NHL Rumors: Hitchcock, Duchene, Skinner, Panarin, More

In today’s rumor rundown, there are details emerging regarding the firing of coach Todd McLellan in Edmonton and what it means that he was replaced by Ken Hitchcock. There are updates on Matt Duchene’s negotiations with the Ottawa Senators, Jeff Skinner might have set his asking price in Buffalo and Artemi Panarin might be having a change of heart in Columbus.

Details of Hitchcock’s Hiring in Edmonton

After news broke Tuesday morning that the Edmonton Oilers had fired head coach Todd McLellan and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock, social media was abuzz with talk about who pulled the trigger on the move, why it was done and what it means for the Oilers going forward.

Ken Hitchcock - Edmonton Oilers new coach
Ken Hitchcock (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

It is being reported that Hitchcock has nothing more than a “show-me” contract for this season and his status with the team will be re-evaluated when the season comes to a close. As Greg Wyshynski is tweeting, “entirely possible that Hitchcock is a one-and-done coach for the Oilers no matter what happens this year.” Kurt Leavins of the Cult of Hockey asked, “So…I wonder if it was Peter Chiarelli hired Ken Hitchcock? Or was he told to hire Ken Hitchcock?”  Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 said, “Hitchcock is very interesting hire. Is a stopgap more than long-term answer. If things don’t improve this makes it easier to fire GM change in summer and new then GM can pick his head coach. #Oilers”

One of the notions that seem to be a consensus here is that McLellan took a bullet for general manager Peter Chiarelli who’s job security is now very much up for debate. Edmonton can’t afford to miss the playoffs again and if they do, there will be some significant changes in management structure.

Related: Todd McLellan Fired by Edmonton Oilers, Replaced by Ken Hitchcock

Status of Matt Duchene’s Contract Negotiations

Pierre LeBrun confirmed Matt Duchene’s agent Pat Brisson has had two face-to-face meetings with Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion and the most recent took place this past Monday in Toronto. Bob McKenzie is suggesting that while it’s too early to know the status of those talks, it appears things are progressing and a deal might get done sooner than later.

Matt Duchene #95, Ottawa Senators
Matt Duchene #95, Ottawa Senators – February 3, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Speculation is that the deal could be worth between $8 and $9 million over eight years. What might be holding things up are the details as it’s being reported Duchene wants a good chunk of that money in guaranteed upfront bonuses, some no-move, and no-trade protection and other specifics.

Related: NHL Rumors: Kessel, Senators Video, Flames Goaltending, More

Jeff Skinner’s Asking Price

Jeremy White is reporting that a source has said Buffalo Sabres pending unrestricted free agent forward Jeff Skinner is looking for an eight-year deal at between $9 and $9.5 million per season to prevent him from hitting the open market in July.

Sabres center Jeff Skinner
Sabres center Jeff Skinner (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

If that’s the case, the Sabres are best to wait and sign Skinner closer to the end of the season to see if he can maintain his high-scoring pace. They may be comfortable with $8.5 million but at $9.5 million, that’s full price and they might as well know for sure he’s going to be worth that kind of money long-term.

Related: NHL Rumors: Nylander, Duchene, Gardiner, More

Panarin Having a Change of Heart?

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that while nothing has changed on the status of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus, there may be good news when it comes to Artemi Panarin and the Blue Jackets organization.

Panarin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and it was reported by multiple outlets he was as good as gone, looking to play in a bigger market and cash in on free agency. The Blue Jackets were hoping that a successful season for the team might convince Panarin to change his mind and that might be happening.

Panarin Bobrovsky Blue Jackets
Can Sergei Bobrovsky put the distractions behind him?(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Panarin’s agent is set to meet with him following the holiday break to discuss their contract situation. Panarin is reportedly happy because he’s scoring and the Blue Jackets are in first place in the Metropolitan Division.  LeBrun thinks GM Jarmo Kekalainen might make a contract offer to Panarin before the trade deadline and see if they can convince him to stay.