NHL Rumours: Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Olympics

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 21: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) is shown during the NHL preseason game between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning, held on September 21, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Welcome back to another Wednesday edition of NHL Rumours from Last Word on Hockey. We’re a week into the regular season and teams are getting their first look at the squads they put together over the summer. However, there are still clubs looking to make some roster tweaking early on. Today we have NHL rumours from the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets as well as an update on the NHL’s involvement in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

All NHL Rumours come from their original sources and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Nashville Predators

Rumour: In the most recent edition of 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman suggests that contract talks between Roman Josi and the Predators have hit a snag.

Analysis: Friedman mentions that it is surprising a deal hasn’t been secured between both sides. However, with other big-name defencemen such as Alex Pietrangelo and Tyson Barrie set to hit the market as well, Josi may want to see how much they sign for before setting a number for himself.

In yesterday’s NHL rumours article, we covered that the Blues would like to use Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s eight-year, $66 million contract as a baseline for Pietrangelo. One should expect the same for Josi. Both these players are the captains of their respective teams and are two of the top defenceman in the game. They also have similar two-way playing styles and are very comparable in terms of gameplay. Josi has a slightly higher career point per game percentage at .61 compared to Pietrangelo’s .57. The two players are so close you can bet both will be signing for around or slightly above Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25 AAV.

Cap Issues?

The issue the Predators may face is coming up with the cap space to make such a large contract offer to Josi. While the club will certainly not want to lose their captain, the team only has 13 players under contract for next season with about $22.5 million to spend. This is of course if the cap does not increase. The Predators will have to look for ways to clear up some cap space so they can lock up their captain and take care of other expiring contracts such as Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund. They also have Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros and Dante Fabbro expiring the following year.

Winnipeg Jets

Rumour: Murat Ates of The Athletic looks at potential options to help fix the Winnipeg Jets defence. Ates suggests the Rasmus Ristolainen and Julius Honka as two potential targets.

Analysis: The Jets defence has become one of the biggest stories to start the 2019-20 season. Last season the Jets had one of the best defence groups in the entire NHL. Fast forward one year and it is now one of the most unrecognizable groups in the league.

As it stands, the Jets have lost four of their top five defencemen from last season. Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers. Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot walked in free agency and signed with the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens respectively. Now Dustin Byfuglien is currently weighing his options on his future and considering retirement at 34-years-old. This has left the Jets defence in shambles.

The Players

Could Ristolainen or Honka be a realistic option for the Jets? They certainly could. However, looking at the numbers, Honka would make the most sense. The Jets currently have cap relief from Byfuglien as he is suspended for not reporting to camp. This takes his $7.6 million cap hit off the books. If Byfuglien decides to return, the Jets would be over the cap and have to make some roster moves to fit him in. If the Jets were to acquire Ristolainen, this would be much harder to do as he has a cap hit of $5.4 million for the next three seasons. Honka is currently a restricted free agent and if he were to sign it would certainly come in at a cap hit under $2 million per season. Leaving a little more wiggle room for the Jets if, in fact, Byfuglien does return.

Olympics

Rumour: Sportsnet Chris Johnston was speaking about the Olympics on Sportsnet 960. He said the Olympics are a sticking point for the new CBA extension. The two sides have made progress on things such as escrow and cap increases with the new television deal. However, the league does not want to send it’s players to the Olympics. 

Analysis: While this is upsetting as a fan of the game, it makes total sense from a league standpoint. The IOC is not willing to pay for any of the costs to have the NHL players play in the Olympics and the league does not see any benefit in having their players participate.

In order for the NHL to allow their players to play, they would have a work stoppage, prolonging their season by a few weeks. They also risk losing some of their star players to injury like they did with John Tavares in the last Olympics that the NHL players took part in.

Having a star player like Tavares get injured for the rest of the season not only hurts his team that he is under contract with but it also hurt the league’s revenue. Some fans won’t want to come to the games if the team is without its star players. Not to mention if a player such as a Carey Price, Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby were to get injured, it could greatly affect the team’s ability to make the playoffs. Therefore forcing that team and the league to lose a lot of money.

While hockey fans love to watch their favourite players play for their native countries and the players love to represent, it’s just not a great business decision for the NHL to let them play as it stands.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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