NHL Rumors and News: Vladimir Tarasenko to Senators?; who will land Erik Karlsson; Leafs’ tight fit under cap

It’s been two weeks since the NHL Entry Draft and over nine days since the start of free agency. But a few of the game’s best players are still on the market while teams continue to sort out their salary cap issues.

Although we are still a few months away from opening night, the market has cooled while players and teams wait to make their next move over the next month. But NHL rumors continue to be hot and heavy.

Vladimir Tarasenko switched agents but remains unemployed

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Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Last year Vladimir Tarasenko left the only team he ever played for, the St. Louis Blues, opting to accept a trade to the New York Rangers for a chance to win another Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, the all-star lineup didn’t pan out in the Big Apple, as the team lost in the first round, with Tarasenko contributing just four points.

There will be no return to Broadway, as the Rangers acquired several other players like Blake Wheeler, Nick Bonino, and Erik Gustafsson to replace him in the lineup. 

Ultimately, as Tarasenko remains unemployed over a week into free agency, he switched agencies to assist him in finding a new contract. Rumors are circulating that the Ottawa Senators may be calling but first need to move Alex DeBrincat, who requested a trade, to sort out their salary cap situation. DeBrincat was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Although the Senators remain an option, there’s more talk from hockey insiders that the Carolina Hurricanes are interested in bringing him in. But, now with DeBrincat off the board, Tarasenko’s name will be trending more than usual, with many teams linked to the former 30-goal scorer. 

Sharks’ Erik Karlsson is available, but for a king’s ransom

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One of the biggest names in the rumor mill is reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Immediately after winning the award for the third time in his career, reports came out that he had requested a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. Even though they have limited cap space for a player making $11.5 million, the Pittsburgh Penguins appear ready to overhaul their finances to make a deal. 

As the Hall of Fame careers of their core players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, begin to wind down, there’s an opportunity for one more run at a championship. However, instead of getting younger and thinking about the future, the team is all in on acquiring Karlsson, who just turned 33. Realistically, he’s a significant upgrade for the team, whose top two defensemen, Kris Letang and Jeff Petry, combined for 72 points, still 28 points fewer than Karlsson.

After cleaning out upper management at the end of their 16-year playoff streak, new general manager Kyle Dubas is working to immediately retool this roster into a legit Stanley Cup contender. The Penguins don’t necessarily need Karlsson and have the pieces now to compete, but they would hate to face him if he returns to the Eastern Conference. Although the Swedish defender could talk to many teams, few have the cap space to make a deal work, which is one of the significant reasons he has yet to find a new home. 

The Leafs must reallocate $8 million to fit under salary cap

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After winning their first playoff series in over a decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make any noise in the second round, going out with a whimper in five games against the Florida Panthers. Ultimately, those results led to a change in management with former Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving coming to town. As soon as he took over, he began to retool the roster signing Ryan Reaves, John Klingberg, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Max Domi, pushing their salary cap numbers to $92.3 million, slightly $8.8 million over the limit.

Since those signings, William Nylander’s name as been trending because he could become a casualty of all these bold moves to get stronger. Statistically, he had the best year of his career, scoring 40 goals and finishing with 87 points. He has one year left on his deal, paying him $6.9 million, which is low for a guy who just scored 40 goals. 

Barring any further roster adjustments, the Maple Leafs still need to sign Ilya Samsonov to a new deal. As the only member of the team’s core four with limited time left on his contract, Nylander could be the odd man out to make room in the team’s finances.

Since he was born in Calgary and Treliving recently served as the team’s general manager, rumors have surfaced that a trade between the two clubs is possible. However, Nylander has a modified no-trade clause, which means he will have a say in where he goes and who he potentially signs his next long-term contract with.