NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2018
Latest on P.K. Subban, Kris Letang and more in your NHL rumor mill.
NO BIG MOVES EXPECTED FOR THE PREDATORS
THE TENNESSEAN: Joe Rexrode doubts we’ll see any major offseason moves by the Nashville Predators. Short of either a major trade offer or defenseman Ryan Ellis’ contract extension talks going south, Predators general manager David Poile isn’t expected to shake things up. If Poile makes a move or two, Rexrode speculates it’ll likely be for a depth free agent, someone like Vegas’ Ryan Reaves or New Jersey’s Patrick Maroon. He also feels the club’s fortunes next season could depend upon promising forwards Eeli Tolvanen and Ryan Hartman.
Rexrode also dismissed recent speculation out of Canada suggesting the Predators could trade defenseman P.K. Subban. The club isn’t actively seeking to move the Norris Trophy finalist. During the season-ending interview with the media, head coach Peter Laviolette sang Subban’s praises.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s not going anywhere. The recent speculation hinting that he rubs some of his Predators teammates the wrong way appears to be a carry-over from his days with the Canadiens. Rexrode, however, points out the Predators voted for Subban as a finalist for the King Clancy Trophy. “Diabolical, pretending to respect him like that!”, sneered Rexrode.
There’s also some speculation floating around suggesting the Predators could move Pekka Rinne, who’s entering the final season of his contract and eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Poile does have a recent history of making bold moves, but I believe he’ll retain the Vezina Trophy Finalist for one more run at the Stanley Cup next year.
PENGUINS NOT SHOPPING LETANG
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he’s not actively shopping defenseman Kris Letang, who struggled at time this season after missing the second half of 2016-17 recovering from neck surgery. While Rutherford said he can’t project the future, he still considers Letang a great player and expects he’ll be part of their roster next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford might be willing to listen to offers for Letang, but it’ll take one helluva pitch to convince him to part with his top defenseman. I don’t expect any club will be able to make a proposal that’ll sway the Penguins GM. He’ll keep his core intact in hopes of another Cup run next season. Letang, 31, is signed through 2021-22 with a $7.25-million cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. He’s not going anywhere.
UPDATE ON THE BLUES
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon recently addressed some offseason speculation about the St. Louis Blues from his readers during a recent live chat. He suggests Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard could be a trade option, noting the center didn’t shine with the Penguins following a trade from Ottawa in February. He could become a salary-cap casualty.
Gordon also thinks former Blues center Paul Stastny could seek $5 million annually on a three-year deal, making it difficult for the Winnipeg Jets to re-sign him. He also doesn’t see many goaltending options available that would be better than current Blues starter Jake Allen. He also speculates the Blues might look at bringing back gritty winger Ryan Reaves, now playing with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Asked if New Jersey Devils winger Patrick Maroon might be a piece that could help the Blues, Gordon projects him as a third-line winger.
Gordon believes landing Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres would be expensive. He’s not sure if the Blues have sufficient depth in prospects to land him. While Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk would be a buy-low possibility, Gordon speculates Blues GM Doug Armstrong might prefer a more proven option.
Asked if the Blues could move Patrick Berglund or Vladimir Sobotka, Gordon would be surprised if both were dealt. However, Sobotka could be the more likely trade candidates as he lacks no-trade protection.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Blues GM Doug Armstrong will attempt to bolster his club’s scoring punch this summer, preferably by adding a center via trade or free agency. He could consider bringing back Stastny but I feel he has other options in mind.
With over $62 million invested in 18 players, the Blues have room to pursue New York Islanders center John Tavares via free agency. Still, that would be a very expensive addition for Armstrong. More affordable options could be revisiting his rumored interest in Montreal’s Max Pacioretty or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. If the Penguins decide to dump Brassard, Armstrong could come calling. O’Reilly would be a great fit but the cost of acquiring him is likely too high.