Latest on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, Eric Staal, Cam Ward and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Matheson’s latest “Hockey World.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson doubts the Oilers will trade center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this season for a top-two defenseman, but suggests they should listen to offers next summer if teams come calling. He believes the Nashville Predators could be a good destination, as they’ve lacked a true number one center for years. He feels Predators blueliner and captain Shea Weber might be available, though the Oilers would have to put together a package that includes more than just Nugent-Hopkins. He also suggests Predators blueliner Seth Jones as another option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers aren’t getting Weber. Predators GM David Poile is quite adamant that he’s not moving his captain. Unless Weber demands a trade, he’s not getting dealt. Forget about Jones, they’re not getting him either. Matheson’s correct in his assumption the Preds won’t trade Roman Josi.
Meanwhile, it could take a player like Nugent-Hopkins to land a top-two defenseman. Then again, if they end up with a draft lottery pick, or actually win the damn thing again, they could peddle that pick (which will almost certainly turn into top prospect Auston Matthews) in a package deal for a blueliner.
Matheson doubts the Carolina Hurricanes will re-sign Eric Staal. He suggests Nashville could be a good destination, noting former Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette is now behind the Predators bench.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson isn’t alone in considering the Predators as a fit for Staal. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has frequently made that suggestion. I agree he’d be a good fit there, at least as a rental, but could they afford to keep him beyond this season?
The Washington Capitals could use a third-line center. Matheson believes Calgary’s Mikael Backlund or St. Louis Patrik Berglund might look good there.
With goaltender Ondrej Pavelec sidelined until January, Matheson speculates the Winnipeg Jets could take a run at Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. He points out former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice is now the Jets’ bench boss.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t see that one happening. The Jets rarely make big moves during the season, in part because they’re a budget team. Besides, Ward has to agree to that move as he carries a full no-trade clause.
Could the Oilers eventually trade Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Sportsnet’s Mark Spector’s belief the Oilers will eventually trade “soft skill” players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle. Spector did back off a bit regarding his analysis of Nugent-Hopkins as soft. Staples feels the Oilers would prefer moving players like Teddy Purcell, Nail Yakupov or Benoit Pouliot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Staples. In fact, I think Oilers management is looking forward to seeing what their top-two forward lines look like once Connor McDavid returns to action in January. If any “soft” players are moved, it won’t be Eberle or RNH, unless of course they’re pursuing a top-two defenseman. In that case, it’ll take one of those two to land one.
No Duchene for the Flyers.
NJ.COM: Randy Miller dismissed speculation from a rumor blogger suggesting the Philadelphia Flyers were pursuing Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. The biggest reason Miller doubts they’ll go after him is Duchene’s $6 million annual cap hit, which the Flyers cannot afford to absorb.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following a poor performance in October, Duchene’s been tearing it up in November, tallying 17 of his 19 points since the start of this month. The Avs aren’t trading him to the Flyers or anyone else.