Updates on Eric Staal, Travis Hamonic, Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Okposo and more in your NHL Rumor Mill.
Update on Eric Staal.
NBC SPORTS: TSN Insider Bob McKenzie reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis’ plan is to soon meet with Eric Staal agent to discuss re-signing Staal (perhaps for a lesser deal) or to convince him to accept a deal by the trade deadline. McKenzie also wonders if the Hurricanes opt to cut ties with Eric if they could also do the same with his brother Jordan, who has seven more years (at $6 million annually) with a no-trade clause remaining on his contract.
NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports Staal said he won’t use his no-movement clause to veto a trade if it’s clear to him the Hurricanes no longer want him. Staal’s preference is to remain with the Hurricanes.
THE SCORE: Craig Hagerman believes the Hurricanes should consider a trade-and-sign deal with Staal, shipping him out near the trade deadline for the best deal they can get (“high assets and picks”) and then bringing him back by signing him as an unrestricted free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The way I see it, if Staal wants to stay with the Hurricanes, he’ll have to accept a considerable pay cut on a much shorter term. His stats have also steadily declined in recent years, raising the possibility he could be a spent force. If so, it’s best for the Hurricanes to capitalize on his value now by shipping him out near the trade deadline for the best return possible.
If they do want him back, a trade-and-sign scenario is the best option. He wouldn’t be the first player dealt at the trade deadline who returns to his former club via free agency (Hello there, Antoine Vermette).
McKenzie raises an interesting point about Jordan’s status with the Hurricanes if they part ways with Eric. Trouble is, that hefty contract will be very tough to move, especially given the decline in his own performance. They could buy him out, though they already have one very expensive buyout on their books already with Alexander Semin. Buying out Jordan Staal comes at a cost of $2 million annually through 2030-31.
Latest on Hamonic, Byfuglien, Okposo and Johansen.
NBC SPORTS: TSN insider Bob McKenzie reports New York Islanders GM Garth Snow doesn’t want draft picks or prospects for defenseman Travis Hamonic, but rather a comparable defenseman. He also doesn’t want solely an offensive blueliner like Colorado’ Tyson Barrie or Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom.
McKenzie claims Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dustin Byfgulien isn’t on the trade block, but there’s a feeling he may be because of his UFA status. He believes the Jets will have a difficult time re-signing Byfuglien. He also said Snow isn’t interested in Byfuglien for Hamonic.
Islanders winger and pending UFA Kyle Okposo won’t be traded unless the club falls completely out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline. The club is focused on making the playoffs and going as far as they can. even at the risk of losing Okposo to free agency in July.
McKenzie also said the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t shopping center Ryan Johansen but he is listening to offers from rival clubs. He believes their short-term preference is to trade someone like Cam Atkinson for a defenseman. He cited Johansen’s contract status after next season and the center being off to a somewhat rocky start under new head coach John Tortorella.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Apart from the Okposo update, there’s not really much new here. Okposo was rumored as a possible trade candidate earlier in the season. I agree with McKenzie that they won’t move him unless they fall completely out of playoff contention. I’d add that the lack of improvement on the part of Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson this season is an even better reason for the Isles to hang onto Okposo for the rest of this season. As McKenzie points out, the new ownership takes control of the Isles on July 1 and there could be more willingness on their part to invest in retaining a pending UFA like Okposo.
All quiet on the Bruins’ trade front.
CSNNE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty claims it’s all quiet on the Boston Bruins trade front right now. There’s currently not many teams that could be considered sellers plus the Bruins just had a five-game winning streak. Haggerty feels the Bruins will have to decide to either overpay to retain the versatile Loui Eriksson or ship him out near the trade deadline for a very good young defenseman, citing Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba as an example. He believes the Bruins defense still needs improvement. Haggerty doubts the Bruins do any wheeling and dealing before the upcoming (Dec. 19-27) holiday trade freeze.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins remain in playoff contention, they could retain Eriksson and take their chances on losing him to free agency in July.