Ahead of the NHL Draft on Oct. 6 and the opening of free agency on Oct. 9, TSN.ca keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

More to Come?

The Pittsburgh Penguins appeared to be close to reaching a deal with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday to acquire defenceman Mike Matheson for winger Patric Hornqvist, but the deal has yet to be finalized.

Sean Gentille of The Athletic writes that "insurance issues on Hornqvist's contract" have held up the deal. The 33-year-old is signed for three more seasons at a cap hit of $5.3 million.

Rob Rossi of The Athletic adds that Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has been shopping Hornqvist but hadn't previously found a worthy return. The Penguins already have a stockpile of left-handed defencemen in Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Jack Johnson and Juuso Riikola, but Russo reports that Rutherford believes he can move one of them quickly if Matheson is acquired.

Matheson has six years remaining on an eight-year deal he signed in 2017 with a cap hit of $4.875 million. He had eight goals and 20 points in 59 games with the Panthers in 2019-20.

Hornqvist had 17 goals and 32 points in 52 games this season with Pittsburgh.


Staying Put?

Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest reports the Anaheim Ducks have informed David Backes that they expect him to be a part of their roster next season as he closes on 1,000 career games.

There had been speculation that Backes would be a buyout candidate when the window opens on Friday with one year left on his contract at a $4.5 million cap hit.

The Ducks acquired Backes, along with a first-round pick and prospect Axel Andersson, in exchange for winger Ondrej Kase ahead of the trade deadline. 

Backes, 36, had three assists in six games upon joining the Ducks this season after posting one goal and three points in 16 games with the Bruins.

A second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2003, Backes has 245 goals and 557 points in 950 career games. 


Get Creative

Newly-hired Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said Wednesday the team has not yet closed the door on re-signing winger Taylor Hall.

Hall, acquired by the Coyotes from the New Jersey Devils in December, spent this season playing out the last of a seven-year deal signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012. Despite only having an internal general manager in place, the Coyotes continued to make pitches to Hall earlier this month.

"It'd have to be very creative to keep him [in Arizona]," Armstrong told NHL.com. "That's something we're going to explore. We're never going to turn our eye to talent like that. He's a heck of a player, but we've got to explore. These are [things that are] going to happen between now and free agency. We're going to explore everything."

The Coyotes traded Nick Merkley, Nathan Schnarr, Kevin Bahl, a 2020 first-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in 2021 - which will upgrade to a second-round pick if Hall re-signs - for the winger in December. The team has since forfeited their second-round pick this year and first-round pick next year for violating fitness testing rules with prospects.

The 28-year-old scored 10 goals and 27 points in 35 regular-season games with the Coyotes, adding two goals and six points in nine games upon the NHL's Return to Play. He had six goals and 25 points in 30 games with the Devils prior to the trade.

Hall was ranked second on TSN Hockey’s first full Top 75 Free Agents list of the off-season on Wednesday.