Panthers, Senators, Canadiens, Golden Knights

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Florida Panthers are signing Eric Staal. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators are starting contract extension talks with Artem Zub but one source notes the team may need to place a bigger priority on getting that deal done.

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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in a huge rush to secure additional goaltending help but could still be looking for a short-term addition to their blue line. Finally, what are the Vegas Golden Knights’ plans if the salary cap jumps at the end of this season?

Panthers Sign Eric Staal

Eric Staal has finally gotten his contract with the Florida Panthers. The team and the player have agreed to a one-year, one-way contract carrying a salary of $750K, according to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. The Panthers wanted to sign Staal coming off of his PTO but didn’t have the room. The deal was made possible when defenseman Aaron Ekblad made his way onto long-term injured reserve.

Eric Staal Montreal Canadiens
Eric Staal, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Emily Kaplan of ESPN writes, “Can confirm, Eric Staal’s contract will be official this afternoon. Staal will not be in the lineup tonight against the Lightning, but should debut Sunday vs the Islanders.”

Senators Will Struggle to Keep Artem Zub

Senators’ defenseman Artem Zub is off to a hot start this season and while that’s good news for the team in the short term, it could be problematic in the long term if he keeps producing in top-pairing minutes with Thomas Chabot. Zub is a pending unrestricted free agent, and most believe that he is sure to get a sizeable raise on his current $2.5 million cap hit. He may want to test the market.

Artem Zub Ottawa Senators
Artem Zub, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

According to TSN’s Chris Johnston (as per a recent Insider Trading segment) Zub likely won’t last long on the market if he gets there. There haven’t been substantive extension talks between the Senators and Zub notes the insider and he figures there will be league-wide interest in Zub’s services. This could lead to the Senators placing a priority on extension talks as the regular season rolls along.

Related: NHL Rumors: Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Red Wings, Flames, Kings

In other Senators news, head coach D.J. Smith says goaltender Cam Talbot still hasn’t been cleared to take shots, even though he’s back on the ice. Talbot suffered an upper-body injury at the start of October and was given a five to seven-week recovery timeline.

Canadiens Not in Rush to Add Goaltending Help

According to Eric Engels of Sportsnet, his latest mailbag segment outlines the plans for the goaltending position for the team if Carey Price is unable to return and his knee injury forces his unofficial retirement. Engels notes that the Canadiens are not going to be in a rush to go out and secure the services of another goalie.

Instead, the Habs will look to Jake Allen after signing him to an extension for two seasons and then try to identify future starting goalies in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. If the Canadiens are playing well and the team needs to bolster their lineup this year, there could be a trade at some point, depending on how things go with Allen. Engels anticipates a trade is the most likely way to bolster that position.

Meanwhile, Marco D’Amico writes in a recent Montreal Hockey Now column that the Canadiens are still searching for a right-shot defenseman despite the recent addition of Jonathan Kovacevic off waivers. The team wants a veteran presence on the blue line in the short term as they have a ton of growing confidence in Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekja.

Golden Knights Hoping For Early Salary Cap Jump

Talk from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was that there could be a hike in salary caps at the end of this season if the cards fall right for the league. That’s a big maybe, but one team that is hoping for a jump sooner than later is the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights 2022-23 Reverse Retro
Vegas Golden Knights 2022-23 Reverse Retro (NHL/adidas)

The Athletic’s Jesse Granger recently interviewed Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley who said that a $4 million jump in the salary cap might affect the club’s plans. When asked what the club might do, he noted:

It gives us the ability to go out and get maybe another really quality forward. We’re great down the middle (at center), but we could use a little more depth in terms of forwards, especially the top-nine. Our defense is terrific. We have really good players and they’re signed up for a long time. I feel like we’re in a great spot.

source – ‘Golden Knights owner Bill Foley on salary-cap future, the trade deadline and more’ – Jesse Granger – The Athletic – 10/19/2022

Considering the Golden Knights dumped a number of legitimate wingers because of their cap issues, it’s fascinating to see that team ownership hasn’t seemed to learn from past mistakes.

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