NHL Rumors: Penguins, Coyotes, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Hurricanes

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there are updates out of Pittsburgh when it comes to the Penguins’ plans for the NHL Trade Deadline. There’s also talk about defenseman Kris Letang. Are the two sides close on a deal? Meanwhile, there’s talk about what goaltenders the Toronto Maple Leafs might target as they search the league for a solution to their netminding issues. The New York Rangers might be moving on from J.T. Miller and there are reports the Carolina Hurricanes have signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a long-term extension.

Penguins Not Close With Letang, Deadline Plans

In a quote shared by the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, GM Ron Hextall said of his plans heading into the NHL Trade Deadline:

“I feel pretty good about the depth of our team. Would we like to add a little bit up front? Yeah, that would be a fair statement… I feel good, I don’t feel like I have to do anything, but if we can get better I am going to try.”

Following up on those comments, TSN’s LeBrun notes, “And more specifically, my sense is Hextall would like to add a top-six scoring winger with term, not a rental. Would prefer the hockey deal route if at all possible.”

Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When it comes to defenseman Kris Letang, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff says it doesn’t seem like the Penguins and pending UFA defenseman are close on an extension. He notes that sources have Letang seeking a five-year contract starting at least with $7 million. The Penguins don’t want to go five years because Letang would be 40 when that deal expires. He notes that the good news is the talks between the two sides remain cordial and continue.

Maple Leafs and Goalie Options

James Mirtle of The Athletic writes that Toronto might want to consider buying out Petr Mrazek and Mirtle wrote on Twitter, “Looked up the Mrazek buyout for the first time. It’s not that bad. But for now, the Leafs need another goalie. Here are some options…” He followed up with an article that suggested Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, James Reimer Anton Forsberg, Jaroslav Halak, and Karel Vejmelka could be options.

Karel Vejmelka Arizona Coyotes
Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chris Johnston of TSN noted that the Coyotes might feel the need to put Vejmelka on the trade block before the deadline if they are unable to sign him to a contract extension. He’s earning less than $900K and is a year away from UFA eligibility. The Coyotes really like him, but they’re not sure if he’ll re-sign. Mirtle writes:

Though not all that battle-tested at the NHL level, Vejmelka would give the Leafs an option if Campbell remains out for a while and Mrazek continues to struggle.

source – ‘With Petr Mrazek imploding, what options do the Maple Leafs have to add a goalie before the deadline?’ – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 03/10/2022

Are the Rangers Shifting Focus?

Arthur Staple of The Athletic suggests the New York Rangers shift their focus away from J.T. Miller — who it is believed the Vancouver Canucks are no longer likely to move — for a top-six right-winger on the Anaheim Ducks. The focus should be Rickard Rakell and there’s some chatter that if general manager Chris Drury wants to use defenseman Nils Lundkvist as trade bait, blueliner Hampus Lindholm could somehow be worked into the deal.

Hampus Lindholm Anaheim Ducks
Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Staple writes:

The buyers are trying to wait out the sellers. The Rangers are a buyer. They have enough assets that they don’t need to wait. Maybe it’s time for Chris Drury to take the plunge and get ahead of the slow, creeping market to get the player or players he wants.

source – Ten thoughts on another Rangers clunker: Is ‘too soft’ becoming a theme, and is it time to make a deal?’ – Arthur Staple – The Athletic – 03/11/2022

Because it’s looking more and more like the trade deadline could be rather quiet, an aggressive strategy by the Rangers could help them acquire some assets from teams looking to sell and unsure of how strong the market will be.

Kotkaniemi Inked to Long-Term Deal?

Reports surfaced Friday evening that forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi has reportedly been extended by the Hurricanes to an eight-year extension at a value of around $4.4 million per season. It’s an interesting deal coming off of an offer-sheet signing and it certainly shows the Hurricanes’ commitment to the player and his development. Andy Strickland is reporting that the terms of a deal are in place.

Kotakniemi signed an offer sheet deal and left the Montreal Canadiens this past offseason. He is a defense-first center who has played limited minutes and not earned the $6.1-million qualifying offer he would have been due this summer as per his one-year offer sheet. Frank Seravalli writes in a recent Daily Faceoff article: “but both sides recognize he hasn’t played to that level.” He adds that the offer sheet “was simply a mechanism to acquire the player.”

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