NHL Rumors: Ritchie, Panarin, Lee, Red Wings, More

In today’s rumor rundown, the Anaheim Ducks signed Nick Ritchie to a deal he’s apparently not a fan of, the Rangers have been linked to Artemi Panarin, thus speeding up their rebuild, there are major changes expected in Detroit and both Anders Lee and William Nylander are awaiting their fates with their respective teams.

Nick Ritchie Signs a Deal He’s Unhappy With

TSN Insider Bob McKenzie said that the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent Nick Ritchie was close to signing yesterday. Not much later, it was announced Ritchie had, in fact, signed a three-year deal worth an average of $1.53 million per season. Considering the length of his holdout, most are surprised the average annual salary was so low.

Nick Ritchie- Anaheim Ducks
Nick Ritchie, Anaheim Ducks, Oct. 24, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said during the first intermission of the Boston-Calgary game that Ritchie’s camp would have liked something shorter than three years, but eventually felt he had little leverage to get a better deal. It appears the Ducks were holding firm and prepared to let Ritchie just sit and stew. Ritchie knew that and caved.

Ritchie was looking for an opportunity to have a breakout season and with seasons of 14 and 10 goals, the possibility was there.

Related: NHL Rumors: Doughty, Nylander, Penguins, Senators, More

Rangers Tied to Panarin

Darren Dreger was on TSN 1200 and was asked about how long the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers could be patient with their respective rebuilds. Dreger suggested the Rangers are already looking to shortening the length of that process.

Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blackhawks moved Panarin in the midst of cap issues. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

The team has been tied to pending Columbus Blue Jackets UFA Artemi Panarin and Dreger thinks that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton could see the struggles of the team so far this season and look at the second half of this year as a change in direction, trying to build and be more active.

Dreger said, “There is no way they’re not keeping a real close eye on what’s going on with Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets.” While Panarin has not revealed a list of places he’s considering, there are already whispers the Rangers might be on his list as they are an East Coast, big-market team. “So I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t be interested in the New York Rangers,” Dreger added. He suggested people keep an eye on that development until proven it to be incorrect information.

Related: NHL Rumors: Matthews, Bobrovsky, Kotkaniemi, More

Changes Coming in Detroit

Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News is reporting the Detroit Red Wings slow start this season has the team already looking at what changes are needed over the course of the year. Kulfan suggests, for now, head coach Jeff Blashill is safe but he might not be renewed after this season ends.

Jeff Blashill Red Wings bench
Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings, December 20, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kulfan instead suggests Detroit might be the team to watch heading into the February 25th NHL Trade Deadline. Pending unrestricted free agents, Jimmy Howard and Gustav Nyquist could be valuable rental players, defenseman Trevor Daley could draw some interest, forward Luke Glendening could be made available if Christoffer Ehn continues to progress and the always tradeable Thomas Vanek could fetch a mid-round draft pick.

Related: NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Canucks, Jets, More

Anders Lee Says It’s Early But Wants To Stay

Andrew Gross of Newsday is reporting New York Islanders forward Anders Lee would like to stay with the Islanders but understands the team has a lot of work to do and it’s still really early to be talking about a new deal.

Anders Lee - Islanders
Peeke joins the likes of Anders Lee as captains at Notre Dame. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I’ve come into this wanting to be here,” Lee told Newsday. He then said he understands the process is still so early and that his part of the to-do list will come. “As a team, we have other things to do.” Even though people are speculating, Lee suggested he’s not worried, “It’s so early. It’s obviously out there so we’re going to talk about it. But I don’t think there’s much to really talk about. I just would say things are fine, really.”

lee could wind up being one of the highest paid free agents if he makes it out of this season without a new deal. He could easily fetch $7 million a season on the open market. From the Islanders side of things, they don’t want a repeat of the John Tavares storyline so they are best to get this matter dealt with sooner than later.

Nylander Being Reassured

We reported yesterday that the Maple Leafs were meeting William Nylander in Switzerland and speculated that perhaps part of that conversation might have to do with the success of Kasperi Kapanen this season.  TSN is reporting, “Part of the reason Dubas made his pilgrimage to Switzerland reportedly involved assuring Nylander that the Leafs’ strong start doesn’t diminish how much they want him back in the lineup.”

William Nylander Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander battles for position with Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

It appears the Maple Leafs want Nylander to know that no matter what, he’s still a part of their future plans.

It seems most NHL reporters and insiders believe the Nylander deal is heading towards a bridge structure.

Reason for Tension in Edmonton

Elliotte Friedman reported in his 31 Thoughts column, part of the reason for some tension in Edmonton and the need to be better on the ice is that the first wave of luxury boxes that were purchased at Rogers Place come up for renewal this year. The contracts on those boxes were sold as three, five and seven-year plans.

If the team is lousy this season, owner Darryl Katz has some real concern some of those three-year suites might not renew and that means money out of his pocket. It could explain why he showed up in New York at the Oilers practice and game to see why the team was struggling.