With the 2021-22 season just weeks away, hockey fans are excited to see their favorite teams begin play. However, interesting NHL rumors have started to pop up as the season nears its debut. So let’s get right into it. Today’s NHL Rumors features the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and San Jose Sharks.
Ottawa Senators – Brady Tkachuk
Rumor: Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet stated in his recent 31 Thoughts podcast that Ottawa general manager 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. If that can’t get done soon, it’s very possible the two sides will switch to something shorter. What that says to me is both sides agree getting Tkachuk in camp is a priority.
Analysis: There’s no doubt that the Sens are definitely going to do all they can to sign the 6′-4″, 211 pound forward. He hails from Scottsdale, AZ. It would be difficult to replace his excellent statistics. Over 198 NHL games Tkachuk has 60 goals, 65 assists good for 125 points. That averages out to 0.63 points per game. Try replacing that.
Not only is Tkachuk an offensive threat, he is a physical threat as well. He has 725 hits, or 3.66 hits per game. That may be a good reason he is so effective offensively, as defenders know they had better get out of his way.
It’s unlikely that Dorion will allow Tkachuk to walk. The club has $24.5 million in cap space, and it seems the squabble may be about the term of a new deal. When contracts start being compared to other players is where the delay usually takes place. Tkachuk is a key player and thus he will get signed before the season starts. The Ottawa Senators would be a completely different team without him. It’s all this negotiation stuff that is slowing it down. NHL rumors like this may be resolved soon.
If it takes equalling Chabot’s deal, then do it, Dorian.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Tyler Bozak
Rumor: A couple clubs indicated they were expecting Tyler Bozak’s decision on where to play in the next few days. The 764-game veteran has a couple of options. I wonder if one is Pittsburgh, with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin injured to start the year. The Pittsburgh Penguins may look into acquiring veteran forward Tyler Bozak.
Analysis: In the same Elliotte Friedman podcast, he talks about how with both Sidney Crosby being hurt, along with Evgeni Malkin, the Pens need some front line help. Enter the name of Tyler Bozak, who is still an unsigned free agent. He may be a good fill-in to hold the team over until Sid and Malkin return. He made $5 million last season. Unless he really fancies playing in Pittsburgh, or the team finds cap space hidden somewhere in a closet, Bozak’s contract requirements can’t be met.
Part of the problem is the uncertainty of both Crosby and Malkin’s return schedule. Malkin had knee surgery in June. Estimating a six-month recovery would put Malkin’s return in December. A four-month recovery could put him back in action in October. Crosby may miss six weeks, so adding a player like Bozak may be attractive but it seems not fiscally possible. Bozak tallied 17 points in 31 games. Plus, he is a great faceoff guy with a career 53.8 percent success rate. Too bad his contract is too much for the Pens to handle, as he’d be a great addition.
San Jose Sharks – Tomas Hertl
Rumor: Another tidbit from Elliotte Friedman includes the future of forward Tomas Hertl. The San Jose Sharks forward is in the final year of a four-year $22.5 million contract.
Per Friedman: There’s been a lot of talk about San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, headed into his final season before unrestricted free agency. That intensified when the centre told Czech-based iDNES.cz, “I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me, and if I’ll want to stay there. … I’ll start the season and see how it turns out.” I’d love to see the incoming-call log on Sharks GM Doug Wilson’s phone, but word is he’s told other teams that it is San Jose’s desire to make this work, and that message will be delivered once Hertl arrives.
Analysis: Hertl, like many players looking for a better contract or a better team to play for, is making public statements which can feed NHL rumors. He could very well be a trade deadline trade candidate. All depends on how the San Jose Sharks season may progress.
Hertl is a gifted, versatile two-way forward. He’s been slowed by injuries throughout his eight-season NHL career. He puts up great numbers when healthy, bagging a career-high 74 points in 2018-19 and 43 points in 50 games during the 2020-21 shortened schedule.
Hertl could demand between $7 million and $8 million on the open market next summer. That could put him out of San Jose, unless general manager Doug Wilson finds a way to free up the cap space to sign him. If he does decide he wants out, a team with excessive cap space is the Ottawa Senators. Even if they sign Brady Tkachuk for say $8 million, they will still have enough to entice Hertl. We’ll see.
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