NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2019

by | Apr 13, 2019 | Rumors | 8 comments

Updates on the Islanders and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

ISLANDERS FREE AGENTS DRAWING ATTENTION

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders pending unrestricted free agents Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson are showing general manager Lou Lamoriello what type of players they are with their performances down the stretch and in their playoff series against Pittsburgh. Lamoriello acknowledged everyone is talking about their free agents, adding they want to keep them and will try to do so. 

Cyrgalis suggests Eberle could be playing his way off Long Island. The 28-year-old has performed very well since being reunited on center Mathew Barzal’s line, scoring five goals in his final seven regular-season contests and tallying a goal and an assist in each of the Isles two games thus far against the Penguins in their opening-round series. Should Eberle continue playing this well over the remainder of the postseason, Cyrgalis believes suitors will be lining up for his services. 

A strong playoff could boost New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle’s UFA value (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello will face some difficult decisions regarding his “Big Four” UFAs. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $47 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20, giving Lamoriello around $35 million to work with should the cap reach $83 million as projected for next season. Assuming management is willing to spend to the cap there’s plenty of room to re-sign all four. However, Lamoriello still has a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator.

I believe Lee and Lehner are his priorities, followed by Eberle and Nelson. Much will depend upon what those players seek on their next contracts. Eberle is completing a six-year, $36-million deal and Lamoriello could be reluctant to pay him that much for that long to stay on Long Island.  

COYOTES NEED SCORING BUT WILL THEY GET SOME?

ESPN.COM: In their season-ending assessment of the Arizona Coyotes, Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe boosting the scoring should be among their priorities. The limited market via free agency and the team’s economics could hamper efforts to address the issue. They suggest finding a solution via the trade market. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Danny Shapiro reports Coyotes GM John Chayka acknowledges his club’s offense must improve next season. “We didn’t score enough goals, so we have to go through and figure out how to get more out of our own group and how to add to the group and that’s the summer plan,” Chayka said.

While management will hope a healthier lineup next season will help, Chayka didn’t rule out pursuing a scoring in the offseason. Shapiro noted Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jordan Eberle, and Jeff Skinner are among the notable potentially available via free agency.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan doesn’t believe Panarin is interested in signing long-term with the Coyotes. He wondered if they should or could look at Islanders UFAs like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson or Jordan Eberle, or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, or Panarin’s teammate Ryan Dzingel. He also wondered if Chayka would be best-served going the trade route as he has the past two years. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes already have over $73 million invested in 16 players next season. If necessary, they can deduct $5.25 million from their cap payroll by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve. Still, ownership could be unwilling to spend much more than they already have for 2019-20.

A healthier roster will certainly improve the Coyotes’ offense. However, Chayka should try to add another proven scorer. Duchene, Lee or Skinner would address that need but could be too expensive for the Coyotes. Dzingel, Nelson and perhaps Eberle might be more affordable but they could prefer signing with established playoff contenders.

If Chayka boosts his offense I expect he’ll make a trade. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were all Chayka acquisitions. Ditto Jakob Chychrun, as Chayka acquired the pick to select Chychrun in a trade with Detroit during the 2016 Draft.

He’s got the depth in young players to draw upon as trade bait for a proven scorer. Perhaps he’ll entertain offers for his first-round pick (14th overall) in this year’s draft. 







8 Comments

  1. Chrisms, off-topic today but since it took a bit to find their names, to continue our discussion from yesterday, I have absolutely no argument with your last point that the USHL is getting progressively better as more American kids take to the game of hockey. But all I was saying is, right now, as a league, it’s barely above Tier II Junior. As for the latter, and to answer another of your questions from yesterday, here’s a partial list of players who went to the NHL after playing their junior hockey at Tier II and avoided Major Junior for flings of varying periods at a U.S. university: John Van Boxmeer, Al MacAdam, Ken Houston, Cam Botting, Brent Sutter, Troy Murray, James Patrick, Chris Chelios, Dave Ellett, Ray Ferraro, Tony Hrkac, Brett Hull, Tom Tilley, Danton Cole, Neil Wilkinson, Russ Parent, Mike Eastwood, Garry Valk, Rod Brind’Amour, Dixon Ward, Jason Marshall, Kent Manderville, Greg Johnson, Anson Carter, Ryan Johnson, Bates Battaglia, Danius Zubrus, Travis Zajac, Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Turris.

    • There is some fun names in that list. Well researched George. I took umbrage with the denigration of the league and the implication that Hughes is a less impressive potential top pick due to where he plays. Far too many stars in the league came out of ushl with more coming. If the league can produce these players for the nhl then being from said league shouldn’t be a cause for doubt

    • George O here is another list; undrafted NHL players has nothing to do with your conversation other then for one reason or another these players were not drafted by an NHL team: Geoff Courtnall, Steve Duchesne, Dan Boyle, Curtis Joseph, Steve (stumpy) Thomas, Brian Rafalski, Borje Salming, Dino Ciccarelli, Joe Mullen, Adam Oates, Ed Belfour, Peter Stastny, Martin St. Louis and Wayne Gretzky.
      Gretzky played in the WHL and Stastny defected.

      Article I read on “the hockey writers” website. . That doesn’t include the existing unsigned NHL player. Like Tyler Bozak, Torey Krug among others.

      • During yesterday’s exchange, when Chrisms said “I wouldn’t ever pay a dime to watch chl or college or ushl hockey” the first thing that jumped to mind was “perspective,” and how it differs depending upon how the media plays it up. A LOT of people share that view as can be readily seen at any Tier II or USHL game (where the “crowds” are – from what I can glean off the web – marginally higher than any at Tier II hockey. (Some college games do draw big crowds, especially as they get into their Frozen Four tournament.

        And yet, when the women play in their word tournaments they draw huge crowds due to the hype, even though the calibre is such that a Tier II or USHL team would blow them away (they draw flies at their league games which explains the closure of one league). But that fact can never be mentioned on any hockey panel discussion due to the “politically-correct” backlash that would certainly ensue.

        Using only “perspective” I have to say that the world/olympic games are entertaining – at least between the U.S. and Canada – even though you know that the hockey is well below that of Tier II.

    • It is doubtful for Eberle to return next season, and Nelson for sure will be allowed to walk. That would leave space to make a pitch for Panarin.

      Arizona will not entice any high profile UFA, so they will likely go via trade. It is possible that if the Panthers sign Panarin that Hoffman becomes available and thus would be attractive for Arizona. In return Florida would want a dman, which could prove difficult as Arizona’s key dmen have NTC and NMC. Chychrun is a possibility though they may be reluctant to trade him after having extended his contract. I wouldn’t rule out such an idea of Hoffman and Matheson for Chychrun and Hjalmarsson (NMC/NTC).

  2. I also agree that there have been few drafted right out of Tier II – in comparison to the increasing feed by the USHL – but that’s because the very best of Tier II either routinely move up to Major Junior or go on to college hockey.

  3. One thought about pending free agents, especially after the playoff games so far, is that Duchene and Eberle might be a match made in heaven – just maybe not salary cap heaven.
    I still see Buffalo re-signing Jeff Skinner.
    I also see Toronto and Carolina making a trade – a forward from the Leafs and a defence man from the Hurricanes.

  4. What I never understand about this type of claim is how Eberle is playing himself into a player any other team wants unless Barzal goes with him. If not, then Eberle is just what he always has been: a superbly talented streaky player with consistency issues. Clearly, any buyer has to beca good fit. That doesn’t scream bidding war to me.