NHL Rumors: Flames, Oilers, Wild, Senators, Penguins, Canadiens

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Calgary Flames are dealing with the knowledge they will now be losing Johnny Gaudreau to free agency. Will they try to replace him in free agency? The Edmonton Oilers and Evander Kane strike a late-night deal. Bill Guerin explained why he chose to trade Cam Talbot, there is talk Sidney Crosby played a big role in Evgeni Malkin re-signing with the Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens have their eyes on a defenseman.

Gaudreau Leaving the Calgary Flames

GM Brad Treliving confirmed with the media Tuesday evening that Johnny Gaudreau has chosen to leave the Calgary Flames. He noted, “I can assure our fans that we have done everything possible to keep John in Calgary … I want to wish him and his family the very, very best. He gave us 8 great years here.” He added that he was informed Gaudreau was headed to free agency and will test the market … “it’s a disappointing day to say the very least.”

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Frank Seravalli was the first to report that Gaudreau had informed the team his intention was to move on and that now leaves the Flames with a few decisions to make. First, what do they do with Matthew Tkachuk? Speculation is that he might want to sign his one-year qualifying offer and become a UFA next summer. The Flames clearly don’t want to lose both players in the span of two offseasons.

Related: Calgary Flames: Free Agent Replacements for Johnny Gaudreau

Also, who will they target in free agency if they look to replace Gaudreau’s production on that top line? Pierre LeBrun reports that Treliving said it’s important to avoid knee-jerk reactions now and that the team can’t replace a player like Gaudreau. He added that he never contemplated trading the player’s rights because he didn’t want another team having the advantage of being able to offer the eighth year.

The Flames were also told that Nikita Zadorov will test free agency.

Oilers Finalize Last-Minute Deal with Evander Kane

Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday, “Also interesting to note the Oilers back and forth with Evander Kane continues. Kane will go to market, but there have been recent discussions between the two sides.” It turned out that Kane didn’t go to market as he announced just before midnight Edmonton time that he had re-signed with the Oilers.

Evander Kane Edmonton Oilers
Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kane cited the fact that he wanted a chance to win and that the Oilers gave him an opportunity seven months ago when no one else would. While that might be true, there was also a sense that perhaps Kane was starting to realize the market was not as hot for him as he’d hoped. It was likely a smart play by GM Ken Holland to let Kane test the market and see what was out there.

As for what this means for his grievance case with the San Jose Sharks, it probably doesn’t much matter. He could drop the case or see it through, but the result will essentially be the same. If Kane wins, he gets $21 million from the Sharks or $20.5 million from the Oilers.

Kevin Weekes is also reporting that the Oilers are closing in on a deal to secure Jack Campbell as their next goaltender. He says it’s a five-year, $5 million contract.

Canadiens Will Make Offer to Brett Kulak

LeBrun notes that the Montreal Canadiens are interested in bringing Brett Kulak back but they won’t be the only team that makes an offer. LeBrun believes there could be as many as six teams in the mix. LeBrun said, Marty St. Louis, in particular, enjoyed coaching him and that there will be an offer from the team early in free agency.

Guerin Confirms Why Cam Talbot Was Traded to Senators

According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin said he felt after speaking with goaltender Cam Talbot he needed to trade him and avoid the drama that could exist during this coming season. Russo quotes Guerin who said he knew in his gut things wouldn’t work out and Talbot would be unhappy. The two had a good conversation and he noted, “Cam’s a no BS kind of guy, and so am I, … but I have a ton of respect for Cam.”

Cam Talbot Minnesota Wild
Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Guerin added, “If you don’t want to be here, no problem. I can’t stress that enough. We’re putting the team ahead of any individuals’ wants and needs. It’s all about the team.”

Senators Looking to Make Free Agency Splash

Chris Johnston noted during TSN Insider Trading: “I think Ottawa has been the team of the off-season thus far and that will likely continue as free agency opens on Wednesday.” Speculation is that they will make an aggressive pitch for Claude Giroux and with the additions of Talbot and Alex DeBrincat, the Senators are suddenly a more attractive destination.

Crosby Played Significant Role In Malkin Deal Getting Done

Fans and insiders were a bit surprised when just hours before free agency was to open, a deal that seemed like it had hit a wall suddenly got done. Evgeni Malkin signed for four more seasons in Pittsburgh after a ton of speculation the Penguins didn’t want to go to that length of term.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Josh Yohe of The Athletic reports, “And just like that, Geno Malkin signs a four-year deal with the Penguins. Sidney Crosby, from what I’ve heard, played a big role in getting both sides talking once again after Monday’s negotiations went poorly.” The power of Crosby in Pittsburgh is real.

Nazem Kadri to Hear Multiple Pitches from Different Teams

Dreger also reports that Nazem Kadri is planning his free agency strategy and that he intends to let teams come to him with their pitches. He’ll listen to all and then make a decision. Dreger writes, “Kadri’s approach to free agency will be a planned free for all. Every interested team will make its pitch. Some will be pushed aside quickly while others will include Kadri speaking with GMs, coaches and players. Every team is aware he’s going to market, so it’s wide open.”