NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Nikita Nesterov, Kings, Senators' Offseason Plans

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIJune 4, 2020

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JANUARY 21: Nikita Nesterov #89 of the CSKA skates against the SKA Saint Petersburg at the Arena CSKA Moscow on January 21, 2020 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/ Getty Images)
Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images

While it's not clear when the offseason will take place, with the NHL potentially set to resume the 2019-20 season later this summer, seven teams won't be part of the expanded playoffs if/when that happens.

That group includes the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators, who are both likely to have top draft picks and important decisions to make prior to the 2020-21 season.

Here's some of the latest buzz regarding potential moves for both teams.

                

Nesterov leaving KHL to join Kings after all?

In March, KHL defenseman Nikita Nesterov turned down a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings and instead stayed with CSKA Moscow, according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express. However, it appears that things may have now changed.

According to Rick Dhaliwal of TSN 1040 and The Athletic, the 27-year-old will be leaving Russia after all and is "being linked" to the Kings. He has spent the past three seasons playing for CSKA, tallying 60 points in 136 games.

This won't be Nesterov's first stint in the NHL, though. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and made his debut with them as a 21-year-old during the 2014-15 season.

He remained with the Lightning until midway through the 2016-17 season, when he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he appeared in 13 games for before returning to Russia in July 2017.

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Nesterov tallied 28 points (eight goals and 20 assists) in 132 games over his three NHL seasons. However, he may have improved and developed his game over his three seasons in the KHL, so it should be interesting to see how he fares if he makes it back on the ice in the NHL.

It's an addition that would make sense for the Kings, who don't have great defensive depth and could lose Ben Hutton and Joakim Ryan in free agency this upcoming offseason.

During a conference call with reporters last month, Los Angeles general manager Rob Blake expressed interest in improving the defense this offseason.

"I think that would be one area of need that we would look at, whether it’s the free-agent market or the acquisition market, and most likely on the left side," he said, according to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.

Although Nesterov may not end up fixing that roster hole, he's a player who could be worth taking a risk on to see if he can make an impact for the Kings in the near future.

              

Which RFAs could be back for Senators in 2020-21?

This is an important offseason for the Ottawa Senators, as they own three first-round picks in the 2020 draft, two of which will likely be in the top five.

After missing the playoffs the past three seasons, the Senators likely need to keep adding talented young players to build around as they look to return to being competitive in the Eastern Conference.

But Ottawa will have more decisions to make outside of the draft, as it has six players who will be restricted free agents this offseason and eight who are set to become unrestricted free agents. 

The Athletic's Hailey Salvian believes the Senators will have an easy decision for several players set to become restricted free agents, meaning the team can match any offer sheets they could receive from elsewhere this offseason.

"RFAs such as Anthony Duclair, Nick Paul, Chris Tierney and Connor Brown should be locks to return," Salvian wrote. "They add depth and that 'middle-aged veteran' presence the Senators want to pair with their younger prospects."

Each of those four players contributed for the Senators this season, so it's understandable why they want them all back to play alongside their younger players. Brown ranked second on the team with 43 points, while Duclair (40 points, fourth on the team), Tierney (37, sixth) and Paul (20, 10th) also had solid seasons for Ottawa.

Of course, that doesn't completely answer what the Senators' roster will look like in 2020-21. But if Salvian is right and they all return, it clarifies how Ottawa's lines could look next season.