NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Predators, Jets, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is speculation that the Chicago Blackhawks and Robin Lehner are talking, there’s news surrounding a Winnipeg Jets prospect and his unhappiness with the team and updates on what the Nashville Predators will do after firing their coach and replacing him.

Blackhawks and Lehner to Talk Extension

A report earlier in the week by Chicago Sun Times reporter, Ben Pope suggested that the Chicago Blackhawks would be reaching out Robin Lehner‘s agent soon (if he hasn’t already) to see what they are looking for with regards to money and term on an extension. One year players are now eligible to sign with their respective teams.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, talks might have to be put on hold with more focus going to their other netminder. Lehner is dealing with a right knee issue so Corey Crawford will get more opportunities to showcase his ability and that things in Chicago aren’t as bumpy as they appeared when he pulled himself from a game against the Devils just prior to Christmas.

Both Lehner and Crawford are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season and speculation is Chicago has been leaning towards Lehner to stick with the team moving forward.

Related: The Domino Effect of Joonas Korpisalo’s Injury

Jets Niku Denies Trade Request

Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun reports Jets defenseman Sami Niku downplayed a report out of his native Finland that he’s unhappy with the Jets organization.

Head Coach Paul Maurice and Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy
WINNIPEG, MB – DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Paul Maurice and Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy of the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Friesen writes:

The 23-year-old acknowledged he had a disagreement of some kind with Huddy, at least enough that he felt the need to apologize.

“Just some miscommunication,” Niku said. “Nothing really, and I apologized to him so we don’t think about that.”

Head coach Paul Maurice shed a little more light on the incident, calling it “fairly standard.”

source – ‘FRIESEN: Jets’ Niku stickhandles through speculation’ – Paul Friesen – Winnipeg Sun – 01/06/20

Maurice said he likes the kid and Niku said he doesn’t want to be traded or go to the KHL. Still, reports exist that he’s not happy being in the AHL. “… that is just the wrong league” and “Playing there is starting to be a little too easy…” he said.

Related: Jets Looking Sloppy to Begin Crucial Stretch

What’s Next for Predators

We’d already reported David Poile’s comments about the Predators being “open for business” and his move to replace Peter Laviolette with John Hynes is evidence of his growing impatience. But, what is he thinking of doing between now and the end of the season?

Nashville Predators center Nick Bonino
Nashville Predators center Nick Bonino (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN absolutely expects the Predators to make some trades before the February 24th NHL trade deadline. The team has five draft picks in the first three rounds and could have around $8 million in salary cap space at the deadline. He mentions Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith, Nick Bonino and Kyle Turris as options to be moved.

Bonino carries a $4.1 million cap hit through 2021 but could still draw interest whereas Turris has four years left at $6 million per season and has been a healthy scratch this year. They’ve been trying to move him for while now with no luck.

One interesting thing of note is that Poile has never retained salary in a trade before. Would he start with Turris as his first trade where the Predators pay money to have him play elsewhere?

TSN Extends Deal With World Juniors

TSN, RDS, and Hockey Canada today announced a long-term media rights agreement that extends through the 2033-34 season and will allow them the continued covereage of the IIHF World Juniors tournament.

The partnership dates all the way back to 1991 and will last another five years.

Related: NHL Rumors: Rangers, Penguins, Senators, More