We are back with another segment of NHL Rumours. As the NHL Entry Draft and NHL Free Agency hits, the more rumblings begin to form. Last Word on Hockey is here daily to help break down all the action. Today we look at NHL Rumours from the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames
Rumour: Starting off NHL rumours, we head to Buffalo. According to Bob McKenzie, it looks like a deal between the Sabres and Jeff Skinner is down to the wire. McKenzie predicts the deal will be for eight years and average around $9M per year. Though, he did say Skinner may head to free agency if the deal is not signed in the next day or two.
A week later than perhaps I expected, but it sounds like the Jeff Skinner contract negotiations are down to crunch time. My sense is he’ll either get a deal done in the next day or two or head off to UFA. If it gets done, I’d presume it to be 8 years at around $9M AAV.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 6, 2019
Analysis: The Jeff Skinner saga continues as we get into the month of June. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill remained confident the two sides will get a deal done. There isn’t much to say about Skinner that hasn’t been said already.
He is due a big payday after posting a career-high 40 goals in his first season since being traded from the Carolina Hurricanes. The $9M AAV would make him the second highest paid player behind Jack Eichel. His last cap hit was $5.725M.
It would be hard to see the Sabres letting Skinner walk to free agency. A team will absolutely pay him if they get the chance. While the Sabres fell apart after a hot start, Skinner was one of the team’s best players. His 63 points were third on the team. The Sabres cannot afford to let him get to July 1st.
Rumours: Our NHL rumours lead us to Philadelphia next. On an extra episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman spoke on Kevin Hayes. While the Flyers acquired his rights, Friedman mentioned that the center may not have the interest to play for the team.
Analysis: The Philadelphia Flyers got a head start on other teams by acquiring Hayes’ rights from the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the week. The Flyers only gave up a fifth-round pick in the deal. The hope was that Hayes could be their second-line center to give Nolan Patrick easier matchups for the time being. Patrick has shown promise but may need some more time to mature.
That could be all for naught, according to Friedman. There were rumours floating around before that Hayes and new Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault may not have had a solid relationship while the two were in New York. The Rangers could be Hayes’ number one option if these two sides cannot get a deal done before July 1st.
If the Flyers get a deal done, however, they are looking at five years as a starting point. Last year, Hayes was reportedly looking for a five-year deal worth at least $5M per season. Hayes had a career-high 55 points between Winnipeg and the Rangers. No doubt he will be looking for a raise from the $5.175M he finished with last season.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: Heading to Vegas for our next set of NHL rumours, there is word that the Golden Knights have offered a deal to alternate captain Deryk Engelland. While there is no word on the terms, the team is waiting for Engelland to accept.
Our sources indicate that an offer has been extended to Engelland by VGK and he has yet to accept. https://t.co/oT9SzmjAag
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) June 5, 2019
Analysis: Engelland spoke before about the goal of playing for at least a few more years. The 37-year-old is coming off a 12-point season with Vegas. But, he was one of the team’s best penalty killers. No doubt there are personal reasons Engelland would like to stay as well.
In fact, he spoke on his want to stay in Vegas but ultimately left that part up to the team. There are indications that the two will reunite for at least the 2019-20 season. It will be tough for Vegas to make it work, however. The team has more pressing needs, including William Karlsson and Nikita Gusev. Vegas also has $21.1M committed to six defensemen. A large group of defensive prospects also await them with their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
If the two sides are going to come to a deal, Engelland will likely have to settle for a similar deal from Vegas as his last. A demotion in his role is likely as well.
Rumour: Going back to Friedman, he spoke on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary about some potential trade targets. T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic were the names brought up. While the Flames aren’t likely eager to trade either, it may be more about roster strength and team needs more than anything.
Analysis: Out of all of the Flames defensemen, Brodie and Hamonic may be the most likely to be traded this offseason. Both are coming up on the last year of their contracts. They make the most logical sense.
The defence is a position of strength for the Flames. With names such as Mark Giordano and Noah Hanifin, Calgary has plenty on the backend. They have a good mix of veteran leadership and young talent.
Hamonic may be the least likely out of the two. He had requested a trade to a Western Canadien team previously for personal reasons. The thought is that he would like to remain with the Flames. After one goal in his first season with the team, Hamonic posted a career-high seven goals this past season.
As for Brodie, the numbers have slowly dwindled the last few seasons. His goal total did raise slightly this season, however. The nine goals were his most since the 2014-15 season. Brodie does have a modified NTC, as well. And his $4.65M cap hit may not be the most appetizing to some teams. But if the Flames do move on, Brodie makes the most sense of the two.
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