Lucic to the Oilers? Nugent-Hopkins to the Devils? Bruins to send offer sheet to Trouba? Check out the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
Latest Oilers speculation.
TSN 1040 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Bob McKenzie claims Edmonton is now a hot ticket for some players, citing the drafting last year of Connor McDavid, the Oilers new state of the art arena and the presence of well-respected former Hockey Canada president and now Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson among the drawing points. McKenzie also spoke about how the Oilers new crop of young players (McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi) could create salary-cap issues down the road, which could make high-salaried forwards like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle expendable. He also speculates Milan Lucic might be willing to give the Oilers a discount, in part because of his former ties with GM Peter Chiarelli during their days with the Boston Bruins.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers yesterday hosted pending unrestricted free agents Milan Lucic and Jason Demers, giving them a tour of their new arena and the city. UFAs can speak and visit with interested clubs in the week leading up to the July 1 opening day of free agency. Matheson speculates it could cost the Oilers a six-year, $36-million contract to sign Lucic, considered the No. 2 player in this summer’s UFA market behind Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. If the Oilers sign him, Matheson believes one of their other high-salaried forwards must be moved for a defenseman. He suggests left wing Benoit Pouliot could be a trade candidate. The Oilers are also believed “kicking the tires” on Dallas Stars pending UFA blueliner Kris Russell.
David Staples cites unconfirmed reports claiming the Oilers have deals worked out with Lucic and Demers that will be formally announced on July 1. He notes teams and players aren’t supposed to negotiate contract details during this six-day interview period. They can only discuss the general parameters of a deal.
WEEI.COM: D.J. Bean spoke to Lucic about the reports of having a deal in principle with the Oilers. The winger dismissed them as “bullshit.” Bean added Lucic isn’t ruling out the Oilers, but he hasn’t agreed with anyone yet.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The chance to play alongside a genuine young superstar like McDavid must be enticing to some players. The new arena and the front-office changes last summer don’t hurt. If the Oilers sign Lucic, they absolutely must trade one of their high-salaried players. With Taylor Hall, Patrick Maroon and Pouliot already on the left side, and Puljujarvi possible joining them next season, someone must go.
If the requirement remains to land a top-two defenseman (I don’t see Demers filling that role), Hall will most certainly bring them that return. If they retain Hall, Maroon or Pouliot must go, and neither will fetch that big-ticket blueliner the Oilers needs. It’s unlikely they’ll trade Puljujarvi. Maybe Chiarelli attempts to trade Pouliot and Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle in separate deals, the former to clear salary and the latter to both dump some cap space and bring in a top-two blueliner.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford noted Lucic also visited with the Vancouver Canucks. If Lucic decides to sign with the Oilers, Botchford doesn’t believe that’s a bad thing for the Canucks, as the asking price (six years, $36 million) is a steep price. Still, he also speculates it’s plausible the Canucks could top any rival offer made for Lucic.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan cites a recent reports by the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson claiming the New Jersey Devils are looking at Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Devils defenseman Damon Severson could be a trade target for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils need scoring punch on right wing, so I think Eberle, not RNH, is the player they’d want. Regardless, I don’t think Severson is the type of return the Oilers need to address their top-two blueliner needs. Severson has considerable potential but he’s not yet established himself fully in that role. I think the Oilers would prefer Adam Larsson.
Updates on Stamkos, Jones, Trouba and Weise
TSN: Darren Dreger reports pursuing Steven Stamkos is a top priority for the Detroit Red Wings and he believes the Wings can make a competitive offer of seven years worth $10.5 million annually, perhaps more. They also feel they have to cap space to perhaps pursue one or two UFA forwards. If they can’t sign Stamkos by Friday, they’re in on Milan Lucic and could have interest in Frans Nielsen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings will definitely be players in the upcoming UFA market. They’ll add one, maybe two, significant names via free agency. They have the cap space and willingness to spend.
Pierre LeBrun reminds us Stamkos could still re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Midnight on Thursday, June 30 is the deadline to get an eight-year deal from the Lightning. After that, the Bolts can only ink him to a seven-year deal. If they get told Stamkos wants to move on, they could attempt to ship him to a rival club before that midnight deadline.
Dreger also reports the Columbus Blue Jackets say they’ll match any offer sheet for RFA defenseman Seth Jones. The Winnipeg Jets also say the same about RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba. Contract negotiations between the Jackets and Jones are ongoing.
LeBrun claims the Montreal Canadiens have been in touch with UFA winger Dale Weise, who they dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline. The Habs are interested in bringing him back for the right price. Earlier in the day, Dreger reported the Habs were among 10 teams with interest in Weise.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports a hockey source claims Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is preparing an offer sheet for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. The offer would reportedly total a minimum of $47 million, with the aim of signing Trouba to a deal that the Jets can’t afford to match. “Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A $9.3 million per season offer sheet could indeed be more than the Jets are willing to match, but it’s also a huge risk for the Bruins. Trouba has undeniable potential to become a top-two defenseman, but he’s struggled through injury and inconsistency the last two seasons. Inking him to a $9.3 million per season deal could prove a costly mistake if he fails to progress as expected. Not to mention giving up four first-round draft picks could significantly hurt the Bruins rebuilding efforts.
Latest on Fowler, Shattenkik, Staal, Martin and Perron
TSN 690 (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger reports Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is a tradeable asset, and while the Ducks might claim they’re not pushing him, the blueliner is in play and the Ducks are fielding offers for him. Dreger believes the asking price must come down a bit. He thinks they’re looking for a top-six or at worst a top-nine forward for Fowler, but doubts “there’s that type of fit in Montreal.”
As for St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk,how long it takes to move him depends upon a team being willing to meet GM Doug Armstrong’s asking price. With the Edmonton Oilers getting Jesse Puljujarvi in the draft, Dreger suspects they could be pitching either Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle to the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those blueliners could be dealt by the weekend. A lot will depend upon how things shake out from the opening day of free agency.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports forward Eric Staal is seeking a top-six role as a center. He also isn’t expecting a long-term contract. A reunion with his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes, isn’t out of the question. His agent, Rick Curran, claims three or four clubs have expressed interest in his client.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal’s ongoing decline makes him a gamble right now. A two-year deal for a substantial cut in pay from the $8.25 million annual cap hit of his previous deal will have to be in order. Even then, is he even capable of being a top-six center anymore? He certainly didn’t show it last season.
TSN.CA: cites a report by Newsday’s Arthur Staple claiming six clubs (Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs) have reached out to New York Islanders pending UFA winger Matt Martin. The New York Rangers also inquired but his asking price of four years and $12 million puts him out of the their salary-cap comfort zone.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martin’s a hard-hitting winger and plays a style coveted by a number of teams. He shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a club willing to meet his asking price.
SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels reports the Canadiens have had contact with David Perron, who’s very interested in playing for them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron has terrific skills but also a lengthy injury history. Unless it’s an affordable one-year deal, the Habs would be best to pass on Perron.