NHL Rumors: Oilers, Panthers, Maple Leafs, Penguins, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there’s an update on the status of contract negotiations with Edmonton Oilers’ forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers may have a difficult decision to make with goaltender Chris Driedger before the NHL Trade Deadline. The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking for a center and some team toughness and there’s more news on the goaltending concerns out of Toronto as the Maple Leafs decide to either sink or swim with what they have available to them.

Nugent-Hopkins Declines Five-Year Offer

According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the latest talk out of Edmonton is that the Oilers have tabled an offer to Nugent-Hopkins, but it wasn’t to his liking. Apparently, he wasn’t flattered by the rumored five-year offer and, “At this point, these two sides are going to continue talking,” said the NHL insider.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Seravalli adds:

They’re going to continue the dialogue and see if they can work something out and I have zero sense at this point that the Oilers have any interest in moving Nugent-Hopkins before the trade deadline even without a deal done. They’d like to keep him and try and find a way to win as well as keep him locked up long term. We’ll see if they can do that.

Author’s Note: There’s essentially no chance the Oilers move Nugent-Hopkins this season, regardless of the status of any contract extension. He’s too valuable for their playoff run.

Panthers Getting Calls on Chris Driedger

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Florida Panthers have signed goaltender prospect Spencer Knight to a contract, which has opened the flood gates for calls from other teams to the Panthers about netminder Chris Driedger. Apparently, teams have been reaching out to Florida GM Bill Zito to inquire about Driedger’s availability and some teams made trade offers on the spot.

As it stands, Zito has relayed that he has not made a decision on Driedger just yet. The GM wants time to determine if the team will keep him for their playoff run or perhaps trade him for the best possible return prior to the deadline. Because the 26-year-old netminder has broken out this season and is a pending UFA, there’s a real chance the Panthers could lose him for nothing in the offseason if he feels he’s the third goalie in the system.

Related: Senators News & Rumours: Wolanin Traded, UND Prospects Sign & More

Penguins Looking to Add a Center

NHL.com has covered news that Brian Burke has relayed through the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his club is in the market for a center. Thanks to both Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger being sidelined, the team is short up the middle. Malkin has missed the past seven games and Blueger the past eight games.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Burke did say that Jared McCann and Frederick Gaudreau have filled in well and noted, “I’m not sure it was as dire a need as it was. But when two of your top four centers go down, you start looking around.”

Apparently, the team is also on the lookout for some team toughness. Pittsburgh isn’t willing to trade their second-round pick in this year’s draft but they have depth on their blue line that they might be willing to move if the right deal presents itself.

Leafs Not Making Calls About Goaltending… or Are They?

We wrote in yesterday’s rumors report that TSN’s Darren Dreger said there were internal discussions likely happening in Toronto thanks to the injury situation in goal for the Maple Leafs. After Dreger pointed out the the team isn’t necessarily worried that these injuries are long-term or serious, LeBrun added that he doesn’t believe the Leafs are even calling around for a netminder.

This comes in direct conflict of a report by Elliotte Friedman who said during a hit on WGR 550 The Instigators that the Leafs have inquired about the status of Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark. Perhaps those conversations did take place and didn’t go anywhere based on the asking price. Friedman noted he didn’t believe the Sabres would be asking for a first-rounder but said, “Kevyn Adams can always say, ‘You are desperate, and let’s see what I can heist out of you.’ That is his responsibility and he should do that.”

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