NHL Rumors: Breaking Down Latest Buzz Around the League

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the New York Rangers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 29, 2014 in New York City. Rangers defeated the Canadiens 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2014

The NHL rumor mill may be quieter than Silent Bob competing in a spelling bee, but that doesn't mean there isn't some buzz out there to unearth (and it also doesn't mean I'm about to go all Jay on you).

With the big free agents snatched up in a flash and a flurry of trades helping to change the landscape of the NHL, most NHL rosters are now pretty set. Still, there are players out there who could yet get traded, while one very high-profile star is looking to avoid arbitration. 

It's all about as exciting as a game of hockey on the roof. Let's break down the latest NHL buzz.

 

Eric Staal

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 10: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes prepares for a faceoff during their NHL game against the Washington Capitals at PNC Arena on April 10, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

It's no secret that Eric Staal is coming off a disappointing season. He scored just 61 points last year, a mark he's exceeded in all but his rookie year and the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13. With the Carolina Hurricanes struggling in recent years and Staal accounting for a large chunk of their payroll, it isn't hard to connect the dots. 

As Doug Mittler of ESPN.com (subscription required) noted, "The name of Eric Staal has been floated in trade rumors for months" before adding that "there was some buzz earlier this summer that the New York Rangers could make a move for Staal, but the cap hit makes that very unlikely." 

Another factor that makes it unlikely he'll be moved is that he just had surgery to fix a muscle injury, per ESPN.com, though according to that report, he'll likely be ready for the start of the season. Still, moving expensive and potentially damaged goods isn't exactly the easiest sell.

Perhaps Staal was overworking himself a bit, trying to come back stronger than ever after having a fairly weak season by his standards. So much for that. It's hard to imagine the Hurricanes being able to deal Staal at this point, so the hope will be that he indeed picks up his play. 

 

P.K. Subban

MONTREAL, QC - MAY 27: P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens warms up prior to the game against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 27, 2014 in Montreal,
Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

There isn't a player quite like defenseman P.K. Subban in the NHL today, and both he and the Montreal Canadiens know it. Unfortunately, the two have disagreed on just what his unique talents equate to in monetary terms.

The showdown could be headed to arbitration on Friday. Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun doesn't think it will get quite that far, however:

The 2013 Norris Trophy winner and the Habs, led by GM Marc Bergevin, are scheduled to meet in front of an arbitrator on Aug. 1, but a deal is expected to be hammered out before then, though Subban, a Toronto native, wouldn't offer up any information on how talks are going.

"You can look at me and say 'Come on' all you want," Subban told reporters. "I'll answer one question about the negotiation. It's been kept pretty quiet the whole time and it's going to remain that way until a deal's done."

So we'll just have to fill in his silence with speculation. Allan Muir of SI.com did just that:

We're talking, of course, about P.K. Subban and what's sure to be the most lucrative deal in franchise history. One that will likely bring the defenseman $10 million a season—or more—at some point during the agreement.

(We'll pause here a moment while the no-player-is-worth-that crowd get all the vitriol out of their systems.)

A crazy amount of money? Sure is. But then Subban is a crazy, unique talent.

What doesn't Subban do, after all? He defends. He scores and assists goals (53 points this last season). He matches speed with control, grit with craftiness, offense with defense. He calls the shot when he's on the ice, and he's truly become the face of the franchise. 

The Canadiens can take this to arbitration if they like, but even then Subban seems likely to get close to what he wants, and the team will have to air some dirty laundry to prove he's worth less money—never a pretty thing. 

So yes, it makes sense to just pay the man now and avoid the whole messy process. We'll see if cooler heads in the team's front office prevail. 

 

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