About an hour removed from the opening of NHL free agency, there is no shortage of speculation to discuss. Some players were given permission to talk to teams early and there are rumors that teams have already targeted the names they’re likely to pitch in the opening moments of the day.
Here are a few of the rumors of note:
Reaves a 3-Year Deal in Toronto?
Ryan Reaves, the rugged forward known for his physical play, is generating significant interest in the NHL free agency market. According to reports from insider Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs have emerged as a potential landing spot for Reaves. Dreger suggests that there is mutual interest between the player and the team, with a target contract length of three years. However, it appears that the Minnesota Wild, Reaves’ previous team, were only willing to offer a two-year deal. The expected average annual value (AAV) of Reaves’ contract in Toronto is estimated to be around $1.3 million.
Dreger writes: “Based on level of interest, it’s believed the target is 3 years. I don’t believe the Wild we’re willing to do more than 2 years. Expect the AAV to come in around $1.3. He will be a fan favourite in Toronto.”
Another respected hockey analyst, Elliotte Friedman, confirms the growing speculation around Reaves and Toronto. He mentions that the Maple Leafs are prepared to present a trade package involving Tyler Bertuzzi, a highly sought-after commodity, and potentially a defenseman. The details of such a trade would require careful negotiations and maneuvering.
Ryan O’Reilly to Test Free Agency
LeBrun also notes: “Hearing that Ryan O’Reilly is headed to the UFA market. Leafs had interest right to the end but the UFA centre is going to market.” Ryan O’Reilly’s impact as a trade deadline acquisition for Toronto was undeniable. The 32-year-old seamlessly integrated into his hometown team, contributing 11 points in just 13 games and boasting an impressive 62% faceoff win rate. His stellar performance continued into the playoffs, where he tallied nine points in 11 contests, solidifying his status as a highly sought-after center in the upcoming free-agency market.
Jason Zucker Drawing Interest
In a separate development, Jason Zucker, a forward who scored an impressive 27 goals in the previous season, is drawing attention from various teams. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period notes that although things have been relatively quiet surrounding Zucker leading up to the present, he is expected to garner interest due to his goal-scoring abilities. Pagnotta specifically highlights the Pittsburgh Penguins as a team that could circle back to pursue Zucker, as they search for additional scoring power.
Lucic to the Bruins
LeBrun also added, “As mentioned earlier this week, all signs point to Milan Lucic landing in Boston. Deal still has to be worked out once the market opens, but that’s where it’s most likely headed.”
Matt Duchene Will be Popular
After being bought out by the Nashville Predators, Matt Duchene, an unrestricted free-agent center, is currently exploring his options in free agency. Pierre LeBrun reports that approximately 10 teams have expressed interest in Duchene. The player and his agent, Pat Brisson, are weighing their options and are expected to make a decision in the near future.
Penguins Interested in Frederick Andersen?
LeBrun also mentions that goaltender Freddy Andersen, formerly with the Carolina Hurricanes, is likely to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. While a return to Carolina is not entirely ruled out, it seems Andersen’s next destination may be elsewhere. The Pittsburgh Penguins could potentially be a landing spot for Andersen, depending on the outcome of their situation with Tristan Jarry.
As the NHL free agency frenzy continues, teams and players alike are actively engaging in negotiations, exploring opportunities, and preparing to make significant moves to bolster their rosters for the upcoming season.
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