NHL Rumors: Kraken, Blackhawks, Bruins, Rangers, Sharks, Maple Leafs

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Seattle Kraken might be getting good news when it comes to one of their key expansion draft selections, while the Chicago Blackhawks are watching closely the injury situation for one of their stars. There is talk about a couple of pending 2022 NHL unrestricted free agents and the Toronto Maple Leafs are taking the approach that they should get their returning players game action sooner than later, assuming they’re ready to return. Finally, are the San Jose Sharks more likely to trade or sign Tomas Hertl?

Kraken Could Get Gourde Back Early

Kraken general manager Ron Francis reported in his press conference Friday, that Yanni Gourde’s recovery from injury was progressing “ahead of schedule.” This means he could be back in the lineup earlier than the previously projected early-December return, which is great news for the team as he’s expected to be a big part of their offense.

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Gourde has 50-point plus potential for the Kraken and the belief is he’ll slot in as the team’s no. 1 or no. 2 center. When it was revealed he would be out two months, it was a bit of a blow even though the team knew he was dealing with an injury that would require time off.

Kane Still Dealing with Nagging Injury

NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reports Kane isn’t fully recovered from an injury that he appears to have suffered before the start of the Edmonton bubble in 2020. The belief is that Kane will be able to play through the injury and Kane says he’s “optimistic with where [he’s] going.” What the injury is, remains somewhat of a mystery.

Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane
CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 20: Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates during a break in action in the 3rd period during an NHL hockey game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks on March 20, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. The Avalanche won 5-1. (Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The good news coming out of Chicago is that Jonathan Toews rejoined the team for on-ice skates and training camp. Toews didn’t guarantee an opening night appearance when the Blackhawks play Colorado on Wednesday, October 13, but he was optimistic.

Bergeron to Explore Options

As per Luke Fox of Sportsnet, there are a few pending 2022 NHL free agents worth keeping an eye on. Among them is Patrice Bergeron who is in the last year of his deal. Fox says, expect the multiple-time Selke Award winner to look around a bit next summer as he waits for a formal deal from the Bruins. He could sign a 35+ deal for one or even two years.

Zibanejad Possible Deal with Rangers

Fox also notes that the pending Mika Zibanejad deal with the Rangers could come this season and speculation is that the deal might be around eight figures AAV when all is said and done. That means the Rangers are prepared to give him $10 million-plus over eight years.

When asked if he’d like to get something done sooner than later, he responded: “The focus is what I do on the ice…I love it here, I love the direction we’re going.”

Tavares and Matthews to Play for Maple Leafs Sooner Than Later

Jonas Siegel of The Athletic notes that the Maple Leafs have slotted John Tavares to play in the first exhibition game for the Leafs so that he can get that game out of the way and put his return to the ice in the past. He writes:

“Sheldon Keefe says the Leafs wanted John Tavares to play in the first exhibition game specifically so he could clear that hurdle right away. Tavares hasn’t played a game since suffering a concussion in the playoffs against the Montreal.”

source – The Athletic Real Time comments section – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 09/25/2021

Meanwhile, Auston Matthews appears to be a little ahead of schedule as he’s been on the ice twice in two days and doesn’t seem to be feeling any ill effects from getting some reps in. Fox notes: “Matthews was originally targeting next week to start handling pucks. He did so today. Sheldon Keefe says 34’s Opening Night return is on track: “If we can get him in some exhibition games, even better.”

Sharks Getting Calls About Hertl

According to Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now, Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson said he’s had “several conversations” with the agent for pending free agent center Tomas Hertl. At the same time, reports are that he’s gotten a number of calls about Hertl’s availability. Wilson is not providing any details on either scenario.

Wilson did say that Hertl knows “how we feel about him” and that he expects the two sides will talk again about an extension in the near future.