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AP Photo / Chris O’Meara
Hockey is on center stage.
The Colorado Avalanche, one of the league’s best regular-season teams over the last three years, are meeting the two-time reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning in what becomes a compelling Stanley Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the clock is counting down toward the start of the NHL free agency, which arrives July 13.
And although the free agency is still three weeks away, the deals that’ll come on that day and beyond are being buzzed about now as we officially welcome the summer season.
Some deals will be routine. Some will be surprised.
And some of the buzz surrounding them is just plain BS
That can only mean it’s BS Meter time!
The B / R hockey team got together to discuss some of the latest rumors and weigh how close each suggestion is to happening.
Read on to see what we came up with, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
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Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images
Johnny Gaudreau picked the best year for his career year.
The 28-year-old Calgary winger began the last year of his six-year, $ 40.5 million deal amid speculation that the Flames would deal him before letting him walk for free.
But rather than letting distractions impact him, Gaudreau raised his game and yielded personal bests in goals (40), assists (75) and points (115) —the latter of which made him the most prolific US-born player since Pat LaFontaine had 148 points in 1992-93.
He led the team in scoring, tying for second in the league with Jonathan Huberdeau, and set himself up for a generous boost in pay.
TSN’s Darren Dreger said on The Instigators that the player and team have been discussing an extension but haven’t gotten close to a deal. Dreger said he wouldn’t be surprised if Gaudreau at least hit the open market, and David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period suggested he’d like to get a feel for the process.
In fact, Lyle Richardson forecast at the Hockey News that Gaudreau could command a deal in the range of seven years at $ 10 million apiece, which makes meetings too lucrative not to take.
BS Meter: Not BS
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AP Photo / Jeff Chiu
This just in: Alex DeBrincat is a good hockey player.
The 24-year-old winger has played five productive seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks since they took him with the 39th overall pick in the 2016 draft, including career highs in goals (41, tie), assists (37) and points (78) in the 2021-22 campaign.
But the Blackhawks haven’t quite mirrored his output.
Chicago finished seventh in the Central Division and 27th overall last season, missing the playoffs for the second straight season and the fourth time in DeBrincat’s career.
He has one year remaining on a three-year deal with a $ 6.4 million cap hit in 2022-23, and it’s no stretch to assume he’ll warrant a sizable annual raise when he becomes a restricted free agent.
As the rebuilding process continues until new general manager Kyle Davidson, it’s not so ridiculous to suggest DeBrincat could bring a big cache of return assets in a trade. Toward that end, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun said Friday that the team would expect a young player in exchange for DeBrincat along with a collection of top prospects and high draft picks.
That’s certainly a tempting prospect.
But given the team’s recent struggles and DeBrincat’s status as its best player, it’s hard to imagine Davidson selling that deal to a ticket-buying public before it’s a necessity.
BS Meter: It’s BS
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Mark LoMoglio / NHLI via Getty Images
It seemed like a pretty good idea in 2019.
Then-Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon signed Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and two-time All-Star, to a contract that’d presumably solve the Panthers’ goaltending problems for most of the subsequent decade.
Seven years, $ 70 million. Didn’t seem like a bad move back then.
Now, well … maybe a little.
Though the 33-year-old had a credible 2021-22 rebound following two less than stellar seasons, he seems to be much more of a liability these days with four years left his deal and highly touted 21-year-old Spencer Knight warming up in the bullpen.
It’s up to Tallon’s successor, Bill Zito, to handle the situation, and Corey Guy of Florida Hockey Now said Monday that the Panthers “are rumored to be aggressively shopping” Bobrovsky this offseason to help lessen a cap crunch that’s left them with just $ 3 million to work with.
Florida is allowed to retain up to half of a player’s salary to facilitate a trade and will at least need to approach that number to get a team to bite on an inconsistent 12-year veteran.
It’s not so easy to imagine a team just bailing Florida out.
BS Meter: It’s BS
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Curtis Comeau / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Sometimes things just make sense.
The Edmonton Oilers have a goaltending situation that can be described as unsettled heading toward the 2022-23 season.
Veteran backup Mikko Koskinen is gone to HC Lugano in Switzerland. Starter Mike Smith has a year left on his contract. But he’s 40 years old, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be available on opening night, whether due to retirement or being placed on long-term injured reserve to heal an aging body.
And the most NHL-ready of the goalies in the pipeline, Stuart Skinner, has played all of 14 games and won’t be given the No. 1 responsibility for a team that reached the conference finals in 2021-22.
Enter Ville Husso.
The 27-year-old Finn played in 40 games for the St. Louis Blues last season, winning 25, and posted a goals-against average of 2.56 and a save percentage of .919, numbers that bettered his career figures. And he’s about to be an unrestricted free agent. David Pagnotta recently suggested on NHL Network that Husso has “made peace” with the prospect of leaving the Blues.
Among the reported front-runners to secure his services are the Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs. And presuming he’s indeed seeking a three-year deal in the $ 3-4 million annual range, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him sharing the crease with Skinner when the next puck drops at Rogers Place.
BS Meter: Not BS