In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news the San Jose Sharks have three pretty serious questions to answer. Meanwhile, there is talk Alex Pietrangelo might have eyes on a particular team in free agency and it’s not the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Edmonton Oilers have decided not to buy out anyone and a long-time Nashville Predator is going to test free agency.
Sharks Have Three Burning Questions
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said the San Jose Sharks should be an intriguing team to watch this offseason as they have three burning questions heading into 2020-21.
First, how will the Sharks make things more comfortable for Erik Karlsson who never quite found a fit with the team since his arrival? Second, what goaltender will the Sharks pick up in free agency to play alongside Martin Jones and share the starting goaltender duties. Third, how will the Sharks approach negotiations with forward Kevin Labanc?
The Labanc question might be the most interesting because he took a team-friendly discount last season on a one-year pact with the expectation he would be rewarded this season when the team wasn’t in salary cap financial peril. What he and the Sharks didn’t see coming was a pandemic or a downturn in his production. Friedman and Jeff Marek wonder if the Sharks will be true to their word and pay Labanc anyway? Or, will they say that the situation has changed and despite what was promised, suggest they are only prepared to do so much.
If it’s the latter, that could really sour the relationship between the player and the team.
Pietrangelo Eyeing the Golden Knights in Free Agency
Friedman also noted during the most recent 31 Thoughts Podcast that Pietrangelo might be leaning towards the Golden Knights if he makes it to free agency. Noting that the St. Louis Blues might take another run at signing the defenseman, Friedman believes there’s some hurt feelings based on how the negotiations have been handled. He says the Golden Knights look attractive to the Blues current captain.
“I do think he wants to go to Vegas if he makes it. My guess is they’re the team at the top of his list. And I think Vegas would do it, that’s kind of the way they’re wired, but they’re going to have to do some other things to do it.”
The how is a real point of concern for the Golden Knights if they share the same interest in Pietrangelo. The “easy” solution would be to move Marc-Andre Fleury and Paul Stastny, but that’s easier said than done. Remember, the Golden Knights still need to sign goaltender Robin Lehner and have little cap space to do much more without making other moves.
No Buyouts for Edmonton Oilers
According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal: “Again no buyouts planned for Ken Holland, already on hook for Andrej Sekera $2.5 million and Benoit Pouliot’s $1.33 million for this upcoming season. Plus, paying $750,000 of Lucic salary. Sekera has been very good in third D pair for Dallas, slotted exactly where he should be.”
This reinforces the idea that the Oilers will merely tinker with the lineup and not make any costly or drastic changes.
Craig Smith to Test Free Agency
Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith and his agent Kevin Magnuson have notified the team that he is going to test free agency. As per a report by Adam Vingan of The Athletic, Smith is looking for a three-year deal and has eyed up a number of teams as possible options.
Smith scored 31 points in 69 games for the Predators in 2019-20 and 38 points in 76 games the season prior. Both were drops in production compared to his 2017-18 campaign where he had 51 points in 79 games. Still, his agent believes he can get around or higher than the $4.25 million he’s current making.
Vingan quotes Magnuson who says:
“A three-year deal is our goal. I think the number, because there are eight to 10 teams that have decent cap space, I think we won’t be too far off at the end of the day. He’s not going to be signing any blockbuster deals, but at the same time, he’s going to be in the market or a little bit above it, I think.”source – ‘Predators forward Craig Smith will enter free agency’ – Adam Vingan – The Athletic – 09/25/2020
Blue Jackets to Take Run at Patrik Laine?
Noting that the Columbus Blue Jackets are likely looking to do something big, Friedman wondered if the team might take a run at a scoring winger like Patrik Laine. He said, “I don’t see a match, but I can see them being in on Laine.”
Friedman thinks the Winnipeg Jets see a Laine deal as potentially unavoidable but wonders if the Blue Jackets have what the Jets would want? “You’re not trading Jones and you’re not trading Werenski,” Friedman said.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”