NHL Rumors: Oilers, Devils, Bruins, Panthers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Edmonton Oilers will be quiet until Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod are signed, but will a series of moves follow? Meanwhile, are the New Jersey Devils looking at signing Dawson Mercer early? The Boston Bruins have settled and terminated the contract for Mitchell Miller, and could the Florida Panthers be interested in Vladimir Tarasenko?

Expect Oilers to be Busy Following Bouchard, McLeod Deals

Edmonton Oilers will wait to engage in the free agent market until they finalize deals for Bouchard and McLeod, according to Allan Mitchell of the Athletic. Afterward, GM Ken Holland is expected to take swift action. Bouchard’s contract is estimated at around $4 million, with McLeod’s likely around $2 million, resulting in a $6 million cap hit. The Oilers may run a 21-man roster or find ways to free up cap space.

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Ryan McLeod, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Limited finances make value contracts a priority for Holland, with players like Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Toews, and Paul Stastny being potential targets. Holland’s actions will make headlines, given Edmonton’s proactive exploration of free-agent options. Mitchell writes:

The value deals are no-brainers. Edmonton’s management will have reached out to several free agents to get a better idea about options and possible late-summer moves…. Nothing happens until McLeod and Bouchard are signed. After that, you could see a flurry of activity in Edmonton.

source – ‘Lowetide: Oilers’ late-summer options intriguing with cap crunch and lingering UFAs’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 07/23/2023

Are the Devils Trying to Lock Up Dawson Mercer?

The New Jersey Devils can now extend Dawson Mercer after July 1st. According to James Nichols of New Jersey Hockey Now, general manager Tom Fitzgerald aims to secure Mercer’s long-term deal promptly, although talks have not begun.

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Reports suggest both parties are eager to reach a favorable agreement and comparables are being made contract-wise to Matt Boldy (7 years at $7 million) and Cole Caufield (8 years at $8.75 million). Locking in Mercer now aligns with Fitzgerald’s desired salary structure and is expected to be a steal as the salary cap rises.

Bruins Officially Part Ways With Mitchell Miller

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that the Boston Bruins officially parted ways with disgraced prospect Mitchell Miller in a finalized settlement back in February. The Bruins confirmed the termination of Miller’s contract, effectively ending their association with him. As Brooks writes, “Miller, whose rights had previously been renounced by Arizona three weeks after selecting the defenseman in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, was sent home not to play by Boston after originally being assigned to AHL Providence.”

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Despite the immediate contract termination, the team did not follow the procedure of placing him on unconditional waivers, which the CBA requires for mutual termination. As a result, the NHLPA filed a grievance regarding the matter. However, instead of going through a formal hearing, the parties involved reached a settlement. Under this agreement, Boston was released from its obligations, and Miller received an undisclosed sum while also obtaining free agency status.

Panthers Might Consider Tarasenko on a $4MM Short-Term Contract

George Richards from Florida Hockey Now speculates that the Florida Panthers might not be finished with their roster changes despite already having a busy free agency period. While not suggesting there’s anything official going on between the two sides, he wonders if the Panthers might eye Vladimir Tarasenko, assuming he’d be open to signing a short-term contract of around $4 million.

Tarasenko’s offseason has been disappointing, as he was unable to secure a long-term deal when free agency began on July 1 and subsequently changed his representation within a week. The Panthers might be able to fit him in with nearly $10 million in long-term injured reserve (LTIR) relief from players like Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour.