NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Bruins, Oilers, Penguins

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes talked about how the team might move money around for next season. Can he accomplish all of his goals? Meanwhile, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t have a contract to remain as GM. Is there a plan to get that done? Is Darnell Nurse dealing with a severe injury and playing through something that could require offseason surgery? Finally, would the Pittsburgh Penguins bring back Rickard Rakell after a so-so showing?

Canadiens Plans to Free Up Salary Cap Space

Marco D’Amico of Montreal Hockey Now took a look at the Canadiens’ salary cap situation for next season and touches on whispers that the plan is for the team to make a couple of big moves in free agency. In an effort to free up money, a few bigger contracts might not be back.

Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens
Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Not only will the Canadiens try to move Shea Weber’s contract, which is a big one, but Kent Hughes explained:

“Hypothetically, trading Petry would give us cap flexibility. If Carey can’t play, we have LTI money to work with. When we know more about Carey’s situation, it’s going to give us a little more of an indication as to what kind of cap flexibility we need or don’t.”

If the Canadiens do trade Jeff Petry, they would need a veteran defenseman to take his place. Some have the club linked to Kris Letang — based on what happens in Pittsburgh — but D’Amico writes that Justin Braun, Jan Rutta, Chris Wideman, and Anton Stralman could be free agent targets as well.

Sweeney’s Contract and Bruins’ Plans

Joe Haggerty writes that Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t have a contract extension in place just yet but that the team has every intention of getting that situation resolved “in very short order”. Sweeney’s status, of course, leads to questions about the coach’s status. When asked about it this week, Cam Neely said on the status of Cassidy and the Bruins moving forward together: “I haven’t really talked to Don about it yet.”

Bruins GM Don Sweeney
Bruins general Manager, Don Sweeney watches a scrimmage from the stands. (Boston Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki)

When it comes to how the Bruins will approach the offseason and whether Sweeney will be rebuilding or retooling, Neely said of the rebuild theory, “I’ve been looking at that for a while now. As your core players and your better players are starting to age out, you do have to look at that, there’s no question.” He added, “But we do have some good young players in this lineup that hopefully continue to grow and hopefully we can add to that. But it is something you think about.”

Related: 3 Bruins Unlikely to Return to Team for 2022-23 Season

In the end, he doesn’t think anyone wants to watch the Bruins lose as much as would be expected if the team went through a full rebuild.

Nurse Dealing With Severe Injury?

According to a couple of reports, defenseman Darnell Nurse may actually be dealing with more severe injuries than Leon Draisaitl. A lot of the focus has been on Draisaitl’s ankle, but reports now are that Nurse is battling a “core-muscle injury that might require offseason surgery.” There is even talk that he might not play every game in the series against Calgary and it was clear Nurse was not his normal self.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff writes:

“Nurse failed to register a hit in Game 1 and appeared to be more tentative than usual, especially in and around his own net, where his physical presence is usually felt most. How could you expect him to be anything but if that is indeed the injury? Everything a player does – from skating, to leverage, to shooting, is generated and stabilized through the core.”

Nurse’s ice time was way down in Game 1 against the Flames and the Oilers do have options on the back end that have played in his place before. Nurse was suspended one game for a head-butt in the Kings series and Philip Broberg was slotted into the lineup. The Oilers played well that game on defense, so they can get by without Nurse if his presence on the ice is actually a weakness.

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Rakell Open to Penguins Return

As per TRIBLive’s Chris Adamski, he reports Rickard Rakell would be interested in returning with the Penguins next season. The 29-year-old winger is due to become a UFA in July and while his numbers didn’t jump off the page since his trade to Pittsburgh, he did show he could be a top-six winger, reliable enough to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.