Updates on Nail Yakupov, Jimmy Vesey and more in your NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman weighed in on the recent report of Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov’s trade request. While Yakupov’s agent has permission to speak with other club, the Oilers still must agree to a deal. There’s a gap between the Oilers asking price and what other clubs are willing to offer.
Friedman also provided his take on the decision of Nashville Predators college prospect Jimmy Vesey’s decision to become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15. He believes it’s between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs; the Bruins because they’re his hometown team and the Leafs because his father is one of their scouts plus they drafted his brother in 2014. If the Leafs land Vesey, Friedman wonders if the Predators will file tampering charges.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as no one in the Leafs organization publicly admits they lured Vesey by hiring his father and drafting his brother, it will be difficult for the Preds to prove tampering. While those moves could look suspicious, they’re not proof they were made to woo Vesey into become a UFA and potentially joining the Leafs.
He believes at some point the Pittsburgh Penguins had interest in defenseman Dion Phaneuf prior to his trade from Toronto to Ottawa, but his salary wasn’t a fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And they won’t revisit that interest this summer.
Friedman also touched on Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney’s claim he won’t trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to whatever team lands the first-overall pick (and the rights to center Auston Matthews), noting a league executive tongue-in-cheek wondered if he’d trade him, Max Domi and his first-rounder for Matthews. Friedman noted Ekman-Larsson’s departure would leave a giant hole his departure on their blueline, plus he has a good-value contract, earning $5.5 million annually for the next three years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s not going anywhere.
Los Angeles Kings forward Vincent Lecavalier declined to comment about any possibility he might change his mind about retirement at season’s end. Though Lecavalier’s been reborn with the Kings, they probably can’t afford to keep him if he did change his mind.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s my understanding that assurances of Lecavalier’s retirement this summer was necessary before the Kings agreed to acquire him from the Philadelphia Flyers. If he changes his mind, the $2.25 million cap hit for next season puts a significant squeeze on an already tight payroll for next season. It would certainly hurt efforts to re-sign left wing Milan Lucic. Unless the Kings dump salary elsewhere or find another club willing to take on Lecavalier, this is his final NHL season.
Highlights from TSN’s latest edition of “Insider Trading.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Nashville Predators front office remains very frustrated over prospect forward Jimmy Vesey’s decision to become a free agent in August. He claims GM David Poile still wants to try to change Vesey’s mind, though that’s a long shot. LeBrun claims if they knew what Vesey intended to do, they would’ve shopped his rights at the trade deadline for a return that could help them in the upcoming playoffs.
Bob McKenzie reports Calgary Flames college prospect Mark Jankowski is in a similar situation, but he’s currently deep in contract talks with the Flames regarding an entry-level contract and it appears likely they’ll get a deal done. We should also find out over the next 24-48 hours if Boston Bruins college prospect Matt Grzelcyk will sign or opt for free agency.
If the Edmonton Oilers once again win the draft lottery, LeBrun speculates they could listen to offers for the first overall pick but he believes they’ll keep it to select Auston Matthews.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And unless that offer contains a top-two defenseman, the Oilers won’t be interested.
LeBrun expects a parting of the ways with the Oilers and Nail Yakupov, but GM Peter Chiarelli is ready to bring him back to camp next fall unless they get a young player in return who can play on their roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers pundits like Jim Matheson and Jonathan Willis believe Yakupov could fetch at best another struggling young player in need of a change of scenery. That’s why I expect he will be part of a larger package, perhaps with their first-round pick or another player.
Vesey to the Bruins?
BOSTON HERALD: Stephen Harris cites “an extremely well-placed source within the Boston-area college hockey community” claiming Jimmy Vesey intends to sign with the Boston Bruins on Aug. 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No offense to Harris, as I don’t doubt his source, but don’t be surprised if other sources counter this by saying the Leafs are his destination or that he hasn’t made a decision yet. Vesey’s intentions will likely keep him a fixture in the rumor mill until August.