An otherwise quiet NHL rumor mill received a bit of a jolt Monday when NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton took to Twitter saying he wouldn't be surprised if the Boston Bruins traded David Pastrnak. The 21-year-old right winger has completed his entry-level contract and hopes to re-sign a lucrative long-term deal with the Bruins.
Considering Pastrnak's breakout performance (34 goals, 70 points) last season, trading him seems a ridiculous idea. However, the Bruins' recent history of shipping out promising stars (Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton) probably has their fans worried over the prospect of Pastrnak suffering the same fate.
Lawton cites potential contract problems for this trade speculation. However, Bruins GM Don Sweeney swiftly rejected that notion in a terse e-mail to the Boston Globe.
Sweeney might not be trading Pastrnak, but he does face a headache attempting to re-sign the youngster. The Boston Herald's Stephen Harris reports the Bruins hoped to get the winger inked to a six-year deal worth $6 million annually. However, the Edmonton Oilers re-signing forward Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year, $68-million contract could affect the Pastrnak negotiations.
Harris believes the Pastrnak camp could attempt to use Draisaitl as a comparable in hopes of extracting a more expensive contract from the Bruins. While they probably won't seek a similar deal, they could push for an eight-year deal worth close to $7-million annually.
Contract talks between the two sides could drag on for some time. Because Pastrnak lacked arbitration rights, he doesn't have much leverage with the Bruins. He could sign with a European club but he's intent on staying in Boston. He could also refuse to report to training camp and threaten to withhold his services once the regular season begins unless he gets what he wants.
LATEST ON EVANDER KANE
Throughout last summer and the course of 2016-17, Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane was a frequent target of trade speculation. The chatter reached a crescendo leading up to the 2017 NHL draft weekend but he remains a Sabre.
Following the opening week of the NHL free-agent market last month, several pundits suggested Kane could be a good fit for several clubs in “win-now” mode. Since then, however, the speculation surrounding the 26-year-old has subsided.
It's assumed Sabres GM Jason Botterill wants to evaluate Kane's performance in his contract year. The winger is eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. His play in 2017-18 could determine his future in Buffalo
Kane's trade value improved after tallying 28 goals last season with the struggling Sabres. Another solid effort this season could make him very attractive for contenders in need of a physical scoring presence at left wing.
During an appearance last week on Buffalo's WGR 550, TSN insider Darren Dreger acknowledged the lack of trade buzz on Kane of late, pointing out that things tend to get quiet at this time of year.
Dreger does feel clubs with interest in Kane could wait to see how well he starts this season.
This is a crucial point in Kane's NHL career. He's shown flashes of brilliance as a power forward but he's also been dogged by criticism regarding his attitude on and off the ice. His solid play after returning from a rib injury last season suggests a more mature outlook on his part entering his contract year.
Should Kane excel in 2017-18 it will certainly enhance his free-agent stock. It will make make him an enticing trade option but could also bolster his value to the Sabres, especially if he helps them become a playoff contender.
A strong campaign will also make Kane more expensive for the Sabres to re-sign. Currently earning an annual average salary of $5.25 million, he could seek a long-term deal worth over $6 million per season.
If Kane and the Sabres fail to reach an agreement before the 2018 trade deadline, there's a good chance he'll be shopped by the trade deadline.
PENGUINS CONTINUE SEARCH FOR CENTER
Free-agent Matt Cullen's signing a one-year contract with the Minnesota Wild put more focus on the Pittsburgh Penguins' efforts to bolster their checking-line depth at center. Cullen, 40, filled the fourth line role for the Pens over the last two seasons
Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewreports Penguins GM Jim Rutherford intends to use Carter Rowney as Cullen's replacement. He also has around $3.2 million in salary-cap space to fill the gap on the third line left by the departure of Nick Bonino last month to the Nashville Predators via free agency.
Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner his search could stretch into training camp and perhaps into the upcoming season. He hinted at using Jake Guentzel or Scott Wilson as short-term options.
The currently quiet trade market explains Rutherford's patience. He said there were a couple of players he could acquire but prefers to wait and see how things shake out in the coming weeks. He didn't provide any hints as to the identity of those players.
Earlier this summer, the Penguins were linked to Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene ($6-million annual cap hit) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak ($4.2 million). However, the Penguins GM has suggested he'd prefer making a move that didn't involve shipping out a salaried player.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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