NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Ducks, Wild, Canucks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is an update on the status of Cole Caufield’s potential next deal with the Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile, will the Anaheim Ducks look to trade goaltender John Gibson this summer? The Minnesota Wild have liked what they see out of Marcus Johansson. Will they try to re-sign him? Finally, it appears defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is out for the remainder of the season.

Cole Caufield’s Contract and Rebuilding Process for the Canadiens

Canadiens fans got an update from GM Kent Hughes when asked by Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug of the Got Yer’ Back podcast about the status of a new contract with pending RFA Cole Caufield. He noted that negotiations are more complex than often letting the media know things are close or not-so-close.

Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens
Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hughes explained:

“Well, the one area I haven’t talked much to the media about is contracts, and it’s not because I don’t want to talk about them; it’s just because contracts have a way of, there’s rarely a straight line to a deal. And I feel like when you create an expectation and there’s a detour, everybody starts to question that there may be something wrong. And sometimes people are just busy and there’s other things that are affecting timelines. I would say, the conversation has been very positive. Cole wants to be a Montreal Canadien and we’d like to have him. We’re working through it.”

source – ‘LeBrun: How the Canadiens are approaching the Bedard lottery, Caufield contract and more, with Kent Hughes’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 03/21/2023

Related: Gallagher’s Canadiens Career Comes to Close 1 of 5 Ways

Hughes was also asked about a timeline to build a competitive, playoff-contending team in Montreal and noted that too is complicated. It’s not just about how good their team is, but how good they are compared to other stronger teams in their conference. He noted his plan is to use trades versus the draft to help speed up the process. “I think it’s going to be another two, three years … but again, we’re hopeful we have opportunities to trade for good, young players like a Kirby Dach, instead of using a draft pick for it,” he said.

Will Ducks Trade John Gibson This Off-Season?

Dan Rosen of NHL.com was asked in a mailbag segment if this is the summer that John Gibson gets traded by the Anaheim Ducks. Noting the Ducks aren’t worried about the $6.4 million annual average value on his contract because they have plenty of cap space, he suggests the team is weighing their options.

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If Gibson is moved, Rosen believes both the Pittsburgh Penguins — who could use him as a replacement for pending free agent Tristan Jarry — and the Buffalo Sabres might be interested.

Will Wild Try to Re-Sign Johansson?

Michael Russo of The Athletic noted that the acquisition of Marcus Johansson by the Minnesota Wild has worked out nicely thus far. With the loss of Kirill Kaprizov, Johansson has stepped up and had nice chemistry with Matt Boldy. Russo believes the Wild might look to retain Johansson if he and Boldy can keep it going down the stretch.

Johansson says he likes playing in Minnesota and says, “I do hope I can find a home here.” Russo writes:

Boldy sure hopes it’s not because he’s finally found chemistry with a left winger and doesn’t want that to stop in its tracks. It also makes for another tough decision for management this offseason. With cap space limited and several players to re-sign, Johansson may suddenly have to turn into a priority.

source – ‘Russo: Wild must fit Marcus Johansson beyond this season if Matt Boldy continues dominance’ – Michael Russo – The Athletic – 03/19/2023

Canucks Lose Ekman-Larsson Remainder of Season

When asked if Ekman-Larsson would play at all before the end of this season, head coach Rick Tocchet said Wednesday, “No, I don’t think so,” He added, “He’s off the cast, he’s walking now, and he’s really worked hard the last 3-4 weeks and this is a big summer for him.” Ekman-Larsson suffered a left ankle injury on Feb. 15 and hasn’t played since.

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There are trade rumors surrounding the player as the Canucks look to find ways to eliminate some of their salary cap burdens this summer. Tocchet doesn’t seem to eager to see Ekman-Larsson tossed out. He noted, “I got a feeling he’s going to have a really good year. There’s a gleam in his eye. I can tell he’s going to use this as motivation. Things haven’t gone his way a bunch of years now and I think this is something he’s going to take this summer to another level. I really believe it.”