NHL Rumors: Oilers, Lightning, Penguins, Rangers

In today’s NHL rumors, the Edmonton Oilers have asked a couple of their veteran players to make a decision by a specific date. The team have since learned that goalkeeper Mikko Koskinen has signed to play abroad next season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could have some great news in time for the Stanley Cup Finals, and there are updates on the state of negotiations between the Pittsburgh Penguins and two of their big-name UFAs. Finally, is Kaapo Kakko likely to sign an offer if things get rocky between him and the New York Rangers?

Keith and Smith asked that Oilers be told their plans

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Oilers have asked veterans Mike Smith and Duncan Keith to let them know what they intend to do (keep playing or quit) before July 1. The expectation is that Keith not only wants to return, but also looks to stay in the NHL for next season, which will be his last under contract. As for Smith, he appeared tired on his last press of the season and said it was too early to know if he would be back.

Duncan Keith Edmonton Oilers
Duncan Keith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Both players are under contract for another season, but leaving one or both will help the Oilers solve some of their salary cap issues. The two players combined will earn just over $7.7 million in 2022-23. When Keith retires according to Puck Pediathe Blackhawks would have a $7.5M recapture cap hit while his $5.5M cap hit would be removed for the Oilers and they would have a $3.4M recapture cap credit would receive (negative cap hit).

Koskinen officially signs in Switzerland

hockey club Lugano has announced They’ve officially signed Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen. During the postseason, rumors surfaced that a deal was already in place and the goaltender would be leaving the NHL. This announcement confirms it. The deal is for two seasons.

Point could be back for Lightning

Likewise after Elliot Friedmansays Jon Cooper, “Brayden Point will ‘most likely’ play in the Finals, although he’s not sure about Game 1.” That would be a big boost for Tampa Bay, who wants to peat three as Stanley Cup Champions, and Point is one large part of their offense.

If he takes the warm-up, he’ll be a game-time decision.

The Penguins’ priority is signing Letang

According to The Athletic’s Rob Rossi, multiple sources say the priority for the Penguins this off-season is to sign Kris Letang to a new multi-year deal. He is a floating UFA, as is Evgeni Malkin.

See also: 3 first-round goals for the Penguins in the 2022 NHL Draft

Rossi writes:

Talks are ongoing between the Penguins and representatives from Letang and Malkin, but management would like to know how much Letang will cost before turning its attention to Malkin more seriously, club and league sources said.

Source – ‘Penguins’ Offseason Plans, Conversations With Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin: What We’re Hearing

Sidney Crosby Evgeni Mallkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Mallkin (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, file)

Meanwhile, NorthStarBets.com’s Chris Johnston writes that the Penguins and Malkin are in talks about a deal and it is believed many see these negotiations as a turning point for the organization. He writes, “Malkin remains close friends with captain Sidney Crosby, who has three years left on his own contract, and Fenway Sports Group will eventually have to look at a restructuring.”

Could Kakko sign an offer sheet?

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks drew an interesting comparison between Kaapo Kakko’s situation in New York and what happened to fellow Finnish striker Jesperi Kotkaniemi from Montreal. Brooks addressed Kotkaniemi’s healthy scrape in games four and five of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals versus Kakko’s healthy scrape for the Rangers, saying it adds to an already interesting contract negotiation between the two sides.

Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This past offseason, Kotkaniemi entered the RFA market and signed a $6.1 million one-year bid deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. It was clear he was happy to be stepping down from a Canadian team that didn’t play him often. Could Kakko do something similar? Maybe, but the big difference here is the Hurricanes’ relationship with the Canadians that motivated Carolina’s decision. It was as much about hitting the Canadiens’ organization as it was about landing the player.

Brooks writes that Kakko has already had an impact on his renegotiations. He explains:

And the leverage is based on the simple mathematical truth that the Rangers would be helpless if Kakko received an offer hand in the $4.2 million to $6.3 million range that would carry nothing more than the Kotkaniemi compensation one First and Third Round Players .

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