NHL Rumors: Golden Knights, Penguins, Maple Leafs

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is an update on the status of talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and Nic Hague. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins might be looking to trade a defenseman to alleviate some of their salary cap concerns.

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Has Zdeno Chara made a decision on his playing future yet, and how likely is an Alex Kerfoot trade out of Toronto?

Golden Knights No Closer With Hague

About a week ago, reports emerged that the Golden Knights and Hauge had “very little dialogue since early July.” An update by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period on Thursday suggests the two sides are still in the same place. Pagnotta reports that Hague is in Vegas but should there not be a deal in place by the start of camp, could return home.

Nicolas Hague Vegas Golden Knights
Nicolas Hague, Vegas Golden Knights (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There was some hope that Sean Durzi’s new deal with the Los Angeles Kings might spark some more discussion between the Golden Knights and Hague, but that hasn’t happened. Hague likely sees himself in a different situation financially and is holding out for more than the two years by $1.7 million that Durzi received.

Hague doesn’t have a ton of leverage to speak of and has to sign by December 1 in order to play this season.

Penguins Could Try to Move Money in the Form of a Defenseman

Dave Molinari of Pittsburgh Hockey Now points out that the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of many teams over the salary cap ceiling. They have a projected 23-man roster and a need to clear space. The speculation is that GM Ron Hextall might be trying to trade a defenseman to alleviate some of that cap pressure since the club has a surplus of blueliners. Ty Smith‘s name came up because he’s exempt from waivers and on a two-way contract.

Related: Penguins’ Cap Troubles Actually an Advantage in the Trade Market

This doesn’t necessarily mean Smith is the player who is being shopped, says Molinari. In fact, the Penguins have high hopes for Smith and if he has a good camp, it may force Hextall to make a different move to clear up a roster spot for him. That said, the scribe points out that Hextall doesn’t have much leverage in trade talks on a defenseman as “he’ll have no choice but to expose at least one to waivers, and risk the very real possibility of losing that asset for nothing.”

No Update on Zdeno Chara’s Playing Future

According to Zdeno Chara’s agent, he will be talking to the defenseman about his playing future imminently. Other than that, there is no new information for teams that might be interested. Pierre LeBrun noted in a recent article for The Athletic:

Future Hockey Hall of Fame blueliner Zdeno Chara still hasn’t made a call on his playing future. “Undecided at this point,” his agent Matt Keator said via text message Thursday night. “To date has been in no rush. “Will be meeting him over the weekend.”

source – ‘LeBrun: How close the Devils got on Gaudreau and Tkachuk, inside Nill’s extension and more offseason nuggets’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 09/16/2022

An Alex Kerfoot Trade Seems Less and Less Likely

According to Joshua Kloke of The Athletic, as time passes, the talk of an Alex Kerfoot trade out of Toronto will remain out there but seems less likely to occur.

Alexander Kerfoot Toronto Maple Leafs
Alexander Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kloke writes:

If Kerfoot remains a Leaf this season and isn’t traded, which with every passing day seems like more and more of a possibility, then he’s a top-nine lock. The versatile, Swiss Army-knife of a forward had a strong season on balance, even if some fans want to point in frustration to the few gaffes he made in the playoffs. Kerfoot does so many things well on the ice that it’s easy to see why Keefe appreciates him as a player.

source – ‘Maple Leafs’ roster projection: Who are locks? Who has something to prove?’ – Joshua Kloke – The Athletic – 09-16-2022

Kloke does acknowledge that the Rasmus Sandin situation “could cause some consternation in how the Leafs manage the salary cap.” As long as the problem exists between the Leafs and Sandin, Kerfoot is in the crosshairs. Like many teams, the Maple Leafs will probably have to move someone to get everything they want to do completed. Kerfoot moving is the logical choice for many reasons, even if it isn’t what the organization wants.