The NHL offseason continues to roll right along. We've had two drafts, plenty of trades and lots of free-agent action over the past few weeks. In a little more than two months—October 4, to be exact—we'll be back on the ice for regular-season action.
The time between now and the start of the regular season—or at least the preseason in September—isn't going to be filled will as much activity. The vast majority of big names are off the free-agent market and the number of teams looking to make trades is dwindling. However, that doesn't mean the market is completely dry.
There are still a few potential moves out there that could be noteworthy. We're going to examine the latest storylines and rumors surrounding those here.
Penguins May Trade for Center
The Pittsburgh Penguins have managed to hoist the Stanley Cup in each of the past two years, but they aren't content to rest on their laurels. The team has been busy trying to reload for another run in the 2017-18 season.
According to Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins could be looking to add a third-line center—likely via trade—but possibly not until just before the start of the regular season:
"Something theoretically could happen any day, and Jim Rutherford will certainly keep his phone turned on, but I also wouldn't be surprised if the 3C trade wasn't actually made until September. As Rutherford said at the draft, they don't have to field a team until Oct. 4. The hot name now seems like Tyler Bozak from the Maple Leafs, but the issue there is he makes $4.2 million next year, more than double the $2 million Jim Rutherford has allotted for this position."
Werner also pointed out that Pittsburgh is looking for a decent amount of offense at the position, which is why second-tier free agents aren't really enticing options.
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hinted at the possible addition of Bozak, pointing to his relationship with current Penguins winger Phil Kessel.
"Bozak, who also happens to be one of Phil Kessel’s best friends, makes $4.2 million and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season," Mackey wrote. "He’s 31 years old and produced 18 goals and 55 points in 78 games last season in Toronto."
Bozak certainly seems to be a solid option for Pittsburgh, assuming the team can make enough salary space to accommodate him. Keep the potential trade in mind, just don't expect it to happen immediately.
Golden Knights Working on Schmidt Deal, Not Eager to Deal Defensemen
We mentioned in the opening that there were two NHL drafts this summer. The first was the normal entry draft. The second was the expansion draft that helped build the roster of the league's newest team—the Vegas Golden Knights.
Thanks in large part to the expansion draft, the Golden Knights have managed to amass a collection of defensive players. The team is currently negotiating with restricted free agent defenseman Nate Schmidt. Once he's under contract—possibly via arbitration—Vegas will have 11 defensemen on the roster. That's a lot, and conventional wisdom would suggest the Golden Knights try to move some of their defensive pieces in order to strengthen other spots on this new team.
However, general manager George McPhee doesn't seem likely to do so anytime soon.
"We're at a manageable number right now," he said, per Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We're pretty close to where we want to be and we're comfortable with the roster we have."
Are the Golden Knights really wanting to enter their inaugural season with such a defense-heavy draft, or is this gamesmanship on the part of McPhee?
There's a chance the GM wants to be able to point to the other options on the team's roster while negotiating with Schmidt, whose agent, Matt Keator, has made it clear he and his client would prefer to avoid arbitration.
"Nobody wants to go through arbitration," Keator said, per Carp. "We'll see how it plays out."
An arbitration hearing is scheduled for August 3.
Iginla, Doan Considering Retirement?
The free-agent market has already been stripped of its most enticing players. However, there are a few notable names still available.
Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan are two of them, and they're two of the most accomplished players you're going to find on the market. They have 41 seasons, 1,027 goals and eight All-Star Game appearances between them.
Both Iginla and Doan remain unemployed.
Age is likely a factor here, as both players are 40. However, it's not like they don't have something to offer. Doan appeared in 74 games last season and produced 21 points. Iginla appeared in 80 and produced 27 points on the season. Each is still looking for his first Stanley Cup.
According to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, both Iginla and Doan have been in contact with teams this offseason, but both are also examining retirement as a possibility.
"It's not as cut and dry as when I was young and we didn't have any kids," Iginla said, per Hastings. "There is a point where we don't want to keep moving them."
It's not as if retirement would take Iginla and Doan away from the game of hockey. Both are part owners of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. At this point in their careers and considering their current situations, it doesn't make sense for either guy to sign with a team that isn't a legitimate contender.
"At 40, you want to be on a contending team," Iginla said, per Hastings. "With the parity in the NHL, there are probably 15 teams that have a chance. You factor all that in, along with family. At this point, we're still uncertain."
It wouldn't be a surprise to see both Iginla and Doan on rosters this season. It would be equally unsurprising to see one or both decide to hang it up.