NHL Rumors: Canucks, Rangers, Canadiens, Neutral Site Games, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news that a Vancouver Canucks forward is heading overseas to the KHL, Artemi Panarin tries to clarify comments he made about skipping next season, the Canadiens are looking at suitable backup goaltender options, and there is talk about the NHL moving to neutral site games in an attempt to finish out the NHL season.

Goldobin to Sign in KHL

It appears as though Nikolay Goldobin is heading overseas. Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko reports that Goldobin is expected to sign a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow of the KHL and TSN 1040’s Rick Dhaliwal added a quick statement from Goldobin essentially confirming the report.

Nikolay Goldobin Vancouver Canucks
Nikolay Goldobin, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Dhaliwal writes that when asked about signing in Russia, Goldobin responded with, “The Canucks did not want to sign me, I was disappointed how it turned out in VAN but I am happy to sign in KHL and will try NHL again in 2 years.”

After being waived by the Canucks, Goldobin spent the entire year with AHL Utica Comets and played well, recording 50 points in 51 games.

Related: 6 NHL Teams You Might Have Forgotten

Panarin Says He Was “Just Kidding”

The other day, we reported a story that New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin said he might simply “skip the season” if the NHL asked players to take salary cuts. Now, he says he was only kidding.

The report came from Russian sports outlet Sports.ru, who had picked up an Instagram conversation between Panarin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov. Apparently, the conversation was not meant to be taken seriously and that Panarin was laughing while he made the remarks, which gets lost in translation. The report noted that Panarin said: “Ahh. I think we will have less. If 40 to 60 percent, then why am I doing this at all? Then I will probably skip the next year.”

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Knowing that he’d gotten people talking and that there might be some concern, especially for the New York Rangers who committed a lot of money to Panarin, he came out Saturday and told the New York Post in an interview: “Of course I was kidding,” Panarin said in a text to a Rangers executive  “I was laughing.”

It stands to reason that Panarin wouldn’t want to forgo the huge bonuses he has worked into his contract, not to mention he’s already got one of the more lucrative contracts in the NHL.

Related: Pavel Bure – A Tribute to the Russian Rocket

Canadiens Looking at Jaroslav Halak?

NBC Sports writer James O’Brien recently noted that the Montreal Canadiens might be looking for backup goaltender behind star goalie Carey Price. While more money invested in their goaltending isn’t ideal, Price has looked inconsistent at times.

Jaroslav Halak Boston Bruins
Jaroslav Halak, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

O’Brien highlighted a few names, but one that is quite interesting is Montreal Canadiens fan favorite in Jaroslav Halak. There are also big questions in Boston when it comes to netminding as Halak is part of a duo of goaltenders in Boston who have recently made the news because there future there seems uncertain. Halak is a free agent at the end of this season.

Non-NHL Cities Pitching the NHL

There are many scenarios being tossed around, in the event that the NHL can get back up and running again. One of the ideas on the table is the league playing games in empty arenas at neutral site locations. Grand Forks, North Dakota started the conversation and now more cities are being discussed.

The common thread among the locations is that the Coronavirus has not hit these locations hard. North Dakota, Manchester, New Hampshire are among them but Deputy Commisioner Bill Daly tells ESPN that cities from around North America have contacted the NHL and started to pitch themselves as a potential host. Daly explains:

We do have people putting together the comprehensive laundry list of what we would need from facilities and evaluating some facilities on some level. But I can’t tell you we’ve even finished creating a list [of potential sites], much less narrowed it down.

Daly specifically names Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in addition to Grand Forks and Manchester as some of the early candidates.

Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors