We’re only a few days away from the start of free agency, so here’s another batch of NHL off-season rumours. It’s getting down to crunch time and teams and players have decisions to make. Today we’ll talk contract extension for Drew Doughty, Rick Nash possibly retiring and the goalie carousel.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period said that Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake is in discussions for a contract extension. Blake texted that `We have been in discussions this week but certainly not done yet.”
The LA Kings and Drew Doughty are in the process of finalizing an eight-year extension. Expectation right now is the deal, likely making him the highest paid King, will be announced Sunday.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 29, 2018
Analysis: Doughty is only one season away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. It would make sense for Blake to lock up the Norris Trophy winner before he hits the open market. The rumoured length of the deal is slated to be eight years, so that would make him a King for the rest of his career.
Rumour: The unrestricted free agent may not be in a hurry to sign a new deal. Nash’s agent Joe Resnick told ESPN that the Boston Bruins forward is taking his time on whether he’ll play again. The forward has a history of concussions and his weighing that medical history.
Analysis: He must do what’s best for his health, so Nash won’t be signed in the initial rush of free agency. However, he’ll get his fair share of offers that will entice him to return for at least another season. Resnick told the media outlet that his client has already turned down some lucrative offers already.
It was reported that Nash suffered a concussion in March and he sat out six weeks in 2013 when he was with the New York Rangers. Nash said that he wanted to be upfront about his issues and prepare teams in case they do want to make him an offer. The Brampton, Ontario native could make a return later in the season after he’s had time to recover.
The Goalie Carousel
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic speculated that multiple goalies could play musical chairs this off-season. Carter Hutton is the likely choice for the Buffalo Sabres while Cam Ward could be moving to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Always subject to change between now and Sunday, but at this hour on the goalie carousel, it would appear Carter Hutton is the leading option in Buffalo, Jonathan Bernier likely headed to Detroit and as we said before, Cam Ward likely to Chicago…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 28, 2018
Anaylsis: Hutton wants to cash in on his solid season with the St. Louis Blues while Buffalo wants him to mentor Linus Ullmark for the next couple of seasons. The former Nashville Predators backup was a surprise and almost carried St. Louis to the playoffs as Jake Allen faltered.
Ward going to Chicago would make sense as Corey Crawford is getting over an injury that took him out for over half of the season. The Blackhawks would have a very capable backup in case Crawford isn’t ready for the start of the season.
Jimmy Howard is likely to be the number one in Hockeytown, but either Bernier or Lehner would be a good insurance policy. Bernier was serviceable with the Colorado Avalanche when Semyon Varlamov got hurt.
Lehner always seemed to shoulder the blame for a lot of Buffalo’s troubles. The defense didn’t do him any favors, but Lehner did struggle at times during his tenure in Western New York.