NHL Rumors: Avalanche, Lightning, Devils, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, what comes next for the Colorado Avalanche, who are this season’s Stanley Cup winners? They’ll take some time to enjoy the victory, but GM Joe Sakic won’t have long before he needs to get back to work.

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Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks have hired Luke Richardson as their next head coach. What made them lean his direction? The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Timothy Liljegren and

What’s Next For Avalanche?

Congratulations go out to the Colorado Avalanche for becoming the 2022 Stanley Cup Champions. A team that was favored to win from the start of the season was able to bring the dynasty of the Tampa Bay Lightning to an end and perhaps start a dynasty of their own. The Avs were among the NHL’s best and proved it by winning the league’s biggest prize.

Nazem Kadri Colorado Avalanche
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche (Getty Images)

As Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN point out, Sakic is going to have to get creative with his salary cap. The Avs have pending UFAs in Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin (both of whom will get significant raises). The team will also have to keep in mind that Nathan MacKinnon is going to get a big raise at the end of the 2022-23 NHL season. Other pending UFAs include goaltender Darcy Kuemper, forward Andre Burakovsky and defenseman Josh Manson. They can’t keep everyone.

Also, Artturi Lehkonen is a pending RFA.

Lightning Won’t Change Much

There will be questions in Tampa Bay, but make no mistake, this is not a team that believes their best years are behind them. They truly think they can win with this group and that they aren’t going away, despite some people suggesting they didn’t necessarily “need” this win as badly as the Avalanche.

Related: Avalanche’s Stanley Cup Clinching Win: By the Numbers

For the Lightning to remain competitive, they won’t need to make many changes, but there will be business conducted and questions about what happens with players like Nick Paul, Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta. What small upgrades will they make and how will they do so with not much salary cap space?

Could Devils Try to Acquire Jack Campbell’s Rights?

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that multiple sources say the New Jersey Devils are interested in Toronto Maple Leafs pending UFA goaltender Jack Campbell. Noting that if he isn’t signed by the Leafs before free agency opens, they could go after him, possibly even try to acquire his rights around the NHL Entry Draft via trade. If successful, the Devils would then move goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another option for the Devils could be New York Rangers goaltender Alexander Georgiev. He is a pending RFA and it is believed the Rangers are actively trying to move him in a deal. It might be odd to see a trade between the Rangers and Devils.

Maple Leafs Sign Liljegren

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenseman Timothy Liljegren to a two-year contract extension worth $1.4 million per season. He’ll make $1.3-million in salary in the first year and $1.5-million in salary the second year. He will remain an RFA with arbitration rights at the completion of this deal and will require a $1.5-million qualifying offer. After coming on strong this season and finishing tied for 11th in Calder Trophy voting, this could be a contract that leads him into a nice payday in 2024.

Blackhawks Make Richardson Head Coach

A well-respected and beloved assistant for many seasons — the latest with the Montreal Canadiens — Luke Richardson has officially been named the next head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. The organization will officially introduce him as such in a press conference on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT.

The Blackhawks noted that they selected Richardson because of his vast coaching experience, but also his personality. They see him as someone who shares the organization’s vision and admire his desire to build the right culture around the team. They called him the “perfect person to lead this next era of the Chicago Blackhawks.”