Latest on Keith Yandle, Bryan Bickell and Jeff Skinner in part two of today’s NHL rumor mill.
Can the Rangers re-sign Keith Yandle?
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen believes there’s a 50-50 chance the New York Rangers can re-sign defenseman Keith Yandle, who is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. He believes a lot will depend upon where the Rangers are in the standings by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the maturation of promising Brady Skjei and their cap space. Skjei could become Yandle’s replacement, unless the Rangers try to shed salary by trading Marc Staal or Dan Girardi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle’s a goner by next summer. Unless there’s a dramatic shift in their thinking, I don’t see the Rangers trade Staal or Girardi to accommodate an expensive new deal for Yandle, who could command $7 million annually next summer on the open market. Rosen also touched on Jarred Tinordi’s future with the Montreal Canadiens and the Travis Zajac trade rumors, but I’ve already addressed them in Part One of today’s rumor mill.
Blackhawks still shopping Bryan Bickell.
CBS SPORTS: Chris Peters cites a reports from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector claiming the Chicago Blackhawks are still trying to move left wing Bryan Bickell and his $4 million cap hit. Spector claims they spoke with the Edmonton Oilers regarding defenseman Nikita Nikitin but no deal. The Blackhawks have reportedly been shopping Bickell for months, but his contract, weak production and recent vertigo issues have hurt his trade value. Speaking of Nikitin, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples observes Spector claims the Oilers are trying to move Nikitin or Andrew Ference in hopes of freeing up a roster spot for young blueliner Griffin Reinhart.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get why the Blackhawks tried to swap Bickell for Nikitin. Both teams have players they wish to move, Nikitin only has a year remaining on his contract compared to two for Bickell and the cap hit is pretty much the same (Nikitin earns $4.5 million this season, Bickell $4 million). It’s obvious, however, the Oilers aren’t interested in adding a struggling player with health issues who still has term on his contract beyond this coming season. Unless Bickell’s performance improves this season, or the Blackhawks agree to pick up part of his cap hit, the ‘Hawks are likely stuck with him. As for Nikitin, moving him or Ference could be a tough sell because of their respective contracts.
Is this Jeff Skinner’s last season with the Hurricanes?
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports pending UFAs Eric Staal and Cam Ward aren’t the only members of the Carolina Hurricanes facing uncertain futures entering this season. Forward Jeff Skinner has failed to deliver on his initial promise, leading DeCock to suggest the 23-year-old could become a trade candidate if he doesn’t improve in 2015-16. He also suggests Jordan Staal could become one as well, provided he wants to move and the Hurricanes can find a taker for his huge contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s concussion injuries have hampered his development, but there’s no question he’s struggled to meet the expectations that came with his Calder Trophy-winning performance in 2010-11. A healthy season should result in a strong performance for Skinner, but another concussion not only hurts his trade value but also puts his playing career in jeopardy. As for Jordan Staal, good luck moving his $6 million per season annual salary through 2022-23.