The NHL season is now underway and there have been plenty of surprises thus far. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the early-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we’ll cover rumours surrounding the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, and the upcoming NHL team in Seattle.
New York Rangers
Analysis: The Rangers dealt Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators, reeling in a fourth-round pick and promising defenceman Nick Ebert in return. This move, above all else, was a simple money-saving trade. While Namestnikov’s $3.25 million contract ends after this season, the signing bonuses his deal contains would have added to the Rangers salary cap for the 2020-21 season. Brooks elaborates on this point, noting that the added money would serve as a dead weight and limit the Rangers options over the course of next summer.
All Rangers fans know how important next summer is, so maximizing their spending-ability is a priority. Star winger Chris Kreider is set to become a free agent. He is likely to demand a fair raise from his current $4.625 million cap hit. Other notable names hitting the open market include Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux, and Anthony DeAngelo. Alexandar Georgiev will also become a restricted free agent. With his spark in the Rangers backup role and expected jump to the starting role soon, Georgiev will surely also demand an admirable contract. Assuring that the team has plenty of money available will be pivotal in handling what is sure to be a stressful summer.
Rumour: Julius Honka recently signed a contract with JYP of the SM-Liiga, Finland’s top league. To return to the NHL, he will need to either sign with Dallas or pass through waivers. This creates a unique situation for the unsigned defenceman.
As soon as Honka plays one game in Finland, he requires waivers if he signs with any team other than Dallas. Sign and trade is the goal for Honka at this point. https://t.co/jDEDPQyf11
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 10, 2019
Analysis: Honka has fought tooth-and-nail with the Stars this summer. After three seasons of less-than-ideal ice time in Dallas, Honka had reportedly requested a trade. He clearly wants a fresh start and a better chance to prove his NHL-worthiness but nothing has come of the continued trade rumours surrounding him.
With the signing in Finland, Honka now changes the scenery of negotiations a bit. While the move to Finland ultimately doesn’t change much, it does close the door to potential negotiations between Honka and other teams in the league. It’ll be much harder for a team to take a chance on Honka now, as any potential signing will likely be met with Honka being claimed on waivers. An offer sheet is off the table now, ultimately, but the Stars still hold the option to trade Honka. If his rights are dealt the same rules will apply to the new team.
Ultimately, this deal doesn’t do much more than give Honka a reason to take the ice. He didn’t appear at the Dallas training camp and was clearly looking to make an on-ice appearance. He’s doing so with JYP now, an organization that he spent time with prior to being drafted in 2014. If Honka can play well in Finland, he could very much improve his trade value, adding to the benefits of the signing.
Rumour: In their most recent Insider Trading, the TSN crew discussed when the new Seattle franchise is likely to name their first head coach.
Analysis: Pierre LeBrun said that Seattle will likely name their first head coach between January and June of 2021. This would be four-to-nine months before the puck drops for their first NHL season. Of course, when they’ll officially announce their coach is subject to the candidates available at the time. While there may be some wishful thinking, Seattle general manager Ron Francis surely has no clue who is likely to serve as Seattle’s first head coach.
The Vegas Golden Knights announced their first head coach six months prior to puck drop, signing Gerald Gallant. This could be a good template for Seattle. Although Seattle announced their first general manager a full year before Vegas announced theirs, relative to each team’s first game. So, while there’s likely a good amount of time before Seattle’s coach is named, it could be much sooner than some think. If there’s one thing that Seattle has made clear thus far, it’s that they’re clearly excited for opening night. This excitement led them to announce a general manager fairly early and could lead to an early head-coaching announcement.