Latest on Kyle Okposo, David Backes and Ladislav Smid in your NHL rumor mill.
Could Kyle Okposo become a trade candidate?
SI.COM: Allan Muir referenced tweets from Newsday’s Arthur Staple claiming there’s been no contract extension talks between the New York Islanders and right wing Kyle Okposo, who’s eligible next summer for UFA status. Okposo is in the final season of a five-year, $14-million contract and Muir believes he could seek a six-year, $40 million deal.
Muir claims there’s a belief Okposo could be had via trade and thinks teams will line up for a physical winger capable of scoring 20-plus goals per season. While he believes the Isles are better positioned to reach the playoffs with Okposo skating on John Tavares’ wing, he speculates Okposo could be dealt if no contract extension is in place by the end of training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft in June, there was speculation Okposo was available. GM Garth Snow denied the rumors, but it’s obvious he’ll remain a player of interest in the rumor mill. The Isles could try to trade him if he’s unsigned before the season begins, but they could also retain him and see how things play out between now and the Feb. 29 trade deadline. As Muir points out, their chances of returning to the postseason are better with Okposo in the lineup.
If Okposo hits the trade block, I doubt Snow wants prospects or draft picks. I think it’ll be a hockey trade, player-for-player, as Snow likely wants a return to help his club now.
No Backes-for-Schenn deal.
PHILLY.COM’s Sam Carchidi took to Twitter to report Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall indirectly shot down a rumor claiming he contacted the St. Louis Blues about center David Backes. The rumor had the Flyers sending Brayden Schenn to the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Old habits die hard among Flyers rumormongers, as they’ve apparently grown so used to the club trading young players for veterans that they expect Hextall to follow suit. Hextall’s made it very clear he’s not trading his youngsters for aging players. Besides, the Blues made it clear this summer they’re not blowing up their core this year. The T.J. Oshie trade was the only significant shakeup they made.
Updates on the Flames.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid is working hard to rejoin the club’s very deep blueline. Injuries sidelined Smid for much of last season. He still has two years remaining on his four-year, $14 million contract. “The Flames arguably have the deepest blue line in the NHL with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland and Smid, if healthy,” write Matheson. “Also one of the most expensive with $28.7 million allotted to the seven guys for next season, which means somebody might have to be sacrificed.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The automatic assumption is Smid will be the likely trade candidate, though when healthy, he’s an effective shot-blocking blueliner. Still, when it comes down to it, it’s either Smid or Deryk Engelland who could become expendable. Smid’s physical defensive style could make him attractive to clubs seeking a physical shutdown rearguard.