Welcome back to another day of NHL Rumours. Each day, Last Word On Hockey breaks down all of the latest NHL Rumours from around the league. From signings to trades and everything in-between. Today, we look at NHL Rumours from the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis took a look at what the Edmonton Oilers should do with Ethan Bear and his next contract. Whether they should go short or long-term. Willis says, “A decent guess would be that if Bear’s play holds up he’ll be able to clear Pesce this summer while coming in shy of a Theodore or Parayko. A six-year contract at a $5-million AAV is a reasonable guess”.
Analysis: Bear has started off the season amazingly, and the Oilers are very glad that’s the case. They have dealt with injury problems on the blueline but youngsters have stepped in flawlessly. The Oilers have a very promising blueline ahead of them. Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, and Evan Bouchard. It is a bright future for the backend in Edmonton. However, with all those names it does make you wonder if they may try to make a move. Will one of the mentioned Nurse or Klefbom be dealt down the road? Or what about Adam Larsson or Kris Russell who both have one more year left on their deal?
Regardless, it seems safe to say that the Oilers will be happy with Bear there for a while. It may be smart for Edmonton to take a risk and lock him down. Yes, it can always end up backfiring. However, the potential payoff for a team that will always be looking for a bit of cap room could be huge. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are worth every penny and more but their cap hits are still very large. Finding great deals elsewhere is an amazing way to counteract that. They did the same thing with Klefbom, locking him down at an affordable price for seven years. This has paid off in spades. If the Oilers truly feel they have something the same in Bear, it may be a good idea to go down that path.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir wrote about takeaways from the Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan. One interesting piece to note was that he has by no means closed the door on re-signing both Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby.
Analysis: It would be no surprise to anyone if the Caps brought back Backstrom. Still a very useful top-six centreman, Backstrom is one of the best playmakers in the game. However, given the Capitals lack of cap space moving forward, it seems tight to sign Braden Holtby. The Capitals also have long-time standout Ilya Samsonov as their backup and it has seemed like the plan for years is to go to him when Holtby is up. Samsonov may have to prove himself more, however, the Caps may just not have another option.
Looking to this offseason, Washington has Holtby, Backstrom, and Radko Gudas as Unrestricted Free Agents. While Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd, Brendan Leipsic, Christian Djoos, and Jonas Siegenthaler are Restricted Free Agents. A few of those names may just walk, however, someone needs to play. The two defensemen will likely be extended, although it may not be expensive. However, if Holtby wants a raise, which it would be more than fair to ask for one, he may not be getting it here. The team also has to look to the future. Alex Ovechkin is up next season and they will stop at no costs to re-sign him. Jakub Vrana will also be up next year and he will be asking for a big raise too.
All in all, the Caps will be tightly pressed to get Holtby signed. It will be interesting to see how MacLellan goes about handling it.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumour: We have an all Athletic NHL Rumours here today, partly because of American Thanksgiving which meant a lack of activity. However, Joe Smith of The Athletic notes that he believes the Tampa Bay Lightning will stay relatively put this season trade-wise. Many fans were asking about a potential shakeup but he doesn’t see that happening.
Analysis: Smith mentions a reason for this is the Bolts have a bunch of no-trade clauses that may be hard to move. Without being able to move them, it seems unlikely the Lightning will be able to make too much of a splash this year. Combine that with the fact that they need to restock their pipeline going forward so they may not have many assets to move. In past seasons they have had players like Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, and Mathieu Joseph come up and fill the void for other players they needed to move. They have also dealt away prospects in deals like the Ryan McDonagh trade. So, they may need to just sit tight this season.
On top of that, there will more than likely be a bunch of roster turnover next season. Cirelli, Joseph, Erik Cernak, and Mikhail Sergachev are all due for new contracts. Lots of these won’t be a piece of cake to fit under the cap. It seems very likely they will need to move at least one of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, or Alex Killorn, possibly a couple of those players. With that in mind, it can be easy to see why Tampa may be hesitant to do anything major.
So far this season, Tampa has started off slower than they wanted to. However, things have improved lately. They currently sit fifth in The Atlantic division but they have at least three games in hand on all the teams and they are only three or fewer points behind three of the teams. In other words, if they get hot here they will be right back in the division race. They are 6-3-0 in their last nine games played. If they start banking some points they will climb back into the race. However, the Lightning obviously shouldn’t commit to all in right now until they know if this team will hit its true potential.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in each day for more!