Latest on Jonathan Drouin, Eric Staal, Loui Eriksson, Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in your NHL rumor mill.
Updates on the Drouin saga.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hasn’t received an offer yet worth trading away holdout winger Jonathan Drouin. He believes if interested clubs like the Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers continue to struggle, it could improve his trade value. Darren Dreger claims there’s growing concerns regarding Drouin’s performance and his character because of this holdout. He also reports it’s believed there’s seven reasonable offers on the table, which could draw Yzerman’s management skills into question. Pierre LeBrun reports the Lightning need a cap-friendly return, as they cannot afford to take on much salary now or in the offseason, when they have key players to re-sign.
Frank Seravalli reports Yzerman claims he never told the Drouin camp he was close to a deal, which was the basis behind the player’s decision not to continue playing with the Syracuse Crunch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One thing the pundits agree on is there’s no timetable as to when Yzerman could trade Drouin. It could happen today, tomorrow, next week, at the trade deadline, in the offseason or next season. I agree that this power play by Drouin raises questions over his character. Unlike other players who’ve held out in the past, he hasn’t yet proven himself as an NHL star. The potential is there, but the performance is lacking. As for Yzerman’s handling of this, while there might be some grumbling among his peers over his asking price for Drouin, there isn’t a GM in the league who would approach this situation any differently.
Oilers first-round pick for Oliver Ekman-Larsson?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: If the Oilers win the 2016 NHL draft lottery in April, Jim Matheson believes they should offer up that pick to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Matheson suggests the Coyotes could use that pick to select Arizona native Auston Matthews, projected to be the top prospect in the 2016 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson admits he’s spit-balling on this one. It’s an interesting scenario. Would the Coyotes part with Ekman-Larsson, their top defenseman, for a shot at landing a marketable local player with star potential in Matthews? Envision Matthews centering a line with rising young stars Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. It could be a marketing dream for the Coyotes. However, Ekman-Larsson’s departure would leave a huge hole on the blueline that would be difficult to fill.
As for the Oilers, if they do win the draft lottery again (which will certainly piss off fans in every other NHL city even more than it did when they won last year’s lottery), I think they’ll shop that pick for a young top-two defenseman. Unless they address that need via another trade by moving out one of their top young forwards, I don’t think they’ll have any choice.
Latest on Eric Staal, Loui Eriksson and Keith Yandle.
SPORTSNET: Damien Cox suggests questions over the effectiveness of Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal could affect interest in him and what the Hurricanes could receive if they decide to shop him at the Feb. 29 trade deadline. “Could he just be stale in Carolina after 13 years? Would a move to another club, a club with more talented, established players, do for Staal what the move to Los Angeles seems to have done for Vinnie Lecavalier?,” asks Cox, who also speculated on growing frustration on Staal’s part over what management intends to do with him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Concerns over Staal’s performance will certainly affect trade talks leading up to the deadline. If GM Ron Francis decides to shop his captain, he will be counting on a desperate team being willing to gamble on Staal regaining his high-scoring form.
NBC SPORTS: Jame O’Brien cited a recent interview by Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney in which he addressed recent speculation over the future of pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson. While Sweeney said his priority is to re-sign the 30-year-old, he didn’t rule out shopping him at the trade deadline if an agreement on a contract extension isn’t reached by then.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard recently reported defenseman Keith Yandle’s UFA status this summer makes him a trade candidate if the Rangers fail to improve in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. Should they reverse their fortunes, however, GM Jeff Gorton could retain Yandle for the playoffs, even at the risk of losing him to free agency in July. For his part, Yandle says he wants to remain with the Blueshirts.