Leading up to Free Agent Frenzy on Wednesday, TSN.ca keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Waiting Until the 11th Hour?

The Colorado Avalanche have yet to make progress in contract talks with Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports.

LeBrun adds, however, that he suspects the Avalanche will make a new offer at the 11th hour before Grubauer reaches the unrestricted market on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old netminder had a 30-9-1 with a .922 save percentage and 1.95 goals-against average in 40 games this season. He went 6-4 in the playoffs with a ,914 save percentage and a 2.61 GAA.


Clock Ticking

With players set to hit the unrestricted market in just two days, the clock is ticking for teams to reach deals with their players before they get the chance to talk with other franchises.

The Carolina Hurricanes are at risk of losing multiple key players this week with defenceman Dougie Hamilton and goaltender Petr Mrazek both approaching unrestricted free agency.

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun the team continues to negotiate with Hamilton, who they allowed to speak with others teams earlier this month.

“We’ve had conversations with (Hamilton’s agent) J.P. Barry about Dougie,” Waddell told LeBrun Sunday in The Athletic. “He has said all along, ‘Let’s get through the draft.’ We’re going to talk more today about where this is going, where this is headed. He has a pretty good idea about what the market is at this point.

"So, our goal still is to bring Dougie back. Again, we’re not trying to save money, we’re a cap team; we want to put the best team on the ice that we can. So the AAV is important to us.”

LeBrun points to the New Jersey Devils as one team who could potentially outbid the Hurricanes for Hamilton's services if he remains unsigned on Wednesday. Should the Hurricanes lose Hamilton, LeBrun believes Carolina could pursue Edmonton Oilers pending UFA Tyson Barrie to help fill his void on the power play.

In net, the Hurricanes are at risk of losing Mrazek, James Reimer and the newly acquired Jonathan Bernier to free agency after trading Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings last week.

Waddell expressed confidence the team would have one of the goalies signed by Wednesday, though Mrazek's agent, Gerry Johannson, told LeBrun Friday that his client would likely test the free agent waters.

“Right now we have three UFAs that we still have the next few days before they head to market in Bernier, Mrazek and Reimer,” Waddell said. “So we’re talking to all of them. I feel pretty confident that will get some signed before the 28th. And then go to market on the 28th for a second guy.”

With just 12 players under contract for next season, the Hurricanes currently have $29.4 million in cap space, per CapFriendly. Forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Warren Foegele are slated for restricted free agency.

Mika or Jack?

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the Rangers have opened preliminary contract discussions with Mika Zibanejad’s agent as he prepares to enter a contract year.

Brooks believes the Rangers must decide whether or not Zibanejad fits in the team's long-term plans, because if he does, the team will not be able to fit Jack Eichel under the salary cap. He adds that Zibanejad is looking for a contract similar to the eight-year, $80 million deal Eichel signed with the Sabres in 2017, while the Rangers are believed to be looking to offer a contract of no more than five or six years. 

The 28-year-old centre posted 24 goals and 50 points in 56 games with the Rangers this season. He had 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games during the shortened 2019-20 season and also posted 30 goals in 2018-19.

A first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2011, Zibanejad is entering the last year of a five-year, $26.75 million deal which carries a cap hit of $5.35 million.

The Rangers have been linked Eichel throughout the summer, though Brooks notes the team could be scared off by having to potentially give up a package that includes Vitaly Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Filip Chytil and a first-rounder. 

No Closed Doors

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said over the weekend that while it's been reported Evgeny Kuznetsov will be traded this summer, there's no guarantee he won't be back with the team next season. 

“He is a good player. We like the player. I don’t know. We’ve never said we’re trading Kuznetsov,"  MacLellan said, per the Washington Post. "I said we were open to discussions on most of our players on the trade market and if it comes up, it comes up. And if it doesn’t make sense, same as always. It’s never been we’re moving Kuznetsov. It’s been portrayed [that way] in a few places, but that’s not exactly the case.”

Kuznetsov, 29, had nine goals and 29 points in 41 games last season and was held pointless in three playoff games.

In 520 career NHL games with Washington, he has 129 goals and 418 points and helped lead the team to its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

Selected 26th overall by the Capitals in the 2010 NHL Draft, Kuznetsov has four years remaining on an eight-year, $62.4 million contract, carrying a cap hit of $7.8 million.