NHL Rumors: Oilers, Rangers, Wild, Flames

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, could Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get consideration for Team Canada at the Olympics? One scribe who covers the team thinks so and for good reason. What kind of forward might the New York Rangers have an eye out for? Could the struggling Kevin Fiala be traded by the Minnesota Wild? Finally, how long should the Calgary Flames wait to look at contract extensions with some of their pending free agents?

Nugent-Hopkins Making Case for Olympic Consideration

As per Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal, he believes Nugent-Hopkins should get some Olympic consideration. While not an obvious selection for the team, Leavins argues that the skill he would bring to the roster on special teams would be an asset.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was one of many Oilers’ first overall picks. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Leavins writes:

A dark horse candidate, for sure. But ‘The Nuge’ is a critical part of one of the 3 rd best PK unit in the NHL. And he has long been an elite Power Play performer and would be a familiar partner for Connor McDavid. Those special teams skills could put him in the conversation. All teams need role players, even Olympic ones.

source -‘Misleading to over-look this metric when assessing D-men like Darnell Nurse: 9 Things’ – Kurt Leavins – Edmonton Journal – 11/21/2021

Leavins also doesn’t think the Oilers will go searching for a fourth-line help before the trade deadline. He’s thinking that Dylan Holloway should be ready to contribute after the Olympic break and Derek Ryan will be back and on the fourth line as the center. Because Ryan McLeod seems to be finding his game, he may be the third-line center moving forward.

Rangers Possible Trade Targets

It’s been mentioned a couple of times this past week that the New York Rangers are looking for help at forward. Arthur Staple of The Athletic writes that some of the targets the Rangers might be considering are Calle Jarnkrok or Marcus Johansson from the Seattle Kraken, Chris Tierney from the Ottawa Senators, Nino Niederreiter from the Carolina Hurricanes, Phil Kessel from the Arizona Coyotes, Dylan Strome from the Chicago Blackhawks, Artturi Lehkonen from the Montreal Canadiens, and Gabriel Vilardi of the Los Angeles Kings.

Related: Oilers and Ken Holland Need To Go All-in at the Trade Deadline

Staple writes:

All of the forwards listed below are on expiring deals. Sources around the league said the Rangers — who are already committed to $70.9 million against the 2022-23 cap with new deals needed for Kaapo Kakko and Blais plus a need for a No. 2 center and a No. 2 goalie — can’t really afford right now to bring on players with term.

source – ‘Rangers trade targets: Eight forwards who could fill their middle-six need, from Calle Jarnkrok to Phil Kessel’ – Arthur Staple – 11/19/2021

Fiala Could be Traded Out of Minnesota

Michael Russo of The Athletic suggests that the Kevin Fiala situation in Minnesota is worth keeping an eye on. The snake-bitten forward has been pulled from his regular power-play duties and there seems to be a disconnect between him and the coach. Russo writes that the Wild’s cap situation is a tight one over the next few seasons and there’s a reason the club chose to go with an arbitrator’s ruling versus a long-term extension with the player.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There’s a feeling Fiala isn’t viewed as a long-term part of the Wild organization. Russo writes:

He’s a pending restricted free agent with the right to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. If the Wild can’t afford him or just don’t want to afford him or commit to him, it’s very possible he’ll be traded, perhaps even soon because he’s not playing well and things are getting visibly uncomfortable between him and Evason.

source -‘Jared Spurgeon injured in loss to Florida, and it’s worth paying attention to the brewing Kevin Fiala situation’ – Michael Russo – The Athletic – 11/20/2021

Should Flames Look at Big Contract Extensions Now?

While the Flames are looking good out of the gate this year, it won’t be long until the team is forced to answer some serious questions about some of their key free agents. With eight pending UFAs and three important pending RFAs, the Flames likely can’t afford everyone.

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The RFAs Calgary needs to sign are Matthew Tkachuk (who is notoriously hard to negotiate with), Andrew Mangiapane (who is having a breakout season), and Oliver Kylington (who is also coming into his own). The team has also stated they’d like to find a way to sign Johnny Gaudreau who will hit the UFA market.

Andrew Mangiapane Calgary Flames
Andrew Mangiapane, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There are a few obvious subtractions the team can make, including Nikita Zadorov but other contracts may be more difficult to move, among them Sean Monahan and Milan Lucic. As is, the team has about $29 million in cap space for next season and Tkachuk and Mangiapane alone could easily take up $15 -$17 million of that. Gaudreau will expect a raise, likely putting Calgary around $23 -$24 million. The wild card is Kylington who is arbitration-eligible and will be asking for a hefty raise if his season continues at its current pace.

The questions will be, should the Flames try to sign players like Mangiapane and Kylington now or wait until the end of the season? If they wait and both players have incredible years, it could get pricy.