NHL Rumors: Kucherov, Bjugstad, Lamoriello, More

In today’s rumor rundown Nikita Kucherov extends in Tampa and that may have some connection to the rumors of Erik Karlsson being moved to the Lightning. There are rumors about Nick Bjugstad being traded out of Florida and his agent weighs in, Lou Lamoriello is hot about the NHL free agent interview process and there’s more on the delay that is Patrick Maroon signing in St. Louis.

What Does Kucherov Extension Mean for Erik Karlsson?

In the midst of trade rumors that the saw the Tampa Bay Lightning as frontrunners to land Erik Karlsson in trade, the Lightning dropped a news bomb on the rest of the NHL when they announced the extension of forward Nikita Kucherov, keeping him part of the team for another nine seasons. Some have wondered what this means in terms of Tampa’s interest in Karlsson but speculation is the Kucherov extension only provides more stability for Tampa to make a pitch and work out the salary cap implications of adding Karlsson to the roster.

Chris Johnston of Sportsnet explains that this extension does not take Tampa out of the mix, in fact, it does the opposite.

How GM Steve Yzerman juggles the salary cap for next season should he land Karlsson is still something NHL insiders will try to calculate as the rumors continue.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maroon, Panarin, Brassard, More

Nick Bjugstad on the Move?

Chris Nichols of Nichols on Hockey reports there have been some trade rumors involving Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad’s agent Ben Hankinson was on KFAN radio and when asked about the speculation, said:

“I’m pretty close with their GM, Dale Tallon, who’s a big Nick Bjugstad fan. Even the last couple of years hasn’t been, numbers-wise, as productive for him so there was a lot of talk. A couple of years ago too. And it’s the same teams – Montreal, Pittsburgh was looking, the Wild have always been in the mix. So every time I go to Dale, he says, ‘Not a chance, Hank. There’s not a chance we’re trading him. I love him.’”

Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers
Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers Oct. 17, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But, Florida is a team known to make swift and sudden changes and Hankinson believes that if the right deal were offered, Tallon would not only consider a move but that Bjugstad might be traded. He specifically mentioned Minnesota as a destination. “You know what? It could be the Wild. They have some guys that he’d probably like to tinker with, I’m sure,” he said.

Typically, if an agent comes out and makes these sorts of comments about his client, it might be expected that he’s trying to subtly suggest the player would like a change of scenery without asking for a trade. There is no indication or information that this is what is happening here but it does feel like odd timing for comments of this nature.

Related: NHL Rumors: Maroon, Karlsson, Seguin, More

Lou Lamoriello Unhappy With NHL’s Free Agent Interview Process

Andrew Gross of Newsday reports Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was not pleased with the way the interview process went down as it pertained to John Tavares. It appears he believes that process had a hand in the Islanders losing their star center.

The Islanders made a presentation to Tavares and his reps in LA, along with the Maple Leafs, Sharks, Lightning, Stars, and Bruins during the interview process, but Lamoriello said, “I was extremely disappointed with the window of interviews; that was not the intention of how the league and union intended it.” He didn’t clarify on what part of the process had him so upset but it was odd that the Islanders were asked to pitch again to Tavares considering he’d already had a number of chances to chat with him and knew exactly what it was the team was offering. It was as if the Islanders were treated as outsiders in the whole process. Lamoriello added, “I was very disappointed with the way the process was. I’ve never seen it like this one.”

General manager Lou Lamoriello
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 24: General manager Lou Lamoriello of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on during the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Related: NHL Rumors: Karlsson, Duclair, Maroon, More

More on the Patrick Maroon Delay

While it was reported St. Louis was close to bringing back Patrick Maroon and the deal was expected to be a one-year contract worth $1.7 million, there have been some developments as to why the signing seems to be delayed. Agent Ben Hankinson said on Sunday that the Blues are still a “strong option” but there is also interest from other clubs, including the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, and Arizona Coyotes.

Jim Thomas Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported Patrick Maroon recently switched agents from Allain Roy to Hankinson and that this may part of his delaying in signing with a team.

“He could end up signing with St. Louis as early as today or tomorrow, but he’s got some other good options as well,” Hankinson told KFAN radio in Minneapolis on Sunday. “So we’re kind of sorting through the one-, vs. two-, vs. three-year options for him.”