In today’s NHL rumors rundown, another player has tested positive for COVID-19 from the Colorado Avalanche, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to sign a couple of international prospects and one NHL scribe notes that this year’s crop of free agents might have hit free agency at the worst possible time.
Another Avalanche Player Tests Positive
The Colorado Avalanche announced that a second player from the team has tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, they announced that one player had tested positive, put himself in isolation and already recovered. Such is not the case for this new positive test.
The full statement from the team is below.
The Colorado Avalanche were advised late last night that a second player has tested positive for COVID-19. The player is in self-isolation. All other Avalanche players, staff and others who might have had close contact with the player have been informed and remain isolated as per prior League direction and are monitoring their health and will be in touch with Club medical staff as necessary. No other Avalanche player or staff member has shown symptoms at this time.
This is now four NHL players who have tested positive, but from only two teams. The hope is that the league ceased play early enough to see the virus not hit a number of teams.
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Oilers Hoping to Sign Two Prospects
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector notes that the Edmonton Oilers are hoping to sign defensemen Markus Niemelainen and Filip Berglund before June 1. Both players were draft picks in 2016 and have until that date to sign their entry-level deals.
Both players are signed with their respective international teams, but because of transfer agreements with the leagues, both can sign NHL deals. Spector notes, “These are two survivors from the Oilers’ Class of 2016 that, right now, has delivered only Tyler Benson to the Oilers system, with [Jesse] Puljujarvi gone AWOL.”
Senators To Land Artyom Zub
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the Ottawa Senators are expected to sign KHL free agent defenseman Artyom Zub.
“The expectation is that Zub, who’s got the potential to be a top-four shutdown D-man in the NHL, will sign with the Ottawa Senators,“ TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger said Thursday on Insider Trading.
Dreger had previously reported that the Senators were one of two teams Zub had narrowed his decision down to but speculation was that Zub had the Sens as his top team.
Free Agents With Unlucky Timing
Sportsnet’s Luke Fox took a look recently at the crop of this year’s NHL free agents and noted that they may be among the most unlucky free agents in recent memory. With the financial windfall that is expected to come as a result of the NHL stoppage and being unable to get more games in to show their worth, they’ll have some decisions to make.
Assuming the players face a flat salary-cap as a result of the loss of hockey-related revenue, how many will consider signing one-year contracts with teams just to showcase their skills and hit the jackpot next off-season? For someone like Taylor Hall, that might be a good option. Fox writes:
“If your name is Taylor Hall, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Tyson Barrie, Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug, this is a concerning development”, wrote Fox. “Same goes for soon-to-be RFAs like Max Domi, Anthony DeAngelo, Sam Reinhart, and Tyler Bertuzzi.” He suggested bridge deals might make more sense until NHL revenue stabilizes.
Of course, there will some teams that can take advantage of other franchise’s ability to make moves. Those teams include the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators, all of whom have cap space. The question will be, do these free agents want to sign there? Maybe they’d rather wait until more options present themselves?
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”