Latest on Steven Stamkos, Travis Hamonic, Loui Eriksson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and more in your Sunday roundup of NHL rumors.
Coyotes won’t swap Ekman-Larsson for first-overall pick.
AZCENTRAL.COM: At a recent town hall meeting with Coyotes fans, GM Don Maloney shot down recent speculation suggesting his club could offer up defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to whatever team wins the draft lottery in order to select hometown prospect Auston Matthews. “That will never happen,” said Maloney. Coyotes co-owner and CEO Anthony LeBlanc acknowledged having Matthews on the roster would be beneficial from a business standpoint, but not at the expense of his team’s top defenseman. “We’re not trading Oliver for a draft pick,” LeBlanc said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The conspiracy minded will proclaim, “What did you expect them to say? They’re not going to publicly admit it!” I, on the other hand, take their comments at face value. Sure, they’d love to have Matthews in their lineup. Maybe fortune will smile on them and the lottery balls will bounce their way. Trading Ekman-Larsson for Matthews, however, creates a big hole on their blueline that will take years to replace.
Ekman-Larsson has three more years remaining on his contract. By that point, the Coyotes could be a playoff club again with a bright future and he could decide to remain a part of it. Unless the blueliner demands a trade this offseason (and there’s no indication he will), there’s no reason for them to ship him out for a first-round draft pick, even for a chance to select Matthews.
Highlights from Garrioch’s latest “Insider Trading.”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports of speculation changes could be coming to the Arizona Coyotes front office. GM Don Maloney is under the microscope as there’s a belief someone in the ownership group wants to speed up the rebuilding process. The Coyotes will have the money this summer to add players via trades and free agency to get back into playoff contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Maloney’s job is safe. He’s done a fantastic job navigating his rebuilding club through years of ownership uncertainty whilst stocking his roster with young talent like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder. I also believe Maloney and the club’s ownership intend to use this summer as their opportunity to take advantage of a deep free-agent pool, as well as targeting clubs with limited cap space in need of shedding salary via trades.
Expect the New York Islanders to try and honor defenseman Travis Hamonic’s trade request to be closer to his Manitoba home before the NHL draft in June.
There’s nothing new regarding contract talks between the Boston Bruins and pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson, who could seek something around $6 million annually. The two sides were reportedly a year apart when negotiations broke down before the trade deadline. Garrioch also speculates the Bruins might want veteran forward Chris Kelly back at a reduced rate on a one-year deal.
Nothing new between the Tampa Bay Lightning and pending free-agent superstar Steven Stamkos. Contract talks will likely drag into the offseason. As the most a UFA can get via free agency is a seven-year contract, Garrioch doesn’t rule out the Lightning re-signing Stamkos to an eight-year deal and then trading him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While that’s possible, I consider it unlikely. Sign-and-trades don’t happen very often in the NHL. If Stamkos re-signs with the Lightning, it’ll be to remain with the Lightning, not to sign off on a “sign-and-trade”. You can bet he’ll also have a full no-movement clause in that deal.
The Columbus Blue Jackets could try to move forward Gregory Campbell at this year’s NHL draft.
Highlights from Matheson’s latest “Hockey World.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are using Justin Schultz as a third-pairing defenseman. While they’re “very happy” with Schultz, Matheson wonders if they’re willing to spend $4 million to qualify his rights. If not, Schultz becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
With Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek being a frequent healthy scratch of late, Matheson believes no one wlll be surprised if they buy out the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming a cap ceiling of $74 million for next season, the Wild have less than $10 million to re-sign some key free agents and replace others. Buying out Vanek this summer will certainly free up some much-needed cap space.