NHL Rumors: Islanders, Blue Jackets, Ovechkin Not Retiring With Capitals

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Alex Ovechkin has said he doesn’t plan to finish his hockey career with the Washington Capitals. Who else would he consider playing for? Elsewhere, in efforts to cut costs, would the New York Islanders actually consider buying out Jordan Eberle? Finally, how will the Columbus Blue Jackets replace Gustav Nyquist after learning of his long-term injury?

Ovechkin Plans to Finish Career in KHL

It was reported yesterday that an NHL insider believed Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could inevitably leave the Pittsburgh Penguins at some point. It would be odd to ever see them in a different jersey if true. Add another player to the list of NHLers who might be leaving the only team they’ve ever known.

Alex Ovechkin scoring his 700th goal
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin scoring his 700th goal, Feb. 22, 2020 (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Alex Ovechkin doesn’t plan to finish his hockey career with the Washington Capitals. This situation is a bit different in that he wouldn’t play for a different NHL franchise, but plans to go home to Russia before hanging up his skates. The sniper noted that it’s on his bucket list to play for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL.

Ovechkin spoke on a Russian-language interview on Russian Television International (RTVI) saying, “There are certain goals that I want to achieve after my career. But my career is not over yet. I’m still in my prime. I think I will definitely play for a few more years. God grant that my health is good. I would finish in Russia at Dynamo Moscow.”

When asked if he was joking, he said, “No.” He went on to say, “I really want to come back and end my career at Dynamo Moscow. After a certain number of years that I will spend, God willing, in Washington.”

Related: Top Capitals Prospects Currently Playing With AHL Hersey

Could Islanders Buyout Jordan Eberle?

Arthur Staple of The Athletic recently weighed in on the New York Islanders’ options to clear cap space and get a Mathew Barzal deal done. He indicates Matt Martin, Andy Greene and Cory Schneider already have verbal agreements done with the franchise but their contracts aren’t being finalized in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.

Jordan Eberle New York Islanders
Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

GM Lou Lamoriello might have to look at making a drastic move to free up the money needed for a Barzal deal and Staple lists among those options, buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy. He doesn’t think the Islanders will have to go that far because he doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually.

Staple writes that buying out a player like Eberle is also not something the Islanders want to do, even if he’d provide the most cap savings in the short term and a modest hit over the longer term. He says:

Buying out Eberle gives the Isles an extra $2 million and change in cap space for 2020-21; if it goes straight to Barzal’s deal, then you’re down a top-nine forward with no money to replace him.

source – ‘Now that Ryan Pulock has re-signed, what’s next for the Islanders?’ – Arthur Staple – The Athletic – 11/04/2020

Related: For Rangers’ Buchnevich, 2020-21 Will Be a Crucial Season

How Will Blue Jackets Replace Gustav Nyquist?

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wonders how the Columbus Blue Jackets will try and replace the production lost by the absence of Gustav Nyquist after it was learned he’d be sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery.

Gustav Nyquist Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Campbell asks if the team might pursue UFA forward Mike Hoffman now. There was already talk the Blue Jackets were looking to make a splash in free agency and not only did they never replace the scoring that left when the team lost Artemi Panarin, but they’re now down Nyquist too.

Hoffman might be on the radar, but it’s more widely believed that the Blue Jackets will elect to be patient and continue to play the waiting game. Their strategy has been to hope a handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs are ready to make moves to trade away a quality player for a low return.

The Blue Jackets also need to keep enough money open to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois.

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