Latest on the Maple Leafs, Oilers, Islanders, Blue Jackets and Canadiens in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
Blue Jackets and the expansion draft.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline examines how a possible expansion draft could affect the Columbus Blue Jackets. He notes TSN’s recent report claiming players with no-movement clauses would have to protected, pointing out the Jackets have six players – forwards David Clarkson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell, defenseman Fedor Tyutin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky – with no-trade clauses. He claims the Jackets would be forced to protect them, which could create the risk of potentially leaving a good young player exposed in the draft.
The Jackets could try trading Tyutin and Hartnell as they did during the season, but they would be difficult to move because they could have to go on the draft protected list. It could prompt them to buy out the remaining two seasons of Tyutin’s contract. Given the structure of Clarkson’s contract, they’ll get little financial benefit from buying him out. Another option is if a mutual decision could be reached by player and club to waive a no-movement clause allowing the player to be exposed at the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last week, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had an NMC for the purpose of waivers and demotion and a partial no-trade clause. “As a result, he’s not exempt from the expansion process,” writes Johnston. Cap Friendly and General Fanager indicate Bobrovsky lacks a no-trade clause, but I’ll defer to Portzline on this one. Regardless, the team will have protect one of their two goalies and Bobrovsky seems the most likely candidate. Tyutin has a modified no-trade clause, so I’m assuming that means he falls into the same category as Fleury. If so, the Blue Jackets could simply leave him exposed if they can’t trade him this summer or decide not to buy him out. Clarkson would also be in that category but I doubt any expansion club will take him off the Jackets’ hands. It’ll be interesting to see if any players with full no-movement clauses agree to waive that protection and be let exposed in an expansion draft.
Islanders need to find help for Tavares.
NEWSDAY: Mark Herrman believes New York Islanders GM Garth Snow must find a scoring winger (perhaps two) for John Tavares’ line this summer. He notes the lack of support Tavares has had this season and especially in the Isles second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. If defenseman Travis Hamonic still wants to be dealt to a western-Canadian team, Herrman believes Snow should ship him to the Edmonton Oilers for one of their young forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Snow maintained he wanted a comparable defenseman in return for Hamonic. Watching Tavares trying to make due with lesser linemates, however, perhaps he’ll change his mind. If he does, he could ask for Jordan Eberle or Leon Draisaitl, who can play wing as well as center.
Leafs and Oilers.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons claims the Maple Leafs have no intention of trading away Auston Matthews, who they will select as the first-overall pick in next month’s NHL draft. He dismisses speculation – “some of it thoughtful, some of it mindless” – the Arizona Coyotes will make a big pitch to acquire local boy Matthews. Simmons claims the word around the Leafs is they’re keeping that pick and selecting Matthews.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the rebuilding Leafs holding the first-overall pick and crafty Lou Lamoriello as their general manager, that’s generated some flights of fancy about them trading the first-overall pick. Heck, some are now even wondering if the Leafs will pass over Matthews in favor of Finnish winger Patrick Laine. I’ll acknowledge anything’s possible, but I’m in agreement with Simmons. The Leafs will keep the pick and take Matthews.
Simmons also expects the Edmonton Oilers will “almost certainly” trade down with their pick to select a defenseman. The Oilers have the fourth-overall pick, but the best players available at that position are forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could do that, but I think the Oilers could package that pick with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to pursue a deal that lands them a top-two defenseman at the draft.
Should the Canadiens pursue Radulov?
JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Vincent Duquette wonders if Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will try to sign former NHL winger Alex Radulov, who spent the past four seasons in the KHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the failed Alexander Semin deal (which was mercifully only a one-year contract worth $1.1 million), Bergevin could be reluctant to go down that road with Radulov.