In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Mathew Barzal talked about sticking with the New York Islanders despite their struggles this season, and Carey Price talked about his future in the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leafs got the Tampa Bay Lightning as their first-round playoff opponent. Will Michael Bunting be back in time to help? The Ottawa Senators will need to make a decision on Matt Murray and it sounds like the NHLPA has made a decision about Donald Fehr.
Barzal and Varlamov Want to Stay With Islanders
When asked about his future with the organization, Barzal responded, “This is home, this is where I want to be, where I want to win. I love my life here, the city, the fans, our new rink is amazing. Love wearing blue & orange. Would love to sign long-term here.” He added that he thinks it is cool when a player plays his whole career with one team, leading to buzz he’ll sign an extension in the coming months.
Barzal has one more season on his current deal after this one.
Kevin Kurz also tweeted Semyon Varlamov says he was relieved to stay with the Islanders after the trade deadline and wants to return next season. Of course, he has somewhat of a say in that with a partial no-trade clause.
Maple Leafs Should Get Bunting Back In Time For First Round
Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe updated the media on the status of both Ondrej Kase and Michael Bunting before Friday’s game against the Boston Bruins. Bunting participated in the optional skate and Kase is “close” to a return.
The Maple Leafs got the Tampa Bay Lightning as their first-round opponent and they’ll need Bunting’s 23 goals and 63 points in the lineup. Kase has been a big depth piece for the Leafs too, with 14 goals and 27 points in 50 games.
Price Hints at Retirement
It doesn’t sound like goaltender Carey Price is terribly confident that he’ll be making a return to the NHL if his injury situation stays as it is. Arpon Basu of The Athletic quotes Price who said, “My honest opinion is no. I don’t believe the current state would be sustainable for a full season.” This response came after he was asked if he’d be healthy enough to play a full season on his injured knee.
Price admitted that he has had thoughts that his most recent game might have been his last but said, “I’ve always been a fighter…so I’m not giving up.” He’s not sure about his knee and will be seeking another opinion on it.
If it looks like Price won’t be returning, there will certainly be questions about what comes next for the Canadiens. Price could become eligible to go back on LTIR and the franchise could try to sign or trade for another goalie, but it’s likely Price would need to be ruled out for the entire season before the start of free agency if the Canadiens are going to spend big.
St. Louis Likely to Stay On as Coach
Most insiders have Martin St. Louis coming back next season for the Canadiens as head coach and his recent comments that he’d like to return have essentially confirmed the speculation. Basu quotes St. Louis who said, he is “very comfortable” with his coaching staff and intends to continue with them. The question now will be how long a deal does he sign?
The Canadiens are keen to keep him around long-term but others aren’t sure St. Louis wants to lock in. He could sign year-to-year contracts, even though it sounds like the Canadiens are prepared to offer him a five-year deal.
Senators Likely Won’t Buy Out Matt Murray
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, expect the Senators to make a decision on Matt Murray’s future this offseason. There are a lot of questions about his health and he has two more seasons remaining on his current contract. Garrioch writes:
It’s doubtful the club will buy Murray out and it would be nearly impossible to trade him so if he’s back then he has to battle his way into the net. In the past, he’s come into camp regarded as the No. 1 and that won’t be the case.source – ‘GARRIOCH: As the Senators close the book on their season, it’s time to look ahead’ – Bruce Garrioch – Ottawa Sun – 04/29/2022
The reason the Senators likely won’t buy him out is that they aren’t a cap team with aspirations of winning the Stanely Cup this coming season. There’s no reason to put the team in a financial hole if there’s not a competitive reason to do so. Anton Forsberg is now the starter and Murray will have to earn the crease back if he wants to be the starter in Ottawa.
NHL Players Association Looking For Fehr Replacement
As per a statement by the NHL Players’ Association their Executive Board has voted to form a search committee to begin the process of finding a new executive director for their union. In other words, Donald Fehr is out. The statement reads: “The National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that the Executive Board has voted in favor of forming a Search Committee to lead the NHLPA’s search for a successor to the Executive Director, Don Fehr.”
The Search Committee thanked Fehr for all he’d done for them, listing his many accomplishments. The plan seems to be for Fehr to help the group find his replacement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Don as we go through the succession process,” they write.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”