NHL teams will start their training camps in just about a week. It’s an exciting time for fans. With hockey right around the corner, the wealth of NHL rumours is again starting to pick up. In a continued attempt to keep fans up to date, the Last Word on Hockey team will dive into talks surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks in today’s edition of NHL rumours.
Rumour: The Hurricanes surprised the league on Friday, signing the highly-touted Jake Gardiner to a new contract. While a great addition for the team, Elliotte Friedman and Pierre LeBrun agree that it brings a lot of questions up about Justin Faulk‘s role next year.
‘Canes did have talks with Faulk’s camp about an extension this summer but couldn’t get it done. In the meantime Carolina has talked to teams about Faulk. Not saying he’s getting dealt for sure but it’s obviously a possibility https://t.co/MH9n651YIE
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 6, 2019
Analysis: Faulk has been part of the Hurricanes top four for a few seasons now. Last year, he played an average of 22:55 through 82 games, ranking second among the team’s defence by a mere seven seconds. Faulk did, however, score the most among the Hurricanes defence. He netted 35 points in the aforementioned 82 games. All-in-all, he was again very strong last year. His terrifically well-rounded playstyle was a clear difference-maker, on a Hurricanes lineup that was full of great play.
Faulk has stayed out of NHL rumours for a while. With Carolina remaining relatively dormant since mid-July, fans have turned their attention towards more pressing matters. Yet, LeBrun seems to insinuate that a Faulk trade may not be too far-fetched. While the team has looked to find an agreeable contract extension with the player, they’ve also brought him up in, likely casual, trade talks with other teams. This isn’t much of a surprise. Faulk would surely bring in a great return and with the Hurricanes deep defensive group, a trade wouldn’t hurt things. Gardiner can take over Faulk’s role on the power play, meaning a Faulk trade would likely have few negatives.
With that said, it’s hard to think there isn’t a way for the two players to co-exist. Gardiner is a left-handed shot, while Faulk is right-handed. While yes, the Hurricanes defence is filled with players deserving of top-four minutes, a Gardiner-Faulk pairing could be very attractive. Their styles are very similar and could compliment each other very well. Yet, if a Faulk trade could reel in an attractive return, it’s clearly the better pick.
Rumour: For once, the Flames are among the list of NHL rumours for something not related to star-restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk. Instead, Andrew Mangiapane is the cause for their listing. Eric Francis of Sportsnet reports that Mangiapane is seemingly close to a new contract, with a mere $200,000 separating Mangiapane’s party from the Flames front office.
The @NHLFlames and RFA Andrew Mangiapane appear to be $200,000 apart in contract negotiations, with Calgary offering a one-year, $800,000 deal and the 23-year-old looking for closer to $1 million, reports @EricFrancis. https://t.co/qGgB6RKncf
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 6, 2019
Analysis: Francis notes that the Flames reportedly offered Mangiapane a deal with a cap hit just over that of his $715,000 qualifying offer. Mangiapane’s, on the other hand, seems to be hoping for something just shy of $1 million.
Mangiapane’s agent, Rich Winter, told Sportsnet that they offered a one-year deal to the Flames and are waiting on a response. Winter says the player’s party cited many comparable players with this offer. This is something that should make the deal much more reasonable to Calgary’s front office.
With that said, Flames general manager Brad Treliving seems firm to his offer in the mid-$700,000s. He said, “we feel strong in our position – it’s fair but it’s just not there yet.” Treliving continued by saying that, even despite the difficult negotiations, he obviously wants Mangiapane to return next season. “We think a lot of him. We’ve spent a lot of time in his development the last three years and he’s put the work in.”
Treliving isn’t alone in this confidence in Mangiapane. The 23-year-old forward had a very strong end to last season. Despite playing fourth-line minutes, he netted six points in the final 10 games he appeared in last year. Four of these points were goals. While he only netted a total of 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 44 games last season, his strong showing at the end of the year made one thing apparent: Mangiapane can score.
It’s this great scoring ability, combined with a versatility that allows him to slot in anywhere in the lineup, that will carry Mangiapane through the next few seasons. If all goes well, the winger could see his breakout year next season. This comes after breaking into the NHL in only December of last season. The sky is the limit for Mangiapane and it seems the only thing holding him back are the unnecessarily complicated contract negotiations.
Rumour: Iain MacIntrye, again of Sportsnet, noted that the Vancouver Canucks are taking things slow with 2016 fifth-overall pick Olli Juolevi, despite many fans’ criticisms.
Analysis: Juolevi has struggled with a slew of injuries over his short career so far. Last season, a severe knee injury ended his rookie AHL season only 18 games in. Juolevi would end up requiring surgery for the injury, something that has worried some fans. It is a gamble to rush him back quickly, and unlike at Canadian online casino, the gamble may not pay off.
A lot of pressure has been placed on Juolevi’s shoulders, considering the draft class he was involved in. He was picked one spot ahead of Tkachuk during the 2016 NHL Draft. After Tkachuk, stars like Clayton Keller, Mikhail Sergachev, Charlie McAvoy, and Jakob Chychrun were all picked in the first round.
In total, 11 of the 30 first-round picks from that draft have played in more than 100 NHL games so far. Meanwhile, only seven players have yet to make their NHL debut. Juolevi is one of them. Hindered by injuries, and a one-year trip to play in Sweden’s top league, Juolevi simply hasn’t been NHL-ready yet.
That will change quickly next season. Assuming he can rebound perfectly from his knee surgery, Juolevi will be poised for a quick promotion to the NHL. In the 18 AHL games he managed last season, the 21-year-old defenceman tallied an impressive 13 points. If he can recreate this terrific AHL production next season, he can easily strong-arm the Canucks into promoting him to the top level. This is especially true if the Canucks experience any sort of injuries. They currently have seven defencemen on their NHL roster, meaning a Juolevi promotion could complicate things. While the tremendously well-rounded Juolevi would certainly make things worth the effort, slotting him into an opening as the result of an injury would make things much easier.
That’s overthinking things, though. There is one thing that is undeniable. Next season is crucial to Juolevi’s future. He’s disappointed fans thus far and will look to quickly right-the-wrong with a strong start to next season. With that said, the Canucks want to stay cautious. Juolevi is cleared by the team’s medical staff to play but the Canucks management will let Juolevi rejoin at his own pace, per MacIntyre. For such a high-end prospect, with so much potential, this is clearly the right plan of action.