With preseason games taking place and the start of the 2021-22 NHL season set for Oct. 12, much of the focus in the hockey world is on what's happening on the ice. The offseason is all about trades and free-agent signings. Now, it's almost time to play meaningful games.
However, there's still off-ice news being made. Perhaps a player will sign a contract extension before the new season gets underway. Or noteworthy free-agent signings and/or trades could always take place. After all, transactions aren't limited to the offseason, even if that's when they are most prevalent.
So as the start of a new NHL season draws closer, here's some of the latest buzz from around the league.
Is Tkachuk Feeling Pressure to Sign with Senators Soon?
Even though the season is so close to starting, there's still one notable player who is a restricted free agent: Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk. The 22-year-old has yet to sign a deal with the Sens, who own his rights because of his RFA status.
While Tkachuk hasn't signed a new contract, there's been buzz regarding negotiations with the Senators. According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, the Senators are believed to have offered Tkachuk an eight-year, $64 million deal and that "the sense is the two sides aren't that far apart on money."
Still, Tkachuk hasn't re-signed with the Senators. And he may not be feeling a ton of pressure to get something done quickly, even though Ottawa is set to play its first game Oct. 14.
"You would think [he might feel pressure to re-sign], but it's hard to tell with the [Tkachuk] family," a league insider told Garrioch. "He appears to be the last man standing, but I'm not sure he'd feel the pressure the same way others would."
As Garrioch noted, Tkachuk's father, Keith, signed late three times when he played in the NHL. Meanwhile, Tkachuk's brother, Matthew, missed four days of training camp in 2019 before coming to terms on a new deal with the Calgary Flames.
But if the 2018 NHL draft fourth overall pick doesn't sign with the Senators soon, he could miss the start of the regular season. Keep an eye on this one ahead of opening night.
Barkov, Panthers Discussing Contract Extension
Aleksander Barkov has spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Florida Panthers. And it appears the 26-year-old center may not be leaving anytime soon.
According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the Panthers are "engaged in ongoing negotiations on a contract extension" for Barkov, whose deal is set to expire after the 2021-22 season. The Panthers captain is entering the final season of a six-year, $35.4 million contract.
"Per sources, talks are progressing slowly, but there is optimism a deal can be reached by the start of the reg-season (which is not currently considered a deadline)," Pagnotta tweeted.
Even though Barkov is under contract through the end of the season, it makes sense why Florida wants to ensure he stays with the team long term. He has 465 points (181 goals and 284 assists) in 529 games with the Panthers.
Last season, Barkov had 26 goals and 32 assists in 50 games while also posting a plus/minus rating of plus-12, his best since the 2016-17 season.
Barkov has helped Florida make the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. Now, he's going to be looking to try to help the team notch its first postseason series win since 1996.