In today’s NHL rumor rundown, are teams interested in Russian forward Nail Yakupov? Also, which teams are looking at CHL free agent Justin Brazeau? Finally, how close are the Detroit Red Wings and Jimmy Howard to announcing a new extension?
Teams Interested in Nail Yakupov?
Patrick C of Chunklets Hockey said on Twitter: (through google translate of an AllHockey.ru post) that the Arizona Coyotes and potentially two other teams in the Western Conference might have interest in signing former first-overall NHL draft pick Nail Yakupov this offseason.
Yakupov spent this past season in St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL and posted a stat line of 23 goals and 33 points in 47 games. Prior to leaving for the KHL, he spent time with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche but outside of his rookie season, didn’t impress enough to keep employment in the NHL.
After the report surfaced, The Athletic’s Craig Morgan cited a league source calling that rumor “completely inaccurate”, at least when it pertained to the Coyotes interest in Yakupov.
Jimmy Howard Expected To Sign One-Year Extension
A one-year extension hasn’t been officially announced but it is expected that the Detroit Red Wings are close to signing goaltender Jimmy Howard to a deal that will pay him $4 million for this upcoming season.
There was plenty of speculation around the NHL trade deadline that Howard could be on the move out of Detroit but Red Wings GM Ken Holland has been public about wanting to keep Howard and Howard has been open about wanting to stay., Dan Rosen of NHL.com has written that the delay seems to be some language in the contract that is still being worked out but that the deal is imminent.
Had Howard not signed, he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. It appears Howard is ready and willing to sign continual one-year deals for the rest of his career if it means staying in Detroit.
Interest In Justin Brazeau
On TSN Insider Trading, Darren Dreger reports that several teams have expressed interest in CHL undrafted free agent winger Justin Brazeau. Among the interested teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
The team that gets him will likely have to offer the best opportunity at the NHL. Dreger notes that most, if not all of the interested teams would like him to sign an AHL contract but Brazeau is looking for an NHL entry-level deal after his outstanding performance this season.
Kings to Move Quick and Kovalchuk?
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has written that among the top priority of the Los Angeles Kings to find a new coach, the team needs to try and move goaltender Jonathan Quick and send out Ilya Kovalchuk if he does not want to be part of a rebuild in LA.
Trading Quick might not be easy thanks to his age and injury history. He also makes $5.8-million per season. That said, he lacks trade protection.
Wyhsynski also wonders if Kovalchuk is willing to stay or if he sees his issues this season as being primarily tied to head coach Willie Desjardins who is not expected to be back next season.
Should Kovalchuk want to go and he is willing to waive his no-trade clause, the Kings would be best served to move him.