It was another disappointing early playoff exit for the Pittsburgh Penguins but their new front office group, just installed earlier this season, is not looking to blow up the roster. NHL.com’s Wes Crosby writes that Penguins GM Ron Hextall intends to keep his aging core together and to remain in “win-now mode”. That means that contract negotiation talks are underway with center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. The current deals for the 34-year-old duo expire at the end of next season, but Hextall would like to keep them around and is not currently considering trading either one. “We see a future with this core,” Hextall said. “We’ve got some pretty special players that, they’re obviously not in their 20s anymore, but they’re still playing at a high level.” The GM also expressed his confidence in young goaltender Tristan Jarry and did not label goaltending as an area of concern this off-season. Hextall instead stated that adding size and toughness is his priority this summer.
- There has been considerable speculation that Washington Capitals forward and Washington (state, that is) native T.J. Oshie could be available to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Oshie, 34 and signed for four more years, has been stellar for the Capitals, but has still been considered expendable due to his age and contract. Additionally, the idea that the Kraken would leap at the local product as a veteran leader for their new team would mean that Washington does not need to worry about other valuable expected exposures, like young goaltender Vitek Vanecek or defenseman Brenden Dillon. However, in an interview on 106.7 The Fan in D.C., GM Brian MacLellan called it “unlikely” that Oshie will be exposed. MacLellan called Oshie a “big part” of their team, which is not an understatement after this season. In 2020-21, Oshie showed no signs of age catching up to him, scoring goals and recording points at a career pace. Oshie’s 22 goals and 43 points were both top-three marks for the Capitals and had him on a full-season trajectory of 34 goals and 67 points. Oshie also tied for second in the entire league with 13 power play goals. If he can continue to score at this rate, perhaps his lengthy, expensive contract will continue to be worth it through 2024-25, justifying the decision not to make him available in expansion.
- Although the final days of the Nashville Predators’ regular season certainly implied that we were seeing the end of career Predator and franchise icon Pekka Rinne, the veteran goaltender is not hanging his skate up just yet. In an exit interview with the Nashville communications staff, Rinne states that he has still not made a decision if he will retire or not. Notably, albeit unsurprisingly, is that the only alternative he provides to retirement is re-signing with Nashville. With young Juuse Saros established as the Predators’ current starter and elite prospect Yaroslav Askarov waiting in the wings, there isn’t a long-term need in net for the Predators. However, one more year with Rinne is certainly not a bad option.