NHL Rumor Mill – December 4, 2018
Will new Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher shake things up with trades? Are the Kings still shopping for help? Get the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
WHAT WILL FLYERS NEW GM FLETCHER DO?
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports new Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will be closely monitoring head coach Dave Hakstol’s performance to determine if a change needs to be made behind the bench. He also wants to address the Flyers’ goaltending and defensive play and will start by looking at internal solutions.
Boruk also believes Fletcher sounds like he’s open to in-season trades, pointing out the new GM cited the club has “nine draft picks this year” as well as salary-cap space to use as possible trade chips.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Donnellon notes Fletcher was never afraid to make significant moves during his tenure with the Wild, including out-biddings several clubs in 2012 to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter via free agency.
Donnellon also noted Flyers chairman Dave Scott noted Fletcher’s predecessor compiled a stockpile of draft picks and prospects, which could be used “by a less intransigent GM to accelerate the “two to three more years timeline’’ Scott had been recently given by Hextall, amid the latest bout of bad play by the Flyers.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher will want to take some time to assess the roster before he starts swinging some deals. If the goal is to “accelerate the timeline”, some of those draft picks, prospects, and salary-cap space will be used over the next year to bring in more immediate help.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have $31.9 million invested in 11 players for 2019-20, with Wayne Simmonds, Michael Raffl, and Michal Neuvirth as their notable unrestricted free agents and Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and Travis Sanheim their noteworthy restricted free agents. Assuming Simmonds, Raffl and Neuvirth won’t be back, they’ll have plenty of cap space to re-sign their key RFAs and perhaps make a big splash or two in next summer’s trade and free agent pools.
If the Flyers don’t improve in the coming weeks, Fletcher could become a seller at the trade deadline to prepare the ground for bigger moves in the offseason. In that scenario, Simmonds could be packaged with a draft pick or prospect to land a promising youngster. If Fletcher’s looking to add, he could dangle some picks and prospects at clubs looking to shed some salary.
KINGS STILL LOOKING TO DEAL?
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited Elliotte Friedman’s Nov. 30th appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the possibility of more significant changes coming for the Los Angeles Kings. He believes they’re still looking in the trade market. Last month, the Kings shipped left wing Tanner Pearson to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing Carl Hagelin, who’s now sidelined with a sprained knee.
THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman reports Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick appears to be quickly rounding back into form after missing most of this season to injury. She notes there are short- and long-term implications.
On the one hand, Quick could be their best chance for saving the season. On the other, if they’re too far out of contention by the trade deadline, she wonders if he might become a trade chip, as the better he plays the greater his trade value. She also notes the Kings were pleased by the play of Jack Campbell and Cal Petersen during Quick’s absence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kings shop Quick he’ll attract plenty of interest from rival clubs. Cap Friendly indicates he lacks no-trade protection on his contract and carries a reasonable $5.8-million annual cap hit through 2022-23. However, he also has an injury history, frequently missing considerable time with groin, knee, and lower-body injuries.
One can’t rule out the possibility of the Kings trading Quick but I don’t think they’re ready to go down that road yet. As Dillman notes, he could be their best chance of salvaging this season. Even if they fail to reach the playoffs, I still don’t see them moving Quick at the deadline or the offseason.