Hockey

NHL Rumors: Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 16: Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) waits for a face-off during the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals National Hockey League game on October 16, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Today’s edition of CSM’s NHL rumors: Nikita Kucherov injury and possible actions, the Penguins injury situation, and the Evander Kane drama. We have it covered for you, so dig right in and read the latest NHL rumors!

Tampa Bay Lightning – Nikita Kucherov

Rumor: Per Stanley Sweeney – nhltraderumors.me. Nikita Kucherov is going to be out until roughly February 2022 with his lower-body injury, but it won’t be a season-ending injury like last year. The Tampa Bay Lightning forward missed all of last season due to a hip injury. This injury seems to require a difficult and time consuming recovery.

Analysis: So, Sweeney speculates that with Kucherov out for so long, it may be time for the Lightning to search for a replacement winger. He suggested three possible choices. Tomas Hertl, Nick Cousins, or Phil Kessel.

All three candidates are on an expiring contract after this season. Hertl has a $5.62 million cap hit and has been rumored to be traded… perhaps. He has a no-trade clause in his deal, but given a chance to join the two-time Cup champs could influence his decision.

Cousins would be a much more reasonable acquisition coming in at just $1.5 million average annual value. He is a versatile forward who can play the wing or at center. He added 18 points in 52 games last season with the Nashville Predators.

Kessel has been rumored to be moved with the Arizona Coyotes going through a massive rebuild. Phil loves the nice warm weather and the golf opportunities in Florida are endless. He has won two Cups and the Lightning can use another sniper on the wing without go-to guy Kucherov around.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Rust, Crosby, Malkin Injury Updates

Rumor: Per Ryan Wilson hockeybuzz.com. With Bryan Rust, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin all injured, it creates quite a dilemma for head coach Mike Sullivan.

Analysis: So, to review… Rust is still mending and will be missed most certainly. He is a player that they can least afford to lose over a long period of time. In addition, the team lacks depth on the right wing. The sooner Rust returns, the better.

Crosby may be mending, but why chance aggravating his recovery when they play tomorrow on the 19th and then don’t play again until the 23rd? Besides, they have done surprisingly well without #87, gathering five points in three contests. With that said, they can be patient with Crosby’s recovery and be certain he’s fully recovered.

Malkin, is a different story. While making progress, he still may be out as much as two months before he’s fully ready to go. The Pens are accustomed to doing well even without star players in the lineup. They step up, that’s what championship level players do.

San Jose Sharks – Evander Kane

Rumor: Per Kevin Kurz – The Athletic. Kurz ponders if the San Jose Sharks can find a way to get out of the remaining three years on Evander Kane’s $7 million AAV contract. Kane’s off-ice problems prompted three NHL investigations in allegations of betting on games, domestic violence and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. The first two couldn’t be substantiated but the league suspended Kane 21 games for the fake card.

Analysis: Kane’s teammates seem to be done with him. So, what if the Sharks can somehow get out of Kane’s remaining contract? Does that catapult them into the level it will take to acquire Jack Eichel?

Brian Witt of NBCSPORTS.com thinks it could be a possibility. Per Pierre LeBrun, “Whoever trades for Jack Eichel this year knows they aren’t getting him for at least four months, if not longer depending on his recovery,” LeBrun said Friday on TSN’s OverDrive radio show. “So it has to be a team who probably doesn’t think, or at least a team that knows that it can live without that kind of player, not to mention the players you’re sending back in that trade.”

“So listen,” LeBrun added, “I think that, I wonder if at some level about San Jose. Only because, depending on what ends up happening with Evander Kane. If Evander Kane is off the books in some way or another, depending on what the NHL decides, suddenly they got cap room and that Jack Eichel is 24 and the Sharks are trying to transition into a younger team. So I kind of wonder about them.”

The Evander Kane drama is a hot mess. The NHL rumors just keep rolling in. Be informed and catch them all here!

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