NHL Rumors: Oilers, Sabres, Stars, Ducks, Canadiens, Flyers

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is talk the Edmonton Oilers might be among five or six teams interested in Jake Virtanen. Meanwhile, did the Buffalo Sabres sign Tage Thompson to ensure what happened in Calgary with the Flames didn’t happen to the Sabres?

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There is an update on where things are at between the Dallas Stars and Jason Robertson, plus a handful of teams are interested in Evan Rodrigues. How close is a deal for Kirby Dach in Montreal and where the Philadelphia Flyers warned about getting off to a good start this season?

Oilers Linked to Jake Virtanen

The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly one of a handful of teams believed to have expressed interest in free agent forward Jake Virtanen. The report comes from Vancouver Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal, who said on his show Tuesday that the Oilers are in talking to his representatives. He noted, “All I was told was there’s a rumor about the Oilers, I do believe the Oilers are one of the teams in the mix.” He added, “I think there’s four or five (teams).

Jake Virtanen Vancouver Canucks
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Virtanen played for Spartak Moskva in the KHL last season where he scored nine goals and 16 points in 36 games. He’s got size and speed and will come in at a very low salary, but there are the allegations and a sexual assault charge for which he was found not guilty by a jury this year. Fair or not, that will play a role in the number of teams interested.

Sabres Might Have Wanted to Avoid Messy Contract Situation With Thompson

When Elliotte Friedman was asked on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast if the Tage Thompson signing felt premature in Buffalo, his response was that he couldn’t help but look at that deal and see the Sabres trying to avoid a complicated contract negotiation later on.

Related: NHL Rumors: Jets, Canucks, Senators, Golden Knights

He said:

“But I do wonder, if they sat there and looked at what happened with a guy like Matthew Tkachuk and said, Tage Thompson, could in theory, play out the last year of his current deal, go to arb (arbitration), and then walk. I can’t help but look at that deal and say that had to have some factor in it.”

The Sabres didn’t necessarily want to take the chance that Thompson could continue to play well and then feel like they were going to struggle to get him signed to a long-term deal.

Jason Robertson and Dallas Stars Update

Friedman and Jeff Marek moved on to talking about Jason Robertson and his situation in Dallas. They discussed what his next contract might look like and Friedman believes it will come in at around three years and $7 million per. He didn’t think the Stars could afford to do a long-term deal. If they go higher than $7.5 million, Marek said the Stars will have to trade someone.

Evan Rodriques Still Weighing His Options

Friedman was asked for info on Evan Rodrigues and he noted that this deal should get done this week. There is quite a bit of interest in the player but he is mulling over and picking out the best value deal, the biggest role, and how to make it all work wherever he ultimately decides to go. Friedman said the Anaheim Ducks are a team in the mix because they can afford to pay him and would be willing to flip him at the trade deadline.

Evan Rodrigues Pittsburgh Penguins
Evan Rodrigues, Pittsburgh Penguins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Friedman also said Calgary has been around this, as are a couple of other Canadian teams.

Dach Deal Done With Canadiens

Friedman wasn’t asked, but he did point out that he’d heard a deal between the Canadiens and Kirby Dach was likely done, if not extremely close to it. He figured it would come in around $3.5 million over four years. Friedman quoted Eric Engels’ report as his source, but also added that said he’s hearing the Canadiens are trying to do a few other things before making this deal official.

Just hours later, the deal was made official by the organization and he signed for four years at $3.3625 million per season.

Short Leash in Philadelphia

Friedman noted that he’s heard players were warned in Philadelphia that they’d better show up ready for training camp this season and that the leash to perform well is short. They are one of a few teams that need to get off to a hot start or things could get ugly rather quickly, with moves being made right away should the losses pile up early. Players have been told, “If you’re not ready to go, you’re going to be left behind.”