NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2017
Latest on the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings and Winnipeg Jets in your NHL rumor mill.
EDMONTON JOURNAL’S Jim Matheson recently tweeted he thinks the Oilers are still looking at the Vegas Golden Knights for help on defense until blueliner Andrej Sekera returns from knee surgery. He suggests Jon Merrill as a cheap defensive blueliner while Jason Garrison is a more expensive power-play guy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights carry 10 defensemen on one-way contracts. It’s widely assumed they want to move at least one of them via trade. Merrill was a healthy scratch in four of the Knights’ first five games while Garrison skated in four. Of the two, Merrill would be the easiest to trade. Garrison’s $4.6 million cap hit and no-trade clause could make him difficult to move unless the Knights pick up part of that cap hit and he agrees to waive his clause.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa speculates there could be more than just salary issues behind restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou’s contract standoff with the Detroit Red Wings. The 23-year-old has no arbitration rights and little leverage, leading Krupa to suggest Athanasiou “is serious about diverting his career, playing in Europe and waiting for management to make a move.” He also notes this is a tactic the winger’s agent, Darren Ferris, used before with another client, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. Noting this strategy didn’t work with Anderson, Krupa doubts it’ll work for Athanasiou. Rather than trade the young winger, Krupa speculates the Red Wings could let him play in Europe this season and revisit the issue next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Krupa observes, it seems odd that Athanasiou would stage this impasse over a mere $500K difference in salary. The Wings are offering $1.9 million per season on a two-year deal but the Athanasiou camp seeks $2.5 million annually. This could be a case of a young player and his agent over-valuing his worth or maybe there’s some real issues there regarding his role with the club. Wings general manager Ken Holland is reportedly speaking with Ferris this week. Perhaps a resolution will come shortly.
THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates takes an in-depth look at the huge disparity between the Winnipeg Jets’ top-six forwards and its bottom six and how it’s holding the club back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ates isn’t speculating about a trade or suggesting the Jets make one to address the issue, but I wonder if they could go shopping for help if this issue persists. The Jets face heightened expectations this season that could put pressure on management to address their problem areas.