NHL Rumors: Kraken, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Maple Leafs

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Seattle Kraken might get busy shopping draft picks this offseason while trying to find the right balance of young and farther-along prospects. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are going to need to make a decision on Dylan Strome. Are the Montreal Canadiens open to giving a young, somewhat unproven defenseman and long-term contract, and could the Toronto Maple Leafs split up their top line even though it has incredible chemistry?

Kraken to Move Draft Picks?

Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic writes that the Seattle Kraken have 12 picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, 13 picks in the 2023 Draft, and nine in 2024. While the Kraken might not use all of those picks, they don’t have a lot of prospects in their system either.

Ron Francis Seattle NHL
Ron Francis, NHL Seattle’s first general manager (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Clark writes:

Most NHL organizations have at least 30 or so prospects at any given moment. The Kraken currently have nine. They plan to use the next three drafts to strengthen those numbers. Like Francis said, however, not all of those picks will be used by the Kraken. They could be used for other purposes — like assets Francis could offer should the Kraken seek a trade for a player they believe can help them.

source – ‘(Draft) Capital Gains? Time will tell, but the NHL trade deadline leaves Kraken with options’ – Ryan Clark – The Athletic – 03/21/2022

The Kraken might move picks to get prospects a bit farther along in their development curve. Teams are always looking to move up in the draft and the Kraken could acquire some players that are close to NHL ready if they make some of their first and second-round picks available.

Will Blackhawks Qualify Dylan Strome?

There are questions in Chicago about what the Blackhawks will do about Dylan Strome. Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders if the organization sees him as part of their rebuild, especially since he plays much better in a top-six role and at center, which could pose hurdles for Kirby Dach or Lukas Reichel.

Dylan Strome Chicago Blackhawks
Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blackhawks would have to qualify Strome at $3.6 million by the deadline of July 9 or they could lose him for nothing as a pending UFA. They need to get assets for him, which could mean an offseason trade. When asked about his situation, Strome said it wasn’t something he’d ever been through before so it’s a matter of waiting to see what happens.

Related: Top 10 Overpaid Wingers in the NHL in 2021-22

He noted:

I’ve never been through before. There’s a set deadline, compared to two years ago — [that] feels like a long time ago. But I think it’s a little easier in that sense. . . . It’s nicer when you have a date and you know I’ve got to get something done by a certain time.’’

source – ‘With deadline passed, Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome can relax and await clarity on future’ – Ben Pope – Chicago Sun Times – 03/25/2022

Canadiens Open to Long-Term Deal For Romanov

During a Q&A session with fans on Twitch last week, Canadiens GM Kent Hughes mentioned he would be open to a long-term contract for defenseman Alexander Romanov. But as Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic pointed out, the problem with the idea is that the Canadiens don’t necessarily have the space to sign him to around $4 million per season now in the hopes that it becomes a value deal later.

Alexander Romanov Montreal Canadiens
Alexander Romanov, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Both write:

A three-year contract worth between $2 and $3 million represents the middle ground on this list. A player like Brandon Carlo settled for a two-year contract, but the Boston Bruins then signed him to a six-year deal at $4.1 million a year.

source – ‘Basu and Godin: Alexander Romanov’s next contract, defining roles at centre, finding bridge veterans and more’ – Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine – The Athletic – 03/28/2022

Maple Leafs Could See Some Line Changes

Jonas Siegel of The Athletic points out that the Maple Leafs are struggling to find the right line combinations outside of the top line of Auston Matthews, Michael Bunting, and Mitch Marner, who have “A+ chemistry.” He notes though that a change might be necessary to get other people going.

Siegel suggests:

That’s why a top-six forward was a legitimate area of need and why not upgrading there at the trade deadline, if understandable given other needs and cap constraints, had a real downside.

source – ‘Monday Morning Leafs Report: Mitch Marner’s dominant run shouldn’t be overlooked (and could mean a lot come playoff time)’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 03/28/2022

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