they will take a run at Ryan O’Reilly,” Elliotte Friedman said on his podcast. “O’Reilly is going to be 32, but he takes care of himself. It’s clear the Blues priority was Thomas and Kyrou before O’Reilly. The last time they had a top free agent he ended up in Vegas and that was Alex Pietrangelo. I think they will look to avoid that situation but the issue is going to be term.”

O’Reilly, 31, registered 58 points in 78 games during the 2021-22 campaign. He did help the Blues capture their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history in 2019 by leading the team in playoff scoring with 23 points in 26 games.

Friedman’s cohost Jeff Marek suggested Nazem Kadri’s recent 7-year deal with the Flames for $7 million is a good comparable.

NHL Rumors: Mathew Barzal wants to stay with Islanders

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Dec 2, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) skates with the puck against San Jose Sharks during the second period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Another potential extension that could be in the works is that of New York Islanders star forward Matthew Barzal. He is entering the final year of his deal and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in July.

“I mean, if things go well, I’d love to play my career on Long Island,” Barzal told Friedman and Marek. “I take a lot of pride in that. All my favourite athletes of all time — Michael Jordan, Sidney Crosby … Tom Brady’s in Tampa now, but for so long [was in New England]. That’s just a really cool thing.”

Barzal, 25, picked up 59 points in 73 games for the Isles last season. It was a down year for not only the center but the entire team as they missed the playoffs.

The Islanders should be able to sign him to a max contract at 8 years. He currently makes $7 million against the cap, but Semyon Varlamov’s $5 million cap hit will be off the books in 2023-24 to accommodate.

NHL Rumors: Zdeno Chara

Chara, 45, registered 14 points in 72 games for the Isles during the 2021-22 campaign. The ageless wonder is expected to make a decision this weekend per his agent, Matt Keator.

“Undecided at this point,” his agent Matt Keator said via text message Thursday night. “To date has been in no rush. Will be meeting him over the weekend.”

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There remains several possibilities to where Chara could end up, but some feel a reunion with the Boston Bruins could be in the cards before he officially retires.