NHL Rumors: Oilers, Flames, Islanders, Penguins, Canucks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Edmonton Oilers have signed Jake Virtanen and Jason Demers to PTOs. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames have signed Sonny Milano to a PTO. Mathew Barzal has revealed that he’d like to finish his career with the New York Islanders.

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Finally, Sidney Crosby was asked about his playing future and how long he thought he’d continue to play.

Oilers Sign Both Virtanen and Demers to PTOs

The Oilers have signed defenceman Jason Demers and forward Jake Virtanen to professional tryout agreements (PTOs), the team announced on Monday. Demers was rumored but the Virtanen deal comes as a bit of a surprise as insiders had reported that he had elected not to come to Edmonton and was looking at other options.

Virtanen is already skating with the team today, as per Mark Spector of Sportsnet. There are certainly going to be questions as to why the Oilers went this route and if he makes the team, it may really come as a surprise. Virtanen’s numbers in the KHL were not strong compared to others (16 points in 36 KHL games). This deal with the Oilers is seen as another reclamation project by the team.

Flames Sign Milano to a PTO

Part of the reason Virtanen may have chosen to go to Edmonton is that the Flames, who were also rumored to be interested, signed Sonny Milano to a PTO on Monday. The Flames have a strong top six so it will be intriguing to see if Milano can make the team as he’s not necessarily a bottom six guy based on his desire to try skilled plays versus play an all-around game.

Barzal Wants to Stay With Islanders

During an interview on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Mathew Barzal relayed to Elliotte Friedman that he’d like to stay with the Islanders if possible. When asked if he was going to be a career Islander, Barzal responded:

“I mean, if things go well, I’d love to play my career on Long Island. I take a lot of pride in that. I think, a couple of my favorite athletes of all-time, Michael Jordan, Sidney Crosby. I mean Tom Brady is in Tampa now but he was with New England for so long. That’s just I think a really cool thing.

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He mentioned how good it was for Evgeni Malkin to re-sign back in Pittsburgh this summer and he brought up Crosby who is sticking put. “So, that’s something hopefully I can do,” Barzal said.

Crosby to Play Three More Seasons

Speaking of Crosby, he was also interviewed by the 32 Thoughts podcast and was asked about his playing future and whether he’d play into his forties as some others have done. Crosby responded that he wouldn’t and noted that he’s “thinking about [the] three more years” remaining on his contract before considering the next step for his career.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Crosby is now 35 years old and while still extremely productive, he’s clearly thinking about the end of his career and what that will look like. What’s fascinating about this are the extensions that were just signed with Malkin and Kris Letang as both of their contracts will run past the end of Crosby’s. And, when you factor in how instrumental Crosby was in the organization extending both of those players, who likely are the Penguins to hold onto them once Crosby is gone?

Watch for Ethan Bear to Canucks

As per Iain MacIntyre of Sportnset, watch for a connection between the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Ethan Bear. The Canucks are reportedly still looking at the defenseman market and Bear is on a one-year deal with the Hurricanes worth $2.2 million. He’ll be an RFA at the end of the season and with the way the Hurricanes told Bear to go explore the market, it seems unlikely they feel any loyalty to keeping him.