Latest on the Oilers plus updates on the NHL offseason coaching carousel.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples examines the pros and cons of trading Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Among the factors is moving him won’t leave as big a gap at forward than moving Jordan Eberle, plus he could be of more value to other clubs (particularly those in need of a first-line center) than to the Oilers. Staples can see such a club being desperate enough to part with an excellent defenseman for RNH.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve been saying for months that Nugent-Hopkins seems the most likely Oilers trade candidate among their core forwards, especially after it was reported in January the Oilers offered him to the Nashville Predators in a failed effort to acquire defenseman Seth Jones, who was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets. While it’s possible Eberle or Taylor Hall could be moved, the emergence of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could make RNH expendable, though his $6 million per season cap hit won’t be easy to move.
Regarding the Oilers first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s draft, Staples cites a recent interview Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli gave to CHED radio’s Reid Wilkins saying there’s a “real, legitimate chance” of moving that pick for a return that helps his club. Staples speculates Chiarelli could either trade down in the draft order or use the pick to land a defenseman.
Jason Gregor believes the fourth-overall selection should produce a quality player for the Oilers now or in the future. Gregor says he’d trade that pick to the New York Islanders for defenseman Travis Hamonic in a heartbeat, but believes the Isles will want more in return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Isles GM Garth Snow steadfastly maintained he wanted a comparable defenseman in return for Hamonic. Unless he changes his mind this summer, or another team can get into this in a three-way deal, I don’t think there’s a fit there for the Oilers.
Jonathan Willis suggests the Carolina Hurricanes could be a trade partner for the Oilers this summer, as they carry four right-shooting blueliners on their roster. He notes recent speculation from CHED’s Bob Stauffer speculating Hurricanes blueliner Justin Faulk could be a trade target for the Oilers. Other options include James Wisniewski, Brett Pesce and Ryan Murphy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will be thrilled if someone takes Wisniewski off their hands. Of their young blueliners, Murphy now appears a likely trade candidate. Forget about Faulk, the ‘Canes aren’t parting with their best defenseman. I doubt they’re keen on moving Pesce.
TSN (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger reports Chiarelli dismissed recent speculation linking his club to Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. “Peter Chiarelli just told me point blank there’s been no conversation. Very likely wouldn’t be any conversation. This is all just industry fodder that you guys, and he’s talking to me, want to talk about when things are slow. So I still think that long shot at best doesn’t even describe how far-fetched that might be, specific to Subban.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli isn’t going to admit he’s chasing Subban or any player on another club because doing so would be considered tampering. That being said, I concur with Dreger’s take on the matter. Habs GM Marc Bergevin has also twice stated he’s not shopping Subban or any of his other core players. Sure, a trade is possible before July 1 when Subban’s NTC kicks in, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bergevin’s getting some calls, but I don’t think he’ll get an offer that will convince him to part with his top blueliner.
NHL coaching carousel.
TSN: Gary Lawless reports former Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is the top candidate among teams seeking a new bench boss. That includes the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and possibly the Minnesota Wild. It’s reported Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to meet with Boudreau and former Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. Lawless speculates Carlyle, who used to work for Flames president Brian Burke in Toronto, could get an interview with the Flames. He also suggets keeping an eye on Utica Comets coach Travis Green and former NHL coach Kevin Dineen. Other options include former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher and former NHL coach Marc Crawford.
TWINCITIES.COM: Chad Graff also reports Fletcher met with Boudreau and Carlyle, and suggests now-former Flames coach Bob Hartley could join Fletcher’s list.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators have sought permission to speak with Boudreau. The Senators have already interviewed former Wild coach Mike Yeo, as well as Boucher and Crawford.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis thinks Hartley could be scooped up by the Senators, believing “they’ll covet a bilingual Hawkesbury grad who once worked in a windshield plant 75 minutes east. He won’t take long to win over fans in the nation’s capital as the most quotable figure in hockey … soon in both languages.”
Kristen Odland lists Boudreau, former Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska, Yeo, Boucher and Green as the five potential coaching candidates for the Flames.
VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma also suggests Green as a fresh face to replace Hartley in Calgary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise Boudreau is seemingly at the top of everyone’s list. Despite his inability to get a team into a Stanley Cup Final, he still has a proven regular-season record and is obviously highly regarded around the league. I think Boudreau could lean toward the Flames as they’re a club with considerable promise.
Hartley, the NHL coach of the year last season, probably won’t be unemployed for long. Given Carlyle’s defensive struggles in Toronto, I’m not sure if he’s a good fit with the Flames. Then again, he didn’t have a defense corps with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton as its big three, so maybe he might get a better result there.
Green’s earned favorable reviews for his work with the Comets and the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks before that. He could also be end up with the Flames, Ducks, Wild or Senators. With Boudreau, Hartley, Yeo and Green all available, former NHL coaches Boucher and Crawford could find it difficult landing a job.