NHL Rumors: Sabres, Flames, Penguins, Ducks, Islanders

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, why did the Buffalo Sabres choose to give Tage Thompson an extension now? The team made a huge commitment coming off a breakout season but before they needed to. Meanwhile, a good seven or eight teams are in the mix for Evan Rodrigues with the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins among them.

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Where will Sonny Milano wind up and would the New York Islanders welcome back Zdeno Chara if he wanted to keep playing?

Why the Thompson Extension Now?

Jonathan Willis of The Athletic writes of the recent Tage Thompson extension, “I can’t figure out why Buffalo did this right now. When a guy’s coming off an unprecedented SH% year and is still a season away from RFA status, there’s no rush.” The Sabres gave Thompson a seven-year deal worth $50 million on Tuesday.

Tage Thompson Buffalo Sabres
Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Some are arguing that you don’t want to bridge someone for a season if you think his production wasn’t a fluke, but while Willis agrees it’s best to not walk someone into their UFA status, “you also don’t back up the Brinks truck a year before you have to if there’s a good chance his numbers are going to be lower a season from now.” The odds are better that he doesn’t score like he did this past season and that the Sabres still could have gotten a similar deal (or better) a year from now.

Flames and Penguins in Mix for Rodrigues

As per Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, “His agent, Darren Ferris, told ESPN that there are “a good seven or eight teams” he’s having discussions with about Rodrigues and hopes to have something done soon. Among the two teams rumors to be showing interest are the Flames and Penguins.

Wyshysnki quotes agent Darren Ferris who adds, “There are two or three teams that we feel he’s a good fit with, but there are cap restraints. There are guys trying to move [money] to make room for it.”

Where Will Keith Yandle Wind Up?

Wyshynski quotes another source, Jerry Buckley, who is the agent for defenseman Keith Yandle and who says a decision hasn’t been made on Yandle’s playing future. The player is trying to stay in shape in the event an opportunity becomes available but Buckley said that he “highly doubted” Yandle would take a professional tryout contract (PTO) to attend a training camp.

Related: NHL Rumors: Golden Knights, Panthers, Oilers, Maple Leafs

At the same time, if Yandle doesn’t have a contract to open the season, he’s not ruling out possibly returning. He’s looking for the right fit and if it takes time, it takes time.

Multiple Teams Looking at Milano

It’s not likely he returns, but the Ducks are one of the teams still looking at Sonny Milano this summer. While the team chose not to qualify him and he became an unrestricted free agent, they aren’t opposed to bringing him back on a deal they feel is more amenable. At the same time, there are multiple teams looking at him.

Sonny Milano Anaheim Ducks
Sonny Milano, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Milano’s issue is that he’s stuck in the free agency logjam where teams need to clear money first and he’s waiting to see if an organization does. Until that is determined, it’s unlikely he considers returning to Anaheim. “There are a lot of teams interested. It’s just that no one’s pulled the trigger yet,” one NHL source said.

Chara Not Being Considered by the Islanders

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said last week that there have been no discussions with Zdeno Chara about a return to the team for this coming season. If he’s going to keep playing in the NHL, it will have to be somewhere else.

Chara, 45, is as likely to consider retirement as anything. The hockey world is sort of just waiting to see if he makes some kind of announcement on social media.