NHL Morning Rumor Mill – September 3, 2013.

A list of the five noteworthy restricted free agents, and the latest on Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen.

No word yet from Cody Hodgson on his contract status.

No word yet from Cody Hodgson on his contract status.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun lists Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, Rangers center Derek Stepan, Sabres center Cody Hodgson and Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson as the five noteworthy restricted free agents worth watching as training camp nears.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible the five could be under contract when training camps open on September 11, but if they remain unsigned by then, interest in their respective statuses will pick up in the rumor mill. All five are coming off entry-level contracts, so the only leverage they have is to stage holdouts.

 Pietrangelo recently said he wasn’t thinking about a holdout. Kadri – after denying a rumor he was seeking a six-year, $36 million deal – has declined to speak about his contract status. Stepan recently acknowledged negotiations take time to reach an agreement, while Hodgson and Johansson have kept mum about their contract talks.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports the Penguins salary cap concerns could make defensesman Matt Niskanen expendable. The Penguins are roughly $1.1 million over the salary cap, leading to speculation Niskanen (in the final year of a two-year, $4.6 million contract) could be shopped. His experience could make him a valuable commodity for clubs in need of experienced blueline depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niskanen also lacks a “no-trade” clause. The Penguins could demote a player or two, but trading someone like Niskanen appears the likely move. The Penguins can remain above the salary cap throughout pre-season, but must be cap compliant when the season opens on October 1. Niskanen could be moved in late-September when teams have had time to evaluate their rosters. 


  1. Maybe Pittsburgh should find a taker for Fleury’s overpaid salary while he has some stock left. Now, I know the Pens’ fans (of which I am one, since 1983) will attack me for suggesting that Pittsburgh trade Fleury, but ask yourselves…if he was anything less than a 1st overall pick…would he remain in Pittsburgh? At the very least, he needs to show something this season in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong; he has incredible talent. His regular season numbers show this. Something isn’t clicking in the postseason, and if Jacques Martin and his new sports psychologist (and new goalie coach) can’t get him righted when it counts, then something needs to be done. Since 2009, he has only seen the second round once (not counting last season, when Vokoun proved all the Pens needed was a goalie to make simple saves to be effective). Hardly a record to be confident in.

    • I totally agree with you! MAF needs a change!

      • Put MAF on any other team and he will be overpaid and overrated in about 3 regular season months.

      • Fleury to Montreal for Price.

    • I wouldn’t trade for him unless the return is minimal. Too much money for that risk.

      • Another kind of overpaid (but possibly cheaper then his 5 mill or less term) contract would have to go back to the Pens I would think along with a pick and prospect kind of thing, I just dont see there being much of a market for Fleury atm.

        • knowing the Flyers! take any garbage out there! they will take him! they like to over pay on over the hill player! LoL! i think there team is going to suck again!

  2. Offer sheets for the 5 notable restricted free agents?
    Or are GM’s too scared to step on each others toes?
    Or is just the cap issue?
    I’d make a pitch for Pietrangelo if money wasn’t a concern.
    Kadri should just sign a reasonable one year deal and work towards and extension.
    And could the Oilers make a pitch for Morrow?
    Or does that not make sense with the direction they are going?
    Think Arnott has any juice left in him? Perhaps he could be a nice 4th line center? Bring his career full swing with Edmonton?
    I just think one more experienced presence in the Oiler locker room couldn’t hurt.
    Does anyone out there believe the Oilers can make the playoffs this year?

    • I thought they would 2 years ago, shows what I know!

    • No
      For sure
      2 years
      Too old
      Younger faster
      No, No, No

      • +1

    • HAHA Arnott? He got two speed tickets on the way out of town when he left the Oilers. Do you think he really wants to go back.. To be honest, as an Oil Fan I wasn’t sad to see him go..

      • Arnott could be a decent 4th liner if he stayed healthy. 1 year contract maybe but with limited cap space i’d rather see Peter Mueller take the 4th line centre role. With RNH still on the mend Mueller could really have a revival year with those snipers the Oil have up front.

  3. I don’t think GM’s are scared to give offer sheets, I think a lot of teams just don’t want to overpay or get into a pissing contest. The same outcome can be achieved through trade and doesn’t create anomosity. Of the 5, we know Kadri and Hodgson need to work on their faceoffs and defense – so they are nowhere near Henrique $. I don’t know much about Johansson, but he seems to be a solid 3 line center, possibly 2nd line Center – thing is he doesn’t have experience on the PP and he has already had a concussion. We know that Stepan is being lowballed by the Rangers because of their cap space issue. I think it is a matter of time working that issue out – he’ll get a longer term deal where the $ are on the back end or bonus $. Pietrangello – well I have stolen this guy for my fantasy teams for the past few years. I think he’s the bomb and St. Louis really shouldn’t screw around with him – IMO, he’s well worth Shattenkirk $ or close to it.

    Personally, I would love the Sabres to trade Hodgson for Stepan. Hodgson has offensive skill, upside potental and I think the Rangers have enough cap space to sign him to a bridge deal. Stepan on the other hand is just the type of guy the Sabres need – not only skilled, but can play nasty. We need someone who can be a leader – not saying Cody can’t become one, but we have already seen glimpses of it in Stepan.
    I would also love Darcy to get Pietrangello, but I’m pretty happy with our D right now – maybe we could trade St. Louis Tyler for Alex – lol.

    • I am sorry, what make you think that Hodgson has better potential then Stepan?
      Stepan is a better all around player right now and they are both the same age.

      • Nitro – you need to read the whole post – I don’t think Hodgson has better potential – he has potential, but I see Stepan as a “missing piece” that the Sabres could use now – leadership and some nasty. That is why I say Hodgson is only worth a 2 year bridge, probably in the range of $5M as he needs to focus on his defense and faceoffs. Stepan on the other hand is worth Henrique type money.

        The bottom line is Stepan is being lowballed by the Rangers as they only have a certain number of $ to make and we all know Stepan is worth more. Buffalo has the cap space and instead of making an offer sheet, Buffalo can achieve maybe the same outcome by trading like for like. We know Cody is a top six and can score – so while the skills are not equal at this point, neither would the salary paid. Hodgeson’s salary fits within the Rangers constraints and they would not really be giving up that much in return.

  4. During the last lockout and CBA discussions.. the one thing the NHL didn’t do is fix the contracts coming out of the entry level deals.

    This is getting ridiculous… There is no way these young kids should not be signing a deal.

    There should have been a limit put on these contracts just like they did with the ELC’s.. Limit the percentage increase in them… then they wouldn’t have these issues.

    These young players can’t afford to miss training camp…. especially Cowen in Ottawa.. who missed all but 17 games… 7 regular season and 10 in the playoffs. He can’t afford to miss a training camp coming off that hip surgery…