NHL Rumors: Restricted Free Agents, Karlsson, More

In today’s rumor rundown, we look at the biggest name restricted free agents still unsigned, what Karlsson’s one-year deal in Vegas means and how Cam Talbot expects to work with the Oilers signing a backup who the team thinks will play a lot.

Biggest RFA’s to Watch

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox recently took a look at the status of the biggest names when it comes to unsigned restricted free agents heading into this NHL season. There are some pretty big names on the board and some heavy decisions that need to be made by NHL clubs.

William Nylander Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander battles for position with Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

William Nylander

Nylander wants to ink a long-term deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs and hopes a bridge deal is not part of the equation. That said, he’s acknowledged that he’s not worried about the terms of the deal, instead letting his agent and the team do all the negotiating. At this point, Nylander isn’t worried that a deal has not been done and is taking things day-by-day.

Should September come and Nylander has not been signed, that could lead to a possible trade to upgrade the team’s defense. The ideas were already tossed out there that the Leafs might look at that but it doesn’t sound like that was ever seriously considered. That could change if things continue to be delayed.

Dylan Larkin

Larking and the Detroit Red Wings are working on a five- or six-year contract that Larkin thinks should be done soon. The delay is likely the lack of salary cap room the Red Wings have. They are looking at having to create more space than the $2.8 million they have available since Larkin will likely come in between $5.5 million and $6 million per season.

The team will get some relief when Johan Franzen goes on LTIR but that $3.9 million plus the $2.8 million barely leaves the team any breathing room.

Noah Hanifin

Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving doesn’t see there being any complications in getting a deal done with newly acquired defenseman Noah Hanifin. When Calgary bought out the contract of Troy Brouwer, they cleared the needed space to easily fit Hanafin in. His deal should come in at around 6 years and $5-$5.5 million per season.

Noah Hanifin Hurricanes
Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Related: NHL Rumors: Skinner, Panarin, Stone, More

Sam Reinhart

While the Buffalo Sabres organization has been quiet when it comes to Sam Reinhart’s contract situation, the club is working on a deal. GM Jason Botterill simply said there are no updates at this time. It is expected Buffalo might be considering a bridge deal and there is some buzz that he might be up for trade if the right deal is available.

Ondrej Kase

Anaheim Ducks center Ondrej Kase will be getting a healthy raise on his next contract. It is expected his deal will jump from last season’s $670K cap hit to around $3 million per season.

Darnell Nurse

The Edmonton Oilers may have no choice but to offer a bridge deal to Darnell Nurse. While the team would like him long-term, they only have $5 million in salary-cap space, and he would need that or more on a lengthy contract. The team will likley go the route of a $3.5 – $4 million per year deal for two years and then work out the long-term extension after that.

Darnell Nurse Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Josh Morrissey

Fox expect Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey to accept a two-year bridge deal. The two sides will look at a longer-term contract after he has a couple more strong seasons. Because the Jets also have to worry about re-signing Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Kyle Connor next summer, they don’t just have the money to throw around.

Shea Theodore

While the talk of a trade that would send defenseman Shea Theodore and pieces from Vegas to Ottawa for Erik Karlsson is still out there (barely a whisper at this point), the more likely situation is that Theodore gets a long-term contract in Vegas.

Related: NHL Rumors: Schneider, Skinner, More

William Karlsson Plans to Prove Himself

David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes that William Karlsson‘s one-year deal was meant to give the Vegas Golden Knights one more season to see what Karlsson is really about and for Karlsson, one more season to prove he’s worth big bucks moving forward.

William Karlsson - Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 26: William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the game at T-Mobile Arena on March 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Karlsson’s production skyrocketed when he joined the Golden Knights and while that was great news for everyone, there is still some doubt that his 2017-18 numbers are truly what he’ll bring to the team each season. Knights GM George McPhee said:

“It was a good compromise, and as the player is now under contract, this gives us another season to see how he performs and then put a value on him. Whatever a player’s value is in the market, we’ll pay it. That’s the right thing to do. But there are cases like this one where sometimes both sides need a little more time to evaluate what that value is… We wanted to be a little bit careful at this point, and to William’s credit, he believes this is who he is and he can continue to perform this way, and we hope that’s the case. We hope we have a consistent 40-goal scorer on our team.”

McPhee added that both sides are looking forward to Karlsson proving he is what he did last season and getting a long-term deal done. Karlsson said, “In an ideal world I would’ve liked a long term deal, but I like to bet on myself and that’s what this is. Now I can go prove myself.” according to Jesse Granger of the Las Vegas Sun.

Related: NHL Rumors: Faulk, Moore, Hall, More

Talbot Looking Forward to Challenge in Net

The Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski interviewed Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot about the team’s signing of Mikko Koskinen to a one-year, $2.5MM deal. Some saw this is an expensive option by the Oilers when a number of other netminders were available in free agency but speculation is Koskinen will take a bigger role, playing at least 20 or more games.

Cam Talbot Oilers
Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Talbot said welcomes the challenge. “I like the competition,” Talbot said. “I enjoy it. It pushes everyone to be better. Maybe it will take a little bit of the starts away from me and I can be at the top of my game.”

Talbot had his best season when he played a ton of games and there is some debate as to whether he’s better when he plays more or he was tired after a 2016-17 season where he was overplayed and it affected his 2017-18 year.