NHL Rumors: Lehner Speaks Up, Plus Senators, Penguins, Canucks…

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, most of the post is focused on Robin Lehner’s comments from Saturday. In a series of tweets, he accused a number of NHL teams of improperly medicating himself and others, including one coach who he specifically named. He’s threatened to release more proof if the NHL doesn’t step forward and do something. In other news, the Ottawa Senators are trying to hammer out a deal with Brady Tkachuk, the Pittsburgh Penguins got bad news, and specific terms of the Vancouver Canucks’ deals with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are now public.

Lehner Goes Off On NHL and Alain Vigneault

Upset about what the Buffalo Sabres are doing with the Jack Eichel situation, Lehner used the topic of teams holding control of a player’s medical decisions as fuel to absolutely go off on a few NHL organizations, the league, and one specific coach. Via a series of specific tweets, he made comments like, “They screwed my ankle… big time. Then surgery and then pills… no care…almost died.”

He also said:

“Is it common for workplaces to give out benzodiazepines to employees when they travel and Ambien? Should that not be done by doctors or psychiatrists? Asking for a friend, this doesn’t happen in Vegas to be clear. But I know many other teams. I also been in on teams that do?”

Lehner went on to specifically accuse Vigneault and suggested he be fired, noting he’s got proof that the coach was giving out medication and treating players as robots and not humans. Essentially, Lehner has threatened to release a new story every day until the NHL does something about the issue. The NHL has responded and is trying to facilitate an interview with the netminder.

Related: Duncan Keith Keeps Proving He’s Most Polarizing Oilers’ Acquisition Ever

This is obviously a story to watch. It’s rare that an active player is so vocal about such a front-page issue. These are serious allegations and the NHL is going to want to get to the bottom of whatever information Lehner has regarding the topic.

Brady Tkachuk Fighting for Structure and More Money?

The latest news on the Tkachuk talks with the Senators is that the structure of an eight-year deal is what is holding things up. Structure doesn’t necessarily mean bonus money, but that is believed to be part of the issue. How to shape the eight years is also being discussed in great detail.

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As per Shawn Simpson: “If the Ottawa Senators are offering Brady Tkachuk eight years at $8 million per and if Tkachuk is asking for eight years at $8.4 million per, would go up to $67.2 million from $64 million to get it done.” He adds, “Just hope when this close, both sides find a way vs a bridge deal. No blame on either side, just business.” Jimmy Murphy adds that “Comparables are always a sticking point with agents in NHL contract negotiations and I’m told that has been the case in Brady Tkachuk talks.” Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes:

“With Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes agreeing to terms, Brady Tkachuk is the last RFA left standing. Don’t know what the roadblocks are but I’d be surprised if signing bonus is one fo the issues standing in the way of a deal.

One of the issues for the Senators is that they have to be conscious of future deals for Josh Norris, Tim Stuetzle, Shane Pinto, and others.

Guentzel Tests Positive For COVID

As has been confirmed Sunday morning by the organization, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel has tested positive for COVID-19 and has entered protocol. The good news is, due to protocol measures, Guentzel will be available for Pittsburgh’s season opener on October 12 against Tampa Bay so long as he doesn’t have more than two failed tests moving forward, as per The Athletic’s Rob Rossi.

Any setbacks here would be adding to an already expected tough start for the Penguins who are without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who are both injured to start the season.

Terms of New Deals With Pettersson and Hughes

Darren Dreger of TSN has reported the official contract structure of both the Pettersson and Hughes deals:

2021-22: $3MM salary + $1MM signing bonus
2022-23: $7.8MM salary
2023-24: $10.25MM salary
2021-22: $4MM salary / 2022-23: $6.5MM salary
2023-24: $8.6MM salary / 2024-25: $9.5MM salary
2025-26: $10.25MM salary / 2026-27: $8.25MM salary