NHL Rumors: Nikita Gusev. Braden Holtby, RFA/UFA lists
Should Minnesota explore acquiring Nikita Gusev?  

Michael Russo of The Athletic (mailbag):  Minnesota needs to make the playoffs and that is the edict. So, pondering any options to upgrade the forward core has to be considered. That includes looking at Nikita Gusev. Kiril Kaprizov’s past relationship helps but will he ever come over to play?

Paul Fenton knows a Nikita Gusev trade won’t cost a Jason Zucker but it will not be super cheap. It’s a delicate trade and one that has a low probability of happening at best.

Trade Braden Holtby?  Not yet!

J.J. Regan of NBC Sports Washington (mailbag):  An uneasy question becomes when does one trade Braden Holtby. Sergei Bobrovsky received $70 million from the Florida Panthers ($10 million AAV) and Holtby hits the market next year at the same age. Both have comparable stats but Braden Holtby won a Stanley Cup and has better playoff credentials.

Washington’s pipeline includes Ilya Samsonov and Vitali Vanecek. Eventually, the Capitals face the trade question but it all depends on how Washington fares this season. Braden Holtby could be traded anytime just not yet.

Notable RFA’s and rumors…

Luke Fox of Sportsnet:  Alas, there is no Braden Holtby or Nikita Gusev talk here but Mitch Marner still is holding some things up. Furthermore, Brayden Point‘s loyalty to Tampa Bay caused Marc Bergevin to file an offer sheet with Sebastien Aho. Carolina matched that fast. The result is the top two RFA’s have this whole thing in limbo until someone blinks.

These standoffs have stalled some other negotiations a bit like Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk, and Brock Boeser. All have varying circumstances but deals will take time and patience. That is what happens when the market is in a standstill.

Notable UFA’s and rumors…

Luke Fox of Sportsnet:  Sadly, Jake Gardiner still waits as a free agent. When Toronto’s door closed (Tyson Barrie trade), others did open albeit slowly. It’s difficult to see the defenseman get his asking price in this market (close to $7 million AAV). Is the back injury scaring teams or is it Gardiner being patient? Good question.

After that, pickings slim down. Joe Thornton expects to re-sign with San Jose eventually. Justin Williams could retire or play one more year in Carolina. Ben Hutton and Derick Brassard could be had for much cheaper now. Pat Maroon wants a multi-year offer but teams insist on one.