The Edmonton Oilers and impending free agent forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continue to talk extension, but thus far to no avail. Frank Seravalli reports on TSN’s latest “Insider Trading” that the Oilers’ latest contract offer was “not flattering”. He believes that the extension proposal contained just a five-year term, as well as an AAV that did not serve to counteract the short term. Unsurprisingly, Nugent-Hopkins’ camp was quick to move on from the offer. However, the two sides are committed to continuing talks and there does not yet seem to be any resentment growing despite the lack of progress on a new deal. Seravalli notes that, as of now, there is no desire on the Oilers’ part to trade RNH before the impending trade deadline. Should the two sides fail to come to terms on an extension, Nugent-Hopkins will be one of, if not the most sought-after free agent. It has previously been speculated that the Seattle Kraken, who will have plenty of cap space but could be short on center talent, would be a major suitor for the 2011 No. 1 overall pick if he were to hit the open market this off-season.
- With the Florida Panthers signing star goalie prospect Spencer Knight on Wednesday, the pressure is on to decide the future of current backup Chris Driedger. Driedger has been one of the best stories of the 2020-21 season. A veteran minor leaguer, with more ECHL games than NHL games in his career, Driedger has broken out at the age of 26. After an excellent showing in limited action last season, Driedger has continued his stellar play into the current campaign, stealing starts from $10MM lead netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. However, the Panthers stand to lose him for nothing this off-season as an unrestricted free agent. The two sides had been in communication about an extension, but with Knight now joining the fold alongside Bobrovsky, leaving Boston College after just two seasons, there doesn’t seem to be a place for Driedger beyond this season – and other teams realize this. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that as soon as Knight’s contract was announced, a number of rival GM’s reached out to Florida’s Bill Zito to inquire on Driedger. In fact, LeBrun notes that multiple trade offers have already been made. However, to this point Zito has told all suitors that he has not decided what to do with Driedger just yet. The Panthers are not only in a playoff spot, but have a real chance at a Central Division title, especially if their goaltending holds up. Removing Driedger from the equation means losing the better of Florida’s two goalies this season and replacing him with a prospect who has no pro experience. Keeping Driedger would be better for the Panthers’ Stanley Cup hopes this season, but at the cost of what could be a considerable trade return. At the end of the day, this could all come back to contract talks. If Zito and company can convince Driedger that he has a role in Florida for another year or two even with Knight in the mix, then they have all the more reason to keep him. If the goalie is unconvinced and eyeing opportunity elsewhere this season, the team might opt to move him and lean on their well-paid current starter and highly-regarded future starter.
- Normally, playing for your country’s national team is an honor. However, given the continued threat of COVID-19 as well as the wear and tear that this condensed 2020-21 season has had on players, recruiting for the 2021 World Championship in Latvia this spring is going to be a major challenge. For Team Canada, that responsibility will fall to Roberto Luongo, who will be named the team’s GM according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. This will be the first time that Luongo has served in such a major role on the international stage, but he very likely will not have the normal assortment of stars to choose from for his Worlds roster. Dreger believes that Canada’s roster – and many others – is likely to skew young, with players still looking to make a name for themselves more willing to go play in Latvia rather than established stars. Luongo may have the tall task of picking through some inexperience and unrealized potential, or else convincing veterans to join the squad, if he wants to build a winner.