NHL Rumors: Yzerman, Melnyk, Karlsson, More

In today’s rumor rundown, there are whispers about what’s next for Steve Yzerman, the Ottawa Senators revealed their plans for the future both publicly and by hinting at certain moves and the Edmonton Oilers and Darnell Nurse’s contract negotiations have become clearer.

What’s Next for Steve Yzerman?

While there has been no mention by Steve Yzerman or any party within the Tampa Bay Lightning organization that Yzerman is leaving for another role with another organization, immediate speculation after the announcement of the former Lightning GM stepping aside was that he’d be headed to Detroit when his current contract with Tampa expired.

Steve Yzerman -Tampa Bay Lightning GM
Steve Yzerman (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Such speculation is understandable considering the ties Yzerman has to the city of Detroit. The legendary forward started his managerial career with the Red Wings after retirement, and has been linked to the franchise ever since. Joe Smith of the Athletic and Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press are both reporting that Yzerman told Lightning players that he was “heading back to Detroit.” Neither could say what that meant and many assume it’s simply to his home but some speculation is that there is a job waiting for him as Ken Holland completes his two-year extension as GM of the Red Wings.

Contrary to those reports, there are tweets by hockey insider John Shannon that this decision is strictly working and life balance related. Yzerman has already publicly discussed the fact that his role as GM of the Lightning has been taxing. Moving into an advisory role will give him an opportunity to stay inside the game he loves but step away from the day-to-day operations of being an acting general manager.

John Shannon has reported that Yzerman did, in fact, have a contract extension he was happy with…but he couldn’t commit to something that was so all-encompassing, at this stage in his life.

Related: NHL Rumors: Rangers, Sharks, Flyers, More

Ottawa Preparing for Massive Changes

Just recently, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk laid out plans for the team’s future in a team released video interview with Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki. Included in the video was a discussion of the Senators getting out of the “dumpster” and becoming an organization fans and players could be excited about. Melynk also said major player turnover and organizational change would be included as part of a full-blown rebuild.

Specifically, Melnyk suggested as many as 16 of the 22 roster members could be moved out over the next two seasons and speculation by many who have seen the video means that includes names like Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and others. Melnyk described the new direction as something that is “fresh and brand new” but most see this as a way to introduce what is coming in Ottawa which is the exodus of most of their stars.

Part and parcel with that news are the rumblings that the Vegas Golden Knights may still have their eyes on Karlsson, even after trading for and extending Max Pacioretty. Nichols on Hockey wrote Pierre LeBrun was on TSN yesterday and said, “At first I’m wondering does that close the door on an Erik Karlsson trade to Las Vegas? But what I’m being told is don’t be too quick to say that.” LeBrun added, “I think Vegas will certainly keep the lines of communication open with Ottawa.”

LeBrun went on to say that if the price is right, Vegas still has cap space and prospects they can move. They’ll have to compete with some new teams that entered the Karlsson trade discussions but that people shouldn’t “totally close the door on Vegas.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Duchene, Aho, Hall, More

The Kings Offered Pacioretty Six Years

Chris Johnston is reporting that prior to the trade that sent Max Pacioretty to Vegas, it is believed that the Los Angeles Kings had offered him a six-year, $36 million contract extension offer back in June. This was when it appeared Pacioretty was heading to the Kings but then the deal quickly went away.

Part of the decision for Pacioretty may have been the difference in state taxes. Los Angeles Kings players are taxed at a 50.75% tax rate where Vegas players are at 36.51%. At a $7 million salary, that’s about $1 million in savings each season.

Nurse and the Oilers Not Close

TSN Hockey Insider, Bob McKenzie said on his podcast, “The Bobcast”,  the Oilers and defenseman Darnell Nurse are not close to signing an extension. His exact words were, “By all accounts Nurse’s contract negotiations are not going well at all.”

Oilers McDavid Draisaitl Nurse
(Vince Richard/The Hockey Writers)

McKenzie added that fans will just have to wait and see how this unfolds and that it is imperative the Oilers get this situation figured out. The combination of a tough cap situation in Edmonton but a need to have Nurse playing makes this a tricky situation for the Oilers.

McKenzie also said that to other NHL executives, the Oilers were looked upon as one of the worst stories of last season, noting that few could understand how they could not only miss the playoffs with the best player in hockey but find themselves near the bottom of the NHL standings. He confirmed the rumors that while Milan Lucic is ready to go this season in Edmonton, he did ask for a trade.