NHL Rumors: Canucks, Blackhawks, Hurricanes, Flames

In today’s NHL rumors there are questions about what it took from the Vancouver Canucks to get Andrei Kuzmenko to commit to signing with the team as a free agent.

Have the Chicago Blackhawks hired a new head coach since? Ethan Bear has been given permission to speak to other teams and will Johnny Gaudreau test the free agency market?

Why did Kuzmenko agree to deal with Canucks?

Winning one of the KHL’s most desirable free agents is a huge achievement for the Canucks, but how did they do it? According to Rick Dhaliwal from The Athletic: “Bruce Boudreau drove 6 hours to meet Kuzmenko in Ann Arbor, Michigan last Friday. Patrik Alvin also drove 4.5 hours for this meeting. Kuzmenko was impressed.” This comes after other reports that Boudreau was instrumental in bringing the Canucks to Kuzmenko and a report from Darren Dreger that top 6 game time and a chance on the power play were part of the offer.

Kuzmenko wants to have a great season and opportunity will be a big factor in him putting up some numbers that will pay him. Puck Pedia reports that the one-year entry-level contract he will eventually sign with the Canucks is the maximum allowable: $855,000 NHL salary, with a $95,000 signing bonus and an $80,000 underage salary of 850,000 . He receives “A” performance awards and a $950,000 cap hit and $1.85 million AAV.

There is also gossip that having Vasily Podkolzin on the team was a big deal.

The Blackhawks are about to hire a new head coach

acc ESPN’s Kevin Weekes“According to my last tweet, I’ve been in touch with people close to the @NHLBlackhawks HC process as I’ve been told, ‘The situation remains fluid and is working on hiring new HC.’ Will keep you great.” @NHL Fans have posted when we hear more.” That post was something of a retraction, stating a deal may have been made.

Related: NHL Rumors: Panthers, Stars, Canucks, Sabers, Lightning

Weekes removed his initial tweet that the hiring was complete, and there was speculation that the Blackhawks had found their man in Calgary Flames assistant Ryan Huska.

Gaudreau tests free agent market?

TSN’s Darren Dreger was on the show The Instigators this week and said the Calgary Flames and upcoming UFA Johnny Gaudreau have been in talks about an extension but no deal is in sight just yet. says Dreger there not much stands in the way of an update and that the Flames want to be patient because they don’t have much choice. Dreger said he wouldn’t be surprised if Gaudreau tested the free-agent market.

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

Dreger isn’t the only one who thinks so like other reports come in that Gaudreau at least wants to see what his worth is out there. That doesn’t mean he’s ruled out Calgary or that he won’t be returning, just that this is his only chance to know what he’s worth to other teams and get a feel for what the free hand is all about.

Hurricanes ready to move away from Ethan Bear?

Like Sportsnet Elliotte Friedman reports, the Carolina Hurricanes have given defenseman Ethan Bear permission to talk to other teams and gauge what the market is for him. Friedman notes that the Hurricanes are open to signing Bear, but that both sides aren’t close to what a deal might look like as Bear thinks he’s worth a lot more than the Hurricanes.

Friedman points out that letting Bear speak to other teams is a bit of an odd decision since they have control of his contract as a pending RFA. Maybe they just want him to get a dose of reality and understand that as a player who wasn’t an NHL regular, he’s only worth so much.

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