The latest on the Oilers, plus updates on Travis Hamonic, Dustin Byfuglien, Anze Kopitar and Steven Stamkos in your NHL rumor mill.
Will the Oilers trade Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle?
TSN: Darren Dreger believes Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could trade center Ryan Nugent Hopkins or Jordan Eberle at some point to address their need for a top-four defenseman or to get bigger and stronger up front. He said there’s no timetable on this and it couldstretch into next June’s NHL draft. Pierre LeBrun believes both players represent part of the failed effort to rebuild by previous management. He feels Eberle is the most likely to be moved if the right deal can be found.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Chiarelli isn’t going to make any panicky, short-term deals for a quick fix. Friedman also points out Eberle, who only recently returned to action, has low trade value right now because his performance currently isn’t up to his usual standard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It certainly seems an inevitability that Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins could move by next summer for a defenseman. Nail Yakupov doesn’t have sufficient trade value to fetch a top-four blueliner. Maybe if they package Yakupov with their 2016 first-round pick, but unless that pick is first overall (ensuring the rights to top prospect Auston Matthews), event that move probably won’t happen. Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins are the best bets to ensure a high-quality return.
Latest on Travis Hamonic.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there’s pressure on the New York Islanders to make the playoffs, so GM Garth Snow won’t make a “soft deal” involving defenseman Travis Hamonic by accepting future considerations. Puck-moving defensemen like Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin have been mentioned in trade speculation, but Snow wants a blueliner who can play both ends of the ice like Hamonic does. McKenzie believes Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba would be a great fit, but he’s an RFA next summer and the cost to bring him in would be enormous. Darren Dreger claims the Jets have little interest in trading Trouba, though the cost of re-signing him could be expensive.
Dreger also reports (stick tap to TODAY’S SLAPSHOT) Snow isn’t interested in swapping Hamonic for a forward, which rules out speculation of the Oilers offering up winger Jordan Eberle.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculated on a possible three-way deal between the Jets, Islanders and Edmonton Oilers involving Hamonic. “Not sure how far it went, but it sounds like the window’s closed.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Snow is willing to be flexible, he will be waiting a long time to find the right deal for Hamonic. This one could stretch into next summer.
Update on Dustin Byfuglien.
SPORTNET: Elliotte Friedman believes just because the Winnipeg Jets offered up Dustin Byfuglien to the New York Islanders in an attempt to land Travis Hamonic doesn’t necessarily mean Byfuglien’s on the trade block. As Hamonic’s trade request came months ago, we don’t know the timing of the Byfuglien pitch. Friedman speculates Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff probably knew the Isles would reject that offer but tried anyway. He also notes Byfuglien has some say in possible trade destinations as he must submit a list of teams he’d accept being dealt to.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien might not be on the trade block now, but that will change if the Jets can’t get him under contract before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. And if the Jets are out of playoff contention by then, I believe he’s a goner. I’m not surprised the Isles didn’t want Byfuglien. Unless he’s willing to re-sign with them, it’s pointless to waste an asset acquiring a player who’ll depart via free agency at season’s end.
Latest on Kopitar and Stamkos.
MAYOR’S MANOR: Los Angeles Kings insider John Hoven reports a new contract for Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar is nearly done. Hoven cites multiple sources claiming the new deal could be for eight years and around an annual cap hit of $9.75 million. “With the dollar amount and term all but settled, a no-trade / no-movement clause is believed to be one of the final items still under discussion.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For weeks, there’s been reports the Kings and Kopitar are inching toward a deal. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an announcement last this month announcing his re-signing.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: With no indication the Lightning are making progress re-signing captain Steven Stamkos, Joe Smith is getting an eerie feeling this season could be Stamkos’ last in Tampa Bay. “If (Lightning GM Steve) Yzerman realizes he can’t sign Stamkos, does he try to trade him by the Feb. 29 deadline to avoid losing him for nothing? Would Stamkos, who has a full no-move clause, approve a deal?” Smith speculates Yzerman is weighing the cost of re-signing Stamkos and its effects in re-signing other key Lightning players over the next couple of years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Yzerman is awaiting word on the projected cap ceiling for next summer before pushing on with negotiations. I also have my doubts he’ll move Stamkos at the trade deadline. This is a difficult decision for the Lightning, so Yzerman will take his time.
Granted, Yzerman traded Martin St. Louis in 2014, so it is possible he could shop Stamkos at the trade deadline. However, I think he’ll want to keep him for another run at the Stanley Cup next spring.
Besides, if they can’t get a deal done, the Lightning can still get a decent return by shopping his rights to the highest bidder in late-June. There will be teams willing to make a pitch for a superstar like Stamkos