NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2018
Could the Sharks pursue Mitch Marner next summer? Could the Bruins trade Torey Krug to Edmonton for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? What’s the latest on the Penguins and Wild? Read on for the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE SHARKS TARGET MARNER NEXT SUMMER?
THE MERCURY NEWS: If Erik Karlsson decides not to re-sign with the San Jose Sharks, Paul Gackle suggests general manager Doug Wilson consider pursuing Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. With the Leafs facing a potential cap crunch next summer attempting to re-sign Marner and Auston Matthews, it’s a situation Wilson could exploit. Marner would bring a valuable injection of youth, speed, and playmaking skills to the Sharks’ forward lines.
If Wilson were to go the offer-sheet route he would have to swing deals with the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres to regain the first-round draft picks he gave up in the trades for Karlsson and Evander Kane. Those picks would be part of the necessary compensation to the Leafs if they were unwilling to match that offer for Marner.
Gackle acknowledged the difficulty of pitching an offer sheet for Marner. He suggests a more likely scenario is a trade before July 1 if the Leafs feel they cannot afford Marner and Matthews, allowing Wilson to swoop in as he did with Karlsson and Kane. While the cost of acquiring Marner in terms of return and salary would be expensive, Gackle believes it would be worth it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind this is merely speculation on Gackle’s part. It would take considerable creativity on Wilson’s part to go the offer sheet route and I doubt he could make all the pieces fit. A trade is a more likely option but there’s no certainty the Leafs will be entertaining offers for Marner. Still, it will be worthwhile monitoring how the Leafs address that coming salary-cap conundrum. If they decide to re-sign Matthews and move Marner, Wilson would probably be among the suitors.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Bob McKenzie was asked about the trade status of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel during an appearance Saturday on Ottawa’s TSN 1200. He believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has only two untouchables: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While Rutherford might not necessarily want to trade Kessel, he might be open to it for the right offers. If he went down that road, however, the asking price would be expensive. Kessel has three years remaining on his contract and still carries a modified no-trade clause.
McKenzie also believes some teams may have called Rutherford about injured starting goaltender Matt Murray. Like Kessel, he doesn’t think moving Murray is something the Penguins would move into lightly. “I think in a perfect world what the Pittsburgh Penguins would like is for Matt Murray to come back healthy from his injury and play at the top of his game, and not have any issues in goal whatsoever.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could the Penguins trade Kessel or Murray? Sure. Will they? Not this season and probably not for the foreseeable future.
It’ll take a significant offer to convince Rutherford to part with Kessel. Given the “win-now” mentality in Pittsburgh, a package of draft picks and prospects won’t cut it. As for Murray, they won’t trade him unless Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry show they’re capable of stealing the starter’s job away from him. I don’t think they’ve reached that level yet.
KRUG FOR NUGENT-HOPKINS?
BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter wonders if the Boston Bruins could trade defenseman Torey Krug to the Edmonton Oilers for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He notes the Bruins could use “an experienced, highly skilled attacker,” while the Oilers could use playmaking help, especially on the blueline.
Porter also points out the Oilers had some interest in Krug last summer and he could look more attractive now. He also believes Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be fired if his club fails to reach the playoffs this season.
Porter suggests sweetening the pot by including a promising forward such as Edmonton native Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen. Krug has a modified no-trade clause but maybe he’d waive it to play with one of the game’s greats in Oilers center Connor McDavid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time a Boston pundit has floated the notion of swapping Krug for Nugent-Hopkins (hi, there, Joe Haggerty!) but I don’t believe that deal will ever materialize. All the things Porter listed that make Nugent-Hopkins attractive to the Bruins (playmaking skills, defensive play, skating, and anticipation) are also what makes him valuable to the Oilers, who’ve recently rebounded under new head coach Ken Hitchcock and climbed back into the playoff race.
WILD SHOPPING COYLE
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently reported that “multiple sources” claim the Minnesota Wild are dangling forward Charlie Coyle in the trade market. It’s believed the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Boston Bruins have at least shown interest and are watching Coyle closely. Russo also said there’s “little doubt” Wild GM Paul Fenton would trade three-time 20-goal scorer Nino Niederreiter, who’s struggled with injury and consistency this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having lost center Matt Duchene indefinitely to a recent injury, the Senators could be very interested in Coyle, who could also prove a decent insurance policy in case Duchene departs next summer via free agency. The Canadiens’ interest in Coyle stretches back to last season but their priority this season could be bolstering their top-four defense depth. I can see Coyle being a more reasonable trade option for the Bruins than Nugent-Hopkins. He certainly wouldn’t cost themTorey Krug.