NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Flames, Maple Leafs, Plus Players Backing Out?

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news that a number of players are concerned about the NHL return-to-play plan and may choose not to participate if hockey comes back. In fact, some are calling the whole idea of keeping players safe “a joke”.

A few restricted free agents are starting to feel the stresses of the current NHL financial climate, including Chicago’s Drake Caggiula, and the Calgary Flames have a player in Derek Ryan who wants to return to the team when his contract runs out.

Will Players Back Out of NHL Return?

According to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, there is some thought that a number of players will choose not to participate in the NHL playoffs if the league does officially return. He wrote in a series of tweets that during his discussions with players, many are concerned for their safety.

Some are frustrated with the NHLPA for not being told everything they need to know. Other players are said to be willing to play even if they don’t feel like they want to because the NHL is made up of some of the toughest athletes in the world and the money is too good.

Speculation is that a lot of what certain players will do hinges on the announcements of the hub cities. If the NHL makes a choice that is deemed wildy unsafe, players may opt-out of playing. For example, if the NHL chooses Vegas, where cases of COVID-19 have spiked, that could be enough to pull away.

Engels writes:

One player said a majority of the players do not want to return to play this summer. Estimated 75%. Though they’re concerned with financial pitfalls of that decision, they’re more concerned about risking contracting the virus/serious injury before cramming in the 2021 season.

Another player said that calls with the NHLPA have been “a joke” and that they have only revolved around the financial situation.

Related: Top 10 NHL Lines

Andersen Wants to Play

One player who hopes the CBA and health concerns work themselves out is Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. He wants to play. According to a tweet by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

Frederik Andersen is waiting to hear what ongoing NHL/NHLPA talks produce in terms of a CBA extension, plus health and safety protocols around hub cities. But he’s hopeful: “I want to play. I don’t want to just sit and waste the summer and the season. Hopefully we’ll see soon.”

Andersen said he and Auston Matthews got to skate a little during this pause while in Arizona.

Drake Caggiula Feeling the Pinch in Chicago

Mark Lazerus of The Athletic writes that, after getting engaged and finding out he’s having a baby, Chicago Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula is feeling a bit unsure about his place with the Blackhawks organization. A pending restricted free agent, he was confident he would be re-signed before the pandemic, now with a changing salary cap, he’s not so sure.

Chicago Blackhawks Drake Caggiula
Chicago Blackhawks center Drake Caggiula (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

His baby is due in November, the same month that free agency may open up and he explained:

“It’s really stressful,” he said. “It’s hard enough when we’re sitting by our phones just waiting for the call to say, ‘Hey, we need you to come back now.’ That part’s already stressful. Then you add in next year, when you’re a restricted free agent, and you don’t know what the salary cap is, so there’s a good chance that one, two, three or four guys could get moved. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now to begin with, then you add in free agency and it’s very, very difficult.”

source – ‘Blackhawks’ Drake Caggiula juggles playoff excitement, free-agent uncertainty’ Mark Lazerus – The Athletic – 06/26/2020

GM Stan Bowman has said it’s too early to make a decision on the contracts for most of his players and needs to wait to see what the salary for next season is.

Related: Best Blackhawks’ Draft Picks: 2010 to Present

Derek Ryan Wants to Stay in Calgary

According to Mike Gould who noted he spoke with Calgary Flames forward Derek Ryan via text,  Ryan said: “Calgary is “a great place for [his] kids” and he’s “really enjoyed playing for the Flames.” Added that he’d have “great” interest in potentially re-signing.”

Ryan has one more season left on his current contract that pays $3.125 million per season.

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